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Police supervisor to lose vacation days over Garner death
By MICHAEL R. SISAK | Wed, August 21, 2019 05:41 EDT
NEW YORK (AP) — A police sergeant accused of failing to properly supervise officers involved in the 2014 death of Eric Garner has agreed to give up about four weeks of vacation time to settle her internal disciplinary case, a police official said Wednesday.
Sgt. Kizzy Adonis was the first police supervisor to arrive on the scene as Garner gasped “I can’t breathe” and lapsed into unconsciousness after he was put into a chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo.
The department fired Pantaleo on Monday.
The New York Police Department said in an emailed statement Wednesday that Adonis’ case had been resolved but did not reveal the outcome.
According to a police official, Commissioner James O’Neill signed off on an agreement under which Adonis will lose 20 vacation days and avoid a public disciplinary trial. Adonis was accused of failing to properly supervise officers after she arrived at the chaotic scene.
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because state law restricts the public release of information about officer discipline.
On Monday, O’Neill held a news conference to announce his decision to fire Pantaleo who is white, for using the chokehold on Garner, who was black.
Adonis, who is black, and Pantaleo were the only NYPD officers to face disciplinary action for Garner’s death. News of Adonis’ agreement irritated Garner’s mother and police reform activists.
Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, said she was “outraged and disgusted” by the deal but not surprised. She said it’s a sign that Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police department don’t care about her son or other black men and women.
“It’s disgraceful that they waited more than five years until after Pantaleo was fired to cut her a deal so that all she’s facing is losing some vacation days, and they want us to accept these crumbs as if there is some justice,” Carr said in a statement.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said: “If the penalty for not doing your job is that you can keep doing your job, it is an injustice to the family of Eric Garner and the residents of New York City.”
Adonis’ union, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said it would hold a news conference on Thursday to address “what really occurred in this extremely sensitive matter.”
Adonis had been newly promoted to sergeant and was assigned to the Staten Island precinct about a week before Garner’s death in July 2014. She had no prior disciplinary history and has received positive evaluations in her prior and current assignments, the police official said.
Adonis was charged under the department’s disciplinary process in January 2016. She was not part of the team out investigating that day but heard the radio call and was nearby and responded to the scene.
Video taken by bystanders shows Adonis standing by as Garner lay handcuffed on the pavement, motionless, for several minutes as officers waiting for paramedics to arrive.
No one attempted to give Garner CPR during that period.
O’Neill found that Adonis’ supervision of officers under her command on the day of Garner’s death “was lacking in certain areas,” the police official said.
However, O’Neill concluded that nothing about her actions caused the use of the banned chokehold or delayed the arrival of medical attention for Garner, the police official said.
Follow Michael Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak
EarthLink – News
Shooter at large after LA deputy shot at sheriff’s station
By CHRISTOPHER WEBER | Thu, August 22, 2019 10:39 EDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A shooter remained at large after wounding a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in a sheriff’s station parking lot in the Mojave Desert city of Lancaster, authorities said.
A search of the area concluded early Thursday without finding a suspect, said Deputy Morgan Arteaga, a department spokeswoman. A person detained during the search was not related to the case, she said.
The search had focused on a nearby building complex that provides housing to people with mental health issues.
The victim, Deputy Angel Reinosa was treated and released following the Wednesday afternoon shooting, Arteaga said.
Reinosa, 21, was hit while heading to his car in the employee parking lot of the Lancaster station shortly before 3 p.m., Capt. Todd Weber said.
Mayor R. Rex Parris said the deputy was wearing a ballistic vest that deflected the bullet into his shoulder.
Deputies searched for the sniper inside the block-long, four-story structure with many windows that overlook the sheriff’s facility in downtown Lancaster, a desert city of about 160,000 people north of Los Angeles.
Tactical teams were working their way through the building Wednesday night, evacuating some people and having others shelter in place, Weber said.
