Minneapolis death of George Floyd: Protests escalate; Trump vs Twitter

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Minneapolis protests escalate as police precinct set on fire, CNN reporter arrested; Trump lashes out at looters on Twitter: What we know

Ryan W. Miller, Jordan Culver, Joel Shannon and Erick Smith
USA TODAY
Published 7:45 AM EDT May 29, 2020

A Minneapolis police precinct was torched late Thursday night as protests intensified following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week after a white officer pinned him to the ground under his knee.

Amid the escalating violence, President Donald Trump criticized the city’s mayor and called protesters “thugs.” Twitter later put a public interest notice on that tweet.

Elsewhere in the deeply shaken city, thousands of peaceful demonstrators marched through the streets calling for justice.

There were protests and rallies across the country, too – including New York City, Chicago and Denver. In Louisville, Kentucky, a protest to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Louisville ER tech shot and killed by police in March, turned violent. Seven people were shot.

Here’s what we know Friday:

State police, national guard clear streets Friday morning

Early Friday, patrols of local and state police and the national guard were clearing the streets around Minneapolis Police’s 3rd Precinct as smoke from the overnight fires billowed.

Video of police and the guard in riot gear and with shields were seen holding lines and marching through the street to push people back.

The heavy police presence came after hours of protests and looting overnight during which little to no police were seen in Minneapolis.

CNN reporter and crew arrested

A CNN reporter and crew were arrested early Friday as state police advanced down a street near the 3rd Precinct.

Correspondent Omar Jimenez was reporting live on “New Day” when police advanced toward him and his crew. Jimenez told police that he was a reporter, showed his credentials and asked where they would like him and the crew to stand so they could continue reporting and be out of their way.

“Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way,” Jimenez said. “Wherever you want us, we will go. We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection.”

A response by police could not be heard as Jimenez explained the scene. An officer then told Jimenez he was under arrest. Jimenez asked why he was under arrest, but was taken from the scene. The rest of the crew was then arrested as the live shot continued with the camera on the ground.

CNN said later Friday that Jimenez had been released and that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz apologized for his arrest.

George Floyd video adds to trauma: ‘When is the last time you saw a white person killed online?’

Fires, protesters overtake 3rd precinct

Hours after hundreds of protesters flooded Minneapolis streets – shouting “I can’t breathe” and “no justice, no peace; prosecute the police” – a group of demonstrators overran MPD’s 3rd Precinct, setting “several fires” and forcing officers to evacuate “in the interest of the safety,” according to a police statement.

Protesters celebrated – cheering, honking car horns and setting off fireworks – as fires scorched at the precinct. For hours, police ceded the area to the protesters as windows were smashed, fires lit and buildings looted.

Protesters could be seen setting fire to a Minneapolis Police Department jacket, according to the Associated Press.

Video from Minnesota Public Radio reporter Max Nesterak shared on Twitter showed large crowds around the precinct with rubble and debris thrown about. Nesterak tweeted that Postal Service vehicles were being hijacked.

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Trump calls Mayor Jacob Frey ‘weak,’ Twitter responds with notice

As the city was erupting, President Donald Trump lashed out on Twitter, calling the city’s mayor “very weak” and saying that “thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.” 

In a tweet just before 1 a.m. ET, Trump said he couldn’t “stand back & watch this happen to a great American City.”

“A total lack of leadership,” Trump tweeted. “Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right.”

Twitter later put a public interest notice on that tweet.

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the social media company posted.

Trump’s social media order: Rule means agencies can review whether Twitter, Facebook can be sued for content

National Guard activated

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz earlier Thursday activated the National Guard at the Minneapolis mayor’s request. The Guard tweeted minutes after the precinct burned that it had activated more than 500 soldiers across the metro area.

Photos and video on social media showed the National Guard moving through the streets around the precinct early Friday.

Target closes 24 stores in Minneapolis-St. Paul area ‘until further notice’ 

After multiple videos of looters causing chaos inside a Target store circulated on social media Wednesday night, the Minneapolis-based retailers on Thursday announced closures for 24 of its stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. 

All of the closures are “until further notice,” Target said in a statement. 

“We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community,” the company said. “At this time, we have made the decision to close a number of our stores until further notice. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal.”

Earlier Thursday, dozens of businesses across the Twin Cities boarded up their windows and doors in an effort to prevent looting.

Minneapolis police at center of George Floyd’s death had a history of complaints

Derek Chauvin, the officer fired for kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and officer Tou Thao, who is seen on the video of Floyd’s arrest standing by, have histories of complaints from the public.

Since December 2012, the officers drew a combined 13 complaints. Minneapolis settled at least one lawsuit against Thao. Since 2006, Chauvin has been reviewed for three shootings. 

They were repeatedly accused of treating victims of crimes with callousness or indifference, failing to file a report when a crime was alleged and, in at least one case, using an unnecessary amount of force in making an arrest.

– Kelley Benham French, Kevin Crowe and Katie Wedell

More news on the police death of George Floyd

How did we get here: What happened to George Floyd

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was pinned down by a white police officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck. The incident was recorded on cellphone video that went viral, sparking outrage nationwide.

Floyd died after pleading with officer Derek Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck while police were investigating the use of a counterfeit bill at a corner store. Chauvin and the three others officers involved were fired Tuesday.

