more

All posts tagged more

More than 2,800 military personnel across Turkey were rounded up after the coup attempt on Friday.

NATO has confirmed that all personnel and units stationed in Turkey are safe.

The secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, made the announcement on Twitter after speaking with Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO’s top general in Europe, and the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) July 15, 2016

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) July 16, 2016

— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) July 16, 2016

The United States Defense Department has roughly 2,200 uniformed military personnel and civilians in Turkey. About 1,500 of them are based at Incirlik, an air base in southern Turkey near Syria. The United States has used the base to launch airstrikes against the Islamic State.

Since March, Incirlik has been on an “elevated force protection level” amid concerns that militants were targeting it. In May, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter ordered all family members of military personnel based at Incirlik to leave the country.

At CNN Turk, military coup plotters were reported to have taken over the studio and to have cut the television feed. A short time later, it was reported that special forces had regained control.

Greece has arrested eight people aboard a Turkish military helicopter that landed in Alexandroupolis shortly before noon, the country’s Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection said.

The eight individuals have requested political asylum, the ministry said in a text message to reporters, and the helicopter has been placed under guard.

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, demanded on Twitter their immediate extradition.

— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) July 16, 2016

The Greek government said it would consider the asylum requests in line with international laws.

“But in examining their requests, it will be taken into account that they participated in an attempt to overthrow the democratic regime and the constitutional order in the neighboring country,” a government spokeswoman, Olga Gerovasili, said.

She added that Greece had communicated with Turkey to arrange for the swift return of the helicopter.

Before entering Greek airspace, the helicopter issued a distress signal and was escorted by two Greek fighter jets before it was given permission to land, Greek television reported.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim described the coup attempt as “a stain in the history of Turkish democracy,” as he raised the death toll in the clashes to at least 265.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. Yildirim said the security forces had detained 2,839 military personnel linked to the coup attempt.

He described those who opened fire on civilians as worse than the Kurdish rebels that Turkey has been battling.

“I congratulate all citizens who resisted the coup attempt,” he said. “We are pleased that this rebellion did not take place within the chain of command.”

Mr. Yildirim said 161 “martyrs” had been killed in the violence, with an additional 1,440 injured. The authorities reported earlier that 104 participants in the coup attempt had been killed.

Correction: An earlier version of this blog post misstated the number of military personnel linked to the coup attempt who were detained. It was 2,839, not 2,639.

Soldiers who took over Turkey’s military headquarters in Ankara, the capital, have requested negotiations to surrender, according to Anadolu Agency, the state-run news service.

An official in the president’s office said the building was the last base under the control of supporters of the coup attempt.

The government has “90 percent control” of the situation, but some military commanders are still being held prisoner by the coup participants, Turkey’s minister of European Union affairs, Omer Celik, told the private broadcaster NTV.

Photographs are coming out showing clashes on Saturday on the Bosporus Bridge in Istanbul, where a faction of the military stopped traffic Friday night.

The photographs appear to show soldiers surrendering, and some of them being beaten, before escaping into a bus.

CNN Turk had earlier broadcast live footage of a group of 50 soldiers abandoning their tanks and walking away with their hands in the air on one of the bridges connecting the Asian and European sides of the city.

More than 100 people who participated in the coup attempt have been killed, Turkey’s acting military chief, Gen. Umit Dundar, said in televised remarks.

He said that figure was in addition to 90 deaths, mostly of civilians, reported earlier, according to Agence France-Presse and The Associated Press.

More than 1,000 others have been injured.

“The coup attempt was rejected by the chain of command immediately. The people have taken to the streets and voiced their support for democracy,” General Dundar said.

He added, “The nation will never forget this betrayal.”

The number of people arrested in connection with the coup attempt continues to climb. At least 1,563 army personnel across Turkey are now in custody, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

The news organization also posted video showing soldiers turning themselves in.

Turkey’s state-run news agency said that about 200 unarmed soldiers left the nation’s military headquarters and surrendered to the police in the capital, Ankara.

The news organization, Anadolu Agency, also raised the number killed in the coup violence to 90, with more than 1,000 wounded.

Turkish lawmakers have convened an extraordinary session in the Parliament building, where a bomb exploded Friday night during the coup attempt.

Ismail Kahraman, speaker of the Grand National Assembly, said that opposition party leaders were scheduled to speak this afternoon.

Turkish security forces have rescued the nation’s top general and taken him to a safe location, according to the state-run Anadolu Agency.

Earlier reports said Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military’s chief of staff, had been captured by supporters of the coup as it began to unfold.

CNN Turk reported that General Akar would now take command of the operation against those trying to overthrow the government.

At least 60 people have been killed in the attempted coup, most of them civilians, an official in President Erdogan’s office told news agencies.

Separately, the state-run Anadolu Agency is reporting that 754 members of the armed forces linked to the coup have been detained across Turkey, including a brigadier general in northeastern Turkey.

Anadolu also reported that 29 colonels and five generals had been removed from their posts.

Turkey’s police chief, Celalettin Lekesiz, was quoted saying that 16 supporters of the coup had been killed in clashes at Turkey’s military police command. Mr. Lekesiz said 250 others there were arrested.

Reuters is reporting that officers behind the attempted coup have issued a statement calling on members of the public to stay indoors for their own safety.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged the public to take to the streets and occupy public squares to protest the coup attempt.

The statement came from an email address used by the press office of the General Staff of the Turkish military. The officers called themselves the Peace at Home Movement and said they were continuing to fight those who opposed them, Reuters reported.

Fethullah Gulen, the exiled Muslim cleric whom President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused of plotting against him, has condemned the coup attempt and denied any role in it.

“I condemn, in the strongest terms, the attempted military coup in Turkey,” he said in an emailed statement. “Government should be won through a process of free and fair elections, not force.”

“I pray to God for Turkey, for Turkish citizens and for all those currently in Turkey that this situation is resolved peacefully and quickly,” he added. “As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt. I categorically deny such accusations.”

Turkish television showed live footage of a group of soldiers surrendering on one of the bridges in Istanbul, but there were reports of continuing clashes in Ankara.

