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Some truths about Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder | Freedom of the Press

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Shireen Abu Akleh was murdered.

She was not “killed”. She was murdered.

She was shot in the face. Not in the arm or a leg. In the face. That is not a “kill” shot. That is a murder shot.

Abu Akleh was shot in the face, on purpose, while doing what she has been doing since 1997 for Al Jazeera: telling the truth.

She was murdered for telling, yet again, the truth about how Israel has corralled, bludgeoned, “raided”, evicted, jailed, traumatised, tortured, murdered, and terrorised Palestinian after Palestinian, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

Abu Akleh did her job well. She did it with grace, patience and resilience despite the indignities, horrors and dangers. It was her duty, obligation, and responsibility to bear witness.

Every day, Palestinians risk being murdered because they are Palestinian.

It does not matter where they live – in Gaza, Jerusalem or the West Bank – every day, Palestinians risk being murdered because they are Palestinian.

It does not matter what they do for a living – if they can find work at all – every day, Palestinians risk being murdered because they are Palestinian.

It does not matter whether they are young or old, a man or a woman, Muslim or Christian – every day, Palestinians risk being murdered because they are Palestinian.

As it happens, Abu Akleh, a 51-year-old Palestinian, was in Jenin yesterday morning when she was murdered.

She was there to do her job: reporting on how more Israeli soldiers were “raiding” – a euphemism for terrorising – more Palestinians.

She was wearing a helmet and body armour marked “Press”.

She was standing at a roundabout with other Palestinian journalists when she was shot in the face. An Al Jazeera producer, who survived, was shot in the back.

Abu Akleh’s body lay on the side of a road, next to a wall. Her colleagues screamed for help as they pulled her away from a sniper’s crosshairs. Later, an ambulance arrived. She died in hospital. Alone.

Another day, another murdered Palestinian.

But, unlike so many other murdered Palestinians, including four boys who were dismembered by an Israeli missile while playing football on a beach, Abu Akleh was well-known. She was on TV. She was popular. She was admired and respected because she told the truth about the cruelty Palestinians suffer and endure every day.

So, her murder, unlike the murders of so many other Palestinians made news in Europe and North America.

I doubt her murder would have made much news in Europe and North America save for one inconvenient fact: Abu Akleh was also an American.

I doubt her murderer knew she was an American when they shot her, on purpose, in the face. Now they know. Damn. That meant powerful people and institutions who normally do not give a damn when Palestinians are murdered had to say something since Abu Akleh was an American.

I do not remember the US ambassadors to Israel or the United Nations, the State Department or the White House acknowledging, let alone condemning, any one of the slayings, since 2000, of 46 Palestinian journalists or saying anything about the 144 Palestinian journalists who have, since 2018, been shot with rubber or steel bullets, tear-gassed or had stun grenades fired at them.

Do you?

Of course not. They were not American. That meant they were nobodies. Inconsequential. Forgettable. Worse, they were Palestinians. They were nothing. Probably tools of Hamas. Anyway, like every other Palestinian living, working and going to school every day in imprisoned Palestine, those make-believe Palestinian journalists asked for it and they got it – good.

Nothing to see here. Move on.

This time, some US politicians and diplomats said they were “very sad” that Abu Akleh had been shot in the face. They said that there needed to be a “thorough investigation” into who, precisely, shot Abu Akleh in the face.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

They had to say it. They did not mean it. But they had to say it. Otherwise, it might look like they did not give a damn that a celebrated American journalist had been shot in the face by – several witnesses say – an Israeli sniper.

Come on, you and I know that they do not really give a damn. Abu Akleh may have carried an American passport, but she was not a real American or even a real journalist like the late Daniel Pearl. He worked for the Wall Street Journal. He mattered. The manner of his murder mattered.

Abu Akleh was a Palestinian. She worked for Al Jazeera. You and I know that most American politicians and media agree with Donald Rumsfeld who once said that Al Jazeera’s reporting is “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable”.

The US politicians and diplomats pretending to care about Abu Akleh’s murder could have told America’s dearest friend and client state in the Middle East a long time ago to stop shooting and murdering journalists and blowing up buildings where they work.

They have not and they will not.

Instead, they do what they always do when Israel murders Palestinians – American or not. Nothing.

Israel is obliged to play along to relieve the phantom pressure.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett played his part in the pantomime. On cue, he muddied the bloody waters by trotting out the tired and absurd line that the “most moral army in the world” does not murder Palestinians on purpose.

