Hello, Readers! It’s time for another weekly News Roundup. There was so much news I wanted to include this week, but I have included many items I wanted to cover most of all.
What You Will Find in This News Roundup
As I work on these new roundups each week, I keep finding more and more news items I should have included in the previous week. In an effort to be more comprehensive, I have expanded the maximum number of items from each category and to the total each week.
With that in mind, I will be aiming to include a total of 10 articles minimum and 30 items maximum. Here are the areas I will focus on (mandatory items are in bold):
- Up to 15 Items from Around the World That Have a Huge Impact
- Up to 10 Items with a National Impact
- Up to 10 Regional Items (from Various Cities, Towns, States or Provinces, from Any Country)
- Up to 5 Health News Items
- Up to 5 Tech/Internet Items
- Up to 4 Entertainment Items
- One Commentary Item (My Input/Reader Input/Mailbag)
In International News …
Is Russia Sabotaging Talks with Syrian Rebels?
According to a senior Syrian opposition leader, Russia has been delaying talks with rebel factions in order to ease conditions in Aleppo. As it stands, the rebels are very close to defeat.
Between Sunday and Monday, the Syrian government had taken who neighborhoods in northeastern Aleppo districts. The government wants to take full control of the country by the time of the U.S. presidential inauguration.
While Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said “a military solution to the Syria conflict does not exist,” no progress has been made in the two-week long talks between the Russians and the rebels.
Syrian President Bashir al-Assad has the backing of Russian forces, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, and Shiite militias from Lebanon and Iraq. Russia’s support (beginning in the summer of 2015) has had the greatest impact, as warplanes have taken the offensive in Aleppo, the center of the Syrian civil war.
Syrian rebel groups have partial backing by the United States, Turkey, and Gulf states. There are also groups like Jabhat Fateh al-Sham among the rebels. Jabhat Fetah al-Sham was once affiliated with Al Qaida and formerly named the Nusra Front.
The rebels were said to have controlled about 70% of Sheikh Saeed. However, the Syrian army said it had full control of the area by Wednesday. The area lies at the southern tip of the wider area held by the rebels.
Aleppo serves as the center of the Syrian civil war because it was the most populous city in the country before fighting began in 2011. Both sides are fighting for control of it.
The Death Toll in Iraq Increased in November.
The United Nations has released figures for Iraqi troops in the month of November. According to the UN, 2,000 Iraqi soldiers died in the fight against ISIS (also called Daesh). That is more than 3 times of many deaths suffered in October. Among the dead are those from the Iraqi army, police, and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
The UN also reported that over 900 civilians were killed and 930 were wounded across Iraq in November. The causes were terrorism, violence, or the armed conflicts.
Additionally, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported that another 76,000 people have been displaced due to the fighting. And at least 500,000 people trapped in Mosul have no access to running water.
In October, the coalition forces, led by the Iraqi Security Forces, launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul.
Mosul presents a particular set of difficulties for the advancing forces because it is densely populated and residents were earlier told to stay in their homes. The coalition has to hold street-to-street and house-to-house battles, and the militants are willing to use residents as human shields. This means the militants have an immediate advantage in the fighting.
The terrain makes the fighting difficult for coalition fighters. For one thing, city is also divided by the Tigris River. On the western side, there is older architecture and smaller streets.
In Tal Afar, which is 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Mosul, the Popular Mobilization Units are advancing. The PMU is led by Iraqi Shiites and is has taken 130 towns and villages and the air base. However, since the city has a large Sunni population, residents fear reprisals.
ISIS is also being hit with offensives in Tal Kayf, with is north of Mosul.
The Kurdish Peshmurga is holding its own against ISIS to the northeast of Mosul. The Kurds have been fighting against ISI for two years, suffering 1,600 deaths since.
Will ISIS Shift More Attacks to Europe?
On Friday, Europol warned that ISIS may be planning to step up attacks in Europe. Europol is the law enforcement agency of the European continent and its report comes more than two weeks after a series of attacks in Paris, France killed 130 people.