About 50 soldiers involved in the attempted coup were shown abandoning tanks on the bridge and walking away with their hands in the air, Reuters reported.

Other news agencies reported airstrikes on tanks outside the presidential palace in Ankara. A military helicopter said to have been operated by supporters of the coup was reportedly shot down.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington said that an attempt “to overthrow the democratically elected government” had been “foiled by the Turkish people in unity and solidarity.”

“Our president and government are in charge,” the embassy said in a statement.

It blamed the coup attempt on “a clique within the armed forces” and said the move had “received a well-deserved response from our nation.”

More than 130 people have been arrested in connection with the attempted military coup in Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in comments to CNN Turk.

Separately, prosecutors said 42 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in clashes in the capital, Ankara.

It was not immediately clear whether the toll included 12 deaths reported after a bomb was detonated at the Turkish Parliament. Seventeen police officers were also previously reported killed in a helicopter attack on a special-forces police station on the outskirts of Ankara.

The private broadcaster NTV reported that two civilians had been killed in clashes in Istanbul.

A journalist at The Hurriyet Daily News was reporting on Twitter that soldiers had taken over the newspaper’s newsroom in Istanbul.

— Emre KIZILKAYA (@ekizilkaya) July 16, 2016

The journalist, Emre Kizilkaya, wrote on Twitter that soldiers had taken some journalists as hostages.

“I’m in the car lot,” he wrote. “Bad that I forgot my car’s key at my desk.”

He said he saw a SWAT team approaching the building as he was leaving.

— Emre KIZILKAYA (@ekizilkaya) July 16, 2016

At CNN Turk, military coup plotters were reported to have taken over the studio and cut the television feed. A short time later, The Daily Sabah reported that a civilian was seen in the studio and that special forces had taken control.

— DAILY SABAH (@DailySabah) July 16, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at Istanbul Ataturk Airport early Saturday, said that a coup attempt by members of the armed forces loyal to his rival, Fethullah Gulen, amounted to “treason.”

“A minority within the armed forces has unfortunately been unable to stomach Turkey’s unity,” Mr. Erdogan said, adding that individuals loyal to Mr. Gulen had “penetrated the armed forces and the police, among other government agencies, over the past 40 years.”

“What is being perpetrated is a rebellion and a treason,” Mr. Erdogan said. “They will pay a heavy price for their treason to Turkey.”

Turks have heeded the call of the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and taken to the streets as forces loyal to him appear to have thwarted an effort to oust his government.

News media reports from Turkey indicate that Mr. Erdogan is expected to return to Istanbul early Saturday morning, hours after some military leaders tried to seize control of the country.

— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 16, 2016

There were indications early Saturday that coup leaders did not have a tight grip on many parts of the country, where martial law had been declared.

But there were also indications that the tension in Istanbul and Ankara, the capital, remained high.

— CNN Türk ENG (@CNNTURK_ENG) July 16, 2016

In clashes between security forces loyal to the president and military forces seeking his ouster, 17 police officers were killed near Ankara. And there were reports of violence in other areas of the country’s biggest cities. And a dozen people were killed in a bombing at the Parliament in Ankara.

It is unclear at this time where Mr. Erdogan is or when he might address the country next.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Recommended article from FiveFilters.org: Most Labour MPs in the UK Are Revolting.

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

The more than 800-page report paints a picture of a perfect storm of bureaucratic inertia, rapidly worsening security in Libya and inadequate resources in the months that led up to the killings of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues on September 11, 2012.
The attack was initially thought to be perpetrated by an angry mob responding to a video made in the U.S. mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, but the assault was later determined to be a terrorist attack — a finding Republicans accused the White House of covering up to protect President Barack Obama’s re-election prospects.
The House Benghazi Committee report doesn’t directly blame Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time and is now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, for the attacks. But it does suggest she and other administration officials did not adequately address the risks involved. It also found Stevens himself bore responsibility for securing his post.
When it comes to Clinton, the report stresses that intelligence was available suggesting an attack was possible and she and a top aide, Patrick Kennedy, should have realized the risks posed to the Benghazi mission by extremist groups.
“It is not clear what additional intelligence would have satisfied either Kennedy or the Secretary in understanding the Benghazi mission compound was at risk — short of an attack,” the report says.
Clinton told the House Benghazi Committee last year that she was aware of the dangers in Libya but “there was no actionable intelligence” indicating a planned attack.
The report reveals that Stevens and senior department officials were apparently keen to set up a permanent consulate in Benghazi ahead of a planned visit to the city by Clinton in October 2012. But the difficulty finding a suitable secure facility prompted officials to exclude the Benghazi compound from official department rules and standards that would have otherwise been more stringent.
“If you are in a non-diplomatic facility, there are no security standards. They don’t exist,” one unnamed diplomatic security agent told the committee.
Conservative members of the panel released a more political analysis of the attack Tuesday that’s far more critical of Clinton and the Obama administration. That study, authored by GOP Reps. Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Jim Jordan of Ohio, blames the attack on a “tragic failure of leadership.”
Their decision to release an addendum to the main report appears to suggest that Pompeo and Jordan believe the committee report does not go far enough in criticizing Clinton and the administration.
“The overall report, it’s about the facts, what happened,” Jordan told Chris Cuomo Tuesday on CNN’s “New Day.” “But Mr. Pompeo and I thought it was important to ask the questions. Why were we still in Benghazi when almost every other country had left? Why did we stay in Benghazi when the security situation was so terrible, so dangerous? And why did the administration mislead us?”