They had no description of the shooter but believed they could narrow down the area of the building where the attacker might be, Weber said.
Reinosa has been with the Sheriff’s Department for about a year and joined the Lancaster station in May for patrol training, Weber said.
The mayor said it appeared that the shooting was a random act.
“It was not targeted on this specific deputy,” he said. “It was, ‘any deputy would do.'”
The apartment building is adjacent to and partners with a nonprofit that provides housing, counseling and other services to people with mental health issues, according to the website for Mental Health America, Antelope Valley Enrichment Services.
The nonprofit said several housing units are “designated specifically for individuals with disabilities … who are ready for independent living.”
But the mayor said the building “caters to, is designed for and allows mentally ill people to live there. That’s all that lives there, is mentally ill people.”
A perimeter was set up as deputies used binoculars to determine where the gunfire came from after the shooting.
Deputies cleared other nearby buildings, including a library. Authorities urged residents to avoid the neighborhood.
Metrolink train service was halted in the area.
The sheriff’s station is surrounded by shops and restaurants in a downtown area of the city in the Mojave Desert about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of downtown Los Angeles.
Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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India’s ‘patriotism pop’ songs urge Hindus to claim Kashmir
By SHEIKH SAALIQ | Thu, August 22, 2019 02:46 EDT
NEW DELHI (AP) — The music videos began appearing on social media within hours of the announcement by India’s Hindu-led nationalist government that it was stripping statehood from the disputed region of Kashmir that had been in place for decades.
The songs delivered a message to India’s 250 million YouTube users about moving to the Muslim-majority region, buying land there and marrying Kashmiri women.
It’s the latest example of a growing genre in India known as “patriotism pop” — songs flooding social media about nationalism and the country’s burgeoning right-wing ideology.
Earlier songs were limited to the rise of Hindus in India, defeating regional rival Pakistan and hoisting the Indian flag in every household. Now, they include settling in Kashmir — a rugged and beautiful Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India, although both countries control only a portion of it.
On Aug. 5, Prime Minister Narendra Modi revoked Kashmir’s decades-old special status that was guaranteed under Article 370 of India’s Constitution and sent thousands of troops to the region. The move has touched off anger in the Indian-controlled region, which has been under a security lockdown that has seen thousands detained to prevent protests there.
One of Modi’s revisions allows anyone to buy land in the territory, which some Kashmiris fear could mean an influx of Hindus who would change the region’s culture and demographics. Critics have likened it to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.
The patriotic songs are mostly shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the fast-growing app TikTok, which in June had about 120 million active users in India. Despite their low production values, poorly matched lip-synching and repetitive techno beat, many of these soundtracks have gotten millions of hits on YouTube.
The songs are a hit among youthful followers in northern and eastern parts of India, and their creators don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Nitesh Singh Nirmal identifies himself as a producer, songwriter and composer for his Rang Music studios in the eastern state of Bihar. A Modi admirer, Nirmal claims to be the first to produce a soundtrack on the revocation of Kashmir’s statehood, completing it in three hours.
The song, “Dhara 370,” or “Article 370,” starts with visuals of an Indian flag fluttering atop New Delhi’s famous Red Fort, followed by old footage of Modi from a previous Independence Day ceremony. The singer thanks Modi and his government for keeping his promise to remove Article 370 from the constitution. The video then cuts to the map of Kashmir, along with words that roughly translate to how Pakistan has lost to India.
The song has gotten more than 1.6 million hits on YouTube since it was posted there by Nirmal, who has no musical background. He said he only found his calling when Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party resoundingly won the 2014 election.
That’s when Nirmal thought he could write songs about nationalism.
“I am doing service for the nation. People dance to these songs,” he says.
Nirmal’s claims about their popularity aren’t far-fetched. TikTok, which lets the user lip-synch to music and make short vines, is flooded with images of Hindu nationalists declaring plans to go to Kashmir and marry women there. Most of the videos have music similar to the kind produced by Nirmal.
