Thousands of residents from this quiet town stood in a candlelight vigil at Chapel Hill, NC where three Muslim students will be buried. Authorities are still trying to figure out if the killing was for a parking space dispute or religious hatred played a role.
Deah Shaddy Barakat, a 23-year-old dental student, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh were killed allegedly by their neighbor Craig Stephen Hicks. The Funeral will take place at Raleigh at 1.30 PM.
Police had ruled out .the possibility of religious hatred initially and investigation has revealed that the killing was a culmination of a long-simmering dispute.
All the victims were of Syrian origin and were born in the US and grew up in North Carolina region.
Deah Shaddy and Yusor Mohammad were recently married and were socially very active. They had volunteered to help the homeless and also helped to raise money for Syrian minorities in Turkey who had fled persecution in ISIS controlled Syria and Iraq.
The couple had met while helping to run the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State before Shaddy decided to pursue higher studies degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Yusor Mohammad also planned to join her husband in dentistry school in the fall.
Ali Sajjad, 21, the president of the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State said,” This was like the power couple of our community.”
The killing sent shock waves across the seemingly quiet town and as many as 2000 persons stood for a candlelight vigil in the heart of University of North Carolina campus Wednesday evening.
Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, faces charges of three counts of first-degree murder and is being held without bond.
Local authorities were at pains to explain that every aspect of this senseless and brutal act is being investigated.
Chris Blue of the Chapel Hill Police Department said, “We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of these young people who lost their lives so needlessly.”
60 minutes correspondent Bob Simon dies in a car accident today. Simon had joined CBS in 1967 as a reporter and editor based in New York. Mr.Simmon is survived by his wife, Françoise, have one daughter, who is a producer for “60 Minutes”
In his momentous career, Simon had covered the Vietnam and the Gulf wars. Mr Simon aged 73 was killed in a freak car accident in New York.
Jeff Fager, the executive producer of 60 Minutes said, “It’s a terrible loss for all of us at CBS News. It’s such a tragedy, made worse because we lost him in a car accident — a man who’s escaped more difficult situations than almost any one journalist in modern times … we will miss him very much.”
In a career which spanned 50 years, saw him earning many accolades and countless awards.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who worked with Simon at “60 Minutes said, “Bob was, and I’ll tell you it’s very hard to talk about him in the past tense, but Bob was for the last five decades, simply one of the best, in my opinion … at getting a story, telling a story, writing a story and making it simply unforgettable.”
Simon was seated in the rear of the Lincoln Town car when it collided with another vehicle at a red light junction and then a stanchion dividing traffic. By the time Police officers arrived at the scene Simon who was seated in the rear of the vehicle was unconscious with serious injuries to his head and torso. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. The vehicle’s driver is said to be in stable condition.
Simon was captured by the Iraqi forces at the beginning of Gulf War. He and three colleagues endured 40 days in prison and it also became the inspiration for a book he authored named ‘Forty Days’
A new ceasefire and a road map to end the war in Eastern Ukraine was agreed upon by leaders of the major nations namely France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine after an exhaustive and long drawn talks. The talks were almost stalled before it was salvaged by last minute measures taken by the participating players.
Though the agreement has been finalized, things appeared far from being rosy with the major players agreeing that there was more work to be done.
The cease fire will come into effect from Saturday mid night. Though the agreement was made unanimously, the fact that the three leaders used three separate conferences to announce the cease fire showed a lack of unity between the players. Still the fact that the major aggrieved parties are talking after bitter fighting which has lasted for almost a year is heartening.
The negotiations which was described in the words of President François Hollande of France as, “consisted of a long night and a long morning, but we have arrived at an accord on a cease-fire and a global end to the conflict. It is a relief for Europe.”
Mr Hollande further added that the ultimate success of the ceasefire will depend upon the implementation of the terms of the agreement like withdrawal of heavy weapons and border control.
The cease fire talks alternated between surging hopes and despair as the major powers cancelled a meeting to announce the cease fire and extended their talks. After marathon talks which lasted for more than 15 hours between President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine and Mr. Hollande, along with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, the ceasefire agreement was finally agreed upon.
The urgency was further emphasized by the fact that Ms. Merkel and Mr. Hollande were scheduled to address the summit meeting of the European Union in Brussels, which Mr. Poroshenko was also scheduled to address. Both the leaders were keen to have a ceasefire agreement in place since they had committed themselves to make one last ditch effort to secure peace.
