Politics Pompeo to Meet Putin as Trump Seeks Better Russia Ties AgainNick Wadhams and Ilya Arkhipov•(Bloomberg) — U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo leaves for Moscow on Sunday night, with President Donald Trump again calling for improved ties now that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation.Pompeo will meet U.S. diplomats at the American Embassy in Moscow on Monday before flying to Sochi for talks with President Vladimir Putin and other officials. The secretary has 48 hours — the entire length of the trip — to cram in discussions of disputes between the two nations, involving Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria and other issues, along with continued accusations of election interference.With the Mueller inquiry wrapped up, Trump has returned to signaling his interest in improving U.S.-Russia ties, speaking with Putin for more than an hour earlier this month and tweeting that there is “tremendous potential for a good/great relationship with Russia.” The two leaders had kept their distance as Mueller’s probe into the 2016 U.S. election and allegations of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia heated up.“Clearly since the Mueller report came out, Trump is feeling unconstrained about what he’s wanted all along — a new relationship with Moscow where all the bad issues get swept aside and the two leaders ‘get down to business,”’ said Andrew Weiss, the former director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Council who’s now a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.“What that means in practice is really fuzzy because the agenda largely consists of issues where the U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads,” Weiss said.Schumer Letter-Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to Pompeo ahead of the trip, insisting the secretary make it clear to Putin that “any action to interfere in our elections will be met with an immediate and robust response.”“President Trump’s approach to dealing with President Putin, especially on this vital issue, must change,” Schumer wrote on Sunday. He posted the letter on Twitter.Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also said Trump hasn’t reacted strongly enough to Putin and Russia for interference not just in the 2016 U.S. election but the Brexit vote in the U.K. and in elections in France.“He should’ve said, ‘We’ve had this discussion, the evidence is in, and don’t ever do this again or there will be consequences, ”’ Gates said of Trump in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation. “He very much should have raised it with him.”Trump spoke with Putin briefly on the sidelines of a Group of 20 meeting in Argentina in December. That meeting rekindled criticism of their summit last July in Helsinki, where the American president appeared to take Putin’s side over the conclusions of his own intelligence agencies when asked about evidence Russia interfered in the 2016 election.Earlier: Trump Spoke With Putin About Mueller Report, Sanders SaysPompeo could use his trip to start laying the groundwork for a meeting between Trump and Putin on the sidelines of a Group of 20 forum in Japan set for late June. Such an encounter would still be fraught, especially since Trump has appeared reluctant to confront Putin on the meddling accusations, which the Mueller report reaffirmed.“The Mueller report confirmed accusations of Russian meddling,” said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Kremlin-founded think tank. “The report to some extent rehabilitates Trump but doesn’t rehabilitate Moscow at all. For Russia, nothing has really changed.”A senior State Department official, speaking to reporters on Friday, said Pompeo would raise a range of topics, including continuing concerns about Russian election meddling, Moscow’s role in propping up Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and the American desire for more sweeping arms control agreements that include countries like China, not just Russia and the U.S.Aggressive ActsThe official argued that U.S. policy is to seek a better relationship with Moscow while also acknowledging that Russia has been responsible for several acts of aggression on the world stage.One challenge, as it’s been throughout Trump’s presidency, is that while he may want better ties with Russia, relations between the two countries have seldom been worse and show little prospect of improving.Besides contesting support for Maduro, there is the issue of the U.S. withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in February. The administration is also angry at Russia over its detention of 24 Ukrainian sailors in the Sea of Azov last November and the poisoning of a former spy in the U.K. last year. In addition, American businessman Michael Calvey remains under house arrest in Moscow over allegations of fraud, a charge he rejects.The president’s latest tweet on Russia also highlighted the dissonant tone the Trump administration has struck toward the country. While Pompeo blamed Russia for Maduro’s refusal to leave power despite pressure from the U.S., Trump said after his call with Putin that the Russian leader wasn’t looking to “get involved” in the crisis in Venezuela.
Trump’s calls will find a receptive audience. After the Mueller report came out, Russian lawmaker Konstantin Kosachyov urged the president to “take the risk” and seize the opportunity to reset relations.