The terrorist network is losing ground around the Middle East. ISIS’s last stronghold is in Mosul, Iraq. Coalition forces backed by the United States are fighting on that front. Law enforcement and military agencies suspect that ISIS fighters might migrate to Europe as a result.
Future attacks in Europe could be carried out by entire networks or “lone wolf attackers” who were influenced by ISIS. Specifically, Europol warned the attacks could come in the form of car bomb attacks, extortion, and kidnappings. Chemical and biological weapons and homemade explosives are likely to be used, as well. However, attacks using weapons like guns, knives and vehicles would be more likely due to easier access.
Additionally, the report by Europol stressed that ISIS prefers “soft targets,” as opposed to hitting infrastructure.
Europol also cautioned that many ISIS operatives who are ready and capable of launching large attacks could already be living in Europe. According to a 2015 study by King’s College London, it has been estimated that 3,700 ISIS operatives are already residents of Western European countries; about 1,200 of them are in France.
Fighting Has Kicked up in Taiz (Yemen).
Taiz — Yemen’s third-largest city — was recognized as the cultural capital of Yemen only three years ago. It was the home to academics and authors.
Now, a ground war has taken effect in Taiz. Residents are being terrorized by snipers and landmines. Residents say snipers are everywhere. Not only are they on top of buildings, but there are on the ground.
The fighting is taking place between two factions: The rebels are being led by the Houthis and security forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh. The pro-government forces are led by soldiers loyal to Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and mostly Sunni Muslim southern tribesmen and separatists. The latter is being helped by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.
The Houthis are being accused of sniping civilians and blocking aid. The Pro-government side is being accused of torturing enemies before killing them.
Mwatana is an independent Yemeni rights group. It says that there have been grave human rights abuses, particularly on the rebels’ side. Mwatana blames the Houthis for attacking civilians and medical aid workers.
The Saudi King Shakes Up His Cabinet, Two Councils.
In response to the disappointing employment numbers, King Salman bin Abdulaziz replaced Mufrej al-Haqbani with Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis as the Saudi labor minister. On Friday, Saudi Arabia state media reported these changes made by King Salman.
Ghafis currently heads the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation. The network brings together colleges for the purpose of training young Saudis in the trades.
King Salman made some more announcements via royal decree on state television. The king is reshuffling is the Council of Senior Scholars and (the country’s top religious body) the Shura Council (which advises the government). The king replaced some of the former’s members likely because they made comments via social media about getting rid of specific social services.
King Salman has his eye on Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which “aims to lessen the country’s dependence on oil, attract foreign investment, and promote more cultural openness.” The goals include reaching 7% unemployment rate by 2030 and a workforce that employs 30% of women in the country (from the current 22%).
Currently, the nation has a 12.1% unemployment rate. It has risen from 11.6% in the second quarter. Some social programs have also been cut amid falling oil prices and revenues.
The government’s contractors needed to address the missed payments to workers. A group of mostly foreign workers had gone months without receiving payments for their work and were also left in squalid, famine conditions in labor camps.
A Plane Crash Columbia Claims 71 Lives.
There was a plane crash in Columbia that killed 71 people. A BAe 146 (made by BAE Systems Plc) crashed into a mountainside near the town of La Union, outside Medellin. Among the dead was most of a soccer team from Chapeco, Brazil.
There were only six survivors of the crash, which include three from the Chapecoense soccer team, who were on their way to the Copa Sudamericana final, a journalist, and two crew members. Goalkeeper Jackson Follmann had his right leg amputated, Defender Helio Neto suffered severe trauma to his skull, and defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery.
The plane was flown by Bolivian pilot Miquel Quiroga. In his final words (“in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel.”), he alerted the control tower at Medellin’s airport that the plane had no fuel. His voice was captured on a recording obtained by Columbian media.
