July 4 gunman charged with seven counts of murder

A still image from surveillance footage shows Robert Crimo dressed in women’s clothing on July 4, 2022. (Highland Park Police Department via Reuters)
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Updated 06 July 2022

July 4 gunman charged with seven counts of murder

  • Robert Crimo, 21, was arrested on Monday, several hours after the attack on a festive Independence Day crowd

HIGHLAND PARK, United States: A 21-year-old man who allegedly opened fire on a July 4 parade in a wealthy Chicago suburb while disguised in women’s clothing was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder on Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Robert Crimo, 21, was arrested on Monday, several hours after the attack on a festive Independence Day crowd.
“There will be more charges,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart told reporters. “We anticipate dozens of more charges centered around each of the victims.”
Police spokesman Christopher Covelli said the death toll rose to seven on Tuesday after one of the wounded victims died in hospital. More than 35 people were injured.
Among the dead were Kevin McCarthy, 37, and his wife, Irina, 35 — the parents of a two-year-old boy who was found wandering alone after the shooting, according to CBS News.
Covelli said no motive had been established for the attack, which sent panicked parade-goers fleeing for their lives.
“We do believe Crimo pre-planned this attack for several weeks,” and that he acted alone, he said.
“We have no information to suggest at this point it was racially motivated, motivated by religion or any other protected status,” he added.
He said Crimo has a history of mental health issues and threatening behavior.
Police had been called twice to Crimo’s home in 2019, once to investigate a suicide attempt and the second time because a relative said he had threatened to “kill everyone” in the family, he said.
Police removed 16 knives, a dagger and a sword from the home but did not make any arrests, he said.
Covelli said Crimo used a fire escape to access the roof of a building overlooking the parade route and fired more than 70 rounds from a rifle “similar to an AR-15,” one of several guns he had purchased legally.
“Crimo was dressed in women’s clothing and investigators believe he did this to conceal his facial tattoos and his identity and help him during the escape with the other people who were fleeing the chaos,” he said.
Covelli said Crimo went to his mother’s nearby home after the shooting and borrowed her car. He was captured about eight hours later after a brief chase.
He also said the authorities were investigating disturbing online posts and videos made by Crimo.
The shooting has left the upscale suburb in shock.
“We’re all still reeling,” Mayor Nancy Rotering told NBC’s Today show. “Everybody knows somebody who was affected by this directly.”
The mayor said she personally knew the suspected gunman when he was a young boy in the Cub Scouts.
“How did somebody become this angry, this hateful to then take it out on innocent people who literally were just having a family day out?” Rotering asked.
Crimo, whose father unsuccessfully ran for mayor and owns a store in Highland Park called Bob’s Pantry and Deli, was an amateur musician billing himself as “Awake the Rapper.”
The younger Crimo’s online postings include violent content that alluded to guns and shootings.
One YouTube video posted eight months ago featured cartoons of a gunman and people being shot.
“I need to just do it,” a voice-over says.
It adds: “It is my destiny. Everything has led up to this. Nothing can stop me, not even myself.”
Crimo, who has the word “Awake” tattooed over an eyebrow, is seen sporting an “FBI” hat in numerous photos and a Trump flag as a cape in one picture.
The shooting is the latest in a wave of gun violence plaguing the United States, where approximately 40,000 deaths a year are caused by firearms, according to the Gun Violence Archive.


Kashmiri calligrapher sets record with 500-meter Qur’an, hopes to display in Middle East

Updated 7 sec ago

Kashmiri calligrapher sets record with 500-meter Qur’an, hopes to display in Middle East

  • It took Mustafa Jameel seven months to complete the copy on a single scroll of paper
  • Jameel was recognized for his work by Lincoln Book of Records in late May

NEW DELHI: When Mustafa Jameel began to study Arabic calligraphy in 2016, it was to improve his handwriting — an effort that six years later resulted in a record-winning Qur’anic manuscript, and stirred the young calligrapher’s hope to display it in the Middle East.

Born in Gurez Valley, in the northern Bandipora district of Indian-administered Kashmir, Jameel completed his manuscript earlier this year. In late May, the 27-year-old was registered by India’s Lincoln Book of Records in New Delhi for the “new world record for the first time in the world to write the Holy Qur’an on a 14.5 inch and 500-meter scroll paper.”
 
In Muslim societies, calligraphy is not only the art of properly forming written characters. Known as khatt (line) in Arabic, it signifies “the art of the line.” This art has not only been written in Arabic, but also numerous other languages that have adopted the same alphabet following the spread of Islam, including Persian, Urdu, Ottoman Turkish, and even old Malay.

There are a variety of graphic styles which calligraphy masters have developed throughout the ages. The oldest script used for copying the Qur’an is Kufic, a square and angular script which by the 11th century went out of general use, replaced by Naskh — a cursive style which until today remains one of the most popular scripts in the Arab world.

Naskh is also the style that Jameel used in his manuscript.

