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More than 80 arrested during Sacramento police shooting protest

The mayor of Sacramento, California said he wants answers about what happened during a Monday night protest that led to the arrest of 84 people, including clergy, local media reported. According to the newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office said it was planning to discuss the matter during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.…

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More than 80 arrested during Sacramento police shooting protest

The mayor of Sacramento, California said he wants answers about what happened during a Monday night protest that led to the arrest of 84 people, including clergy, local media reported.

According to the newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s office said it was planning to discuss the matter during Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

The mass arrests took place during a protest over the March 2018 police shooting of 22-year-old Stephon Clark, an unarmed black man.

Over the weekend, the city’s district attorney announced she would not prosecute the two city police officers involved in the shooting, angering the local community. The officers said they thought the father of two had a gun, but he was holding a mobile phone. He was shot more than 20 times in his grandmother’s backyard. 

Dozens of people staged Monday’s march in a wealthy area of the city. After about 2.5 hours, police ordered protesters to disperse.

Police handcuffed at least three clergy members and Bee reporter Dale Kasler, who was covering the demonstration, the newspaper reported. 

Kasler’s hands were twist-tied and he was led away as other reporters shouted that he was a member of the media on assignment, the Bee said. He was standing with several protesters when he was detained, the newspaper reported. The reporter was released after he had been held for an hour, the newspaper said. At least two other local reporters said they were detained. 

“I’m very disappointed that the protest ended the way it did,” Steinberg tweeted on Monday.

“I have many questions about what caused the order to disperse and the subsequent arrests. I will withhold further comment until I get answers to these crucial questions tonight or tomorrow morning,” he said. “No matter the reason, an order to disperse was given, no member of the press should be detained for doing their job.”

Sacramento Police Capital Norm Leong tweeted that police began moving closer to the protest group after “seeing cars getting keyed”.

Late on Monday, he tweeted, “Ended up with 80 plus arrests. Still processing it all.”

On Tuesday, the city’s attorney general was expected to give the results of an independent investigation of the shooting.

‘Manipulated’

Clark’s killing set off a wave of demonstrations from Sacramento to New York City, reigniting calls to end what many call the systemic racism among US police forces.

Last April, an activist suffered minor injuries after the protester was hit by a Sacramento Sheriff’s vehicle during a march calling for justice for Clark.

A Black Lives Matter protester holds a sign as he sits on his car blocking an intersection during a demonstration against the Sacramento police department [File: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Online, many condemned the police’s actions on Monday.

Sharing a post about the arrest, Ernest Owens tweeted, “But still no convictions for the cops who actually murdered Stephon Clark. A damn shame. Public dollars wasted silencing protesters than actually protecting the Black bodies they are protesting for.”

But still no convictions for the cops who actually murdered Stephon Clark. A damn shame. Public dollars wasted silencing protestors than actually protecting the Black bodies they are protesting for. #justiceforstephonclark https://t.co/6hf94dVVLF
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) March 5, 2019

Others accused the police of trapping and then arresting them.

“Peaceful protesters … were manipulated into their arrest after they were corralled by the police’s threats of death and then arrested for failure to disburse at the 51st Street overpass in Sacramento,” one user tweeted.

Peaceful protesters, marching against the ruling on the Stephon Clark shooting, were manipulated into their arrest after they were corralled by the police’s threats of death and then arrested for failure to disburse at the 51st street overpass in Sacramento. pic.twitter.com/U6Y0fK3spS
— DustBunnys (@DustBunnysHere) March 5, 2019

Reverend Shane Harris, who represents Clark’s fiancee and was arrested on Monday, told The Sacramento Bee that police “cornered everybody purposely”. 

“This is why people in this town are sick and tired of police,” he was quoted as saying. 

Black Lives Matter protesters hold their fists in the air as they block the entrance to the Golden 1 Center during a demonstration against the Sacramento police department [File: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

Monday’s protest comes amid years of national outrage over what activists and others call institutionalised racism among US police.

The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database counted more than 995 people police killings in 2018 and more than 980 the previous year. The Guardian documented more than 1,090 police killings in 2016.