On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the plane was running on no fuel; this has prompted an investigation. International flight regulations require airplanes to carry enough fuel to allow for a 30-minute flight after landing at their destinations; that would allow a pilot to circle around and/or find another airport in case of emergency. Also: While it’s at a pilot’s discretion to refuel a plane en route, a plane should have enough fuel to fly for about four and a half hours (depending on the weather), according to Gustavo Vargas, the Chief Executive Officer of LAMIA.
Two black boxes are currently being analyzed by investigators from Brazil and Columbia.
Chapecoense used a charter company (LAMIA) instead of flying on a commercial airline.
The names of the other survivors: Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri were from the flight crew; they suffered bruises but no critical injuries. Rafel Valmorbida, the journalist, was in intensive care; he suffered multiple fractures, which caused one of his lungs to partially collapse.
All the bodies were recovered and the dead were from Brazil and Bolivia.
More Information on the Charter Company
The plane that crashed in Colombia was owned by a Venezuelan businessman and former politician Ricardo Albacete. It had been given its certification in January of this year.
The charter airline is run by the 12-employee LAMIA Bolivia. The company has been operating for a year. It was owned by the pilot who died in the crash, Miquel Quiroga, and Marco Rocha, a former captain of the Armed Forces.
Gustavo Vargas was a retired air force general.
The charter airline specialized in flying soccer teams. It flew Argentina’s national team to Brazil a few weeks ago. It also flew Venezuela’s team to Colombia sometime this year.
In National News …
Here’s a deeper look into the Standing Rock #NoDAPL protests.
Escalation of Police Actions
On the night of November 20, anti-DAPL protesters (called water protectors) were doused with water cannons in below-freezing temperatures. Water protectors were also hit with rubber bullets. Police sometimes aimed at the heads of protesters. There were also accounts of smoke bombs, tear gas, and mace being used by police.
Viral video showed this confrontation and others before it. Most notably, there was a September 3, 2016 confrontation when officers used German Shepherds and mace to attack protesters, including tribal members.
According to Standing Rock officials, at least 200 people were reported to have been injured by police actions. Of those 200, at least 28 people have received serious injuries.
The point man for the police is Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. He has referred to the protests as “an ongoing riot” and insists that the water hoses were only used to put down hostile actions against the police.
Kirchmeier contends that the protesters escalated tensions. He says that they used a backhoe to remove a blockage (two burnt military trucks chained to concrete barriers) on the bridge then set fires and threw logs at police officers. Kirchmeier also said that the protestors must of made an improvised explosive device and that must have damaged Wilansky’s arm.
Closure of the Camp
The Army Corps of Engineers plans to close the main camp used by protesters, Oceti Sakowin, on December 5. The announcement was made by Dave Archambault (Standing Rock’s tribal chairman), on November 25. The Corps cites the weather and violent confrontations between police officers and protesters. The Corp would thus establish a “free speech zone” south of the Cannonball River for protesters.
The Pipeline is supported by North Dakota’s governor (Jack Dalrymple), as well as a senator and a congressman. They are all Republicans.
The protests have brought together indigenous tribes from across the country. They are joined in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.
The protests began in April as a “spirit camp.” The Camp of the Sacred Stone was set up and named by LaDonna Bravebull Allard on her own land. Allard is an elder and tribal historian.
In the beginning, there was only a small group of people at the camp who said prayers and looked out for construction. They called themselves “water protectors” and “land defenders.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline is purported to transport up to 600,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The oil would be transported from the Bakken oil fields to southern Illinois.
Supporters say the pipeline would be safer than the government requires. However, Sioux Nation members fear construction would desecrate sacred lands.
Also, the original path of the pipeline would take it through Bismark, the state capital. The path was changed over concerns that the water supply there could be contaminated.
The camp rapidly grew in size in July, when the Army Corp of Engineers issued the final permits for construction. The tribes of Oceti Sakowin (known as the Seven Council Fires or more commonly, the Great Sioux Nation) were called. The spirit camp grew to have several smaller camps and a population between 3,000 and 4,000 people. Most water protectors are indigenous, but they have been joined by allies.
