Tag Archives: killing

Shouts of ‘you’re killing him’ could have prompted Chauvin to reassess use of force, trainer testifies

Derek Chauvin could have potentially reassessed his actions when irate bystanders yelled at him that he should get off of George Floyd because he was “killing him,” a lieutenant who trains police officers in use-of-force techniques acknowledged on Tuesday.

Lt. Johnny Mercil, a Minneapolis police officer, was one of the officers who trained Chauvin in proper use-of-force techniques. He was also the latest in a series of senior officers with the force, including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who have testified that Chauvin, with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck during their confrontation on May 25, 2020, used excessive force and violated police procedure.

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in Floyd’s death. The 46-year-old Black man died after Chauvin pressed his knee against the back of Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes as other officers held him down. Chauvin’s trial is now in its second week. 

Use-of-force trainer testifies 

During cross examination, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson, who has argued that police at the scene were distracted by what they perceived as a growing and increasingly hostile crowd of onlookers, asked if Mercil agreed that a crowd jeering at police officers will raise alarms within the officers. Mercil agreed.

However, prosecutor Steve Schleicher quickly followed up with his own question about the bystanders, asking: “If they’re saying ‘Get off him, you’re killing him,’ should the officer also take that into account and consider whether their actions need to be reassessed?”

“Potentially, yes,” Mercil said.

Earlier, Mercil was asked more specifically about the use-of-force procedures and how they relate to this specific case.

Knee to neck not part of training

He was shown a picture of Chauvin with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck. Schleicher asked Mercil if that restraint was part of the training at the Minneapolis Police Department.

“No sir,” he said.

Mercil said a knee on the neck is an authorized use of force, but that officers are told to stay away from the neck if possible. Schleicher asked Mercil how long such a technique should be used if an officer were to employ it. 

Mercil said it would depend on the resistance being offered.

“Say, for example, the subject was under control and handcuffed — would this be authorized?” Schleicher asked.

“I would say no,” Mercil said.

Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and Chauvin are seen in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly say he couldn’t breathe. 

Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. All four officers were later fired. The footage of the arrest prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests across the U.S. and around the world.

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck as he lay handcuffed on the pavement was the cause of his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Records show that Chauvin was trained in the use of force by the police department in October 2018.   

On Tuesday, Mercil also told Hennepin County District Court that police should try to put a suspect in the “recover” position, sit them up or stand them up, as soon as possible to decrease the risk that they might have difficulty breathing while on their stomachs.

‘I would say it’s time to de-escalate the force’

Under cross-examination by Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, Mercil acknowledged that, in his experience, there have been times when suspects he was in the process of detaining were lying about having a medical emergency.

Mercil also testified that circumstances can change minute to minute; that a suspect can go from being compliant and peaceful to violent, and he agreed that all of those considerations play a part in the use of force.

He also said there have been times when an unconscious suspect regained consciousness.

Mercil also acknowledged that just because a person is handcuffed, doesn’t mean the suspect is in control, and that he has trained officers to restrain suspects as “long as they needed to hold them.”

But Schleicher then asked Mercil whether it’s inappropriate to hold a suspect in a position where the officer’s knee is across their back or neck once the person is under control and no longer resistant.

“I would say it’s time to de-escalate the force.”

“And get off of them,” Schleicher said.

“Yes sir,” Mercil said.

Mercil agreed that if an officer is placing body weight with the knee on a person’s neck and back it would decrease the person’s ability to breathe. He also agreed that it would be inappropriate to restrain someone in that way after they had lost their pulse. 

Mercil was asked if there was ever a time when an individual lost their pulse, suddenly came “back to life” and became more resistant. 

“Not that I’m aware of,” he said.

Witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and expert in use-of-force techniques, testifies at Chauvin’s murder trial. (COURT TV/Associated Press)

Use of force ‘was excessive’: expert

In other testimony, Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution use-of-force expert, said officers were justified in using force while Floyd was resisting their efforts to put him in a squad car.

But once Floyd was on the ground and had stopped resisting, Stiger said officers “should have slowed down or stopped their force as well.”

Stiger said that after reviewing video of the arrest, “my opinion was that the force was excessive.”

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Is the pandemic killing the idea of the Commonwealth?

When Harry and Meghan went on U.S. television this month, Canada and other Commonwealth countries went through another short-lived debate about whether to move on from the British royal connection. 

But the COVID-19 pandemic may be raising even more pointed questions about the relevance of the institution that succeeded the British Empire.

Oprah Winfrey’s interview, which aired on March 7, certainly captured more attention than Queen Elizabeth II’s annual speech to the Commonwealth, delivered on the same day. The theme of that speech was the “spirit of unity” in the face of the pandemic. “I hope we shall maintain this renewed sense of closeness and community,” she said.

A “Commonwealth Statement on COVID-19” issued in the name of all 54 heads of government made particular mention of “Small Island Developing States”:

“As Commonwealth partners, we must make a concerted effort, consistent with national capability, to find solutions to overcome these challenges, including … providing equitable access to essential medicines.”

Indeed, the idea of solidarity is evoked by the word “commonwealth,” which Merriam-Webster defines as a political unit “united by compact or tacit agreement of the people for the common good.”

But there’s a large gap between the language of Commonwealth solidarity and the reality.

Republic to the rescue

When a public health nurse became the first person in Jamaica to receive a COVID vaccine this month, her shot was a gift — not from the U.K. but from a republic that had once been a British colony itself.

India’s donation of 50,000 doses was “the best news I’ve heard in a very long time,” said Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton.

Barbados’s PM Mia Mottley also had Indian PM Narendra Modi to thank for what she called “his quick, decisive and magnanimous action” after her country received 100,000 free doses.

Boxes of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and provided through the global COVAX initiative arrive at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, March 15, 2021. (Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP)

After he heard that 70,000 doses were on their way from India, Dominica’s PM Roosevelt Skerrit said that he “did not imagine that the prayers of my country would be answered so swiftly.”

