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Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect faces 44 charges, including federal hate crimes – National

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PITTSBURGH – Federal prosecutors added more charges against the man accused of killing 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, according to an indictment filed on Wednesday, as the city held funerals for three more victims.


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Eleven worshipers were gunned down on Saturday morning by a man who stormed into the Tree of Life Synagogue and opened fire, yelling anti-Semitic statements including: “All Jews must die.”

The attack, believed to be the deadliest against Jews in the United States in recent history, has fueled a fierce political debate about white nationalism and anti-Semitism ahead of hotly contested U.S. congressional elections next week.

WATCH: Patients of doctor killed in Pittsburgh synagogue shooting say he was the ‘perfect person’






Mourners gathered for the funerals of Melvin Wax, 88, who was leading Sabbath services when the attack began; retired real estate agent Irving Younger, 69; and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75.


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The aftermath of the tragedy still pervaded life in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood where the synagogue is located.

In coffee shops, customers talked about the victims they knew, remembering them as civic-minded, kind and pillars of the community. In the street, friends embraced and comforted one another during the period of raw grief.


Libby Zal said that Younger was such a fixture in Squirrel Hill that a local store he frequented would send him a “get well” card if he did not appear after three days.

Dan Frankel, a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, called Younger outgoing and opinionated.

“He was very interested in social justice and he probably would not have wanted the death penalty (for the gunman),” Frankel said.

A grand jury voted to indict Robert Bowers on 44 counts, according to a filing in federal court in Pittsburgh. He had faced 29 counts.


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Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims included 97-year-old woman, couple in their 80s

The new charges included 11 counts of obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death, and various charges related to his use of a gun in anti-religious violence.

Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

The synagogue attack has heightened a national debate over Republican U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which critics say has contributed to a surge in white-nationalist and neo-Nazi activity. His administration denies he has encouraged far-right extremism and is instead attempting to unify America.

Amid the first funerals for victims on Tuesday, Trump visited Tree of Life. Thousands protested his presence in the city, accusing him of using rhetoric that has fueled anti-Semitism in America.

Several thousand protesters, an ethnically mixed crowd of all ages, held an anti-Trump rally about a block away from the synagogue just as his visit began, singing Old Testament psalms and carrying signs with such slogans as: “We build bridges not walls.”

Trump made no public comments during his visit, but wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning that his office had been “shown great respect on a very sad and solemn day” in Pittsburgh.

“Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away,” he tweeted. “The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!”

WATCH: Donald Trump, Melania visit memorial for Pittsburgh synagogue shooting victims






More than 1,800 people paid their respects on Tuesday at Rodef Shalom, another synagogue in Squirrel Hill, the heart of the city’s Jewish community.

Trump’s visit to Pennsylvania’s second largest city came seven days before elections that will determine whether his Republican Party maintains control of both houses of Congress or whether the Democrats seize a majority in one chamber or both.

The accused gunman in the synagogue attack, Robert Bowers, was charged on Monday with 29 federal felony counts including hate crimes.

A courtroom sketch depicts Robert Gregory Bowers, accused in a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh that left 11 dead.

Dave Klug via AP

Four days after the attack, nerves in Squirrel Hill were still frayed. A public school was briefly placed on lockdown following a report that someone had brought a gun onto campus, police said. The report was later found to be false.

Jodi Smith, a Pittsburgh native, joined mourners ahead of the Wax funeral at the Ralph Schugar Chapel and remembered him as a “very polite, gentle man.”


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“I could have claimed him as a father,” Smith said. “He was always at the synagogue, always helping out. The synagogue had been his life since his wife passed away a few years ago.”

Fienberg spent 25 years as a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center until she retired in 2008.

“She was an engaging, elegant, and warm person,” the center said on Facebook.

— Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien and Bernie Woodall; Editing by John Stonestreet and Jeffrey Benkoe



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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