The 21st century did not start on a promising note .The previous century was also no better and today we see a glut of violent crisis stretching from Syria to Ukraine. The world also saw the momentous worldwide observation of the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. In the same month the head of the United Nations refugee agency stated that the agency “has never had to address so much human misery in its 64-year history”
Just because the past is commemorated does not mean that all the parties agree on a point. The Auschwitz anniversary was the occasion for an inept tussle between Poland, Ukraine and Russia over who exactly liberated it the most.
Behind the squabble over the largest Nazi Death Camp, a grim war is raging in Ukraine and Eastern Ukraine has become one of the most dangerous hotspots since the end of the cold war. The stakes are phenomenally high with no side budging from its much publicized positions. Putin declares the actions by the West as imperialistic and the West continues to pour scorn on Putin’s aggression.
Officially the war has claimed 5350 lives but this is just the tip of the ice berg. Unofficial sources put the death toll to 50000. Only the dead saw the end of the war, for the hundreds of crippled and displaced, it is a never ending misery.
Mikhail Gorbachev, crucial in ending the Cold War, is now warning of a hot war between the West and Russia. The war in Ukraine is fast turning into a catalyst for a major shift. Crude propaganda seeks to impose a view that World War II was a valiant fight between Nazism and the Soviet Union. It seeks to reduce the other players into unimportant roles. Putin is following the same strategy in Ukraine.
It is now official; American Aid Worker Kayla Mueller who has been held hostage by ISIS has been killed. The acknowledgement was made a couple of days after ISIS said that US Hostage Kayla Mueller has been killed in a Jordanian Air Strike.
President Obama said in a statement released by the White House, “It is with profound sadness that we have learned of the death of Kayla Jean Mueller. On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I convey our deepest condolences to Kayla’s family – her parents, Marsha and Carl, and her brother Eric and his family – and all of those who loved Kayla dearly. At this time of unimaginable suffering, the country shares in their grief.”
ISIS had claimed in a statement on Friday that Mueller had been killed in a Jordanian Air Strike. However it did not present with any evidence leading to doubts about its claims.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan said that during the course of the week the Mueller family “received a private message from Kayla’s ISIS captors containing additional information. Once this information was authenticated by the intelligence community, they concluded that Kayla was deceased”
It is still not clear when or how Mueller was killed. Mueller was kidnapped in August 2013 in Syria.
Mueller’s parents, Carl and Marsha, released a statement shortly after the White House confirmation of Mueller’s death, “We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller, has lost her life. Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need from freedom, justice and peace… Our hearts are breaking for our only daughter, but we will continue in peace, dignity and love for her.”
Mueller, from Prescott, Ariz., was kidnapped on Aug. 4, 2013 after leaving Spanish ‘Doctors without Borders’ hospital in Aleppo, Syria, according to information provided by a family spokesperson.
Ex Florida Governor Jeb Bush is all set to release thousands of e-mails and also what would be the first chapter of his e-book which seeks to focus on what he calls considerate leadership style and deep traditionalist credentials.
“One of things that came out of this was a sense there is a story to be told here,” Bush said, describing “a style of leadership that tried to help people” and an ideological consistency “where I think we stayed true to conservative perspective.”
Jeb Bush declared his singular focus on a potential White House bid.
Bush was talking about his accomplishment during his tenure as a Governor for eight years.
Bush said, “I’m really proud of the conservative record we had in cutting taxes. Even, for the nerdy guys and gals on the phone, even achieving a triple-A bond rating. It still warms my heart. Creating 1.4 million net new jobs by building a better business climate. Reforming the things that were broken, particularly our schools. All of that story we can begin to tell people and I’m really excited about it.”
Standard & Poor’s had raised Florida’s bond rating to AAA in 2005 by, while Bush was governor. Bush said that he would release the rest of the book later this year.
The diehard Republican interacting with his political allies during a Monday morning conference call said that he will release the material on Tuesday on a new website. Numerous news outlets had earlier obtained the e-mails from Bush’s stint as a Governor. Bush felt that his dealing with constituents and staff would help shape his message in a prospective presidential campaign.
Bush has not announced his political intentions but is coming out strongly as one of the most aggressive GOP presidential prospects in recent times. Bush is hobnobbing with top political donors across the country, and also expanding his political machine which has remained idle for 8 years since he left the Florida governor’s mansion.
The weather continues to take its toll and this has been the story of the winter of 2015. Boston happens to be once again in the cross hairs but with a difference – large sections of the North East will be facing the brunt of the storm including Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
The National Weather Service forecasts 8 to 14 inches of snow for upstate New York while it is 12 to 16 inches of snow by the time the storm ends Tuesday for the North East. Schools in parts of the Northeast, including Boston, will be closed Monday and Tuesday.
Expecting worse weather Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued another snow emergency and parking ban Sunday. The Mayor has urged the residents of Boston to remain indoors until the worst is over.