Barbados and Dominica promptly sent some of the vaccines they’d received to Guyana and Saint Lucia.

India has vaccinated fewer than 2 per cent of its own people and now faces a rise in infections that has forced it to curb its generosity.

On a per capita basis, the U.K. is twenty times as wealthy as India and has vaccinated twenty times as many of its citizens — the highest percentage of any large nation. But India is the country sharing vaccines with Britain’s former colonies in the Caribbean.

The Commonwealth was an attempt to create something that would live on after the slow implosion of the British Empire that began with Ireland’s War of Independence in 1921 — and continues a century later with the more peaceful transformation of Barbados into a republic, scheduled to happen by November 2021.

The Commonwealth was created in 1931, the same year Canada gained more or less full legal autonomy from the United Kingdom.

Although it includes 54 countries, only a core group of 16 “Commonwealth realms” still recognize Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state: Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu — and, of course, the U.K. itself.

Generous, but in other ways

It’s not that Britain has been ungenerous. In recent years, it’s been the most generous supporter of GAVI, the international vaccine alliance now leading the COVAX initiative to provide vaccines to poorer countries.

“The COVAX Advance Market Commitment is the global mechanism to help developing countries, including qualifying Commonwealth countries, access a coronavirus vaccine,” Tom Walsh of the British High Commission in Ottawa told CBC News.

Britain’s Prince William speaks to staff during a visit to the vaccination centre at Westminster Abbey, London, Tuesday, March 23, 2021 to pay tribute to the efforts of those involved in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. (Aaron Chown/AP)

“The U.K. is leading efforts for global equitable access to COVID vaccines and treatments. The U.K. is working closely with multilateral institutions such as the UN, G7, G20, and with WHO and international partners such as CEPI and Gavi, to ensure developing countries can access COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and tests.”

The Commonwealth is a multilateral institution of 54 nations. But it’s no longer the institution through which Britain conducts its most important business — nor does London feel particularly beholden to Commonwealth nations when it comes to vaccines.

Membership may or may not have its privileges 

At least one former European colonial power did choose to help its old colonies. Portugal is donating 5 per cent of the doses it receives under the EU’s vaccine-sharing scheme to its former colonies in Africa and East Timor. It made that decision even though those countries declared independence decades ago — and there is no Portuguese version of the Commonwealth.

New Guinea was a colony of Australia (not Britain) from 1906 until 1975. When COVID hit fully independent Papua New Guinea, Australia sent vaccines it had acquired in Europe and promised to send more.

“They’re our family, they’re our friends, they’re our neighbours, they’re our partners,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Something similar happened in self-governing Caribbean island countries that were once Dutch colonies, and that still recognize King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands as their head of state. Sint Maarten, Aruba and Curacao have received a considerable amount of support from the Dutch during the pandemic, including large shipments of the Pfizer vaccine.

(The three islands are neither colonies nor fully independent UN members. They are considered separate countries but constituent parts of a multinational Kingdom of the Netherlands that is a much closer association than the Commonwealth.)

Martyn Roper, the British governor of the Cayman Islands, receives his second and final dose of Pfizer vaccine on January 28, 2021. (Facebook)

Some Caribbean islands chose to remain full-on colonies of Britain, including the Caymans, the Turks and Caicos and Bermuda, and they have received vaccines from the U.K. with great generosity.

On March 10, Martyn Roper, the British governor of the Caymans, announced on his Facebook page that “by early May, all those over the age of 16 who want to be vaccinated could have received their second dose.”

But if being a colony during a pandemic has its advantages, mere membership in the Commonwealth doesn’t appear to come with any perks at all.

No reason to ask

Perhaps there is no clearer sign of the fading relevance of the Commonwealth than the fact that Britain didn’t offer to share vaccines with its sister nations — and those nations also didn’t bother to ask.

The office of Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand — the minister charged with bringing vaccines to Canada — told CBC News it’s their “understanding that the vaccines produced in the United Kingdom have been, and continue to be, intended for the U.K. population.”

Instead, Canada turned for help to the republic next door — the country that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls “our nearest ally and closest friend.”

And that friend obliged, although the United States has vaccinated a much lower share of its population than the U.K.

“It’s just wonderful that we’re able to come to an arrangement for 1.5 million doses coming into this country before the end of March,” Anand told CBC News.

And so Canadians will receive a solidarity boost of British vaccine … thanks to their American cousins.

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Earth Will Lose Its Oxygen in a Billion Years, Killing Most Living Organisms

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Humans haven’t been great for the health of the planet, but even if we pollute ourselves into extinction, Earth will continue on. It’s survived enormous asteroid impacts and megavolcanoes, after all. A few primates aren’t going to do worse in the long-run. The ultimate fate of life on Earth lies a billion years in the future. A new study supported by NASA’s exoplanet habitability research lays out how the sun will eventually bake the planet, turning Earth from a lush, oxygen-rich world to a dried-up husk with no complex life. 

NASA is interested in the future of Earth because it’s the only habitable planet we can study up close. As such, scientists have attempted to extrapolate the properties of Earth-like planets we might be able to detect from great distances. Kazumi Ozaki at Toho University in Japan and Chris Reinhard at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a model of Earth’s climate, biology, and geology to see how it will change. 

According to Ozaki and Reinhard, Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere is not a permanent feature. There was very little of it in the atmosphere until 2.4 billion years ago when cyanobacteria evolved to absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen — this is known as the Great Oxidation Event. This gave rise to all the forms of multicellular life we see on Earth today. There’s just one problem: the Sun. As stars age, they get hotter, and the Sun is about a billion years from roasting Earth. 