– Tyler J. Davis

Rev. Jesse Jackson calls for nationwide protests

“The protests must continue, but around the country … protest until something happens,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a visit to Minneapolis, where he called for murder charges over Floyd’s death. He said protests should respect social distancing protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner who was killed by an NYPD officer, also came to Minneapolis to speak to protesters. 

Protesters should continue to take action until charges are announced, Jackson said. He said black people have been “brutalized without consequence” for decades. 

– Tyler J. Davis

State and federal authorities promise to investigate Floyd’s death

“That video is graphic and horrific and terrible and no person should do that,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at a press conference. He said investigators needed time to determine if the video showed a criminal offense: “We have to do this right.”

Investigators took an unusual step in announcing an in-progress federal investigation, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said. She joined Freeman and other officials in offering condolences to Floyd’s family and pleading for peaceful protests.

Calling Floyd’s death a “disturbing” loss of life, MacDonald promised a “a robust and meticulous investigation” and said the Department of Justice is making the case a “top priority.”

Contributing: Associated Press; Trevor Hughes, Cara Richardson and Steve Kiggins, USA TODAY.

Read more about George Floyd, the shooting and other news

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Looking Back Through a Misty Film: Recollection from the 2019 Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop

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by Bura-Bari Nwilo

In December 2019, I stood over Oly in my apartment in Nsukka and drew her attention to posts of Facebook friends who had screenshot acceptance letters signed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for the year’s creative writing workshop. And in my eyes, she could see mild fury hinged on disappointment. I deafened her with tales of my yearly rejections and why I felt I had a right to be disappointed with all things Nigerian.

Then by whatever stroke of fate it was, I checked my email and saw my own letter. Like a letter I had once received explaining how I was among a shortlist of 50 amazing writers and the apology for what could not become my invitation letter, I read those years of rejection and apology into what was an acceptance letter for 2019. When I read through to the second paragraph, I felt an inch taller and almost swiftly, I was massively subdued, like I stood on a tower of resentment for all that had been my misfortune and it turned out it was a day of glory.

When I read through to the second paragraph, I felt an inch taller and almost swiftly, I was massively subdued, like I stood on a tower of resentment for all that had been my misfortune and it turned out it was a day of glory.

Oly shared kind words with me and I went back to the email to see if I had not been too optimistic to have read into a poor letter an acceptance that was only in my imaginations. And I was not dreaming. I was truly invited to the now renamed Purple Hibiscus Creative Writing Workshop after more than five rejections.

At the workshop, I shared experiences of my years of application and some of the wild thoughts I had nurtured. Once, I had thought that my serial rejection, after many of my friends were invited, was because I was not Igbo and I thought I could change my name to allow me entrance. Don’t die yet. And for the year I received a consolidation email signed by Ms. Adichie, I could not mix anger with such obviously patronizing letter. Goodwill messages from Facebook friends, of how I was such an interesting writer, added in me some courage to keep writing. And looking back at such thoughts, I am grateful it ended up between Arinze and me.

And for the big question in class, I asked Ms. Adichie what interested her in my entry that did not meet her many years ago, especially since it was just a regular story, something I had not even taken seriously, against the many I had written with all hopes and concern. And there, I concluded that maybe what makes the big mark comes in the funniest wrap. I had written a story about a serial killer who lured her victims, especially taxi drivers. The killer writes about the incidents on her blog. The few paragraphs I sent were the reason I was invited.

And there, I concluded that maybe what makes the big mark comes in the funniest wrap.

I come from a place of ‘serious’ literature. And I have tried creating most of that seriousness. I have given elbowroom to experimentation and maybe it is why I am yet to decide on writing a novel. And after listening to other participants share their acceptance tales; I knew that I was not alone. We were a universe of people motivated by Chimamanda and would do as much as applying for several years just to hear her up-close, watch her read and share thoughts on story writing and being a writer while addressing us by our names and whatever it was that made us stand out.

The 2019 workshop had it a bit unfortunate. The classes were cut to five days instead of ten days and a lot of things had to be stuffed into a really tiny car. Chimamanda, Lola Shoneyin, Eghosa Imasuen, and Novuyo Tsuma Rosa gave us thrilling experiences with backbreaking tasks: reading multiple stories into late night and class writing tasks that would see you read aloud your writings and listen to others and give constructive feedback. We made a coolly glossy family in a few days than would have been imagined. And maybe the shared rooms enabled bonding, but the 2019 workshop was tense, practical, overwhelming, indulging, compelling and it ended on such evenings where writers knew tears like they knew words and sentences. And those whose tears did not make the warm walk through cheeks, it formed a bubble in their hearts and stayed there as a priceless memory.

Her brilliance lies more in her ability to share quite controversial yet informed thoughts without breaking anyone’s back.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is brilliant and adorable in giving kind words. We share a birth date with a ten-year age difference and that’s my consolidation for being a lazy writer. Her brilliance lies more in her ability to share quite controversial yet informed thoughts without breaking anyone’s back. Her playfulness and humane jibes and photo sessions informed me that it takes more than a fine head and great skill to be a superstar. A sprinkle of warmth, friendliness and sometimes vanity could be other awesome additions.

With the workshop, Chimamanda builds confidence, encourages collaboration, and invents homes for broken yet agile storytellers whose shortcomings are not only placed outside the spotlight, but their strength and wellness are given so much cheers and support to germinate.

