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Woman who says R. Kelly sexually abused her when she was 16 to resume testimony
19 August 2021, 12:22 PM

A woman who says R. Kelly demanded she calls him “Daddy” when she was 16 and choked her until she passed out is expected to retake the witness stand on Thursday in Brooklyn federal court, on the second day of the R&B’s singer’s sex abuse trial.

Jerhonda Pace, 28, is one of six women and girls, whom prosecutors say R. Kelly dominated and demanded absolute fealty from in a two-decade racketeering scheme where he recruited and abused his victims. They include the late singer Aaliyah, who was 15 when she married Kelly.

In an opening statement on Wednesday, Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez told a jury that Kelly used “lies, manipulation, threats and physical abuse” to control his victims, and often filmed their sexual encounters.

Kelly, a three-time Grammy winner whose songs include “I Believe I Can Fly” and “Bump N’ Grind,” has pleaded not guilty to a nine-count indictment that includes accusations of bribery and extortion.

The trial is the culmination of years of suspicions and accusations against Kelly, many discussed in the 2019 Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” and nearly four years after the start of the #MeToo era.

Known as Jane Doe No. 4 in the indictment, Pace testified on Wednesday that Kelly knew she was 16 when they had intercourse because she had shown him identification, but he told her to pretend she was 19.

Once a fan, Pace said Kelly began mistreating her, demanding that she call him “Daddy” and making her ask permission to go to the bathroom. She said the relationship ended after R. Kelly choked her until she passed out.

Kelly’s defense team, which will get a chance to question Pace, said on Wednesday the government’s case had “gaps,” and that Kelly’s accusers wanted to get back at him after their relationships ended.

Prosecutors say Kelly used an entourage of managers, bodyguards and others to recruit victims, and threatened to blackmail them if they fled.

Other female accusers and at least one male accuser are expected to testify for the government, some using only their first names.

Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges at a 2008 trial in Illinois.

Kelly could face decades in prison if convicted.

Several killed amid firing by Taliban and stampede during rally in Afghan city: witness
19 August 2021, 12:12 PM

Several people were killed on Thursday in the Afghan city of Asadabad when Taliban fighters fired on people waving the national flag at an Independence Day rally, a witness said, a day after three people were killed in a similar protest.

The protests by people waving the Afghan flag, in some cases after tearing down white Taliban flags according to media, are the first signs of popular opposition to the Taliban since their stunning advance across the country and capture of the capital, Kabul, on Sunday.

It was unclear if the casualties in Asadabad resulted from the firing or from the stampede that it triggered, witness Mohammed Salim said from the eastern city, the capital of Kunar province.

“Hundreds of people came out on the streets,” Salim said. “At first I was scared and didn’t want to go but when I saw one of my neighbours joined in I took out the flag I have at home.”

“Several people were killed and injured in the stampede and firing by the Taliban.”

A Taliban spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

There were also protests but no reports of serious violence in the eastern city of Jalalabad and a district of Paktia province, media reported.

Afghanistan celebrates its 1919 independence from British control on August 19.

On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fired at protesters waving the black, red and green national flag in Jalalabad, killing three, witnesses and media reported.

Media reported similar scenes in Asadabad and another eastern city, Khost, on Wednesday with protesters in some places tearing down the white Islamic banner of the Taliban.

First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who is trying to rally opposition to the Taliban, expressed support for the protests.

“Salute those who carry the national flag and thus stand for dignity of the nation,” he said on Twitter.

Saleh said on Tuesday he was in Afghanistan and the “legitimate caretaker president” after President Ashraf Ghani fled as the Taliban took Kabul.

CALL FOR END TO AIRPORT CROWDS

The crackdown on protests will raise new doubts about Taliban assurances they have changed since their 1996-2001 rule when they severely restricted women, staged public executions and blew up ancient Buddhist statues.

They now say they want peace, will not take revenge against old enemies and would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islamic law.

While Kabul has been generally calm since Taliban forces entered on Sunday, the airport has been in chaos as people rushed for a way out of the country.

Twelve people have been killed in and around the airport since then, a NATO and a Taliban official said. The deaths were caused either by gun shots or by stampedes, the Taliban official said.

He urged people who do not have the legal right to travel to go home. “We don’t want to hurt anyone at the airport,” said the Taliban official, who declined to be identified.

The United States and other Western powers pressed on with the evacuation of their nationals and some of their Afghan staff from the capital’s airport, from where about 8 000 people have been flown out since Sunday, a Western security official said.

Under a pact negotiated last year by former President Donald Trump’s administration, the United States agreed to withdraw its forces in exchange for a Taliban guarantee they would not let Afghanistan be used to launch terrorist attacks.

The Taliban also agreed not to attack foreign forces as they left.

President Joe Biden said US forces would remain until the evacuation of Americans was finished, even if that meant staying past an August 31 US deadline for withdrawal.

