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Houthis claim responsibility for drone and missile attacks on Saudi cities

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The Houthi rebels backed by Iran claimed responsibility for the drone and missile attacks that were sent from Yemen targeting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On Saturday 20th November 2021 the Houthi coalition sent fourteen drones to attack several important military bases and airports in Saudi Arabia. They had also sent missiles to attack Aramco which is Saudi Arabia’s largest oil refinery. 

Although Aramco’s refinery in Jeddah was decommissioned in 2017, the Houthis had previously targeted it in March as it still has a petroleum products distribution plant in the premises. When contacted by Reuters, Aramco said that it would respond at the earliest opportunity.

However, the Saudi-led coalition later said on Saturday that they had attacked thirteen targets in Yemen against the rebel group.  They also said that they had destroyed three drones that were launched towards southern Saudi Arabia and a fourth one over Yemen. It said that the group failed to launch two ballistic missiles and that they fell inside Yemen. The coalition said that the operation hit weapons depots, air defence systems and drones’ communication systems in Sanaa, Saada, and Marib provinces of Yemen

Yahya Sarea, the Houthi military spokesman said in a televised press conference that the group had attacked Aramco’s refineries in Jeddah as well as military targets in Riyadh, Jeddah, Abha, Jizan and Najran. However his statement contained inaccuracies as in the press conference, a wrong name was mentioned for the international airport in Jeddah and the wrong location was mentioned for King Khalid base, saying it was in Riyadh when it is actually in the south of the kingdom.

Endless cross border attacks have been launched against Saudi Arabia using drones and missiles by the Houthi rebels since the coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015. The rebel movement was involved in ousting the Saudi backed government from the capital city of Sanaa.

The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen is essentially considered to be a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The conflict has been in military stalemate for years while the Houthis are targeting Marib which is the government’s last northern stronghold which is internationally recognised.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

15-year-old Michigan student opens fire on classmates and teacher

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On Tuesday 30th November there was a school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, United States that killed four and injured seven. Thereafter 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley was taken into custody. He is currently being tried as an adult on one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm. The deceased include Hana St. Juliana, 14; Tate Myre, 16; Madisyn Baldwin, 17; and Justin Shilling, 17. The seven injured included six students ranging from ages 14-17 and one teacher who was shot in her left shoulder

On investigation, it was discovered that there were signs leading up to the shooting that could have prevented it. It was discovered that Crumbley wrote about wanting to harm his classmates in his journal and on his phone. There was also at least one social media post on his Instagram account showing that he had access to a handgun, which was bought for him by his father. 

It is also reported that two separate teachers reported concerns regarding Crumbley’s behaviour, prompting meetings. According to Oakland County Sheriff, Michael Bouchard, the first meeting took place after “a teacher in the classroom where he was a student saw and heard something that she felt was disturbing.” This led to a counselling session with school officials and a phone call placed to his parents the day before the shooting. Then, on the day of the shooting, another teacher in a different classroom saw some behaviour that they felt was concerning. This teacher then “brought the child down to an office, had a meeting with school officials, called in the parents, and ultimately it was determined that he could go back into class.” Hours later, he opened fire outside a school washroom and moved down the hallway, shooting students in hallways and classrooms before surrendering.

Crumbley’s parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, are currently being held on a $500,000 bond each after being found evading police custody by hiding in a commercial building in Detroit. Both face four counts of involuntary manslaughter. County Prosecutor Karen McDonald states that “This is a serious, horrible, terrible shooting, and this has affected the entire community.” She adds, “And these two individuals could have stopped it.” 

It is rare for parents to be charged when a minor uses their weapon. According to Eve Brensike Primus, a University of Michigan law professor who focuses on criminal procedure, “It’s really hard to show that parents have a disregard for human life, and that they could actually foresee their child doing this.” In Ethan Crumbley’s case, he had clear access to a firearm, as his father stored the pistol he bought on 26th November in an unlocked drawer in his bedroom. Additionally, the school contacted Jennifer Crumbley via voicemail after a teacher caught Ethan using his cell phone to search for firearm ammunition. She did not reply to the school but exchanged a text message with Ethan that read, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught.” 

School shootings are not uncommonly heard of in the US. In 2021, there were 29 school shootings in the US, killing 11 and injuring 49. Many blame gun laws for making firearms too accessible, while others blame mental health resources for being too inaccessible. Whatever the case, many innocent lives are lost every year to preventable gun violence, leaving families and friends mourning their losses.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Jeffrey Epstein pilot testifies he flew people of influence on Epstein’s plane

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Ghislaine Maxwell, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Jeffrey Epstein’s former pilot, Larry Visoski was the first person to testify in the Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial on Tuesday. He worked as a pilot for Epstein for over 25 years.