In April, TikTok was removed from Android and iPhone app stores after an Indian court ruled it was “encouraging pornography.”
The rising appeal for songs that promote nationalism and talk about reclaiming Kashmir have paved the way for lesser-known artists to join in.
Salman Siddiqui, who is in his 20s and studies science in the state of Uttar Pradesh, wanted to showcase his musical writing prowess and contacted Nirmal. They collaborated on a song about a man who is seeking a Kashmiri bride and wants to be the first to have a wedding procession that travels from India to the region.
Nirmal and Siddiqui insist the songs are not sexist.
“It’s the desire of a young man’s heart to marry a Kashmiri woman,” Siddiqui says.
The idea was boosted Aug. 6 by lawmaker Vikram Saini, who told members of his Bharatiya Janata Party “eager to get married” to go to Kashmir, adding that his party has “no problem with it.”
Critics say the idea of marrying Kashmiri women to “reclaim” the region is rooted in a patriarchy that objectifies and dehumanizes Kashmiris.
Political anthropologist Ather Zia calls this a “fetishization in the Indian imagination.”
Such songs are a “culmination of a toxic misogynistic nationalist thinking that draws validation from humiliating Kashmiri women,” Zia said.
“The Indian media — from news to entertainment — has left no stone unturned in portraying Kashmiri women in the racist trope of ‘coveted fair-skinned ones’ (and) at the same time being helpless and needing saving from their own men — all this while demonizing Kashmiri men,” she said.
Some artists oppose writing such songs, but they say the audience demand is strong.
Singer Nardev Bainiwal, who lives in Haryana state and owns the Jawan Music Co., has a song on Kashmir that got 1.9 million hits on YouTube.
“We write songs about things people want,” Bainiwal says, noting his main audience is from smaller cities and towns in northern India where internet penetration has picked up in recent years.
Google Trends has shown an increase in Indians using search terms like “marry Kashmiri girl” and “buy land in Kashmir.”
“I am personally against such declarations, but if we don’t make these songs, someone else will and we will lose out on money,” Bainiwal says.
Nirmal says that since he published his song Aug. 5, he has earned nearly $100 for work that cost him about $20 to produce.
He says the key is to keep abreast of the news and gauge the public mood. He has songs ready if India’s Supreme Court allows a Hindu temple be built on a site where hard-liners in 1992 attacked and demolished a 16th century mosque, sparking deadly Hindu-Muslim violence.
“Songs about building of the temple could be my next hit,” he says.
Apart from the online revenue, the artists also perform concerts. Nirmal has had 10 shows in the last two weeks.
“The business,” Nirmal says, “is booming.”
Follow Sheikh Saaliq at twitter.com/Sheikh_Saaliq
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China’s rust belt looks abroad as growth slows, tariffs bite
By OLIVIA ZHANG | Wed, August 21, 2019 11:21 EDT
YINGKOU, China (AP) — From Thailand to Kenya, trains run on tracks from steel mills in China’s northeast, a rust-belt region that is trying to capitalize on a multibillion-dollar national initiative to build ports, railways and other projects abroad.
Announced in 2012, the Belt and Road Initiative is helping to boost demand from developing countries at a time when China’s economy is slowing and exporters face U.S. tariff hikes in a war over trade and technology.
It calls for building railways, power plants and other infrastructure across an arc of more than 60 countries from the South Pacific through Asia to Europe and Africa. Estimates of the total cost of planned projects run as high as $6 trillion, though it’s unclear whether all will be built.
Ansteel, in Liaoning province, has won bids to supply steel for railways in Thailand and Kenya. In Pakistan, the company has delivered 8,000 tons of track for the $1.6 billion Orange Line of the Lahore Metro.
“Where the Belt and Road construction goes, our railway tracks will follow,” said Wang Jun, manager of Ansteel’s Bayuquan production base in Yingkou.