Backwater Bridge was the site of the November 20, 2016 incident in which Wilansky was injured.
Support from U.S. Veterans
U.S. military veterans arrived in North Dakata this week to stand with the water protectors at Standing Rock. The group of more than 2,000 calls itself Veterans Stand for Standing Rock.
Officials told reporters on Wednesday that they would not enforce the order for protesters to vacate the Oceti Sakowin camp.
On Thursday, Trump officially stated that he supported the completion of the pipeline.
Some members from the North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council spoke against the veterans who joined the protests. They held a press conference in West Fargo, North Dakota.
Here’s an update on the cabinet picks.
What We Know
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-LA) for Attorney General — He takes a hard line on illegal immigration and marijuana and he was among the first Republicans to endorse Trump in February. Sessions may face stiff Democratic opposition for past remarks he made. Sessions has been noted to say things like calling a white Civil Rights activist a disgrace to his race and saying that he liked the KKK until he learned that a few of its members smoked pot.
Retired Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense — He takes a hardline stance with Iran. One obstacle that faces Mattis is a 1947 law that requires a seven-year wait before an active general can head the Pentagon. Mattis, who retired in 2013, would need a Congressional waiver in order to be confirmed.
Representative Tom Price (R-GA) to head the Department of Health and Human Services — He currently chairs the House Budget Committee and he has been one of the staunchest critics of the Affordable Care Act. He would like to change the law in order for tax credits to be offered based on age. He also opposes abortion and gay marriage.
Betsy DeVos for Secretary of the Department of Education — She is the leader of the American Federation for Children and a strong proponent of charter schools. She is married to Dick DeVos, an heir to the Amway fortune and the sister of Erik Prince, who founded the company Xe (formerly Blackwater).
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as U.N. Ambassador — Although she supported Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz during the primaries, Haley quickly accepted Trump’s offer to be U.N. ambassador. However, she has limited experience with foreign affairs.
Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for Secretary of Transportation — The wife of Mitch McConnell, Chao served during all eight years of the George W. Bush Administration. Her experience includes serving as Deputy Secretary of Transportation under George H.W. Bush, the director of the Peace Corps and the CEO of United Way of America.
Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of the Treasury — He served as the national finance chair for Trump’s campaign. He spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs and financed films like “Avatar” and “American Sniper.”
Wilbur Ross for Secretary of Commerce — The 79-year-old billionaire is a harsh critic of free trade deals and is a longtime friend of Trump. Ross will be questioned about the 2007 Sago Mine explosion that led to the deaths of 12 miners.
Still in Consideration
Rudy Giuliani is still being considered for Secretary of State. Other potential appointees for that position are John Bolton, Bob Corker, Mitt Romney, and David Petraeus.
As of now, Sarah Palin is being considered to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is also being considered for Secretary of the Interior.
Trump’s Taiwan Gaffe?
Trump says he was congratulated by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-win. In 1979, the United States cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, since it broke away from the Beijing’s government. The U.S. supports the “One China” concept and China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, but still part of the nation.
China has threatened military action if Taiwan seeks independence. There are hundreds of missiles on the mainland that are pointed towards Taiwan.
In January, Ing-win became the first female leader of Taiwan. Her Democratic Progressive Party opposes the “One China” Policy.
Trump Makes a Deal with Carrier.
This week, Trump made a deal with Carrier to keep hundreds of jobs in Indiana. Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, said that it was closing plants in Indiana and transferring them to Mexico; that would cost the state 1,400 jobs.
Trump’s deal is said to salvage 800 worker jobs, not counting management, but the devil is in the details. In order for Carrier to agree, it was offered $7 million dollars in tax breaks and a Trump agreed to relax some regulations.
Funnily enough, one of Trump’s potential cabinet picks, Sarah Palin, described the deal as “crony capitalism.”
The Recount Hits a Serious Snag.
Last week, Jill Stein, the Green Party’s presidential candidate, called for a recount in three swing states: Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Trump had narrow leads in each state. He led by 22,177 votes in WI, 10,704 votes in Michigan, and 70,799 votes in Pennsylvania.
