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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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Mexican children take up arms in fight against drug gangs

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With baseball caps and scarves covering their faces, only their serious eyes are visible as a dozen children stand to attention, rifles by their side.

In the heart of the violence-plagued Mexican state of Guerrero, learning to use weapons starts at an early age.

In the village of Ayahualtempa, at the foot of a wooded hill, the basketball court serves as a training ground for these youths, aged between five and 15.

The children practice with rifles and handguns or makeshift weapons in various drill positions for a few hours every week.

"Position three!" yells instructor Bernardino Sanchez, a member of the militia responsible for the security of 16 villages in the Guerrero area, which goes by the name of Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC-PF).

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Delta fined $50,000 for discriminating against Muslim passengers

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Delta Air Lines was Friday fined $50,000 by the US Department of Transportation to settle allegations it discriminated against three Muslim passengers who were ordered off their planes.

In its consent order, the department said it found Delta "engaged in discriminatory conduct" and violated anti-discrimination laws when it removed the three passengers.

In one incident on July 26, 2016, a Muslim couple were removed from Delta Flight 229 at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris after a passenger told a flight attendant their behavior made her "very uncomfortable and nervous".

"Mrs X" was wearing a head scarf and the passenger said "Mr X" had inserted something into his watch.

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China deploys army medics to overwhelmed virus epicentre

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The central Chinese city at the epicentre of a SARS-like virus outbreak is building a second new hospital within weeks to treat cases, as angry patients faced hours-long waits at medical facilities overwhelmed with patients of a disease that has killed 41 and infected nearly 1,300.

The Chinese army has deployed medical specialists to help with treatment in the city of Wuhan, where a seafood and live animal market has been identified as the centre of the outbreak.

But people waiting at one hospital in the city were angry and frustrated.

"It takes at least five hours to see a doctor," one woman, who didn't want to be named, told AFP. "Nurses are brave but management is really messy."

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