State-owned Ansteel is among dozens of suppliers of steel, industrial equipment and other goods in the region that are pinning their export hopes on Chinese building projects.
Liaoning was left behind as market-style economic reforms transformed China’s east coast and southeast into the world’s factory.
Most Belt and Road projects are financed by Chinese bank loans and built by Chinese contractors using technology, steel and other materials from China.
The government releases no information on the number of projects or the scale of investment.
A total of 306 projects are under construction in 58 countries, according to Fitch Solutions. It said the cost for those built so far is $102 billion and total projected spending on all energy, transportation and utility projects announced to date is $766 billion, which includes possible investment from Chinese and foreign companies as well as Chinese loans.
Including other projects, a total of less than $200 billion had been spent through the end of 2018, according to Derek Scissors at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Liaoning’s exports to Belt and Road countries rose 20.3% in the first quarter of 2019 from a year earlier, according to the provincial Commerce Department.
Sales to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates doubled, said the department’s deputy director, He Rui.
President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes have dented Liaoning’s exports, but the United States accounts for only 10% of its foreign sales of car parts, refined oil and farm goods, said He.
Ansteel built the Bayuquan base to sell to Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, according to Wang.
Many host governments want more building materials to come from local suppliers, but Belt and Road still is an export opportunity for Chinese suppliers of high-speed rail, power plant and other technology.
Dalian Huarui Heavy Industry supplied equipment for the $3.3 billion Hassyan coal-fired power station in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Huarui has contracts in 15 Belt and Road countries, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, said its vice president, Wei Xufeng. Wei said those account for 60% of its exports and 20% of total revenue.
Local leaders are promoting Dalian in Liaoning, the northeast’s busiest port, as a Belt and Road hub to connect shippers with East Asia and Europe.
Plans call for opening six railway routes and more than 100 sea routes, according to Xia Ting, manager of Dalian Container Development of Liaoning Port Group.
Trains on one of six routes that link Dalian with Russia carry Samsung electronic products and components made by other washing machine and television manufacturers. In 2017, the line carried a total of 4,500 containers of goods worth $270 million.
“In the future, we aim to sell more with high added value,” said Xia. “We think these are suitable for China-Europe cargo trains.”
The port can move Japanese and South Korean autos to Kazakhstan or other Central Asian countries by train, said Ding Hao, manager of Dalian Car Wharf.
“Belt and Road will bring us significant benefits, but we need some time to see it,” said Ding.
Still, Belt and Road faces hurdles that might trip up hopes for boosting Chinese exports.
Governments including Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Nepal have scaled back or renegotiated projects they said were too costly or gave too little work to local contractors.
Ansteel’s experiences reflect the potential volatility of exports based on the ebb and flow of Chinese-led construction projects. It reported 2018 exports of 5.8 billion RMB ($840 million), or about 5.5% of its total revenue, down by 10% from 2017.
Developing countries need industrial equipment but cannot replace U.S. demand for consumer goods, said economist Zhu Zhenxin at the Rushi Financial Institute in Beijing.
The northeast also is targeted in a multi-year government effort to shrink the bloated state-owned steel industry in hopes of making producers more efficient and profitable.
Liaoning closed 18 steel mills and eliminated 6 million tons of production capacity in 2016.
Policies aimed at reviving the northeast were unveiled by Beijing in 2003, but the region is struggling with pollution and an aging population.
In 2016, Liaoning’s economy shrank by 2.5%. Its output was less than one-third that of Guangdong province, the manufacturing powerhouse that abuts Hong Kong.
The total population of Liaoning and the two other provinces in China’s northeast — Jilin and Heilongjiang — declined by 380,000 people last year as migrants left for other regions in search of work.
EarthLink – News
Italy’s Democrats seek to ward off early vote and Salvini
By FRANCES D’EMILIO | 01:22 EDT
ROME (AP) — Lawmakers in Italy’s largest opposition party, the center-left Democrats, huddled Wednesday to see if they could gather enough support in parliament for a durable government and avoid an early election that could bring Matteo Salvini’s euroskeptic, nationalist League party to power.