In order for the election to be overturned in favor of Clinton, she would have had to win all three states.
However, today, the Green Party dropped its request for a recount in Pennsylvania. It stated that it could not pay the $1 million fee to do the recount. Despite immediately raising the funds for two recounts last week, the party could not reach a $9.5 million goal.
It should be noted that analysts say Pennsylvania’s voting system is the most vulnerable. The state uses electronic voting machines but there is no paper trail. Also, the machines have software that has not been updated with security patches and they can be accessed remotely.
Medical Cures Act Passes in the House.
The 21st Century Cures Act was in heavy consideration during the lame duck Congress. There were over 1,455 lobbyists representing 400 firms addressing the House of Representatives; that number amounts to about three lobbyists per every member of the House. Each lobbyist was either working to help pass or defeat the bill.
If passed, the legislation would allow the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track the approval of drugs and medical devices. Also, more money would be provided for the FDA and the National Institutes of Health.
In 2009, the Affordable Care Act was lobbied by 1,200 organizations.
The Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufactures of America (PhRMA) spent $24.7 million overall in support of the bill. PhRMA is the main trade group for brand-name drug makers.
Other supporters of the bill include universities, medical schools, and groups representing them.
The House voted for the bill in 2015. The bill authorized $1.75 million for the NIH.
AbbVie, which makes Humira, spent $7.7 million in lobbying efforts for the bill.
The bill would be funded by selling crude oil from the U.S. Government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Since the House passed the bill, it was expected to be passed in the Senate, as well.
In Regional News …
A Substitute Teacher Abuses a 7-Year-Old Student.
On Monday, a second grader at City Springs Elementary/Middle School in southeast Baltimore was attacked by a substitute teacher. Travon Grayson, 7, was thrown against a wall at the school by 25-year-old Timothy Randall Korr.
The young Grayson was rushed to the hospital. He developed bruises and lost a few teeth.
Grayson’s mother, Lateekqua Jackson, said the substitute teacher was at the hospital when she and Grayson’s father, Travon Grayson, Sr., arrived. Jackson said Korr told her he had made a mistake.
Police looked at video inside the school where the incident took place. The concluded an assault occurred and they arrested Korr.
At Korr’s bond hearing, his attorney argued that Grayson was said to have a BB gun. A judge questioned why that wasn’t a part of the initial police report and denied the motion to lower Korr’s bond.
In Health News …
Scientists Might Have Found a Link Between Gut Bacteria and Parkinson’s Disease.
According to researchers at the California Institute of Technology, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease could be affected by the bacteria in one’s digestive system. This information was published on Thursday in the journal Cell.
Mice were used in an experiment to study the effects of digestive tract bacteria on Parkinson’s. The mice that were given microbes from human Parkinson’s patients showed worse symptoms than the mice that were dosed with microbes from healty humans. Other tests showed that only mice with particular germs developed symptoms.
One million Americans and 10 million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease. Each year, about 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with the chronic illness.
Parkinson’s disease is a brain disease that is caused by the buildup of a protein called alpha-synuclein. People who have the disease suffer from tremors, rigid muscles, and they have difficulty moving. Early treatment can only delay the worst symptoms.
A microbiome consists of bacteria, viruses, yeast, and fungi found in a around a person’s body. Everyone has their own microbiome. A microbiome helps someone digest found and the balance might influence the types of diseases a person may develop.
One of the experiments conducted showed that mice in a certain germy environment were more susceptible to developing Parkinson’s. The buildup of alpha-synuclein did not have as much of an effect as the germs did.
In Tech/Internet News …
U.K. Internet Down After Hack.
About a million people across Europe (and more than 100,000 in the UK) have been affected by a coordinated cyber-attack. A form of malware known as the Mirai worm was spread across infected computers. Among the firms affected were TalkTalk, the Post Office, and KCom. TalkTalk is one of Britain service providers and KCom is based in Hull.
