GAA Roundup: Mayo stays solid with Louth win

GAA news and scores from around Ireland this week.

Mayo 0-14 Louth 1-10

The Mayo revival continues as Kevin McStay’s team followed up their big win over All-Ireland champions Kerry with this Castlebar defeat of Louth as they retain top spot in Group 1 ahead of the final round of fixtures.

Not even a late Conall McKeever goal for the Wee County could stop the Mayo bandwagon rolling on but for manager McStay it was only the result that mattered.

“The two points was key, that’s what was on offer, not a whole lot else, and we got them,” he said “I thought we got ourselves into a great position with 10 minutes to go but didn’t manage it quite the way we wanted to. It was a massive effort by Louth to take the game from us, but we’re very pleased with the points.

“We did feel that we were in control of the game but a late goal in injury time takes a lot of that control away from you. I’m very happy our boys stayed at it but what hurt our rhythm was that we fumbled a few balls and missed a few chances that we might have tidied up better.

“We’ve work to do now but we’re still in the position we wanted to be coming out of the bank holiday.”

A draw in their final round robin series fixture against Cork will now guarantee a quarterfinal spot for Mayo and McStay admitted, “It’s another two points until we get out of the round robin, but today we broke the back of it to a large extent; we’re in a really good position.

“We’re tipping away nicely. We’re in a cluster of seven or eight teams that have their eyes on the prize and we’re no different to anyone else. We’re ambitious for the group so let’s see where that takes us.”

Louth’s man of the match Bevan Duffy was naturally downbeat after this defeat even if his team can still make the quarters with a victory against Kerry next time out.

“We missed a few chances early on in the first half but then again we were happy enough with the scoreline the way the game was going,” said Duffy. “The plan was once it came to crunch time we’d make the call and press on and try to squeeze the game and finish it out.

“We just left it a little late. We got the goal, probably should have had another in the first half. These little key moments probably didn’t go our way. If someone had said to me a few years ago that you’d be in a group with Cork, Kerry and Mayo…not that long ago we were in a group with Antrim, Leitrim and Sligo.

“This is where you want to be playing football. The Louth support has been brilliant this year, they’ve really got behind us all and we’ve fed off that. It’s been brilliant but we want to stay here, get here again, and get to a Leinster final again. We’ve got to step up those levels and it’s as simple as that.”

Kerry 1-14 Cork 0-15

Cork manager John Cleary cried foul as a contentious 47th-minute penalty had a major bearing on his team’s two-point defeat to old rivals Kerry in their All-Ireland series Group 1 game on Leeside.

Sean Powter was adjudged to have fouled Paul Geaney and issued with a black card for what Cleary described as a “very dubious” penalty which was subsequently sent to the net by David Clifford.

“I watched it inside afterwards and it didn’t seem to me that there was a full goalscoring chance,” said Cleary. “If that’s the way, there would be penalties all over the place. There were players behind him and there was a coming together of the players.

“Look at the video, it was plain to see for everyone, Dan O’Mahony was between him and the goal. Powter went into him and it was a coming together rather than a pulling down. You’d take that, but a black card and a penalty was more than harsh. The referee gave it, and I felt we were on the wrong end of a few decisions.

“We are bitterly disappointed. We had our chances to win it but didn’t take them. It’s not fatal, and hopefully we learn from it and try and go again next week against Mayo.”

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Kerry manager Jack O’Connor called it “a good day” when he spoke to RTE about this win, their first in the round robin series after a defeat to Mayo last time out.

“Pairc Ui Chaoimh is a tough place to come to,” said O’Connor. “I’ve been here many times over the years and got turned over with many Kerry teams, so any time you win here by two points is a good day.

“Happy enough at halftime but still wary of the fact that it was a significant wind, and within seven minutes of the second half, Cork had kicked four points and had cut the lead right back so we knew then we were in a battle, and I am happy that our fellas won the battle and got out on top.”

Louth are up next for Kerry and O’Connor added, “We’ll be going all guns blazing, because as far as I can see it’s knockout football from here on so we’re hoping for the best.”

Derry 3-14 Donegal 1-15

Derry won by five points in the end, but their three second-half goals from Conor Doherty, Lachlan Murray, and Padraig McGrogan made all the difference against Donegal as they moved level with Monaghan at the top of the Group 4 table in the All-Ireland series.

