Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tensions High as Ivory Coast Votes in Presidential Polls

At least 30 killed in violence ahead of polls as President Alassane Ouattara seeks a third term in office.

The UN has urged calm, but the opposition called for a campaign of civil disobedience to stop the vote [Issouf Sanogo/AFP]

31 Oct 2020

Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara is seeking to secure a controversial third term in a tense presidential election held amid opposition calls for a boycott and a civil disobedience campaign.

At least 30 people have been killed in pre-election violence, evoking memories of a 2010-2011 crisis that killed about 3,000 people.

Polling stations opened at 8am (08:00 GMT) on Saturday and are due to close at 6pm (18:00 GMT), though it is not clear when the results will be announced. Electoral authorities by law have up to five days to announce the results.

The president’s main rivals are former President Henri Konan Bedie and ex-Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, who have called their supporters to boycott the electoral process. The fourth challenger is independent candidate Kouadio Konan Bertin.

Ouattara was supposed to step aside after his second term to make way for a younger generation, but the sudden death of his chosen successor forced a change in plan.

The 78-year-old, a former IMF official who has been in power since 2010, says a Constitutional Court ruling approved his third term, allowing him to bypass two-term presidential limits after a 2016 legal reform.

But opposition leaders say a third mandate is unconstitutional. They accuse the electoral commission and the Constitutional Court of favouring the government, making a fair and transparent vote impossible.

On Saturday, the streets of the largest city Abidjan were largely quiet, in contrast to the violent run-up to the polls.

“I appeal to those who launched this slogan for civil disobedience which has led to deaths: Stop. Ivory Coast needs peace,” Ouattara said after voting in Abidjan. “I urge young people not to let themselves be manipulated.”

Meanwhile, Affi N’Guessan said: “This electoral coup was a failure. The Ivorian people have managed to defeat this election.”

Police fired tear gas in Abidjan’s Blockhauss district to clear hundreds of youths who tried to disrupt voting, an AFP news agency reporter at the scene said.

Protesters on Saturday blocked the main route between Abidjan and the north of the country near the central town of Djebonoua, 350km (220 miles) north of Abidjan, local residents said.

Groups of youths also set up makeshift barricades in some neighbourhoods in and around Daoukro, a stronghold of Bedie, AFP news agency reported. In Benanou, a village near Daoukro, a large tree trunk blocked a key road.

The election is seen as a major test of stability in a country still recovering from months of post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 that killed some 3,000 people.

“Looking at the history of elections in Ivory Coast, many people in country believe the opposition will stand firm on their word that civil disobedience against Ouattara and the election will continue,” said Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

“This is what many fear and it could lead violence,” Idris said.

While the UN has called for calm, the opposition urged supporters to carry out an “active” boycott and a campaign to block the vote, stoking fears of violence in opposition strongholds.

“The question is what will the opposition do after November 1?” said Sylvain N’Guessan, director and political analyst at the Abidjan Strategies institute.

More than 35,000 police and security personnel have been mobilised to secure the election.

The run-up to the polls saw sporadic clashes in the south of the country, mainly between local ethnic groups close to the opposition and Diaolu communities from the north who are seen as loyal to the president.

The country’s political feuds are often closely tied up with its leader’s ethnic identities and regional loyalties.

On Friday, police fired tear gas in the political capital of Yamoussoukro to break up fighting between Diaolu youth and opposition-aligned Baoule communities, according to residents.

President Ouattara says a Constitutional Court ruling approved his third term [Legnan Koula/EPA]


Sudan, U.S. Sign Agreement to Restore Sovereign Immunities

October 30, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - The Ministry of Justice announced Friday that Sudan and the United States have signed a claim agreement to restore the sovereign immunity of the East African country.

"According to the agreement, which will enter into force after legislation is enacted, Sudan will pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism," reads a statement released by the justice ministry.

"In exchange, the default judgments and claims against Sudan in U.S. courts will be dismissed, and Sudan’s sovereign immunities under U.S. law will be restored to those enjoyed by countries that have never been designated by the United States as a State Sponsor of Terrorism," stressed the statement.

The deal is a part of the agreed process to remove Sudan from the blacklist, after a letter by President Donald Trump to the Congress earlier this month notifying the delisting.

To avoid new lawsuits, Sudan needs to restore its sovereign immunities, which it lost when it had been added in the list of state sponsors of terrorism. However, only Congress can restore the immunities of a foreign country.

Despite the opposition of some Democrat senators, the deal reportedly has large support in the Congress.

Sudanese Minister of Justice Nasr al-Din Abdel Bari said his government "greatly regrets" to pay such significant sum of money, given the tough economic crisis the country is experiencing.

"But today’s agreement allows Sudan and its people to resolve historical liabilities, restore normal relations with the United States, and move forward toward democracy and better economic times. Today’s agreement is an investment in a prosperous future for Sudan and its people,” said Abdel Bari.

$ 60 additional aid to Sudan

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Friday, announced an additional $60 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to severe flooding in Sudan.

This support will include life-saving emergency assistance with food, shelter, health, and livelihoods. Also, it includes providing safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies.

"This announcement comes as Sudan is entering a promising new era for its people. Along with joining the Abraham Accords and entering a peace agreement with the State of Israel," added the USAID.

Under the pressure of the White House, Sudan said willing to normalize relations with Israel and accepted to negotiate a deal with the Israeli government.

The normalization was a last-minute condition imposed by Trump administration before to remove it from the terror list.


Quarter of Sudanese Needs Immediate Humanitarian Assistance: ICRC

ICRC President Peter Maurer at water yard in Kadoglei with some displaced children on 11 Jan 2018 - (ICRC photo)

October 30, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - One in four Sudanese needs for humanitarian assistance due to the triple threat of clashes, climate shocks and COVID-19, said the deputy head of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on Friday.

Gilles Carbonnier concluded a one-week visit to Sudan as he visited Kass locality in South Darfur, where the ICRC is distributing household essentials to 15,600 people who have returned to the area after being displaced by clashes.

Also, he met with Chairman of Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo "Hemetti"; Justice Minister of Justice Nasr al-Din Abdel Bari; South Darfur Governor Musa Mahdi; SPLM/N-Agar Deputy Chairman Yasir Arman; and Secretary-General of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society Afaf Ahmed Yahya.

The humanitarian official said affected communities in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan are caught between extremes as clashes, droughts, and floods.

As a result, millions of people "do not have enough food, water, medical care or other necessities to survive, a crisis made more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, price inflation, and a shortage of basic commodities,” he said.

The Red Cross estimated that around a quarter of the 40 million Sudanese needs immediate humanitarian assistance.

The statement further said that despite the signing of the peace agreement in Juba, the risk of renewed clashes in parts of Darfur and eastern Sudan remains.


Sudan Will Pick Own Normalization Style : FM

October 28, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s foreign minister said his country will determine which kind of normalization his country will opt for during the upcoming talks with the Israeli delegation.

Sudan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Omer Gamar Eldin speaks to reporters on 29 April 2020 (SC photo)Omer Gamar Eldin told Sky News Arabia on Wednesday that the two countries agreed in principle to normalize relations but it will be effective once the deal is endorsed by the legislative council.

Referring to the normalization process, he underscored that there are different types of diplomatic normalizations in international law.

There is the full establishment of diplomatic relations between two countries and exchange of ambassadors, simple trade relations or cooperation in specific areas, said Garar Eldin.

"We will choose from among these options what is compatible with the mood of the Sudanese people and what is compatible with the interests of the Sudanese state, and then we will submit that to Parliament for approval," he stressed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Friday said that delegations from the two countries will meet soon to discuss cooperation in many fields, among them agriculture, trade and other important areas, as he said.

Sudanese political groups are divided over the normalizations with Israel but the government says it has enough supporters for its endorsement by the transitional parliament.

