Posts Tagged ‘Associated Press’

North Alabama walk-on football player dismissed after racist tweet about Barack Obama

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

FLORENCE, Ala. — The University of North Alabama says a walk-on football player won’t be allowed back on the team after sending a tweet about President Barack Obama.

Sports publicist Jeff Hodges said Monday coaches have informed lineman Bradley Patterson of Red Bay that he’s no longer welcome because of his social media comment.

Obama’s speech bumped Sunday Night Football off NBC briefly, resulting in a racist tweet from a North Alabama walk-on player who was quickly dismissed. (AP Photo)

“Take that (expletive) off the tv, we wanna watch football!” Patterson posted on Twitter.

Hodges says coaches acted after being informed of a message that refers to Obama by a racial epithet. The tweet complained that Obama’s speech about the Connecticut school massacre pre-empted an NFL game Sunday night.

Hodges says the school found that there’s no question the tweet was issued by Patterson. Patterson couldn’t be reached by The Associated Press for comment Monday.

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Company owner fined for hiring illegals

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

KOTA KINABALU: An owner of a company was fined a total of RM40,000, in default, eight months’ jail by the Sessions Court here yesterday for allowing four illegal immigrants to enter and work at a construction site in Tamparuli.

Judge Azreena Aziz meted out the fine on Lee Jyh Yeong, 45, who was unrepresented, after the latter pleaded guilty to the offence.

Lee admitted to allowing four Filipinos aged between 19 and 38, who have no valid document or pass to enter and work at the proposed reconstruction of two-storey shophouses on Lots 8 to 14, in Jalan Bontoi, Tamparuli about 10.48am on October 24, this year.

The offence under Section 55E (1) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 punishable under Section 55E(2) of the same act carries a fine of between RM5,000 and RM30,000 or a jail term of up to 12 months, or both, for each illegal immigrant.

In this case, Azreena fined Lee RM10,000, in default, two months’ jail per illegal immigrant.

Earlier in mitigation, Lee applied for a minimum fine to be imposed on him.

Prosecuting officer Norlyah Stoh urged the court to impose a deterrent sentence taking into consideration the public interest, seriousness and rampancy of the case.

She also said that a deterrent sentence would serve as a lesson to the accused and would-be offenders.

The facts of the case stated that Immigration enforcement officers conducted an operation dubbed “Ops Mahir” at the construction site and detained four illegal immigrants who have no valid document or pass to be present in the State.

The accused was later arrested and further investigation revealed that he was the owner of Syarikat J.Y Enterprise dealing with marketing and operation of the company, and acting as supervisor for workers.

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Illegal immigrants could get Ga. driver’s licenses

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Illegal immigrants who are granted permission to stay in the country under an Obama administration policy announced in June will be eligible for driver’s licenses in Georgia, the state’s attorney general wrote in a letter to the governor.

“While I do not agree with the actions of the President in issuing the directive, it has been implemented by the Department of Homeland Security, USCIS, and state law recognizes the approval of deferred action status as a basis for issuing a temporary driver’s license,” Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, wrote in a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Olens said illegal immigrants with this special status would not, however, be eligible for a state identification card. He says such cards are considered public benefits which are not available to illegal immigrants.

Under the new policy — which was announced in June and took effect last week — eligible immigrants must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, are 30 or younger, have been living here at least five years, are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also must not have a criminal record or otherwise pose a safety threat. They can apply to stay in the country and be granted a work permit for two years, but they would not be granted citizenship.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed an executive order Aug. 15, the day the new policy took effect, telling state agencies not to give driver’s licenses or other benefits to illegal immigrants who obtain work authorizations under the deferred status.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said earlier this month that each state could determine whether to issue driver’s licenses or extend benefits such as in-state tuition to immigrants who are granted deferred status.

A Georgia Department of Driver Services spokeswoman said last week that Georgia law considers those with deferred action status eligible for driver’s licenses and added that the agency would issue them unless it got other instructions. Deal last week asked Olens for guidance on the matter.

The young illegal immigrants who qualify for the new program are not the only illegal immigrants eligible for deferred action on their cases. Federal immigration authorities can also grant deferred action status at their discretion.

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Germany pursues Nazi charges against 87-year-old

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The German special prosecutors’ office that pursues Nazi-era crimes said Wednesday it was recommending charges be filed against an 87-year-old man on allegations he served as an SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp complex.

The man is accused of involvement in the killing of 344,000 Jews at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland from April 1944 until shortly before it was liberated by the Soviet army in January 1945, head prosecutor Kurt Schrimm told The Associated Press.

The suspect, whose name wasn’t released, is a non-German living outside Germany, but Schrimmwould give no other details.

