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  1. US citizens residing in Argentina shout anti-Trump slogans as they protest outside the US Embassy against a visit by US Vice President Mike Pence in Buenos Aires, Argentina, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci BERLIN/LONDON: America's closest allies condemned US President Donald Trump in unusually strong and personal terms on Wednesday after he put part of the blame for violent clashes in the state of Virginia on those marching against gun-brandishing neo-Nazis. British Prime Minister Theresa May, widely criticised at home for cultivating close ties to Trump during his first half year in office, spoke out after the president repeated his view that the white nationalists and counter-protesters were both to blame. "There's no equivalence, I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them and I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them," May said. The leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats said May should rescind her invitation to Trump to pay a state visit to Britain. "After. @realDonaldTrump whitewash of murder and hatred by #WhiteSupremacists why is he still on list of invited official guests to UK?" Vince Cable tweeted. Politicians in Germany, which has tough laws against hate speech and any symbols linked to the Nazis who murdered 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, expressed shock at the images of people in Charlottesville, Virginia carrying swastikas and chanting anti-Jewish slurs. Chancellor Angela Merkel's condemned the "racist, far-right violence". Her challenger in next month's election called Trump's comments the "confused utterances" of a dangerous man. "We should not tolerate the monstrosities coming out of the president's mouth," Martin Schulz told the RND newspaper group in an interview. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, like Schulz a member of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) which rules in coalition with Merkel, accused Trump of trivialising anti-Semitism and racism. His Israeli counterpart, Ayelet Shaked ? a member of the ultranationalist Jewish Home party in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government ? tweeted, "The neo-Nazis in the United States should be prosecuted. This was not what the American constitution was meant for." In a heated news conference on Tuesday, Trump said there was "blame on both sides" for the violence, which culminated in the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a car crashed into anti-racist demonstrators. A 20-year-old Ohio man said to have harboured Nazi sympathies has been charged with her murder. Trump's remarks were praised by white supremacists like David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who applauded the president's "honesty and courage". However, in Europe, even far-right parties ? that have welcomed Trump's nationalist message ? were critical of his stance. "These were white supremacists and racists. They need to be condemned in very clear terms," said Florian Philippot, vice president of France's National Front and the manager of Marine Le Pen's campaign for the French presidency.
  2. A Sheriff's deputy stands near the toppled statue of a Confederate soldier in front of the old Durham County Courthouse in Durham, North Carolina, US, August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kate Medley Undeterred by violence over the planned removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, state and city leaders across various US southern states said this week they would step up efforts to pull such monuments from public spaces. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday joined a growing list of officials seeking to remove statues as a national debate flared anew over whether monuments to the Confederacy are symbols of hate or heritage. Hogan, a Republican, called for taking down a statehouse statue of US Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision affirming slavery. "While we cannot hide from our history ? nor should we ? the time has come to make clear the difference between properly acknowledging our past and glorifying the darkest chapters of our history," he said in a statement. A rally by white nationalists protesting plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the US Civil War, sparked clashes with anti-racism demonstrators in Charlottesville on Saturday. The rally turned deadly when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 other people. Saturday's violence appears to have accelerated the drive to remove memorials, flags and other reminders of the Confederate cause. Since then, mayors of Baltimore and Lexington, Kentucky, said they would push ahead with plans to remove statues, while officials in Dallas; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jacksonville, Florida; announced initiatives aimed at taking down Confederate monuments. Some opponents took matters into their own hands. Demonstrators stormed the site of a Confederate monument outside a courthouse in Durham, North Carolina, on Monday and toppled the bronze statue from its base. Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews said in a statement on Tuesday that his office would seek vandalism charges against those involved. The Civil War involved 11 southern states that seceded from the Union, and most Confederate monuments are located in southern states. The efforts by civil rights groups and others to do away with Confederate monuments gained momentum two years ago after avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The shooting rampage ultimately led to the removal of a Confederate flag from the statehouse in Columbia. As of April, at least 60 symbols of the Confederacy had been removed or renamed since 2015, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. But such efforts have also made Confederate flags and memorials a rallying point for white supremacists and other extreme right groups, according to Ryan Lenz, a spokesman for the center. Opponents of Confederate memorials view them as an affront to African-Americans and ideals of racial diversity and equality. Supporters argue they represent an important part of history, honoring those who fought and died for the rebellious Southern states in the Civil War. Carl Jones, chief of heritage operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said he would continue to make the case that the monuments are items of historical value. Across the country, 718 Confederate monuments and statues remain, with nearly 300 of them in Georgia, Virginia or North Carolina, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. White nationalist leaders plan to hold a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, to oppose the removal of the statues there and are considering a lawsuit, Matthew Heimbach, chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party, told the Herald-Leader newspaper on Tuesday. The group said it has not set a date for the protest and did not respond to requests for further comment. Some elected leaders pushed back against the trend of removing Confederate monuments. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, told a WVHU radio show on Tuesday: "I absolutely disagree with this sanitization of history."