For his part, the leader of the National Umma Party Sadiq al-Mahdi says his party will accept the normalization with Israel if it is approved by an elected parliament, not the transitional legislative council.

Also, small Arab nationalist groups and the Sudanese Communist Party reject the deal, saying the transitional government has no mandate to conclude such agreement.


Mahdi Pledges to Support Sudan-Israel Normalization, Says al-Burhan

October 26, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - The head of the Sovereignty Council, Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, said that the leader of the National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi pledged to support the normalization with Israel if the Legislative Council approved it.

NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi speaks to reporters at a press conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on 30 November 2014 (ST)However, al Burhan did not specify if the NUP leader spoke about the appointed legislative council during the transitional period or the elected council at the end of this period.

Previously, al-Mahdi told the BBC Arabic Service he would oppose the transitional government and seek to topple Hamdok’s cabinet in the event of normalization with Sudan.

Speaking in an interview with the Sudan TV channel to explain the deal struck with Israel, al-Burhan said he consulted with all political forces and found that 90 per cent of them do not oppose this step because it is in the interest of the Sudanese people and the country.

"I consulted with Imam al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, and he said that if this matter is presented to the Legislative Council and approved by it, then there is no difference (with the government over it)," he said.

Al-Burhan stressed the right of all parties to freedom of expression, as long as everyone agrees that the agreement becomes binding if endorsed by the Legislative Council.

He also stressed that "the elected parliament" has the right to reconsider the normalization agreement or other issues.

The Chairman of the Sovereign Council met with the Israeli Prime Minister in Uganda on February 3, 2020, to discuss the normalization of relations between the two countries in exchange for supporting Sudan end its international isolation and removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Al-Mahdi reacts

Immediately after the end of the TV interview, al-Mahdi issued a statement saying that he met Al-Burhan on October 25, after the announcement of the agreement to normalize relations with Israel.

He said he renewed his party’s support for the transitional government.

"This support will continue on condition that the government announces that normalization is decided by an elected parliament (...)," further emphasized the short statement.

Al-Mahdi’s requirement that the normalization is endorsed by an elected parliament means that the transitional government is ineligible for normalization with Israel.

It is worth mentioning that Islamist parties refused the establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel, as well as Arab nationalist parties.

The Sudanese Communist Party voiced its opposition to the normalization with Israel but reiterated their support to the transitional government.

Also, the Democratic Unionist Party of Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani supported the rapprochement with Israel.

Al-Burhan for his part seemed confident about the popular support to the deal with Israel. He challenged any political party to go to the elections with slogans hostile to the normalization process.

He also disclosed he and the Sudanese Prime Minister discussed the timing of normalization and the possibility of waiting for the end of the US elections.

He said that after consultations that included the negotiating delegation, they found it was better for them to accomplish the removal from the terror list during the term of President Trump.

"The (economic) situation in Sudan does not allow waiting for another period that may last until next September," he said.

On Sunday, the Sudanese Foreign Ministry announced that talks would be held in Khartoum with an Israeli delegation to draft the normalization agreement.


Sudan Paid Terror Compensations from its Own Resources: al-Burhan

October 26, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dismissed that any foreign country had paid compensations for victims of terrorism.

Press reports said that Saudi Arabia encouraged Sudan to normalize with Israel and paid compensations to the victims of terrorism, as part of its efforts to increase Donald Trump’s chances in the presidential elections.

"The amount of compensation for the families of the victims in the bombings was paid from our own resources, and no country paid it on our behalf," he stressed.

Khartoum had encountered severe difficulties to collect compensations to collect the compensations of terror victims. Officials said that the government bought dollars from the black market and this contributed to the depreciation of the Sudanese pound and the rise in inflation.

Last year, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged to pay each 1.5 billion to help Sudan. But in fact, they only gave one billion.


Sudanese Communists Say Committed to the Unity of FFC Alliance

Sudanese protesters chant slogans as they gather ahead of a rally to put pressure on the government to implement reform in Khartoum, Sudan October 21, 2020. (Reuters photo)

October 25, 2020 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) said its disagreement with the government policies does not affect its commitment to the cohesion of the alliance backing Hamdok cabinet.

Recently, the Sudanese communists criticized the Juba peace agreement and rejected the normalization with Israel.

However, the SCP official spokesperson, Amal Hussein al-Zain told the official news agency SUNA on Sunday that her the leftist party is keen to preserve the cohesion of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance.

"The difference between the party and some allies made some bets that the PCS is working to dismantle the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change," al-Zain said.

“The SCP stands and supports any rightful stance or action by the government for the benefit of the broad spectrum of the masses,” she said.

“In return, the party rejected any mistake or any action by the government against the will of the people and the goals of its revolution,” the spokesperson stressed.

The FFC are set to take part in a meeting on the normalization with Israel on Monday afternoon together with the cabinet, the Sovereign Council and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front which will take part in such a meeting for the first time after the signing of the peace agreement.


Sudan Being Bought Out as  a Result of Israel Normalization

October 25, 2020 

(KHARTOUM) - The Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that his government is sending $5 million worth of wheat to Sudan days after the two nations moved towards normalizing ties in a deal brokered by the United States.

“We are looking forward to a warm peace and are sending $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends in Sudan,” Netanyahu’s office tweeted.

“Israel will be working closely with the U.S. to assist Sudan’s transition,” it said.

There was no comment from Khartoum on the announcement which would be the first trade-like transaction between the two countries since the 1950s. Sudan still has the Israel Boycott Law adopted in 1958 in effect.

Separately, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent 67,000 tons of wheat to Sudan today to be allocated to mills in Khartoum and other states, Sudan’s official news agency (SUNA) said today.

The wheat shipments are part of an agreement reached this week during a visit by a joint US-Israel delegation to Khartoum to iron out details of the deal by which Sudan agrees to normalizing ties with the Jewish state in return for political and economic incentives chiefly removing it from the list of states that sponsor terrorism.

Sudanese officials told Sudan Tribune that part of the agreement involves $50 million worth of wheat from U.S., UAE & Israel to be dispatched immediately.

Yesterday, the U.S. also announced $81 million in humanitarian assistance to Sudan.

“[T]he day after the Republic of Sudan joined the historic Abraham Accords brokered by President Trump and made peace with the State of Israel, the United States announced $81 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Sudan as they confront ongoing severe challenges related to a deteriorating economy, the global pandemic, and the worst floods in more than a century,” read a statement By Acting USAID Administrator John Barsa.

“This new funding brings U.S. humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan to over $436 million for Fiscal Year 2020, including more than $33 million to support the Sudanese response to COVID-19” he added.

This week the US President Donald Trump moved to rescind Sudan’s terrorism designation and also hosted a conference call with Netanyahu, Chairman of Sudan Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) Abdel-Fatah al-Burhan and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdulla Hamdok.

"The leaders agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations. In addition, the leaders agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture," a statement issued by the White House said following the call.

"The leaders also agreed that delegations will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate agreements of cooperation in those areas as well as in agriculture technology, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples".

Israel along with the U.S. "also committed to working with their partners to support the people of Sudan in strengthening their democracy, improving food security, countering terrorism and extremism, and tapping into their economic potential".

The Sudanese foreign ministry confirmed the upcoming visit of an Israeli delegation to sign joint cooperation agreements on agriculture, commerce, economy, aviation & immigration.


Sudan Deal Plunges Migrants in Israel Into New Uncertainty


Sudanese migrant Attom Alialdom 56, poses for a photo as he holds a photo of his old restaurant decorated with Sudanese and Israeli flags, outside his house in south Tel Aviv, Israel, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. After Israel and Sudan agreed this month to normalize ties, some 6,000 Sudanese migrants in Israel are again fearing for their fate. Israel has long grappled with how to deal with its tens of thousands of African migrants. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Usumain Baraka speaks impeccable Hebrew, considers Israelis among his best friends and can quote passages from the Old Testament. But as a Sudanese asylum seeker, Baraka has no legal status in Israel and lives a precarious life tethered to the whims of the Israeli government.

