World News

White couple charged for threatening black family

A white husband and wife have been charged after the woman pulled a gun on a black mother and her children during a confrontation in a car park.

Footage of the incident in Orion Township, near Detroit, has been viewed millions of times on social media.

It shows Jillian Wuestenberg pointing the cocked gun and shouting: “Get away.”

Local Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the confrontation had stemmed from a “bump” at the entrance to a restaurant.

The Wuestenbergs have both been charged with felonious assault. They each had a loaded firearm, the sheriff said. The black family was not armed.

Ms Wuestenberg, 32, is alleged to have bumped into 15-year-old Makayla Green, whose mother Takelia Hill then demands an apology. Both she and her daughter are filming.

Ms Wuestenberg gets into her vehicle, driven by her husband Eric, 42, but the argument escalates and she reappears brandishing a gun and pointing it at Makayla and her mother.

Several people called the police and the couple were arrested, Sheriff Bouchard said.

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“Let’s have a little more tolerance for each other and not being so quick to react,” he told a news conference. “If someone is doing something improper or unfair, I tell my family and friends to look away. This is not the moment to plant your flag.”

Oakland County Chief Executive David Coulter said he had been “deeply disturbed” by the incident on 1 July.

“This behaviour is unacceptable. I wholly expect the prosecutor to bring charges that reflect the severity of the incident.” he said.

What happened during the argument?

Makayla Green told the Detroit News that she had been bumped by Ms Wuestenberg.

“Before I could walk into Chipotle, this woman was coming out, and I had moved out the way so she can walk out,” she told The Detroit News.

“She bumped me, and I said, ‘excuse you’. And then she started cussing me out and saying things like I was invading her personal space.”

Makayla then called her mother over because she was scared, she said.

The footage shows the argument continuing during which Ms Wuestenberg is accused of being racist.

From the car, Ms Wuestenberg says: “You cannot just walk around calling white people racist.”

“White people aren’t racist… I care about you, and I’m sorry if you had an incident that has made someone make you feel like that. No one is racist,” she says.

When the car begins reversing, Ms Hill is behind it and knocks on the back of the car. Ms Wuestenberg then jumps out and shouts “get back” and “back up” along with several expletives.

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India officials sorry for Covid body disposal video

Officials in the south Indian state of Karnataka have apologised after footage showing officials dumping bodies of Covid -19 victims caused outrage.

The videos circulated on social media showed workers in PPE kits tossing bodies wrapped in black garbage bags into deep pits.

Officials in the state’s Bellary district confirmed that the footage was genuine and apologised to families.

The bodies were of eight people who had died of Covid-19 days earlier.

Karnataka has seen more than 246 deaths due to Covid. However, it has been recognised as one of the states that has been more successful in tracing and containing the disease.

“We have issued a letter of unconditional apology to the families of the dead. We are very hurt by this and we are very sorry. We condemn the way corpses have been treated. They should have been treated more humanely,” senior district official SS Nakula told BBC Hindi’s Imran Qureshi.

“They followed all the protocols. Where they have gone wrong is not the part of the protocol but the mentality that a dead body should be handled with dignity,” he added.

He said that the men in the video had been removed, adding that they would be replaced by a new team who would dispose of bodies “with sensitivity”.

There has been a lot of fear and stigma surrounding Covid-19 in India. People who contract the illness are stigmatised and shunned, while their bodies are often disposed of as health workers are afraid to touch them.

With almost 600,000 confirmed cases, India has the fourth-highest number of Covid infections in the world.

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UN to call for $10bn aid for Syrians at virtual donor meeting

European Union to lead meeting of 60 governments, NGOs as UN seeks billions for Syrians and countries hosting refugees.

Governments are set to pledge billions of dollars in aid for Syrians at a virtual conference on Tuesday to help refugees enduring Syria’s ninth year of armed conflict, as the coronavirus and high food prices worsen the plight of millions.

This year, the United Nations is looking for almost $10bn for people in Syria and surrounding countries. It hopes much of that will come from the 60 governments and non-governmental agencies gathering by video link on Tuesday from 08:00 GMT. The European Union is hosting the event.

The pledging, now an annual event, breaks down into a UN appeal of $3.8bn for aid inside Syria and $6.04bn for countries hosting refugees. Only a fraction has been raised so far.

In a report last week, the EU said in 2019 donors contributed $10bn in grants to Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“The needs have never been greater,” said Corinne Fleischer at the World Food Programme, a UN agency.

Virtual meeting

In Syria, more than 11 million people need aid and protection, the UN says, while 6.6 million have fled to neighbouring countries in the world’s largest refugee crisis.

Many Syrians face unprecedented hunger, with more than 9.3 million people lacking adequate food, while the country’s coronavirus outbreak could accelerate, the UN has said.

The combination of an economic slump and coronavirus lockdown measures have pushed food prices more than 200 percent higher in less than a year, according to the World Food Programme.