Reaction from Clinton, White House and Congress

Democrats pre-emptively rebutted the findings Monday by releasing their own dissenting report. They accused Gowdy and the committee of flagrant political bias while arguing the investigation wasted taxpayer money to try to damage Clinton ahead of the November election.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said “the official facts surrounding the 2012 attacks in Benghazi have been known for some time.”
He cited “great progress towards making our posts safer since 2012” and said “our priority continues to be carrying out our national security mission while mitigating the risks to our employees.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s top Democrat, blasted partisanship on the committee.
“Democrats offered to work with Chairman Gowdy on a joint report, and we even offered to give him a draft of our report ahead of time,” Cummings said. “Instead, he mocked our idea and decided to go it alone right before the presidential conventions. We can’t comment on his partisan report because we haven’t read it, and we haven’t read it because Republicans didn’t want us to check it against the evidence we obtained.”‎
The Clinton campaign said the committee is “finishing their work in the same, partisan way that we’ve seen from them since the beginning.”
“In refusing to issue its report on a bipartisan basis, the committee is breaking from the precedent set by other Congressional inquiries into the Benghazi attacks,” the campaign said in a statement.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, the committee chairman, defended his committee’s work, insisting the panel uncovered valuable new evidence that should change how the events in Benghazi are viewed.
“The seven of us believed that there were more questions to ask, that there were more answers to acquire, more witnesses to interview, more documents to access,” Gowdy said. “And this report validates that belief.”

Adding texture to the public record

Tuesday’s report includes testimony from senior State Department and intelligence officials along with lower-ranking diplomats and diplomatic security agents. It adds color and texture to the public record of the attacks already unveiled by multiple congressional and independent investigations.
It shows that the State Department assessment of the situation in Benghazi in 2011 and 2012 noted rising crime levels, rampant firearm ownership, and a high risk of militia violence in the security vacuum left by the toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The precarious security situation, according to the report, was exacerbated by inadequate security at the Benghazi outpost, which was plagued by equipment failures, a lack of manpower and relied on an often-disorganized local militia for protection.
The report says requests for more security in Benghazi repeatedly met no response or were refused by senior officials in Washington, though the parts of the report seen by CNN do not directly lay the fault at Clinton’s door.
The full details surrounding the attack may never be fully understood, the report says. The panel blames Clinton and the State Department for failing to turn over all emails from her private server — an omission it describes as “shameful.”
But Mark Toner, the State Department spokesman, said officials went out of their way to cooperate.
‘When combined with the seven previous Congressional inquiries, the Department has participated at least in 15 hearings, 64 briefings, 72 interviews, and has provided 100,000 pages of documents,” Toner said, adding that the panel requested huge volumes of information over a long period of years that was not relevant to the Benghazi tragedy.
Other findings include :

The tenacity of Chris Stevens.

The report reveals the determination of Stevens to keep the post open in Benghazi — “Chris had, I think a different tolerance of risk than I did,” said Joan Polaschik, former U.S. deputy chief of mission in Libya.
— After the fall of the Gadhaffi regime in 2011, one of Clinton’s top State Department aides, Jake Sullivan, asked a colleague what it would take to get a team back to the Libyan capital of Tripoli to re-open the U.S. embassy.
— “An ambassador to Libya who actually wants to go. Locking Pat Kennedy (then Under Secretary for Management) in a closet for long enough to actually take some real risks,” the colleage emailed back.
— In testimony to the committee, Charlene Lamb, formerly a senior State Department official, said that Stevens was ultimately responsible for security at his post. “It is very unfortunate and sad at this point that Ambassador Stevens was a victim, but that is where ultimate responsibility lies.”

Inadequate security in Benghazi

Throughout late 2011 and through 2012, security became perilous in Benghazi and there were at least two attacks on the compound and on diplomats and other international facilities.
— A diplomatic security agent in the city in November 2011 told the committee that security was “woefully inadequate” with no perimeter security, low walls and no lighting.
— The report said the Benghazi mission made repeated requests for new agents in late 2011 and early 2012. After a series of attacks on international targets in the city, more requests were made. But “no additional resources were provided by Washington D.C. to fortify the compound after the first two attacks. No additional personnel were sent to secure the facility, despite repeated requests for security experts on the ground.”
— At one point, then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland emailed Stevens to ask how to publicly describe the security incidents in 2012 : “Washington D.C. dismissed Stevens’ multiple requests for additional security personnel while also asking for help in messaging the very violence he was seeking security from,” the report said.
— The report, citing a cable from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, suggests there simply were not sufficient resources in the unstable nation to send to properly protect Benghazi. In early August 2012, there were only 34 security staff at the embassy. By the end of the month there were only six.
— Such shortages might explain the overreliance on the February 17 local militia in Benghazi to help secure the outpost — but a diplomatic security agent quoted in the report said the group was “undisciplined and unskilled.”
— In 2011 and early 2012, security sometimes became so difficult in Benghazi that staff were unable to do their jobs reaching out Libyans to report back to Washington on the restive political situation in the city. But the report says that in February 2012, the lead diplomatic security agent at the Tripoli Embassy told the post that “substantive reporting” was not its job anyway.
“[U]nfortunately, nobody has advised the (principal diplomatic officer) that Benghazi is there to support [redacted] operations, not conduct substantive reporting,” the agent wrote, in a possible sign that the primary purpose of the mission was in fact to support the CIA.
— The report also finds that the military did not carry out then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s order to deploy U.S. forces to help rescue Americans under fire in Benghazi.
“What was disturbing from the evidence the Committee found was that at the time of the final lethal attack at the Annex, no asset ordered deployed by the Secretary had even left the ground,” the report says.
— The panel also argues that initial administration talking points framing the attack as the result of an angry protest over an anti-Muslim video released in the U.S. were drawn up by administration officials and did not include accounts from eyewitnesses or the Americans under attack.
The report quotes an agent at the Benghazi compound as hearing chanting before a full-on attack begins, including explosions and gunfire and “70 people rushing into the compound with an assortment of “AK-47s, grenades, RPG’s … a couple of different assault rifles.”
Another security officer described the assault as “a full on attack against our compound.”
Asked if he had seen a protest before the attacks, the officer said: “zip, nothing, nada.”

CNN’s Laura Koran, Ryan Browne and Suzanne Malveaux contributed to this story

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling — that those provisions in a Texas law do not protect women’s health and place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — will quickly reverberate across the country.

It will certainly prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time is likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.

“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.

Adopting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors that are said to be about protecting women’s health has been one of the anti-abortion movement’s most successful efforts, imposing large expenses on some clinics, forcing others to close and making it harder for women in some regions to obtain abortions. Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who deplored Monday’s ruling, argued that they were requiring clinics to “be held to the same standards as other medical facilities.”

