Chicago shootings leave 9 dead and more wounded

Gun violence continued to plague Chicago, with eight people killed, including a 9-year-old boy, and at least 19 other people wounded so far this weekend, police said Sunday.

From Jan. 1 through the end of July, there were 440 homicides in Chicago and 2,240 people were shot, a number that includes those killed, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The latest fatal shooting occurred early Sunday, when two men were killed as they sat in a vehicle parked on Chicago’s West Side. Both were shot multiple times in the head, according to police.

The first reported fatal shooting of the weekend occurred Friday evening in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood, where 9-year-old Janari Ricks was playing when he was fatally shot in the chest. Police said the boy was not the intended target. No arrests have been made in that case.

“He wanted to help rebuild the community, rebuild something that the kids can enjoy later down the line,” the boy’s mother, Jalisa Ford told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s gone, it’s taken away.”

Homicides and shootings have surged in Chicago during the first seven months of the year. The 440 homicides and 2,240 people shot by the end of this July compares to 290 homicides and 1,480 shootings in Chicago in the same period last year.

July was especially violent; the city recorded 105 homicides and 584 shootings.

Violent crime has risen in many U.S. cities this year. President Donald Trump recently announced he was sending federal agents to some of them, including Chicago, as part of what he calls Operation Legend to help local authorities fight such crime.

Although federal agents in Chicago are primarily assisting police in investigating violent crime, an Alcohol. Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent intervened when he saw an attempted carjacking Friday, firing on the suspect. ATF spokeswoman Kimberly Nerheim said the agent, a regular full-time Chicago Field Division staffer who is not part of Operation Legend, did not wound anyone and the suspect or suspects got away.

ATF’s Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting a use-of-force investigation, and Chicago police are handling the carjacking probe, Nerheim said.

Afghan president hopeful of a peace treaty with Taliban

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said Tuesday that peace talks with the Taliban could begin “in a week’s time,” following the completion of a crucial prisoner exchange.

“To demonstrate the government’s commitment to peace, the Islamic Republic will soon complete the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners,” Ghani told senior officials at the presidential palace.

“With this action, we look forward to the start of direct negotiations with the Taliban in a week’s time,” he added, speaking in English.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Meanwhile, the Taliban announced on Tuesday that they will observe a three-day ceasefire in Afghanistan for the Muslim occasion of Eid al-Adha, starting Friday, the group’s spokesman said.

“In order for our people to spend the three days of Eid in confidence and happiness, all fighters are instructed not to carry out any operations,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter.

However, he added that if Taliban fighters come under attack from government forces, they will retaliate. Violence in Afghanistan has increased over recent weeks as the prisoner exchange between the Afghan government and Taliban has stalled.

The prisoner exchange issue, agreed to under a deal between the U.S. and the Taliban earlier this year, has been a major sticking point ahead of the intra-Afghan peace talks.

The Afghan government is supposed to release up to 5,000 Taliban fighters, while the armed group has pledged to free 1,000 Afghan security forces in their custody, according to the U.S.-Taliban agreement.

People inspect a police vehicle which was hit by magnetic bomb in Kabul
People inspect a police vehicle which was hit by magnetic bomb in Kabul, Afghanistan July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

The Taliban said last week that it was prepared to hold peace talks with the Afghan government next month straight after the holiday of Eid al-Adha, if the prisoner swap is completed.

Kabul had released about 4,400 Taliban captives. The armed group said it had freed 864 government inmates.

The Taliban is “likely… ready to begin intra-Afghan negotiations immediately after Eid in case the process of the release of the prisoners is completed,” the armed group’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.

Football legends unite against racism, violence and discrimination

A combination of 40 FIFA Legends and current professional footballers, each sporting a black jersey, have taken their message of #StopRacism, #StopViolence and #StopDiscrimination to social media during the past week, a spontaneous plea that has to date reached over 44 million fans worldwide.

“It’s reassuring to see that every day a growing number of FIFA Legends and current professional players from different genders, racial and religious backgrounds are using their platforms to echo FIFA’s messages to their fans around the globe,” said FIFA Secretary-General Fatma Samoura.

“It’s time that an overdue spotlight is shone on the treatment of black people and the racism and violence many encounter in their daily lives. To all these footballers, I am proud of your commitment to fighting for what is right and I encourage others to add their voices to this important message in the coming days.”

