Atlanta shootings expose fear in Asian-American community

People march through a neighborhood to protest against anti-Asian violence on March 18, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP)
People march through a neighborhood to protest against anti-Asian violence on March 18, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 19 March 2021

Atlanta shootings expose fear in Asian-American community

Atlanta shootings expose fear in Asian-American community
  • President Biden and VP Kamala Harris to meet Asian-American leaders in Atlanta on Friday

ATLANTA, USA: Asian-American communities were on alert Thursday after a shooting rampage that left six women of Asian origin dead and stoked fears in a population already alarmed by a surge in hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Three massage parlors around Atlanta were targeted Tuesday, before a 21-year-old man suspected of the killings was arrested in southwest Georgia hours later.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Andrew Yang, a former Democratic presidential hopeful who is running for mayor of New York.
“I’ve been Asian all my life, and I remember — vividly — growing up with this constant sense of invisibility, mockery, disdain, a sense that you cannot be American if you have an Asian face,” Yang said.
“But this has metastasized into something new and deadly and virulent and hateful,” he told a press conference in New York alongside the Black civil rights activist Al Sharpton.
The White House announced that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who were already scheduled to be in Atlanta on Friday, would meet Asian-American leaders to “discuss the ongoing attacks and threats against the community.”
Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, faces eight counts of murder and one charge of aggravated assault for Tuesday’s attacks, in which six of the eight people killed were women of Asian descent.
He has admitted carrying out the attacks, according to law enforcement, but claims he was not motivated by racial hatred.
FBI Director Chris Wray reiterated in an interview with public radio station NPR on Thursday that the gunman’s motive was yet to be fully understood, but the shootings nevertheless struck a chord in a country where hate crimes against Asian Americans have been on the rise.
Chi-Chi Zhang, an Asian-American woman living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, described discussing race and hate crimes with her two young daughters, aged two and four.
“We started to talk about what our escape plan would be if we were to be attacked on the street,” she said. “How is that a normal conversation to have with a two-year-old?“
Zhang said that for much of her life she had been taught to conform to the idea of a “model minority” but added that the concept of keeping one’s head down was “the reason nobody pays attention to crimes against us.”

‘Pandemic of discrimination and hate'
In Washington, a House subcommittee discussed a worrying rise in anti-Asian sentiment, with chairman Steve Cohen describing Asians being subjected to “verbal harassment, being spat at, slapped in the face, lit on fire, slashed with a box cutter or shoved violently to the ground.”
“For many Asian-Americans, Tuesday’s shocking events felt like the inevitable culmination of a year in which there were nearly 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate,” the Democratic lawmaker from Tennessee said.
The surge, he said, had been fueled by references to coronavirus as the “China virus” — a term often used by Donald Trump, although Cohen did not cite the former president by name.
According to the sheriff’s office, “Long told investigators that he blames the massage parlors for providing an outlet for his addiction to sex” and the shootings were not racially motivated.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Long’s claims should be taken “with a grain of salt” while Sarah Park, of the Korean American Coalition-Metro Atlanta, said racism was clearly a factor.
Among those testifying before the House panel were four members of Congress of Asian origin.
“Asian-Americans must not be used as scapegoats in times of crisis — lives are at stake,” said Judy Chu, a Democrat from California. “It’s critical that Congress takes bold action to address this pandemic of discrimination and hate.”

‘Un-American'
The ranking Republican on the panel, Chip Roy of Texas, said the victims of the Atlanta shootings deserve justice but expressed concern about “policing” the right to voice criticism of China’s communist leadership.
Roy’s remarks drew an angry response from Meng, a Democrat from New York, who suggested Republican rhetoric on the pandemic had put “a bull’s eye on the back of Asian-Americans.”
Vigils were held in several US cities on Wednesday to mourn the victims of the shootings and condemn racially motivated violence.
Police in New York, Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and other major cities stepped up patrols in areas with large Asian-American populations.
Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings until sunset on Monday as a mark of respect for the Atlanta victims.
Biden said that while the motive has not yet been fully established “what we do know is that the Asian-American community is feeling enormous pain.”
“The recent attacks against the community are un-American,” he tweeted. “They must stop.”
Georgia is home to nearly 500,000 people of Asian origin, or just over four percent of its population, according to the Asian American Advocacy Fund.
Fallout from the case extended to the Cherokee County sheriff’s department, where Captain Jay Baker was removed Thursday as his agency’s spokesman for its investigation, The New York Times reported.
Baker was the target of criticism after telling a news conference that Long committed the killings after “a really bad day.”
Scrutiny grew after a post purported to be from Baker’s private Facebook account showed him promoting T-shirts describing Covid-19 as an “imported virus” from China — raising questions about whether personal biases would affect his work on the case.
 