Now, the court has ruled that any such requirements must be based on convincing medical evidence that the rules are solving a real health issue to be weighed by a court, not by ideologically driven legislators — and that the benefits must outweigh the burdens imposed on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Anti-abortion groups expressed anger at Monday’s decision, insisting that abortion care is rife with unreported medical risks and malpractice, and vowed to press on. Americans United for Life, which has been a principal architect of the legislative strategy of putting requirements on clinics in the name of protecting women’s health, said it would continue to fight “to protect women from a dangerous and greedy abortion industry.”

“I’m confident that the states will move ahead to fill the public health vacuum that the Supreme Court has created,” said Clarke Forsythe, the acting president of Americans United for Life. “This decision does not foreclose more narrowly tailored regulations,” he said, promising that new ones will be developed state by state.

Since the Supreme Court has long held that women have a constitutional right to an abortion, at least until the fetus is viable outside the womb, anti-abortion groups over the past decade have turned to the states to pass hundreds of laws designed to discourage abortions, such as waiting periods, mandated fetal sonograms and parental consent requirements.

Most recently, promoting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors has been one of the movement’s most successful efforts.

Since 2011, for example, nine states have passed physician admitting-privilege requirements, bringing the total, including Texas, to 11, though in several cases the laws have been temporarily blocked. Similar proposals are pending in five more states, according to Elizabeth Nash, a researcher with the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The latest admitting-privilege law, though a weaker one than that in Texas, is due to take effect on July 1 in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott has said that he is studying the implications of Monday’s Supreme Court decision. The Florida law allows clinics, as an alternative, to have a general transfer agreement with a nearby hospital, but it is unclear whether all of the state’s clinics can comply.

The clearest and probably quickest effect of the Supreme Court decision will be in the other states with admitting-privilege laws — which mainstream medical groups say are medically unnecessary, and which clinics in some regions cannot meet because of hostility to abortion.

Such laws threatened to force the shutdown of four of five clinics in Alabama, three of four clinics in Louisiana and the sole abortion clinic operating in Mississippi. Given Monday’s decision, none of the laws in those states, or in others where similar requirements are temporarily blocked, including Kansas, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, are likely to survive.

Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, said in a statement: “Today the court has put women’s health and safety on the back burner for the profits of Planned Parenthood and abortion providers.”

She added: “As a pro-life legislator, I will continue to support legislation that protects the life of an unborn child and the health of the mother.”

On the other side of the issue, Dr. Willie Parker, who as a roving doctor who performs abortions at two Alabama clinics in cities where he cannot obtain admitting privileges and at the one clinic in Mississippi, said with relief that the Texas decision was “a huge victory.”

After years in which ever more forceful anti-abortion laws spread in the South, he said, “Now the chain reaction can go in the other direction.”

Admitting-privilege requirements that are now in effect in Missouri, North Dakota and Tennessee may also come under new challenge.

Five other states, besides Texas, impose some form of surgery-center standards on clinics performing abortions in the first trimester. (Several more states impose such requirements for abortions in the second trimester, but these are largely uncontested because later-term abortions are more medically complicated.) The effect of the new ruling may have to be considered state by state, legal experts said.

While surgery-center laws outside Texas have forced a few clinics to shut down, the laws in several states including Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia allow for waivers to the strict requirements, allowing some existing clinics to be exempt from rules governing, for example, storage space or flooring materials; the Texas law struck down Monday was, by comparison, inflexible.

Because the Supreme Court case was focused on provisions that were justified in terms of women’s health, the ruling is likely to have a less direct effect on some other contested abortion restrictions such as waiting periods or ultrasound requirements.

But the same standards would presumably apply to legal efforts to restrict nonsurgical, medication abortions in the name of protecting women. Battles are underway, for example, in some rural states over whether doctors can remotely prescribe abortion-inducing drugs.

The greatest effect of the decision may come in the future, as the battle over abortion takes new forms.

Nancy Northup, the president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the New York-based legal group that represented Texas clinics before the Supreme Court, said, “This opinion makes it clear that the court is going to look at the stated justification for a law, and look at the burdens it imposes.”

“It’s about making sure that regulations are truly justified,” she said.

For now, the Supreme Court is expected to make sure that states like Louisiana and Mississippi where cases are pending follow the principles laid out on Monday.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

More Mainers view immigrants as strengthening rather than burdening the state, but residents are divided along political and regional lines on immigration questions involving welfare, public health – and Donald Trump.

In a statewide Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram Poll, 48 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that “immigrants today strengthen our state because of their hard work and talents,” compared to 32 percent who believed immigrants “are a burden … because they take our jobs, housing and health care.” Not surprisingly, however, Democrats and Republicans had starkly different responses to the questions and to controversial statements on immigration made by Trump and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

Maine’s views on immigrants

For instance, only 14 percent of registered Democrats agreed that immigrants posed “a burden” to the state compared to 53 percent of registered Republicans and 33 percent of independents. The numbers were even more lopsided when poll participants were asked about Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., with only 11 percent of Democrats supporting the idea but 54 percent of Republicans agreeing with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“Until we can be more assured,” Harrison resident Brian Spaulding, 77, said in explaining his support for Trump’s controversial ban and belief that refugees need to be more thoroughly vetted for ties to terrorism. “Like has been said many times, it only takes one.”

VIEWS ON IMMIGRATION COMPLEX

Roughly 3.5 percent of Maine’s population – or an estimated 47,129 people – were born outside the United States, according U.S. Census Bureau statistics from 2010 to 2014. Just over 95 percent of the state’s population is white, making Maine one of the least-diverse states in the country.

The phone survey of more than 600 people showed that Mainers’ views on immigration are complex and, much like the national political scene, appear to be influenced by their party affiliation, age and income levels. The poll, which was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Poll-takers over age 50, for instance, were more likely than younger respondents to believe immigrants receive “too much” public assistance and to be concerned about immigrants bringing infectious diseases to Maine – an assertion made repeatedly by LePage, although public health records do not support his claim. And Mainers earning more than $100,000 a year were significantly more likely – by a margin of 59 percent to 40 percent – to regard immigrants as strengthening Maine than those earning less than $30,000 a year.