The study predicts that in a billion years, the Sun will become so hot that it breaks down carbon dioxide. The levels of CO2 will become so low that photosynthesizing plants will be unable to survive, and that means no more oxygen for the rest of us. When that happens, the changes will be abrupt. Ozaki and Reinhard say in the study, published in Nature Geoscience, that it could take a little as 10,000 years for oxygen levels to drop to a millionth of what it is now. That’s a blink of the eye in geological terms. Methane levels will also begin to rise, reaching 10,000 times the level seen today. 

Cyanobacteria like these oxygenated the atmosphere, but the era of oxygen may be fleeting.

This harsh, choking atmosphere will be incompatible with any multicellular life as it exists today. The globe will be given over to bacteria and archaea, the heartiest of living organisms to see the planet through the rest of its existence until it’s swallowed by the Sun. Even if more complex life did survive, it would be irradiated by the increasingly luminous Sun. Without oxygen, the ozone layer will evaporate and expose the surface to more intense UV radiation. 

Ozaki and Reinhard conclude that oxygen is an important biomarker, but it may not be a permanent feature of planets with life. That could change how we categorize exoplanets going forward — even without oxygen, there could be plenty of single-celled life.

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Iran’s supreme leader calls for ‘definitive punishment’ in scientist’s killing

Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday called for the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of a scientist linked to Tehran’s disbanded military nuclear program, a slaying the Islamic Republic has blamed on Israel.

Israel, long suspected of killing scientists a decade ago amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, has yet to comment on the killing Friday of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. However, the attack bore the hallmarks of a carefully planned, military-style ambush.

The slaying threatens to renew tensions between the U.S. and Iran in the waning days of U.S. President Donald Trump’s term, just as President-elect Joe Biden has suggested his administration could return to Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers from which Trump earlier withdrew. The Pentagon announced early Saturday that it sent the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Mideast.

In a statement, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.”

Khamenei said Iran’s first priority after the killing was the “definitive punishment of the perpetrators and those who ordered it.” He did not elaborate.

Speaking to a meeting of his government’s coronavirus task force earlier Saturday, President Hassan Rouhani blamed Israel for the killing.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was a central figure in a presentation by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to seek nuclear weapons. (Reuters TV)


Rouhani said that Fakhrizadeh’s death would not stop its nuclear program, something Khamenei said as well. Iran’s civilian nuclear program has continued its experiments and now enriches uranium up to 4.5 per cent, far below weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent.

But analysts have compared Fakhrizadeh to being on a par with Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led the U.S.’ Manhattan Project in the Second World War that created the atom bomb.

“We will respond to the assassination of Martyr Fakhrizadeh in a proper time,” Rouhani said.

Israel ‘thinking to create chaos’

He added: “The Iranian nation is smarter than falling into the trap of the Zionists. They are thinking to create chaos.”

Friday’s attack happened in Absard, a village just east of the capital that is a retreat for the Iranian elite. Iranian state television said an old truck with explosives hidden under a load of wood blew up near a sedan carrying Fakhrizadeh.

As Fakhrizadeh’s sedan stopped, at least five gunmen emerged and raked the car with rapid fire, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency said.

Fakhrizadeh was killed in Absard, a small city just east of the capital, Tehran, on Friday after gunmen fired on his car. (Fars News Agency via The Associated Press)


Fakhrizadeh died at a hospital after doctors and paramedics couldn’t revive him. Others wounded included Fakhrizadeh’s bodyguards. Photos and video shared online showed a Nissan sedan with bullet holes in the windshield and blood pooled on the road.

Hours after the attack, the Pentagon announced it had brought the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier back into the Middle East, an unusual move as the carrier already spent months in the region. It cited the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq as the reason for the decision, saying “it was prudent to have additional defensive capabilities in the region to meet any contingency.”

The attack comes just days before the 10-year anniversary of the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari that Tehran also blamed on Israel. That and other targeted killings happened at the time that the so-called Stuxnet virus, believed to be an Israeli and American creation, destroyed Iranian centrifuges.

Those assaults occurred at the height of Western fears over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran long has insisted its program is peaceful. However, Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s so-called AMAD program that Israel and the West have alleged was a military operation looking at the feasibility of building a nuclear weapon. The International Atomic Energy Agency says that “structured program” ended in 2003.

IAEA inspectors monitor Iranian nuclear sites as part of the now-unraveling nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

WATCH | Iran’s top nuclear scientist assassinated:

Iran alleges the U.S. and Israel assassinated one of its top nuclear scientists. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was seen as the key player in Iran’s quest to build a nuclear bomb. 1:49

After Trump’s 2018 withdrawal from the deal, Iran has abandoned all those limits. Experts now believe Iran has enough low-enriched uranium to make at least two nuclear weapons if it chose to pursue the bomb. Meanwhile, an advanced centrifuge assembly plant at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility exploded in July in what Tehran now calls a sabotage attack.

Fakhrizadeh, born in 1958, had been sanctioned by the UN Security Council and the U.S. for his work on AMAD. Iran always described him as a university physics professor. A member of the Revolutionary Guard, Fakhrizadeh had been seen in pictures in meetings attended by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a sign of his importance in Iran’s theocracy.

In recent years, U.S. sanctions lists name him as heading Iran’s Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research. The State Department described that organization last year as working on “dual-use research and development activities, of which aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems.”

Iran’s mission to the UN, meanwhile, described Fakhrizadeh’s recent work as “development of the first indigenous COVID-19 test kit” and overseeing Tehran’s efforts at making a possible coronavirus vaccine.

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George Floyd’s family sues City of Minneapolis, officers charged in his killing

George Floyd’s family filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the City of Minneapolis and the four police officers charged in his death, alleging the officers violated Floyd’s rights when they restrained him and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police department.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, was announced by attorney Ben Crump and other lawyers representing Floyd’s family members.

“This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck,” Crump said in a statement. “The City of Minneapolis has a history of policies, procedures and deliberate indifference that violates the rights of arrestees, particularly Black men, and highlights the need for officer training and discipline.”

Crump said the lawsuit seeks to set a precedent “that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.”

