Report: 9 NYC firefighters suspended over racist messages

Report: 9 NYC firefighters suspended over racist messages
Police in riot gear gather during a protest in the Brooklyn borough of New York, over the death of George Floyd. (AP/File)
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Updated 03 October 2021

Report: 9 NYC firefighters suspended over racist messages

Report: 9 NYC firefighters suspended over racist messages
  • Black firefighters told the Times they believed the suspensions fell far short of addressing what they consider deep-rooted problems in the department

NEW YORK: New York City officials have suspended nine firefighters without pay in connection with a string of racist messages and memes they shared on their phones, including ones that mocked the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, according to a published report.
A spokesperson called the suspensions the most severe punishments ever handed down in the history of the Fire Department of the City of New York, The New York Times reported in Friday's editions.
After looking into complaints by several Black firefighters, the department suspended the nine firefighters without pay for periods ranging from a few days to six months, Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said. One of the firefighters is expected to leave the agency after his suspension ends, Nigro said. In addition, three fire department officers were reprimanded.
In the messages and memes last April, white firefighters mocked Floyd's dying moments with Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck, the Times reported. It said they also exchanged other racist messages, including one about the use of fire hoses on protesters.
Black firefighters told the Times they believed the suspensions fell far short of addressing what they consider deep-rooted problems in the department, where leaders have acknowledged that racism, sexism and harassment have been tolerated.
Nigro said the department has embraced diversity initiatives and welcomed historically diverse classes into the academy in recent years. He said the department is working to become more inclusive, but he also admitted fault.
"We’ve welcomed the folks in and now we have to make them feel welcome,” Nigro told the newspaper. “We have to make them feel as if they belong. And in some cases, we failed.”


Greece says blocks hundreds of migrants from crossing Aegean

Greece says blocks hundreds of migrants from crossing Aegean
Updated 5 sec ago

Greece says blocks hundreds of migrants from crossing Aegean

Greece says blocks hundreds of migrants from crossing Aegean
  • Over 3,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece this year, including over 1,100 last month
  • Greece regularly blames Turkey for not taking sufficient action to curb people smugglers
ATHENS: Greece said on Monday it had prevented around 600 migrants from crossing the Aegean Sea into its territorial waters from neighboring Turkey, in the largest attempted entry this year.
A spokesman for the Greek coast guard said five sail boats and four dinghies had set off from the Turkish coast early in the morning.
“Greek patrol vessels were able to quickly locate the vessels and inform the Turkish coast guard,” the spokesman told AFP.
A coast guard statement said its boats had used “visual and sound signals” to keep the asylum seekers out of Greek territorial waters.
All the vessels either headed back or were intercepted by the Turkish coast guard, he added.
“All the incidents occurred inside Turkish territorial waters” near the Greek islands of Chios and Samos, he said.
A migration ministry source said migration flows to the Greek islands in the first four months of 2022 were nearly 30 percent higher than in the same period last year.
Over 3,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece so far this year, including over 1,100 last month, according to data from the migration ministry.
There is also heightened migrant activity on Greece’s land border with Turkey because the water levels is low on the River Evros that divides the two countries, a border official said on Monday.
According to the latest ministry statistics, from April, there are more than 2,300 asylum seekers in camps on the Greek islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros, all near Turkey.
New camps funded by the European Union were recently completed in Samos, Leros and Kos. Others on Lesbos and Chios are to follow.
Greece regularly blames Turkey for not taking sufficient action to curb people smugglers who send out migrants in unsafe boats and dinghies from its shores, in breach of a 2016 accord with the EU.
Greece is a member of the 27-nation bloc but Turkey is not.
Greece’s tough border controls have been dogged by accusations from rights groups that the Greek coast guard has been engaging in illegally forcing migrants to return to Turkey.
Athens has always denied that its security forces engage in illegal pushbacks.
In March, Greece’s national transparency authority said a four-month investigation found no evidence of such practices.
EU border agency Frontex has also repeatedly been accused by rights groups of illegally returning migrants across EU borders.
Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri resigned last month amid an investigation by the European anti-fraud office OLAF, reportedly into alleged mismanagement.