Poll respondent Jeff Lyons of Portland said he has seen a positive impact from the immigrants living in his city.

“In general, diversity is an asset and specifically the immigrants involved in local politics in Portland are bringing good ideas and energy,” Lyons said.

Kat Dumais, a Lewiston resident who has seen the impact of the influx of Somali refugees on the city, was among the plurality of people who believe immigrants “strengthen” the state. Dumais added that she believes “everyone needs a step up.”

“What I have seen is they are opening their own businesses, they are renting plots to garden, they are doing their very, very best to teach their children to be a part of the community,” Dumais said. “And I am very impressed with them.”

Immigration remains a sticky issue in the Lewiston area, however, a fact reflected in the Press Herald/Sunday Telegram Poll.

While just 28 percent of respondents from more urbanized southern Maine viewed immigrants as posing a burden, that figure rose to 42 percent for the central Maine region that includes the Lewiston-Auburn area. Central Maine also had the highest proportion of respondents, or 49 percent, who believed immigrants received “too much assistance,” compared to 39 percent in northern Maine and 43 percent in southern Maine.

Catherine Besteman, a professor of anthropology at Colby College not involved in the poll, said she was not necessarily surprised by the divided views but was personally disappointed by negative impressions she blamed on a political climate in which “facts don’t seem to have a lot of resonance.”

Besteman has extensively studied the influx of Somali refugees to the Lewiston area during the past 15 years. For her part, Besteman said she believes Lewiston is “a great success story,” although the conversation and occasional conflicts continue.

“It’s a community now,” Besteman said of the new Lewiston. “They are citizens and are contributing members of society, so I think the conversation is beginning to shift to more about what the community should look like, should sound like and be like. And those are conversations that any community should have.”

WELFARE AN ISSUE

On the issue of welfare, 43 percent said they believe immigrants are receiving too much public assistance, compared to just 7 percent who responded that immigrants do not receive enough government help. Nearly one-third were unsure while 19 percent believed Maine’s immigrant community was receiving “about the right amount” of assistance.

It’s an issue that burst into the political arena two years ago when the LePage administration sought to halt the flow of state General Assistance dollars to non-citizens, with some success in both the courts and the Legislature.

The vast majority of asylum seekers in Maine arrive in the U.S. on student, work or visitation visas that expire within six months. They then have an additional six months to file an asylum application before facing deportation. Federal law also prohibits asylum seekers from receiving legal work permits for at least six months after they apply.

Claude Rwaganje, who moved to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo 20 years ago and now runs a financial literacy program for immigrants, was disappointed that 32 percent of respondents believed immigrants posed a “burden” on the state and about the attitudes toward welfare.

“That is political and doesn’t have anything to do with reality,” said Rwaganje, whose nonprofit Community Financial Literacy helps immigrants with everything from setting up a bank account and building credit to the basics of small-business management.

While some asylum seekers are forced to seek welfare while they await work papers or asylee status, Rwaganje said that assistance is small compared to the economic benefits those immigrants create when they start small businesses or get involved in their communities. Maine is in a “demographic winter” as the population ages and young families leave the state for opportunities elsewhere – a trend that would be even more stark if it weren’t for immigrants, he said.

“Immigrants are making a huge impact on our economy,” Rwaganje said.

TRUMP AND LePAGE

More than one half of respondents, or 51 percent, said they would “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. in response to concerns about Islamic terrorism. Of the remaining respondents, 30 percent supported the idea while roughly 20 percent were neutral or unsure.

Mainers appear utterly divided, however, on whether they believe their governor’s warnings that immigrants are bringing infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis or HIV into the state.

Forty-six percent of respondents said they were very or somewhat concerned about the issue, while 53 percent were either “not very” or “not at all concerned” about the prospect. Responses were nearly equally distributed among the four choices.

LePage has made such statements repeatedly, such as in the fall of 2014, when he said he had been “trying to get the president to pay attention to the illegals who are in the country. Because there is a spike in hepatitis C, tuberculosis, HIV, and it’s going on deaf ears.” LePage made a similar suggestion this month during a town hall-style forum.

Rates of hepatitis and tuberculosis have increased in Maine, but medical experts say the increase in hepatitis is likely due to the heroin epidemic and more addicts sharing needles. State health officials do not collect information about the immigration status of people with reportable infectious diseases.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby contributed to this report.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Story highlights