Football legends

The 40 players to date who have worn the black jersey and posted on social media are: Lucy Bronze (England & Olympique Lyonnais), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Tim Cahill (FIFA Legend), Iker Casillas (FIFA Legend), Deyna Castellanos (Venezuela & Club Atlético de Madrid), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy & Juventus), Alessandro Del Piero (FIFA Legend), Marcel Desailly (FIFA Legend), Youri Djorkaeff (FIFA Legend), Didier Drogba (FIFA Legend), Toni Duggan (England & Club Atlético de Madrid), Radamel Falcao (Colombia & Galatasaray), Felipe Anderson (Brazil & West Ham United), Rio Ferdinand (FIFA Legend) Gabriel Jesus (Brazil & Manchester City), Luis García (FIFA Legend), Laura Georges (FIFA Legend), Anouk Hoogendijk (FIFA Legend), Steph Houghton (England & Manchester City), Jorginho Frello (Italy & Chelsea), Kaká (FIFA Legend), Aymeric Laporte (France & Manchester City), Marcelo (Brazil & Real Madrid), Lieke Martens (Netherlands & Barcelona), Michael Owen (FIFA Legend), Gerard Piqué (Spain & Barcelona), Andrea Pirlo (FIFA Legend), Carles Puyol (FIFA Legend), Wendie Renard (France & Olympique Lyonnais), Roberto Carlos (FIFA Legend), Ronaldo (FIFA Legend), Peter Schmeichel (FIFA Legend), Julia Simic (West Ham United), Óliver Torres (Sevilla), Yaya Touré (FIFA Legend), Christian Vieri (FIFA Legend), David Villa (FIFA Legend), Javier Zanetti (FIFA Legend) and Zé Roberto (FIFA Legend).

Journalists who have been attacked by US Police during the riots

The wave of violence across the US has affected members of the media reporting during the events.

On 1 June, Sputnik journalist Nicole Roussell said she was fired at by police while covering protests in Washington, DC, despite identifying as being a member of the media. A stinger grenade left a couple of welts on her hip and thigh.

A day before that, the Russian Embassy in the United States sent a protest note to the US State Department after a Minneapolis police officer pepper-sprayed RIA Novosti reporter Mikhail Turgiyev in the face. Turgiyev was attacked along with a VICE Magazine crew after the protests ended and all journalists identified themselves as being members of the media without resisting the police.

On the same day, police in Minneapolis opened fire at a media team from the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that was attempting to cover the ongoing protests in the northern city. Stefan Simons and a film crew were shot at by police on Sunday evening as they tried to report on an incident that saw a man drive a tanker truck into a crowd of thousands of people on a Minneapolis highway.

On 30 May, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and an accompanying media team were arrested and later released by law enforcement officers while attempting to cover the riots.

The large-scale riots in the United States were triggered by the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody in late May. Video footage of his detention, which has been circulating online, showed Floyd saying that he could not breathe as a police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes. A county examiner in the US state of Minnesota in a medical report ruled that Floyd’s death was a homicide.

Oprah Winfrey speaks out on George Floyd’s death, calls for justice

Oprah shared a moving tribute to George Floyd on Friday shortly after third-degree murder charges were brought against the police officer charged with his murder in Minneapolis Monday.

Oprah Winfrey
Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock (9457637ac) Oprah Winfrey ‘A Wrinkle In Time’ film premiere, Arrivals, London, UK – 13 Mar 2018

“I’ve been trying to process what can be said or heard in this moment,” she wrote in statement posted to Twitter. “I haven’t been able to get the image of the knee on his neck out of my head. It’s there every morning when I rise and when I go through the ordinary duties of the day. While pouring coffee, lacing my shoes, and taking a breath, I think: He doesn’t get to do this,” she of Floyd’s death which was captured on camera.

“And now the video from the other angle of two other officers pinning him down,” she continued. “My heart sinks even deeper.”

She praised Floyd based on not only the good things said about him by those who loved him in life, but on the impact his death has had on the country and national conversation around police brutality and racism.

“We speak your name,” she said. But this time we will not let your name be just a hashtag. Your spirit is lifted by the cries of all of us who call for justice in your name!”

Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, Hennepin County D.A. Mike Freeman announced on Friday.