Bura-Bari Nwilo is the author of The Colour of a Thing Believed, a book of short stories.

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Four remanded over destruction of Sotitobire church

By Damisi Ojo, Akure

Another four young men have been remanded at Olokuta Correctional Service Centre by a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Akure over alleged murder, arson, malicious damage and stealing at Sotitobire Church in Akure, the Ondo State capital.

They are: Yusuf Owa, 27, Adebayo Adeyemi, 22, Adeleye Omowumi, 28, and Adu Babatunde, 27.

The accused were fresh suspects to be remanded in prison as 14 persons were earlier remanded in connection with the crisis, making the total number of 18 suspects at Olokuta Correctional Service centre.

The accused persons are facing a six -count-charge of felony, conspiracy, murder, arson and stealing.

According to the charge sheet, they committed the offence on December 18, 2019 at about 9:45am at Sotitobire Church, Oshinle, Akure, in the Akure Magisterial District.

The alleged offences were said to be contrary to sections 383 and punishable under sections 324, 516,319(1), 443(a), 451 and 390(a).

The defendants were alleged to have killed one Sergeant Sheidu Ocheopo (m) by smashing him to death with tyre rim and stones at Sotitobire Church, Oshinle, while performing his lawful duty.

They were also accused of setting ablaze Sotitobire Church Oshinle and Ajipowo branches, including Police Hilux patrol vehicle, AK47 rifle with breach No, 4777 and some vehicles belonging to individuals valued at N2 millions.

Other items that were set ablaze, according to the charge were; Toyota Siena, Range rover Jeep, Toyota venza, Toyota Camry and Lexus car valued at N250 million, belonging to Alfa Babatunde Olumoyo.

Also some church items like rug, amplifier, fans, and other valuables in the church, valued at N600,000 were said to have been stolen.

READ ALSO: 13 remanded over attack on Sotitobire church

The Prosecuting Police Officer, Inspector Uloh Goodluck, informed the court of his intention to move a motion on notice for the remands of the defendants at Olokuta, Correctional Service Centre.

Counsel representing the first defendant, Mr. M.O Ojo, and counsel to third and fourth defendants, Mr. Afe Felix, opposed the moving of the motion, drew the attention of the court to the fact that the motion before it was just serve in the court, adding that they need some time to file their counter affidavit.

While the counsel representing the second defendant Mr. John Olowookere, did not oppose to the prosecutor moving his motion for remand.

The Magistrate, Mrs. Charity Adeyanju, ordered that the defendants be kept at Olokuta Correctional Service Centre, pending when the move of motion on notice for the remand of the defendants.

She adjourned the case till January 20, 2020.

The Sotitobire Church Founder, Alfa Babatunde is expected to appear in court on Thursday for the hearing of his case of alleged kidnapping of one year old boy, Gold Kolawole, who got missing in his church in November 2019.

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Bishop Oyedepo Fumes As Highly Placed Living Faith Church Officials Steal Millions From Treasury

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According to a report by The Nation, millions of naira allegedly stolen by some highly placed officials of the Living Faith Church Worldwide, a.k.a. Winners Chapel, drew the presiding Bishop of the church, Dr. David Oyedepo, into a rage at the empowerment summit organised for ordained workers of the church last Saturday.

The annual event, which is usually attended by pastors, zonal ministers and their assistants, deacons, ushers and other ordained workers of the church, where they are acquainted with the church’s programme for the year, was presided over by Oyedepo, while his deputy, Bishop David Abioye, was also in attendance. Both men ministered powerfully. Oyedepo ministered on service, while Abioye spoke on consistency in service.

Towards the end of the programme, however, Oyedepo took some time to talk about the goings on in the church. He revealed how some very high up officials, mainly accountants, had looted the church’s treasury.

The Bishop could not hide his disappointment that professionals trusted by the church to prevent fraud turned themselves into a network of fraudsters.

Expressing his disappointment in the errant church officials, who have since been relieved of their positions in the church, he said: “Can you imagine accountants perpetrating fraud in the house of God?

“We had no choice but to dismiss them. You can imagine top church officials engaging in doubling figures and other dubious practices.

“Even after we dismissed them, we discovered more fraud.

“Those who should discover the fraud were the ones involved in it. One of them refused to confess until the last minute.”

He admonished the church members against employing the dismissed officials. He said he had to tell everyone present because he knew the dismissed officials “will come to you for employment.”

“Don’t employ them and don’t sympathise with them. Whoever sympathises with the wicked is wicked himself.”

Dead silence fell on the gathering as the Bishop reiterated: “Don’t sympathise with any perpetrator of fraud, otherwise you are a partaker of the evil act.”

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Maiduguri Airport Full After 70+ Jets for Nigeria PLC Arrive NNPC GMD Kid’s Wedding; Cops Lock Down Capital – NewsRescue.com

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by Abdulkareem Haruna

Residents of Maiduguri, Borno State, on Saturday, had a bitter experience commuting around the city as the police blocked major highways in the city for “federal government functionaries” attending a wedding.

Two children of the Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Kyari Mele, wedded in Maiduguri on that day.

The wedding, which turned out to be the biggest social event so far held in the state this year, drew guests from across Nigeria.