  • Vote is about more than Britain, as U.S. will also feel aftershocks
  • Trump claims vote part of global revolt against elites
  • Clinton may use post-Brexit chaos to argue for steady hand in White House
Voters in the UK did more than reject the European Union and topple their pro-EU Prime Minister David Cameron in a referendum Thursday.
They also set off a cascade of events that could spark global economic chaos, remake the Western world, reverberate through November’s presidential election and challenge U.S. security for years to come.
The referendum campaign — just like the U.S. election — has boiled with populist anger, fear-mongering by politicians, hostility towards distant political elites and resurgent nationalism, and exposed a visceral feeling in the electorate that ordinary voters have lost control of the politics that shape their own lives. Its success raises the question of whether those forces will exert a similar influence in America in November.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, who arrived in the UK to visit his Scottish golf courses just as the referendum result was announced, declared Friday that the U.S. is next.
“Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first,” he said. “They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people.”
Indeed, British voters delivered the kind of crushing rejection of the political, business and media elites that Trump has been railing against.
The Brits also snubbed President Barack Obama’s warnings against voting to leave Europe and risked triggering a global recession that would weaken already sluggish U.S. economic growth and dampen the hopes of his chosen successor, Hillary Clinton.
In her first reaction to the news from Britain, Clinton immediately took a swipe at Trump, though not by name. She called for Americans to respond to the vote by pulling together “to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.”
Clinton also noted the global economic risks of the UK referendum, saying in a statement: “Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America.”
In a particularly striking development, UK voters completely disregarded warnings from elite voices of the consequences of tearing the political system that has largely delivered peace and prosperity since World War II.
Similar warnings have been heard in the U.S. election — especially from Clinton and establishment politicians who fear Trump’s “America First” stance would send shockwaves through the global system and see America pull back from its role as a guarantor of Western security.
But in the UK this week, outsider politicians seem to have carried just as much weight with many British voters as more conventional fact-based arguments. World authorities like the IMF for example warned about the consequences of a Brexit — but voters went ahead and voted to leave anyway.
Speaking to CNN, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the Brexit result as a “big experiment in insurgent politics.”
He said the centre-left and centre-right needed to “rediscover radical, powerful answers in a climate driven by anger … a revolt against what is seen as established wisdom, but what is actually people making difficult decisions in difficult circumstances.”
There are, of course, several key differences between the British referendum and America’s looming election.
The UK vote was mostly about delivering a stunning and final blow to the country’s long and reluctant marriage with Europe and turned on a host of local factors including extreme Euro-skepticism within the governing Conservative Party, distrust of European politicians and institutions and disenchantment with Britain’s reduced place in the world.
But in a larger symbolic sense, the referendum result, narrow as it was — 52% to 48% — demonstrated the potential of voters to wield a stunning shock to the political system that can shatter the logic and assumptions of conventional politics.
There’s no guarantee that American voters will show the same kind of rebelliousness and willingness to leap into the unknown in November as a slim majority of Britons did on Thursday. And the U.S. system of state-by-state races and an electoral college could mitigate against some of the grassroots anger that exploded in a binary “Leave” or “Remain” vote in Britain.
But events in Europe must trigger at least some concern among Democrats.
Pollsters in the UK underestimated the fury of grassroots voters outside metropolitan areas in a way that could be mirrored in the United States, where Clinton now enjoys a lead in national surveys.
Furthermore, “Brexit” forces triumphed partly because the Labour Party could not deliver its traditional working class voters in some big post-industrial cities for the “Remain” campaign, despite the support of party leaders.
It is not a stretch to wonder whether the kind of political message that was so powerful in the referendum — featuring a harsh critique of free trade and a demands to “take our country back” — could prove just as effective among blue-collar workers in rust belt states in the United States.
Certainly, it’s a message that Trump has been hammering with success all election season and is at the center of his claims to be able to remake the U.S. electoral map. And the billionaire has consistently bested Clinton when voters are asked who is best equipped to handle the economy.
The immediate stock market contagion unleashed by the referendum across the globe represented the worst equity carnage since the start of the Great Recession in 2008.
If the losses prove short-lived, the impact of the referendum on the U.S. economy and politics could be temporary.
But if “Brexit” ushers in a period of economic volatility across Europe that begins to squelch growth, the U.S. economy could be badly affected — complicating Clinton’s bid to pull off the tough assignment of winning a third consecutive White House term for the Democrats.
Trump would meanwhile seize on any slowdown in the U.S. precipitated by Brexit to argue that Obama’s economic management is a failure and it is time to try something new.
But there are also warning signs for Trump.
Though he was quick to claim a share of the credit for the British political earthquake — placing it in the context of a revolt against global elites in which he sees himself as a major player — a prolonged period of world turmoil could also work against the billionaire former reality star.
Such an environment could bolster Clinton’s claims that a crisis is no time to choose a president who has no experience of governing and that her pedigree as a former secretary of state and relationships with leaders all over the world are a perfect fit for a perilous moment.
The Democratic presumptive nominee made that argument in her statement: “This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House to protect Americans’ pocketbooks and livelihoods, to support our friends and allies, to stand up to our adversaries, and to defend our interests.”
Clinton’s campaign worked hard to demonstrate a contrast between Clinton and Trump as potential leaders in a time of crisis. The Clinton camp also sought to downplay similarities between the seething political scenes in the U.K. and the United States.
“It is important that we recognize that this American election is about what is happening here in America not what is happening in Yorkshire or in Cardiff,” said Clinton’s senior adviser Jake Sullivan on a conference call.
Sullivan also rejected the idea that Clinton could find herself overtaken by a similar populist tide in November, saying she had spent months on the campaign trail and was intimately familiar with the difficulties facing many working Americans.
The possible economic consequences of Brexit in the short-term could be dwarfed by the geopolitical shakeup that is now looming in the years to come.
Britain’s referendum has already set off calls in Europe for similar separation votes in other Eurosceptic nations, threatening to dismantle the economic and political union that has been a pillar of transatlantic stability for 70 years and been a crucial partner for the United States.
As the U.S. faces challenges to its power in Asia from a rising China and in Europe from a recalcitrant Russia and in the Middle East from a motley group of insurgent forces, Washington can hardly afford the splintering of its co-guarantor of Western security.
In addition, the referendum looks likely to result in the fracturing of America’s closest historic ally, the United Kingdom — a factor that could be a diplomatic nightmare for the next president.
In the hours after the vote, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to draft new legislation to allow a second independence referendum north of the border after pro-EU Scots narrowly voted to stay in the United Kingdom in 2014.
Though a Scottish referendum may not take place for years, it will revive questions about a neutering of British military power and the fate of Britain’s Scotland-based nuclear deterrent — which nationalists opposed and is part of NATO’s security infrastructure — that the next U.S. president will be forced to grapple with.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

 

As search teams spotted a body and more personal items believed to belong to a family who vanished on a sailboat off Florida’s Gulf Coast, hopes of a safe rescue on Thursday were quickly fading.

Personal items located off the coast of Sanibel, Florida, believed to belong to missing family. pic.twitter.com/rCjvJzD3zk

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 22, 2016

The person who was found was not immediately identified, but searchers were now looking for three members of the missing Kimberly family, not four, Coast Guard Capt. Gregory Case said. Coast Guard officials were set to give updates at a news conference later Thursday morning.

The person whose body was recovered was wearing a life vest, Case said. Other items found in the search area included a flare, two kayaks and additional life jackets.

Ace Kimberly, his daughter Rebecca, 17, and sons Donny, 15, and Roger, 13, haven’t been heard from since Sunday afternoon, when Ace phoned his brother to report the family had been caught up in six-foot waves and were “attempting to survive.”

The family was sailing to Fort Myers from Sarasota to have repairs done on the sailboat. Ace’s brother contacted the Coast Guard Tuesday after the family failed to reach their destination.

