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Activists demand release of Andres Guardado autopsy report



A coalition of community activists gathered Sunday at a street memorial in Gardena for Andres Guardado, who was fatally shot June 18 by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy, and called on Sheriff Alex Villanueva to release the autopsy report of the 18-year-old.

“Villanueva has to be held accountable,” Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope said in a phone interview. “He is saying the investigation will be transparent, but he had blocked release of the autopsy. It is important not just for the family, but the whole city is watching this case.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department put a “security hold” on the Guardado case Monday, saying that “investigators wish to maintain the integrity of the investigation, and premature release of information could jeopardize the case.”

Activists believe the autopsy will provide crucial information about the killing of Guardado, who was speaking with someone in a car outside an auto body shop where he worked as a security guard when deputies arrived.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, deputies from the Compton station pulled up to the scene about 6 p.m. Authorities said that Guardado “produced a handgun” and that two deputies chased him on foot. When the deputies caught up, one of them opened fire on Guardado, officials said.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Villanueva and investigators have not said what prompted the shooting and have released few details about the confrontation.

Family members and activists have expressed skepticism about the Sheriff’s Department’s version of events. Four days after the shooting, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for an independent investigation into the shooting.

Speaking to more than two dozen people near the site where Guardado was killed, Ali also called upon Compton Mayor Aja Brown to rescind the city’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department and to bring back the Compton Police Department, which was disbanded in 2000.

“Twenty years ago, the Compton sheriff’s station came into Compton,” Ali said, “and we want to draw attention to the historically murderous relationship between the … Sheriff’s Department and our community.”

Cliff Smith, representing the Coalition for Community Control Over the Police, also spoke at the sidewalk memorial. “We are in accordance with demands that the mayor and the City Council of Compton take responsibility for the sheriff’s [deputies] dispatched out of their station,” he said beforehand. “This is not a new demand.”

The shooting of Guardado came a little more than two weeks after video was released showing two deputies kneeling on top of a struggling man while a third deputy strikes the man five times with his knee.

The man was identified as Dalvin Price, who was arrested on suspicion of looting and assault with a deadly weapon.

Reacting to Price’s arrest — with tactics reminiscent of those that led to the death of George Floyd — Brown asked for an investigation into the incident, and Villanueva has called on the Board of Supervisors to “fully fund the [Sheriff’s Department’s] body-worn camera project.”

The gathering at the Guardado memorial took place as a community car wash was being held to raise money for the family. Last week, more than 100 protesters took to the streets and marched on the Compton sheriff’s station, where they were met with a dozen deputies in riot gear.

Organizers decided Sunday not to march on the sheriff’s station but instead support the car wash.

“We don’t want any disturbance,” said Noe Abarca, Guardado’s uncle, at the car wash.

“We are tired of police using the force on young people,” he added.





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OSINT Global Trendline Report: Asia


This expert-driven national-security insight can’t be generated for free.  We invite you to support quality content by becoming a  Cipher Brief Level I Member .  Joining this experienced security-focused community is only $10/month (for an annual $120/yr membership). It’s a great and inexpensive way to stay ahead of the national and global security issues that impact you the most.

 

 





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Coronavirus UK: Britain should pursue China for £351bn virus fee – shock report | UK | News


An investigation by the Henry Jackson Society has concluded China could have mitigated the worldwide economic impact of COVID-19 and indicated there is evidence the Chinese Government breached international healthcare responsibilities. The British foreign policy think-tank estimates the spread of coronavirus, which has infected more than one million people globally, has cost the G7 group of nations including the UK, US and Japan a huge £3.2 trillion.

The report, which is published tomorrow and has been seen by the Mail on Sunday, outlined a number of possible legal avenues including going to the UN (United Nations) and International Court of Justice.

The study titled ‘Coronavirus Compensation: Assessing China’s potential culpability and avenues of legal response’ said: “The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) sought to conceal bad news at the top, and to conceal bad news from the outside world.