“Putin has always bet personally on Trump, with whom he has a way of bonding to the point of manipulation,” said Vladimir Frolov, a former Russian diplomat and foreign policy analyst in Moscow. “Putin knows Trump likes him, while his administration does not. In Trump he trusts.”
(Updates with Schumer, Gates from sixth paragraph.)
–With assistance from Henry Meyer.
To contact the reporters on this story: Nick Wadhams in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at firstname.lastname@example.org, Mark Niquette, Ros Krasny
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©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The latest volley of projectiles were fired Thursday from near a military base about 50 miles from North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s military. Missile tests: North Korea launches second projectile in less than a week Photos: Life in North Korea: What you are allowed to seeState media in North Korea said that on Saturday the nation held a short-range ballistic missile test as part of a regularly scheduled defensive military exercise. It was the country’s first such test in more than a year and came amid what appeared to be stalled denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington. A website devoted to analysis of North Korea, known as 38 North, said that Saturday’s test provided „convincing evidence” that Pyongyang is continuing to seek greater military and strategic capabilities despite holding nuclear disarmament talks with President Donald Trump.Demers and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the timing of the seizure had no connection to North Korea’s recent missile launches.”We have been pursuing this for months,” Berman said.He said the government initially filed its seizure warrant under seal last July, though it took the subsequent months to arrange the ship’s transfer to U.S. custody.On Thursday, as the court documents were made public, the ship was making its way to American Somoa in the South Pacific.This undated image released by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, shows the cargo vessel „Wise Honest.” – The US on May 9, 2019, announced the seizure of the North Korean „Wise Honest,” saying it had violated international sanctions by exporting coal and importing machinery. The candidates: Who is running for president in 2020? An interactive guideTheir ages: 4 decades separate 2020’s presidential candidates. Here’s what that looks like.Between November 2016 and April 2018, according to court documents, the ship was used by the Korea Songi Shipping Company to export tons of coal to foreign purchasers.Indonesian authorities detained the ship in April 2018 when the captain sought to conceal information about the vessel’s “location, course, speed and other navigational status while in the course of transporting coal to Indonesia from North Korea,” the documents state.Following the ship’s interception, the captain was arrested and later convicted of Indonesian maritime laws.The shipping company allegedly financed equipment purchases and serviced the ship through “unwitting” U.S. financial institutions. U.S. law prohibits banks from providing such services to North Korean parties.U.S. officials identified payments totaling more than $750,000 that were transmitted through U.S. bank accounts in connection with a March 2018 coal shipment carried by the Wise Honest, according to court records.Built in 1989, the vessel had operated with a crew of two dozen North Koreans and was designed to transport bulk cargo, including coal, ore and cement.The court documents identify separate shipments of more than 26,000 metric tons of anthracite coal in November and December 2016 that were destined for Chinese ports.In a March 2014 coal shipment, the Wise Honest was routed through a “safe port” in Russia to disguise the cargo’s port of origin.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: US seizes North Korea cargo ship linked to exporting tons of coal in violation of international sanctions
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has warned of a wave of coming economic hardships worse than in the 1980s as “unprecedented” pressure from international sanctions brings the country to its knees.
„During the war we did not have a problem with our banks, oil sales or imports and exports, and there were only sanctions on arms purchases,” Mr Rouhani said.
„But I do not despair and have great hope for the future and believe that we can move past these difficult conditions provided that we are united,” he said.
The leader’s comments, made to activists in Tehran, come as US-Iran relations, frosty since President Donald Trump pulled out the nuclear deal a year ago, hit a new low.
Last week, the US deployed forces including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to counter what it says is a rising threat from Iran to US forces there.
The presence of USS Abraham Lincoln, replacing a carrier rotated out last month, has been seen as a clear provocation by Iran’s security establishment.
„An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now… the threats have switched to opportunities,” said Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Iranian Guards’ aerospace division.
„If (the Americans) make a move we will hit them in the head,” he said. In a parliament session on Sunday, the commander of the Guards accused the US of starting a “psychological war” in the region.
