Two former New Orleans police officers have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their roles in a shooting death after Hurricane Katrina.
David Warren, who was convicted in December of manslaughter in the shooting of 31-year-old Henry Glover, was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years.
Gregory McRae, convicted of burning Mr Glover’s body, received 17 years.
As many as 20 New Orleans officers have been charged with abuses in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.
“Instead of upholding their oath to protect and serve the people of New Orleans in the days after Hurricane Katrina, these officers abused their power, and violated the law and the public trust,” Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement.
“Today’s sentence brings a measure of justice to the Glover family and to the entire city.”
After the storm in August 2005, large swathes of the Louisiana city were flooded and thousands of desperate people were trapped.
Warren, who went on leave the police force in 2008, had been guarding a shopping mall a few days after the storm.
Prosecutors said he shot Mr Glover without justification. At trial, Warren said he thought Mr Glover had been armed and that he feared for his life.
He was convicted of a civil rights violation and of using a firearm to commit manslaughter.
McRae admitted at trial he set a car on fire with Mr Glover’s body in it, telling the court he did not want to see more corpses rot in New Orleans.
He left the department in December, and was convicted of two civil rights violations, one count of obstructing justice and one count of using fire during the commission of a felony
Lawyers for the former officers argued they deserved leniency because of the chaos and horrific conditions in which they worked in the days after the storm.
Last year, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu described the city’s police department as “one of the worst” in the country, and asked the US government to aid reform efforts.
Forces loyal to the UN-backed president of Ivory Coat, Alassane Ouattara, are pressing on the main city of Abidjan from several directions.
Their offensive threatens to make a battleground of the city, the last stronghold of presidential rival Laurent Gbagbo.
Some police units and the head of the army have defected from Mr Gbagbo.
The UN says Mr Gbagbo lost last year’s election to Mr Ouattara, but he has so far refused to cede power.
Armed supporters of Mr Gbagbo have been patrolling districts of the city, setting up roadblocks.
The BBC’s Valerie Bony in Abidjan says there have been fierce clashes around the national television centre in a residential part of the city, and heavy weapons fire in northern suburbs.
Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister who resigned his position and fled to the UK, has not been offered immunity from prosecution and is “voluntarily talking” to authorities, William Hague, Britain’s foreign minister, has said.
Koussa was staying in a safe and secure place and engaged in ongoing discussions with British diplomats, including some who worked at the now-shuttered embassy in Libya, Hague said.
“His [Koussa's] resignation shows that [Muammar] Gaddafi’s regime … is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within,” he said.
Hague said Koussa had been his contact with the regime in recent weeks and that he had spoken with him several times.
“One thing I gathered between the lines of my telephone calls … was that he was very distressed and dissatisfied” by the regime’s response to protests, Hague said.
As president Obama took to the airwaves two nights ago to explain the reasons behind his launching of Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, he might have mentioned that the mission began on the 8th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq.
And while that is a coincidence the United States would very much like to ignore, the long term consequences of the Iraq war have never been more relevant than now.
However noble and justified the United States’ intentions may be in launching an attack on a dictator who has murdered his own people and supported international acts of terrorism, the hypocrisy and inconsistently with which the Obama administration has dealt with the so-called “Arab Awakening” risks generating as much ire in the region as did the invasion of Iraq, especially among the young people who have led the pro-democracy revolutions that have inspired the world.
If there is one thing that the Arab world’s “Facebook Generation” does not suffer, it is hypocrisy, either by its own governments or by its foreign allies and patrons.
Yet it is impossible not to recognise the rank hypocrisy in supporting the rights of anti-government protesters in Libya, while turning a blind eye to the same in Bahrain, where government troops have massacred dozens of unarmed civilians; in Yemen, where the regime of president Ali Abdullah Saleh has been firing live ammunition into peaceful crowds; in Saudi Arabia, whose military has been sent into neighbouring countries to brutally suppress people’s demand for the most basic rights and freedoms; in the Palestinian territories, where non-violent demonstrations for an end to Israeli settlements have been completely ignored by an American administration who, until recently, vowed that a settlement freeze would form the basis of its Middle East policy.
In announcing the military strikes against Colonel Gaddafi, Obama declared that the United States “cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up its assault on innocent men and women [who] face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.”
He reiterated this theme in his latest speech.
Does the president not recognise the irony of those words, which could be applied to any one of America’s dictatorial allies in the Middle East?
Surely he must, and yet he refused to address this issue head on, even though it has come to define the way the people of the region view his credibility.
They may applaud his vow that “the dark forces of civil conflict and sectarian war will have to be averted, and difficult political and economic concerns addressed.”
But they cannot help but question his continued support of dictatorial allies in the region whose leaders are actively fomenting the very same sectarian divisions.
Such inconsistency – what reporters and opinion writers alike are openly describing as “cynical realpolitik” – will inevitably cause permanent damage to the United States’ standing in the new Middle East.
Mr. Obama’s speech did nothing to address the inconsistencies in America’s response to the so-called “Arab Spring”.
And at the meeting of “allies” behind the no-fly zone in London, secretary of state Clinton’s declaration that, “it is obvious to everyone that Gaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead” betrayed irony and hypocrisy in equal measure, since by any reasonable definition of “legitimate” few if any leaders in the Arab world have “legitimacy to lead”.
At the same time, by refusing to become a party to the International Criminal Court, the United States undermines the legitimacy of the ICC as a venue for trying Gaddafi for crimes against his people, as allies like Britain have suggested.
Overall, it seems that the United States is still playing by a now outdated script, in which adversaries can be invaded for actions which friends are allowed to continue more or less with impunity. That is no way to run a 21st century foreign policy.
In our frequent travels across the region, we have heard repeatedly from activists and ordinary people alike that they cannot accept American military intervention in one country and acquiescence and perhaps tacit support for crackdowns in others.
Activists in Egypt wait in vain, as Clinton was pointedly told in Cairo in her recent trip, for the US to speak up about the continuation of arbitrary arrests, imprisonment, torture, and emergency rule.
The Shia (as well as their Sunni compatriots) who are struggling for democracy in Bahrain are waiting for some recognition from the United States of the legitimacy of their demands.
The people of Yemen are waiting for the US to stop supporting an unpopular authoritarian president in the name of national security, as are their neighbours to the north, in Saudi Arabia.
Even as those concerned about humanitarian suffering in Libya have cause to hope that the US-led intervention will continue to prevent a major bloodbath, time is quickly running out for US policy more broadly.
The legacy of the Obama administration, and the position of the United States in the world, depend in good measure on whether American foreign policy can align with the peoples of the region and their fundamental human and political rights, which are a far surer guarantor of America’s long-term national security than military or petroleum alliances with venal and autocratic leaders.
And whatever his actions in Libya, it seems that Mr. Obama has yet to grasp this very basic fact.
President Bashar al-Assad has told parliament Syria will defeat those behind a “plot” against his country.
“Syria is a target of a big plot from outside,” he said in his first speech since anti-government demonstrations erupted two weeks ago.
Mr Assad said he would continue on the path of reform for Syria – but did not announce the lifting of a state of emergency, as some had predicted.
More than 60 people have been killed in protests in the southern city of Deraa.
And within hours of his speech, witnesses told the Associated Press (AP) news agency that troops had opened fire during a protest in the northern city of Latakia.
Reuters reports that hundreds of people chanting “freedom” took to the streets of the city following Mr Assad’s speech.
Mr Assad told parliament people had been “duped” to go into the streets, in a speech interrupted several times by pledges of support.
“Deraa is in the heart of every Syrian,” Mr Assad said. It was on the front line of Syria’s enemy, Israel, he added.
Forces loyal to UN-backed President-elect Alassane Ouattara have entered Ivory Coast’s capital, residents of Yamoussoukro say.
His forces have been advancing from the north and incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo has appealed for a ceasefire.
Mr Gbagbo refuses to stand down despite the UN saying he lost November’s poll.
Abidjan is Ivory Coast’s main city, but a BBC reporter says Yamoussoukro’s capture would be a major symbolic victory for the pro-Ouattara forces.
The fighters are also reported to be 100km (60 miles) north of the port of San Pedro, a major cocoa exporting centre.
Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, has accepted the resignation of the country’s government, following two weeks of anti-government protests that have gripped Syria.
“President Assad accepts the government’s resignation,” an announcement on state television said on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama framed his speech around a few lines about America’s historical role on the world stage and the country’s current fiscal constraints.
“For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom,” the president said in his televised speech to the nation on Libya Monday. “Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.”
Mr. Obama has received criticism from deficit-wary Democrats and Republicans in Congress over his decision to authorize U.S. force in Libya at a time when the federal government is in the red and already paying for two wars.
Later in his remarks, the president stressed that the U.S. is transitioning from a leading to a supporting role in Libya, one that will reduce the cost of the operation “to our military, and to American taxpayers.”
“So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do,” Mr. Obama said.
(London) – Syria’s security forces used live ammunition against protesters in Daraa and the surrounding villages of Sanmein and Tafas on March 25 and 26, 2011, killing at least 26 and bringing the death toll in the Daraa governorate reported by Syrian human rights activists since March 18 to at least 61, Human Rights Watch said today. Clashes between security forces and protesters in the coastal city of Latakia on March 26 killed another 12, according to Syria’s state news agency.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to hold to account those responsible for any unlawful shooting on demonstrators and urged concerned governments to back their condemnations of Syria’s violent crackdown with concrete measures, such as ending all transfer of military or security assistance, as long as the abuses continue.
“Syria’s authorities promise reform on TV but meet demonstrators with bullets in the streets,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should understand that these demonstrations won’t end until it stops shooting at protesters and begins to change its repressive laws and practices.”
At approximately 0900Z on 28 March, the Crude Oil Tanker the MV ZIRKU was pirated approximately 250 nautical miles South East of Salalah in the eastern part of the Gulf of Aden
The UAE flagged and Kuwaiti owned vessel was on its way to Singapore from Bashayer (Sudan) when it was attacked. The vessel was attacked by 2 pirate skiffs firing RPGs and small arms. The MV ZIRKU has a crew of 29 (1 Croatian, 1 Iraqi, 1 Filipino, 1 Indian, 3 Jordanians, 3 Eqyptians, 2 Ukrainians and 17 Pakistanis). There is no further information about the crew at present.
The MV ZIRKU was registered with MSC(HOA), and was reporting to UKMTO. EUNAVFOR are continuing to monitor the situation.
EUNAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Program (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). EUNAVFOR also protects vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, deters and disrupts piracy. EUNAVFOR finally monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.