Long fuel queues persist in Sri Lanka despite scramble to deliver supplies

Long fuel queues persist in Sri Lanka despite scramble to deliver supplies
Updated 23 May 2022

Long fuel queues persist in Sri Lanka despite scramble to deliver supplies

Long fuel queues persist in Sri Lanka despite scramble to deliver supplies
  • Another 40,000 metric tons of petrol supplied by India reached Sri Lanka on Monday
  • New Delhi delivered 40,000 tons of diesel to its southern neighbor two days earlier

COLOMBO: Long queues snaked around gas stations in Sri Lanka’s commercial capital and its outskirts on Monday even though the island nation’s government was scrambling to deliver fuel supplies and douse any unrest as it battles a devastating economic crisis.
Kanchana Wijesekera, Sri Lanka’s minister for power and energy, said supplies of 95-octane gasoline, mostly used in cars, had been received and were being distributed across the country of 22 million people that has been struggling with fuel shortages for months.
“With the 2 cargo vessels unloaded, petrol stocks will be available for the next 6 weeks comfortably,” Wijesekera said in a tweet.
Another 40,000 metric tons of petrol supplied by India had also reached Sri Lanka on Monday, the Indian High Commission (Embassy) said, two days after New Delhi delivered 40,000 tons of diesel to its southern neighbor.
Sri Lanka is in the throes of its worst economic crisis since independence, as a dire shortage of foreign exchange has stalled imports and left the country short of fuel, medicines and hit by rolling power cuts.
The financial trouble has come from the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic battering the tourism-reliant economy, rising oil prices and populist tax cuts by the government of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Mahinda, who resigned as prime minister this month.
M. Sudeera, an auto-rickshaw driver, was waiting in a two-kilometer (1.5-mile) -long queue at Kumbuke, on the outskirts of Colombo, to fill his vehicle, a popular form of public transport in the city and its suburbs.
“Last time, I spent two days in line for 3,000 rupees ($8.46) worth of fuel. With that I did a few hires but it’s barely enough to cover costs,” Sudeera said, standing beside parallel queues of auto-rickshaws, cars and motorcycles.
“Usually we run during the day and spent the night in line for fuel,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took over as prime minister earlier this month, has warned of hardship worsening over the coming months, including food shortages.
Protests against the government’s handling of the crisis have continued for weeks, and erupted into violence earlier this month in which nine people were killed and over 300 injured. But the protests have been peaceful since then, although anger against the government is high.
Inflation in the island nation rose to 33.8 percent in April, compared to 21.5 percent in March, according to government data released on Monday.
Wickremesinghe’s cabinet was expanded on Monday, with eight new ministers sworn in for portfolios including agriculture, fisheries, industries, transport and highways, water supply and irrigation.


Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial

Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial
Updated 23 May 2022

Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial

Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial
  • Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleads guilty, testifies that he shot the man after being ordered to do so

KYIV: A Ukrainian court sentenced a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing a Ukrainian civilian, in the first war crimes trial since Russia’s invasion.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin was accused of shooting a Ukrainian civilian in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the early days of the war.
He pleaded guilty and testified that he shot the man after being ordered to do so. He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his cellphone, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.
During the trial, Shishimarin asked the widow of the victim to forgive him.
Shishimarin’s defense attorney Victor Ovsyanikov argued that his client, a member of a Russian tank unit who was eventually captured, had been unprepared for the “violent military confrontation” and mass casualties that Russian troops encountered when they first invaded Ukraine.


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives special address at WEF 2022

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives special address at WEF 2022
Updated 23 May 2022

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives special address at WEF 2022

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives special address at WEF 2022
  • Ukrainian leader calls for ‘maximum’ sanctions against Russia

DAVOS, Switzerland: Ukrainian President Zelensky called for ‘maximum’ sanctions against Russia in a speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF 2022) in Davos via a video call.

He also said that businesses needed to ‘completely withdraw’ from Russia, and that there should be no trade with the country in order for the world to set a precedent.

His speech came as the UNHCR announced Monday that 6.5 million people have so far fled the war-torn country.

He called for the ‘maximum’ sanctions to be implemented, as the current ones had not yet reached that level.

And he said an oil embargo was also necessary.

If aggressors lose everything, countries would lose motivation to start wars, said the Ukrainian president.

He also highlighted during his virtual address that the war wouldn’t have happened if preventative sanctions had been applied to Russia.

Zelensky explained that the international community should not use sanctions to respond to conflicts, but to prevent them from happening.


Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris

Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris
Updated 23 May 2022

Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris

Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris
  • The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation for manslaughter

PARIS: A person has been killed at the Qatar Embassy in Paris and one person has been arrested as part of the investigation, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday, confirming earlier media reports.
A source close to the investigation said the person killed in the early hours of Monday was a security guard and that the death did not appear to have been a terrorism act.
“I can confirm that an investigation was opened today on the count of murder,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that it was not clear yet if a weapon had been used.
“The circumstances of the death of the guard are yet to be determined precisely.”
Newspaper Le Parisien said earlier on Monday that one person had been killed within the embassy, citing police sources.