About 100,00 Post Office customers were affected. KCom said around 10,000 of its customers experienced difficulties. TalkTalk declined to give a precise figure.
In Germany, Deutsche Telekom reported that up to 900,000 of its customers had lost their connection to the Internet as part of the same attack.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
How does the worm work? The worm takes control of computers running on the Linux operating system and forces them to knock services offline. Specific routers are vulnerable to the attacks.
The United States experienced a similar attack in late October, as users were denied access to websites like Spotify, Twitter, and Reddit.
On October 21, users in the United States witnessed the effects of the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in history. The servers of Dyn, the company which controls much of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) infrastructure, were hit in this cyber-attack.
Dyn said a Mirai botnet was primarily responsible for the attacks. Mirai somehow got control of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like digital cameras and DVR players. The attack strength was 1.2 Tbps.
About 9,000 People Were Affected by the Tesco Bank
Tesco Bank experienced a breach in early November. According to the bank, 9,000 customers were defrauded out of £2.5 million through their online accounts. The number of affected customers was revised from 20,000 to 9,000.
The bank is an arm of the supermarket chain. It has over 7 million customers.
The bank also said it had refunded customers.
A team at Newcastle University released a research paper based on the Tesco breach. According to the paper, any criminal with a laptop and working Internet connection could exploit the flaws in as little as six seconds. And it was as easy as working out a card number, expiration date, and security code of a Visa card via a “distributed guessing attack” method to bypass security features.
Visa has over 500 million cards in Europe alone.
The lead author of the research paper is a 26-year-old PhD student named Mohammed Ali. He said MasterCard had no such vulnerability to that method of hacking because its systems could detect the attacks. Also, 3D Secure technology, which includes Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, and American Express SafeKey, were effective at protecting online retailers from such an attack.
The hackers used merchants’ payment websites to guess the card details. They used software to guess the details and they could have done so with hundreds and even thousands of websites simultaneously. The hackers were basically granted an unlimited number of guesses since Visa’s network did not detect the invalid entries.
When numbers were verified by the hackers, they would either purchase goods with stolen credit card information or get cash by setting up money transfer accounts to send to anonymous recipients abroad.
The research team conducted the experiment by targeting 389 online retailers, including Google, iTunes, and Amazon. Of the 389, only 47 had the 3D Security that prevented such a hack from gaining the card information.
In Entertainment News …
Carnival Princess Has to Pay $40 Million for a Pollution Cover-up.
On Thursday, the United States Justice Department announced that Carnival Corp’s Princess Cruise Lines was expected to plead guilty to pollution charges. The cruise unit faced seven felony charges of polluting the seas and attempting to cover up the damage. The company also has to pay a $40 million, which is a record amount.
The Princess unit of Carnival is based in Santa Clarita, California.
The unit was charged with illegally dumping oil-contaminated waste from the Caribbean Princess cruise ship.
Since 2005, The Caribbean Princess used bypass equipment, including a “magic pipe,” to circumvent equipment meant to prevent pollution. If used properly, the prevention equipment would work by separating oil and monitoring oil levels in the ship’s water.
Princess Cruises released a statement expressing disappointment in employees who broke environmental law. The cruise line also said it was working to improve oversight and accountability while improving its training and upgrading equipment to help it comply with regulations.
Investigators were alerted by a whistleblower, an engineer, reported an instance of illegal dumping off the coast of England in August 2013. Two other ship engineers ordered subordinates to cover up the dumping.
The Caribbean Princess ship’s route took it to nine U.S. states and two territories, including Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The ship and four other Princess ships also engaged in two other types of illegal activity concerning water discharge.
Audio from a 911 Call Connected to Kanye West Was Released.
Tape of a call to a dispatcher was released in connection to Kanye West’s recent hospitalization. There is nothing on the tape specifically mentioning West by name and parts of the 5-minute audio were edited for public release in order to protect West’s medical information.