6 combatants, 2 workers killed in fresh violence in Kashmir

6 combatants, 2 workers killed in fresh violence in Kashmir
Updated 8 sec ago

6 combatants, 2 workers killed in fresh violence in Kashmir

6 combatants, 2 workers killed in fresh violence in Kashmir
  • Police blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for the Saturday attacks in the region’s main city and a village in southern Kashmir
  • Following the spate of killings last week, authorities have detained over 1,000 people in a sweeping crackdown across the Kashmir Valley
SRINAGAR, India: Assailants fatally shot two non-local workers in two targeted attacks in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Saturday night, police said, days after five people were killed in a similar fashion in the disputed region.
The killing comes hours after police said government forces killed four suspected militants in the last 24 hours and claimed three of them were involved in last week’s killings of three members of minority communities.
Police blamed militants fighting against Indian rule for the Saturday attacks in the region’s main city and a village in southern Kashmir and called the killings “terror attacks.”
In a first incident in Srinagar, police said militants fired at a Hindu street vendor from India’s eastern state of Bihar. He died on the spot, police said.
An hour later, a Muslim worker from northern Uttar Pradesh state was shot and critically wounded in southern Litter village of Pulwama district. Police said he later died at a hospital.
Last week, assailants fatally shot three Hindus, a Sikh woman and a local Muslim taxi driver in the region in a sudden rise in violence against civilians that both pro- and anti-India Kashmiri politicians widely condemned.
Also Saturday, two militants were killed in a gunfight with government forces in southern Pampore area, police said. Another two rebels were killed in two separate gunbattles with Indian troops in Srinagar and southern Pulwama district on Friday.
Police said three among the slain rebels were involved in the killings of prominent local Hindu chemist and two schoolteachers of Hindu and Sikh faiths.
Following the spate of killings last week, authorities have detained over 1,000 people in a sweeping crackdown across the Kashmir Valley.
Meanwhile, the Indian army said the death toll in a gunfight with rebels that raged on Thursday in a forested area of southern Mendhar town climbed to four as troops Saturday recovered the bodies of two soldiers missing in action.
On Monday, five Indian soldiers were killed in the deadliest gunbattle with militants this year in contiguous forested area of Surankote town.
Lt. Col. Devender Anand, an Indian army spokesman, said troops continued with search operations in both the areas.
India and Pakistan claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety.
Rebels in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir have been fighting New Delhi’s rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal of uniting the territory, either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India insists the Kashmir militancy is Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. Pakistan denies the charge, and most Kashmiris consider it a legitimate freedom struggle. Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.

16-year-old charged over fatal stabbing of Afghan teen in London 

16-year-old charged over fatal stabbing of Afghan teen in London 
Updated 46 min 5 sec ago

16-year-old charged over fatal stabbing of Afghan teen in London 

16-year-old charged over fatal stabbing of Afghan teen in London 

LONDON: A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder over the fatal stabbing of an Afghan teenager in London, the Metropolitan Police said.

Hazrat Wali, 18, succumbed to his injuries in hospital on Tuesday after being stabbed that afternoon. 

He reportedly arrived in Britain two years ago as a refugee and attended London’s Richmond-upon-Thames College. 

The 16-year-old is expected to appear at Westminster Magistrates Court. The police specialist crime command are investigating the murder. 


Macron condemns ‘inexcusable’ crackdown on 1961 Paris protest of Algerians

Macron condemns ‘inexcusable’ crackdown on 1961 Paris protest of Algerians
Updated 16 October 2021

Macron condemns ‘inexcusable’ crackdown on 1961 Paris protest of Algerians

Macron condemns ‘inexcusable’ crackdown on 1961 Paris protest of Algerians
  • Macron told relatives and activists on the 60th anniversary of the bloodshed that ‘crimes’ were committed on the night of October 17, 1961
  • Macron acknowledged that several dozen protesters had been killed, ‘their bodies thrown into the River Seine’ and paid tribute to the memory of the victims

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday condemned as “inexcusable” a deadly crackdown by Paris police on a 1961 protest by Algerians whose scale was a taboo covered up for decades by French authorities.
Macron told relatives and activists on the 60th anniversary of the bloodshed that “crimes” were committed on the night of October 17, 1961 under the command of the notorious Paris police chief Maurice Papon.
He acknowledged that several dozen protesters had been killed, “their bodies thrown into the River Seine” and paid tribute to the memory of the victims.
The precise number of victims has never been made clear and some activists fear several hundred could have been killed.
Macron “recognized the facts: that the crimes committed that night under Maurice Papon are inexcusable for the Republic,” the Elysee said.
“This tragedy was long hushed-up, denied or concealed,” it added.
Macron, the first French president to attend a memorial ceremony for those killed, observed a minute of silence in their memory at the Bezons bridge over the Seine on the outskirts of Paris where the protest started.
His comments that crimes were committed went further than predecessor Francois Hollande, who acknowledged in 2012 that the protesting Algerians had been “killed during a bloody repression.”
However, as expected, he did not issue a formal apology. He also did not give a public speech, with the Elysee issuing only the written statement.
Papon was in the 1980s revealed to have been a collaborator with the occupying Nazis in World War II and complicit in the deportation of Jews. He was convicted of crimes against humanity but later released.