Schrimm said charges of accessory to murder can be filed under the same legal theory that Munich prosecutors used to try former Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, who died in a Bavarian nursing home in March while appealing his 2011 conviction on charges he served as a Sobibor death campguard.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was the first person convicted in Germany solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing. Under the new legal theory, anyone who was involved in the operation of a death camp was an accessory to murder. Demjanjuk steadfastly maintained that he had been mistaken for someone else and never served as a camp guard.

Even though the Demjanjuk verdict is not considered legally binding because he died before appeals were exhausted, Schrimm said the same legal principle can be applied in the case of the alleged Auschwitz guard.

About 1.5 million people, primarily Jews, were killed at the Auschwitz camp complex between 1940 and 1945.

“I can’t say when he was where in the camp, but all of these guards were stationed at times on the ramps, at times at the gas chambers and at times in the towers,” Schrimm said.

Efraim Zuroff, the top Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he welcomed the news of the investigation but cautioned that even if the suspect is charged, bringing him to Germany for trial could present challenges.

He noted, for example, that the Australian high court last week ruled that 90-year-old Charles Zentai could not be extradited to Hungary to face accusations he tortured and killed a Jewish teenager during World War II.

“A lot will depend on whether or not his country of residence has the political will to extradite him to Germany,” Zuroff said in a telephone interview from Israel.

Schrimm’s office has turned the case over to prosecutors in Weiden, in Bavaria, to determine whether to file charges. Weiden has jurisdiction over the area where the suspect last lived in Germany.

Weiden prosecutors’ spokesman Norbert Dietl said the files were received on Monday, and that it would probably take at least a month to make a decision on the case.

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Zimbabwe church orders doctor out of the country

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Officials of the Salvation Army in Zimbabwe said Sunday they have given a Canadian doctor 48 hours to leave the southern African nation after he was fired from a mission hospital.

Dr. Paul Thistle’s departure was moved forward from Sept. 1 after villagers incited violence at the medical facility on Thursday to demand his reinstatement, said Vinece Chigariro, head of the church group in Zimbabwe. Thistle was the chief medical officer at the Howard hospital about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Harare. After 16 years at the mission, Thistle had clashed with church leaders over fund raising for the hospital and local aid projects.

He said the order to leave was “not a legal decision” by Zimbabwean immigration or police authorities.

Twelve people were arrested after Thursday’s unrest and eight nurses were held for questioning on allegations of incitement to violence.

“The nurses are people who treat and care for the victims of trauma and don’t create it,” Thistle said.

Chigariro said Thistle had challenged church leaders and he was being reassigned “for the good of the church.” Ordained Salvation Army officers “sign a covenant with God and make an undertaking to be loyal to the church leadership,” she said.

Thistle told The Associated Press on Sunday he will leave Zimbabwe after conferring with his Zimbabwean family members. He is married to a Zimbabwean nurse.

He left the mission Saturday. Disruptions at the hospital, including a heavy police presence since Thursday, have left the facility running at about one quarter of its capacity, he said. Patients were transferred to other facilities unable to treat them adequately, he said.

“People are suffering and dying and the church doesn’t care. I can live a safe life in Canada but the professional staff we have worked with for nearly 20 years are suffering now too. That’s not right,” said Thistle, a fluent speaker of the local Shona language who was born in Scarborough in Canada and qualified as a doctor at the Toronto university.

His work at the hospital and his far reaching programs to treat AIDS sufferers in the impoverished Chiweshe district have won accolades from medical professionals in Zimbabwe and worldwide.

The popular and well-loved physician was carried shoulder high by villagers during a week of dispute over his future. Community elders said they wanted him to stay.

“The people have spoken but they have been overruled,” he said.

Thistle said he differed with church leaders over donor aid and some private donor funding and project materials for the mission went unaccounted for.

“I don’t want to tarnish the name of the Salvation Army worldwide, but we have a crisis in the church leadership in Zimbabwe,” he said.

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Four-Star General Under Investigation ‘For Lavishing Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Hotel Rooms and Travel for His Family’

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

A four-star Army general who was the first head of the U.S. African Command is under investigation for possibly lavishing hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on travel and hotels.

Gen. William ‘Kip’ Ward, who at four stars has the highest rank in the Army, could be demoted if the imminent results of the 17-month investigation reveal he spent money inappropriately.

Gen. William ‘Kip’ Ward

Officials told the Associated Press that Ward, 63, is facing allegations that he allowed unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes.

There are also accusations that he spent excessively on hotel rooms, transport and ‘other’ expenses – all while traveling as head of Africa Command, a role he started in 2007 on its creation.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will make a final decision on the matter and Ward’s potential demotion before the end of the month, defense officials said.