#UPDATE #BreakingNews @USCGSoutheast C130 aircrew conducting first light search for missing family. pic.twitter.com/s4REO1fwgD

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) June 22, 2016

The kayaks — one green and one yellow — were found near the quartet’s last-known position. A seperate debris field about 33 miles off the coast of South Florida contained a tarp, four water bottles that had been tied together, a pair of tennis shoes, a basketball, a propane tank and six life jackets.

“We’re searching in a particular spot,” Case said Wednesday afternoon. “We kind of have tracked their voyage and where they should be, and we’ve backdrifted that.”

The U.S. Coast Guard launched a HC-130 Hercules airplane from Clearwater, and several other vessels from Stations Cortez and Fort Myers, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley J. Johnson told the News-Press. The Maritime Emergency Response Team had also been activated.

The 29-foot boat did not have a name or a radio, CBS reported. Case said officials never received a distress call.

He said the Kimberly family was “feeling very anxious and upset, and they’re hoping for the best.”

Mariners with any information were asked to contact the Coast Guard’s St. Petersburg sector at 727-824-7506.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Click for more from the News-Press.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

More than 1,200 firefighters worked to hold back a wildfire Friday advancing toward the coast of Santa Barbara, California, ahead of a heat wave and strong winds that could fan its flames over the weekend.

The so-called Sherpa Fire more than doubled in size overnight to around 4,000 acres, forcing mandatory evacuations and threatening about 140 homes and ranches, officials said at a news conference.

While no homes were in immediate danger, officials warned that wind gusts of over 40 mph could return Friday night and give rise to “fire tornadoes.”

Image: A fire crew takes shelter behind an engine as the Sherpa Fire advances

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

A wildfire in Southern California more than tripled in size overnight and forced officials to close a major highway, while another blaze in New Mexico had communities on edge after destroying two dozen homes, officials said on Friday.

California’s so-called Sherpa Fire, burning in chapparal and tall grass, was driven by strong winds as it roared down hillsides toward the Pacific Ocean in a wilderness area northwest of the coastal city of Santa Barbara.

It grew from 1,200 acres (486 hectares) on Thursday night to more than 4,000 acres (1,619 hectares) early Friday, said Kerry Bierman, a spokeswoman for the joint operations center fighting the fire.

Its rapid growth during the night forced officials to close a portion of the 101 Freeway, a major corridor for vacation travelers near California’s coast, though officials said they have since reopened the road.

Officials widened their evacuation orders to move people and horses out of danger, Bierman said. In all, they have placed at least 270 homes and businesses under evacuation orders and cleared out campgrounds and state beaches, she said.

The fire, which broke out on Wednesday in the Los Padres National Forest for reasons that remain under investigation, has not caused any injuries and officials have reported little property damage. Hundreds of firefighters working on the blaze had it about 5 percent contained.

In another part of the Southwest, firefighters on Friday sought to make headway against a wildfire in central New Mexico that has burned more than 16,000 acres (6,475 hectares) of timber and logging zones, and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate, officials said.

The blaze destroyed 24 single-family homes near the small community of Chilili in Bernalillo County soon after it erupted on Wednesday, said John Helmich, a spokesman for the team of 600 firefighters battling the fire.

On Thursday, firefighters made a successful stand on State Route 337 to protect Chilili from advancing flames, Helmich said.

Winds were expected to push the blaze to the east and southeast, away from more heavily populated areas on the northwest flank of the burn area, Helmich said.

New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has declared a state of emergency and ordered the state’s National Guard to be prepared to assist in battling the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 24 hours after a shooting rampage at a popular gay nightclub here, the police chief offered new details Monday about their confrontations with the gunman while other officials said that all but one of the 49 victims had been identified.

Dozens of bodies were removed overnight Monday from the nightclub, Pulse, and by early morning, 48 of the 49 victims had been identified, Mayor Buddy Dyer of Orlando said at a news conference, and the families of 26 victims had been notified.

At an early morning news conference, the police chief, John Mina, said police officers had three confrontations with the gunman, identified as Omar Mateen, who was killed by the police at the club early Sunday morning.

Interactive Feature | Latest Updates Times editors and reporters are following the latest developments on the shooting in Orlando, Fla.

The first came when an off-duty officer who had been working at the nightclub responded to shots fired at about 2 a.m., Chief Mina said. Additional officers rushed to the scene, he said, and entered the nightclub where they engaged in a gun battle with Mr. Mateen, forcing him to retreat to a bathroom where officers believed he had four to five hostages. About 15 to 20 people were in another bathroom.

“At that time we were able to save and rescue dozens and dozens of people and get them out of the club,” Chief Mina said. A SWAT team was called and took up positions in a bathroom across from where Mr. Mateen had holed up.

Negotiators also began to talk with Mr. Mateen, whom Chief Mina described as “cool and calm.”

Mr. Mateen made statements that led police officers to think he was going to begin killing more people, the chief said, and he called 911.

Omar Mateen

via MySpace

“He really wasn’t asking for a whole lot, we were doing most of the asking,” Chief Mina said.

“Our negotiators were talking with him,” he said. “And there were no shots at that time but there was talk about bomb vests and explosives. There was an allegiance to the Islamic State.”

Chief Mina said Mr. Mateen’s talk of explosives spurred the police’s decision to start the rescue operation and try to breach the bathroom.

But an explosive placed on the wall did not penetrate completely, so officers used an armored vehicle to punch a hole about two feet off the ground, allowing hostages to flee. Mr. Mateen also came through the breach in the wall, Chief Mina said, and was killed in a shootout with the police.

When asked during the news conference if there was a chance that people might have been struck by friendly fire, or in the crossfire, Chief Mina said: “I will say that is all part of the investigation. But I will say when our SWAT officers, about eight or nine officers, opened fire, their backdrop was a concrete wall. And they were being fired upon, so that is all part of the investigation.”

At hospitals and gathering spots nearby, relatives and friends of the clubgoers who remained unaccounted for began to lose hope that their loved ones had somehow survived the mass shooting. And those who had already learned that their loved ones had died began to plan for funerals.