“This is by far the fastest we’ve ever charged a police officer,” Freeman said. “There may be subsequent charges later.”

Floyd died Monday after Chauvin, a white officer, choked him with his knee for several minutes, even as Floyd repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.” A bystander captured the incident on camera, which quickly circulated on social media and led to protests across the country that have continued since Wednesday.

Gunman kills 16 in Canada’s worst shooting rampage

The death toll in Sunday’s Nova Scotia shooting rampage has gone up to 17, including the gunman, the CBC and Global News report.

That makes it the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history, according to the Associated Press.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer is among the dead.

The gunman identified as Gabriel Wortman age 51 was shot and killedafter a day long manhunt reported the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia.

Other victims of the shooting include onstable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force who was a mother of two.

Media reports confirm the 51-year-old suspect disguised himself as a police officer and shot several people in their homes and in other locations around Portapique, where he is believed to have lived part-time, starting Saturday night.

The shooter also set several homes in the area on fire.

The suspect, who wore a RCMP uniform and made his car look like a RCMP cruiser, was ultimately intercepted by officers about 55 miles away at a gas station in Enfield by late Sunday morning.

Police say he may have targeted his first victims but then gone on to kill “randomly.”

The suspect and police exchanged gunfire at some point and the suspect ultimately died, but it’s not clear how.

A male RCMP officer also received non-life-threatening injuries.

Mass shootings are fairly rare in Canada; prior to Sunday, the deadliest one had left 14 dead, plus the gunman, in 1989 at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college.

“This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.

US embassy in Iran declared safe from militiamen

Iran-backed militiamen withdrew from the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Wednesday after two days of clashes with American security forces, but U.S.-Iran tensions remain high and could spill over into further violence.

The withdrawal followed calls from the government and senior militia leaders. It ended a two-day crisis marked by the breach of the largest and one of the most heavily fortified U.S. diplomatic missions in the world. The attack prompted the Pentagon to send hundreds of additional troops to the Middle East.

In an orchestrated assault, hundreds of militiamen and their supporters broke into the embassy compound, destroying a reception area, smashing windows and spraying graffiti on walls to protest U.S. airstrikes against an Iran-backed militia over the weekend that killed 25 fighters.

The U.S. blamed the militia for a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base in the northern city of Kirkuk last week that killed a U.S. contractor.

The protesters set up a tent camp overnight and on Wednesday set fire to the reception area and hurled stones at U.S. Marines guarding the compound, who responded with tear gas. There were no injuries on either side and no American staff were evacuated from the compound.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of state-allied militias — many backed by Iran — called on its supporters to withdraw in response to an appeal by the Iraqi government, saying “your message has been received.”

By late afternoon the tents had been taken down and the protesters relocated to the opposite side of the Tigris River, outside the so-called Green Zone housing government offices and foreign embassies. U.S. Apache helicopters circled overhead.

“After achieving the intended aim, we pulled out from this place triumphantly,” said Fadhil al-Gezzi, a militia supporter. “We rubbed America’s nose in the dirt.”

Kataeb Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia targeted by the U.S. airstrikes, initially refused to leave but later bowed to demands to disperse. The militia is separate from the Hezbollah militant group in Lebanon, though both are backed by Iran.

“We don’t care about these planes that are flying over the heads of the picketers. Neither do we care about the news that America will bring Marines,” said Mohammed Mohy, a spokesman for Kataeb Hezbollah. “On the contrary, this shows a psychological defeat and a big mental breakdown that the American administration is suffering from,” he said, before withdrawing from the area.

The violence came as Iran and its allies across the region have faced unprecedented mass protests in recent months and heavy U.S. sanctions have cratered Iran’s economy.

Iraq has been gripped by anti-government protests since October fueled by anger at widespread corruption and economic mismanagement, as well as Iran’s heavy influence over the country’s affairs. Those protesters were not involved in the embassy attack.

President Donald Trump blamed Iran for the attack on the embassy and the Pentagon dispatched an infantry battalion of about 750 soldiers to the Middle East. A U.S. official familiar with the decision said they would go to Kuwait.

Iran denied involvement in the attack on the embassy. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted by media as saying that “if the Islamic Republic makes a decision to confront any country, it will do it directly.”

Iran later summoned the Swiss charge d’affaires, who represents American interests in Tehran, to protest what it said was war-mongering by U.S. officials.