On November 21, West was at the home of his personal trainer at the 900 block of North Laurel Avenue in Los Angeles when 911 was called. Apparently, West was acting erratically.
A man who said he was West’s doctor made the call. The man said West needed to have medical help.
It took two hours for West to be persuaded to seek medical help. He eventually left with paramedics to UCLA Medical Center. He was released on Wednesday.
Former NFL Running Back Joe McKnight Was Shot to Death in New Orleans.
Former National Football League running back Joe McKnight was killed on Thursday in Louisiana in what is believed to be a road rage incident. He was 28 years old.
Police were called to the New Orleans suburb of Terry town at around 2.43 pm CST (Central Standard Time). The shooting occurred at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holms Boulevard in Terrytown, New Orleans, LA.
One Ronald Gasser, 54, was at the scene; he told police that he had shot McKnight. However, police released Gasser without an arrest after taking him in for questioning.
McKnight was best known locally as playing for John Curtis High School in River Ridge. He also played for the University of California (USC). He was later picked in the 4th round of the 2010 NFL draft by the New York Jets.
McKnight played for the Jets for three years, then for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014 before moving on to the Canadian Football League. He last played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL.
Contradictions with Witness Testimony
A witness said she was leaving a store when she saw the tail end of an argument between McKnight and the man that eventually shot him more than once. The witness said she saw a man yelling at McKnight, who was trying to apologize. The man shot McKnight, told him “I told you not to f**k with me,” and then shot him once again.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand held a press conference on Friday to give more information into the investigation of Joe McKnight’s shooting death.
Normand contradicted what the witness said about the argument. According to Normand, there was no argument and the three shots fired by Gasser were shot within his car. Normand said the three casings were found in the car.
Many in the public have questioned whey Gasser was released without arrest. Race has been suspected as the cause since McKnight was black and Gasser is white. Norman, however, was defensive on the issue and insisted that outside forces would not determine how his office conducted this investigation. He also insisted that his office was looking for more witnesses to complete the investigation.
Another Case of Road Rage
McKnight was just the second former NFL player to die in a shooting in the New Orleans area this year.
Will Smith was a former Saints defensive end who was shot on the night of April 9, 2016. He and his wife, Racquel, were driving eastbound on Sophie Write Place, near the intersection with Felicity Street, in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans.
On that night, 28-year-old Cardell Hayes rammed his Hummer into Smith’s Mercedes-Benz SUV as Hayes was being briefly chased. The collision pushed the SUV into a Chevrolet Impala.
The two men got into an argument before Hayes shot Smith and Smith’s wife. The former NFL player was shot a total of 8 times, 7 times in the back. Racquel was shot twice in her right leg and she was rushed to a nearby hospital. Will Smith died at the scene.
Hayes’ trial is set to begin on Monday, December 5.
If there is one thing that really ticks me off, it’s when people get mad at the people who have less than they do. It’s called punching down, and doesn’t end well.
This is a term I only recently heard, but it’s an apt description of what’s going on here. And it was in full effect during this election cycle.
One of our major candidates started his campaign by attacking Mexican immigrants and that alone resonated with an untold number of Americans. Many in the same group felt the need to also blame minorities and other disadvantaged groups.
But’s punching down not exclusive to people on a political level, although politicians use it to their advantage. CEO’s like to use that same frame of mind to keep wages low and increase their bottom lines.
Take the fight for 15. Workers across the country want to raise the minimum wage and ultimately pave the way for full-time workers to all make living wages.
There are many people who are opposed to that. One argument is that type of work should be low-wage and serve as a teen’s first job.
However, many people working in minimum wage jobs are 25 and older.
Also, punching down also extends to people looking for any kind of work and trying to figure out their place in the job market and the world. You want to get paid? Some people tell others to be grateful for unpaid internships. Or they tell those who struggle to make a career change or can’t seem to get accepted for certain positions to stop “whining” about a company’s search for unicorns when they are employed themselves.
It’s this lack of empathy and misplaced anger that I don’t get. Much of it is human nature, but this attitude holds us back.
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