“The COVID-19 crisis has had an immediate and devastating impact on livelihoods of millions of Syrian refugees and their hosts in the region,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement.

However, money pledged is only what European officials call a sticking plaster to meet Syrians’ immediate needs.

Rebuilding destroyed cities is likely to take billions more dollars and cannot start until powers involved in the war back a peaceful transition away from the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the EU says.

It will be the eighth annual Syria pledging conference, and the fourth hosted by the EU, which estimates that it has donated approximately $23bn to Syria and the region over the years.

Beyond its economic impact, the coronavirus has also forced the conference to be held online.

The event is usually an important opportunity for officials to meet on the sidelines to discuss thorny issues and resolve problems, but officials worry that the virtual format might reduce the conference to a number-crunching exercise.

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Boulder reinstates fee for using disposable bags – The Denver Post

Boulder grocery stores will once again charge customers for disposable bags, reinstating the 10-cent fee that was suspended in March over concerns that reusable bags could spread coronavirus.

City officials recently received guidance from Boulder County Public Health that there was a low risk of spreading COVID-19 through reusable bags, said spokesperson Alexis Bullen. The change is effective Wednesday.

Public Health spokesperson Chana Goussetis cited Food and Drug Administration guidance on grocery shopping, which states that shoppers who use reusable bags should clean or wash them after every use.

Bullen said the city has no plans to pause the bag fee in the future unless public health guidance changes.

Boulder City Council members adopted the bag fee in 2012, and it went into effect in 2013. Since then, the city has reduced 70% of its disposable bag use and generated $1 million in funding for programs that reduce waste associated with disposable bags, according to Partners for a Clean Environment.

“PACE supports reductions of single use plastic waste and is pleased that bringing your own bags to a store is very low risk,” said Zac Swank, business sustainability coordinator for PACE, in an email.

Boulder Chamber President John Tayer said the Chamber supports following public health guidance and that suspending the fee was appropriate at the time.

“Our role throughout the COVID-19 crisis has been to be a conduit for businesses for safe business practices,” Tayer said. “We want to make sure they’re aware of this change, which is a mechanism for supporting environmental sustainability that our businesses have learned to accommodate. We support moving forward in accordance with public health guidance.”

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LeBron James secures $100m for media company

LeBron James and his business partner have secured $100m (£90m) in investments for their media company which aims to empower black audiences.

SpringHill Entertainment, is headed by James with his business partner Maverick Carter as CEO. Serena Williams is among those on the board.

It describes itself as a media company with an unapologetic agenda that will give a voice to creators and consumers.

The company is named after the Ohio apartment complex James was raised in.

Funding for SpringHill Entertainment closed in March but was announced on Thursday, according to Variety.

The company is a result of three projects merged together – production company SpringHill Entertainment, digital media company Uninterrupted and the Robot Co, a marketing agency.

James said his team comprises of more than 100 employees, “64% people of colour and 40% female in an industry that averages 25%”.

Our leadership team is a reflection of our entire organization. I want to thank everyone at The Springhill Company for believing in our vision! We closed this deal in March and I knew our work was going to keep getting more and more necessary. Let’s continue greatness. 🚀👑

End of Twitter post by @KingJames

In a statement, James said: “I’ve always wanted to use the platform of basketball to empower those around me. Now I’m incredibly excited about the opportunity to build a company that empowers creators, consumers, and everything it touches.

“The SpringHill Company defines empowerment. You see it in the team we’ve built, the stories we tell, and the community our work will serve.”

SpringHill Entertainment is already working on a film about basketball with Netflix. It is set to feature Adam Sandler.

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Polis enacts drought plan for 40 Colorado counties

Gov. Jared Polis has ordered a task force to assess initial damage and recommend mitigation measures for severe drought conditions affecting 40 of Colorado’s 64 counties, or roughly a third of the state.

Polis’ order follows dwindling mountain snowpack, a warmer-than-average spring and far less precipitation than normal, Colorado Politics reported Wednesday. It also comes as the U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week that extreme drought expanded in northern New Mexico and eastern Colorado.

The order also activates a state agricultural task force to determine the drought’s potential crop and cattle damage impact and the possible economic fallout for the state’s $8 billion farming industry.

Abnormally dry conditions affect mountain and plains regions and roughly 80% of the state’s landmass is in some form of drought.

Winter snowfall was low in most of Colorado and May precipitation was less than half of normal, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Reservoir levels are dwindling in southern and southwestern Colorado, including the agricultural San Luis Valley and the Gunnison River Basin, the service said.

Becky Bolinger, a climatologist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center, said high winds, low humidity, high temperatures and lack of precipitation have produced a “flash drought” situation with higher than normal water evaporation in much of the state that particularly affects agriculture.

The summer promises higher temperatures and low rainfall and the summer monsoons that deliver rain from the southwest won’t make up for current conditions, Bolinger said.

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