Their maneuvering came a day after Giuseppe Conte resigned as premier, blaming Salvini’s break with his 14-month-old populist coalition as a calculated bid to trigger a national vote 3½ years early and become premier himself.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella will ultimately decide if a solid majority with staying power exists in Parliament for a new government that could win the required confidence vote.
Mattarella began talks Wednesday afternoon, starting with the heads of Parliament’s two chambers, to help him explore where consensus lies. He is considering whether there is sufficient support for a solid alliance to replace Conte’s coalition, which consisted of the League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. He could also conclude it’s in the best interests of the country to dissolve both chambers of Parliament so a new election can be held within 70 days.
While Salvini awaited his scheduled turn, on Thursday, to have his say with Mattarella, he depicted any move to form an alternative coalition as ganging up on him. He insisted that voters should have their say on who governs them next.
“Any government that is born is a government against the League,” Salvini told reporters who asked about efforts to possibly form a coalition between the Democrats and the 5-Stars.
After Italy’s March 2018 election, the Democrats and the 5-Stars failed to reach a deal to govern together, paving the way for the League to ultimately partner with the 5-Stars.
But just last week, the Democrats and the 5-Stars teamed up in the Senate to thwart Salvini’s hopes for a quick non-confidence vote against Conte. Conte’s resignation precluded holding any no-confidence measure aimed at toppling the government. Conte is now leading a caretaker government as Mattarella ponders Italy’s political future.
The cooperation between the Democrats and 5-Stars has apparently taken the League by surprise.
“We hadn’t expected there’d be such a quick agreement between the Democratic Party and the 5-Stars,” said Gian Marco Centinaio, who is close to Salvini and is the League’s agriculture minister in Conte’s government.
The opposition Democrats, who led coalition governments during the previous legislature, have been weakened by internal power plays for years but now seem united in efforts to keep Salvini from gaining power.
“If the conditions develop” for a coalition deal with the 5-Stars, “we have the duty to try,” Democratic leader Nicola Zingaretti told Sky TG24 TV after a strategy session among the Democrats’ brass.
“It’s the first time in years there has been absolute agreement” among the Democratic leadership, Zingaretti said.
During its first foray in government, the 5-Stars saw factions harden. The more left-leaning among the 5-Stars distanced themselves from Salvini’s crackdown on migrants and the humanitarian rescue ships that save them from traffickers’ unseaworthy boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
Some 5-Stars resist alliances as contaminating the party’s anti-establishment roots. But as Conte’s coalition rapidly frayed in recent weeks, 5-Star founder Beppe Grillo encouraged party lawmakers to explore a possible deal with the Democrats.
Zingaretti dismissed Salvini’s suspicions that the Democrats and 5-Stars were maneuvering to keep him out of power and deny voters a chance to have their say at the ballot box.
“There’s no little, under-the-table deal,” said Zingaretti, adding that the Democrats were looking for a solid majority in Parliament for a government that can last and implement the policies that Italy, which is struggling with a stagnant economy, needs.
If that can’t be achieved, then an early election is warranted, Zingaretti said.
While Salvini supporters for months have been waving “Salvini for Premier” placards at his rallies, most recently even at Italy’s beaches, it’s too early to tell if the latest political uncertainties might attract or alienate Italy’s eligible voters.
Davide Controne, a middle-aged former policeman who was walking his dog in the center of Rome, says none of today’s political options are satisfying.
“When I was young, I was close to the right,” he said, adding that he likes Salvini although he disagrees with his migrant policy. He said he didn’t vote in the 2018 national elections nor in last May’s European Parliament balloting.
These days, he said, his requirement from politicians is “common sense. I’m from the party of common sense, which, at the moment, doesn’t exist.”
Dolores Hinckley in Rome contributed.