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Trump cuts $25 million in aid for Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals

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U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered that $25 million earmarked for the care of Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals be directed elsewhere as part of a review of aid, a State Department official said on Saturday.

Trump called for a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinians earlier this year to ensure that the funds were being spent in accordance with national interests and were providing value to taxpayers.

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“As a result of that review, at the direction of the President, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network,” the State Department official said. “Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere.”

The aid cut is the latest in a number of actions by the Trump administration that have alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

That move reversed longtime U.S. policy and led Palestinian leadership to boycott Washington peace efforts led by Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

Last month, the Trump administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.

And at the end of August, the Trump administration halted all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), a decision that further heightened tensions with the Palestinian leadership.

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Palestinian refugees have reacted with dismay to the funding cuts, warning they would lead to more poverty, anger and instability in the Middle East.

A statement from the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the latest aid cut was part of a U.S. attempt “to liquidate the Palestinian cause” and said it would threaten the lives of thousands of Palestinians and the livelihoods of thousands of hospital employees.

“This dangerous and unjustified American escalation has crossed all red lines and is considered a direct aggression against the Palestinian people,” it said.

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At the gates of two of the East Jerusalem hospitals affected, medical staff were aware of the decision but refused to comment.

One of the centers, Al Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital, said in statement the U.S. aid cuts come as the “hospital is going through a suffocating crisis as a result of the lack of flow of financial aid, and the piling up of debts and funds held back by the Palestinian government”.

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It said it had received 45 million shekels ($12.5 million) of the U.S. money to treat patients from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In the statement hospital CEO Dr. Bassam Abu Libdeh “questioned the justification behind mixing political issues with medical and humanitarian issues.”

The last round of U.S.-brokered Palestinian-Israeli peace talks collapsed in 2014.


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Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks — and then banned the safety gear

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A Florida sheriff ordered his officers to not wear face masks -- and banned the safety gear from his office -- even as the southern US state has hit record daily coronavirus death tolls.

Sheriff Billy Woods, of central Florida's Marion County, emailed deputies Tuesday to tell them of the new mask prohibition, according to local paper the Ocala Star Banner, citing the message.

"My order will stand as is when you are on-duty/working as my employee and representing my Office – masks will not be worn," the email read.

The sheriff allowed for certain exceptions, including for officers who work in prisons, schools, hospitals or with people suspected of being infected with the virus.

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Fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles has prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes

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A fast-moving brush fire north of Los Angeles prompted mandatory evacuation orders for some 500 homes on Wednesday as firefighters battled the flames that had burned 10,000 acres by early evening, authorities said.

The Lake Fire erupted at around 3:30 pm (2230 GMT) near Lake Hughes, about a 90-minute drive from Los Angeles.

Rapidly-spreading flames had scorched some 10,000 acres (4,050 hectares) within a little more than three hours, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

"Multiple agencies are battling a brush fire near the Lake Hughes area in the Angeles National Forest," the department said in a tweet.

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‘Trump should know how to be in public with a woman who publicly humiliated him’: Trevor Noah jokes

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"The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah couldn't help but notice President Donald Trump's confusion during the Q&A of his daily coronavirus press briefing. Trump was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's pick as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate. In his attacks on Harris, Trump seemed to be spending more time defending Biden than he did attacking him.

Trump claimed the reason he was surprised Biden picked Harris is that she was "very very nasty to Joe Biden," he said she was "probably nastier even than Pocahontas," his nickname for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). "She was very disrespectful to Joe Biden."

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