At least 46 aircraft reportedly landed at the Maiduguri International Airport, most conveying guests to the ceremony. On a normal day, about five aircraft land at the airport.

But the event turned out to be a nightmare for motorists and locals in the state who woke up to see armed security personnel barricading roads in strategic locations in the state capital.

The police had on Tuesday issued a statement that they would be blocking routes on Saturday for federal government functionaries visiting the state.

UPDATE: Over seventy jets landed in Maiduguri International Airport from yesterday to today for GMD of NNPC children wedding others are asked to turn back due to shortage of space to land.

Source FAAN

— Mustapha Maina Umar (@MustaphaMainaUm)

The statement, signed by police spokesperson in the state, Edet Okon, did not state the nature of the visit of the functionaries.

Mr Okon, a deputy superintendent of police, said in the statement that the roads were closed for security purposes.

“This is to inform the general public that, owing to the expected visit of Federal Government functionaries and other dignitaries to the State, the following roads will be partially and temporarily closed to traffic on Saturday, 28th December 2019.”

He went on to list how each of the major routes leading from the airport to different locations would be shut down till the guest leave.

“One lane of the Maiduguri-Kano Road – particularly the left lane when coming from Airport Roundabout up to Horseman Roundabout; and the right lane when moving from Horseman Roundabout through Sir Kashim Ibrahim Way/Dandal Road up to the Shehu’s palace, ” he said.

“One lane of Mai Ibrahim road and Shehu Laminu way (Polo Road)– particularly the right lane from Horseman Roundabout to the Government House.

“Also, there will be road diversion at Horseman Roundabout, Damboa Road Junction along Mai Ibrahim Road, Bolori Roundabout and at Dandal Police Station; while the West-End part of the UBA roundabout will be completely closed.

“To this end, motorists are advised to stick to the lane that will be open to traffic or to explore alternative routes for the period that the temporary closure will be in force.”

The development caused a lot of discomfort to road users especially those out to attend other events.

On a normal day, Maiduguri records a high rate of vehicular movements due to the large presence of displaced persons from various parts of the state.

The development had stirred public anger in the state capital as many residents took to social media to vent their frustration.

Some commentators wondered why the public highways would be shut down or blocked when the event in question was not a state function.

A Facebook user, Usman Alkali, said on his page that “While issuing his vote of thanks to the Who-Is-Who that grace the wedding of his children, the GMD should likewise tender his sincere apologies to the hundreds of thousands of Who -Is-Not that suffered inconveniences as a result.”

Haliru Musa wrote on a Facebook post celebrating the wedding that, “The poor mass and good people of Maiduguri were oppressed by the high and mighty in the state capital just because the son of a rich man is getting married all the major roads in the metropolis were shut down. We shall all meet in heaven.”

Habila Mutah said on Facebook that “I can’t understand why people don’t like the truth!”

“The poor people’s right has been trampled upon Today and looks at how people suffered today just because of marriage and yet others are trying to support simply because they have a position in government. Hmmm! God is watching oo!!”

Ali Mustapha commented on a Facebook photo post of the wedding that Borno people would prefer to enjoy the benefits of Mr Kyari’s position.

“How good (it would be) if we feel the impact of his position as NNPC GMD the way we felt his children wedding in Maiduguri with the attendant inconvenience of holdup and roadblock….”

Another Facebook comment by an obviously unimpressed Dawud Abana reads: “Since his appointment, the only good news he takes to his home town (is) guest of his daughter’s wedding hmmm… No news of drilling Borno oil No reasonable plan for his people.”

There were several wedding ceremonies that took place in Maiduguri on Saturday. The restriction of movement imposed by the police for only one of the events thus upset many in the town.

“I had about six weddings lined up for me to attend, but I could only attend one because the roads were blocked,” said Ibrahim Habib, a businessman in Maiduguri.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of NewsRescue

Such mass closure of roads in Maiduguri normally occur when top public officers like the president or the vice president, and some times, the Chief of Defence Staff, visit the state capital for state functions.

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A Note From Daniel Kolenda on Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s Death

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World renowned evangelist and author Reinhard Bonnke has passed away. He was 79 years old.

Below is a statement by his successor, Evangelist Daniel Kolenda

It is with great sadness that I and the entire Christ for All Nations family announces the death of our founder, friend and spiritual father, Reinhard Bonnke.

All told, more than 79-million people made Christ their Lord as a result of Evangelist Bonnke’s ministry. Bonnke was best known for his gospel outreach campaigns throughout Africa. It is no exaggeration to say that his work transformed the continent.

Evangelist Bonnke drew some of the largest live audiences in history. In November of 2000, at a single meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, 1.6 million attendees heard him preach the truth of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. From big cities to the bush, in deserts, jungles and savannahs, similar crowds assembled in almost every nation in Africa.

Official Obituary Of Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke

It wasn’t Reinhard Bonnke’s speaking alone that drew the masses. The multi-day events were always marked by the miracle-working power of God. From the start of his ministry in 1967 to his last gospel campaign in 2017, thousands upon thousands were healed. The creative work of the Holy Spirit dissipated cancers, opened blind eyes, reset broken minds and shook the Church to once again believe for the “greater works” promised by Jesus Himself.

Those who knew him off-stage can testify to his personal integrity, genuine kindness and overflowing love for the Lord. His ministry was inspired and sustained by his rich prayer life, his deep understanding of the Word and his unceasing intimacy with the Holy Spirit. As he wrote in Living a Life of Fire (one of more than 30 books he authored).