Irobiko Chimezie

Is journalism the riskiest profession?

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has said at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally.

Some of the countries where journalists have been incarcerated are China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The report, written earlier this December by Elana Beiser, Editorial Director of the CPJ, provides only a list of journalists who were jailed as at December 1, 2019. It does not include the many journalists imprisoned and released throughout the year.

There were five fewer jailed journalists in the 2019 global survey of the CPJ, compared with an adjusted 255 imprisoned in 2018. The organisation said since it began keeping track of imprisoned journalists in the early 1990s, the highest number of journalists in jail was 273 recorded in 2016. The report said Eritrea, Vietnam, and Iran are the worst jailers after China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

“Authoritarianism, instability, and protests in the Middle East led to a rise in the number of journalists locked up in the region – particularly in Saudi Arabia, which is now on par with Egypt as the third worst jailer worldwide,” CPJ said.

In 2019, CPJ found at least 48 journalists jailed in China, which took over from Turkey as the world’s worst jailer for the first time in four years. At the time of this latest survey, there were 47 journalists in Turkish jails, down from 68 last year. The organisation said China and Turkey have frequently vied for the title of “world’s worse jailer” since it began keeping its global survey.

“The number has steadily increased as President Xi Jinping consolidated political control of the country and instituted ever tighter controls on the media,” Beiser wrote.

The author of the report said majority of journalists imprisoned are often accused of being in opposition to the state or government. Others are increasingly facing charges for spreading “false news.” In the past year, CPJ said countries, including Russia and Singapore, have enacted laws criminalizing the publication of “fake news.”

Meanwhile, in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closed down more than 100 news outlets this year and lodged terror-related charges against the staff of the outlets. Dozens of journalists who are not currently jailed in Turkey are still facing trial, according to the report.

Saudi Arabia had at least 26 journalists in prison at the end of 2019. There were also 26 journalists in Egyptian jails in the same period, as several were released during the year. The number of journalists in jail in Iran increased to 11, according to the report.

There were 39 journalists in jail in sub-Saharan Africa as at December 1, 2019. The bulk of them, the report said, are in Eritrea, where most have not been heard from for nearly two decades. Cameroon was second worst. CPJ’s report found that freedom of expression is backsliding in Nigeria and Ethiopia. This development, the organization said, does not bode well for journalists.

Other findings from CPJ’s annual report shows that 98 per cent of journalists jailed worldwide are locals covering their own country. Three foreign journalists are imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, and one in China.

The report also finds that 20 of the jailed journalists – or 8 per cent – are female, compared with 13% last year. More than half of those imprisoned were reporters publishing online. Journalists who are most likely to be jailed are those covering politics, human rights and corruption as their beats.

Irobiko Chimezie

Hong Kong using remote-controlled bombs

The Hong Kong police said on Monday night that they have successfully defused two homemade, remote-controlled bombs inside a school which were fully functional and could have caused multiple casualties.

The police received tip-off at around 5:30 p.m. on Monday local time that two suspected bombs were found on the campus of Wah Yan College, a secondary school in Wan Chai, Senior Superintendent Li Kwai-wah of Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said at a media briefing.

Bomb disposal officers from the police Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau were then deployed to the scene and found two suspicious objects attached with wires and mobile phones.

After examination, the officers confirmed the two radio-controlled improvised explosive devices were “fully functional and ready to be used,” said Senior Bomb Disposal Officer Alick McWhirter.

According to McWhirter, the two devices contained approximately 10 kilograms of high-grade explosives. The explosives consisted of two different types, a primary high-grade explosive designed to act as the detonator and booster and a secondary explosive based around ammonium nitrate.

In addition to the large quantities of explosives, shrapnel in the form of nails had also been added to both of the devices.

“Both of these devices have only one function, to kill and to maim people, given the quantity of the explosives and fragmentation,” McWhirter said.

“Had these devices functioned, they would have killed and injured a large number of people. These were exceptionally dangerous and credible devices,” he said, adding that the bombs’ killing range could reach 50 to 100 meters.

Li said the police will investigate who placed the bombs inside the school, the perpetrator’s motive and target, as well as the incident’s connection with recent violent activities.

He said making or possession of explosives is a serious crime liable to imprisonment for 14 years and using an explosive substance to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property is liable to life imprisonment.

Carrie Lam: Foreign governments should stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs

Carrie Lam, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive, has asked police and protesters to embrace peace.

“On the rally that happened on December the 8th, in general, it [was] peaceful and orderly,”  Lam told reporters on Tuesday, noting that the government respects people’s rights to free and peaceful assembly.

“Unfortunately, we still [saw] some people set fires, vandalize shops and block roads,” she said and condemned the arson attacks at the High Court and the Court of Final Appeal buildings in Central.

“We don’t want to see any political figures to go overseas and post groundless allegations against Hong Kong,” Lam said, urging foreign governments to stop interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs.

She noted that some politicians must bear the responsibility for the society descending into chaos and urged Hong Kong politicians to stop smearing the city’s reputation.

Answering to some questions regarding the new district council, Lam said she expects the new members to respect rules and conventions, and that the government will continue to listen to all parties who work hard and care about regional affairs.

“My priority now is to restores law and rule in Hong Kong,” Lam reiterated.

All-or-Nothing: Hong Kong protesters ready to sacrifice their lives

When he left the house last week, Joseph, a 19-year-old Hong Kong college student, told his parents he was going to hang out with friends but that was a half-truth.

In reality, Joseph was headed for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he and a group of hundreds of other young people barricaded themselves on campus, blocked a major highway, and stockpiled homemade weapons in preparation to battle police.

Night after night last week, the urban campus become a battlefield, as police rained tear gas and rubber bullets on students, who responded with Molotov cocktails, bricks, and whatever else they could find.

Though Hong Kong has seen five months of protests, this kind of violence is new. The pro-democracy movement that had been marked by massive street rallies now risks being overtaken by a smaller group of hardcore students who have shown they are willing to go beyond peaceful demonstrations and engage in prolonged battles with police in their push for democratic reforms.

“I would definitely admit that we’re using a certain level of violence,” says Joseph, who spoke via an encrypted messaging app. “But in order to protect the innocent protesters and create pressure on the government, a certain level of violence and power to fight back is necessary.”

In the minds of frontline protesters like Joseph, the violence is a last-ditch effort to preserve what is left of Hong Kong’s freedoms before the semi-autonomous territory is fully taken over by China in 2047. Hong Kong authorities accuse the protesters of engaging in violence that is incompatible with democracy.

“Hong Kong was never built to stand up against China”

The Nation

VOA spoke with about 10 young protesters, all of whom were at Polytechnic University over the past week. Though the standoff is largely over, a couple dozen holdouts remain on campus. Most have either surrendered to police or escaped. Some of the protesters face possible riot-related charges that could land them in jail for 10 years. VOA has used pseudonyms to protect their identity.

‘We tried peaceful demonstrations’

“We tried peaceful demonstrations, but the government didn’t listen,” says Crystal, a Polytechnic student protester who has been on the run since leaving campus. She says she hasn’t been able to sleep a full night in more than a week.

“I’m scared, really scared,” she says.

Crystal wants to someday be an elementary school teacher, but for now she considers herself a revolutionary.

“Radical, I think, is a positive word for me, for us,” she says. “And most revolutions have violence.”

At this point, she’s unsure of whether to stay in Hong Kong and fight, or seek political asylum in another country.

“This is my place. This is my home. I need to protect it,” she says. “And I know that in 2047, I will become an old woman. But what about the next generation? And the next generation? What they will become? Brainwashed? Everything fake, like China?”

Outmatched

Most of the frontline students that fought at Polytechnic are in their teens or twenties. Some are new protesters. Others are veterans of the 2014 Umbrella Movement, a student-led protest that unsuccessfully pushed for universal suffrage.

When it comes to brute strength, the students are outmatched, not only by the weapons of the Hong Kong police, but even more so by those of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest military. The PLA has thousands of troops in Hong Kong and many more just across the border, though they have not yet left their barracks to confront the protesters.

“We deeply understand we are not able to win in hand to hand fighting,” says Joseph. “But still, we shouldn’t be silent in the face of injustices.”

That is a common sentiment among frontline protesters, many of whom resent local and mainland Chinese media that accuse them of being naive children who are being pushed to the frontline by irresponsible adults. In reality, many of the more extreme protesters seem frequently self-aware, expressing a potentially dangerous mix of fatalism and determination.

In other words: they know they’ll likely lose, but they’re willing to fight anyway.

“We both know that it’s impossible to win, but only persistence can bring hope. If we never try, we know how this ends. We can’t just say no no, impossible. Why not just try?” says Crystal.

Another student on campus, who carried a bow and arrow, and donned a military-style camouflage helmet, acknowledged that his weapons are no match for the forces he is up against.

“All the protesters are scared-because maybe we will die,” he said, speaking in front of a pile of mangled classroom desks that had been stacked up to form a barricade against police. “But we think if we don’t stand up this day, [then] all the freedom in Hong Kong will lose. There is no way for us to go back now.”

“All of us here know what we are doing,” said another frontline protester at Polytechnic, who spoke through a black gas mask that distorted his voice. “Because our demands are not being addressed, that’s why we are having to escalate and upgrade our actions so as to get the results from the government,” he said.

Five demands

The latest round of protests erupted in June in opposition to an extradition bill. The proposal could have seen Hong Kongers tried in mainland China, where courts are controlled by the Communist Party and reports of torture and forced confessions are common.

Though authorities eventually abandoned the extradition bill, by then the protests had morphed into wider calls for democracy and opposition to the expanding influence of Beijing.

The protesters have adopted a list of five demands, including an investigation into police brutality, amnesty for arrested protesters, and direct elections for both the legislature and top executive.

But besides scrapping the extradition bill, Hong Kong authorities have refused to make concessions. Instead, as they have from the beginning, authorities dismiss the protests as riots.

“The rioters’ actions have far exceeded the call for democracy. They are now the enemy of the people,” Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly Chief Executive Carrie Lam said earlier this month.

‘Off the rails’

Though the protesters appear to still have the support of a large segment of the Hong Kong public, some are worried about the direction of the protests.

“This movement has come off the rails and is really out of control,” says Steve Vickers, the former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “The violent element, the sharp end of it, is really destroying the message that the rest of them had established through large demonstrations, which were peaceful.”

Vickers points to instances where protesters have vandalized public infrastructure, such as subway stations and highway toll booths. In other cases, pro-Beijing individuals or businesses have been attacked or set on fire.

“Demanding five things or we will burn down your railway stations on a regular basis is not going to end happily anywhere in the world,” says Vickers, who heads the SVA Risk Consultancy.

In recent weeks, there have also been several attacks on pro-democracy figures, including one politician who had his ear partially bitten off by a knife-wielding man outside a shopping mall.

Election a referendum?

Sunday’s local elections could serve as a de facto referendum on the protest movement. Authorities had considered postponing the vote because of the violence, but they decided to move ahead, with a large police presence expected at polling stations.

“If the democrats really score a landslide victory, that will show very clearly that the public is in support of the movement, despite recent violence,” says Ma Ngok, a political scientist with the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “This will, I think … [create] much more pressure for the Hong Kong government to respond to the demands of the protesters.”

Polls suggest a generational divide between younger Hong Kongers, who are resentful of increasing Chinese influence, and older Hong Kongers, who prefer stability even if it means a lesser degree of freedom.

For frontline protester Joseph, whose father is pro-Beijing, that means sneaking out of the house to attend violent protests.

“We’ve had a few strong arguments, but I’m pretty sure there are many families struggling with that,” he says.

Although Joseph says he has no plans to stop protesting, he doesn’t expect the violence to get much worse, for now.

“Keeping pressure on the government,” he says. “That is our first priority at the moment.”

French activists march to end violence against women

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Paris and other French cities on Saturday to protest against domestic violence, after more than 130 women are believed to have been killed by their partner or ex-partner in France this year.

In Paris, the mostly female activists chanted “Abuser, you’ve had it, women are in the street” and held purple placards bearing the names of female victims and slogans such as “not another murder more”.

Purple is a symbolic color used by the women’s rights movement.

President Emmanuel Macron expressed his solidarity after the end of the protest. “I give my support to every woman who has experienced gender-based or sexual violence. Count on me to continue the mobilization of the government and the entire nation in this great cause,” he said on Twitter.

Some 35,000 people participated in the march in Paris, police said.

The #NousToutes association, which organized the protests, estimated the turnout much higher at 100,000 in Paris and 150,000 across France.

The demonstrations took place two days before the government is due to publish the results of an investigation into domestic violence.

The government is also set to announce a series of new measures aimed at protecting women, the Justice and Interior Ministers and the Secretary of State for Gender Equality said in a joint opinion piece in Le Parisien daily on Saturday.

“We can and we should do better,” they wrote.

A Council of Europe expert group on domestic violence (GREVIO) said this week France needed to offer better protection for victims and their children and more effective anti-violence measures.

“We cannot continue to accept that women are being murdered today with total impunity. The state must do its job to guarantee the security of all women in this country,” #NousToutes activist Karine Plassard told Reuters in Paris.

Other marches took place in French cities such as Lyon, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lille.

“There is far too much violence against women everywhere in society, at work, in our intimate lives,” said Paris demonstrator Pauline, 28. “The masculine part of the population must be aware of what they are doing to the other half.”

The positive aspects of video game addiction you probably don’t know

The traditional psychological approach to researching video game violence has been to ask “What do games do to young people?” rather than “How do young people use video games?”

The traditional approach seeks to substantiate the harmful effects of games on individuals who are considered to lack the knowledge and strategies to make sense of them. It not only considers young people’s own opinions and experiences to be irrelevant or unreliable, but it also fails to take account of the interactive properties of the games and the medium itself, the social dimension of play, and the inherently productive cultural practices of gaming. Above all it fails to ask why young people choose to play video games and what their opinion is about the content.

Teens and video games go hand-in-hand today. In fact, 97% of teens and kids in the US play video games at least for one hour every day.

To understand and analyse the attraction of video game violence, University of Waikato senior lecturer in Screen and Media Studies, Dr Gareth Schott, turns to a new genre in academic research, Game Studies, to examine video game violence in context with the culture of gaming, and the experiences and ideas of the players.

Dr Schott draws together the two separate research approaches to the subject by assessing the nature of violent content within video games via the experiences and articulations of young people themselves. He uses a combination of methods to give young people a voice that is all too often absent in what, to date, has been a one-way debate.

Positive Effects Of Video Games On Teenagers:

Yes, video games can be good for your child. Don’t be shocked, we’ll tell you why. Here are the reasons why virtual gaming can be good.

1. Improves cognitive functions:

Contrary to popular belief, video gaming can enhance multiple cognitive skills such as better allocation of attention, visual processing, memory, reasoning, and perception, according to a research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers have studied a meta-analysis of video games and concluded that the positive effects of violent games included improvement in a player’s capability of thinking in different dimensions, just the way some academic courses do.

2. Hand and eye coordination:

Research has shown that teens can learn spatial, visual and eye-hand coordination skills from video games, especially from shooter games. Some games require a great deal of these skills to be successful. For example, players need to keep track of positions, speed, aim, directions and more. The brain processes all these data and coordinates with the hands since all the actions are performed with the keyboard or game controller.

Lead author of the research Isabela Granic from the Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands, says, “This has critical implications for education and career development, as previous research has established the power of spatial skills for achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

3. Quick thinking and accuracy:

The action in video games prepares the gamers to make smart decisions in split seconds. Also, they need acute attention to cope with unexpected changes in the game.

4. Work on dexterity:

Online gaming improves the movement of hands with the mouse and keyboard. They learn to use the shortcut functions on the keyboard and give quick responses.

5. Problem-solving abilities

Researchers suggest that video games can aid teens in developing problem-solving skills because while playing strategic video games like role-plays, young adolescents get better at solving problems.

6. Some games can improve moods and ward off anxiety

Games such as Angry Birds and Bejewelled II are straightforward and bring instant happiness or relaxation and improve moods. Researcher Granic calls it a “fundamental emotional benefit” kids can derive from video games. The games can also teach young people how to cope with failures.

Violence in Hong Kong takes an ugly turn

A number of protesters in Hong Kong have accidentally caught fire after throwing petrol bombs and molotov cocktails at police and security forces.

Terrible scenes have been captured on video and mobile phones of demonstrators engulfed in flames, with other protesters desperately trying to extinguish the flames and help their fellow protesters.

There has been increasing concern at the tactics adopted by some protesters, particularly those from student bodies, that have become increasingly violent.

On Tuesday the scenes became chaotic as some protesters fell victim to their own violence.

“One video appears to show a protester enveloped in flames, after a petrol bomb misfired,” RT reported. “The activist falls to the ground as bystanders scream. Protesters rush to his aid as they try to put out the flames using umbrellas.”