  3. US President Donald Trump ? flanked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and US Secret Service agents (R) ? stops to respond to more questions about his responses to the violence, injuries, and deaths at the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville after speaking to the media in Trump Tower, Manhattan, New York, US, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque US President Donald Trump unabashedly insisted on Tuesday that both left- and right-wing extremists resorted to violence during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia and that some present were peacefully protesting plans to remove a Confederate monument when the upheaval began. Trump, taking questions from reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, reverted to his initial comments blaming "many sides" for Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, a day after bowing to pressure to explicitly condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups. "They came at each other with clubs ? it was a horrible thing to watch," Trump said during what was supposed to be an announcement about his administration's infrastructure policy. He also said left-wing protesters "came violently attacking the other group". Trump has faced a storm of criticism from Democrats and members of his own Republican Party over his response to the deadly violence, which erupted after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville for a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the US Civil War. Many of the rally participants were seen carrying firearms, sticks, and shields. Some also wore helmets. Counter-protesters likewise came equipped with sticks, helmets, and shields. The two sides clashed in scattered street brawls before a car ploughed into the rally opponents, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. James Fields ? a 20-year-old Ohio man said to have harboured Nazi sympathies ? was charged with murder. Two state police officers also were killed that day in the fiery crash of the helicopter they were flying in as part of crowd-control operations. Addressing the melee for the first time on Saturday, Trump denounced hatred and violence "on many sides". The comment drew sharp criticism across the political spectrum for not explicitly condemning the white nationalists whose presence in the Southern college town was widely seen as having provoked the unrest. Critics said Trump's remarks then belied his reluctance to alienate extreme right-wing organizations, whose followers constitute a devoted segment of his political base despite his disavowal of them. Yielding two days later to a mounting political furore over his initial response, Trump delivered a follow-up message expressly referring to the "KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists and other hate groups" as "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans." Trump's detractors dismissed his revised statements as too little too late, but his remarks on Tuesday casting blame on both sides and suggesting that not everyone attending the rally was a white supremacist newly inflamed the controversy. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke immediately applauded Trump on Twitter. "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa," Duke wrote, referring to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and anti-fascists. Democrats seized on Trump's latest words as evidence that Trump sees white nationalists and those protesting against them as morally equivalent. "By saying he is not taking sides, Donald Trump clearly is," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York, said. "When David Duke and white supremacists cheer your remarks, you're doing it very, very wrong." In a similar vein, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe ? a Democrat ? said Trump's characterization of the violence missed the mark. ?Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred, and looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not 'both sides,'" Richard Trumka ? president of the AFL-CIO labour federation representing 12.5 million workers ? became the latest member of Trump's advisory American Manufacturing Council to resign in protest. Trumka said, "We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism," Trumka said. "President Trump's remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis." Three other members of the council ? the chief executives of pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co Inc, sportswear company Under Armour Inc, and computer chipmaker Intel Corp ? resigned on Monday. In his remarks on Tuesday, Trump also sympathized with protesters seeking to keep Lee's statue in place but offered no equivalent remarks for those who favoured its removal. "You had people in that group ? that were there to protest the taking down of a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name," Trump said. Trump also grouped former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ? two of the nation's founding fathers ? together with Confederate leaders such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson, who fought to separate Southern states from the Union, noting that all were slave owners. "Was George Washington a slave owner? Will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? ? Because he was a major slave owner," Trump said. On Tuesday, Trump explained his initial restrained response by saying, "The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don't make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts." In a sometimes heated exchange with reporters shouting questions, Trump said, "You also had people that were very fine people on both sides." Trump said that while neo-Nazis and white nationalists "should be condemned totally", protesters in the other group "also had trouble-makers. And you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group too".