The regional sabre-rattling is picking up pace, with an Israeli cabinet minister on Sunday warning that Israel may be in the line of Iranian fire if the standoff escalates. “Things are heating up,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said of the Gulf. „If there’s some sort of conflagration between Iran and the United States, between Iran and its neighbours, I’m not ruling out that they will activate Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad from Gaza, or even that they will try to fire missiles from Iran at the State of Israel,” he told Israel’s Ynet TV.
Both Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad are Iranian-sponsored militant groups active on Israel’s borders. Back in Tehran, Mr Rouhani’s warning of hard times to come appears designed to rally support for his embattled government, which has been criticised by hardliners since Mr Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal a year ago.
Despite the increasingly loud voices of hawkish members of his administration including national security advisor John Bolton, who led the military expansion into the Gulf, Mr Trump, at least, appears open to discussion. „What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” he said.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the political crisis in Venezuela (all times local):
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó says he’s instructed his political envoy in Washington to immediately open relations with the U.S. military.
Guaidó said Saturday that he’s asked his ambassador Carlos Vecchio to open „direct communications” toward possible coordination.
U.S.-backed Guaidó is leading a campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro.
In recent days Venezuelan security forces arrested National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano, the body’s No. 2 leader. Other lawmakers also scrambled for refuge in foreign embassies amid renewed fears of a crackdown following an unsuccessful military rebellion.
Guaidó says he’s keeping „all options on the table” to remove Maduro, repeating language used by U.S. President Donald Trump and his chief advisers.
Earlier this week, U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller said he would meet with Guaidó when invited to discuss the future role of Venezuela’s armed forces.
A modest crowd of Venezuelans took to the streets Saturday to show support for the opposition-led congress which is coming under increasing pressure from the government of President Nicolás Maduro.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó addressed several hundred people who had gathered in the capital in support of his bid to oust the socialist president.
But the noticeably diminished crowds reflected a growing fear and demoralization that has permeated Guaidó’s ranks of supporters after he led a failed military uprising on April 30. In previous months, thousands of demonstrators heeded his calls to protest.
„We live in dictatorship,” Guaidó said. „We don’t have the option to stay at home waiting, but to keep demanding our rights in the streets.”
(Bloomberg) — Lithuania’s prime minister said he’d quit and fold up his minority government after he was knocked out of the euro-area member’s presidential election.
In a result that shook the Baltic state’s political landscape and may lead to a snap parliamentary ballot, the former chief economist of SEB Bank AB and a crisis-era finance minister overcame anti-elite rhetoric similar to that seen in races for this month’s EU parliamentary elections to advance to a May 26 runoff.
They fended off attacks from Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, who tried to cast blame on his establishment-linked rivals and the central bank for the second-highest economic inequality in the European Union. A former policeman who runs the bloc’s only all-male cabinet, Skvernelis made the election a referendum on economic policies that resembled measures taken by populist governments in Poland and Italy, including pensions hikes and subsidies for families with children.
“I have to feel the backing of people,” Skvernelis said Sunday after conceding and saying he’d submit the resignation of his minority administration on July 12. “The reforms aren’t easy and to continue you need to feel people behind you. If these policies aren’t acceptable to the people of Lithuania, it’s an assessment of me as a politician.”
The winner will replace two-term incumbent Dalia Grybauskaite, a karate black-belt who is one of ex-communist Europe’s staunchest critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While Skvernelis has criticized her for being too harsh against Lithuania’s neighbor, both Nauseda and Simonyte have pledged to maintain her stance on sanctions imposed after Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine.
Lithuania’s president has limited powers over domestic issues but can appoint judges and other officials and grants government-forming mandates after elections. The candidates also pledged to use the position’s moral authority to influence government policy.
Former SEB Bank Chief Economist Gitanas Nauseda had 31% of votes with almost 90% counted, according to the Electoral Commission. A 54-year-old independent who has long been touted as a favored successor to Grybauskaite, his success follows presidential election wins by political neophytes in Slovakia and Ukraine that also dealt defeats to ruling-party candidates.