While calligraphers usually follow an established master, there have been countless exceptions to the rule, as the art is also widely regarded as one that is learnt through the abundance of repetition and consistency.

“I learnt calligraphy by myself. I am self-taught,” Jameel told Arab News. “I am a first-generation calligraphist. There is no one in my family who is involved in calligraphy.”

He turned to the art after failing in his secondary high school exam. After a year of laborious study, he noticed his writing improving and focused all his efforts on copying the Qur’an.
 
“Then in 2021 the idea came into my mind that I can do this work properly, and if Allah has given me this talent, I should do the work of (copying) the Qur’an in a proper and professional manner. Then I thought that I should prepare the Qur’an in a single paper,” Jameel said.

The kind of paper he needed was not available in Kashmir, so he went to New Delhi and after finding the right scroll began to copy the scripture. The whole project was financed with the help of his relatives.

“I finished the whole project in Delhi,” he said. “It took seven months to finish and get the work laminated,” he said.

After he made headlines in India, now Jameel’s dream is to show his work abroad, especially in the Middle East, where the art of calligraphy is best known and recognized.

“I would like to exhibit it in Dubai, where such creativity gets appreciated,” he said. “There is a museum in Madinah, and if I get an opportunity to exhibit my work there, I would love to do that.”

The most important appreciation, however, he has already won by making his family proud.

“When I could not clear my math in 10th standard, my family was very upset and lost hope in me. They would say that I would not do anything in life. But now they understand that Allah sends all individuals with different talents to this world,” he said. “My family is very happy now.”


Agency donates breathing devices for premature babies to Ukraine

Updated 09 August 2022

Agency donates breathing devices for premature babies to Ukraine

  • The new bubble nasal continuous positive airway pressure devices are now available in 25 facilities across Ukraine
  • Unitaid funds medical innovation programmes mainly in poor countries, and is hosted by WHO

GENEVA: Global health aid agency Unitaid is donating 220 specialized portable breathing devices to Ukraine that can help save lives of premature babies even in frontline hospitals where there is no electrical power.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 has seen hundreds of hospitals damaged or destroyed, disrupting supply lines and placing newborn babies at risk of death or disability from a lack of access to equipment and oxygen.
Herve Verhoosel, spokesperson for Unitaid, told a media briefing that the war was causing extra stress on pregnant women, leading to an increase in the number of premature births, which had tripled in some areas.
The new bubble nasal continuous positive airway pressure (bCPAP) devices are now available in 25 facilities across Ukraine, Verhoosel said.
Unitaid funds medical innovation programs mainly in poor countries, and is hosted by the World Health Organization.
WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said that on a recent visit to a paediatric hospital close to the frontline in Ukraine she had seen medical staff who sleep in the basement every night, and constantly have to move children on ventilation machines.
“So having very portable devices that can function offline is absolutely critical,” she told the briefing.
Unitaid partnered with Vayu Global Health, a non-profit that specializes in low-cost health care equipment for developing countries, to provide the Kenya-made bCPAP machines, which cost around $500 each, as well as 125 oxygen blender systems.


Mounting proof of crimes against humanity in Myanmar: UN probe

Updated 09 August 2022

Mounting proof of crimes against humanity in Myanmar: UN probe

  • Investigators claim women and children are particularly being targeted
  • Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1 last year, ousting the civilian government

GENEVA: UN investigators on Tuesday reported mounting evidence of crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and sexual violence, committed in Myanmar since last year’s military coup.
The United Nations’ Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) said women and children were particularly being targeted.
“There are ample indications that since the military takeover in February 2021, crimes have been committed in Myanmar on a scale and in a manner that constitutes a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population,” the investigators said in a statement.
Myanmar’s military seized power on February 1 last year, ousting the civilian government and arresting de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
The junta has waged a bloody crackdown on dissent, with the violence leaving more than 2,100 civilians dead and nearly 15,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.
The investigation team warned in its annual report that over the 12 months to the end of June, “the scope of potential international crimes taking place in Myanmar has broadened dramatically.”
The IIMM was established by the UN Human Rights Council in September 2018 to collect evidence of the most serious international crimes and prepare files for criminal prosecution.
It cooperates with the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court among others.
“Perpetrators of these crimes need to know that they cannot continue to act with impunity,” said IIMM chief Nicholas Koumjian.
The report said that according to the evidence collected, “Sexual and gender-based crimes, including rape and other forms of sexual violence, and crimes against children have been perpetrated by members of the security forces and armed groups.”
Koumjian said the investigators were focusing in particular on crimes committed against women and children, which are “among the gravest international crimes, but they are also historically under-reported and under-investigated.”
Children in Myanmar had been killed, tortured and arbitrarily detained, including as proxies for their parents, the report found.
They had also been subjected to sexual violence and conscripted and trained by security forces and armed groups.
The team, which has never been permitted to visit Myanmar, said it had nonetheless now collected nearly three million “information items,” including interview statements, documents, photographs and geospatial imagery.
The investigators said the evidence they had collected indicated that “several armed conflicts are ongoing and intensifying on the territory of Myanmar.”
They said they were drawing up case files on specific incidents of war crimes committed in the context of those armed conflicts, including intentional attacks directed at civilians, indiscriminate killings and the widespread burning of villages and towns.
Other UN experts and the IIMM itself had already warned that war crimes and crimes against humanity were being committed.
But on Tuesday, the investigators cautioned that more and more regions were becoming engulfed in the violence, and that “the nature of the potential criminality is also expanding.”
They pointed to the junta’s execution of four political prisoners last month, marking the first executions in the country in decades.
The IIMM also highlighted the ongoing plight of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingya minority, five years after a bloody 2017 crackdown that resulted in the displacement of nearly a million people.
Most of the around 850,000 Rohingya who were driven into camps in neighboring Bangladesh are still there, while another 600,000 are in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
“While the Rohingya consistently express their desire for a safe and dignified return to Myanmar, this will be very difficult to achieve unless there is accountability for the atrocities committed against them, including through prosecutions of the individuals most responsible for those crimes,” Koumjian said.
Last month, the International Court of Justice in The Hague threw out objections from Myanmar’s military rulers and decided to hear a landmark case accusing the country of genocide against the Rohingya.