Now, after Israel and Sudan agreed to normalize ties, Baraka is among 6,000 Sudanese in Israel once again fearing for their fate. Israel already has indicated it will seek to settle the migrant issue in upcoming talks with Sudan, whipping up trepidation in the community that Israel might forcibly return them to Sudan, a place they say they fled because of conflict or persecution.

“If I return tomorrow or the day after when there is the official peace they are talking about, something awaits me there, and that’s danger,” said Baraka, 25, who fled Janjaweed militia attacks on his village in Darfur at the age of nine.

Israel and Sudan announced earlier this month they would normalize ties, making Sudan the third Arab country to do so in as many months.

The announcement brought satisfaction to Israelis. But after years of failed Israeli attempts to remove the migrants, it has renewed fears among the Sudanese who have long had an insecure existence in their adopted home.

African migrants, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, began arriving in Israel in 2005 through its porous border with Egypt after Egyptian forces violently quashed a refugee demonstration and word spread of safety and job opportunities in Israel. Tens of thousands crossed the desert border in often dangerous journeys.

Israel initially turned a blind eye to their influx and many took up menial jobs in hotels and restaurants. But as their numbers swelled, there was a backlash, with growing calls to expel the new arrivals.

Israel considers the vast majority of the migrants to be job seekers and says it has no legal obligation to keep them. The Africans say they are asylum seekers who fled for their lives and face renewed danger if they return. Many come from Darfur and other conflict-ridden regions.

Sudan’s former leader, Omar al-Bashir, has been charged with genocide for a campaign of mass killings that took place in Darfur under his watch. The area still experiences tribal clashes and rebel violence.

Under international law, Israel cannot forcibly send migrants back to a country where their life or liberty may be at risk. Critics accuse the government instead of trying to coerce them into leaving.

Over the years, Israel has detained thousands of migrants in remote desert prisons, left thousands of asylum requests open and offered cash payments to those who agreed to move to third African countries.

It also has built a barrier along the border with Egypt that stopped the influx and reached a deal with the U.N. to resettle thousands of migrants in Western countries while allowing thousands of others to remain in Israel — though the deal was quickly scrapped under pressure from anti-migrant activists and hard-line legislators.

The migrants’ presence has long divided the country. Their supporters say Israel, a country founded upon the ashes of the Holocaust and built up by Jewish refugees, should welcome those seeking refuge. Opponents claim the migrants have brought crime to the low-income south Tel Aviv neighborhoods where they have settled. Some Israeli politicians have labeled them infiltrators, with one calling them “a cancer” threatening the country’s Jewish character.

“I believe they are economic migrants and they act as if they own the place,” said Sheffi Paz, a prominent anti-migrant activist.

Publicly, Israeli leaders have been guarded about their plans. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli and Sudanese delegations would soon meet to “discuss cooperation in many fields, including in the field of migration.” A spokeswoman for Israel’s Interior Ministry declined to comment.

A top Sudanese military official with direct knowledge of the early contacts with Israel said the matter of returning the migrants has not yet been discussed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter in public.

Israel deported about 1,000 migrants back to South Sudan in 2012 after an Israeli court determined they were no longer at risk in their home country, which had just gained independence. But activists say some died there from disease and others fled renewed conflict.

Israel has acknowledged in recent court proceedings that the situation in Sudan remains volatile, and advocacy groups that work with the migrants say that deporting them will come up against stiff legal challenges.

“If Israel will dare to deport Sudanese with open asylum claims it will be a grave violation of the most fundamental principle of the refugee convention,” said Sigal Rozen, public policy director at the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

She said Israeli leaders may nonetheless be raising the issue to prompt some Sudanese to leave voluntarily.

Migrants have already been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, their jobs in restaurants and hotels threatened by repeated lockdowns. Without proper status in Israel, they are not entitled to claim unemployment insurance. Rozen said some sympathetic employers have kept on migrant workers just to give them a lifeline.

In the south Tel Aviv neighborhood where many migrants live, a pedestrian street typically lively with shops and restaurants was dreary on a recent day. Grey shutters sealed the entrances to many businesses and some mask-wearing migrants lingered on stoops.

Baraka fled Darfur after his father was killed in front of him. He settled in a displacement camp along the border with Chad before departing on a precarious journey north, through Libya and Egypt, to be smuggled through the desert into Israel, where he has lived for more than a decade.

He submitted an asylum request to Israel in 2013 and it remains open. While he welcomes any deal that stabilizes relations between Sudan and Israel, he doesn’t believe that opens the door for his return.

“I do believe in what they’re talking about now, normalization between Sudan and Israel,” Baraka said. “I support it, but we need to know who it’s being done with, when to do it and how to do it.”

Philadelphia Police Budget Cuts Sought by 4 Councilmembers During Week of Rebellion: Report

The same group had pushed for significant cuts in June but were unsuccessful, a report said

By Dom Calicchio | Fox News

National Guard troops arrived in Philadelphia Friday after nights of unrest and riots following Walter Wallace Jr.'s death.

Four first-term City Council members in Philadelphia vowed Friday to continue pushing for cuts to the city police department’s budget – during a week that saw more than 200 stores looted in reaction to the Monday police-shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr.

The four councilmembers – Kendra Brooks, Jamie Gauthier, Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas – pledged their support for police cuts and other changes during an online call with local political activists, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The same group had pushed for significant cuts in June but were unsuccessful, the newspaper reported.

“Every councilmember on this call was on board for a higher level of cut to the police than we had,” Gauthier told call participants Friday, according to the report. “We couldn’t get enough to get the votes that we needed. … I think we have to figure out where we’re cutting from and also what we’re investing in. I think we have to be very clear about that.”

In June, just after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis that sparked riots and protests across the U.S., the Philadelphia City Council canceled a proposed $19 million budget increase for the police and diverted $14 million away from the existing police budget, in part by reassigning some police employees to other departments while they performed the same work.

During the online meeting, the councilmembers heard from some high school students who said they were afraid of police officers and activists who said the city needed to change how some mental health calls and 911 emergencies are handled, the Inquirer reported.

On Wednesday, police union leader John McNesby called upon city officials to show greater support for the police department, suggesting the Wallace case was blown out of proportion.

Wallace was shot Monday by two officers after he charged at them with a knife, police have said. Neither officer had a stun gun.

“We’re calling on the city leadership to release the facts of this case. It’s not hard. It’s cut-and-dry. Release what you have. Support your officers, back your officers. And let’s get a handle on this thing,” McNesby said in a video posted on Twitter.

McNesby recorded the video on Aramingo Avenue in the city, where many stores were looted earlier this week, Philadelphia's KYW-TV reported.

On Monday, McNesby claimed in a statement that city police officers were “being vilified” for “doing their job and keeping the community safe,” after dealing with Wallace, whom McNesby described as “a man with a knife.”

On Friday, city leaders said police body camera footage and 911 recordings linked to the Wallace shooting would be made public next Wednesday, in an arrangement approved by them and by members of the Wallace family.

Meanwhile, members of the Pennsylvania National Guard arrived in the city Friday to assist local law enforcement as part of efforts to prevent more vandalism and violence following several nights of unrest.

The prospect of budget cuts wasn’t the only method councilmembers used this week in a bid to limit the police department’s ability to maintain order.

On Thursday, the Philadelphia City Council, in a 14-3 vote, approved a ban on police use of tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray against demonstrators, the Inquirer reported.

Voting against the measure, in an online meeting, were Republican council members David Oh and Brian O’Neill and Democrat Bobby Henson, the report said.