Ingrida Simonyte, who ran the Finance Ministry when the global financial crisis hammered the Baltic state’s economic output a decade ago, had 28% and Skvernelis had 22%.
The prime minister had rekindled the debate about the 2008 economic crisis. He particularly targeted Simonyte, who pushed through EU-endorsed wage and pension cuts at the time, even as a recession wiped more than 15% off of the economy.
But his ruling Peasants and Greens party also faced scandals and setbacks, including dismissed ministers, a teachers’ strike, and the passage of rules raising the drinking age, banning alcohol advertising and restricting sales that many Lithuanians opposed. Critics also complained that measures meant to raise living standards were too small to significantly change the status quo.
If Skvernelis steps down as expected, the most likely scenario is the installation of an interim technocrat government that would continue until general election in the fall of 2020, said Margarita Seselgyte, a political analyst at Vilnius University.
“Early elections are unlikely, as well as a minority government run by the opposition,” she said. “But it’s too early to dot the ‘i,’ because the ruling party will be split and may want to remain in power.”
Nauseda is considered a second-round favorite because he enjoys support among a wide-swath of the electorate, including among Simonyte’s base.
“Lithuania will find the best alternative until a general election,” Nauseda said. “If elected, I will be an active player in this process.”
–With assistance from Zoe Schneeweiss.
To contact the reporter on this story: Milda Seputyte in Vilnius at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at firstname.lastname@example.org, Michael Winfrey
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Despite patrols by the security forces in the east and north of the country, the jihadist attacks have continued
Ouagadougou (AFP) – Gunmen killed a priest and five parishioners during mass Sunday in an attack on a Catholic church in Dablo, northern Burkina Faso, security sources and a local official said.
„Towards 9:00 am, during mass, armed individuals burst into the Catholic church,” Dablo mayor Ousmane Zongo told AFP. „They started firing as the congregation tried to flee.”
The attackers — between 20 and 30 according to a security source — managed to trap some of the worshippers, Zongo added. „They killed five of them. The priest, who was celebrating mass, was also killed.”
The gunmen then set fire to the church, several shops and a small cafe before heading to the local health centre, which they looted, burning the chief nurse’s vehicle.
„There is an atmosphere of panic in the town,” said Zongo.
„People are holed up in their homes. Nothing is going on. The shops and stores are closed. It’s practically a ghost town,” he added.
Security reinforcements were sent from Barsalogho, about 45 kilometres (30 miles) south of Dablo, and were combing the area, a security source told AFP. Dablo is located in the northern province of Sanmatenga.
Condemning the „barbaric and cowardly attack”, the government confirmed the toll of six killed, including a priest.
After „failing to pit communities against each other with targeted killings of traditional chiefs and community leaders, terrorist groups are now attacking religion in an evil plot to divide us”, it said in a statement.
The attack came two days after French special forces freed four foreign hostages in the north of the country in an overnight raid that cost the lives of two soldiers.
The operation was ordered to free French hostages Patrick Picque and Laurent Lassimouillas who disappeared while on holiday in the remote Pendjari National Park in Benin on May 1.
The team also found two other female captives, an American woman and a South Korean.
– Christian, Muslim clerics targeted –
Sunday’s church strike came two weeks after a similar attack against a Protestant church in Silgadji, also in the north, when gunmen on motorbikes killed a pastor and five worshippers.
Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
The raids began in 2015 in the north before targeting the capital Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.
Nearly 400 people have been killed since 2015 — mainly in hit-and-run raids — according to an AFP tally.
Jihadist groups target both Muslim and Christian clerics, mainly in the north.
According to security sources, the jihadists do not consider certain Muslim clerics sufficiently radical and sometimes accuse them of having collaborated with the authorities.
Religious leaders are not the only people targeted by the extremists. Last month, jihadists attacked a village school in Maitaougou, in the eastern province of Koulpelogo, killing five teachers and a municipal worker.
Former colonial ruler France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad to help local forces flush out jihadist groups.
Around 4.3 million people have been driven from their homes in the worsening violence that has engulfed the entire Sahel region, including one million over the past year, according to UN humanitarian officials.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned Sunday’s attack and offered condolences as he cited „the sanctity of all places of worship”, according to a UN spokesman.