“Now China has responded by deploying an advanced and sophisticated disinformation campaign to convince the world that it is not to blame for the crisis, and that instead the world should be grateful for all that China is doing.

“The truth is that China is responsible for COVID-19 – and if legal claims were brought against Beijing they could amount to trillions of pounds.”

Following the report, which will be published in its entirety on Monday, up to 15 Conservative MPs are understood to have signed a letter calling for the Government to “re-think” its relationship with China.

The letter said: “Legally binding international healthcare regulations require states to provide full information on all potential pandemics.

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“It appears likely that in its early response to the outbreak, the uphold its obligations.

“This omission allowed the disease to spread throughout the world with extraordinarily serious consequences in terms of global health and the economy.

“The cost to the UK may be, as a Henry Jackson Society report now suggests, over £350 billion.”

On the future relationship with Beijing, the letter said: “Once the crisis has passed, we urge the Government to re-think our wider relationship with China.

READ MORE: UK weather forecast: Sweltering 70F heat to hit Britain TODAY

Neil Ferguson, a professor at Imperial College in London, who helped to shape coronavirus policy following a damning report into the Governments initial strategy, has said the number of deaths could rise above 20,000.

Professor Ferguson told the BBC: “We had an exponentially growing curve of infections which we interrupted at a certain time.

“We don’t have the ability right now to measure how many people have been infected, that will come with antibody tests, and so we are making statistical estimates of that and those are subject to a certain degree of uncertainty.

“We think it could be anywhere between about 7,000 or so up to a little over 20,000.”



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Person under 18 dies of coronavirus in Los Angeles, health experts report



Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed four more deaths linked to the coronavirus, including the first of a person under the age of 18.

The number of deaths in the county from the virus is now 11. Tuesday’s update also included a previously reported death in Long Beach. The young person who died was from Lancaster. No further details were immediately available.

“This is a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages,” L.A. County Public Health Department director Barbara Ferrer said.

Two of the people who died were between the ages of 50 and 70. One had underlying health issues and resided in the West Adams neighborhood, health officials said.

Officials also confirmed an additional 128 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the county’s total to 662. Of those positive cases, 42% occurred in individuals between the ages of 18 and 40, and 39% were in people ages 41 to 65.

At least 119 residents, or 18% of all positive cases in the county, have been hospitalized for the virus.

In Orange County, officials announced 27 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 152. There have not been any deaths linked to COVID-19.

San Mateo County saw a jump of 19 new cases and its second fatality, pushing the county’s overall total to 161 positive tests. The number of cases increased by more than 10% in one day, according to Preston Merchant, a public information officer working in the county’s joint information center.

The county’s second death occurred Monday at the Atria Senior Living facility in Burlingame. The facility received news of confirmed COVID-19 cases in their community on March 15. A number of residents tested positive for the virus, and Monday’s fatality was the senior facility’s first coronavirus-related death at its Burlingame location.

“Our thoughts are with their family during this difficult time,” Atria said in a statement. “We remain in close communication with all our residents and their families and continue to provide our support as we navigate this unprecedented situation together.”

Atria said it is working closely with the San Mateo County Health Department, and officials have been on site to confirm proper health and safety measures are in place.

The number of coronavirus cases in California surged to nearly 2,500 Tuesday afternoon and the death toll climbed to 50 as officials issued urgent warnings about the need for more hospital beds and equipment as medical facilities begin to fill up.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says he believes California will need 50,000 hospital beds for patients suffering from the illness caused by the coronavirus. That marks a significant increase from the 20,000 beds his administration forecast last week. The Democratic governor said the state’s 416 hospitals were doubling their “surge plans,” a move that will result in 30,000 new beds across the system.

San Francisco officials warned that a surge in coronavirus infections was expected to come within a week or two, and voiced dismay over images of the public crowding beaches and parks across California.

“The worst is yet to come,” said Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of public health, at a news conference Monday.

