U.S.

U.S.

3 die in California killing spree; shooter shouts ‘Allahu Akbar’

LOS ANGELES, United States — A 39-year-old man went on a shooting spree in the central California town of Fresno on Tuesday, killing three people and injuring another before being arrested, authorities said.
The suspect, an African-American man named Kori Ali Muhammad, is believed to have shot a security guard last week outside a motel in the city. The guard died in hospital.
Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer told reporters that Muhammad shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he was being taken into custody.
Lieutenant Mark Hudson, a police spokesman, told AFP the FBI had been contacted about the killings and it was too early to say whether they were terror-related.
A spokeswoman for the FBI declined comment, referring media inquiries to local police.
Hudson said Muhammad had also indicated as he was being arrested that he hated white people and the government.
He said Tuesday’s shootings, which took place at around 10:45 am at four different locations in the downtown area of the city, were unprovoked and that up to 16 rounds were fired during the brief rampage.
Muhammad faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder, authorities said.
Hudson said the weapon used in the killings had not been recovered. CBB

Trump signs ‘Buy American, Hire American’ order

KENOSHA, United States — President Donald Trump moved Tuesday to make good on his emblematic pledge to “Buy American, Hire American” by tightening skilled-worker visa rules, but his room for maneuver remains limited without wider congressional reform.
Speaking in Kenosha, Wisconsin — one of the states that carried him to his upset victory last November — Trump vowed: “We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words, ‘Made in the USA.'”
Like many of Trump’s executive orders to date, his newest decree will have little practical impact, but sends a signal for government agencies to come forward with ideas for reforming the country’s H-1B visa system.
Trump is looking to stamp out “abuses” of the time-limited work permits, which are pervasive in the US high-tech sector, as a first step towards reforming the regime.
Intended for scientists, engineers and computer programmers, H-1B visas have become an important gateway for the many Indians drawn to Silicon Valley. The United States issues 85,000 each year.
Trump’s decree namely instructs the Labor, Justice and Homeland Security departments to tackle abuses and draw up reforms aimed at bringing the program back to its original intent: awarding visas to the most skilled and highly paid applicants.
The Trump administration argues that the current system has led to a “flood” of relatively low-wage, low-skill workers in the tech sector — and in doing so has harmed American workers.
“We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first,” Trump said.
The US Chamber of Commerce voiced immediate reservations: While it agreed there was room for improvement of the H-1B program, it warned the Trump administration not to do away with it altogether.
“It would be a mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers from around the world who can contribute to American businesses’ growth and expansion and make the US more competitive around the world,” the business lobby said in a statement.
The White House sees the decree as a way to spur momentum towards a broader congressional reform of the H-1B scheme — whose outline remains unclear.
“This is a transitional step to get towards a more skill-based and merit-based version,” a US official told AFP. “There is a lot we can do administratively, and the rest will be done hopefully legislatively.”
In his maiden speech to Congress, on March 1, Trump had proposed introducing an Australian-style merit-based system to reduce the flow of unskilled workers into the United States.
Seeking momentum
Trump’s new decree also includes a “Buy American” component, calling for stricter implementation of existing laws that are intended to favor US-manufactured goods in public tenders.
Without making specific new announcements, the Republican president once more pointed the finger at the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico, dubbing it “a complete and total disaster.”
“It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all,” he warned.
As Trump’s presidency nears the symbolic 100-day mark, the 70-year-old leader is looking to regain momentum on the domestic front after his flagship travel ban was blocked in court, and his vaunted health reform foundered in Congress.
Trump’s promise of an ambitious tax reform — another central campaign pledge that would notably involve slashing corporate taxes — is also struggling to take shape.
“Our tax reform and tax plan is coming along very well,” Trump said in Wisconsin. “It’s going to be out very soon.”
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged in the Financial Times earlier Tuesday the reform would likely be delayed, calling the target of getting it through Congress before August “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point.” CBB

Agence France-Presse

Facebook video killing: shooting footage sparks US hunt for suspect

Police in the US are searching for a suspect who they said posted footage on Facebook of himself killing a man. In a separate video he claimed to have killed more than a dozen others.

The Cleveland division of police said on Sunday it was looking for Steve Stephens in connection with the shooting of 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr in the city’s Glenville neighbourhood. Police said Stephens was armed and dangerous.

“Suspect did broadcast the killing on Facebook Live and has claimed to have committed multiple other homicides which are yet to be verified,” the police said in a statement, referring to Facebook’s live-streaming video service.

Facebook later clarified that Stephens had posted a video, rather than broadcast live, although he had appeared on Facebook Live at one point in the day.

The video of the attack was on Facebook for about three hours before being removed.

Officers believe Stephens, who worked for a behavioural health agency, might be driving a white or cream-coloured sports utility vehicle.

In January, four people in Chicago were accused of attacking an 18-year-old disabled man and broadcasting the attack on Facebook Live while shouting “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people”.

A month later, the accused pleaded not guilty to assaulting the victim.