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died on May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers at the scene — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng — are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.

All four officers were fired the day after Floyd’s death, which set off protests that spread around the world and turned into a national reckoning on race in the United States.

The four officers charged in Floyd’s death are, from left: Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/File/The Associated Press)

Floyd’s death also sparked calls to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department and replace it with a new public safety department. A majority of city council members support the move, saying the department has a long history and culture of brutality that has resisted change.

A public hearing was planned later Wednesday on the proposal, which requires a change in the city’s charter that could go to voters in November.

Body camera footage available by appointment

The lawsuit comes on the same day that a court allowed public viewing by appointment of video from the body cameras of Lane and Kueng. A coalition of news organizations and attorneys for Lane and Kueng have been advocating to make the videos public, saying they would provide a more complete picture of what happened when Floyd was taken into custody. The judge hasn’t said why he’s not allowing the video to be disseminated more widely.

WATCH | What systemic racism in Canada looks like:

The police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed have brought renewed attention to systemic racism. In Canada, some have been quick to deny its existence. But these experts say racism has been normalized within Canadian institutions. 10:01

According to documents in state probate court, Floyd is survived by 11 known heirs, including five children and six siblings. They live in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and New York. All but one of Floyd’s children are adults. He has no living parents or grandparents.

The families of victims of other high-profile police killings have received high payouts in Minnesota. Last year, Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 20 million US to the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, an unarmed woman who was shot by an officer after she called 911 to report hearing a possible crime happening behind her home.

The settlement came three days after the officer, Mohamed Noor, was convicted of murdering her and is believed to be the largest payout ever stemming from police violence in Minnesota.

At the time, Mayor Jacob Frey cited Noor’s unprecedented conviction and his failure to identify a threat before he used deadly force as reasons for the large settlement.

The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by an officer in 2016, reached a nearly $ 3 million US settlement with the suburb of St. Anthony, Minn., which employed the officer. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges.

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Pleas for calm as protests sweep U.S. over police killing of George Floyd

Another night of unrest across the United States left charred and shattered landscapes in dozens of cities Sunday as years of festering frustrations over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police boiled over in expressions of rage met with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Cars and businesses were torched, the words “I can’t breathe” were spray-painted on buildings, a fire in a trash bin burned near the gates of the White House, and thousands marched peacefully through city streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing.

His death is one of a litany of racial tragedies that have thrown the country into chaos amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions out of work and killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S., including disproportionate numbers of black people.

“We’re sick of it. The cops are out of control,” protester Olga Hall said in Washington D.C. “They’re wild. There’s just been too many dead boys.”

People set fire to police cars, threw bottles at police officers and busted windows of storefronts, carrying away TVs and other items even as some protesters urged them to stop. In Indianapolis, police were investigating multiple shootings, including one that left a person dead amid the protests — adding to deaths in Detroit and Minneapolis in recent days.

WATCH | Dozens arrested in Minneapolis for curfew violations:

Dozens of protesters were arrested in Minneapolis as protests continue. Officials say police focused their efforts mostly only those violating the 8 p.m. curfew. 4:00

In Minneapolis, the city where the protests began, police, state troopers and National Guard members moved in soon after an 8 p.m. curfew took effect to break up protests, firing tear gas and rubber bullets to clear streets outside a police precinct and elsewhere.

WATCH | Protesters gather around White House Saturday night

CBC’s Katie Simpson reports from outside the White House, where protesters have gathered over the death of George Floyd 8:26

Photojournalist Tom Aviles was struck by a rubber bullet on Saturday night in Minneapolis while working for a local CBS-owned TV station.

Moments after he was hit, police forced Aviles onto the ground and took him into custody. He was later released.

A video posted to Twitter shows an armoured vehicle rolling down a residential street in Minneapolis’s Whittier neighbourhood on Saturday. National Guard soldiers are heard ordering people to remain inside.

At least 13 police officers were injured in Philadelphia when peaceful protests turned violent and at least four police vehicles were set on fire.

Protesters sprayed graffiti on a statue of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, tried to topple it and set a fire at its base. Rizzo was Philadelphia’s mayor from 1972 to 1980 and was praised by supporters as tough on crime but accused by critics of discriminating against minorities.

People loot stores in Los Angeles on Saturday night during the unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd last Monday. (Kyle Grillot/Reuters)

In downtown Charleston, S.C., protesters damaged multiple businesses and defaced a Confederate statue overnight.

NYC police cruisers driven into crowd

In New York City, dangerous confrontations flared repeatedly as officers made arrests and cleared streets. A video taken in Brooklyn showed two NYPD cruisers lurching into a crowd of demonstrators who were pushing a barricade against one of them and pelting it with objects. Several people were knocked to the ground, and it was unclear if anyone was hurt.

“The mistakes that are happening are not mistakes. They’re repeated violent terrorist offences and people need to stop killing black people,” Brooklyn protester Meryl Makielski said.

There was pandemonium in Chicago on Saturday as demonstrators swarmed two city police officers and started dragging them on the ground. Some of the protesters came to the officers’ defence by forming a protective ring around them.

Few corners of America were untouched, from protesters setting fires inside Reno’s city hall, to police launching tear gas at rock-throwing demonstrators in Fargo, North Dakota. In Salt Lake City, demonstrators flipped a police car and lit it on fire. Police said six people were arrested and a police officer was injured after being struck in the head with a baseball bat.

More than 1,600 arrests

Police have arrested at least 1,669 people in 22 cities since Thursday, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Nearly a third of those arrests came in Los Angeles, where the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered the National Guard to back up the city’s 10,000 police officers as dozens of fires burned across the city.

All COVID-19 testing centres throughout Los Angeles will be closed until further notified, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas said on Twitter, citing a “social breakdown prompted by excessive force” resulting in Floyd’s death.

