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Taliban admit to killing Afghan comic beaten in video

Taliban admit to killing Afghan comic beaten in video

Afghanistan’s Taliban have taken responsibility for the killing of a comic in southern Kandahar resurrecting the specter of revenge killings as the US and NATO put the final touches on their departureBy KATHY GANNON Associated PressJuly 29, 2021, 10:35 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s Taliban took responsibility this week for the killing of a comic in the country’s south, raising the specter of revenge killings as the U.S and NATO put the final touches on their departure.A video of two men slapping and abusing Nazar Mohammad, better known as Khasha Zwan, spread widely on social media. He was later killed, shot multiple times. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid acknowledged that the two men were Taliban.The men have been arrested and will be tried, Mujahid said. He alleged that the comic, from the southern part of Kandahar province, was also a member of the Afghan National Police and had been implicated in the torture and killing of Taliban.Mujahid said the Taliban should have arrested the comic and brought him before a Taliban court, instead of killing him.Mohammad was not a TV personality but would post his routines on TikTok. He was known for crude jokes, funny songs, poking fun at himself, and often making fun of topics thrown at him from fans.The brutality of the killing heightened fears of revenge attacks. It also undermined the Taliban’s assurances that no harm would come to people who worked for the government, with the U.S. military or with U.S. organizations.Hundreds of people are reportedly being held by Taliban in areas they have overrun. Schools have been burned and reports have emerged of restrictions being imposed on women akin to those imposed when the insurgents last ruled Afghanistan. Back then, they had denied girls access to schools, and barred women from working.In an interview last week with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group’s commanders have orders not to interfere with civilians, or impose restrictions in newly captured areas. He said that when complaints of wrongdoings arise they are investigated.However Patricia Gossman of Human Rights Watch says that revenge killings have been committed by all sides during Afghanistan’s decades of war.“The war–all 43 years of it–has a revenge-driven dynamic,” she said in an interview on Tuesday. “Revenge for past wrongs, including terrible atrocities, committed by one side or the other has been a mobilizing factor for all the various armed forces.”For example, in 2001 when the U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban and many surrendered, hundreds were packed into containers by troops loyal to warlord Rashid Dostum, with dozens suffocating in the brutally hot sun. Others who returned home after the Taliban defeat were often singled out for extortion by government officials.Reports have also since surfaced of U.S.-allied warlords calling in American airstrikes on supposed Taliban, or al-Qaida targets that turned out to involve personal vendettas, not extremists.“Each new horror — understandably — brings new outrage,” Gossman said. “With no hope for any other kind of justice, this is likely to continue… and every side is far too blind to the fact that this sense of outrage and horror at wrongs done is shared.”The fear of revenge has driven as many as 18,000 Afghans who worked for the U.S. military to apply for Special Immigration Visas to the United States. In Washington and in NATO capitals there is a growing demand to evacuate Afghans who worked with the military.The U.S. has promised it will move quickly on thousands of special visa requests.Gossman pressed for investigations into alleged atrocities.“The U.N. should be much more engaged in investigating these atrocities, as Afghan and international human rights groups have called for, and has happened in other countries,” she said.

Woman pleads not guilty in friend's stabbing death

Woman pleads not guilty in friend's stabbing death

An eastern Missouri woman already serving a life sentence for one murder has pleaded not guilty to killing her friend a decade agoByThe Associated PressJuly 27, 2021, 9:44 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTROY, Mo. — An eastern Missouri woman already serving a life sentence for murder pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the stabbing death of her friend a decade ago.Pamela Hupp is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Elizabeth “Betsy” Faria, in 2011. Prosecutors contend Hupp killed Faria four days after persuading her to switch a $150,000 life insurance policy to Hupp. She then allegedly tried to stage the scene to make it appear that Faria’s husband killed her.Hupp declined to respond to reporters’ questions as she was led out of the courthouse, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.Faria’s husband, Russell Faria, was convicted of her murder but the conviction was overturned in 2015. He was later acquitted in a retrial after prosecutors argued Hupp was responsible.Hupp is serving a life sentence without parole for the 2016 shooting death of 33-year-old Louis Gumpenberger. Prosecutors said Hupp shot Gumpenberger to divert attention from herself in the reinvestigation of Faria’s death.Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wood said he will seek the death penalty if Hupp is convicted of first-degree murder in Faria’s death.