The proposal’s sponsor, Councilwoman Helen Gym, said residents had complained of having tear gas and rubber bullets used against them without warning during protests in May and June following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

On Thursday, Gym claimed that the alleged action by police in those past protests “undid years of collaboration and work” between police and local communities in building trust, the Inquirer reported.

Opponent Oh had suggested that tear gas was a preferable option for dispersing crowds, rather than deal with the prospect of worsening violence in neighborhoods – even if it meant tear gas would enter homes of people who weren’t protesting.

“Better their homes have tear gas than be set on fire,” he said, according to the Inquirer.

Dom Calicchio is a Senior Editor at Reach him at

Philadelphia Police Union Accused of Lying Over Toddler Post

BBC World Service

Police officers stand guard outside a police station in Philadelphia

There have been clashes between riot police and protesters in Philadelphia

The largest police union in the United States has been accused of lying in a social media post showing an officer carrying a black toddler during protests in Philadelphia.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) said the child had been wandering barefoot in an area of "lawlessness".

But the boy's family say police pulled him from the back seat of a car as his mother was violently arrested.

His mother was injured and later released without charge, lawyers said.

The FOP said it removed the posts after learning of "conflicting accounts" over how the toddler ended up in the hands of police.

A video purportedly showing the incident has since surfaced online.

Philadelphia has been rocked by protests and looting following the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr.

"This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness," the FOP wrote in a tweet and a Facebook post.

"The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child."

But Riley H Ross III, a lawyer for the family, said this was a fabrication.

"Our firm will not stand for this blatant attempt to use our clients to peddle propaganda by using racism and fear to force compliance," Mr Ross tweeted.

Kevin Mincey, another lawyer representing the family in a civil rights case, told the Washington Post that Rickia Young, the mother of the boy, had unexpectedly found herself caught between police and protesters while driving home.

As she was attempting to turn around, police descended on the vehicle and smashed the windows, pulling her and her nephew from the car, Mr Mincey said, adding that the toddler was then pulled from the backseat.

Ms Young had to be taken to hospital for treatment, while the baby remained with police officers, Mr Mincey said.

"Her face was bloodied and she looked like she had been beaten by a bunch of people on the street," he told the Washington Post. "She is still in pain."

The toddler was left with a large bump to the head, he said, adding that mother and son were separated until the following morning.

Ms Young was released without charge. Police have failed to inform the family where the damaged vehicle is, or the belongings inside it, which included her son's hearing aids, the lawyer said.

An FOP spokeswoman told the BBC the union "immediately took the photo and caption down" after it became aware of "conflicting accounts of the circumstances under which the child came to be assisted by the officer".

Protesters have clashed with police over the death of Wallace Jr.

His family say he was suffering a mental health crisis when he was shot by officers. Police say he had refused to drop a knife.

Large protests broke out in Philadelphia earlier this year following the police killing of 46-year-old African-American man George Floyd in Minnesota. Footage showed white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, while he repeatedly said he was unable to breathe.

Floyd's death sparked protests around the world against racism and police brutality.

Philadelphia Police Smash Windows of SUV Carrying Mom and Baby in Video, While Union Claims Child Was 'Lost'

National union claims "child was lost during the violent riots," then removed post that's been called "propaganda."

Police clear a section of 52nd Street in West Philadelphia early on Oct. 27, 2020.Tim Tai / Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Oct. 30, 2020, 4:39 PM EDT

By David K. Li and Matthew Mulligan

A police union claimed that Philadelphia officers rescued a child "lost during the violent riots," only to remove the statement that critics slammed Friday as "propaganda."

Video recorded early Tuesday captured Philadelphia police surrounding an SUV, which appeared to be driving away from a protest, before smashing out windows and forcibly removing a woman and baby from the car.

A lawyer for the woman says it was her baby that appeared in the police union photo.

The confrontation unfolded in the 5200 block of Chestnut Street when the sports utility vehicle could be seen driving toward a large gathering of officers and demonstrators protesting the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr.

The driver, 28-year-old nursing aide Rickia Young, was following police orders to leave the area and was in the middle of a three-point turn when officers smashed out her windows with their batons, according to one of her attorneys, Thomas Fitzpatrick.

"This is the situation where we believe police were simply out of control and attacked her vehicle without any provocation," Fitzpatrick told NBC News on Friday.

The incident is now being examined by the department's Internal Affairs Division, and one officer has been placed on "restricted duty pending the outcome of the investigation," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw told reporters on Friday.

"I still don't know all the details, but I will tell you, after viewing the video, what I saw was quite concerning," Outlaw added. "But I am very careful about what I say, because I do not know all the circumstances around it, as far as what led up to it."

Fitzpatrick said Young was handcuffed and separated from her 16-year-old nephew and 2-year-old son for several hours, and no one was charged or cited.

The hearing-impaired toddler lost his hearing aids during the tussle and police still hadn't returned the vehicle to Young by Friday morning, Fitzpatrick added.

The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation's largest police labor union, posted a Facebook picture early Thursday morning showing Young's 2-year-old in the arms of a Philadelphia police officer just after the incident.

"This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness," the union said on Facebook. "The only thing this Philadelphia Police Officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child."

Fitzpatrick called the post "propaganda" and said the child was not in harm's way until police stopped the SUV from leaving. The union's post was later deleted, but could still be found via Google's web cache.

"This was a child who was properly secured in the back seat and then police began beating on the vehicle," Fitzpatrick said.

In a statement on Friday, the National Fraternal Order of Police admitted that it had "posted a photo of a Philadelphia police officer carrying a young child" and described the circumstances as a "scene of a civil disturbance."

"The National FOP subsequently learned of conflicting accounts of the circumstances under which the child came to be assisted by the officer and immediately took the photo and caption down," the union statement continued.

Philadelphia City Councilwoman Jamie Gauthier, who represents the neighborhood where the incident happened, decried police action and the union's original statement.

"That child is likely traumatized, and the incident was used as propaganda by the national FOP," Gauthier said in a statement to NBC News. "The whole situation is frankly appalling.”

Councilwoman Gauthier said the officers were out of line.

“What we saw in that video was very disturbing," Gauthier said. "I can’t imagine any scenario in which this response would be appropriate."

David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.

National Guard Arrives In Philadelphia Following Several Days Of Unrest In City

October 30, 2020 at 10:00 pm

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The National Guard is now in Philadelphia following days of unrest after 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr. was shot and killed by police on Monday. Some of them were stationed near City Hall and the Municipal Services Building.

While Philadelphia did not see looting Thursday night, the National Guard has been deployed to the city ahead of Election Day. There was another curfew tonight that went into effect at 9 p.m., but that’s not the main job of the National Guard.

They will be guarding buildings like City Hall which will give Philadelphia police the ability to carry out their normal law enforcement duties.

Three nights of looting has left parts of the city in shambles.

“We’re hoping their presence will have a level of calm and allows police to go out and fight crime and to arrest some of these people who are looting and destroying property,” Mayor Jim Kenney said.

The National Guard arrived around noon. It’s not known how long exactly they will be here for.

“That is going to be a flexible, also day-by-day deployment, solely to provide safety to our neighborhoods,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.

With the election just around the corner, some people are happy to see the National Guard members.

“It’ll be nice to see us have peace,” said Rick Milkis of Northeast Philadelphia. “And I think we all need some peace around here.”

Meanwhile, city commissioners say the National Guard is not here because of the election, but officials admit order in the city is necessary to carry out a fair election.

“It’s paramount to democracy and here we are in Philadelphia, at the birthplace in our democracy. And we are working hard and we have in the past weeks and we’ll continue to work hard through Election Day to make sure that democracy is thriving through Election Day,” Philadelphia City Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Deeley said.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is also working with city officials.

The citywide curfew went into effect at 9 p.m. and will last until 6 a.m. Saturday. During those hours, the city says people can only leave their homes to go to work or to get emergency or medical assistance.