A protester assists an elderly man inadvertently affected by tear gas during unrest in Raleigh, N.C. on Saturday. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

The damage in U.S. cities came as many Americans plan to return to in-person church services on Sunday for the first time in several weeks since the pandemic forced a ban on large gatherings. Pastors in pulpits across the country will likely be urging peace amid the rubble of riots.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a 9 p.m. curfew for the city Saturday evening and issued a statement, saying she had “total disgust” over the number of people who came to the protest “armed for all-out battle.”

Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin reacts after getting pepper sprayed by police during a protest over the death of George Floyd near the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Saturday. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via The Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to cheer on the tougher tactics Saturday night, commending the National Guard deployment in Minneapolis, declaring “No games!” and saying police in New York City “must be allowed to do their job!”

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden condemned the violence as he continued to express common cause with those demonstrating after Floyd’s death.

“The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest,” Biden said in a statement Saturday night.

Overnight curfews have been imposed in more than a dozen major cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle.

This week’s unrest recalled the riots in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago after the acquittal of the white police officers who beat Rodney King, a black motorist who had led them on a high-speed chase. The protests of Floyd’s killing have gripped many more cities, but the losses in Minneapolis have yet to approach the staggering totals Los Angeles saw during five days of rioting in 1992, when more than 60 people died, 2,000-plus were injured and thousands arrested, with property damage topping $ 1 billion US.

Police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Kansas City, Mo., on Saturday night. (Reuters)

But not all protests were marred by violence. In Juneau, Alaska, local police joined protesters at a rally in front of a giant whale sculpture on the city’s waterfront.

“We don’t tolerate excessive use of force,” Juneau Police Chief Ed Mercer told a gathering where most people wore masks and some sang Alaska Native songs.

The show of force in Minneapolis came after three days when police largely avoided engaging protesters, and after the state poured in more than 4,000 National Guard troops to Minneapolis and said the number would soon rise to nearly 11,000.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in any way about the murder of George Floyd,” said Gov. Tim Walz, who also said local forces had been overmatched the previous day. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great cities.”

WATCH | Minneapolis police clear out protesters:

CBC’s Susan Ormiston talks about the moment police in Minneapolis cleared out peaceful protesters who were breaking curfew 5:47

Some residents were glad to see the upheaval dissipating.

“l live here. I haven’t been able to sleep,” said Iman Muhammad, whose neighborhood saw multiple fires set Friday night. Muhammad said she sympathized with peaceful protests over Floyd’s death but disagreed with the violence: “Wrong doesn’t answer wrong.”

Floyd’s body will return to Houston

The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, says Floyd’s body will be returning to Houston, Tex., where he grew up in the city’s Third Ward, one of its predominantly black neighbourhoods. Floyd was a Houston native before moving to Minnesota.

WATCH | Violence at demonstrations reflects societal violence against black people, says protester:

Zae Sellers is one of the demonstrators who’s taken to Minneapolis streets following the killing of George Floyd. She says while it’s wrong for protesters to “tear down” their own community, the recent protest violence is a reflection of violence against black people. 7:03

At 6 feet, 6 inches, Floyd emerged as a star tight end for Jack Yates High School and played in the 1992 state championship game in the Houston Astrodome. Yates lost to Temple, 38-20.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey appealed for calm again on Saturday night, as did Melvin Carter, the mayor of nearby Saint Paul.

People attend a protest against the death of George Floyd in Atlanta on Saturday. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

The outrage over Floyd’s death needs to be turned into action to ensure something like that never happens again, Carter said.

He said telling the world that those responsible must be held accountable is what’s important, but “events of this week have distracted us, have sought to exploit the death of Mr. Floyd for the purposes of further destroying the communities that have been most traumatized by his death.”

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Turkish soccer player confesses to killing son in hospital

Turkish authorities have arrested a former top-tier soccer player who confessed to killing his 5-year-old son while the boy was being treated in a hospital on suspicion of a COVID-19 infection.

Cevher Toktas, 32, handed himself over to police and confessed to having smothered his son, Kasim, with a pillow on May 4, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The boy’s death was initially not believed to be suspicious, although he tested negative for COVID-19. His body has been exhumed for an autopsy as part of the investigation, Anadolu reported.

HaberTurk television reported that Toktas, who currently plays with amateur league team Bursa Yildirimspor, told police that he tried to suffocate his son because he did not love him, and turned himself in to police 11 days later because he felt remorse.

The boy was admitted to the children’s hospital in the northwestern province of Bursa with a cough and high fever on April 23 — an official Turkish public holiday celebrating children — and placed in isolation along with his father.

Soon after, Toktas said, he smothered the boy and called for help, saying Kasim had taken a turn for the worse. The 5-year-old was rushed to the hospital’s intensive care unit, where he died two hours later.

No trial date has been set yet.

Between 2007 and 2009, Toktas played for the Hacettepe soccer team, which briefly competed in the Turkish top-tier Super League.

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Pompeo defends U.S. killing of Iranian general, EU to hold crisis meeting on escalating tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday defended President Donald Trump’s decision to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, as Democratic lawmakers questioned whether the action was justified and the United States braced for retaliation.

Democratic critics in Congress said it was not clear to them why the Iranian military leader, long seen as a threat by U.S. authorities, had to be killed now. They said Trump does not have the authority to go to war without congressional approval, and that his actions put the country at greater risk.

Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress have generally backed his decision.

Pompeo, Trump’s top diplomat and adviser, made the administration’s case during multiple television interviews on Sunday, saying there was “no scepticism” among senior U.S. leaders who had access to all the intelligence on Friday’s targeted killing.

He deflected questions about the “imminent attack” he had cited on Friday as justification for the strike, and described the threat posed by Soleimani as long-term and wide-ranging.

“We would have been culpably negligent had we not taken this action,” Pompeo said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

WATCH: Pompeo defends U.S. air strike that killed Soleimani

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended on Sunday the U.S. air strike which killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, warning that the U.S. will respond if Iran retaliates. 1:21

“It’s never one thing. … It’s never one moment. It’s never one instance,” he said. “It’s a full situational awareness of risk and analysis.”