EXPLAINER: Does suspension end Giuliani's career in law?

EXPLAINER: Does suspension end Giuliani's career in law?

CHICAGO — The days of practicing law for the mob-busting prosecutor turned point man for pushing Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election may be over.Rudy Giuliani’s law license has already been suspended in his home state. That suspension, in practice, may well amount to a national suspension.A New York appeals court took the action in June, saying Giuliani’s bid to discredit the election was so egregious that he poses “an immediate threat” to the public.Here’s a look at the implications for the 77-year-old Giuliani:WHAT’S THE RIPPLE EFFECT IN OTHER STATES?States have an interest in weeding out lawyers deemed unethical. So when one state takes steps against a lawyer, other states typically take the same steps.That means there will be few places, if any, where Giuliani will be able to practice law or appear in court on behalf of clients as long as his New York license is suspended.States seek to mirror disciplinary actions of other states under what’s known as Rule 22 on reciprocal discipline, modeled on American Bar Association recommendations. All states have some version of it.HOW ELSE WILL THE SUSPENSION STOP HIM FROM PRACTICING?Lawyers don’t necessarily need a law license in a state to represent clients at a court hearing. They can file a motion asking a state or federal judge to grant them permission to participate. The motions — called pro hac vice, which means “for this occasion” in Latin — are regularly granted.But lawyers, like Giuliani, who are no longer in good standing in their home states are unlikely to get the OK.The importance of a clean disciplinary record was illustrated by Giuliani himself in litigation over the election.Weeks after the Nov. 6 election, he was granted permission to represent Trump in a federal court in Pennsylvania, where he does not have a law license. It was granted based on his then-valid New York license.In his motion, Giuliani listed multiple courts in which he was authorized to practice, including all courts in New York and the District of Columbia. As required, he also verified he’d never had his license suspended and was not the subject of any disciplinary process. That’s no longer true.HAVE JURISDICTIONS OTHER THAN NEW YORK TAKEN ACTION?Yes. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals in July pointed to the New York ruling in suspending Giuliani from practicing in D.C. courts — at least until the discipline procedures play out in New York. The two-page ruling cited the district’s reciprocal discipline rule requiring that it mirror the New York suspension.Giuliani’s law license had already been inactive in D.C., meaning he would have had to pay dues and apply to start practicing in the city anyway. The D.C. court ruling means that, even if he wanted to, he can no longer seek to practice in the city.New York requires that lawyers whose licenses are suspended in the state themselves notify regulatory bodies in other states. It’s unclear if Giuliani has done so for all the states in which he holds a law license.Regulators can also learn about a suspension in another state via a national database managed by the ABA. As of Wednesday, there was no record of Giuliani’s suspension in New York. The normal notification process can take several weeks.WHAT REASON DID NEW YORK GIVE FOR THE SUSPENSION?The New York appeals court said Giuliani not only made false statements but may have made them knowing they were false.Among the examples it gave were Giuliani’s claims that thousands of votes in Philadelphia were cast in the names of people who were dead, including, he asserted, deceased former boxing champion Joe Frazier.WHAT’S NEXT IN THE NEW YORK PROCESS?The New York court is expected to make a final decision on Giuliani’s license after additional depositions, hearings and testimony. That mostly confidential process could take months, even years.For now, the suspension is considered interim. A final ruling could include a fixed-term suspension or disbarment for Giuliani. A simple reprimand would also be an option.The tough language of the court’s June ruling, though, suggests Giuliani could be looking at the most severe sanction, said Bruce Green, director of the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at the Fordham University School of Law.“Having read the court’s opinion, I would say the chances (of disbarment) are pretty good,” he said.HOW HAS GIULIANI RESPONDED?Giuliani suggested to WABC-AM that the New York court’s decision was part of an effort “to shut me up.” He added: “They want Giuliani quiet.”In filings before the court ruled, Giuliani said his statements on the election were protected by the First Amendment and that he didn’t knowingly make false statements.Giuliani’s lawyers have said they are confident his license will be restored after a fuller hearing of the issues.HOW HARD WILL THE SUSPENSION HIT GIULIANI?He will no longer be able to step up and lead battles in court on Trump’s behalf. With most other attorneys balking at Trump’s post-election legal theories, Trump relied heavily on Giuliani’s eagerness and, some would argue, lack of scruples to help.Otherwise, Giuliani hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for courtroom work. Before he began representing Trump in litigation over vote counting, court records indicate Giuliani had not appeared in court as an attorney since 1992.The suspension of his law license may not directly impact his lobbying work or business as a security consultant. But it adds to the reputational damage for Giuliani, whose widely praised work as a U.S. attorney in New York City had helped him become the city’s mayor.WHAT ABOUT OTHER TRUMP LAWYERS?A federal judge in Michigan is considering whether to order fines or other penalties against several of them, including Sidney Powell and L. Lin Wood.They had brought a lawsuit alleging votes for Trump were destroyed or switched to votes for Joe Biden. The suit was dropped after a judge found nothing but “speculation and conjecture” in the filing.Wood’s name was on the lawsuit, but he said he had no role other than to tell Powell he’d be available if she needed help. Powell has said it was “the duty of lawyers and the highest tradition of the practice of law to raise difficult and even unpopular issues.”