Guterres „urges all citizens of Burkina Faso to stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence.”
NEW YORK (AP) — The deadly confrontation five summers ago flickers in Gwen Carr’s mind, competing for attention with warm, happy memories of her late son Eric Garner’s life. For all the smiles and laugher they shared, there are flashes of Garner being grabbed by a New York City police officer and crying out: „I can’t breathe.”
Carr said she has been reliving what she pointedly calls „my son’s murder” every day since his July 2014 death : Her first born succumbing to cardiac arrest after a white officer wearing plainclothes, Daniel Pantaleo, restrained her 34-year-old son with what she contends is an illegal chokehold and what Pantaleo’s lawyer argues is an approved technique.
A long-delayed internal disciplinary trial that could lead to Pantaleo’s firing is slated to begin on Monday. A ruling late last week requires the police watchdog agency bringing the case prove not only that Pantaleo violated department rules, but that his actions fit the criteria for criminal charges. Pantaleo does not actually face criminal charges.
„It has been five long years,” Carr told The Associated Press last week. „Pantaleo and all those other officers who actually murdered my son that day, they are still collecting their salaries. They still go home every day and it’s business as usual with them. But with me, we relive this every day.”
Video of the struggle on a Staten Island street corner quickly went viral, amplifying Garner’s plaintive pleas of „I can’t breathe” into a rallying cry in the face of police brutality against unarmed black men and women.
„Very troubling,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the time.
Pantaleo was placed on desk duty. Investigations were launched. The medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide caused by a police chokehold.
And then nothing happened.
A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo on criminal charges. Facing a July deadline, federal prosecutors don’t appear inclined to file civil rights charges, either.
Pantaleo has remained on the city payroll, stripped of his gun and badge but pulling in a hefty salary — peaking at more than $120,000 in 2017, according to city payroll records.
The NYPD argued the federal investigation was holding up Pantaleo’s disciplinary case. Last summer, however, the department decided to move forward anyway. It will begin 1,761 days after Garner’s death.
Pantaleo’s administrative trial is open to the public, but space in the court-like room at police headquarters in lower Manhattan is limited. The police department won’t allow video, photos or even a sketch artist. The trial is expected to take about two weeks.
The Civilian Complaint Review Board said it expects to call fewer than 20 witnesses. Stuart London, Pantaleo’s attorney, said he’ll bring up to 10 people to the stand. They include a retired NYPD training sergeant who London said taught Pantaleo an approved technique known as a „seat-belt hold” that is being confused for a chokehold.
The NYPD’s chief surgeon ruled in 2014 that Pantaleo hadn’t used a chokehold on Garner, contradicting the medical examiner’s findings, London said. London said part of his defense case would focus on attacking the medical examiner’s report, which he called a „political document” and „the worst possible autopsy ever done.”
Pantaleo’s union, the Police Benevolent Association, has blamed the 350-pound Garner’s poor health and resisting arrest for his death. Garner shouted at officers as they approached him, saying: „Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone.”
Garner, a father of six, had been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes numerous times and was suspected of doing the same when officers approached him, police said. The man who recorded the video of the confrontation said that wasn’t true and that Garner had just broken up a fight between two other men.
Garner, who had asthma, suffered a heart attack in an ambulance and was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The city paid Garner’s family $5.9 million in 2015 to settle a wrongful death claim. Carr said that money went to Garner’s wife, not her.
Use of force complaints against the NYPD have fallen sharply in the years since Garner’s death, according to data compiled by the review board. In 2014, there were 2,412. In 2018, there were 1,764, marking a 27% drop. But alleged chokeholds have still been a problem. Last year, the review board reported receiving 133 chokehold complaints. So far in 2019, there have been 39.
The NYPD hasn’t fired an officer for a fatal chokehold since Francis Livoti , who was dismissed from the department and convicted by a federal jury for violating the civil rights of a Bronx man prosecutors say died after Livoti used a choke hold on him in 1994.