San Francisco has already taken steps to decompress the healthcare system — banning almost all visitors to hospitals and long-term-care facilities, canceling elective surgeries and routine medical visits, ordering that appointments be done by phone or video if possible, and opening up tents to care for patients who have mild symptoms in order to keep hospital beds free for those more seriously ill.

A steep rise in people being hospitalized with COVID-19 in Los Angeles County likely signals the approach of a wave of extremely sick patients that could overwhelm hospitals in the coming weeks, experts say.

As of March 6, five people in the county had been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19. Two weeks later, on Friday, that figure had jumped to 48. By Monday, the total had climbed to 90.

Though the raw numbers remain relatively low, the rate of increase has set many doctors and nurses on edge after watching the disease’s alarming trajectory in China, Italy and, most recently, New York City.

Two Cal State Long Beach students tested positive for the virus and were in self-isolation off campus, the university announced in an email to students Tuesday morning.

One student had not been on campus for two weeks, the university said. In the second case, public health officials determined there was no opportunity for on-campus exposure. Students who might have come into close contact with the patients were being notified by health officials, according to the email.

As the number of cases continues to rise, officials throughout the state kept up their call for an increase in testing capacity and reporting.

Frustrated public health directors in six Bay Area counties have ordered an assortment of commercial, university and pop-up testing sites that are screening residents for COVID-19 to begin reporting not just the positive cases, but the negative results too.

Dr. Sara Cody said testing remains woefully inadequate as Santa Clara County wrestles with mounting deaths. As of Tuesday, 16 people had died in the county, more than half of the virus fatalities in California.

Santa Clara County’s Sheriff’s Office confirmed four cases among staff, including a deputy who is self-isolating at home.

California requires labs and hospitals to report known cases of COVID-19, but not the number of negative tests. Cody said that information is critical to tracking the spread of the virus. She warned that Santa Clara County’s current critical situation is a window into what will be seen in San Francisco and other Bay Area communities in the next one to two weeks.

Contra Costa County is one of the six counties that ordered new requirements. On Friday, health officer Chris Farnitano said the county would issue an order for negative tests to be reported as well.

Meanwhile, California remains largely shut down under state and local orders. L.A. County officials have cracked down on nonessential businesses, which Sheriff Alex Villanueva declared Tuesday includes gun stores. If gun sellers don’t close their doors, he said, they will be cited and face penalty, including the loss of their business licenses.

Officials previously closed beach parking lots, parks and hiking trials amid concerns some people were not staying at least six feet apart while in public. Laguna Beach took the restrictions a step further and closed its beaches entirely on Monday.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu called for the closure of Runyon Canyon Park and Lake Hollywood Park on weekends.

“Making this request pains me greatly. I grew up in a two-bedroom apartment off the 101 Freeway, and our city’s parks were my only access to outdoor space,” Ryu said of his recommendation to Michael Shull, the general manager of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks. “I don’t make this recommendation easily, but closing Runyon Canyon Park on weekends, when we have seen the highest volume of visitors, should follow to keep everyone safe.”

In Sonoma County, all parks and open spaces were closed indefinitely, public health officials announced this week.

The closure includes city, county, state and federal parklands and recreational lands operated by private groups and nonprofits, according to a news release.

“Closing parks is a difficult decision, but it is the right decision at this time,” Sundari Mase, the county’s interim health officer, said in a statement. “Allowing crowded conditions in parks is not in our best interest during this health crisis. The best action we can take is to stay close to home and limit our outdoor time to our yards and neighborhoods.”

Mase announced the closure Monday after too many visitors flocked to outdoor spaces over the weekend.

Criminal and civil trials were discontinued in California for at least two months after a sweeping order was issued late Monday by the state’s chief justice that aimed to sharply reduce public traffic in state courthouses.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in her order that court facilities were “ill-equipped to effectively allow the social distancing and other public health requirements” that had been imposed across California to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Even if court facilities could allow for sufficient social distancing, the closure of schools means that many court employees, litigants, witnesses, and potential jurors cannot leave their homes to attend court proceedings because they must stay home to supervise their children,” Cantil-Sakauye said in the order.