Visoski claimed that he would be given notice when high-profile passengers like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and many more were flying in the plane. Prince Andrew is also being sued for by Virginia Giuffre for sexually assaulting her during these trips, however, he denied these claims. In addition, Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Angel Urena said in 2019 “in 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane: one to Europe, one to Asia, and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation,” adding “and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.” There were also celebrities that flew on his planes like Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker and even the renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Epstein flew his guests all over the world including his private island, Mexico ranch, and his New York City townhouse. It is alleged that he used these planes to also fly teenage girls to his property and groom them for sexual abuse. The trial is happening because Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend is alleged to have helped him groom the teenagers. Whereas, she claims that she is used as a scapegoat for Epstein who died in prison in 2019 by suicide. If Maxwell is found guilty she can face up to 80 years in prison. Assistant US Attorney Maurene Comey described Maxwell’s position in these crimes as “the number two” and “Epstein was the big number one.”

The former pilot claimed that he hadn’t personally seen any sexual activities on the plane but the cockpit door was always kept close during trips. Moreover, the plane was nicknamed “Lolita express” likely a reference to Nabakov’s novel Lolita which tells the story of pedophilic relationship between a man and a 12-year-old. One witness came to the trial to testify against both Epstein as well as Maxwell but the claims have not been verified yet.

A lot of unspeakable things happened to young teenage girls on these trips. Everyone involved in these crimes should be held accountable to show that no one, even those with power and influence, is above the law. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Turkish police fired tear gas at female protestors in Istanbul

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Maurice Flesier, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Police forces in Istanbul fired tear gas at protestors who joined together to mark the “international day for the elimination of violence against women” on Thursday. 

This protest was mainly for Turkey to rejoin the Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty against violence against women and domestic violence which was signed in May 2011.  Turkey was the first country to sign this treaty and the first one to leave it as well in March 2020. Upon Turkey’s decision to withdraw under the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) released a statement in which they said “the adoption of this (withdrawal) decision in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to deepen the protection gap for women and girls during a time when gender-based violence against women is on the rise.” Whereas, President Erdogan stated that the initiative was “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality”.

The women marched to mark the day this treaty was released along Istanbul’s main pedestrian street while holding colorful banners. This was the third march regarding the withdrawal from this treaty, the first one was in March and the second one was in July. One protestor told Reuters “women are being killed…they are being publicly murdered. As of June, we have started to move away from the guarantees that protect us,” adding “we do not and will not accept this and we will keep fighting”.

The riot police had set barricades at the end of the street on which they were marching. An altercation broke out when some of the protestors tried breaching this barricade. Erdogan argued that the existing laws in Turkey provide enough protection for women. In addition to that, the government also released its own initiative “Action Plan for Combating Violence against Women” to try to combat the rising violence against women with five primary plans.

According to the ‘We Will Stop Femicide Platform’, an NGO for women has stated that so far at least 285 women have been killed by men in 2021. This number has exceeded last year’s numbers. Violence against women is a serious issue that has increased, especially in the pandemic so it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. There is a need for laws to be implemented which will protect women so they don’t have to march for their rights. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Crime

Ahmaud Arbery’s murder verdict: Guilty

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Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed last year simply for the colour of his skin. Three Caucasian men who were responsible for his murder were charged as guilty on Wednesday. 

Arbery was shot and killed in February of 2020 while he was jogging on the outskirts of the coastal city of Brunswick in Georgia. The men responsible for this crime were Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan who were their neighbours. Travis McMichael who was the son of Greg McMichael shot Arbery three times with his pump-action shotgun. The defendants claimed that they acted in self-defense because they assumed he was involved in a spate of burglaries in the neighborhood without any proof. The prosecutors believed that the race of unarmed Arbery was a key factor in this crime. Travis was convicted of nine charges including murder, Greg was charged with eight of these counts, and Bryan was charged with six counts. There is also a chance of them getting life in prison.

Arbery was chased by the McMichael’s in their truck while they were carrying guns. Bryan later joined the chase and recorded a video while doing so. This video was the one that proved the innocence of Arbery. Travis then got out of his truck and an alteration took place in which he shot his gun. According to the post-mortem report, Arbery had two gunshot wounds to his chest and one graze wound on the side of his wrist. After the verdict, the mother of Arbery, Cooper-Jones addressed the crowd and stated “it’s been a long fight, it’s been a hard fight, but God is good.” “To tell you the truth I never saw this day in 2020, I did not think this day would come … Thank you, thank you for those who marched. Thank you to those who prayed,” adding “he (Ahmaud Arbery) will now rest in peace.”