“Another graphic video shows a demonstrator throwing a petrol bomb at a building, only for the flames to fall on a fellow activist standing nearby. Covered in flames, the activist runs away as umbrella-wielding comrades scramble to help him.”

“A similar mishap involving Molotov cocktails was captured on video during a standoff between protesters and police. Manning an improvised barricade, the clip appears to show flames from a petrol bomb landing directly on a group of demonstrators. Several people are seen trying to escape the flames as the group abandon their post and flee the scene,” the RT report said.

The city is reeling from increasingly violent anti-China protests that began six months ago. Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has condemned the demonstrators as “the people’s enemy” who are “relentlessly destroying society.” A days-long clash between activists and police at the Polytechnic University ended on Tuesday with more than 400 arrests.

(Photo credit: Felix Wong / South China Morning Post).

HK police shoot protester as violent riots intensify

A Hong Kong police officer shot at masked protesters on Monday morning, hitting at least one in the torso, as anger sparked by the recent death of a student spilled into the rush hour commute.

The shooting, which was broadcast live on Facebook, is the latest escalation in more than five months of seething pro-democracy protests that have engulfed the international financial hub and battered its reputation.

Footage showed a police officer drawing his sidearm in the district of Sai Wan Ho as he tried to detain a masked person at a junction that had been blocked by protesters.

Another masked individual then approached the officer and was shot in the chest area, quickly falling to the ground, clutching their left side.

Seconds later, two more live rounds were fired by the officer during a scuffle and another masked protester went to ground, although the footage was less clear as to whether he was struck.

Hong Kong Protesters Vandalize Subway Station, Storm Mall Police made arrests across Hong Kong amid anger over demonstrator’s death and arrest of pro-democracy lawmakers

Police then detained the two people on the ground.

A pool of blood could be seen near the first individual whose body initially appeared limp, although the person was later filmed conscious and even trying to make a run for it.

The second man was conscious, shouting his name to reporters as he was handcuffed.

A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed to AFP that live rounds were fired at more than one protester in Sai Wan Ho and that a statement would be issued.

Hospital authorities said three people were admitted from the incident, one with a gunshot wound.

Commuter chaos

Hong Kong has been upended by 24 consecutive weeks of huge and increasingly violent rallies, but Beijing has refused to give in to a movement calling for greater democratic rights and police accountability.

Tensions have soared in recent days following the death on Friday of a 22-year-old student who succumbed to injuries sustained from a fall in the vicinity of a police clearance operation the weekend before.

The city has seen four days of violent protests since Alex Chow’s death as well as tens of thousands attending peaceful mass vigils.

Using online messaging forums, activists had called for a general strike on Monday morning.

Flashmob protests sprung up in multiple districts during the commuter period, with small groups of masked protesters targeting subway stations and building barricades on road junctions.

Even before the shooting in Sai Wan Ho, tear gas had been fired in at least two other locations.

One video circulated by protesters on messaging channels from Kwai Fong district showed a police officer trying to drive his motorbike multiple times into protesters who had gathered on a road.

Unpopular police force

Monday’s shooting is the third time protesters have been shot with live rounds by police. The two previous instances last month came as protesters attacked police officers and the victims, both teenagers, survived their wounds.

With no political solution on the table, officers have been left to battle violent protesters and are now loathed by large chunks of the deeply polarized population.

Immediately after Monday’s shooting, crowds of locals gathered to hurl insults at officers who responded with pepper spray and made multiple arrests.

Police have defended their tactics as a proportionate response to protesters who have embraced throwing bricks and petrol bombs as well as vandalizing pro-China businesses and beating opponents.

But an independent inquiry into the police has become a core demand of the protest movement, with public anger fuelled by weekly videos of controversial police tactics and aggressive interactions with locals.

In one incident which sparked uproar, a police officer on Friday evening shouting at protesters that he and his colleagues were “opening a bottle of champagne” after the death of the student.

The force said the officer was later reprimanded for his language.

Both Beijing and Hong Kong’s unelected leader Carrie Lam have rejected an independent inquiry, saying the city’s current police watchdog is up to the task.

But last week, in an embarrassing setback, an international panel of experts appointed by authorities to advise the watchdog said it did not currently have the capability or resources to carry out such a huge probe.