The 60-day delay — which puts the courts in California’s 58 counties on a uniform trial delay schedule — came the same day that the presiding judge of Los Angeles County Superior Court, Kevin C. Brazile, blocked public access to county courthouses except for attorneys, staff, defendants and “authorized persons,” a vague category that includes news reporters. The clerk’s office will still be available to accept filings and assist people by phone or electronically.

The California National Guard on Monday provided details about how personnel would be deployed across the state to assist in coronavirus aid. Officials said the guard was being used purely for humanitarian purposes, such as distributing food and medical supplies as well as helping at food banks and working with officials on the Grand Princess cruise ship, which docked in California after an outbreak of the virus on board.

With the coronavirus pandemic further stifling the efforts of California and other states to issue Real ID licenses, President Trump on Monday said he would extend the Oct. 1 deadline for people to apply for the identification cards to board domestic flights in the United States.

Times staff writers Priscella Vega, Paige St. John and Luke Money contributed to this report.





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U.S. President’s Global Gag Rule is Having Negative Impact on the Health of Malawians: Report — Global Issues


A Malawian nurse at a training session. A report looking into the discontinuation of U.S. global health assistance to foreign non-governmental facilities providing abortion or abortion-related services, says that the ban is affecting the population in Malawi. Credit:Claire Ngozo/IPS
  • by Samira Sadeque (united nations)
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020
  • Inter Press Service

The report, titled ‘A Powerful Force: U.S. Global Health Assistance and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Malawi’ was released on Feb. 10 by Washington, D.C.-based sexual and reproductive health rights organisation CHANGE, the Center for Health and Gender Equity. 

Serra Sippel, president of CHANGE, told IPS they chose to study Malawi in part because the country is a recipient of U.S. assistance in the three key fields of sexual and reproductive health: family planning, maternal and child health, and HIV and AIDS. 

“The GGR impacts health structures and when health structures are impacted, it is often the marginalised and criminalised groups who bear the brunt of the impact,” Sippel told IPS. “This includes people living in rural areas, adolescent girls and young women, and female sex workers.”

The report details the numerous ways in which GGR affects the fabric of a country where many communities are already averse to abortion, often owing to religious concerns. This means that when a young woman needs to get an abortion, they might do so in unsafe ways in order to keep them secret. 

One partner organisation is quoted in the report as saying, sometimes a girl “would drink a potion like a solution of washing powder and some will use sticks” to engineer her own abortion. 

In the Sub-Saharan country, where abortion is a taboo and can even lead to 14 years in prison in cases where there is no “life endangerment” of the pregnant person, more than 50,000 women suffer annually from unsafe abortion practices, according to the report. 

Marie Stopes International (MSI), which doesn’t have direct services in Malawi, estimates that about 78,000 women undergo unsafe abortion practices in the country, according to the report. Abebe Shibru, MSI’s country director in Zimbabwe, shared with IPS the general effect it’s having in sub-Saharan Africa.  

“The GGR continues to aggravate the situation of undermining women’s right for choice,” Shibru told IPS. “Lack of adequate services for family planning, increasing rate of teen age pregnancy and increasing maternal mortality, mostly from unsafe abortions, are some of the issues that the GGR contributes to.”   

Sippel told IPS that the local MSI affiliate Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM) was “forced to end their participation in the U.S. PEPFAR DREAMS Partnership, a highly effective HIV prevention programme, because of the GGR”.

Some of the impact is top-down from the government. In 2015, the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, introduced in Malawi to ensure safe abortion in cases of incest, rape, fetal anomaly, was “slowed down” by the Minister of Health given their fears that it would affect U.S. foreign aid in the country while President Trump is in office, according to the report. 