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Soleimani had been plotting against the United States for decades and that lawmakers had not received enough information on the alleged threat to convince him the killing was warranted.

“So the question is, why now?” he asked on CNN’s State of the Union. “I don’t think the intelligence supports the conclusion that killing a top Iranian official is going to either stop [the] plotting or improve American security.”

Pompeo repeatedly said Soleimani’s killing made Americans safer, but he also tallied the steps the U.S. is taking to guard against Iranian retaliation, including warning Americans to leave the region, boosting the U.S. military presence and shoring up cybersecurity systems.

On Sunday evening, Trump continued to threaten “major retaliation” against Iran if Tehran were to retaliate.

The president also told reporters travelling with him from Florida that he was willing to go after Iranian cultural sites because Iran had killed Americans, and he said the administration “may discuss” releasing intelligence related to the killing of Soleimani.

Representative Adam Schiff said U.S. lawmakers had not received enough information on the alleged threat to convince him the assassination of Soleimani was warranted. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump also threatened sanctions against Baghdad after Iraq’s parliament called on U.S. troops to leave the country, and the president said if troops did leave, Baghdad would have to pay Washington for the cost of an air base there.

“We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build, long before my time. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One.

Trump said that if Iraq asked U.S. forces to leave and it was not done on a friendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Long-running hostilities

The attack that killed Soleimani at the Baghdad airport took long-running hostilities between Washington and Tehran into uncharted territory and raised the spectre of wider conflict in the Middle East.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, a candidate for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in November’s presidential election, noted the strike came as Trump faced a Senate trial after his impeachment by the Democratic-led House of Representatives. Democratic Senator Mark Warner said Trump’s “taunting tweets” to Iran did not help de-escalate tensions, a stated goal of the Trump administration.

Kashmiri Shia Muslims shout anti-American and anti-Israel slogans during a protest against the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed Soleimani on Friday. (Mukhtar Khan/The Associated Press)

In a series of Twitter warnings to Iran on Saturday, Trump said Washington had identified 52 targets, including some “important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” that would be hit hard and fast if Tehran attacked Americans or U.S. assets.

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said he was not yet convinced there was an imminent threat that justified the strike.

“I accept the notion that there was a real threat. The question of how imminent is something that I need more information on,” Warner told NBC’s Meet the Press.

“We do not need this president either bumbling or impulsively getting us into a major war,” added Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, on ABC’s This Week.

Pompeo said intelligence justifying the Soleimani strike has been shared with leaders in Congress and he expects they will be briefed again this week. He bolstered Trump’s promise to respond forcefully to any Iranian attack.

The U.S. is sending more than 3,000 troops to the Middle East as tensions rise in the region. (Capt. Robyn Haake/U.S. Army/AFP/Getty Images)

“We’ve told the Iranian regime: enough. You can’t get away with using proxy forces and think your homeland will be safe and secure. We’re going to respond against the actual decision-makers – the people who are causing this threat from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said.

In a statement on Saturday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the strike was “provocative, escalatory and disproportionate.” She said a classified notification lawmakers received on Saturday prompted “serious and urgent questions about the timing, manner and justification of the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran.”

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Saturday the operation was legal and that Justice Department lawyers had signed off on it.

EU crisis meeting

Meanwhile, German foreign minister Heiko Maas called on Sunday for a crisis meeting of his European Union counterparts this week to discuss escalating tension in the Middle East.

“As Europeans, we have tried and tested and resilient channels of communication on all sides, which we must make full use of in this situation,” Maas said in a statement.

Maas has proposed to EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell that a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers be brought forward to this week to agree on a common approach.

Maas also said Germany would speak to the Iraqi government after the country’s parliament on Sunday backed a recommendation by the prime minister that all foreign troops should be ordered out.

“Our overriding interest is that Iraq’s stability and unity should not fall victim to the recent escalation,” he said.

Iranian mourners gather around the coffin of Soleiman in Ahvaz, Iran on Sunday. (Hossein Mersadi/Fars news agency/WANA/Reuters)

Germany has around 120 troops deployed in Iraq under the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve.

“We are ready to continue our support if it is desired and the situation allows it,” Maas said.

“We are now discussing this intensively with our partners, in the NATO Council, in the European Union, in the anti-IS coalition, and above all with our contacts in Iraq.”

NATO ambassadors are also expected to gather on Monday in Brussels for an urgent meeting convened by the head of the military alliance to discuss the situation in the region, a NATO official said.

NATO ambassadors meet regularly, but Monday’s meeting was organized at short notice after the alliance decided on Saturday to suspend its training mission in Iraq over security risks following the killing Soleimani.

Iraq orders foreign troops out

While nations are looking at retaining their military forces in the area, Iraq’s parliament on Sunday backed a recommendation by the prime minister that all foreign troops should be ordered out. 

A special session passed a resolution saying that the Shia-led government should cancel its request for assistance from a U.S.-led coalition.

On Sunday, Iraq’s parliament backed a recommendation by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi that all foreign troops should be ordered out of the country. (Khalid al-Mousily/Reuters)

“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” said caretaker premier Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned in November amid street protests.

He later told France’s foreign minister that Iraqi officials were working on implementing the resolution.

Rival Sunni Muslim leaders, including ones opposed to Iranian influence, have united since then in calling for the expulsion of U.S. troops, and Abdul Mahdi’s eventual successor is almost certain to take the same view.

However, one Sunni Muslim lawmaker said Sunni Arab and Kurdish minorities fear the expulsion of the U.S.-led coalition will leave Iraq vulnerable to an insurgency, undermine security, and further empower its Iranian-backed Shia militias.

Most Sunni and Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the session, and the 168 lawmakers present were just three more than the quorum.

