Gunman kills four in Northern California shooting spree

Two women embrace outside Rancho Tehama Elementary School, where a gunman opened fire on Tuesday, in Corning, Calif. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2017
0

Gunman kills four in Northern California shooting spree

RED BLUFF, California: A gunman choosing targets at random opened fire in a rural Northern California town Tuesday, killing four people at several sites and wounding others at an elementary school before police shot him dead, authorities said.
The gunfire began around 8 a.m. in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento.
Police offered no immediate word on the assailant’s motive, but a sheriff’s official said the shooter’s neighbors had reported a domestic violence incident.
“It was very clear at the onset that we had an individual that was randomly picking targets,” Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said.
Witnesses reported hearing gunshots and children screaming at an elementary school about five miles down a road from where the shooting is believed to have started.
Several people were wounded at the school, said Jeanine Quist, an administrative assistant with the Corning Union Elementary School District.
Salvador Tello said the gunman fired at a truck in front of him as he was dropping off his three children. Tello said he was about three blocks from the school when bullets made “big holes” in the truck in front of him.
He said he forced his children to duck down and slammed his truck into reverse and headed to the children’s grandmother’s house.
“I put my kids down and put my truck in reverse and went out,” he said. “I don’t believe it because I wake up, take my kids, feed them cereal and put them in the truck and says ‘Let’s go to school like a normal day.’“
On the way, he said, he saw an apparent gunshot victim and police at another scene.
Details were still sketchy hours after the shootings, and authorities did not have a firm count of the wounded due to the number of places the gunman attacked, Johnston said.
Authorities recovered a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns.
The rural subdivision is described on its website as a “quiet private country community” where “the people are friendly and the pace is relaxed.” The homeowner association’s website says there are 2,016 lots in the community and 1,346 voting members.
Two hospitals said they were treating a total of seven gunshot victims, including at least three children.
At least one student was wounded at the school. Another child was shot while driving with a woman, who also was wounded, Johnston said.
He declined to release the name of the shooter but said he was “aware” of a domestic violence incident that neighbors reported.
Brian Flint told the Record Searchlight newspaper in the city of Redding that his neighbor, whom he knows only as Kevin, was the gunman and that his roommate was among the victims. He said the shooter also stole his truck.
“The crazy thing is that the neighbor has been shooting a lot of bullets lately, hundreds of rounds, large magazines,” Flint said. “We made it aware that this guy is crazy and he’s been threatening us.”

 


Delhi holds breath as burning farms herald pollution season

Updated 5 min 22 sec ago
0

Delhi holds breath as burning farms herald pollution season

ISHARGARH, India: Harpal Singh struck a match and watched his fields burn, the acrid smoke drifting toward New Delhi where a lethal smog cocktail is once again intensifying over the world’s most polluted megacity.
Every November, air pollution in northern India reaches levels unimaginable in most parts of the world, forcing schools shut and filling hospital wards with wheezing patients.
As winter descends, cooler air traps car fumes, factory emissions and construction dust close to the ground, fomenting a toxic brew of harmful pollutants that regularly exceed 30 times the World Health Organization safe limit.
The scourge is compounded as farmers like Singh — rushing to ready their fields for next season’s wheat crop — use fire to quickly and cheaply clear their land.
He knows slash-and-burn farming is illegal and that doing so, year after year, helps sicken millions in the Indian capital and beyond.
But local authorities appear powerless to stop it and — looming health crisis or not in Delhi — the narrow window to plant for the winter harvest is closing.
“We have no other choice but to burn the straw,” Singh told AFP in Ishargarh, a village in Haryana state, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Delhi.
“We know the smoke pollutes the air. But it is the cheapest and easiest way to get rid of the (crop) residue,” the 65-year-old farmer told AFP, as burning straw crackled and popped behind him.

This smoke is already reaching Delhi, bringing a familiar sepia haze and a bad omen for officials wanting to avoid a third straight year of record-setting smog.
Deterrents, such as fines of up to $200 for farmers flouting the law, appear to have limited effect.
Satellite imagery shows countless spot fires already burning in Haryana and Punjab, two breadbasket states bordering Delhi.
S. Narayanan, from Haryana’s State Pollution Control Board, said 300,000 rupees ($4100) in fines had been issued and fires were down 40 percent in some areas.
“But our intention is not only to take punitive action, but to educate the farmers,” he told AFP.
Farmers represent powerful voting blocs in rural states like Haryana and Punjab, and local authorities are reluctant to upset them.
Efforts to persuade farmers, many living below the poverty line, to adopt alternative methods of land clearance have fallen on deaf ears.
Many have balked at suggestions of buying “Happy Seeders” — expensive machines which according to media reports cost at least 150,000 rupees — that sow wheat without needing to dispose of the leftover straw.
The government is offering a subsidy of 50 percent to individuals and 80 percent to groups of farmers to encourage them to use the machines.
“We are already in debt... and we can’t afford even the subsidised machines,” said Karnail Singh, a 60-year-old farmer. He suggested the government pay farmers by the acre not to burn their fields.
Television ads, social media campaigns and meetings at the village level have also had limited success.
Powerful farmers unions say many of the government’s ideas — such as encouraging farmers to sell straw to factories — overlook extra costs imposed on poor rural families.
“Who will bear the cost of transporting the straw? Farmers are also concerned about the pollution, but they are helpless,” said Sucha Singh from Bhartiya Kisan Union, a farmers’ rights group.

Many farmers feel scapegoated for the modern-day problems of India’s fast-growing, chaotic cities.
The WHO in May listed 14 Indian cities in the world’s top 15 with the dirtiest air, with Delhi dubbed the most polluted major center.
“Farmers are blamed for the pollution, but nobody talks about the factories and cars and buses which are the main culprits,” Singh said.
Others are more defiant.
“We are always the soft targets. We will continue to burn stubble. Let the government do what it can,” said another farmer Harbans Singh.
With smoke on the horizon, the Delhi government is squaring off for a fight with its neighbors.
It recently closed its last coal-fired power plant but the city’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warned of another smog crisis if Punjab and Haryana failed to take “concrete steps” on crop fires.
“The entire region including Delhi will again become (a) gas chamber,” he said on October 12.
“People will again face difficulty in breathing. This is criminal.”