  4. James Fields walked into the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany, on a school trip two years ago and told a classmate he was "where the magic happened." The account was one of several describing Fields' white supremacist views that emerged in telephone and Facebook interviews on Monday, two days after his arrest on a murder charge for ramming his car into a group of people objecting to neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville, Virginia. Several students who attended Randall K. Cooper High School with Fields in Union, Kentucky, recalled him as an angry young man who spoke admiringly about the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. Fields' court-appointed lawyer, Charles "Buddy" Weber, could not immediately be reached for comment. The 20-year-old suspect made a brief court appearance via video link on Monday. A judge denied bail for Fields, accused of killing one woman and injuring at least 19 other people on Saturday. During the June 2015 school trip, Fields spat on a Russian war memorial in Germany and refused to shower because he did not want to use what he called "that dirty pig water," according to a former classmate who has known Fields since childhood. At Dachau, Fields looked like "a kid at an amusement park," said the classmate, who asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted. "He would read excerpts from Mein Kampf, and listen to Nazi propaganda music at night," the classmate told Reuters. Another former high school classmate, Morgan Stidham, said she did not know Fields well and never saw him doing anything violent. "I only overheard him talking about things like Nazi stuff and how amazing Hitler was," Stidham said. Caleb Orndorff, who went to the same high school and who is black, said he and his brother once got into a verbal confrontation with Fields and that Fields called them a racial slur in response. His former history teacher, Derek Weimer, also told several news outlets about Fields' fascination with Hitler. "My first feeling: I failed, we failed," Weimer told the Toledo Blade after learning about the charge against Fields. White nationalist groups gathered in the Southern college town of Charlottesville on Saturday in a "Unite the Right" rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate army commander General Robert E. Lee from a park. Fields was among several rally participants whose pictures were shown on social media. The Anti-Defamation League posted a picture on Twitter that appeared to show Fields carrying a shield affiliated with Vanguard America, a white nationalist group. In a statement, the group denied that Fields was a member.was among several rally participants whose pictures were shown on social media. The Anti-Defamation League posted a picture on Twitter that appeared to show Fields carrying a shield affiliated with Vanguard America, a white nationalist group. In a statement, the group denied that Fields was a member. Fields' mother, Samantha Bloom, said he told her he was attending a rally but did not describe it in detail, according to the Blade. "I thought it had something to do with Trump," she told the newspaper. "I try to stay out of his political views." Fields and his mother moved from northern Kentucky to the town of Maumee in northwestern Ohio about a year ago for her job, according to the Blade. Fields began living in his own apartment several months ago and travelled to Virginia for Saturday's rally. In a report sourced to police records, the newspaper said that wheelchair-bound Bloom called police in Florence, Kentucky, at least nine times starting in 2010 seeking help with her sometimes violent son. Soon after graduating high school in 2015, Fields joined the U.S. Army but left by December after failing to meet training standards, the Army said in a statement. Fields' father was killed by a drunk driver months before his birth, the Washington Post reported, citing an unidentified uncle. COVER IMAGE: James Alex Fields Jr. is seen via video link from jail as he appears before Judge Robert Downer and Commonwealth attorneys Nina-Alice Antony (2nd R) and Warner Chapman (R) in an artist's rendering of his bail hearing at the Charlottesville City Court in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 14, 2017. REUTERS/William Hennessy Jr.