Qais al-Khazali, leader of the militant group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, said if U.S. troops do not leave Iraq, they would be considered an occupying force. (Alaa al-Marjani/Reuters)

While Iran-backed Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali said Sunday that if U.S. troops do not leave Iraq, they would be considered an occupying force.

The U.S. was disappointed in the decision by Iraq’s parliament on Sunday, the State Department said.

“While we await further clarification on the legal nature and impact of today’s resolution, we strongly urge Iraqi leaders to reconsider the importance of the ongoing economic and security relationship between the two countries and the continued presence of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS,” spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

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‘A more dangerous world:’ U.S. killing of top Iran general triggers global alarm

Global powers are warning the world has become a more dangerous place after U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s top general and are urging restraint on all sides.

Iran has vowed “harsh retaliation” for a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad’s airport that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the architect of its interventions across the Middle East, as tensions soared in the wake of the targeted killing.

The killing marks a major escalation in the standoff between Washington and Iran, which has careened from one crisis to another since Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed crippling sanctions.

“We are waking up in a more dangerous world. Military escalation is always dangerous,” France’s deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, said on RTL radio. “When such actions, such operations, take place, we see that escalation is underway.”

Montchalin indicated urgent reconciliation efforts are being launched behind the scenes. French President Emmanuel Macron and his foreign minister were reaching out to “all the actors in the region,” she said.

Watch as one expert says the killing won’t lead to a ‘doomsday scenario’

The killing of Iranian Gen. Qassim Soleimani by a U.S. airstrike will inflame tensions but likely won’t trigger an all-out war in the Middle East, according to Kamran Bokhari, the founding director of the U.S.-based Center for Global Policy. 11:50

The United States urged its citizens to leave Iraq “immediately.” The State Department said the embassy in Baghdad, which was attacked by Iran-backed militia and other protesters earlier this week, is closed and all consular services have been suspended.

Around 5,200 U.S. troops are based in Iraq, where they mainly train Iraqi forces and help to combat ISIS.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S. after the airstrike, calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.” Khamenei declared three days of public mourning for the general’s death.

Khamenei also appointed Soleimani’s deputy, Brig.-Gen. Esmail Ghaani, to replace him as head of the country’s Quds Forces, Iranian media reported.

The force’s program “will be unchanged from the time of his predecessor,” Khamenei said in a statement published by state media.

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces stand guard in front of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. (Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran summoned the Swiss chargé d’affaires, who represents U.S. interests in Tehran, to protest the killing. “The chargé​​​​ d’affaires was informed of Iran’s position and in turn delivered the message of the United States,” the ministry said in an emailed response to a Reuters query, without elaborating.

The killing, and any forceful retaliation by Iran, could ignite a conflict that engulfs the whole region, endangering U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria and beyond. Over the last two decades Soleimani had assembled a network of heavily armed allies stretching all the way to southern Lebanon, on Israel’s doorstep.

Oil prices surged on news of the killing and markets were mixed.

Russia criticizes killing, U.K. urges de-escalation

Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the killing of Soleimani and said it will increase tensions throughout the Middle East. An unnamed diplomat in the ministry told Russia’s state-run news agency TASS they consider the killing “an adventurist step.”

The head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper parliament house called the U.S. airstrike “a mistake” that could “boomerang on its organizers.” Konstantin Kosachev in a Facebook post Friday said the move destroyed the last hope to resolve the issues around the Iran nuclear deal.

And “Iran may accelerate making a nuclear weapon now, even if it didn’t plan on doing it before,” Kosachev said.

China, meanwhile, said it is “highly concerned” and called for all sides, especially the U.S., to exercise “calm and restraint.”

China is a close Iranian ally and has been among the most active countries in defying U.S. attempts to isolate Iran and cripple its economy. Last month, its navy joined with those of Iran and Russia in first-ever joint drills in the Indian Ocean.

China is also a staunch opponent of the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Friday that China is calling for peace and stability in the Middle East as well as respect for Iraq’s independence and territorial integrity.

The spokesperson said “China has always opposed the use of force in international relations” and warned against the further escalation of tensions.

U.K. Foreign Minister Dominic Raab urged all parties to de-escalate after the airstrike. “We have always recognized the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds force led by Qasem Soleimani. Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate. Further conflict is in none of our interests,” he said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he spoke to Raab and China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi about the U.S. decision to eliminate Soleimani, and that Washington is committed to “de-escalation.”

Soleimani’s death weakens Iranian capabilities: expert

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday the United States had the right to defend itself by killing Soleimani.

“Just as Israel has the right of self-defence, the United States has exactly the same right,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.

“Qassim Soleimani is responsible for the death of American citizens and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks.”

Watch as Israel heightens security following Soleimani’s killing

Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert amid fears that Iran could launch a strike through its regional allies after the U.S. killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani. 0:22

Netanyahu spoke on the airport tarmac in Greece after cutting short a trip abroad to fly back to Israel.

“President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully and decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defence.”

Authorities closed the Mount Hermon ski resort near the borders with Lebanon and Syria as a precaution, while Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert amid fears that Iran could launch a strike through its regional allies.

For Iran, the killing represents the loss of a cultural icon who represented national pride and resilience while facing U.S. sanctions. While careful to avoid involving himself in politics, Soleimani’s profile rose sharply as the U.S. and Israel blamed him for Iranian proxy attacks abroad.

Yoel Guzansky, an expert on Iran at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, a prestigious Tel Aviv think tank, said the killing restored U.S. deterrence powers in the Middle East.

“I think the Iranians are shocked now, the Russians, the Chinese, no one would believe Trump would do that,” he said, adding that Iran, in the short run, was likely to retaliate against the U.S. or its allies, and possibly against Israel. But he said in the long run, the loss of Soleimani — who had also been on Israel’s radar for some time — would weaken Iran’s capabilities across the region.