“We also met with the International Planned Parenthood Federation affiliate Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) who was forced to stop their participation in the LINKAGES project which provides HIV and AIDS prevention, care, and treatment services for key populations. Because of the GGR they were forced to close four clinics,” Sippel added. 

There is also a further effect on a community that’s hard hit by climate change, and vulnerable to a range of climate concerns such as intense rainfall and droughts, among many other issues. These issues, although not directly related to GGR, further amplify the negative effects such foreign policy has on those at the center of the crisis, according to advocates.

“When women are displaced because of climate change, their risk of exposure to gender-based violence often increases,” Sippel told IPS. “They are walking longer distances to get water and firewood. Also, as women enter camps post-disaster, their access to SRHR services can often be limited.”

 

© Inter Press Service (2020) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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Sharon Stone Kicked Off Bumble After Guys Report Profile As Fake



Sharon Stone’s basic instinct drove her to Bumble for romance, but the dating app temporarily rejected her.

The actor tweeted Sunday night that Bumble had closed her account after “some users reported that it couldn’t possibly be me!” She also posted the official notice she received.

“Hey @bumble, is being me exclusionary?” she wrote. “Don’t shut me out of the hive.”

Hours later, a Bumble rep informed Stone that her account had been unblocked and promised her it wouldn’t happen again. “Thanks for bearing with us and hope you find your honey,” Bumble editorial director Clare O’Connor quipped.

But in the hours that Stone was excluded from the dating platform, Twitter users had some humorous takes on her Bumble struggle.

Stone, a 61-year-old mother of three, was linked to real estate mogul Angelo Boffa in 2018 but told People in October of that year that she didn’t mind not having a partner. 

“I think somewhere in the back of your mind you think maybe one day you won’t be a single parent,” she said at the time. “Then, eventually you realize, I think it’s better. I’m no longer hoping for someone.”





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Nebraska man on death row for killing 4 – but Texas woman says she’ll marry him: report


A 33-year-old Nebraska man on death row for killing four people within 10 days in 2013 has at least one friend still in his corner: a 46-year-old Texas woman who reportedly has confirmed that she and the killer plan to marry.

But Dawn Arguello of Lubbock isn’t happy that Nikko Jenkins – who authorities say committed the murders within three weeks of being released from prison on a robbery and assault conviction – recently had her name tattooed on his face.

CALIFORNIA SHOOTOUT, STANDOFF WITH COPS RESULTS IN DEATHS OF WOMAN, 2 CHILDREN

“I was very (ticked) off that he did that,” Arguello told the Omaha World-Herald. “He doesn’t need to be self-mutilating like that.”

Arguello added she isn’t happy about the way her husband-to-be has been portrayed in the local press.

“If you believe the media,” she said, “he’s the most hated man in Nebraska besides Charles Starkweather.”

Nikko Jenkins has been linked to four murders committed within 10 days in 2013, authorities say.

Nikko Jenkins has been linked to four murders committed within 10 days in 2013, authorities say.

The reference was to the 1950s serial killer of 11 people whose story inspired several movies, including “Badlands” in 1973 and “Natural Born Killers” in 1994. After his conviction in one of the murders, Starkweather was executed in Nebraska in 1959 at age 20.

Jenkins is not like Starkweather at all, she said.

“He’s not what the media has made him out to be,” she told the World-Herald. “He’s an enigma. He has feelings. He’s very sensitive.

“He’s not what the media has made him out to be. He’s an enigma. He has feelings. He’s very sensitive.”

— Dawn Arguello, fiancee of death-row inmate

“He’s very intelligent,” she added, “and, yes, he’s very manipulating.”

According to authorities, Jenkins received help from family members in executing the four murders to which he’s been linked. They say he convinced his sister and a female cousin to lure two men with a promise of sex acts in an Omaha park, then Jenkins himself appeared and suddenly blasted the two men in their heads with a shotgun.

A few days later, Jenkins, his sister and another man went to a neighborhood in Omaha, supposedly to commit a robbery. Instead, Jenkins killed the man, authorities said.