Wallace Jr.was shot and killed by two Philadelphia officers after, police say, he walked toward them with a knife and refused to drop the weapon. His family says Wallace Jr. was having a mental health crisis.

The fatal shooting has been followed by ongoing unrest and protests. Over 50 police officers have been injured. A number of Philadelphia businesses have also been looted and vandalized throughout the week.

“We just boarded up our business. We have security,” said Tariq Maseeh, who owns Juniata Meats.

In his neighborhood and nearby Port Richmond, where widespread looting took place earlier this week during the unrest that followed the police killing of Wallace Jr., CBS3 found businesses, both big and small, boarded-up Friday but no National Guard members.

“I wish they can come on this side too, you know because we have businesses here,” Maseeh said. “Everybody pays taxes here. We need security too.”

Maseeh hopes it helps maintain the peace on this mischief night.

“Whatever is happening is not connected to us,” Maseeh said. “Businesses is totally separate than what is going on out there.”

The 911 calls and body camera footage of the shooting will be released next Wednesday.

CBS3’s Matt Petrillo and Greg Argos contributed to this report.

Kyle Rittenhouse, Charged with Killing 2 Kenosha Protesters, Extradited to Wisconsin

Lawyers for the Illinois teen have said he was acting in self-defense during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Kyle Rittenhouse appears for an extradition hearing in Lake County court, in Waukegan, Ill. on Oct. 30, 2020.Nam Y. Huh / AP, Pool

Oct. 30, 2020, 10:36 PM EDT

By Phil Helsel

An Illinois teen charged with fatally shooting two protesters during demonstrations and unrest in Wisconsin was extradited to that state Friday.

A judge granted an extradition request to send Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch in northern Illinois, to Wisconsin, and he arrived at the Kenosha County Jail later that day, according to officials and court documents.

The judge rejected arguments by Rittenhouse's attorney that the documents did not conform to statutory requirements and that extraditing the teenager to Wisconsin would violate his Constitutional rights.

Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and other charges in the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of a third man on Aug. 25.

The shooting happened after Rittenhouse went to Kenosha during protests and unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back on Aug. 23. Blake survived, but his family has said he is paralyzed.

Rittenhouse's lawyers have said Rittenhouse acted in self-defense and that he was there to try and protect businesses.

Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020.

At a hearing in Illinois on Friday, Rittenhouse's attorney, John Pierce, told Lake County Judge Paul Novak that he no longer wanted to call witnesses, and he instead focused on what he called “fatal defects” in extradition papers.

An Illinois prosecutor, Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller, countered that the law on extradition was unambiguous, The Associated Press reported.

“You can imagine the chaos if someone can commit a crime and step over the (state borderline) and get sanctuary,” Scheller said.

Rittenhouse's attorney argued that there was insufficient evidence that the complaint was sworn before a magistrate as required, a court order granting the extradition states.

Novak wrote in the order that Rittenhouse offered no evidence of that.

"Even if this court were to find the complaint were not made before a magistrate as set above forth, Rittenhouse's argument would still fail," the judge wrote,

Novak noted that an affidavit of probable cause was also filed that satisfies the law, that a second judge found probable cause for Rittenhouse's arrest, and that a magistrate in Kenosha County also determined there was probable cause supporting an arrest warrant and that it complies with the law.

The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department said later Friday that Rittenhouse was at the jail after being extradited.

Before the fatal shooting of the two protesters, there had been nights of protests and demonstrations. There had been some looting and damage to businesses, including buildings being burned.

Rittenhouse was armed with what authorities have described as a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223-caliber rifle.

But that gun was bought and stored in Wisconsin, Lake County prosecutors have said, meaning Rittenhouse would not face gun charges in Illinois. His attorney has said in a statement that Rittenhouse and a friend armed themselves that night and that the guns never crossed state lines.

The shooting was captured on video. Video appeared to show Rosenbaum throw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, which does not hit him, and approach Rittenhouse before he is shot, court documents say. A witness told police Rosenbaum was trying to grab Rittenhouse's gun.

Rittenhouse a short time later runs away and is heard saying into a cell phone "I just killed somebody," according to the criminal complaint.

Video also showed Rittenhouse being followed by people as he ran, he appears to trip and then fire at another person who jumped at him who is not hit, the complaint says. Huber approaches while carrying a skateboard and tried to pull the rifle away from Rittenhouse before his is fatally shot, the video shows. A third person, who appeared to have had a handgun, was then shot in the arm, according to the complaint.

"This was classic self-defense, and we are going to prove it," Rittenhouse's lawyer, Pierce, has previously said. "We will obtain justice for Kyle no matter how hard the fight or how long it takes."

If convicted of first-degree homicide, Rittenhouse faces a sentence of life in prison.

Antioch is a village of around 14,000 near the Wisconsin border, and is around 15 miles from Kenosha.

Image: Phil helsel

Phil Helsel

Phil Helsel is a reporter for NBC News.

Cuba to Bring More Doctors to Zimbabwe

31 OCT, 2020 - 00:10 

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga welcomes Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Carmelina Rodriguez, when she paid a coutersy call at his Munhumutapa Offices in Harare yesterday. - Picture: Believe Nyakudjara

Herald Reporter

Cuba is set to increase the number of medical doctors operating in Zimbabwe on a Government-to-Government arrangement, a development that is expected to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Cuba’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Carmelina Ramirez Rodriguez, said more doctors, including specialists, are expected in Zimbabwe once discussions between the two countries were concluded.

Ambassador Rodriguez said this while briefing journalists soon after meeting Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Care, at his Munhumutapa offices.

“Today we came to meet the Vice President in his capacity as Minister of Health and Child Care, as you know we have a cooperation agreement in the medical field where we have doctors in Zimbabwe,” she said. “We intend to increase the cooperation by raising the number of the medical profession and in different specialities.

“Now we have 32 senior doctors in different provinces. We have Bulawayo Mutare, Chinhoyi, Harare.”

Asked how many medical doctors they will deploy, Ambassador Rodriguez said they were still discussing those requirements with the Zimbabwean Government.

“It is up to Zimbabwe, but Cuba is always open to help Zimbabwe and to increase that cooperation,” she said.

She said the discussion with VP Chiwenga centred on the higher and tertiary education sector, where Cuba has professors working as lecturers at Bindura University of Science Education “We also talked about cooperation in education, particularly about Bindura University,” said Ambassador Rodriguez. “We need to increase professors at Bindura University, we have looked at the possibilities to increase the number of professors.”

Turning to challenges, Ambassador Rodriguez said the language barrier had always been an impediment during the initial stage of deployment as most Cubans did not speak English, but Spanish.

“But when they leave after the end of their tour of duty, they will be able to speak good English and Shona, the other one is to integrate the Zimbabwean culture,” she said.

She said Harare and Havana enjoyed deep-rooted relations, which dated back to Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle.

When she met Senate president Cde Mabel Chinomona last year, Ambassador Rodriguez called for stronger ties between Zimbabwe and Cuba.

Zimbabwe and Cuba share a common history, with both countries reeling under unjustified United States sanctions, which seek to influence global politics either through war or other punitive measures.

Ever since revolutionary icon and extraordinary political figure Fidel Castro launched the Cuban medical doctor diplomacy soon after 1959, the Caribbean island nation has used this as a major source of diplomatic soft power and pride.

Yesterday’s meeting was also attended by Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro.

Tanzania’s President Wins Re-election Amid Claims of Fraud

31 OCT, 2020 - 06:10 

The Tanzanian president, John Magufuli, claimed 12.5m votes but there were concerns over interference in the election. Photograph: Ericky Boniphace/AFP/Getty Images

Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, has won re-election, the national electoral commission said on Friday, after a contest that has been dismissed by the opposition as a “travesty” due to widespread irregularities.