An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Friday. Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert following Soleimani’s killing. (Hamad Almakt/Reuters)

As the head of the Quds, or Jersualem, Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, Soleimani led all of its expeditionary forces and frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members have deployed into Syria’s long war to support President Bashar Assad, as well as into Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, a longtime foe of Tehran.

While Iran’s conventional military has suffered under 40 years of U.S. sanctions, the Guard has built up a ballistic missile program. It also can strike asymmetrically in the region through forces like Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

In the Gaza Strip, the ruling Hamas militant group offered its “sincerest condolences” to Iran, saying Soleimani had “played a major and critical role in supporting Palestinian resistance at all levels.”

The Syrian government, which has received key support from Iran throughout the civil war, also condemned the strike, saying it could lead to a “dangerous escalation” in the region. Hassan Nasrallah, the head of the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, released a statement mourning those killed in the U.S. strike, saying their blood was not wasted.

Unclear what legal authority U.S. relied on for attack

The U.S. Defence Department said it killed Soleimani because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.” It also accused Soleimani of approving the orchestrated violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

The airport strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. A PMF official said the strike killed a total of eight people, including Soleimani’s son-in-law, whom he did not identify.

Trump was vacationing on his estate in Palm Beach, Fla., but sent out a tweet of an American flag.

It’s unclear what legal authority the U.S. relied on to carry out the attack. U.S. presidents claim broad authority to act without the approval of the Congress when U.S. personnel or interests are facing an imminent threat. The Pentagon did not provide evidence to back up its assertion that Soleimani was planning new attacks against Americans.

A photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following the airstrike in Baghdad. (Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office via The Associated Press)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a TV interview there were no legal grounds for the strike, while UN human rights expert Agnes Callamard tweeted the airstrike in Baghdad appeared to be “far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self-defence.”

The U.S. has said Soleimani was targeted in response to “imminent threats to American lives.”

U.S. experts say the legal justification for the killing of Soleimani is relatively straightforward under U.S. and international law. There is a well-established doctrine of “anticipatory self-defence” that has been used by Republican and Democratic presidents in recent decades, said Jeff Addicot, a law professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in Texas.

The killing sparked anti-U.S. protests in Indian-administered Kashmir and a comment by a senior Houthi rebel leader in Yemen that targeting U.S. military bases would be the quickest way to retaliate.

A protester in India-administered Kashmir holds a poster with the image of Soleimani during a demonstration. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images)

The killing will likely strain relations with Iraq’s government, which is closely allied with both Washington and Tehran. Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the strike as an “aggression against Iraq” and a “blatant attack on the nation’s dignity.”

He also called for an emergency session of parliament to take “necessary and appropriate measures to protect Iraq’s dignity, security and sovereignty” on Saturday, when funerals will be held in Baghdad for al-Muhandis, the militia commander, and the other slain Iraqis.

Iraq has been gripped by massive anti-government protests since October, partly against Iran’s influence over the country. But at least one protester, who asked not to be named for security concerns, said they “do not celebrate” the killing of Soleimani.

“America and Iran should solve their problems outside Iraq,” he said. “We do not want them to solve it inside Iraq, because this will not serve our cause.”

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Passenger describes moments before Kazakhstan plane crashed, killing 12 and injuring dozens

A Bek Air plane with 98 people aboard crashed in Kazakhstan shortly after takeoff early Friday, killing at least 12 people.

Fifty-four people, at least 10 of them in critical condition, have been hospitalized with injuries.

The cause of the crash in the Central Asian nation was unclear, but authorities were looking at two possible scenarios —pilot error and technical failure, according to Roman Skylar, Kazakhstan’s deputy prime minister. 

Sklyar said the plane’s tail hit the runway twice during takeoff, indicating it struggled to take off.

The aircraft hit a concrete fence and a two-storey building after takeoff from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and former capital. It lost attitude at 7:22 a.m. local time, the Almaty International Airport said.

One survivor said the plane started shaking less than two minutes after takeoff.

“At first the left wing jolted really hard, then the right. The plane continued to gain altitude, shaking quite severely, and then went down,” Aslan Nazaraliyev told The Associated Press by phone.

Government officials said the plane underwent de-icing before the flight, but Nazaraliyev recalled its wings were covered in ice, and passengers who used emergency exits over the wings were slipping and falling.

The plane was flying to Nur-Sultan, the capital formerly known as Astana.

Local authorities had earlier put the death toll at 15, but the Interior Ministry later revised the figure. Officials in the Almaty branch of the Health Ministry couldn’t explain to the AP why the figure was revised, but attributed the confusion to the “agitation” at the site of the crash.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the airport said there was no fire and a rescue operation got underway immediately following the crash.

Around 1,000 people were working at the snow-covered site of the crash. The weather in Almaty was clear, with mild below-freezing temperatures common at this time of the year.

This 1995 photo shows a Fokker-100, the same type of plane involved in Friday’s crash in Kazakhstan. The company manufacturing the aircraft went bankrupt in 1996 and the production of the Fokker-100 stopped the following year. (The Associated Press)

Footage showed the front of the broken-up fuselage rammed against a building and the rear of the plane lying in the field next to the airport.

In Almaty, dozens of people lined up in front of a local blood bank to donate blood for the injured.

The government promised to pay families of the victims around $ 10,000 US each.

The aircraft was identified as a Fokker-100, a medium-sized, twin-turbofan jet airliner. It was reported to be 23 years old and was most recently certified to operate in May. The company manufacturing the aircraft went bankrupt in 1996 and the production of the Fokker-100 stopped the following year.

All Bek Air and Fokker-100 flights in Kazakhstan were suspended pending the investigation of the crash, the country’s authorities said.

Kazakhstan’s air safety record is far from spotless. In 2009, all Kazakh airlines — with the exception of the flagship carrier Air Astana — were banned from operating in the European Union because they didn’t meet international safety standards. The ban was lifted only in 2016.

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