  5. An undated photo from the Facebook account of Heather Heyer, who was killed August 12, 2017 when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, US. Photo: Reuters Heather Heyer came to downtown Charlottesville with her friends to make a stand against white nationalists who converged on the Virginia college town to demand the city keep a statue honouring a Confederate war hero, her boss said on Sunday. The 32-year-old paralegal wanted to send a clear message to the neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan sympathisers who planned to stage one of the largest far-right rallies in recent US history that people abhor their views in the city where she was born, he said. But her decision to join counter-protesters on Saturday resulted in tragedy when a 20-year-old Ohio man drove his car at high speed into a line of marchers, killing Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. A strong sense of social justice was a constant theme in Heyer's personal and working life, said Alfred Wilson, bankruptcy division manager at the Miller Law Group. "There have been times that I've walked back to her office and she had tears in her eyes" for various injustices she saw in the world, said Wilson, such as the time she was weeping after reading anti-Muslim comments online, Wilson said. Heyer was "a very strong, very opinionated young woman" who "made known that she was all about equality," he told Reuters on Sunday. The two have worked closely since Heyer joined the firm a little more than five years ago. "Purple was her favourite colour," said Wilson, recalling that Heyer shared a duplex apartment in Charlottesville with a beloved pet Chihuahua named Violet. "She would wear purple a lot, and she would wear it every day if she could get away with it." Flowers and a photo of car ramming victim Heather Heyer lie at a makeshift memorial in Charlottesville, Virginia, August 13, 2017. Photo: Reuters Born in Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia's main campus, Heyer was raised in a nearby town and graduated from William Monroe High School in Stanardsville. A big part of Heyer's job was to help people who were trying to avoid being evicted from their homes, or have their cars repossessed, or needed help paying medical bills, he said. Heyer was a supporter of Bernie Sanders, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination won by Hillary Clinton, Wilson said. As a white woman, she thought it unfair that she enjoyed liberties that Wilson, as a black man, did not, he said. "You're college-educated, but if you walk into the store you may have people following you, and it's not fair," Wilson quoted Heyer as having said to him often. Heyer, said Wilson, was strongly opposed to President Donald Trump, and she also spoke out against Jason Kessler, the blogger who organised the "Unite the Right" rally that was broken up before it began on Saturday. "A big thing that bothered Heather was this whole past election," said Wilson. "She would literally sit in the office and cry at times because she was worried about what was going to happen to the country."
  6. First responders stand by a car that was struck when a car drove through a group of counter protesters at the 'Unite the Right' rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Justin Ide CHARLOTTESVILLE: At least one person died and 30 were injured in a day of violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Virginia on Saturday, with the state's governor blaming the neo-Nazis for sparking the violence and demanding that they go home. Two people also died when a Virginia State Police helicopter crashed near the violence in Charlottesville, federal aviation officials said. It was not clear if the crash was related to the outbreak of clashes in the Southern college town, where protesters fought hundreds of white supremacists trying to halt the planned removal of a Confederate statue from a park. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, declared an emergency and halted a white nationalist rally, while President Donald Trump condemned the violence. "I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple: go home," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told a news conference. "You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you," he said. The clashes highlight how the white supremacist movement has resurfaced under the "alt-right" banner after years in the shadows of mainstream American politics. ?We?re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia," Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf course. "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." A reporter shouted a question to Trump about whether he had spoken out strongly enough against white nationalists but the president made no comment. A 32-year-old woman died when a car slammed into a crowd in Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, police said. Five people suffered critical injuries and four had serious injuries from the car strike, the University of Virginia Health System said. Video on social media and Reuters photographs showed a car slamming into a large group of what appeared to be counter-protesters, sending some flying into the air. The driver of the car, an unidentified man, has been taken into custody and the incident is being treated as a homicide, Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas told a news conference. The incident occurred after earlier clashes nearby. 