“In truth, I have done nothing alone. God has called me and has been my pilot. The Holy Spirit has been my comforter, my guide, and my power source… He brought to me the perfect wife. He gave us our beautiful children and extended family. And He has provided a team that has grown with me through decades of working together. Beyond that, He has brought thousands to stand with us. They have supported us in prayer and in partnership. Our rewards in Heaven will be equal.”

Lifelong, Famous Atheist Bill Hayden Receives Jesus At 85

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke is survived by his wife, Anni, three adult children, Kai-Uwe, Gabrielle, and Susie and eight grandchildren. We share in their grief – even as we celebrate his profound legacy of faith and joyfully anticipate our heavenly reunion.

God bless you, and thank you for your prayers.

Daniel Kolenda

Source: CfAN

The post A Note From Daniel Kolenda on Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke’s Death appeared first on Believers Portal.

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Priest tightens security after latest threats at Quinn firm – Independent.ie

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It hardly inspires confidence that the parish priest known for speaking out against this intimidation is forced to take security measures for his own protection.

Fr O’Reilly delivered a searing homily last month calling out the mafia-like “paymaster or paymasters” who funded the savage attack on Mr Lunney. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, he said: “The more you speak, the more you are at risk.”

For now, he plans to step back from the robust public commentary he has become known for, in the hope of fostering peace. “I want to get back to my normal parish work… I find that in the last month, a whole lot of things have happened. I want to take a back seat for a while. But if there is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray.”

A second death threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) last week – companies founded and lost by the former billionaire Sean Quinn – has finally catapulted the long-standing campaign of intimidation and violence into the lap of Government.

The threat was issued via the Irish News last Monday by a man in a balaclava reading from a statement purporting to be a “last warning” to directors to resign or face a “permanent solution”. The directors “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the attack on Mr Lunney, the man said, chillingly noting that they could have “easily killed” him if they had wanted to.

In the same week, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny’s car was set alight outside his home in Leitrim, the Garda station in Emyvale, Co Monaghan was set ablaze and two Monaghan hauliers were named as persons of interest in the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people smuggled into the UK.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, have struggled to explain why the years-long intimidation has not been stopped.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar privately rang John McCartin, one of five directors of QIH under threat, twice last week saying he was “appalled” at the intimidation. That the Taoiseach should open a direct line of communication with the victims of this campaign indicates that the penny has finally dropped.

For eight years, the directors of QIH and its property have been under siege. The businesses were once owned by Sean Quinn, the local former billionaire who lost control of his empire in 2011. He has repeatedly denounced the attacks on the companies, saying they are not carried out in his name. According to Mr McCartin, the failure of authorities to act – from Cavan County Council not taking down signs to gardai not making arrests – has “emboldened” those responsible and allowed for an escalation of violence and the creeping involvement of paramilitaries.

A photograph in the Irish News of the masked man bearing the latest death threat prompted a number of calls to the police confidential lines from local people claiming to recognise him, sources said. They suspect he is a dissident republican, originally from Northern Ireland but now living in Cavan, who has served jail time for possession of explosives. He was once prominent in the Real IRA. A director of QIH has also reported this man’s suspected identity to the PSNI and gardai.

The abduction and assault on Kevin Lunney bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary- style operation. He was kidnapped, tortured and had his legs broken in an attack resembling a punishment beating. The care that his attackers took to destroy a forensic trail, viciously pouring bleach over Mr Lunney before dumping him on a Cavan roadside, was also redolent of paramilitary thugs.

Drew Harris said last week that the investigation into the attack is making progress. Garda sources say several of the suspected gang members have been identified, and a van seized in Meath recently is believed to have been used by the gang in the attack.

But the directors of QIH struggle to see that progress. On Tuesday, the directors will hold their first meeting with the Garda Commissioner in Monaghan. Present will be chief executive Liam McCaffrey, chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly, non-executive director John McCartin and production director Tony Lunney. Mr Lunney’s brother Kevin, the company’s chief operating officer, will also attend if he is well enough.

“We are preparing for the meeting with the Commissioner. We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked,” Tony Lunney told the Sunday Independent.

An obvious question is whether in the vacuum of any arrests, those responsible for the intimidation felt emboldened to issue a second death threat. The paramilitary theatrics surrounding its delivery suggests an element of playing to the media gallery too, and the statement even referenced newspaper articles about the attacks on the Quinn group.

John McCartin believes this is all part of the strategy: “We have had intimidation, signs and posters going up, defamation on Facebook and on social media, physical assaults, and now torture and kidnapping, and using mainstream media attention to scare away future investors.”

The directors believe the endgame of the campaign of violence is to run them, and the US investors, out, risking more than 2,000 jobs connected to the businesses and leaving the remnants of the group there for a new buyer to pick over. The Garda investigation is building on the question cui bono? Who ultimately benefits from running the directors and their investors out of town?

Sean Quinn has made no secret of wanting “his” company back. But he has repeatedly condemned the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”, acknowledging that his family would be “blamed”. He told Channel 4 News that he no hand, act or part in the attack, and had abandoned his ambitions to return to the businesses as a result of it. In his most recent statement to RTE last week, he said: “I call on those who have advanced threats to withdraw them immediately. If they feel that they are doing it in mine or my family’s name, they are badly mistaken.”