UK issues new ‘extreme heat’ warning for England and Wales

The amber warning — the second-most severe after red — will be in place from Thursday through to the end of Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 09 August 2022

UK issues new ‘extreme heat’ warning for England and Wales

  • Temperatures are expected to peak at 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) on Friday and may hit 36C in some places on Saturday

LONDON: Britain’s weather service on Tuesday issued an amber “Extreme Heat” warning for parts of England and Wales, with no respite in sight from hot dry conditions that have sparked fires, broken temperature records and strained the nation’s infrastructure.
The amber warning — the second-most severe after red — will be in place from Thursday through to the end of Sunday and means that people vulnerable to extreme heat could face adverse health effects, the UK Met Office said.
Temperatures are expected to peak at 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) on Friday and may hit 36C in some places on Saturday.
The warning follows the driest July for England since 1935, when temperatures rose above 40C for the first time, turning a renewed spotlight to the impacts of climate change.
Other European nations have also faced a scorching heatwave in recent weeks with temperatures often exceeding 40C.
Britain, which is less used to such high temperatures, has struggled to cope.
July’s heatwave caused power outages, damaged airport runways, buckled rail tracks and ignited dozens of blazes in London, where the fire brigade faced its busiest week since World War Two.
Several water companies have since imposed usage restrictions and supermarkets have limited sales of disposable BBQs that firefighters warn can set light to tinder-dry grass. Ambulance services have received hundreds of calls from patients facing breathing difficulties, dizziness and fainting.
The amber warning, which follows Britain’s first-ever red “Extreme Heat” warning in July, covers much of the southern half of England and parts of eastern Wales.
Scientists have said the July heatwave was made at least 10 times more likely because of climate change.


Pakistan says suicide bomber kills 4 troops in northwest

Updated 09 August 2022

Pakistan says suicide bomber kills 4 troops in northwest

  • No one claims responsibility for the attack on Monday in North Waziristan
  • North Waziristan and other former tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan were long a base for the Pakistani Taliban

ISLAMABAD: A suicide bomber targeted a security convoy in a former Pakistani Taliban stronghold in northwestern Pakistan, killing four soldiers, officials said Tuesday.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack on Monday in North Waziristan, a district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan. A military statement said four soldiers were martyred in the attack and that an investigation was underway.
The attack came a day after a late night roadside bombing in eastern Afghanistan struck a vehicle carrying members of the Pakistani Taliban, killing a senior leader and three other militants traveling with him.
The Pakistani Taliban blamed intelligence agents for the high-profile killing on Sunday night, without offering evidence or elaborating.
The slain leader of the Pakistani Taliban — the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP — was Abdul Wali, also widely known as Omar Khalid Khurasani.
Khurasani’s death was a heavy blow to the TTP, which is in talks with the Pakistani government amid an ongoing cease-fire, announced in May. Isolated militant attacks have continued, though the TTP has not claimed responsibility for any of them since the truce first went into effect. The talks are being hosted by the Afghan Taliban.
Two local Pakistani intelligence officials told said that Monday’s suicide bombing in the town of Mir Ali also wounded an unspecified number of civilians and soldiers. The officials would not elaborate and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the record.
North Waziristan and other former tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan were long a base for the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups until the army claimed a few years back that it cleared the region of insurgents. Occasional attacks have continued, however, raising concerns the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping in the areas.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allies of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan a year ago as the US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout.
The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened the Pakistani Taliban to intensify their demands for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in Pakistan, release of their members from government custody, and a reduction of military presence in Pakistan’s former tribal regions.