Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

(L to R) Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein are shown in these booking photos. (Reuters)
Updated 23 March 2018
0

Kansas militia members wanted to kill Muslims — prosecutor

WICHITA, KANSAS: Three men charged with plotting to bomb an apartment complex in western Kansas, where Muslim immigrants from Somalia lived and had a mosque, wanted to kill as many as possible and send a message they were not welcome in the United States, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
Prosecutors charged Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein each with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in Garden City, Kansas, and conspiring to deny others’ civil rights. Wright also faces weapons-related charges and Stein is charged with lying to the FBI.
Officials have said the men, who face life in prison if convicted, were members of a militia group.
The defendants, all white men, pleaded not guilty after they were indicted in October 2016. Defense attorneys said Thursday their clients were entrapped by the federal government.
“Defendants wanted to plant the message Muslims are not welcomed here — not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America,” prosecutor Risa Berkower said in opening statements of the trial in federal court in Wichita, Kansas.
Berkower said the men were members of the Kansas Security Force, which she described as a militia group. They had formed a splinter group known as “the Crusaders” to “kill as many Muslims as they could” and “to make Muslims uncomfortable in this country,” she added.
The defendants had tried unsuccessfully to recruit other militia members to join them, Berkower said. One of the men who had been approached told the FBI of the plan, she said.
However, the attorney for Stein, James Pratt, said federal agents took advantage of his client.
“Patrick Stein at times has allowed his prejudice and hate to consume him,” Pratt said in his opening statement. “The federal government saw an opportunity to exploit Patrick Stein’s fears.”
He also said the FBI’s informant was the one providing maps and aerial views of the apartment complex and all of those were ultimately supplied by the FBI.
“The FBI created and directed all of this,” said Richard Federico, the attorney for Allen.
Federal, state and local authorities investigated the plot for eight months as the three conducted surveillance and stockpiled guns and explosives in preparation for bombing an apartment complex where 120 people lived including the Somalians, according to the charges.
The men intended to park a vehicle at each corner of the apartment complex and detonate them, according to the charges. Garden City is a town of about 27,000 people in southwestern Kansas.
Allen and Wright are from Liberal, Kansas, and Stein is from Wright, Kansas.


World’s 26 richest own same as poorest half of humanity: Oxfam

People are seen in a congress center ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 20, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 min 2 sec ago
0

World’s 26 richest own same as poorest half of humanity: Oxfam

  • Oxfam warned that governments were exacerbating inequality by increasingly underfunding public services like health care and education at the same time as they consistently under-tax the wealthy

DAVOS, Switzerland: The world’s 26 richest people own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity, Oxfam said Monday, urging governments to hike taxes on the wealthy to fight soaring inequality.
A new report from the charity, published ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, also found that billionaires around the world saw their combined fortunes grow by $2.5 billion each day in 2018.
The world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, saw his fortune increase to $112 billion last year, Oxfam said, pointing out that just one percent of his wealth was the equivalent to the entire health budget of Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people.
The 3.8 billion people at the bottom of the scale meanwhile saw their wealth decline by 11 percent last year, Oxfam said, stressing that the growing gap between rich and poor was undermining the fight against poverty, damaging economies and fueling public anger.
“People across the globe are angry and frustrated,” warned Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima in a statement.
The numbers are stark: Between 1980 and 2016, the poorest half of humanity pocketed just 12 cents on each dollar of global income growth, compared with the 27 cents captured by the top one percent, the report found.

Oxfam warned that governments were exacerbating inequality by increasingly underfunding public services like health care and education at the same time as they consistently under-tax the wealthy.
Calls for hiking rates on the wealthy have multiplied amid growing popular outrage in a number of countries over swelling inequality.
In the United States, new congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made headlines earlier this month by proposing to tax the ultra-rich up to 70 percent.
The self-described Democratic Socialist’s proposal came after President Donald Trump’s sweeping tax reforms cut the top rate last year from 39.6 percent to 37 percent.
And in Europe, the “yellow vest” movement that has been rocking France with anti-government protests since November is demanding that President Emmanuel Macron repeal controversial cuts to wealth taxes on high earners.
“The super-rich and corporations are paying lower rates of tax than they have in decades,” the Oxfam report said, pointing out that “the human costs — children without teachers, clinics without medicines — are huge.”
“Piecemeal private services punish poor people and privilege elites,” it said, stressing that every day, some 10,000 people die due to lacking access to affordable health care.
The report, released as the world’s rich, famous and influential began arriving for the plush annual gathering at the luxury Swiss ski resort town, urged governments to “stop the race to the bottom” in taxing rich individuals and big corporations.
Oxfam found that asking the richest to pay just 0.5 percent extra tax on their wealth “could raise more money than it would cost to educate all 262 million children out of school and provide health care that would save the lives of 3.3 million people.”