Mr Quinn is also clearly irked at Fr O’Reilly. He called to his home two weeks ago to challenge him on his now famous homily, even though the priest did not identify anyone in it.

This weekend, Mr Quinn confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he has complained to the priest’s Kilmore Diocese. He said he met the administrator, Monsignor Liam Kelly, and has written to “other people”.

He denied threatening legal action but he didn’t rule it out either. “I made no threats to anybody,” he said, in a phone call. Asked if he is considering legal action, he replied: “Well, we are where we are…”

Asked why he wrote the letter, he said: “I’m not going there but sure any fool would know why I wrote the letter.” He accused the priest of “telling lies” from the altar. “So, it’s not hard to know, anybody with any wit would know the man was off his head.”

Fr O’Reilly told the Sunday Independent this weekend that he wrote his homily in “anger” at the “awfulness of the inflicted injuries on Kevin Lunney”.

“It is not a good way to be writing something when you are angry,” he said. “I have to take that on board myself before asking anyone else to do that. I don’t want to vilify anyone. It never was my intention. I want to give more rational debate a chance, with the hope that these years of intimidation are now coming to an end.”

In the sitting room of his parish home in Ballyconnell, a large detached house clearly visible on the hill, Fr O’Reilly cited Nelson Mandela’s words about “leaving bitterness and hatred behind”.

“The most terrible walls are the walls that grow in the mind. I believe that applies to this area. Walls grow in the minds of some people that are causing great difficulty for themselves and for others. These walls are about perceived grievances, and I suppose prejudice plays a major part and they become entrenched,” he said.

“We must find ways and means of helping people to take down these walls.”

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Pastor Left In The Pool Of His Blood, Church Members Brutally Beaten By Hindu Extremists, Recovering In ICU, Need Prayers

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Imagine this. You are a tender five years old, and out of the blue, your daddy disappears. You don’t know why or how, but suddenly he’s gone and all you now know and experience is your terrified mom.

She tries to explain to you he has been killed. You’re not too sure what that means, but from the way she’s acting, it must be horrible.

A day or so later, your mom grabs you and flees the only home you’ve known. Sometimes she carries you, sometimes you have to run alongside her, but all you know is something really scary is happening and you better keep running.

She seems to hear ‘bad guys’ behind you somewhere … she looks like it at least … and just tries to run faster. She makes more turns and twists along the way, and your little legs are about ready to give out.

Finally, you get to the river—you’ve glimpsed it a few times before—and she stops by a house somebody is building there. It’s only partly ‘there’, and nobody is around, so she takes you inside.

Then she leaves. You watch her from an opening in the wall … probably where they will put glass for a window someday … and see her jump from the high bank into the river! Why didn’t she tell you she was going for a swim?

And that’s the last time you see her.

Such was how life began for young Kumar of northern India. He remembers little about life with his parents, except that they did often visit a Hindu temple and worship the many idols there.

The small boy wasn’t alone in the unfinished building long. A well-off fellow—perhaps the man having the place built—found him sobbing there shortly after his mother vanished, and took the youngster home with him.

Unfortunately, the rich man’s motives were hardly compassionate. He set his ‘new acquisition’ to work almost immediately, treating him as a household slave.

After several years of unimaginable hardship, little Kumar, now 8, fled the second home he’d ever known, again in fear.

Not too long afterwards (we’re not sure exactly how long) kindly Pastor Mohan of Bibles for Mideast found the youngster begging for food in the streets. He approached the dishevelled child and gently inquired about his past. The more he discovered, the more his heart went out to the unfortunate boy. He invited Kumar home with him, and since the little fellow seemed to understand this man was safe and good, he went along.

Soon, he became an integral part of the family; a young brother to Pastor Mohan’s other children. He went to school, studied well, and grew to have a strong faith in Jesus.

On graduating high school, he went off to Bible College and at 25, was ordained a pastor of the ALG (Assembly of Loving God, umbrella for Bibles for Mideast churches). He married a few years later.

Now with three young children of his own, Kumar’s main ministry has been among Hindus in northern India. Due to the increasing, and increasingly violent persecution of Christians by Hindu nationalists in India, his young church must of course meet secretly.

He had been warned many times to stop his work but continued tirelessly and with even increasing success. His church had grown to 40 faithful believers when last Sunday, just as their worship service drew to a close, angry militants stormed the believer’s home they met in.

They pummelled Pastor Kumar with iron pipes until he lay bloodied and unconscious. They set on other church members as well, seriously injuring several.

Pastor Kumar and three other church members were finally was taken to hospital, all in critical condition. For 48 hours, the pastor remained in acute care and doctors had scant hope for his survival.

On hearing of the attack, Pastor Paul and Pastor Peter Haneef, along with several other Bibles for Mideast leaders, left immediately for the long train trip to northern India and held three days of prayer and fasting in the home of a church member. By the second day, Pastor Kumar opened his eyes and by the third, he could speak again. Doctors were able to pronounce him out of serious danger by then.

Pastor Paul made it back to his home by late this past Thursday, but Pastor Haneef will stay longer with the young church. Pastor Kumar and the three who were most severely injured with him remain in hospital.