“I cannot imagine being one of the parents or knowing your loved one may be among the deceased and waiting to find out,” Mr. Dyer said. The authorities adjusted the death toll on Monday, saying that the 50 people killed included the gunman. Orlando Health, which has a network of medical facilities in the area, said 43 victims remained in the hospital, including six who would undergo operations on Monday.

Investigators continued on Monday morning to scour the crime scene for evidence and piece together the gunman’s motive. Thirty victim witness specialists and crime reconstruction experts were on the scene processing as much evidence as possible, F.B.I. officials said.

Mr. Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, posted a video on his Facebook page early on Monday in which he expressed regret and confusion about why his son had carried out the mass killing.

“I don’t know what caused this,” said Mr. Mateen, speaking in Dari, a language spoken in Afghanistan. “I did not know and did not understand that he has anger in his heart.”

Graphic | What Happened Inside the Orlando Nightclub Accounts of what happened from officials and witnesses.

“My son, Omar Mateen, was a very good boy, an educated boy, who had a child and a wife, very respectful of his parents,” he said.

At Monday’s news conference, A. Lee Bentley, the United States attorney for Central Florida, said the investigators had collected a large amount of electronic and criminal evidence and were trying to determine whether Mr. Mateen acted alone.

“If anyone else was involved in this crime,” Mr. Bentley said, “they will be prosecuted.”

The attacker, a 29-year-old who was born in New York, turned what had been a celebratory night of dancing to salsa and merengue music at the crowded Pulse nightclub into a panicked scene of unimaginable slaughter, the floors slicked with blood, the dead and the wounded piled atop one another. Terrified people poured onto the darkened streets of the surrounding neighborhood, some carried wounded victims to safety and police vehicles were pressed into service as makeshift ambulances to rush people to hospitals.

Map | Pulse Nightclub

Joel Figueroa and his friends “were dancing by the hip-hop area when I heard shots, bam, bam, bam,” he said, adding, “Everybody was screaming and running toward the front door.”

It was the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001, and the deadliest attack on a gay target in the nation’s history, though officials said it was not clear whether some victims had been accidentally shot by law enforcement officers.

Gov. Rick Scott of Florida said on Monday that he had asked President Obama to issue a federal emergency declaration for his state.

“Yesterday’s terror attack was an attack on our state and entire nation,” Mr. Scott said in a statement. “This morning, I have asked President Obama to declare an emergency so that the full resources of the federal government can be made available for all those impacted by this horrific massacre.”

In a letter to Mr. Obama, Mr. Scott sought two forms of federal aid: “provision of health and safety measures,” as well as “management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health and safety.” An emergency declaration by Mr. Obama would give Florida up to $5 million in initial federal funding.

The toll is larger than the number of murders in Orlando over the previous three years. Of an estimated 320 people in the club, nearly one-third were shot. The casualties far exceeded those in the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, where 32 people were killed, and the 2012 shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people died.

“In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another,” Mr. Obama said in a special address from the White House. “We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united as Americans to protect our people and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us.”

As he had done after several previous mass shootings, the president said the shooting demonstrated the need for what he called “common sense” gun measures.

“This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or a house of worship or a movie theater or a nightclub,” Mr. Obama said. “We have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

Interactive Feature | Mass Shootings in the U.S. This partial list dates to 2007, the year of what used to be the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The shooting quickly made its way into the presidential campaign. Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, who has accused Mr. Obama of weakness on radical Islam and has called for barring Muslim immigrants, suggested on Twitter that the president should resign.

“Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism,” he wrote. “I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!”

Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, released a statement saying: “We need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home.”

Fears of violence led to heightened security at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender events and gathering places around the country. Law enforcement officials in Santa Monica, Calif., confirmed the arrest on Sunday of a heavily armed man who said he was in the area for West Hollywood’s gay pride parade. The authorities, however, said they did not know of any connection between the California arrest and the Orlando shooting.

The F.B.I. investigated Mr. Mateen in 2013 when he made comments to co-workers suggesting he had terrorist ties, and again the next year, for possible connections to Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American who became a suicide bomber in Syria, said Ronald Hopper, an assistant agent in charge of the bureau’s Tampa Division. But each time, the F.B.I. found no solid evidence that Mr. Mateen had any real connection to terrorism or had broken any laws.

Mr. Mateen, who lived in Fort Pierce, Fla., was able to continue working as a security guard with the security firm G4S, where he had worked since 2007, and he was able to buy guns. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Mr. Mateen had legally bought a long gun and a pistol in the past week or two, though it was not clear whether those were the weapons used in the assault, which officials described as a handgun and an AR-15 type of assault rifle.

A former co-worker, Daniel Gilroy, said Mr. Mateen had talked often about killing people and had voiced hatred of gays, blacks, women and Jews.

Hours later, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility in a statement released over an encrypted phone app used by the group. It stated that the attack “was carried out by an Islamic State fighter,” according to a transcript provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadist propaganda.

But officials cautioned that even if Mr. Mateen, who court records show was briefly married and then divorced, was inspired by the group, there was no indication that it had trained or instructed him, or had any direct connection with him. Some other terrorist attackers have been “self-radicalized,” including the pair who killed 14 people in December in San Bernardino, Calif., who also proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State, but apparently had no contact with the group.

The Islamic State has encouraged “lone wolf” attacks in the West, a point reinforced recently by a group spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, in his annual speech just before the holy month of Ramadan. In past years, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda increased attacks during Ramadan.

American Muslim groups condemned the shooting. “The Muslim community joins our fellow Americans in repudiating anyone or any group that would claim to justify or excuse such an appalling act of violence,” said Rasha Mubarak, the Orlando regional coordinator of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

At least 50 people were killed and more than 50 others were wounded when a gunman opened fire and took hostages at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday morning.

The shooter, identified by several law enforcement sources as Omar Mateen, 29, was killed in a shootout with law enforcement after a three-hour siege.

The massacre — the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States — began when the gunman stormed the Pulse Nightclub about 2 a.m. ET with an AR-15 type rifle and a handgun, officials said.

Among the latest developments:

IMAGE: Omar Mateen

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico