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US man charged with hate crime for assaulting Indian-American




Washington, March 18: A federal grand jury has indicted a US man for a hate crime against an Indian-origin man mistaking him for a Muslim in November last year.

Jeffrey Allen Burgess, 54, was accused of intentionally harming a man, Ankur Mehta, on November 22 because of his “perceived race, colour and national origin“, said a report in PennLive news website on Friday.

Burgess was accused of assaulting and hurling racial slurs on Indian origin Mehta as per the reports.

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Burgess on a hate crime charge in connection with the alleged assault at Red Robin restaurant in Pittsburgh’s South Hills Village.

According to WTAE-TV, at the time of the incident, Burgess was seated next to Mehta at the restaurant’s bar. Mehta was working on his tablet with his earbuds on and failed to notice Burgess taunting him and using racial and ethnic epithets.

Burgess then launched an unprovoked attack on the victim as he was seated at the bar, striking Mehta in the face with his elbow and fist multiple times, said the police.

I don’t want you sitting next to me … you people,” Burgess was heard saying, in addition to anti-Muslim racial slurs, according to a criminal complaint filed by Bethel Park police.

Witnesses said Burgess struck Mehta four or five times and called him a “(expletive) Muslim,” according to the complaint.

In addition to the slurs, Burgess told Mehta “things are different now”, the police said, which authorities believe was a reference to the election of Donald Trump.

Officials said Mehta was taken to a local hospital with a loose tooth and a cut to his upper lip, while Burgess was arrested on suspicion of ethnic intimidation, simple assault, harassment and public drunkenness by local authorities.

If convicted, Burgess faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Before a recent court appearance on the local charges, Burgess blamed alcohol for his actions, adding, “I’m not that kind of person … It happened and I’m remorseful about it.”

Wefornews Bureau

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Belgian court ends extradition case against Catalan leader Puigdemont

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing.



Carles Puigdemont

A Belgian court formally closed extradition proceedings against deposed Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont on Thursday.

Puigdemont and four of his deputies fled to Belgium in October to avoid charges of rebellion, sedition and misusing public money in relation to Catalonia’s independence bid. The Spanish Supreme Court withdrew the European arrest warrants last week.

The judge had declared the case to be “without merit” during an in-camera hearing, Paul Bekaert, Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer, told AFP.

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North Korea: Trump taking dangerous step to nuclear war by seeking naval blockade

Pyongyang also lashed out at the possible US move in a commentary on Sunday in the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.



Aircraft Carrier USS Ronald

US President Donald Trump is taking an “extremely dangerous” and “big step” towards nuclear war by seeking a naval blockade, North Korea has stated, according to the official KCNA news agency.

Pyonyang also said it will take “merciless self-defensive” measures against any blockade, as it would consider such a move an “act of war.” The North Korean government also believes any blockade would be a “wanton violation” of its sovereignty and dignity, KCNA reported, citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson previously mentioned the “right to interdict maritime traffic transporting goods” to and from the North, following Pyongyang’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test on November 29.

Pyongyang also lashed out at the possible US move in a commentary on Sunday in the communist party newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin warned that North Korea now finds itself in a position where it “doesn’t see any other way for self-protection rather than developing weapons of mass destruction and missile technologies.” Having reiterated that Moscow in no way supports Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the Russian leader stressed that the Kremlin calls for steps by all sides towards a peaceful solution.

Both the US and North Korea “should stop fueling tensions,” Putin told international media at his annual press conference, adding that everyone should be “extremely cautious” about the situation on the Korean peninsula. “One launch from North Korea will be enough for catastrophic consequences,” the president warned.

The comments come just one day after State Department spokesperson Heath Nauert appeared to backtrack on statements made by Tillerson, in which the secretary of state said the US was “ready to have the first meeting” with Pyongyang “without preconditions.” Nauert said on Wednesday that North Korea would have to suspend its weapons tests before such talks could take place.

Earlier this month, Moscow said it was ready to help facilitate talks between Washington and Pyongyang, with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stating that “North Korea wants to talk to the US about its own security assurances.”

Russia and China have proposed a so-called “double freeze” plan which would see the US suspend joint drills with South Korea in exchange for Pyongyang halting its missile and nuclear tests. However, that plan was swiftly rejected during the summer by the US, which asserted its right to conduct military exercises with its ally South Korea.

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India ready to work with new Nepal government



Nepal election
Representative Image

New Delhi, Dec 14: Welcoming the parliamentary and provincial election results in Nepal, India on Thursday said it was looking forward to working with the new government in Kathmandu.

“India has age-old unique time-tested ties of friendship with the country,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

“We look forward to working with the next democratically elected government in Nepal to advance our close and multi-faceted partnership across all sectors and to support Nepal in its pursuit of peace, stability, economic prosperity for all round development,” he said.

Nepal’s CPN-UML emerged as the largest party in the Himalayan nation. The vote count for Parliament and provincial assembly elections in Nepal ended on Wednesday.


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