Trump's sway tested in race for open US House seat

Trump's sway tested in race for open US House seat

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The crowded Republican primary for an open U.S. House seat in central Ohio is testing the ongoing political sway of former President Donald Trump as his choice in the race, a longtime coal lobbyist, is competing against candidates backed by other conservative leaders, movements and donors.The race in the sprawling GOP-leaning 15th Congressional District, which is gerrymandered to include all or part of 12 Ohio counties including parts of Columbus, also has seen endorsements by Republican groups backing women candidates, a powerful anti-abortion group and allies of the former president.Trump, who twice won the state by wide margins, has touted candidate Mike Carey as the best choice to succeed former U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers. Stivers resigned in May to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce after holding the seat for a decade. The special election primary is Aug. 3.In a release, Trump’s Save America PAC said Carey, “will be a courageous fighter for the people and our economy, is strong on the Border, and tough on Crime,” and mentioned his experience in the U.S. Army National Guard and support for the Second Amendment. Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has also been crossing the district to campaign for Carey.Stivers, himself a National Guard major general, is supporting first-term state Rep. Jeff LaRe, a former deputy sheriff and security services company executive, to represent Ohio’s 15th district. LaRe is running on a pro-law enforcement platform that includes tough talk on border control, immigration policy and the need to continue to tackle the opioid crisis and a pledge to keep Ohioans safe.LaRe is among one former and three sitting state lawmakers running in the Republican primary, the others being state Sens. Stephanie Kunze and Bob Peterson and former state Rep. Ron Hood.On the Democratic side, state Rep. Allison Russo, a health policy expert, faces Greg Betts, a former Army officer and decorated combat veteran, for the party’s nomination.Kunze has the backing of the GOP in the district’s largest county, Franklin, and of the Value In Electing Women PAC founded to elect Republican women to Congress.“Ohio hasn’t had one Republican woman in its congressional delegation in nearly a decade,” its executive director, Julie Conway, said. “Stephanie Kunze is not only the right person to represent the 15th district, but she’ll be a principled conservative and a powerful advocate for the needs of all constituents.”Peterson’s campaign has focused on his farming background and his service in the Statehouse where he’s been either in the Ohio House or Senate since 2011. The powerful Ohio Right to Life PAC, the political arm of the state’s oldest and largest anti-abortion group, has endorsed him.Hood, meanwhile, has snagged the endorsement of a key Trump ally: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. In a tweet, Paul called Hood “a proven constitutional conservative who will stand for the entire Bill of Rights and for an America First foreign policy.”If that were not enough to divide the district’s Trump-supporting base, another Trump ally, conservative activist Debbie Meadows, wife of former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, has backed Ruth Edmonds in the Republican race. Edmonds is on the advisory board to Ohio’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.Meadows’ Right Women PAC said Edmonds, who is Black, “will be a powerful voice in Congress, countering the growing BLM/Marxist movement.” It said Edmonds’ “life experiences, her Biblical worldview, and her Christian faith have uniquely prepared her to stand up against the race-baiting bullies of the radical Left.”Influential New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, who founded Elevate PAC, formed to promote female Republican candidates, opted against backing Edmonds or Kunze — sticking instead with Trump’s man, Carey.In a statement, Stefanik, who now chairs the House Republican Conference, said she was standing by Trump’s pick because “to defeat the socialist Democrat agenda and fire Nancy Pelosi in 2022, we need more proven conservative fighters in the House Republican Conference.”For his part, the first-time candidate Carey hasn’t campaigned on being “a proven fighter,” but on Trump’s twice-winning label of “outsider.” He has never held elective office, but has lobbied the state Legislature.Carey represented a company named in an indictment of a former House speaker and others allegedly involved in an elaborate bribery and dirty tricks scheme to pass a sweeping piece of energy legislation, House Bill 6. That firm, Murray Energy, is cited as “Company B” in the federal indictment. The company has not been accused of any crimes.Other Republican candidates include: John Adams, owner of a chemical business; Eric M. Clark, a nurse at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; former Perry County Commissioner Thad Cooperrider; golf club owner Thomas Hwang; and attorney Omar Tarazi, a member of the Hilliard City Council.The winners of the primaries will face off on Nov. 2.