Please pray for their complete healing, as well as for the pastor’s wife, children and other church members. Most live in grass-thatched huts with barely enough to survive, never mind having to face almost daily persecution.

India is ranked 10th on persecution watchdog, Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

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Canada outplayed and outfought the US. There is no progress under Berhalter

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Patience is in short supply among the USMNT fanbase, who have had enough of being told the team is in learning mode and that setbacks are growing pains

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Strange job, this, to have doubts about your ability raised only four days after steering your nation to a 7-0 win. But that was a cruise past Cuba, and this was the USs first loss to Canada in 34 years. And not a hard luck, miss five easy chances and give up a 93rd-minute own-goal sort of loss. This was an outplayed and outfought by a side whose near-term ambition is to be better than El Salvador kind of night.

Tuesdays 2-0 reverse at BMO Field was Gregg Berhalters 16th match as US head coach. On the surface a record of nine wins, two draws and five losses appears acceptable for a program rebuilding its roster and its self-respect after the shock of missing out on the 2018 World Cup. But the real test of Berhalters worth is not in how the US fillet the minnows. It doesnt really matter that they filled their boots against the likes of Cuba, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.

What counts is that the US have lost twice on home soil to their biggest rivals, Mexico (1-0 in the Concacaf Gold Cup final and 3-0 in a friendly); were especially brittle in defeats to Venezuela and now Canada; and drew 1-1 with both Chile and an under-strength Uruguay, two of their strongest opponents this year.

Put another way, since Berhalters appointment was announced last December there have been no results that exceeded expectations against good teams; there is currently no reason to believe that the US would be anything but makeweights at Qatar 2022, should they qualify. And there is a lack of clear evidence that the team is trending in the right direction, despite individual positives such as the continued improvement of the midfielder Weston McKennie.

Given the road trip tribulations endured during the last World Cup qualifying cycle and the inexperience of many of the current crop it is ludicrous (ticket income aside) that this was Berhalters first away game. If the Americans could not handle a half-empty MLS stadium in Toronto, how badly might they fare in Mexico City, against Honduras in San Pedro Sula, or in the Costa Rican capital, San Jos?

The US have not won on the road since they beat Cuba 2-0 in Havana in October 2016. Tuesdays outcome extends that streak to 10 matches without a victory. The defining image of the evening for the Americans? Christian Pulisic being substituted after 60 fruitless minutes and then howling and gesturing in existential agony, Americas brightest star devolved into Munchs The Scream in shorts and shinpads.

Berhalter told reporters afterwards that the 21-year-old has been battling flu-like symptoms. Perhaps he also feels sore from carrying the team on his back for three years. A below-par Pulisic, whether through illness, injury or rust from his lack of minutes at Chelsea, would present a grave problem for an American side that has few good attacking ideas without him.

Still, key man off the field and 1-0 down with half an hour to play? That is a situation where a team might look to its coach to conjure an inspired substitution or a tactical masterstroke. But the response to Alphonso Davies 63rd minute goal was a string of sideways passes, possession without purpose, as the US chased the game with as much cutting edge as a preschoolers pair of plastic safety scissors. Canada continued to look quicker, more coherent and more dangerous and added a second on the break through Lucas Cavallini in stoppage time.

As well as seeking to end a 17-match winless streak against their neighbours, Canada were on the hunt for Fifa ranking points in order to rise above El Salvador, the worlds 72nd best team. The top six Concacaf nations in Fifas rankings next June will go into the Hexagonal World Cup qualifying round, which delivers three automatic berths for a trip to Qatar.

The Americans, meanwhile, looked like they felt it would be uncool to get too worked up about a Concacaf Nations League group fixture. I wasnt happy with the desire that we displayed tonight, Berhalter told reporters. That is a jarring admission. Spirit used to be a given whenever a US side took the field at least until the dog days of the Jrgen Klinsmann regime.

Did the team think they could glide past an improving Canada on skill alone? A misguided belief, if so. Berhalter does not have a vintage crop of players at his disposal. And the US Soccer Federation poured pressure on itself, and the 46-year-old, by taking a year to appoint a permanent coach following the World Cup qualifying debacle, then choosing a low-profile figure who made his name as a tactician at a blue-collar MLS club.

Expectations remain high, even as the talent pool has grown more shallow. All the more important, then, that Berhalter lives up to his reputation as the method man – the clear-headed coach who devised a system that squeezed the best out of his players at the Columbus Crew.

Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl)

The man who will make the decision on Gregg Berhalters future as USMNT coach (Earnie Stewart) is very likely to soon report to … Jay Berhalter, Greggs brother. US Soccer, everybody.

October 16, 2019

The start of World Cup qualifying is still 11 months away, but another poor performance and result when Canada face the US in Orlando next month would see concern escalate into alarm. Ten months is not a long tenure and is less time than it took to complete the hiring process but patience is rightly in short supply among the fanbase, who have had enough of being told that the team is in learning mode and that setbacks are growing pains.

Suppressing doubts about Klinsmann and hanging on until after the start of the qualifying cycle before replacing him failed to work out last time. How long are Berhalters bosses prepared to wait for him to mould a team that is assertive, rather than aspirational? They are unlikely to be in a hurry.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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Bernie Sanders and the 2020 age debate

(CNN)With only120daysuntil the Iowa caucuses, the 2020 election will be here before you know it.Every Sunday, I round up the5BIG storylines you need to know to understand the upcoming week on the campaign trail. And they’re ranked — so the No. 1 story is the most important of the coming week.