-The Guardian
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report

Pence: US era of strategic patience with North Korea over

US Vice-President Mike Pence has said his country's "era of strategic patience" with North Korea is over.
Mr Pence made the remarks at the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the area dividing the two Koreas, during a visit to South Korea to reaffirm ties.
His visit comes amid escalated tensions on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.
He arrived in Seoul on Sunday hours after North Korea carried out a failed missile launch.
On Monday, the US and South Korea launched a joint air force military exercise to ensure readiness against North Korea, according to South Korean media.
Mr Pence, whose father served in the Korean War, was speaking on Monday at the truce village of Panmunjom, where the war's armistice was signed.
He told reporters: "There was a period of strategic patience, but the era of strategic patience is over."
The US wants to achieve security on the peninsula "through peaceable means, through negotiations", he said, "but all options are on the table".
Mr Pence also reiterated the US commitment to South Korea, saying it was an "iron-clad alliance", and that North Korea "should not mistake the resolve" of the US to stand with its allies.
Earlier in the day he visited Camp Bonifas, a United Nations military compound near the DMZ, and on Sunday he met with US military families stationed in South Korea.
Mike Pence, who is set to meet the acting president of South Korea later, will visit four nations on his 10-day Asia tour.
He has denounced North Korea's ballistic missile test on Sunday as a "provocation".
Also on Sunday, Lt Gen HR McMaster, the US top security adviser, said his country was working on a "range of options" with China, the first confirmation the two countries were co-operating to find a solution to the North Korean issue.
China, historically Pyongyang's sole major ally, has reiterated its call for North Korea to stop all tests, and has also called for a peaceful solution.
US President Donald Trump, who stated last week that the US and its allies may "deal with" Pyongyang if China did not, said on Sunday that Beijing was "working with us on the North Korean problem".
Besides Sunday's launch, North Korea has held a series of large-scale events in the past week including a massive celebration and military parade on Saturday.
It has denounced the US deployment of an aircraft carrier group to the region, saying it would respond by "force of arms" to "reckless moves".
Observers have said North Korea may conduct a sixth nuclear test soon, with activity reported at nuclear facilities, according to the website 38 North.
Meanwhile about 1,000 US airmen and fighter jets are taking part in a combat training exercise in South Korea, reported Yonhap news agency. South Korea has sent about 500 personnel and planes. The Max Thunder exercise will last for two weeks.

BBC News

U.S. security adviser promises coordinated response in Afghanistan

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser met Afghan officials in Kabul on Sunday and said the new administration was weighing diplomatic, military and economic responses to its Taliban and Islamic State enemies in Afghanistan.

The adviser, H.R. McMaster, was making the first high-level visit by a Trump official. He spoke to ABC News' This Week program in the United States.

On Thursday, the U.S. military dropped a GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used in combat, during an operation against ISIS militants in eastern Afghanistan.

While military officials said the strike was based solely on tactical needs, it led to speculation that Trump's defence advisers are planning to escalate the war against militants in Afghanistan.

The strike was estimated to have killed nearly 100 militants and no civilians, according to Afghan officials, although this has not been independently verified.

Enemies have 'redoubled their efforts'

Interviewed from Afghanistan, McMaster said the United States had a more reliable Afghan partner than before but at the same time had reduced the degree and scope of its effort in that country.

"Our enemy sensed that and they have redoubled their efforts and it's time for us, alongside our Afghan partners, to respond," he said.

Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, had asked U.S. officials — including some in the treasury and commerce departments — to work together to integrate the various political, diplomatic, military and economic responses available, McMaster said.

"We'll give him those options. And we'll be prepared to execute whatever decision he makes," he said.

McMaster met President Ashraf Ghani and other senior Afghan officials to discuss bilateral ties, security, counter- terrorism, reforms, and development, according to a palace statement.

Drugs, corruption, terrorism

He praised anti-corruption efforts and assured Ghani that the United States would continue to support and cooperate with Afghanistan on a number of issues, according to the palace.

Ghani told McMaster that "terrorism is a serious issue for the security of the world and the region" and if serious steps are not taken it would affect "generations" of people, according to the statement. Illicit drugs and corruption also top the list of threats to Afghanistan's security, Ghani told the visiting officials.

The Afghan government refers to both the Taliban and ISIS as terrorists. Afghan forces have struggled to contain Taliban insurgents since most international troops were withdrawn in 2014, leaving them to fight largely alone.

At the peak in 2011, the United States had more than 100,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Nearly 9,000 U.S. troops remain there to train and advise Afghan forces, provide close air support to soldiers on the ground, and form a separate counter-terrorism unit that targets ISIS, al Qaeda and other militant networks.

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan has said he needs "several thousand" more troops to help the Afghans take on a resurgent Taliban and battle other insurgents, but no official plan has been announced.

Thomson Reuters

United Airlines passenger 'stung by scorpion' on flight

A Canadian man says he was stung by a scorpion while travelling in business class on a United Airlines flight.
Richard Bell said the scorpion fell from the overhead bin and onto his head during lunch on a trip from Houston, Texas to Calgary in Canada.
After putting it on his plate, he was stung. United has offered compensation.
It happened on Sunday, the same day a United passenger was violently dragged from a plane after refusing to give his seat to a staff member.
Video of the incident has been watched by millions of people online.
Dr David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American, lost two front teeth and suffered a broken nose and a "significant" concussion in the incident.
Mr Bell, who was travelling with his wife, Linda, told CBC: "While I was eating, something fell in my hair from the overhead above me.
"I picked it up, and it was a scorpion. And I was holding it out by the tail, so it couldn't really sting me then."
A fellow passenger, he said, warned him that the creature was a scorpion and could be dangerous.
"So I dropped it on my plate and then I went to pick it up again, and that's when it stung me. It got my nail, mostly," he said
Mr Bell flicked the scorpion on to the floor and a flight attendant covered it with a cup before throwing it away in the bathroom.
A nurse who happened to be on board gave him a painkiller as a precaution, he said.
When the plane landed in Calgary he was taken to a hospital, and later released after being cleared of any medical issue.
Mr Bell said he had no plans to launch a lawsuit. United Airlines has offered the couple flying credit as compensation, CBC reports.
In the incident with Dr Dao, law enforcement officials were called after he refused to leave the overbooked plane travelling from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky, saying he needed to get home to see his patients.
Dr Dao's lawyers have filed an emergency court request for the airline to preserve evidence ahead of a hearing on Monday.
He was released on Wednesday night from a Chicago hospital, his lawyer said, adding that he planned to have reconstructive surgery.

BBC News

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