Cuba releases PHOTOS of bullet-riddled DC embassy after shooting suspect arrested

The Cuban government has released photos of damage from an early-morning shooting at its Washington DC embassy, calling for answers from US investigators after a man was arrested for allegedly firing at the building.

Officers responded to the shooting in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood around 2am local time on Thursday after neighbors reported hearing gunfire. While no injuries have been reported, authorities told reporters they believe the man was targeting the embassy. His motives remain unclear.

The suspect was charged with assault with intent to kill, possession of an unregistered firearm and ammunition, and possession of a high-capacity magazine, a US Secret Service spokeswoman told reporters on Thursday.

The Cuban government issued a press release on Thursday demanding to know the “identity and motives of the individual who carried out this aggression and the circumstances surrounding the event,” reminding Washington that it is obligated to protect the mission against not only “intrusion or damage” but also “impairment of its dignity.

Photos taken at the scene showed police searching through an SUV parked at the location. The Metropolitan Police Department and the US Secret Service are investigating the incident.

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‘Immunity’ with benefits? Germans worried as govt mulls IDs ‘making life easier’ for Covid-19 survivors

Berlin is reportedly considering issuing IDs confirming the bearer is immune to Covid-19 and may have more freedom than the as-yet uninfected. It adds to debate on whether recovery from the virus protects humans from reinfection.

Germany’s federal government has passed a bill that would allow for handing out “coronavirus immunity cards” to anyone who has recovered from – and thus developed enough antibodies against – the disease, according to Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, citing a copy of the document. 

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The IDs, similar to a vaccination certificate, could make life easier “in many places,” Health Minister Jens Spahn believes. Owners of the “immunity passports” will be afforded a chance to carry out certain activities more easily, he said, citing healthcare staff as an example.

While such a rationale looks legit at a glance, further passages of the bill suggest more intrusion. They refer to the Infection Protection Act, under which the state can forcefully send contagious people or those with “suspicious” symptoms into quarantine, or even bar them from entering certain public places.

The draft would also allow employers to learn about all the “transmittable diseases” of their staff, possibly including Covid-19. So far, this right has only applied to “diseases that can be prevented by vaccination.” The plan, however, appears to be on hold because there is no reliable scientific data as to whether coronavirus immunity insures against catching the virus again. 

But online observers have already likened these sections to what had happened in Germany under the Nazi regime. One user suggested “sticking a [yellow] star to my right breast and sending me into an internment camp,” while another netizen reminded readers that “curbing basic rights for a group of the population has already existed in Germany.”

Others draw attention to the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) warning against giving out such IDs. There’s “no evidence” that people who recover from Covid-19 are protected from a second infection, it said, in the latest brief widely quoted by German Twitter commenters. 

Some of them pointed out that the measure would have the opposite effect. It will cause people “to get infected deliberately, in the hope that the course of the disease will go off lightly and that they will receive the special card,” one opined

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An employee scans the smart ticket at a drive-in cinema in Essen, western Germany, on March 29, 2020
Privacy-minded Germans wary as Berlin develops nationwide Covid-19 tracking app & calls for EU-wide system

Local politicians have been equally skeptical of the idea. “Under no circumstances should such data be misused or lead to discrimination,” Ulrich Kelber, federal data protection commissioner, told Suddeutsche. Kordula Schulz-Asche, the Green Party speaker in charge of healthcare, called the plans “questionable.”

Meanwhile, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is set to trial a “digital immunity card” throughout the course of two or three weeks. Patients will have to use a mobile application to save the results of their Covid tests in an encrypted database; authorities and other concerned entities will then be able to digitally check the test status.

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Arab League condemns Israel’s plan to annex parts of West Bank

The Arab League condemned Israel’s plan to de facto annex parts of the occupied West Bank as “a new war crime” against Palestinians, it said in statement after a video conference of Arab foreign ministers on Thursday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in announcing a deal to form a unity government, has set July 1 as the date for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the West Bank and annexing outright the Jordan Valley, Reuters said.

Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold on land it seized in the 1967 Six-Day War in the Middle East – territory on which they are seeking to establish a state.

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Taking the Mickey? NBA 'considering finishing season at Disney World'

In one of the stranger developments of this unprecedented phase in sports, the NBA is seemingly in discussions to use the Walt Disney World resort in Florida as a base from which to finish the suspended season.

The theme park is currently closed due to the Coronavirus lockdown and the NBA has been looking at different sites it could utilize as a venue to host games without any crowds.

Based in Orlando, Florida, the park spans some 40 square miles and so has ample space to exercise social distancing.

The NBA commissioner Adam Silver reportedly held discussions with all 30 of the league’s general managers on Wednesday to find a way forward to complete the season safely and indeed announced rule changes earlier this week allowing teams to open up practice areas for their players to work out – with permission from the specific city involved.

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The reports come as US government health adviser Dr Anthony Fauci suggested that Americans may have to go without any professional sport for the next year due to the current pandemic. 

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UK spy agency handed extra powers to access info from NHS IT systems during Covid-19 pandemic

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has bypassed parliamentary scrutiny and given new powers to the UK security and intelligence organization, GCHQ, to allow it to obtain information from public-health IT systems until the end of 2020.

The National Health Service (NHS) has been instructed by Hancock to hand over information to Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), granting the spy agency powers it did not have previously, under the Computer Misuse Act 1990. 

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© Reuters / Hannah McKay
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Officials have justified the decision, saying it was taken to bolster the NHS’s cyber defenses. It ostensibly means that GCHQ now has powers to order the NHS to disclose any information concerning “the security” of its networks and information systems.

The latest development, authorized by Hancock’s department earlier this month, is the latest sign of GCHQ gaining more influence during the Covid-19 crisis. The agency is already advising NHSX, the unit driving the digital transformation of the public healthcare system, on the creation of its new coronavirus contact-tracing app. 

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre, a subsidiary of GCHQ, insisted that the new directions “do not seek to authorize” access to patient data. Whether that will ease the worries of those concerned about the apparent increase in the UK government’s surveillance measures is debatable.

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© AFP / Olivier Douliery
Contact-tracing app will be ‘key part’ of UK government’s Covid-19 ‘surveillance programme’ – Johnson spokesman

Earlier this week, a spokesman for British PM Boris Johnson confirmed that the controversial NHS contact-tracing app will be a “key part” of the government’s Covid-19 surveillance program going forward.

The app, which has been designed to notify people if they were in close contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus, could be available within weeks. However, privacy campaigners have warned it could see the public “coerced” into sharing personal data about their movements.

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