5. Trump, unleashed: Donald Trump has spent the last week talking and tweeting almost nonstop as he tries to fight his way out of mounting allegations over his pressure campaign to get the Ukrainians to look into debunked allegations of wrongdoing against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
And the rhetoric from Trump has gone to previously unseen heights — even for Trump. He’s accused Rep. Adam Schiff (California) of treason, he’s attacked Mitt Romney in deeply personal terms — more on that directly below — and he’s repeating, repeating, repeating long disproven lies.
All of which means that when Trump travels to Minneapolis on Thursday for a “Keep America Great” rally, well, look out. Trump is always at his most, well, Trump-y at these campaign rallies — and, given the walls closing in on him in Washington, he could well use the Minnesota rally as a venting session the likes of which even longtime Trump observers rarely see.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be a doozy.
4. Any other Mitt Romneys out there?: Republicans have, almost uniformly, closed ranks around Trump even as a second whistleblower has emerged regarding the President allegedly using the power of his office for political gain during interactions over the summer with Ukraine.
Only Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah) has publicly criticized Trump in any way, calling the President’s urgings of China and Ukraine to investigate the Bidens “wrong” and “appalling.” Trump immediately struck back, referring to Romney as a “pompous ‘ass'” (I have no idea why he put “ass” in quotes) and suggesting that the 2012 Republican nominee was “begging” to be his secretary of state.
Any Republican who was weighing speaking out about Trump’s behavior with Ukraine (and his plea for China to investigate his main rival for the 2020 nomination) now can have no illusions about what such criticism will be met with: Pure, unadulterated anger from Trump — and likely vilification from the President’s base.
Is any prominent Republican other than Romney willing to risk speaking out when that reaction is assured? Principle vs. politics, anyone?
3. Fundraising losers…: With the third fundraising quarter ending at the close of last month, most of the major candidates have released how much they brought in and how much they spent between July 1 and September 30.
Let’s go through the losers first.
* Joe Biden: When you are a former vice president and the race’s frontrunner, you need to be at or very close to the top of the money chase. Biden’s $15 million raised in the third quarter is well off the pace and a significant drop-off from when Biden raised $21.5 million from April 1 to June 30 — his first three months of active fundraising. His numbers will re-ignite the debate over whether he has real grassroots energy behind his establishment candidacy. Think about this: The mayor of South Bend, Indiana — Pete Buttigieg — raised $4 million more than Biden in the third quarter and has now out-raised the former vice president for six months straight.
* Cory Booker: The New Jersey senator’s plea for $1.7 million in the final days of the quarter — in order, he said, for him to remain in the race — drew a ton of publicity. Even though Booker met his goal, he still only brought in $6 million for the entire three-month period. That likely means he will be facing another dire financial deadline in the not-too-distant future.
2. … and fundraising winners: 
* Bernie Sanders: Even as his poll numbers have stagnated somewhat, the Vermont senator’s small-dollar, online fundraising network continues to deliver. Sanders topped the field in the third quarter with more than $25 million raised and has now raised more than $71 million this year. That ensures he will not only have real organizations in all of the early states but will also be able to continue fighting for the nomination for months.
* Elizabeth Warren: While Sanders edged out Warren for the top spot by about $500,000, Warren’s third quarter fundraising is yet another data point proving how much momentum she has built behind her candidacy. Warren already has the best organization in Iowa, and fundraising like she put on the board over the last three months ensures her campaign will be able to fund a (TV) air assault as well.
* Andrew Yang: The tech entrepreneur raised $10 million in the third quarter, which, at least to me was the single most surprising result of the fundraising race. Yang’s total put him well above what Booker, as well as Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) and Gov. Steve Bullock (Montana) raised, and within shouting distance of Sen. Kamala Harris (California). That’s a stunner, and shows how far he’s come since the year started and almost no one knew who he was.
1. The age/health debate is here: It was probably inevitable, given that the four most likely candidates to be president in 2021 are 70+ years old, but Bernie Sanders’ recent heart attack has officially injected the issue of age and health into the 2020 campaign.
After several days of uncertainty, Sanders’ campaign confirmed that he had suffered a heart attack on the campaign trail and, following his release from the hospital late last week, he has returned to Vermont. His campaign has canceled its events until further notice but has said Sanders will be at the next debate — set for October 15 in Ohio.
While the relatively advanced ages of Sanders (78), Joe Biden (76) and Elizabeth Warren (70) has been a sort of low buzz in the background of the Democratic race so far, those days are now over. All three candidates had previously pledged to release their medical records before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, 2020, but the urgency of those releases is significantly higher now than it was even a week ago.
(Remember that Donald Trump was the oldest person ever elected to a first term when he won the presidency in 2016 at age 70. During the campaign, his personal physician released a letter proclaiming that Trump “would be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Trump is now 73. In January of this year, he underwent a physical which found him in “very good health overall.”)
In a May Pew Research Center poll, just 3% of Democrats said their ideal candidate would be in their 70s. A near- majority — 47% — said a candidate in their 50s would be best. On the other hand, more than 6 in 10 people told Gallup in May they would vote for a presidential candidate over 70 years old.

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