He had sought to retire last year and carried out the paperwork to make it possible, before attending his retirement ceremony in April 2011 at Fort Myer, Virginia.

But the Army has since put his retirement on hold as the investigation is under way – and he will only be allowed to retire once they conclude which rank he will be.

He has been working in Northern Virginia, serving as a special assistant to the vice chief of the Army.

Because Ward’s alleged offenses occurred while he was a four-star general, he could be forced to retire as a three-star, which officials said could cost him as much as $1 million in retirement pay.

It was not immediately clear whether Ward also could face criminal charges.

It is unlikely he would be demoted as far as two-star rank; investigators would have to conclude that he also had problems before Africa Command, and officials said that does not appear to be the case.

The investigation has dragged on so long that Ward technically has been demoted from his four-star general rank to two-star general. Under military guidelines, if a general is not serving in a four-star command or office for more than 60 days, he or she is automatically reduced to two-star rank.

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Greek Olympian Booted From Games for Tweeting Racial Joke

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Greek Olympian Voula Papachristou has been kicked off her country’s Olympic team for a racial joke she posted toTwitter.

The triple jumper posted this tweet earlier this week, which roughly translates to: “With so many Africans in Greece…at least the West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food!!!”

Papachristou later apologized for the message with a post that read in part, “My dream is connected to the Olympic Games and I could not possibly participate if I did not respect their values. Therefore, I could never believe in discrimination between human beings and races.”

According to Isidoros Kouvelos, the head of Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Commission, Papachristou wasn’t contacted before or after the committee issued a press released booting her from the Games.

Papachristou’s gaffe also had repercussions for Greece’s remaining athletes: a spokesperson told theAssociated Press that Greek Olympians are now banned by the country’s Olympic committee from talking about anything not related to the Games on social media for the remainder of the event.

While the IOC has a series of social media rules restricting what athletes are allowed to post to social media during the Games, Papachristou’s message doesn’t violate any of those and her punishment appears to be an independent decision by her Olympic team.

American swimmer Ricky Berens — an active social media user and advocate for Olympians’ ability to post freely during the Games — told Mashable in an email that he could see why the Greek committee took the action it did.

“I myself am enjoying what everyone has been posting and seeing what other Olympians are doing,” he wrote. “I hope that it stays that way and people aren’t freaked out by this. There is a line that you don’t cross and she crossed it.”

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Groups call on Hungary to try war criminal suspect

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Hungary said Monday it is investigating whether a Holocaust-era war criminal has been living in the capital, Budapest, as international and domestic groups clamored for him to be placed on trial.

Budapest prosecutors said in a statement that they were investigating a case based on information received from Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s Jerusalem office, but did not name the suspect.

The center has told prosecutors that a man named Laszlo Csatary living in Budapest is believed to be the same Laszlo Csatary who was police chief in 1941 in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary, where he played a “key role” in the deportation of 300 Jews to Ukraine, where they were killed.

Csatary, who the center says would now be 97 years old, is also suspected of helping to organize the 1944 deportation of some 15,700 Jews to Auschwitz.

A group of students held a protest Monday at an apartment building in Budapest where Csatary is thought to have lived until recently, while the opposition Socialist Party called on Chief Prosecutor Peter Polt to indict him for war crimes.

Csatary was nowhere to be seen, and officials have not provided any information as to his whereabouts.

In April, a man named Ladislaus Csizsik-Csatary was placed at the top of the Wiesenthal Center’s list of its most wanted war crimes suspects.

Csizsik-Csatary had been convicted in absentia for war crimes in Hungary in 1948 and sentenced to death. He arrived in Nova Scotia the following year, became a Canadian citizen in 1955 and worked as an art dealer in Montreal.

In October 1997, Canadian authorities said the 82-year-old had left the country, apparently bound for Europe, before they had the chance to decide his fate in a deportation hearing. His citizenship had been revoked in August and the deportation order was based on his obtaining citizenship through “false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances.”

Zuroff, the center’s self-described chief Nazi hunter, said a paid informant had provided the information last September that Csatary was living in Hungary and apparently had done so since leaving Canada in the 1990s.

“His information has been super-reliable,” although he will not receive any money unless Csizsik-Csatary is convicted and punished, Zuroff said Monday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

He declined to name the informant, or say how much he would receive.

Some 40 protesters gathered at the Budapest apartment building Monday, among them members of the European Union of Jewish Students. They formed a line by binding their wrists to each other with tape and shouted “Never again!” One of the protesters put a crossed out swastika sticker on the door of the second floor apartment where Csatary is thought to have lived.