UK says military operation established to evacuate British nationals from Afghanistan
13 August 2021, 9:42 PM

The British government on Friday said a military operation has been established to support the evacuation of British nationals from Afghanistan.

“Operation Pitting, the military support to the drawdown of British nationals and entitled personnel has commenced in Afghanistan. This may also include the use of RAF (Royal Air Force) aircraft if required”, Britain’s defence ministry said in a statement.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to the use of military support for the next phase of drawing down British nationals from Afghanistan and Home Office officials will be travelling there to support the increase in processing.

UN chief calls for immediate halt to Taliban offensive

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday called on the Taliban to immediately halt their offensive in Afghanistan, warning that “Afghanistan is spinning out of control.”

“The message from the international community to those on the warpath must be clear: seizing power through military force is a losing proposition. That can only lead to prolonged civil war or to the complete isolation of Afghanistan,” Guterres told reporters.

In rare British mass shooting, gunman kills five, including 3-year-old girl
13 August 2021, 8:32 PM

A man shot dead five people, including a 3-year-old girl, in violence that police in the southern English city of Plymouth believe began with a domestic dispute and the killing of his mother.

Mass shootings are rare in the United Kingdom, where gun ownership is relatively low, and Thursday’s six-minute rampage was the worst such incident in more than decade.

Police on Friday named the shooter as Jake Davison, a 22-year-old crane operator. He turned his gun on himself after killing the five victims on Thursday evening, the police said.

Devon and Cornwall Police Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer said police had found no motive but they were not considering terrorism or any far-right associations, although they were trawling through Davison’s computer.

“We believe we have an incident that is domestically related, that has spilled into the street and seen several people within Plymouth losing their lives in an extraordinarily tragic circumstance,” Sawyer told reporters.

The shooting started at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, with the offender first killing his 51-year-old mother Maxine Davison.

He then ran outside and immediately shot dead the young girl, named by police as Sophie Martyn, in the street along with her father Lee Martyn, 43.

Davison shot at two other passers-by who were badly injured, then entered a park and shot dead another man, Stephen Washington, 59. He also shot Kate Shepherd, 66, who died later in hospital.

Davison then turned the gun on himself before firearms officers could tackle him. The deadly shooting spree was over in just a few minutes.

Sawyer said witnesses described the weapon as a pump-action shotgun. He could not say whether or not Davison had mental health issues. Davison had a firearms licence.

In videos posted on the internet, Davison had complained of not losing his virginity as a teenager and described himself as an “incel” – or involuntary celibate. He complained in the videos of being beaten down by life, the Times reported.

Britain has suffered a number of deadly militant attacks in the past several years, but this was the worst mass killing of its kind since a taxi-driver killed 12 people then shot himself in a rampage in Cumbria, northern England, in June 2010.

The deadliest mass shooting in Britain’s modern history is the 1996 massacre in Dunblane, Scotland, when a gunman killed 16 pupils and a teacher at the local school before killing himself.

England hit back after Anderson takes five to restrict India to 364
13 August 2021, 8:15 PM

England seamer James Anderson claimed his 31st five-wicket haul in tests as the resurgent hosts restricted India to 364 in their first innings before reaching 119-3 after the second day of the second test at Lord’s on Friday.

The 39-year-old finished with figures of 5-62 while Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson took two wickets each as England fought back with early strikes to ensure India did not bat them out of the game after resuming the day on 276-3.

India pegged England back early in the final session as fast bowler Mohammed Siraj had Dom Sibley caught at short mid-wicket for 11 before bowling Haseeb Hameed for a first-ball duck, but the hosts got out of a tight spot.

Joe Root was on 49 — with India burning two reviews after Siraj hit the skipper on the pads — with Jonny Bairstow on six at the close after opener Rory Burns fell late in the day for 49, trapped lbw by Mohammed Shami.

Earlier, India overcame the departures of their overnight batsmen to ensure a strong total as Rishabh Pant scored a breezy 37 while Ravindra Jadeja made 40 before both fell to Wood.

PERFECT START

Having dominated a rain-hit opening day, the visitors lost KL Rahul for 129 on the second ball as the opener drove a half-volley from Ollie Robinson straight to Sibley at cover.

England improved on their perfect start as Anderson removed Ajinkya Rahane for one with the first delivery of the next over, forcing the batsman to poke at an outswinger that landed in skipper Joe Root’s hands at slip.

With half the side gone for 282 to expose a long tail, Pant responded in typically attacking fashion by pulling Robinson for two boundaries after a slashed effort for four off Anderson.

He then charged down the wicket to smash Wood through extra cover with fellow left-hander Jadeja happy to play sedately at the other end and frustrate England.

However, Pant edged a quicker delivery to Jos Buttler before England struck again in the following over, as Mohammed Shami chipped one to Burns at mid-wicket off Moeen Ali.

Anderson, who only made the side after overcoming a tight quad following the drawn first test, dismissed Ishant Sharma lbw before Jasprit Bumrah became his fifth victim.

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