Magufuli received 12.5m votes in Wednesday’s presidential ballot, while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, received 1.9m votes, the commission said.

Magufuli has been seeking a second five-year term and promised voters that he would boost the economy by completing ambitious infrastructure projects started in his first term.

Lissu previously said that he will not accept the election results.

The US assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said on Friday: “We remain deeply concerned about reports of systematic interference in the democratic process.”

 “We continue to review credible allegations of the use of force against unarmed civilians,” he said in a tweet.

Opposition leaders allege fraud in Tanzanian elections

Magufuli’s CCM party, a version of which has held power in Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, had already retained power in the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago of Zanzibar, with 76% of the vote.

Dozens of opposition party officials and members were arrested in Zanzibar on Thursday and at least one was in hospital with severe injuries after allegations he was beaten by the police. The police have not commented on the incident.

The US embassy in the east African country said on Thursday there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation” in Wednesday’s vote for a president and lawmakers.

The election was marred by allegations of arrests among candidates and protesters, restrictions on the ability of political parties’ agents to access polling stations, multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots and widespread blocking of social media, the US embassy said.

Officials at the electoral commission were not immediately available for comment. On Wednesday, the commission denied allegations of fake ballots, saying they were unofficial and unsubstantiated.

Zitto Kabwe, the leader of the main opposition party in Zanzibar, ACT-Wazalendo, and Chadema’s leader in parliament, Freeman Mbowe, are among dozens of opposition candidates who have lost their seats to the ruling party.

Family Sues Sheriff Over Fatal Shooting of Teen

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The parents of a Tennessee teen fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jimmie and Brandie Zappier filed the suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville against the Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office in the death of their 19-year-old son, Anthony Zappier, news outlets reported.

The lawsuit says Hamblen County Sheriff’s Deputy Dewey Edward Horner Jr., shot the unarmed man while he was in the driver’s side of a police cruiser.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report said Zappier dragged the deputy in the cruiser, but the lawsuit denies that. The bureau labeled the shooting as justified, records show.

Zappier’s parents say the deputy used excessive force and was poorly trained to respond to the situation. The couple have asked for $25 million in damages.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain declined to comment on the lawsuit.

New Orleans Police: 2 Officers ‘Ambushed’ in French Quarter

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A suspect is in custody after two New Orleans police officers were shot Friday in the city’s French Quarter in what the police chief described as an “ambush.”

The officers were on routine patrol in the popular tourist area when they were ambushed and fired upon by an individual traveling as a passenger in a pedicab, Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said at a news conference near the scene. It was unknown how many shots were fired, he said.

Ferguson said one officer was shot below the eye in the left cheek, lodging a bullet in his skull. The officer was listed in serious but stable condition Friday. The other officer suffered minor abrasions to an arm.

“This is a dark day for our officers and I ask that you keep them in your prayers,” Ferguson added.

Both officers were brought to a hospital by other officers who responded to the scene, according to the official.

The suspect was apprehended by other responding officers and was also transported to a hospital because of an unknown medical condition, the superintendent said. A gun was found at the scene.

“Our officers did not discharge any weapons in this incident,” Ferguson said, adding that the suspect “was not physically harmed.”

“Our officers didn’t have any engagement with this individual,” he said. “They were going in different directions and as he crossed the intersection he began to fire on our officers.”

Ferguson said the agency is working to identify the suspect, who refused to provide his name or any other information.

The officer who was shot in the face has been with the force for four years, the other officer is a 16-year veteran of the department, Ferguson said.

The officers’ names were not immediately released.

Ex-Texas Officer’s Trial Set for Next Year in Woman’s Death

October 28, 2020

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge in Texas has tentatively set an August trial date for a white former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman who was fatally shot through a window.

Judge David Hagerman on Tuesday said the scheduling may be fluid but that the case of former Fort Worth officer Aaron Dean “needs to be tried next year,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Dean resigned after he was charged with murder in the Oct. 12, 2019, shooting death of Jefferson.

Jefferson had been babysitting her 8-year-old nephew at her mother’s home when a neighbor called a non-emergency police line to report that a door was ajar. Police have said that Dean opened fire from outside through a window after “perceiving a threat.”

A gag order has been issued that prevents prosecutors and defense attorneys from speaking publicly about the case. At Tuesday’s pretrial proceedings, Hagerman said he would likely consider a motion to change the venue of the trial from Tarrant County, which is home to Fort Worth.

Mother Sues in Police Shooting, Says Son Was Left to Die


Marcellis Stinnette's mother Zharvellis Holmes, left, and Marcellis's grandmother Sherrellis Stinnette attend a press conference, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Des Plaines, Ill., after viewing the videos of the Oct. 20, 2020 police involved shooting in Waukegan that killed 19-year-old Marcellis and seriously wounded Tafara Williams. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) — The mother of the Black man who was fatally shot by a suburban Chicago police officer has filed a federal lawsuit accusing law enforcement of letting him bleed to death in the eight minutes it for took an ambulance to arrive.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday by Zharvellis Holmes, the mother of 19-year-old Marcellis Stinnette, who was shot to death Oct. 20 by a Waukegan police officer. Tafara Williams, the 20-year-old Black woman who was with Stinnette when he was killed and who was also shot and wounded, filed a similar lawsuit on Wednesday.

Holmes’ lawsuit makes many of the same claims as Williams’ suit, including that the couple did nothing to justify being confronted by an officer as they sat in their vehicle outside Williams’ home, and that the two did nothing to put Officer Dante Salinas’ life in danger before he opened fire. Neither Stinnette nor Williams was armed.

Holmes’ lawsuit names Salinas, Officer James Keating, Waukegan Police Chief Wayne Walles and the city of Waukegan. It highlights what happened in the moments before the shooting and the actions of Keating, who is white and whose confrontation with the couple set in motion the events that led to the shooting.

Keating recognized Stinnette and told him that he was under arrest, the suit says. On one of the videos that the city released this week, an officer, presumably Keating, can be heard saying he had a warrant for Stinnette’s arrest.

The lawsuit says Stinnette had nothing to do with Williams’ decision to drive away and did not know that she was about to flee. It also suggests that Keating ratcheted up the tension of the situation by falsely claiming on his radio: “Hey, they just ran me over.”

It also says Williams didn’t try to run over Salinas, as he can be heard saying on body camera video that he failed to turn on until after the shooting.

Even after Williams screamed, “He got shot, he got shot, he needs help,” the officers on the scene “did not render any aid at this time,” Holmes’ lawsuit says.

Officers “eventually” pulled Stinnette from the vehicle and placed him on the ground, then “waited on the scene for an ambulance,” the lawsuit says. Stinnette “did not receive medical assistance for over eight minutes, while he bled out on the ground,” it says.

Walles and an attorney representing the city, Rick Hammond, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Police Shooting of Black Man Near Portland Raises Tension


This August 2018 photo provided by Jake Thompson shows Kevin Peterson Jr., a 21-year-old Black man who was shot and killed by law enforcement in Clark County, Wash., on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. The Clark County Sheriff's office has not released any details on the Thursday evening shooting. (Jake Thompson via AP)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — The shooting of a Black man by law enforcement in Washington state threatened to increase tensions around Portland, Oregon, where protesters against racial injustice have clashed repeatedly with right-wing groups.

Friends and family identified the dead man as Kevin E. Peterson Jr., 21, and said he was a former high school football player and the proud father of an infant daughter. The shooting happened in Hazel Dell, an unincorporated area of Vancouver, Washington, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) north of Portland.

In a statement, Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins said a joint city-county narcotics task force was conducting an investigation just before 6 p.m. Thursday and chased a man into the parking lot of a bank, where he fired a gun at them. A firearm was recovered at the scene, Atkins said.