The snow storm is affecting the air traffic also. More than 1,500 flights in and out of US have been cancelled and this adds to another 700 flights which has been cancelled on Sunday. Though Boston Logan International Airport remained open, most of the flights were cancelled. The major issue is not the current snowfall but the accumulation of snow over the past two weeks which has been unprecedented. The past two weeks has seen 70 to 80 inches of snow.
Two other storms have ravaged the Northeast in the last fortnight creating mountains of snow, cancelled classes and closed airports. The weather has also delayed the big Massachusetts trials which included murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez and the jury selection of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Alabama has commenced issuing marriage licenses to same couples from Monday. This follows a Supreme Court ruling which refused to extend a stay on a federal judge’s earlier ruling.
Alabama became the 37th state were same sex can legally wed when Judge Alan King of Jefferson County Probate Court in Birmingham issued the first license to two women. Judge King went on to issue several more licenses.
Dee Bush, who has been with her partner Laura Bush for seven years, became a couple legally. They have five children between them and after receiving the license walked outside to a cheering crowd where a minister was conducting the wedding ceremonies.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had asked the state’s probate judges Sunday not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a candid six page letter the social conservative Chief Justice opined that the federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was not obligatory on the state courts. Moreover it has caused confusion in the states.
The latest action by Chief Justice Moore is sure to lead to acrimony between the state’s chief justice and the federal courts, Justice Moore’s actions have also been condemned by the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender rights groups.
Legal Director Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign called Moore’s letter “a pathetic last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat. Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer.”
Moore’s letter was released just hours before same sex marriage became legal in Alabama. The letter read
“No probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.”
The section which Justice Moore is referring to is the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.
Both the state’s law and the constitutional amendment was struck down by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade in two decisions Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, saying that it violated same-sex couples’ equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Six persons of Bosnian origin who had sought refugee status and immigrated to the US are facing charges of providing material support and resources to Islamic State terrorists. The six persons include three St. Louisans.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Ill. has been named in the indictment
As per information provided by the United States Attorney’s Office, all the six suspects are believed to be natives of Bosnia who had immigrated to the US as naturalized citizens or have refugees or legal resident status.
Federal agents had been tracking the suspects from 2013 to 2014. The Federal agents learnt that Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic were the point people for funneling money, guns and military equipment to Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. The husband /wife appeared for their initial appearance in the Federal Court on Friday evening.
According to Federal Investigators, Ramiz set up an account in St. Louis to collect close to $8,000. This included his personal money, cash from other suspects and third parties. Ramiz bought military equipment worth $2,400 from St Louis businesses. The wares included military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear and firearms accessories then shipped them through the U.S. Postal Service to Turkey.
Ramiz had also transferred $7,700 cash between 2013 and 2014 through Western Union to Islamic State fighters, funneling it through Turkey, Bosnia and Saudi Arabia.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic are both charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country.
The United Bosnian Association sent a statement saying: We as a community are in shock and condemn any acts of terrorism as well as supporting any of it. As with any group of people there are some that do harmful things to society, unfortunately we have those as well. As with any other criminals the law and the system will bring them to justice.
A petition by lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to suspend jury selection and order the trial to be moved outside Massachusetts has been hotly contested by prosecutors who have asked the Federal appeals court to reject the bid.
Prosecutors contended that Judge George O’Toole Jr. has thoroughly examined prospective jurors and made sure that they do not have any bias or strong opinion on Tsarnaev’s guilt.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers have asked the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order O’Toole to move the trial or suspend jury selection. Tsarnaev’s lawyers have based their observation after a review of more than 1,300 juror questionnaires showed that 68 percent believe Tsarnaev is guilty.
The defense has filed three motions for change of venue. Two have been rejected so far.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev aged 21, faces a plethora of charges which carry the possibility of death sentence. Dzhokhar faces 17 charges with the possibility of capital punishment for allegedly setting off the bombs at the finish line on April 15, 2013.
The Federal judge on Friday afternoon declined to consider a third motion for a change of venue by Tsarnaev.
A federal judge Friday afternoon denied a third motion for a change of venue by alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. said the reasons for refusing the bid to change venue included the success of the voir dire process for finding suitable jurors.
“Contrary to the defendant’s assertions, the voir dire process is successfully identifying potential jurors who are capable of serving as fair and impartial jurors in this case,” O’Toole said in a decision filed in US District Court in Boston.
The Judge had twice earlier ruled that any change of venue was not deemed necessary and he could pick a fair jury. The trial could last for months and it will not be an easy task for the Judge to find jurors who do not have any connection with the marathon bombing and are willing to hand out the death penalty if they feel it is necessary.