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10 Jan

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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  • ‘Pacific Patriot Network’ members with ‘long guns’ arrive at occupation
  • Militia spokesman: leader blindsided by ‘not a welcome development’
Malheur

A man stands guard after members of several organizations arrived at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon on Saturday. Photograph: Rick Bowmer/AP

A large group of heavily armed men showed up to the wildlife refuge occupation in eastern Oregon on Saturday, further escalating tensions and causing internal conflicts at the protests.

ust as a number of the regular occupiers at the Malheur national wildlife refuge were finishing up a morning press conference, a fleet of more than a dozen vehicles drove up to the site. Men armed with rifles got out of their trucks and began stationing themselves along a road.

The men said they were with a group called the Pacific Patriot Network and were a “neutral party”, there to provide security and protection for everyone at the refuge.

LaVoy Finicum, a regular spokesman for the armed militia, which has occupied the federal land since last Saturday, told the men they were not welcome or needed and that the militia was trying to minimize conflicts – not bring more guns to the compound.

Ammon Bundy, the leader of the militia, had no idea a new group of armed men would be coming, according to Todd Macfarlane, who said he was acting as a liaison between the militia and the public.

“Ammon felt blindsided,” Macfarlane said. “This was not a welcome development. We are trying to de-escalate here – then boom, they all show up.”

Many of the men with the so-called Pacific Patriot Network declined to speak to reporters, saying they had orders to abide by a “media blackout”. Some were carrying semi-automatic rifles……………

German chancellor’s party to discuss range of measures at policy meeting as far-right Pegida movement rallies in city centre

Several hundred people gather in front of Cologne cathedral on Saturday to protest against sexual violence and to advocate for women’s rights after 121 women were threatened or sexually assaulted in the city on New Year’s Eve. One Cologne resident says the rally is about addressing these issues, by making ‘sexism and sexual violence a topic in society, no matter by whom’

Angela Merkel has said she will back tougher laws on deporting immigrants as far-right protesters marched in Cologne following a string of sex attacks allegedly committed by asylum seekers.

German police used water cannon on Saturday to prevent clashes between supporters of Germany’s far-right Pegida movement and a counter-demonstration by anti-fascists.

At least 32 people are suspected of playing a role in the violence on New Year’s Eve, 22 of whom are in the process of seeking asylum. Of the 32 suspects, nine were Algerian, eight Moroccan, five Iranian and four Syrian. Three German citizens, an Iraqi, a Serb and a US citizen were also identified.

Gangs of men described by some of the alleged victims as being of north African or Arab descent are reported to have robbed, threatened or sexually assaulted 121 women as revellers partied near the city’s Gothic cathedral.

. About 1,700 supporters of Pegida, which says the assaults are proof that Merkel’s liberal migrant policy is failing, and the local far-right group Pro NRW arrived in the city’s main square at 1pm (midday GMT)……………

Five Hong Kong booksellers have vanished since October and many suspect they were abducted by Chinese security forces because of books critical of China

A poster showing Lee Bo, specialising in publications critical of China, and four other colleagues who went missing, is displayed outside a bookstore at Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong.

A poster showing Lee Bo, who specialises in publications critical of China, and four other colleagues who went missing, is displayed outside a bookstore at Causeway Bay shopping district in Hong Kong. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to demand the release of a group of political booksellers they suspect were abducted by Chinese security forces and are being held in mainland China.

Five Hong Kong booksellers – Gui Minhai, Lee Bo, Lui Bo, Cheung Ji-ping and Lam Wing-kei – who specialised in books criticising China’s Communist party elite have vanished since October.

Beijing has repeatedly refused to comment directly on the case but there is widespread suspicion that the men’s apparent detentions – in Thailand, southern China and Hong Kong – are designed to halt the publication of salacious tomes about the private lives of top party figures.

One source told the Guardian Gui and Lee had been preparing to publish a book about Chinese president Xi Jinping when the disappearances began.

On Sunday afternoon demonstrators gathered outside Hong Kong’s government headquarters – the scene of last year’s umbrella movement pro-democracy protests – carrying placards and banners that read: “Release Hong Kong Booksellers Now!” and “Against political persecution!”……………..

Agency conducting civil rights investigation death of Esau Castellanos, whose family is challenging officers’ accounts that he was armed and opened fire

Police

The quasi-independent local agency that investigates all police shootings in Chicago says it also referred the Castellanos case to the FBI in the weeks after the March 2013 shooting. Photograph: Alamy

The FBI is conducting a civil rights investigation into the fatal 2013 Chicago police shooting of a motorist whose family is challenging officers’ accounts that he was armed and opened fire.

A brief mention of the case was contained in thousands of pages of emails related to police shootings that the city released on New Year’s Eve, the Chicago Tribune reported on Saturday.

According to sworn depositions by the two officers pursuing him, Esau Castellanos was speeding at 80mph and crashed on the city’s north-west side. The officers say that when they approached, Castellanos opened fire. His family disputes that, and no gun was ever found. The officers fired 19 shots at Castellanos, hitting him three times…………….

US politics

Beware the danger of Donald Trump’s US media domination

Donald Trump: I will end gun-free zones in schools – video

A hippo play fighting, galloping horses and two leopard cats are among this week’s pick of images from the natural world

Draught horses gallop through a field, with the air temperature at about -24C, outside Malaya Tumna village south of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia

Photograph: Ilya Naymushin/Reuters

Opinion

The effects of surveillance on New York Muslim communities have been devastating – but this settlement can help prevent more harmful policing

nypd

‘The settlement will help ensure policing in New York City does not have a misplaced focus on religion, ideology, and race.’ Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

In the current moment of mounting anti-Muslim sentiment nationwide and misguided calls from some politicians for a security crackdown on Muslims, there is some welcome news: the New York police department has agreed to reforms that prohibit the discriminatory surveillance of Muslim communities.

Five years ago, news broke that the NYPD was engaged in an expansive domestic spying operation targeting American Muslim communities for surveillance, mapping and infiltration. Two lawsuits were filed in the New York federal courts in response to these practices and in defense New York City Muslims’ – and all minority communities’ – right to equal treatment and religious freedom.

On Thursday, both lawsuits were settled. If approved by the courts, the settlement would reinforce existing safeguards on surveillance of political and religious activities, create new ones and embed civilian oversight within the NYPD.

We hope the principles reflected in the settlement will not just ensure bias-free and effective policing by the NYPD, but will also serve as guideposts in the current security and civil liberties debates. To our clients and their communities, the news stories five years ago – which culminated in a Pulitzer prize for the Associated Press – were not a revelation, but confirmation of what they had known or suspected for years.

As detailed in our lawsuit and in a report titled, Mapping Muslims, the effects of surveillance on New York Muslim communities have been devastating. Imams are reluctant to counsel congregants, fearing they may be informants. Community members’ ties to local police precincts have deteriorated due to distrust and fear that reporting to police on matters of daily concern, like street crime or domestic violence, would result in surveillance. Parents tell their children not to “dress too Muslim” or be active in Muslim student associations to avoid police monitoring. Fear deters people from discussing current events……………….

 

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