After mass shooting, Las Vegas seeks healing

Above, some of the 58 white crosses for the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas Strip on October 1. Stephen Paddock killed at least 58 people and injured more than 450 after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
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After mass shooting, Las Vegas seeks healing

LAS VEGAS: Far from the Las Vegas Strip and its flashy hotels, a small healing park opened Friday in the north of Las Vegas, as communities shaken by Sunday’s horrific mass shooting join together to grieve.
One of its creators, landscape architect Mark Hamalmann, said it is a “remembrance garden,” featuring 58 trees planted along a small paved walkway. In the middle, there is a large oak tree representing the “tree of life,” while American flags adorn a wooden fence.
“Everything here is donated by local companies, everyone here is a volunteer, and it’s just amazing how it’s come together,” Hamalmann, who oversaw the garden’s construction, told AFP.
In the healing park, he explained, everyone is welcome to walk, sit and reflect on the benches, or leave messages on a wall of remembrance.
And there is little doubt healing is what Las Vegas needs.
Fifty-eight people died and nearly 500 were injured when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music festival — an act that investigators are still at a loss to explain — before taking his own life.
Since the shooting, “I can’t sleep. I think probably the adrenaline is still running and I can’t wrap my brain around what I saw,” said Dori McKendry, a driver for rideshare startup Lyft.
McKendry was parked in front of the Mandalay Bay hotel Sunday night when Paddock started shooting from his 32nd-floor room.
Admitting she currently has a “mental and emotional feeling of insanity,” McKendry said she has offered free rides to victims’ families to help process what happened.
Thomas Fadden, who survived what was the deadliest shooting in recent US history, said it was scary “not to know who your neighbor could be.”
Paddock, a retired accountant and high stakes gambler, lived quietly in the small town of Mesquite, Nevada, north of Las Vegas. His neighbors, his family and even his girlfriend said they had no clue about what he was about to do.
Several clinics in Las Vegas have organized counseling sessions for people struggling since the shooting — including survivors, relatives or simply those suffering from anxiety in the wake of the atrocity.
At the University of Las Vegas (UNLV), a clinic was set up at The Practice, where psychology students are trained.
Some who seek help “want to talk and share,” while others “will feel pretty constricted and not be ready,” director Michelle Paul said, adding it’s important to “provide a sense of security, safety, comfort, basic problem solving,” to disoriented patients.
“What we try to do is work collaboratively with clients and try to figure out for them, what’s going on for them, normalize that, and then also help them come up with some positive coping strategies,” she explained.
For psychologist Daniel Filacora, of private clinic Bridge Counseling, talking about the details of traumatic experiences helps disconnect negative emotions from the event.
“Telling one’s story, especially in such a dramatic event, is important to differentiate between what really happened and the negative emotions attached,” he said.
It is even more important in Las Vegas, a world-famous party hotspot where an attack on a large gathering of 20,000 people is “particularly traumatic,” he added.
“At a community level, we’re obviously more traumatized because it is in our community now,” added Michelle Paul.
As a result, she says, getting life back to normal in Las Vegas will be a “marathon, not a sprint.”


Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

Updated 19 July 2019
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Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

  • Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds
  • Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for 13 days, a day after he was arrested in a case involving a multibillion-rupee liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract to Qatar.
Abbasi, who is also the vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) party, was presented before Judge Bashir Ahmed of an accountability court on Friday morning. The case has been adjourned until Aug. 1.
Speaking to journalists before his appearance at the court, Abbasi called his arrest “an attack on democracy.”
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds in the import of LNG that the agency says caused a loss of about $2 billion to the national exchequer. He is also being investigated for allegedly granting a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal to a “favored” company. Abbasi rejects the allegations.
PML-N Sen. Mushahid Ullah Khan said Pakistan was facing “the worst energy crisis of its kind” when his party came to power after the 2013 general election, and the LNG deal was quickly finalized with Qatar to overcome it.
“The industry was shutting down with thousands of people getting unemployed, but this LNG supply helped us reverse the tide,” he told Arab News.
Khan said Pakistan’s LNG contract with Qatar was “the cheapest possible deal” the country could have gotten, and rubbished allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
“If there is something wrong in the contract, why is this government not reviewing it?” Khan asked.
Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar under a 15-year agreement at 13.37 percent of Brent crude price. It is a government-to-government agreement and the price can only be reviewed after 10 years of the contract.
“It is the worst example of political victimization by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government,” PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said on Friday after the accountability court remanded Abbasi in NAB custody. “Shahid Khaqan served the nation with dignity and did not commit any wrongdoings,” Haq added.
Abbasi was arrested on his way to Lahore to address a news conference along with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
He served as federal minister for petroleum in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he finalized an LNG import deal with Qatar. Abbasi then served for less than a year as prime minister following the resignation of Sharif in 2017.
On Thursday, Pakistan opened technical bids of four international companies for the supply of 400 million cubic feet per day of LNG for a period of 10 years to fulfil the country’s rising energy requirements.
Officials told Arab News that a Qatari delegation, led by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in June, resented that Islamabad had ignored its lowest offer of 11.05 percent of Brent for the fresh deal, and instead floated tenders seeking provision of LNG for 10 years from international companies.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy said: “Yes, this is true. Qatar expressed its annoyance, but we are following our rules. Qatar has not submitted its bid to participate in the process.”
Khan won power last year vowing to root out corruption among what he describes as a venal political elite, and views the probes into veteran politicians — including Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari — as long overdue.
The NAB’s campaign has become a topic of fierce political debate in Pakistan, and its focus on the new government’s political foes has prompted accusations of a one-sided purge. The government denies targeting political opponents.
Commenting on Abbasi’s case, former NAB prosecutor Munir Sadiq said the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference against Abbasi in an accountability court for prosecution, but only if it found irrefutable evidence against him.
“This case is now at the evidence-collection stage, and the NAB will file a reference in the court if it finds irrefutable corruption evidence against Abbasi during the investigation,” Sadiq said.
He added that any inquiry against Abbasi would be shelved after 90 days if corroborating evidence of corruption was not found.
“If a weak case will be filed against the accused, then he will surely receive support from the court,” Sadiq said.