Authorities have not named the person who was shot, but Kevin E. Peterson Sr. told The Oregonian/OregonLive the person was his son, Kevin E. Peterson Jr. Atkins referenced the Peterson family in his remarks but did not confirm Peterson was the person who was killed.

“I can say that our agency is grieving as is the Peterson family and the community,” Atkins said. “As the community grieves, I call for there to be a respectful and dignified observance of the loss of life in this matter. There is always the potential for misinformation, doubt and confusion – and there may be those who wish to sow seeds of doubt.”

The investigation has been referred to the Southwest Washington Independent Investigation Team, and the Camas Police Department is taking the lead, Atkins said.

Investigators said Friday evening that the narcotics task force had contacted a man suspected of selling illegal drugs in a motel parking lot and that he fled on foot with officers following. The man produced a handgun and the officers backed off, investigators said. A short time later, the man encountered three Clark County deputies, all of whom fired their pistols at the man, they added. They did not say the man fired a handgun found at the scene, making it unclear what happened just before the shooting.

The community is a short drive north across the Columbia River from Portland, where racial justice protests have played out nearly every night since George Floyd’s killing by police in May. Southwest Washington is also home to the right-wing group Patriot Prayer, which has held rallies for President Donald Trump in Portland in recent months that ended in violence.

Peterson’s family members, including the mother of his infant daughter, grieved on social media and questioned why it took authorities so long to make the shooting public and allow family to identify the body.

“Kevin did everything for me ... doesn’t matter what it was or what time he always came when i asked. I regret every argument please come back,” his girlfriend, Olivia Selto, wrote on Twitter. “I miss him so much already.”

More than a dozen Black Lives Matter protesters lined a busy street in Hazel Dell on Friday afternoon in front of the US Bank parking lot where Peterson died. They held signs reading, “Honk for Black lives. White silence is violence” and “Scream his name.”

Bouquets of flowers were tied to a fence where the shooting happened along the street lined with strip malls and fast food restaurants. Most drivers honked in support of protesters, but one man screamed expletives and threats at the protesters and revved his engine as he drove past.

A vigil was planned for Friday evening at the location and by 8 p.m. hundreds of people had gathered, lighting candles and chanting Kevin Peterson’s name and “Black Lives Matter” before Peterson’s family members arrived.

A smaller group of people in support of police and President Trump gathered and waved flags across the street. Some shouted obscenities at the people attending the vigil, a pickup truck and cars with Trump and other flags zoomed past at a high rate of speed and at least one minor scuffle between the groups appeared to break out before 9 p.m., according to footage from news outlets at the scene.

Brooklyn Tidwell, 16, said she and other students attended the rally instead of going to school.

“Black lives aren’t treated the same as my life,“ said Tidwell, who is white. “We should be voicing this and we should be protesting this because it needs to change.”

Daniel Thompson, 26, stopped by with a bouquet of pink roses to leave at the scene. Thompson, who is Black, said he did not know Peterson but could identify with the shooting death.

“I walk this street every day. It’s sickening. It could have been anyone of us,“ he said.

A few blocks away, supporters of law enforcement also gathered, with people holding signs, including some that read, “Police Lives Matter.”

Bystanders at the scene of the shooting said Peterson’s car was towed but his body remained for hours.

Mac Smiff, an organizer of Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, said he knows Peterson’s sister and spent more than five hours at the scene.

“There was a ton of grief, a ton of grief. He’s 21 and has a baby, an infant,” Smiff said. “They’re not sure what happened, why the encounter took place. Everyone was extremely disheveled and confused.”

The elder Peterson told the newspaper that he arrived at the scene about 6 p.m. Thursday but “did not get a chance to identify my son” until 5:30 a.m. Friday.

Jake Thompson, a high school acquaintance of Peterson, said he took photos at the wedding of Peterson’s parents in Portland in 2018. On Friday, he posted a black-and-white photo of Peterson in a suit and bow tie as he flashed a big grin.

“I didn’t sleep much last night,” he said Friday.

Peterson played football at Union High School in Vancouver, Washington, loved sports of any kind and was a big personality who was known and liked by everyone at school, Thompson said.

State Leaders Facing 2nd Wave Resist Steps to Curb Virus


Medical personnel don PPE while attending to a patient (not infected with COVID-19) at Bellevue Hospital in New York, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. Hospitals in the city's public NYC Health and Hospitals' system have been upgrading their equipment, bracing for a potential resurgence of coronavirus patients, drawing on lessons learned in the spring when the outbreak brought the nation's largest city to its knees. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Even as a new surge of coronavirus infections sweeps the U.S., officials in many hard-hit states are resisting taking stronger action to slow the spread, with pleas from health experts running up against political calculation and public fatigue.

Days before a presidential election that has spotlighted President Donald Trump’s scattershot response to the pandemic, the virus continued its resurgence Friday, with total confirmed cases in the U.S. surpassing 9 million.

The number of new infections reported daily is on the rise in 47 states. They include Nebraska and South Dakota, where the number of new cases topped previous highs for each state.

The record increases in new cases have eclipsed the spikes that set off national alarms last spring and summer. During those outbreaks, first in the Northeast and then in Sun Belt states, many governors closed schools and businesses and restricted public gatherings.

But this fall’s resurgence of the virus, despite being far more widespread, has brought a decidedly more limited response in many states. Most are led by Republican governors backing a president who insists, falsely, that the country is getting the virus under control.

Over the past two weeks, more than 76,000 new virus cases have been reported daily in the U.S. on average, up from about 54,000 in mid-October, according to Johns Hopkins University. Deaths, which usually lag case numbers and hospitalizations, are also rising, from about 700 to more than 800 a day.

The virus has now killed more than 229,000 Americans.

Nevertheless, many officials have resisted calls to enact measures like statewide mask mandates or stricter curbs on the size of gatherings, casting the response to the virus as a matter of individual decision-making.

“At the end of the day, personal responsibility is the only way. People will either choose or not choose to social distance, or choose to wear a mask or not,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican. “What we can do is to remind them is that personal responsibility can protect them.”

Lee’s state is among those without a blanket mask mandate despite a study released this week showing that areas of Tennessee where people are not required to wear them are seeing the most hospitalizations.

In Iowa, where a record 606 coronavirus patients were hospitalized Friday, one health expert said officials there had been too quick to reopen, along with several neighboring states.

“If we follow the course that the other Midwestern states like Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota have, we’re going to have trouble keeping up,” said Dr. Ravi Vemuri, an infectious disease specialist at Mercy One hospitals.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, who has rejected mask requirements and said Iowans must learn to live with the virus, continued this week to downplay efforts to contain it.

On Wednesday, Reynolds, who has made frequent campaign appearances for Trump and other candidates surrounded by crowds of often maskless supporters, poked fun at Theresa Greenfield, a Democrat running in a tight Senate race, for suspending a campaign tour after a staff member was exposed to someone who tested positive.

“Theresa didn’t get very far on her RV tour, did she?” Reynolds said. She went on to accuse Greenfield and other Democrats of “hiding in their basements.”

The pandemic has put similar pressures on states with Democratic governors, but the politics have played out differently.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has repeatedly tried to impose restrictions but been stymied by the Republican-controlled legislature. She is considering calling lawmakers into a special session to impose a statewide mask mandate.

In Wisconsin, where the virus has raged since September, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers pleaded with residents this week to shelter in place to slow the spread. Evers issued a formal stay-at-home order in March, but the state’s conservative Supreme Court struck it down in May. He was subsequently sued over a mask mandate and limits on gatherings in bars and restaurants.

The parrying by governors and legislators reflect the way that politics and the personal beliefs of a significant sector of the population have become entangled with supposedly nonpartisan matters of public health.

Michelle Riipinen, a 38-year-old resident of Boise, Idaho, said state-mandated school closings, business shutdowns and mask requirements are “draconian measures” that do more harm than good. She said she chooses not to wear a mask.

