Police: Extreme-right gunman shoots six Africans in Italy
An Italian gunman with extreme right-wing sympathies shot and wounded six African immigrants Saturday in a two-hour drive-by shooting spree, authorities said, terrorizing a small Italian city where a Nigerian man had been arrested days earlier in a teenager’s gruesome killing.
Police photos showed the shooting suspect with a neo-Nazi tattoo prominently on his forehead as he sat in custody and an Italian flag tied around his neck as he was arrested in the central Italian city of Macerata. Authorities identified him as Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian with no previous record.
Traini had run for town council on the anti-migrant Northern League’s list in a local election last year in Corridonia, the party confirmed, but its mayoral candidate lost the race. The news agency ANSA quoted friends of his as saying that Traini had previously been affiliated with Italian extremist parties such as the neo-fascist Forza Nuova and CasaPound.
The shooting spree came days after the slaying of 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro and amid a heated electoral campaign in Italy where anti-foreigner sentiment has become a key theme. Italy has struggled with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants in the past few years coming across the Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats.
After the attack, Premier Paolo Gentiloni warned in Rome that “the state will be particularly severe against whoever thinks of feeding the spiral of violence.”
8 Turkish troops die in Syria operation; Russian pilot slain
Turkey said eight of its troops were killed Saturday in Ankara’s military operation against a Syrian Kurdish militia, the deadliest day in the two-week-old offensive in the enclave of Afrin, while in another part of Syria, al-Qaida-linked militants downed a Russian fighter jet, then shot and killed the pilot.
In a statement late Saturday, the Turkish military said five soldiers were killed after their tank in Syria came under attack near Afrin. The soldiers could not be saved despite all attempts, it said.
Earlier in the day, three Turkish soldiers were reported killed in the Afrin offensive – one was killed in the area of the tank attack, another in northern Syria and the third on the Turkish side of the border in what Ankara said was an attack by Syrian Kurdish militiamen.
The total death toll for Turkish troops since the operation, codenamed Olive Branch, started on Jan. 20 now stands at 13.
Turkey launched the incursion into Afrin to rout the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units or YPG, which it considers to be a terrorist organization and an extension of Kurdish insurgents fighting within Turkey.
Police: 5-year-old girl burned in voodoo ritual; two charged
EAST BRIDGEWATER, Mass.
Two sisters tied down and burned a 5-year-old girl, permanently disfiguring her, in a voodoo ritual meant to rid her of a demon causing her to misbehave, police said. The women also threatened to cut off the head of the girl’s 8-year-old brother with a machete, authorities said.
The boy said his sister was tied down on at least two occasions while the sisters blew fire over her face and cut her on the arm and in the collar area with a needle-like object, drawing blood, according to police. The girl said the women also poured over her eyes a substance that stung.
Peggy LaBossiere, 51, and Rachel Hilaire, 40, of East Bridgewater, denied injuring the girl and threatening the boy, the Brockton Enterprise reported. They pleaded not guilty Jan. 29 to mayhem, assault and other charges. A public defender for the women didn’t return a call seeking comment Saturday.
Police say the girl’s mother is a hair stylist of Haitian descent who has LaBossiere as a client and requested the ritual. She has not been charged but is receiving mental-health treatment.
Dozens assaulted by Nassar while FBI knew about allegations
At least 40 girls and women said they were molested by a Michigan sports doctor over a 14-month period while the FBI at the same time was aware that Larry Nassar had been accused of molesting gymnasts, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The FBI became aware of Nassar in July 2015 when it was contacted by USA Gymnastics, which trains athletes for the Olympics. But he wasn’t publicly exposed until The Indianapolis Star published allegations by a victim in 2016, The New York Times reported.
In the meantime, Nassar continued to see young female athletes, especially gymnasts or dancers while working at Michigan State University. USA Gymnastics, where he was a team doctor, cut ties with him in 2015.
Nassar, 54, has been sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual assault. He’ll get another sentence Monday in Eaton County, Mich. Both cases were filed by the Michigan attorney general under state law. Nassar admitted penetrating females with ungloved hands when they visited him for various injuries. The number of victims who have come forward exceeds 250, going back decades.
Federal authorities in Michigan ultimately charged Nassar with child pornography after police found thousands of images in his trash. That led to a separate 60-year prison sentence.
The Times said the FBI declined to answer detailed questions about how it handled assault allegations forwarded by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics. In a brief statement, the FBI told the newspaper that the allegations “transcended jurisdictions,” apparently a reference to Texas, Michigan and other places where Nassar was suspected of molesting people.
Asked why families and coaches weren’t alerted, W. Jay Abbott, who led the FBI office in Indianapolis, said: “That’s where things can get tricky.”
“There is a duty to warn those who might be harmed in the future,” said Abbott, who retired in January. “But everyone is still trying to ascertain whether a crime has been committed.”
Bahamian man survives drifting in Atlantic for 16 days
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.
A Bahamian man has been restored to health at a Florida hospital after drifting on the Atlantic Ocean for 16 days.
Samuel Moss Jr. of Nassau, the Bahamas, spoke with reporters Friday at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach.
Moss set sail from Bimini to Nassau on Jan. 13 in a new 21-foot angler. The 23-year-old quickly ran out of gas as he tried to sail through rough waves. He drifted alone until another boater spotted him Monday about 10 miles off the coast of West Palm Beach.
Moss said he survived on potato chips, cookies and bottled water for 12 days, until a 40-foot wave hit his boat and wiped out his meager supplies.
Dr. Kevin Buford said Moss’ electrolytes were dangerously low when the U.S. Coast Guard flew him ashore.
NC governor, Trump official talk drilling
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he had a good conversation Saturday with a top Trump administration official over plans to expand drilling for gas and oil off the state’s coast, but added that residents need to continue to be loud to make sure their opposition is noted.
Cooper said he spent an hour talking to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, telling him that drilling could cause unrecoverable damage to the state’s $3 billion tourism and fishing industries if there is ever an accident.
“We told him there is no 100 percent safe method to drill for oil and gas off the coast, particularly in our area off of North Carolina that sees Nor’easters, that sees hurricanes,” Cooper said. “We don’t call it the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic’ for nothing, it would be a catastrophic if there were to be an oil spill.”
The Democratic North Carolina governor wants the Republican presidential administration to give him a similar exemption that was offered to GOP Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
Last month, Zinke told Scott that Florida’s waters would remain closed under President Donald Trump’s five-year plan, which would open 90 percent of the nation’s offshore reserves to development by private companies. Interior officials later said Zinke’s promise wasn’t a formal plan, and the proposal was still under review.
Families sue Chiquita over deaths of Americans in Colombia
The families of six Americans kidnapped and killed in Colombia during the 1990s by the terrorist organization known as FARC are seeking potentially tens of millions of dollars in damages from banana giant Chiquita Brands International because of payments the company made to the group.
Trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection Monday in West Palm Beach federal court in lawsuits that accuse Chiquita of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act. Chiquita has admitted paying FARC – a Spanish acronym for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – about $220,000 but insists it did so only to protect its employees and interests from violence.
One $10,000 payment to the guerrillas was hidden in a spare tire on the back of a Jeep, according to court documents.
The families claim Chiquita’s financial support of FARC, as a known terrorist group, means it should be held responsible for the Americans’ deaths and pay damages.
The families must prove that Chiquita executives knew FARC was engaged in violent terror acts that could affect Americans and that the deaths of their loved ones were foreseeable when the payments were made, said plaintiffs’ attorney Gary Osen.