“We came here because we want the Hungarian organs of justice to start a process against this war criminal,” said Krisztian Szilberhar, a young lawyer who participated in the protest. “He is responsible for the death of many innocent people.”

Considering Csatary’s age, “it would be enough justice if they declared him guilty and he had to continue to live here,” Szilberhar said.

Deborah Abisror of the European Union of Jewish Students said she was disappointed that they were not able to find Csatary.

“He’s not here, obviously,” she said. “He shouldn’t move anymore. He just should confront what he did. Maybe just to say sorry.”

Zuroff said that thousands of Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe made their way to English-speaking countries after World War II, lying about their wartime past to gain refugee status.

Rabbi Slomo Koves, of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation, said that members were “pretty shocked that somebody like this is living in Budapest … and living between us.”

“But I think it is also in a way some relief that there are still organizations that do these jobs and that find these people,” he said.

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Human Rights Group Urges Crackdown on Race Crimes in Greece

Friday, July 13th, 2012

A leading human rights organization is urging Greece’s new government to take “urgent action” to curb an “alarming” increase in attacks against Asian and African immigrants, including brutal assaults by gangs on teenage boys and pregnant women.

In a 100-page report issued Tuesday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said xenophobic attacks, including stabbings and serious beatings, in the capital Athens have increased over the past two years, leaving dozens of confirmed victims and possibly many more.

It called on the government to create a national strategy to combat race-related crime, including obligatory training for police officers, and surveillance methods used to fight terrorism.

“It is very shocking to see that scale of violence, of that frequency and that brutality in a European country . . . People face certainly the risk of an attack on a daily basis,” Judith Sunderland, the lead researcher and author of the report told The Associated Press.

“We spoke with 79 migrants and asylum seekers and out of those 59 had experienced some kind of an attack. And 51 had experienced an attack that caused actual harm. We are convinced this is the tip of the iceberg. Most people don’t report the violence . . . Undocumented migrants fear they will be arrested and deported,” she said.

Greece, suffering a fifth year of recession, is the European Union’s busiest transit point for illegal immigration. In Athens, many immigrants live crammed in small apartments in squalid conditions, in central neighborhoods that have seen a sharp rise in crime since the financial crisis began in late 2009.

Racially-motivated attacks, including raids on immigrants’ homes and stores as well as streets assaults, have surged in the past two years, and often follow public outcry over a violent crime blamed on immigrants, the report said.

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Euro 2012: UEFA formally charges Croatia with racism against Italy’s Mario Balotelli

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

WARSAW, Poland —  UEFA made its first formal charges of racism at the European Championship on Saturday, opening a case against the Croatian soccer association after receiving reports that fans made monkey chants at Italy forward Mario Balotelli.

Croatia is charged with “improper conduct” of supporters, including “racist chants, racist symbols” at a game in Poznan on Thursday, the European soccer governing body said in a statement.

UEFA received reports from anti-discrimination monitors working with Football Against Racism in Europe, who wrote that Croatia fans made monkey noises and displayed far-right nationalist flags.

Balotelli, who is black, started the game for Italy against Croatia, and was replaced in the second half of the 1-1 draw.

“It was fairly consistent throughout the game,” FARE executive director Piara Powar told The Associated Press. “It was at its most intense as he was substituted and left the field.”

The charge also relates to fireworks thrown on the field after Croatia scored, which delayed Italy’s kickoff to restart the game.
UEFA said its disciplinary panel will judge the case against Croatia on Tuesday.

The Croatia soccer association (HNS) said it condemned the incident and “distances itself from all deviant behaviour on the part of the fans.”

Those responsible were “not supporters, but hooligans who should be isolated from all sports events,” the Croatian organization said in a statement, appealing to UEFA “not to punish the Croatian national team.”

UEFA rules make national associations responsible for their fans’ behavior. Punishments range from warnings and a sliding scale of fines to points deductions and even expulsion from Euro 2012.

Four years ago, UEFA fined Croatia about $20,000 for its fans’ neo-Nazi flags and chants during a Euro 2008 quarterfinals loss against Turkey in Vienna.

Also in 2008, FIFA fined Croatia $27,700 after England forward Emile Heskey was subjected to racist abuse during a World Cup qualifying match in Zagreb.

UEFA is also studying reports that a banana was thrown toward the field from a section housing Croatia fans.
Balotelli has been the target of reported abuse at both Italy matches at Euro 2012.

UEFA is investigating claims by a Spanish fans’ group that some Spain followers made monkey chants at him during a Group C match last Sunday in Gdansk.

In a separate investigation, UEFA is seeking evidence to support claims that Russian fans made monkey noises at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie in Wroclaw.

UEFA pledged zero tolerance of racism in Poland and Ukraine during the three-week tournament.

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