“I believe in personal responsibility and that it is our responsibility as American citizens to choose if we want to wear it or not,” she said. “Our government shouldn’t be making that choice for us.”

In Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered mask mandates and limited social gatherings to 10 people or fewer only in counties with the highest transmission rates, not the entire state. The latter measure includes exceptions for religious services and school events.

“This is not an easy thing to enforce. As you drive down the road, you talk about people getting tickets for speeding, but how many are actually speeding?” Herbert said when asked about his resistance to broader mandates.

Herbert said Friday he was “disgusted” after someone shot at a state health department office. The incident came a day after anti-mask protesters gathered outside the home of Utah state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who recommended that the state reinstate restrictions to avoid overwhelming hospitals.

“It’s taken a really big toll on my family and myself,” Dunn said. “I think it’s really unfortunate we live in a state where people feel that it is OK to harass civil servants.”

Herbert, who has not heeded Dunn’s recommendation, said protesters were within their rights to criticize him or other elected officials, but that they should leave state employees alone.

“I know we’re asking a lot of the people of Utah to be patient,” the governor said. “We know that their time is valuable. I would hope that they would put that in a constructive effort.”


Geller reported from New York. Associated Press writers Sophia Eppolito in Salt Lake City, Christine Fernando in Carmel, Indiana, and Jonathan Mattise in Nashville, Tennessee, contributed to this story.

Kyle Rittenhouse Is Extradited To Face Homicide Charges In Wisconsin

October 30, 20209:38 PM ET


Kyle Rittenhouse sits while listening during an extradition hearing in Lake County court Friday in Waukegan, Ill. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who's charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during a protest in Kenosha, Wis., was extradited from Illinois to Wisconsin following the ruling of Lake County Judge Paul Novak.

Novak denied Rittenhouse's request to remain in Illinois, according to The Associated Press, noting that the defense had characterized the charges as politically motivated. "This Illinois court shall not examine any potential political impact a Wisconsin District Attorney potentially considered in his charging decision," Novak's ruling read.

Until Friday, Rittenhouse had been held in Lake County, Ill., which borders Kenosha, where the shootings took place on Aug. 25. He is now in Wisconsin where he faces life imprisonment if convicted of his most serious crime, first degree intentional homicide. Rittenhouse has also been charged with attempted intentional homicide as well as underage possession of a firearm.

Rittenhouse's lawyer, John Pierce, attempted to block his transfer to Wisconsin by citing faulty extradition paperwork. The prosecution insisted that the paperwork was in order. Stephen Scheller, Lake County assistant state's attorney, said there would be chaos if someone could step over a state line to receive sanctuary after committing a crime.

The defense also claimed Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense, allegedly killing 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum attempted to wrestle his rifle away.

Shortly afterward, Rittenhouse was approached by other protestors and then tripped and fell. While on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber, of neighboring Silver Lake, struck Rittenhouse with a skateboard and tried to take the rifle away, according to the AP. Rittenhouse shot Huber, killing him, and wounded another protestor, Gaige Grosskreutz of West Allis, Wis., who had a handgun.

After the incident, Rittenhouse returned home to Antioch, Ill., less than 20 miles from Kenosha, and was arrested the following day, Aug. 26.

Dustin Jones is NPR's Newsdesk intern.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Zimbabwe Government Slams Britain’s Colonial Hangover

30 OCT, 2020 - 00:10 

Fungi Kwaramba and Farirayi Machivenyika


Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo has told the British that the New Dispensation’s openness and re-engagement stance is not an open invitation for interference or intrusion into Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

This comes as the British House of Lords, in a condescending manner and typical colonial hangover style on Tuesday spent time debating Zimbabwe, with members concocting lies and falsehoods of a relationship between President Mnangagwa and Henrietta Rushwaya who was arrested while attempting to smuggle six kilograms of gold early this week.

During the debate, the British also revealed yet another plot to lean on African countries and the world at large to isolate Zimbabwe, alleging fictitious human rights abuses and brazenly ignoring strides made by the Second Republic in entrenching the rule of law and constitutionalism and also arresting corrupt Government officials.

Such actions, Dr Moyo said are unfortunate as they fail to appreciate that Zimbabwe is a sovereign nation which can chart its own path without being hectored by other nations.

“It is more than 40 years ago that the Union Flag was lowered and yet, it seems, our friends in London still regard Zimbabwe as part of their extended family —  requiring constant supervision, correction and even punishment when, in their own assessment, we stray from the path they and others have chosen for us.

“Naturally, we are disappointed at the overally negative tone and tenor of the debate and by the uninformed quality of much of the commentary or observation made by those who spoke.

“The deliberate attempt to besmirch His Excellency the President, by way of innuendo, with the corruption and smuggling case involving Henrietta Rushwaya, is a new low, even for the noble Lords,” said Dr Moyo.

Since coming to power, President Mnangagwa has opened doors for engagement and re-engagements with all world nations and has been lauded for adopting political reforms that have ushered broader liberties, he has also walked the talk on fighting corruption firing, in the space of three years, two Cabinet ministers implicated in graft.

However, Western nations, that apparently, will never forgive Zimbabwe for the land reform programme are seemingly blind to the reforms, as they are misled by opposition forces in the country and regime change enablers of unsubstantiated allegations of human-rights abuses and a failure to act on corruption.

“Equally unfortunate is the clear acknowledgement by the British Government that it is actively engaging others —  including the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and South Africa   —  with a view to further intensifying pressure upon Zimbabwe.

“One would have thought that, by now, a lesson would have been learned.  Zimbabwe is a sovereign state.  We chart our own course based on our own national interests. We co-operate with our regional partners and indeed with all partners on the basis of mutual respect and understanding.”

Despite brazen attempts by Western nations to prescribe and dictate to Zimbabwe, the Second Republic is determined to forge a productive, mutually-beneficial partnership with the UK, Dr Moyo said.

Meanwhile, in the House of Assembly, parliamentarians also slammed the British House of Lords for its continued meddling in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs.

Some of the utterances include statements by Lord St John of Bletso that there had been “no prosecutions for corruption” in Zimbabwe and failure to acknowledge progress that has been made in the Government’s reform agenda.

Presenting his Matter of National Interest to the National Assembly yesterday, Zanu PF Chief Whip Cde Pupurai Togarepi said the British had no moral standing to lecture Zimbabwe on human rights.

Cde Togarepi slammed Lord Peter Hain for making baseless conclusions of the human rights situation in the country, saying Zimbabwe was not a British colony anymore.

“As a sovereign nation, with equal global rights, what we ask from the British is mutual respect and not to be lectured on human rights and due processes, tenets they denied our forefathers and which we only regained in 1980,” he said.

“The arrest of Rushwaya is clear testimony that President Mnangagwa is walking the talk on corruption and economic saboteurs, of whom we have many in this country, would be hunted day and night by the security forces.”

Cde Togarepi added that Zimbabweans had the capacity to resolve their differences without outside interference, especially the former colonial power.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Portfolio Committee chairperson, Cde Kindness Paradza, echoed similar sentiments.

“The obsession with Zimbabwe continues reflecting, sadly, their Lordships lingering nostalgia for an empire forever lost and, perhaps, their frustration with the inescapable truth of ever dwindling British influence across the swathes of territory where, it was once said that the sun never sets,” Cde Paradza said.

He added that the debate by the House of Lords on the situation in Zimbabwe exposed their dislike of the Government.

Cde Paradza said instead of expending their energies on the situation in Zimbabwe, the British were better off looking at the multi-million pound scandal regarding procurement of Covid-19 equipment that saw contracts being awarded to dormant companies.

“It is this kind of ignorance, accompanied by the usual British arrogance and condescension which, I believe, all Zimbabweans from whatever political persuasion they might hail, should find deeply offensive, intrusive and completely unacceptable,” he said.