The reason that race hung over this case was because of how it was treated initially. These men thought Arbery was a threat although he did nothing and the fact that the police officers who arrived at the scene comforted the killers instead of tending to the young man lying on the ground associated race with the case. Moreover, it was mostly overlooked in the media until the video that Bryan shot was released to the public which caused outrage. In addition to that, Joe Biden released a written statement in which he said “while the guilty verdicts reflect our justice system doing its job that alone is not enough. Instead, we must recommit ourselves to building a future of unity and shared strength, where no one fears violence because of the color of their skin.”

The case was one that could have been swept under the rug if that video was not released. It is great that Arbery got the justice he deserved but what about all the cases that did not get any media coverage? 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Celebrations turned to vigil after the attack at the Christmas parade

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Horror took over the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin when a red SUV rammed into the people gathered to watch and participate in the holiday parade on Sunday. According to the Waukesha Police Department, six people lost their lives while more than 40 were injured, many of whom were children. The SUV driver has been identified as  Darrell Brooks who already holds a criminal record for various offences. The attacker will be presented in court with five charges of homicide for intentionally driving into the parade. 

The victims who lost their lives included four women and one man and a child who were admitted at the Children Hospital of Wisconsin. The law enforcement agencies have asked the people to cooperate in gathering the evidence by sending the videos of the incident. A community fund has also been established to support those affected by the incident. 

The Milwaukee County’s District attorney released a statement on 22nd November 2021 detailing the previous charges that were made against Darrell Brooks. He was booked last on 5th November and “posted 1000$ cash bail on November 11, resulting in the release from custody”. After the attack, Brook abandoned the vehicle and pretended to be a man waiting for an uber while Daniel Rider, unaware of the situation, offered him help. Later the police arrived and arrested Brook. 

Although the attack left the people of Waukesha heartbroken, they came together as a community to help those affected by the attack. Other than setting up a fund, free meals were also provided to the community. The schools were kept closed, and the city administration also set up a hotline for those feeling distressed.

On Monday, the town gathered to honour the victims of the incident with a candlelight vigil. The Mayor of Waukesha, Shawn Reilly called the incident a “senseless tragedy” of “horrific actions”. Later at the vigil, he showed his support to the victims’ families and called the vigil gathering  “a symbol that we stand with those who are emotionally injured from the horrific events of last night.” 

The attacker is to appear in court on Tuesday and the proceedings were streamed live through the court’s website link.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Rising concern over missing Chinese tennis player

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Peng Shuai, a former top-ranked tennis player of China has been missing since 2nd November 2021. The Chinese state media keeps releasing unverified footage of the missing woman but it is not enough proof of her well being for the public. 

The 35-year old tennis player went missing after she accused a senior Chinese leader of sexual assault. The concerns regarding her whereabouts started after she posted on social media, accusing former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex and then having an on and off consensual relationship. Neither Zhang nor the Chinese government made any comments but the social media post was deleted and the topic has also been blocked from being discussed on the internet. 

However, on Sunday the tennis player made an appearance at a youth tournament in Beijing. Some pictures were released by the organiser and show her standing beside a court, waving and signing tennis balls for children. Moreover, a state-run media posted a video of Peng at the same tournament on Twitter, a banned social media platform in China. It was posted by the editor-in-chief of Global Times, an official newspaper owned by China’s ruling Communist Party, Hu Xijin. The aim was to quench the fear of international media. This wasn’t the only video posted, in fact, on Saturday another video was posted in which Peng is seen at a restaurant. After these pictures and videos were posted, Hu also claimed that the tennis player would “show up in public” soon. 

Despite all of these supposed proofs of the three-time Olympian being well, the spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said “the Chinese authorities should urgently provide verifiable evidence of her safety and whereabouts” and “everyone should be allowed to speak out without fear of repercussions. All reports of sexual assault, anywhere in the world, should be investigated.” Furthermore, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Steve Simon stated “(it) remains unclear if she is free and able to make decisions and take actions on her own, without coercion or external interference” also adding “this video alone is insufficient… I remain concerned about Peng Shuai’s health and safety and that the allegation of sexual assault is being censored and swept under the rug.” In addition to that, Dave Haggerty, the International Tennis Federation president, and International Olympic Committee member also expressed his concern by saying “the videos of her this weekend appear to be a positive step, but we will continue to seek direct engagement and confirmation from Peng Shuai herself that she is safe and well.”

Needless to say, everyone is extremely worried about Peng Shuai’s wellbeing and safety. Especially because this is not the first time that people have disappeared after criticising party figures in China. Hopefully, Peng is safe and we get verifiable proof for her wellbeing. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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