'Domestic terrorism?' Prominent Democrats, civil rights activists and even a few Republicans said it was inexcusable of the president not to denounce white supremacy. "Mr. President - we must call evil by its name," Republican U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, wrote on Twitter. "These were white supremacists and this was domestic," said Gardner, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the group charged with helping to get Republicans elected to the Senate. Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who served under Democratic former President Barack Obama, said in a tweet: "What we?ve seen today in Charlottesville needs to be condemned and called what it is: hatred, evil, racism & homegrown extremism," The Charlottesville confrontation was a stark reminder of the growing political polarization that has intensified since Trump's election last year. "You will not erase us," chanted a crowd of white nationalists, while counter-protesters carried placards that read: "Nazi go home" and "Smash white supremacy." In the afternoon, a silver sedan driving at high speed plowed into the crowd before reversing along the same street. The incident took place about two blocks from the park that houses the statue of Robert E. Lee, who headed the Confederate army in the American Civil War. Witnesses said it looked like the driver intended to mow down people. Police have not offered any details on the car incident. Scott Stroney, 50, a catering sales director at the University of Virginia who arrived at the scene about a minute after the crash, said he was horrified. "I started to cry. I couldn't talk for awhile," he said. "It was just hard to watch, hard to see. It's heartbreaking," he said. In declaring the state of emergency, McAuliffe said the gathering was declared an "unlawful assembly," allowing police to disperse the protesters, and police cleared the park where the rally was to be held. The violence began on Friday night, when hundreds of white marchers with blazing torches appeared at the campus of the University of Virginia in a display that critics said was reminiscent of a Ku Klux Klan rally On Saturday morning, fighting broke out in the city's downtown when hundreds of people, some wearing white nationalist symbols and carrying Confederate battle flags, were confronted by a nearly equal number of counter-protesters. David Duke, a former leader of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan, was in Charlottesville for the rally, according to his Twitter account. The rally was part of a persistent debate in the U.S. South over the display of the Confederate battle flag and other symbols of the rebel side in the Civil War, which was fought over the issue of slavery. The violence in Charlottesville is the latest clash between far-rightists, some of whom have claimed allegiance to Trump, and the president's opponents since his inauguration in January, when black-clad anti-Trump protesters in Washington smashed windows, torched cars and clashed with police, leading to more than 200 arrests. About two dozen people were arrested in Charlottesville in July when the Ku Klux Klan rallied against the proposed removal of the Lee statue. Torch-wielding white nationalists also demonstrated against the decision in May.
  7. Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, Virginia, charged with the murder of a 17-year-old American Muslim girl is shown in this Fairfax County Police Department photo released in Fairfax, Virginia, US, June 19, 2017. Courtesy Fairfax County Police Dept./Handout via REUTERS WASHINGTON: A teenage Muslim girl killed by a bat-wielding motorist near a Virginia mosque was an apparent victim of "road rage" and her death is not being investigated as a hate crime, police said on Monday. Nabra Hassanen, 17, was attacked early on Sunday in Sterling, Virginia, about 50 kilometres west of Washington, after attending late-night prayers for the holy month of Ramazan, when many Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, of Sterling, has been arrested and charged with murder in the incident that began with a road dispute with a boy on a bicycle who was among a group of teenagers that included Hassanen, Fairfax County police spokeswoman Julie Parker said. "It appears that the suspect became so enraged over this traffic argument that it escalated into deadly violence," she told a news conference. Parker said there was no indication the attack near the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque was motivated by race or religion. Police said there was no sign that Martinez used racial slurs during the attack. Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, expressed solidarity with the Muslim centre and said a prayer vigil would be held on Wednesday at a high school. "With regard to this case, I am confident justice will be served," she said at the news conference. The attack took place about 3:40 AM as up to 15 teenagers, who had attended prayer services at the mosque, were returning from a fast-food restaurant, Parker said. Some of the teenagers were on the road and Martinez began arguing with the boy on a bicycle as he was driving in his car, Parker said. Martinez chased the youths into a parking lot, emerged from his car with a baseball bat, and struck Hassanen, she said. He loaded Hassanen into his car and dumped her in a pond in neighbouring Loudoun County, Parker said. A search team recovered the body on Sunday, and an autopsy showed she had suffered blunt force trauma to the upper body, she added. The Washington Post reported that Hassanen and her friends were dressed in abayas, the robe-like dress worn by some Muslim women, prompting fears the victim was targeted because she was Muslim. Police arrested Martinez about 90 minutes after the assault and a judge ordered that he remain jailed without bail, officials said. He has been assigned a public defender.