Nearly a quarter of those killed in 2016 were African Americans although the group accounts for only roughly 12 percent of the total US population.

These disparities, particularly the killing of African Americans by police, has prompted the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, a popular civil rights movement aimed at ending police violence and dismantling structural racism.

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German far-right holds congress with COVID ‘hotspot potential’

About 600 members of AfD due to meet Saturday at an unused nuclear plant in Kalkar city defying pandemic warnings.Hundreds of AfD delegates will gather Saturday for a congress that authorities have warned could become a coronavirus hotspot, as the German far-right party increasingly aligns itself with activists protesting coronavirus restrictions. Six hundred members of…

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German far-right holds congress with COVID ‘hotspot potential’

About 600 members of AfD due to meet Saturday at an unused nuclear plant in Kalkar city defying pandemic warnings.Hundreds of AfD delegates will gather Saturday for a congress that authorities have warned could become a coronavirus hotspot, as the German far-right party increasingly aligns itself with activists protesting coronavirus restrictions.
Six hundred members of the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant party are due to meet at an unused nuclear plant in western Germany’s Kalkar city to draw up their first concept on pensions.
To win approval for the huge gathering at a time when Germans are asked to limit their contacts to just two households at a time, the Alternative for Germany (AfD) had signed up to stringent rules including compulsory mask-wearing and distancing in the huge hall.
The party’s own security officers are due to ensure that the rules are met, alongside officials from Kalkar city.
Hundreds of police officers will also be deployed to ward off any unruly scenes, as anti-AfD protesters have also announced plans to demonstrate outside.

The event can “become a hotspot,” warned Kalkar’s mayor Britta Schulz, adding that, while it was “irresponsible” to hold such a big event, the political gathering could not be prohibited.
Because new appointments are also due to be made to the AfD’s board during the meeting, the congress is exempted from rules banning large gatherings in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
More than 15,000 COVID deaths
In contrast, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party has twice postponed its congress to elect a new leader because of the risks of coronavirus contagion. The Greens held their meeting online last weekend.
Shrugging off possible risks, the AfD’s health policy spokesman Detlev Spangenberg claimed, “The coronavirus is comparable to the influenza in terms of the course taken by the illness as well as in terms of its lethality. So the serious measures [taken to fight it] are not proportionate.”
Germany has recorded more than a million coronavirus infections. A total of 15,586 people have died from the illness, according to official data.
‘War propaganda’
The AfD has been the focus of repeated controversies since it began life as a eurosceptic outfit seven years ago.

In 2015, as public opinion soured against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to keep Germany’s borders open to hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war in Iraq and Syria, the AfD morphed into an anti-immigration party.
It was rewarded for its Islamophobic positioning at elections in 2017, when voters sent it into the Bundestag for the first time to become the biggest opposition group in parliament.
A year before national elections, the party is once again positioning itself at the side of groups railing against the government – this time over curbs imposed to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Party co-chief Alexander Gauland recently accused the government of using “war propaganda” to champion its “corona-dictatorship”.
Anti-coronavirus curbs
AfD politicians are now also regularly marching side by side demonstrators against coronavirus curbs.
During the latest round of protests in central Berlin, when violence reached a level that the capital’s police chief said had been unseen in decades, an AfD politician was charged for using a forged medical certificate to claim he could not wear the required nose and mouth covering.
In a separate incident recently, Gauland was forced to apologise after two of the party’s legislators invited to parliament two far-right YouTubers who went on to harass politicians in the building.
Nevertheless, the AfD’s ratings have held at about 10 percent, compared with highs of 15-16 percent at the height of the refugee crisis.
In 2017, German voters sent AfD into the Bundestag for the first time to become the biggest opposition group in parliament [File: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]Toxic infighting between ultra-conservatives and others in the party has weakened the AfD. Some voters are also turned off by association with neo-Nazi skinheads, as the AfD’s most radical faction “Fluegel” is now the object of official surveillance by Germany’s intelligence agency.
Instead, approval ratings for Merkel – who is due to retire from politics next year – have soared to new heights, as the vast majority of the population voiced satisfaction at her handling of the pandemic.