Free money for all? Mayors hope local tests bring big change

Free money for all? Mayors hope local tests bring big change

By triggering $1,400 stimulus checks for millions of people and expanding the child tax credit for many families, the pandemic offered a clear takeaway for some officials: That putting tax dollars in people’s pockets is achievable and can be a lifeline to those struggling to get by.Now a growing number of mayors and other leaders say they want to determine for sure whether programs like these are the best way to reduce poverty, lessen inequality and get people working.In experiments across the country, dozens of cities and counties — some using money from the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package approved in March — and the state of California are giving some low-income residents a guaranteed income of $500 to $1,000 each month to do with as they please, and tracking what happens. A coalition known as Mayors for a Guaranteed Income plans to use the data — collected alongside a University of Pennsylvania-based research center — to lobby the White House and Congress for a federal guaranteed income or, for starters, to make the new $300 per month child tax credit that’s set to expire after this year permanent.The surge in interest in these so-called free money pilot programs shows how quickly the concept of just handing out cash, no strings attached, has shifted from far-fetched idea to serious policy proposal, even as critics blast the programs as unaffordable or discouraging people from going to work. Supporters say it’s all due to COVID-19, which cost millions of people their jobs and prompted the federal government under both Presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden to cut checks to rescue the economy — relief that was hugely popular politically.“The pandemic showed us what is possible,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose latest budget included a $24 million guaranteed income program to give 2,000 poor families $1,000 per month. “We’re now going to be a pretty potent lobby to get the child tax credit permanent.”The American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed in March, increased the child tax credit for one year to $3,600 annually for children under 6 and $3,000 for ages 6 to 17, with the first six months of the credit advanced via monthly payments that started this month. Last year the credit was $2,000 per child, and only families that owed income taxes to the government could receive it. That excluded low-income families and those who generally have no income to report.Biden is pushing to extend the credit through 2025, and ultimately make it permanent. Republicans argue doing so would create a disincentive for people to work, and lead to more poverty — an argument similar to what critics say about the guaranteed income programs. No Republicans voted in favor of the American Rescue Plan, which they said was too expensive and not focused specifically enough on COVID-19′s health and economic crises.Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, who started Mayors for a Guaranteed Income in June 2020, launched a guaranteed income program using private funds in his Northern California city in 2019. An independent study found full-time employment for participants grew in the first year of the program more quickly than it did for those not receiving cash, a finding Tubbs argues contradicts conservative arguments against them. Some recipients were able to complete classes or training and get full-time jobs that provided more economic stability than cobbling together gig employment.Mayors for a Guaranteed Income started with 11 founding mayors and now has more than 50. Two dozen pilot programs have been approved, from Los Angeles County — the most populous county in the U.S. — to a county in upstate New York and the cities of Wausau, Wisconsin, and Gainesville, Florida.Last week, California lawmakers approved a state-funded guaranteed income plan with a unanimous vote that showed bipartisan support. It will provide monthly payments to qualifying pregnant people and young adults who recently left foster care.Some pilot programs have been funded privately — Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has donated over $15 million to MGI. Other places, like Minneapolis, are using federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan.Matt Zwolinski, director of the Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy at the University of San Diego, has studied guaranteed income policy for over a decade and says the increased interest is remarkable.But he says there’s a flaw in using the pilot projects as a “proof of concept.” Most are for one to two years and give money to a narrow slice of the population that knows the cash will eventually stop, so participants may be more likely to seek fulltime employment during that period than if they knew the cash was permanent.Zwolinski also questions whether people in the U.S. are willing to support a national program that gives money to people who could work but aren’t doing so.“That really rubs a lot of people the wrong way,” he said.Even in the smaller pilots there have been hiccups. In many cases, waivers are needed to ensure the new income doesn’t make recipients ineligible for other benefits they receive.Wausau, Wisconsin, Mayor Katie Rosenberg said that snag has delayed the city’s program from getting up and running.“I don’t want to hurt people,” Rosenberg said.Gary, Indiana, started its pilot program in April, providing $500 per month to 125 households for one year. Burgess Peoples, the pilot’s executive director, said recipients receive “wraparound services,” including help with finding jobs. Already it’s making a difference, she said.Two women used their first checks to pay what they owed for college tuition, allowing them to keep working toward their degrees. One man got his car repaired so he could get to work without paying for a Lyft ride.Peoples hopes more local experiments will pressure the federal government to change the way it assists poor people.“That way they can get help the way they need it,” she said, “not just the way the government thinks it should be.”