A few weeks after Garner’s death, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. A few months after that, officers in Cleveland fatally shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Other confrontations followed between police officers and people of color, sparking tensions, calls for reform and nationwide protests.
Carr, turning to activism as a means of healing from her grief, lobbied for an executive order directing New York’s attorney general’s office to review cases in which unarmed civilians are killed by police. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, signed it a year after her son’s death. She also wrote about her life and Garner’s death in a book, „This Stops Today,” published last October.
„All of this needs to stop,” Carr said. „This is very important to me for Eric, but not only for Eric — for the other families, and for the families that we know will be.”
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Kristaps Porzingis’s turbulent offseason continues.
Video surfaced Sunday morning depicting what appears to be a post-fight scrum in Latvia involving the Dallas Mavericks’ Porzingis:
Porzingis, sporting a bloody cut above his eye, shoves a woman out of the way in the midst of the chaos. TMZ has reported that the fight took place while Porzingis was celebrating in his hometown of Liepaja, and was confronted by a group of Russians upset that Porzingis switched teams.
In a statement issued to ESPN, the Mavericks said, “It is our understanding that Kristaps was jumped and assaulted outside of a club in Latvia.”
The team reportedly believes the group of Russians instigated the fight with Porzingis and that he was defending himself.
Porzingis’s tumultuous 2018-19
News broke in late March that New York police were investigating Porzingis for a 2018 incident in which he allegedly raped his neighbor in Manhattan. The Knicks traded Porzingis to Dallas in January.
Porzingis tore his ACL in 2018, just hours before the alleged incident took place, and did not take the court at all in the 2018-19 season.
It was meant to be a vigil for Kendrick Castillo, who was killed after he charged one of the two classmates who opened fire at his school in suburban Denver just the day before.
But the gathering at a neighboring school Wednesday night quickly turned political. There were speeches by politicians and at least one activist from the gun control group Moms Demand Action.
Some students from the STEM School Highlands Ranch, where nine students were shot Tuesday, reacted with anger, walking out in protest. There were chants of “mental health” and shouts of “f-ck the media” and “f-ck this.” One student, who later took the podium, said, “We can’t be used for a reason for gun control. We are people, not a statement.”
STEM School senior Fischer Argosino, who was at the vigil, told TIME the handling of the event was “inappropriate” and “disrespectful.” He said he resents the politicization of the students who had just lost a friend and experienced the trauma of yet another school shooting.
“We needed a time to mourn his passing and kind of process what happened. Because I would say it still doesn’t feel real,” Argosino said.
The students’ anger during the vigil resulted in the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose affiliate student group Team Enough hosted the event, issuing an apology. It’s a lesson that not all school shooting survivors are willing to quickly turn their grief into demands for gun control and political change like many students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Within a week of that shooting, which killed 17 last year, Parkland students marched on the Florida state capitol and told lawmakers, “We’ve had enough of thoughts and prayers…we are coming after every single one of you and demanding that you take action.”
Joseph Eriqat, a STEM School senior who says Kendrick Castillo was one of his best friends, says the vigil left many of his classmates angry with the intense media scrutiny and the political messages from adults not connected to the school.
“I appreciate their sentiment,” Eriqat said of his classmates. “I’m not happy that it’s being politicized so soon after the tragedy.”
This area of Colorado has experienced a great deal of suffering over gun violence in the last few decades. The STEM School is less than eight miles from Columbine High School, where 12 students and a teacher were killed by two students 20 years ago. The STEM School is 20 miles away from another Denver suburb, Aurora, Colo., where a gunman killed 12 and wounded dozens of others in a movie theater in 2012.
But the STEM School is different from Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas school. It’s a K-12 charter school geared toward math and science education. The two locations’ voter habits are also different. Parkland, Fla., is in a solidly Democrat-leaning area, whereas Douglas County, Colorado voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 by a nearly 20-point margin.
Another difference between the anger in Colorado and the activism in Parkland was the role of the adults in the room, students tell TIME. In Florida last year, students led the conversation and many appeared happy to appear on camera to broadcast their grief and anger to the nation. STEM School students say they felt their home was hijacked by adults with an agenda. Many were also frustrated by some TV camera crews, who they felt were pursuing students too aggressively.