Then a few days after that, Jenkins pulled a mother of three out of her SUV and killed her, according to authorities.

Jenkins’ death sentence, issued in 2017, was Nebraska’s first since the state’s voters reinstated capital punishment in a November 2016 vote.

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In 2014, however, the Nebraska Legislature ordered a special investigation into Jenkins’ case because some critics noted that, while in prison prior to the murders, Jenkins had spent more than half of his sentence in solitary confinement. The critics claimed the isolation may have had an effect on his mental health, possibly resulting in the killing spree so soon after he was released.

Arguello met Jenkins while doing volunteer work for a nonprofit organization that advocates for death-row inmates and their families. She also has a criminal record of her own, with convictions for misdemeanor domestic violence, felony child abuse and felony credit card abuse, the World-Herald reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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Trump scolds his FBI director after release of DOJ’s Russia probe report


Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general, found that although there were “significant inaccuracies and omissions” in the FBI’s requests for court-ordered surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, the bureau’s decision to launch the probe was adequately predicated and not influenced by political bias.

While Wray acknowledged and pledged to remedy errors in the FBI’s handling of applications for surveillance warrants, he told ABC News in an interview that he did not think law enforcement unfairly targeted the Trump campaign and said it was “important” that Horowitz found the FBI was justified in opening its investigation.

That assessment diverged markedly with Barr’s reading of the IG report. The attorney general asserted in a statement that Horowitz’s review “now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken.”

John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut tasked by Barr with overseeing a separate probe into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign, also cast doubt on Horowitz’s central judgment.

“Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.,” Durham said in a statement. “Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

The president sought to promote the IG report as a win for the White House, claiming that the 400-page document was “far worse than I would’ve ever thought possible” and detailed an attempted “overthrow” of his administration.

“They got caught red-handed, and I look forward to the Durham report, which is coming out in the not-too-distant future. It’s got its own information, which is this information, plus plus plus,” Trump said.

“And it’s an incredible thing that happened, and we’re lucky we caught them,” he continued. “I think I’m going to put this down as one of our great achievements because what we found and what we saw never, ever should … happen again in our country.”

Trump’s attack on Wray was hardly the first time the president has cast aspersions on senior law enforcement officials. The president has often condemned members of the “deep state” he alleges are embedded within intelligence community, and he repeatedly berated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from oversight of the Russia probe.

The president appointed Wray to the FBI’s top job in June 2017 after the dramatic ouster of former director James Comey, which Trump later acknowledged in an interview with NBC News was influenced by the bureau’s ongoing Russia investigation.

After the release of Horowitz’s report on the FBI’s handing of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in June 2018, Trump tweeted: “Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!”

The president on Tuesday also railed online against Democratic lawmakers’ fast-moving impeachment inquiry, tweeting ahead of a news conference later in the morning by House committee leaders who are expected to reveal articles of impeachment charging Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

“To Impeach a President who has proven through results, including producing perhaps the strongest economy in our country’s history, to have one of the most successful presidencies ever, and most importantly, who has done NOTHING wrong, is sheer Political Madness! #2020Election,” Trump wrote.





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Uber sexual assault report prompts concerns over ridesharing in B.C. But are taxis any safer?


In the wake of damning data from Uber that found more than 3,000 sexual assaults were reported inside U.S. rides last year, B.C. is asking how safe ridesharing will be when it eventually arrives on the province’s roads.

But a lack of similar data regarding sexual assaults in taxis across B.C. makes it difficult to draw comparisons.

In its safety report, Uber said 464 people were raped while using its U.S. services in 2017 and 2018. Almost all of them — 99.4 per cent — were riders. It’s difficult to compare those statistics to other modes of transportation because U.S. taxi companies and transit agencies generally do not collect similar national data.


READ MORE:
Uber reports more than 3,000 sexual assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

That appears to be the case in B.C. as well. The RCMP and other police agencies said they didn’t have that data on hand, adding it’s “not something that can be easily teased out.”