Man with coronavirus disguises as wife on Indonesian flight

Man with coronavirus disguises as wife on Indonesian flight

An Indonesian man with the coronavirus has boarded a domestic flight disguised as his wife, wearing a niqab covering his face and carrying fake IDs and a negative PCR test resultBy RANDI BASRI Associated PressJuly 22, 2021, 9:03 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTERNATE, Indonesia — An Indonesian man with the coronavirus has boarded a domestic flight disguised as his wife, wearing a niqab covering his face and carrying fake IDs and a negative PCR test result.But the cover didn’t last long.Police say a flight attendant aboard a Citilink plane traveling from Jakarta to Ternate in North Maluku province on Sunday noticed the man change the clothes in the lavatory.“He bought the plane ticket with his wife’s name and brought the identity card, the PCR test result and the vaccination card with his wife’s name. All documents are under his wife’s name,” Ternate police chief Aditya Laksimada said after arresting the man upon landing. He was only identified by his initials.Police took him for a COVID-19 test, which came back positive.The man is currently self-isolating at home and police said the investigation will continue.Indonesia is in the grip of the worse coronavirus surge in Asia with 33,772 new confirmed cases and 1,383 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of reported cases is 2.9 million with 77,583 fatalities.Restrictions on nonessential travel, including a mandatory negative coronavirus test, and public gatherings have been toughened over the Eid al-Adha holiday this week.

Rochester mayor, husband, plead not guilty to gun charges

Rochester mayor, husband, plead not guilty to gun charges

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from a police raid of her home in MayByThe Associated PressJuly 21, 2021, 7:48 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges stemming from a police raid that allegedly turned up a rifle and pistol, and her 10-year-old daughter alone, in the home she shares with her husband.A grand jury indicted Warren and her husband Timothy Granison last week on a felony count of criminal possession of a firearm, as well as misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child and having unsecured guns in a home.Warren and Granison pleaded not guilty during brief court appearances and left without speaking with reporters.Warren’s attorney, Joseph Damelio, said the mayor didn’t know about the guns and that he was eager to review the prosecution’s evidence.Authorities searched the family’s home May 19 as part of a cocaine trafficking investigation, investigators said at the time. Granison was charged with drug and weapons counts and pleaded not guilty. Additional charges against him were added last month.Warren, who has said she signed a separation agreement with Granison years ago, has not been charged in the drug case.The two-term mayor lost her reelection campaign last month when she was defeated in the Democratic primary for mayor by City Councilmember Malik Evans.Warren was indicted in October on charges she broke campaign finance rules during her 2017 reelection campaign. She has said any errors were honest mistakes.

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