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Saudi Aramco says customers unaffected by Houthi attack on Jeddah

Monday’s attack knocked out a tank that contained 10 percent of all fuel stored a the Jeddah plant, Saudi Aramco official says.Oil giant Saudi Aramco says customers were unaffected by an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a petroleum products distribution plant in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah. One of the facility’s tanks…

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Saudi Aramco says customers unaffected by Houthi attack on Jeddah

Monday’s attack knocked out a tank that contained 10 percent of all fuel stored a the Jeddah plant, Saudi Aramco official says.Oil giant Saudi Aramco says customers were unaffected by an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on a petroleum products distribution plant in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea city of Jeddah.
One of the facility’s tanks was hit by a missile in early on Monday.
The attack knocked out 10 percent of all fuel that was stored at the plant, a Saudi Aramco official said on Tuesday, adding that the tank – one of 13 at the facility – is currently out of action.
The official described the site as a “critical facility” that distributes more than 120,000 barrels of products per day.
A fire caused by the attack was extinguished in about 40 minutes with no casualties, he said.
The attack was confirmed by a Saudi official who told the Saudi state news agency (SPA) it was a “terrorist attack with a projectile”.
The oil company’s production and export facilities are mostly in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern province, more than 1,000km (621 miles) away from Jeddah, across the country.
Announcing the attack, a military spokesman for the Houthis warned that “operations will continue”.
Yahya Sarea said the attack was carried out with a Quds-2 type winged missile. He also posted a satellite image with the label: “North Jeddah bulk plant-Saudi Aramco”.
“The strike was very accurate, and ambulances and fire engines rushed to the target,” Sarea said.
That facility is just southeast of Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport, an important site that handles incoming Muslim pilgrims en route to nearby Mecca.
Renewed violence
Yemen has been mired in conflict since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to restore the Yemeni government, which had been removed from power in the capital Sanaa by Houthi forces in late 2014.
Cross-border attacks by Houthi forces have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the novel coronavirus pandemic expired. The Saudi-led coalition has responded with air raids on Houthi-held territory.
The Houthis control most of north Yemen and most large urban areas. They say they are fighting a corrupt system.
Sarea said the attack was carried out in response to the Saudi-led coalition’s actions in Yemen.
The claimed attack came just after a visit by outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia to see Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The kingdom also just hosted the annual G20 summit, which concluded on Sunday.

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US appoints first Venezuela ambassador in a decade amid tensions

The two nations have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations began to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.The United States has its first ambassador for Venezuela in 10 years despite Washington having no diplomats at its Caracas embassy amid a breakdown in relations. James Story’s nomination as ambassador was confirmed on Wednesday by a…

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US appoints first Venezuela ambassador in a decade amid tensions

The two nations have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations began to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.The United States has its first ambassador for Venezuela in 10 years despite Washington having no diplomats at its Caracas embassy amid a breakdown in relations.
James Story’s nomination as ambassador was confirmed on Wednesday by a US Senate voice vote.
The South Carolina native takes the job that he will carry out from the capital of neighbouring Colombia as Venezuela endures an historic economic and political crisis.
The US and Venezuela have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations first started to fray under late President Hugo Chávez.
The two nations totally broke diplomatic ties last year, each withdrawing its diplomats shortly after Washington backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s leader.
Story, 50, will likely play a key role in helping guide US policy on Venezuela during the transition of President-elect Joe Biden.
Biden’s win has sparked debate among those who back President Donald Trump’s hardline approach of isolating his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro and others who say it is time for a new course.
The critics say heavy sanctions have failed to remove Maduro from power, opening Venezuela to US competitors such as China, Russia and Iran, while making life harder on millions of residents of the South American nation.
The US leads a coalition of dozens of nations that rejected Maduro following his election in 2018 to a second term in a vote Washington called fraudulent.
The US has since heavily sanctioned Maduro, his inner circle and the state-run oil firm, attempting to isolate them.
The Trump administration offered a $15m reward for Maduro’s arrest after a US court indicted him on drug charges.

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