  8. VIRGINIA: A 17-year-old American Muslim girl was beaten and abducted after leaving a mosque in Virginia on Sunday by a man who police later arrested on suspicion of murder after her body was found dumped in a pond, authorities said. The attack spurred an outpouring of grief and horror in a Muslim community that has been gathering to pray at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society mosque about 30 miles outside Washington in observance of the last 10 days of Ramadan. The attack happened early on Sunday after the victim and several friends walking outside the mosque got into a dispute with a motorist in the community of Sterling, the Fairfax County Police Department said in a statement. At one point, the motorist got out of his car and assaulted the girl, police said. The teen was reported missing by her friends who scattered during the attack and could not find her afterwards, touching off an hours-long search by authorities in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. At around 3pm, the remains of a female believed to be the teen victim were found in a pond in Sterling, police said. During the search for the missing teen, authorities stopped a motorist "driving suspiciously in the area" and arrested the driver, later identified as identified as Darwin Martinez Torres, 22. Police obtained a murder warrant that charges Torres for her death, the Fairfax County Police Department said. A police spokeswoman told reporters the attack followed some sort of dispute between the man and the girls, and authorities had not ruled out hate as a motivation for the attack. The number of anti-Muslim bias incidents in the United States jumped 57 percent in 2016 to 2,213, up from 1,409 in 2015, the Council on American-Islamic Relations advocacy group said in a report last month. While the group had been seeing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump's stunning rise in last year's presidential primaries and November election victory, it said the acceleration in bias incidents was due in part to Trump's focus on militant groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric. In an incident in London on Monday, a van ploughed into worshippers leaving a mosque, killing at least one person and injuring several in what Britain's largest Muslim organisation said was a deliberate act of Islamophobia. Isra Chaker, a person who said in a Facebook post that she was close to a family friend of the victim in the Virginia incident, said the driver came out with a baseball bat and began swinging it at the girls, Chaker said. "She then went missing (presumably kidnapped/moved by the suspect) and was found dead this afternoon," Chaker said. An online fundraiser for the girl's family had raised $61,606 by Sunday evening. Police said a medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to confirm the victim's identity and cause of death, though detectives believe the body found in the pond was the missing girl.
  9. Police and townsfolk in Waynesboro, Virginia, are trying to figure out why someone is abducting pet cats and returning them with hairless underbellies. Since December, at least seven cats have suddenly shown up at their homes with shaved belly, groin, and leg areas, Waynesboro Police Captain Kelly Walker said on Friday. "The shaving appears to be almost surgical," Walker said. No harm was done to the animals, but they "seemed a little skittish" after the curious incidents, he said. The occurrences came to the attention of police when an owner asked about posting flyers to encourage the public to report suspicious activity to authorities. "Shaving Cats!!??" says the poster in Waynesboro, a city of 21,000 about 140 miles (225 km) south-west of Washington, D.C. "Several neighbourhood cats have been ABDUCTED and had their lower abdomens and groin areas SHAVED. This is very upsetting to the cats and their owners," the poster says. Walker said the cats were collar-wearing, well-groomed pets, not strays or feral cats, although some were outdoor cats. All of them had been either neutered and spayed before the shaving incidents, he said. The investigation focuses on five cats - some of whom were shaved twice - from one household and two cats from another, who came home partially hairless three weeks ago. "Probably the best solution is for whoever is doing this to just stop," Walker said.