Mental illness may have triggered Norway bow-and-arrow attack

Mental illness may have triggered Norway bow-and-arrow attack
Updated 16 October 2021

Mental illness may have triggered Norway bow-and-arrow attack

Mental illness may have triggered Norway bow-and-arrow attack
  • Espen Andersen Brathen is believed to have acted alone when he killed four women and a man, aged between 50 and 70, in several locations in Kongsberg where he lived
  • While authorities said the attack bore the hallmarks of an act of terror, they seemed to be leaning toward the theory that it was the act of a mentally unstable person

KONGSBERG, Norway: A bow-and-arrow attack in Norway that left five people dead this week appears to have been motivated by mental illness, authorities indicated Friday, as the perpetrator was ordered to be kept in a medical facility.
Espen Andersen Brathen, a 37-year-old Danish citizen who converted to Islam and is believed to have been radicalized, has confessed to the Wednesday killings in police questioning.
He was in custody in a medical facility on Friday pending a psychiatric evaluation.
“The strongest hypothesis after the first days of the investigation is that illness is in the background,” police inspector Per Thomas Omholt told reporters on Friday.
Police were however keeping other possibilities open, and have investigated a range of motives including “anger, revenge, impulse, extremism, illness and provocation,” Omholt said.
The psychiatric evaluation, which could take several months, is necessary to determine whether Brathen can be held legally responsible for his actions.
“This indicates that things are not exactly as they should be,” his lawyer Fredrik Neumann said, referring to his client’s mental health.
“A complete judicial assessment will clarify that,” he told the Norwegian newspaper VG.
Omholt said Friday that Brathen had admitted to the acts but did not admit guilt.
While authorities said the attack bore the hallmarks of an act of terror, they seemed to be leaning toward the theory that it was the act of a mentally unstable person.
“There is no doubt that (it) appears as if it could be an act of terror, but it’s important that the investigation continues and that we establish the motive of the suspect,” the head of Norway’s intelligence service PST, Hans Sverre Sjovold, said Thursday.
“This is a person who has been in and out of the health system for some time.”
Four women and one man were killed and three people injured in the attack in the town of Kongsberg, and police said a bow and arrows and two other undisclosed weapons were used before he was arrested.
Brathan was known to PST, which is in charge of Norway’s anti-terrorism efforts, but few details have emerged about why. According to public broadcaster NRK, the first warning was in 2015.
“There were fears linked to radicalization previously,” police official Ole Bredrup Saeverud told reporters.
Those reports dated to last year or earlier, and police said they had followed up at the time.
Norwegian media reported that in 2018 the PST had warned that he could commit “a small-scale attack.”
It also said that Brathen was subject to two prior court rulings, including a restraining order against him regarding his parents after threatening to kill his father, and a conviction for burglary and purchasing narcotics in 2012.
Local media also unearthed a video Brathen allegedly posted on social media in 2017, in which he issued a “warning” and declared his Muslim faith.
Speaking anonymously, one of Brathen’s neighbors described him as a big person with a crew cut and a serious demeanour, who was always seen “alone.”
“No smile, nothing in the face. He was just staring,” the neighbor told AFP.
Brathen is believed to have acted alone when he killed four women and a man, aged between 50 and 70, in several locations in Kongsberg where he lived.
Flowers and candles were placed in front of the various crime scenes in Kongsberg, a town of 25,000 people still reeling from the attack.
Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who took office on Thursday following elections last month, visited the town on Friday.
“We stand together when crisis strikes. For those of who have political responsibility, the safety of our citizens is the most important thing,” he said in a speech.
Svein Westad, a 75-year-old pensioner wandered aimlessly on Hyttegata street, where two of his neighbors and close friends were killed in their homes.
“I’m totally broken into pieces, I cannot say anything more than that. I will never get over this,” he told AFP.
“They should have caught him immediately,” he said, referring to criticism against the police for arresting Brathen more than 30 minutes after the first reports came in.
Norway rarely experiences such violence, but 10 years ago Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people in the country’s worst massacre since World War II.


UK PM Johnson visits church where lawmaker was stabbed to death

UK PM Johnson visits church where lawmaker was stabbed to death
Updated 16 October 2021

UK PM Johnson visits church where lawmaker was stabbed to death

UK PM Johnson visits church where lawmaker was stabbed to death
LEIGH-ON-SEA: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday visited the church where lawmaker David Amess was stabbed to death a day earlier in what police say they are treating as a terrorist attack.
Amess, 69, from Johnson's Conservative Party, was knifed repeatedly in the attack at about midday on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, during a meeting with constituents.
Johnson, interior minister Priti Patel, and leader of the opposition Labour Party Keir Starmer were among those to lay flowers in tribute to Amess at the scene of the murder.
Johnson and Starmer stood side by side in a moment of silence before leaving. On Friday, Johnson said Britain had lost a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague.
In a statement early on Saturday, police said the early investigation had revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamic extremism.
Police arrested a 25-year-old British man at the scene on suspicion of murder, adding it is believed he acted alone.
Amess in the second lawmaker in little over five years to be murdered while out meeting constituents, after Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in June 2016, a few days before Britain voted to leave the European Union.