Abu Akleh’s “unfortunate death,” he suggested on Twitter, was a case of Palestinian on Palestinian violence.

“According to the data, we currently have, there is a considerable chance that armed Palestinians, who fired wildly, are what led to the unfortunate death of the journalist,” Israel’s foreign ministry tweeted on his behalf.

Most American politicians – Republicans and Democrats – and much of the establishment media will believe Bennett. He is Israel’s prime minister. Israeli prime ministers never lie. They, unlike Hamas, tell the truth. Always. They are America’s pal. Trusted. America never doubts the word of its Israeli pals.

America does not need to see, let alone question, Bennett’s so-called “data”. If the Israeli prime minister says he has it, then, there is a “considerable chance” that is what happened. That is good enough for America and the chattering class.

Doubt sown. Mission accomplished. Quick, back to Ukraine.

Sure, US speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote: “The killing of American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh is an (sic) horrific tragedy.”

Newsflash, Speaker Pelosi, shooting a Palestinian-American journalist in the face on purpose is not a “tragedy”. It is a crime. We know, we know, Israeli soldiers never commit crimes.

Quick, back to the baby formula shortage.

Oh, wait. Bennett’s once iron-clad “data” has gone poof – if it ever existed. Late Wednesday, an Israeli general said, well, maybe Abu Akleh was not the victim of Palestinian on Palestinian violence. Maybe an armed Israeli soldier, not an “armed” Palestinian – are there any other kind? – shot her in the face. Maybe.

It does not matter. The “narrative”, like cement, has already been cast.

It goes like this: We will never know who shot Abu Akleh in the face. Israel wants an “inquiry” to find out who shot Abu Akleh. It does. Honest. The Palestinians will not cooperate. Fanatics.

Still, if an Israeli sniper shot a journalist in the face, that is the terrible cost of war. That sniper was doing their duty, too, protecting Israel from terrorists. She knew the risks. She got in the way. Tough luck.

The truth is that it will work because it has worked every other time Israel has murdered a Palestinian.

Shireen Abu Akleh knew that, I suspect, better than anyone.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance. 





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Grand jury indicts Buffalo man accused of killing 10 Black people | Gun Violence News

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Payton Gendron, an 18-year-old white man, livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera, 13 people in total were shot.

Payton Gendron, the white man charged with murdering 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York has appeared briefly in court after a grand jury indicted him on a first-degree murder charge.

Gendron, 18, wore an orange jail uniform and a mask, and was silent throughout the one-minute proceeding on Thursday, attended by some relatives of the victims.

Assistant District Attorney Gary Hackbush said the indictment of Payton Gendron was handed down on Wednesday.

Someone shouted “Payton, you’re a coward!” as he was led out. He is being held in jail without bail.

The latest US racist mass shooting – at a supermarket on Saturday – has revived a national debate about guns, domestic terrorism, hate and the internet’s role in spreading it.

Thirteen people in all were shot at the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighbourhood of Buffalo. Authorities are continuing to investigate the possibility of hate crime and terrorism charges.

Gendron, livestreamed the attack from a helmet camera before surrendering to police outside the store. Shortly before the attack, he posted hundreds of pages of writings to online discussion groups where he detailed his plans for the assault and his racist motivation.

Investigators have been examining those documents, which included a private diary he kept on the chat platform Discord.

In New York, prosecutors can charge a defendant with first-degree murder only under special circumstances, including when multiple people are killed in a single incident, like in the Buffalo shooting. The single count against Gendron covered all 10 deaths at the supermarket.

At his initial court appearance last week, Gendron’s court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” on his behalf. Gendron is due back in court on June 9.

The massacre at the Tops supermarket was unsettling even in a nation that has become almost numb to mass shootings. All but two of the 13 people shot during the attack were Black. Gendron’s online writings said he planned the assault after becoming infatuated with white supremacist ideology that he encountered online.

The diary said Gendron planned his attack in secret, with no outside help, but Discord confirmed Wednesday that an invitation to access his private writings was sent to a small group of people about 30 minutes before the assault began.

Some of them accepted the invitation. It was unclear how many read what he had written or logged on to view the assault live. It also was not clear whether anyone tried to alert law enforcement.

Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia has said investigators were working to obtain, verify and review Gendron’s online postings.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul on Wednesday authorised the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, to investigate social media platforms used by Gendron to determine if they were liable for “providing a platform to plan and promote violence”.

President Joe Biden, in a visit to Buffalo on Tuesday, condemned white nationalists, as well as online platforms, media outlets and political rhetoric he criticised for spreading racist conspiracy theories.

“What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism, terrorism, domestic terrorism,” Biden said.



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Not going to fly: Spirit Airlines again rejects JetBlue’s bid | Aviation News

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Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

By Bloomberg

Spirit Airlines Inc. rebuffed a hostile $3.3 billion takeover offer from JetBlue Airways Corp., setting the stage for a potentially contentious vote by shareholders on whether to back a JetBlue bid or stand by a pending combination with rival deep discounter Frontier Group Holdings Inc.

Spirit said its board unanimously determined that the JetBlue proposal is not in the best interests of the carrier or its shareholders. The potential transaction “faces substantial regulatory hurdles” and is unlikely to be successfully completed, Spirit said Thursday in a statement. Spirit again recommended shareholders vote in favor of Frontier’s bid.

JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Frontier also didn’t immediately respond.

It was the second rejection of a JetBlue bid by Spirit’s board, which stood by Frontier’s $2.9 billion cash-and-stock deal agreed to in February. After an unsuccessful $3.6 billion cash offer, JetBlue on May 16 went hostile, offering the reduced proposal directly to Spirit shareholders in a tender offer.

Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

The no-frills carrier stuck by its earlier reasoning that the Frontier offer has a better chance of closing. Market overlap in the eastern US between JetBlue and Spirit could raise antitrust questions at the same time JetBlue battles a federal lawsuit over a business alliance with American Airlines Group Inc.

Spirit shares fell 1.9% to $19.05 as of 7:29 a.m. before regular trading in New York, while JetBlue and Frontier each slipped less than 1%.

With the pursuit of Spirit, JetBlue is seeking a burst of growth it can’t otherwise attain. The rival bid by Frontier would combine similarly focused deep-discounter carriers offering bare-bones low fares while charging for extras like coffee, bottled water and printed boarding passes. Either combination would pass Alaska Air Group Inc. to become the fifth-largest US airline by capacity.

Domestic, Leisure Travel

Spirit’s allure stems in part from an industrywide turn toward domestic markets and leisure travelers — the bread-and-butter of ultra-low-cost airlines — as it’s recovered from a pandemic slump. Bigger carriers have moved more heavily onto that turf amid the slow return of overseas travel demand.

Under the Frontier deal, investors in Miramar, Florida-based Spirit would receive 1.9126 in Frontier stock and $2.13 in cash for each Spirit share. The deal implies a value of $25.83 a share for Spirit. Assumption of net debt and operating lease liabilities push the total value to $6.6 billion. Holders of Denver-based Frontier would own 51.5% of the combined company and name seven of the twelve directors. The agreement includes a $94.2 million breakup fee.

JetBlue has said its offer isn’t subject to approval by its shareholders or to a financing contingency, and includes a $200 million “reverse breakup fee” payable to Spirit if a deal is blocked for antitrust reasons. The proposed deal would generate as much as $700 million in annual synergies, the carrier has said.

A Spirit deal would give JetBlue, hounded by Wall Street analysts for much of its 23-year history over cost creep, access to an organization and management team highly focused on keeping operating expenses in check. JetBlue lost out in its only other takeover attempt when it was outbid by Alaska for Virgin America in 2016.

(Updates with additional details beginning in second paragraph)

–With assistance from Justin Bachman.



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Germany school shooting injures one, suspect arrested | Crime News

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The shooting in a secondary school in Bremerhaven injured one person, who is not a pupil, police say.

Police in Germany’s northern city of Bremerhaven have arrested a suspected attacker after a shooting in a school injured one person.

The incident happened on Thursday at the Lloyd Gymnasium, a secondary school in the centre of Bremerhaven, local police said in a statement.

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” they said, adding the injured person, who has been taken to hospital, was not a pupil.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement said.

German paper Bild said the injured person was a woman.

It also reported that a second suspect appeared to be on the run. It earlier reported they were armed with a crossbow.

Police said they were ascertaining whether more than one person was involved.

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Bremerhaven police said on Twitter that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Previous incidents

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passersby in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The attacker then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people, including 12 teachers and two students, at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone below 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.



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