“We made it clear that we didn’t want politics, and they used his death and victims for the wrong and unfair reasons,” Noah Stickney, a former STEM student who now attends another school in the area, said. “We know what politicians want, but this was about Kendrick and all who were there. We deserve a major apology, and they said the same things we’ve heard before about guns and shootings. We’re teens and children, we shouldn’t have to solve and deal with these problems.”
A spokesperson for Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat who spoke at the vigil, said in a statement, “That night should have been about Kendrick Castillo and the STEM School students. They are our focus and the event should have been set up to ensure their voices were fully heard.”
Following the public backlash, the Brady Campaign released a statement that said, in part: “We are deeply sorry any part of this vigil did not provide the support, caring and sense of community we sought to foster and facilitate and which we know is so crucial to communities who suffer the trauma of gun violence.”
Argosino said that while he personally feels that the focus should be on mental health care, he recognizes there will ultimately be a conversation at the STEM School about gun control.
But, he says, first he and the other students need time to process what happened, and to mourn their friend Kendrick.
“I was surprised that they were already talking about gun control and that whole political issue,” Argosino says. “So I knew that eventually we’d get to that topic and that debate about gun control and mental health and all those things, but not so soon as the day after Kendrick’s passing.”
BOSTON (AP) — When he’s playing, Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy said, it’s easy for him to maintain his composure and concentrate on the game in front of him.
Up in the press box, that’s the hard part.
„I’m not a very good hockey watcher,” McAvoy said as he prepared to return from his one-game suspension for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. „The game seems like it’s much longer.”
McAvoy was suspended for a shoulder to the head of Columbus forward Josh Anderson in the second-round finale. So instead of taking the ice in his usual pairing with Zdeno Chara, McAvoy was wandering around the media dining area before Game 1, wondering if he had to pay or not. (He didn’t.)
And while his teammates were beating the Hurricanes 5-2 in the conference final opener, McAvoy was in street clothes on the very top level of the TD Garden, trying to keep his emotions under control.
„Here on this level, I’m like this,” McAvoy said, holding out his hand, palm down, and moving it in a steady and straight line in front of his face.
„But up there,” he said, pumping his fist and bouncing out of his imaginary seat. „I’m glad I get to play tomorrow.”
A 21-year-old first-round draft choice from Boston University, McAvoy had seven goals and 21 assists from the blue line this year, his second full season in the NHL. He missed six weeks early in the season with a concussion and another two over Christmas because of a foot injury.
But he hadn’t had to sit out healthy, for just one game.
McAvoy said he would try to use the forced break to his advantage.
„Whenever you’re out, you can use it as an opportunity to get other things feeling right,” he said, adding that watching the game from above game him a perspective that would be beneficial. „I feel like I picked up on some things.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said McAvoy was missed for his physical play and his ability to start the transition to offense.
„Those up-the-middle passes that maybe the other guys just don’t have the vision or confidence, or both, to make,” he said. „Those quick-strike plays where forwards are getting the pucks in their hands in good spots with a better chance to attack.”
Steven Kampfer, who replaced McAvoy in the lineup, had Boston’s first goal, and the Bruins scored four times in the third period on Thursday night to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is Sunday at the TD Garden, with the series moving to Carolina for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.
The Hurricanes fell behind 2-0 in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals before eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champions in seven games. In the second round, they swept the New York Islanders.
„We don’t want to get down 2-0,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said. „If we get to that point, that’s what everyone will be saying. We have some things to draw on, no matter what, no matter which way this thing goes.”
Cassidy said forward Noel Acciari won’t play in Game 2 but may be on track to return for Tuesday’s Game 3 in Carolina. Acciari (undisclosed injury) returned to non-contact practice on Saturday and was expected to be cleared for full practice on Monday, Cassidy said.
Saku Maenalanen is skating, but he still can’t shoot because of his hand injury, Brind’Amour said. Forward Jordan Martinook „is going to play,” Brind’Amour said. „He’s banged up, a little gimpy out there. But we want him in the lineup.”
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