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Although Vancouver police said they have received “a number of complaints” over the last two years, a spokesperson said it’s “not an epidemic by any means”, considering the number of rides that take place.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which is tasked with dealing with driver complaints, also said it doesn’t track those specific incidents.






Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault


Fraser Valley temple president charged with sexual assault

Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena said the province demands “the highest level” of criminal background checks for taxi drivers, and is assuring the province the same standard will be set for ridesharing drivers.

“We have a very strict policy with taxis where we do follow up if there are assaults,” she said. “We obviously want people to be safe however they’re travelling, whatever form of transportation they’re using.

“There are, sadly, always going to be incidents and I think this is extremely concerning that there are. We do everything we can to make sure that those people who are driving a vehicle to earn an income are assessed, are checked … to ensure people who are driving are as safe as we can attest.”



READ MORE:
Uber weighs next steps after report showed more than 3,000 sex assaults during U.S. rides in 2018

In its report, Uber noted that drivers and riders were both attacked and that some assaults occurred between riders. It added its data was based solely on reports from riders and drivers — meaning the actual numbers could be much higher. Sexual assaults commonly go unreported.

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In B.C., at least two taxi drivers have been charged with sexually assaulting a passenger while on the job this year, including a July case in Kelowna and another in North Vancouver this past March.

Angela Marie MacDougall, executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services in Vancouver, said sexual violence is bound to happen when vulnerable people, particularly women, find themselves in a confined space.






Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault


Uber safety report reveals nearly 6K cases of alleged sexual assault

“We know that many women are experiencing sexual violence in taxi cabs, including women that are vulnerable such as Indigenous women, women with disabilities,” she said. “It is a big concern.”

MacDougall also took issue with Uber noting the number of sexual assaults in 2018 pales in comparison to the 1.3 billion rides across the U.S. that year. In her view, just one case is too many.

“We shouldn’t be in a situation where a woman needs a ride to work or home from work, or from a night out, and is at risk of sexual violence,” she said.

“We expect ridesharing companies will take this very seriously and will take action and to prevent it.”


READ MORE:
North Shore Taxi driver charged for allegedly sexually assaulting passenger in cab in West Vancouver

No one from the Vancouver Taxi Association or the city’s taxi companies responded to requests for comment.

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In the past, the association has taken issue with ridesharing drivers not being required to mount cameras inside their vehicles like taxis do. MacDougall said that’s also not the point.

“It maybe provides some deterrent, maybe some evidence, but we also know that cameras can be disabled,” she said.

“The point is, rather, that the company is taking very careful action in their recruitment and monitoring of those in the ridesharing program, and that they take swift and serious action any time there is an allegation or evidence of sexual violence.”

Lyft said last year it would also release a safety report. A company spokeswoman confirmed Thursday that it “remained committed” to releasing a report, but did not say when.

—With files from the Associated Press




© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.







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US mulling 14,000 more troops for Mideast: report


Washington (AFP) – The United States is weighing sending up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in the face of a perceived threat from Iran, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The mulled deployment would include “dozens” more ships and double the number of troops added to the US force in the region since the beginning of this year, the Journal said, citing unnamed US officials.

It said President Donald Trump could make a decision on the troop boost as early as this month.

A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the report to AFP.

The move would come after a series of attacks on shipping vessels and a drone and missile attack on Saudi oil installations in September blamed on Iran.

Washington has already ratcheted up its military presence in the Gulf and expanded economic sanctions on the country, elevating tensions across the region.

In mid-November the US aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln sailed through the Strait of Hormuz in a show of force aimed at reassuring allies worried about the Iran threat.

In October Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, for a total of about 3,000 new troops.

Earlier Wednesday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country is willing to return to the negotiating table over its nuclear program if the United States first drops sanctions, which have hampered the country’s economy and may have contributed to recent domestic turmoil sparked by fuel price hikes.



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