Clare, already out of contention for the quarterfinals, are next up for Derry and star man Conor Glass admitted after this win, “That was a good performance but not great from us. We probably should have had a couple more goals but we left them out on the pitch and it’s always something good to work on going into next week.

“If we had have scored about six or seven goals, we probably mightn’t have such a focus for next week. But at least we have a focus for next week.”

Donegal’s Jason McGee summed up the home team’s reaction in Ballybofey. “I’m disappointed with the result,” said McGee. “Goals are a killer in this game, especially when the games are so tight between ourselves and Derry and in fairness they took off after they got their goal.

“After we conceded a few goals, then we nicked back a few scores and we kept in the game. The fight was there and we’re not too far away.”

Galway 0-20 Westmeath 0-12

Galway boss Padraig Joyce claimed the scoreline flattered his side as Westmeath lost Ray Connellan to a 53rd-minute dismissal for a second yellow card offence then lost the game by eight points.

A failure to turn chances into scores was Joyce’s biggest gripe afterwards and he said, “We’re saying this the last couple of games, and it is a positive to win games and not play well. We still kicked 20 scores, which is our target, but when are we going to put a performance together that is across the board?

“It’s a habit we have to get out of because if we play that kind of football against other teams you could be six or seven down instead of one or two down at half-time and it would have been an uphill battle if they had got a goal. An 8/10 team performance instead of individuals carrying us across the line: that’s the challenge for us and we have a huge challenge now in two weeks’ time against Armagh. That would be a nice place to start.”

Monaghan 1-23 Clare 1-18

Jack McCarron scored nine points for the home team as Monaghan ended Clare’s interest in the All-Ireland championship with a game still to be played – against Derry – in Group 4 following this five point defeat in Clones.

That Clare were level on eight occasions is of scant consolation to Banner boss Colm Collins who said afterwards, “I suppose we got caught for some silly mistakes at the end which we were punished for, as you will be against a team of Monaghan’s quality.

“But I thought we were pretty close. I’m very disappointed like, this was our last chance saloon, really. We had to do something today. But very proud of the display and very proud of the effort the lads put in. They gave it everything.”

Tailteann Results

Tipperary’s Tailteann Cup campaign is over despite a third place finish in Group 2 after they ranked as the worst performing third placed team ahead of the draw for the preliminary quarterfinals which was made on RTE television on Sunday evening.

New York will now play Carlow this Saturday at Dr. Cullen Park while Down will host Longford in Newry, Fermanagh entertain Laois at Brewster Park and Offaly welcome Wexford to O’Connor Park.

Already through to the quarterfinals proper are Laois, Meath, Cavan, and Antrim, all of whom will enjoy home advantage for the last eight games on Saturday week.

The final round of group games were played at the weekend with the following results recorded: Cavan 2-25 Offaly 2-9; Laois 1-17 London 2-14; Meath 1-11 Down 1-9; Tipperary 0-17 Waterford 1-13; Carlow 2-13 Longford 1-14; Wexford 1-16 Leitrim 1-12; Antrim 3-13 Fermanagh 1-12; Wicklow 2-14 Limerick 1-10.

*This roundup first appeared in the June 7 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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In the latest chapter in UK press phone-hacking scandal, Prince Harry gives testimony

Prince Harry appeared in London’s High Court on Monday and Tuesday to argue that articles about him printed in UK tabloids run by Mirror Group Newspapers contained information obtained by illegal means. If the royal’s claims are found to be true it could prove phone hacking on an “industrial scale” at one of Britain’s largest newspaper groups.

Issued on:

Two days in the witness box at London’s High Court have seen Prince Harry rake over the contents of dozens of articles stretching back into the early years of his life as a subject of tabloid interest.

The Duke of Sussex claims 148 articles documenting events such as his mother Princess Diana visiting him at school, a bout of glandular fever, phone arguments with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy and instances of illegal drug-taking all contain details that journalists obtained by illegal means.

The cumulative impact of a lifetime of intrusive articles created “huge amount of paranoia” the royal said in a witness statement, and the feeling that he couldn’t even trust his doctors.

A lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) said details in the articles were obtained by legal methods including buying information from the prince’s acquaintances, reprinting information that had already been published in other newspapers, and press briefings from members of royal staff.

On the stand, Prince Harry said the articles can all be linked to the “hallmarks” of illegal information gathering such as mystery missed calls and voice messages that indicate phone hacking, and evidence of repeated instances of journalists making payments to private investigators.

‘The heart of popular culture’

It is rare that such allegations go to trial. The legal muscle and deep pockets of many British media companies act as an effective deterrent: MGN has paid out around £100 million to around 600 claimants accusing them of phone hacking and obtaining stories through other unlawful means.

But it is even rarer that a member of the royal family testifies in court – Prince Harry is the first senior royal to appear on the stand since 1891.

He brings a unique profile to the case, suggestions of a personal axe to grind, his own deep pockets and a wealth of potential evidence. “Someone like Prince Harry is in a unique position that they will have been subjected to a large number of tabloid articles over a significant period of time,” says Professor Paul Wragg, director of campaign group Hacked Off, which supports victims of press abuse.

In this instance, Prince Harry is the most high-profile one of more than 100 people who are suing MGN, publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday People tabloids, accusing them of widespread unlawful activities between 1991 and 2011.

The royal is one of four claimants who are being heard at trial as “representative cases”.

A court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook shows Prince Harry being being cross examined by Andrew Green KC, at the High Court in central London on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. © Elizabeth Cook, AP

Traditionally the British tabloids hold a unique place in national discourse. “They are read right across the country and really set the agenda for public conversation,” says Adrian Bingham, Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sheffield. “Historically, they have been right at the heart of popular culture.”

The period during which the articles submitted as evidence were published coincides with the peak of “a hugely competitive tabloid market, in which competition always trumped ethics”, Bingham adds. “The scoop was everything for the editors. There was little restraint.”

The British public was widely shocked when in 2011 The Guardian newspaper revealed that journalists from Rupert Murdoch’s News of The World paper had interfered with police investigations into the disappearance of missing schoolgirl Millie Dowler by illegally listening to her voicemail messages.

Further investigations revealed journalists had also hacked the phones of victims of the 2005 London bombings, relatives of deceased British soldiers and numerous celebrities, politicians and members of the royal family.

Criminal cases were brought that saw three journalists and editors from News of the World convicted for illegally acquiring confidential information. Others convicted were private investigators and members of the police.

A judicial public inquiry, chaired by Lord Justice Leveson in 2011-12, was based on the premise that within newsrooms, “any illegality that was taking place was done by a limited number of individuals”, Wragg adds.

An ‘industrial scale’

MGN argues that Prince Harry has missed the six-year deadline for making his claim, but it does not deny that it has participated in illegal practice. Prior to the trial this week, the publisher “unreservedly” apologised to the royal for one instance of unlawful information gathering.

Yet the Duke of Sussex and other claimants are aiming to show that practices such as phone hacking were happening on an “industrial scale” – and not just at one group of newspapers.

The trial against MGN is the first of three the royal hopes to bring. He and other claimants are still waiting to hear whether courts will allow two separate cases against the parent companies of The Sun and the Daily Mail tabloids to go to trial.

“Prince Harry’s certainly the figurehead, but what we’re talking about is hundreds of individuals claiming that there have been a serious significant number of breaches of law across a long period of time,” Wragg says.

If found to be true, “it reopens the question of press regulation and the adequacy of press regulation in this country”, Wragg says.

After the prince’s testimony ended on Tuesday defence lawyers said he had failed to produce a “single item” of evidence proving his phone was hacked by journalists working for MGN.

The royal said this was because the journalists in question had used “burner phones” allowing them to destroy call logs.

The case continues.

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How are internally displaced Ukrainian children coping?

In the final instalment of this two-part series, Euronews investigates how children in Ukraine have had their lives upended by Russia’s invasion. How are NGOs Save the Children and UNICEF tackling challenges posed by internal displacement and disruptions to education?

As of January 2023, there were 6.2 million internally-displaced people (IDPs) in Ukraine. The United Nations estimates that more than 3.5 million children across the country have “severe to catastrophic levels of needs”. Approximately 75% of parents have reported that their children have symptoms of psychological trauma as a result of the war with impaired memories, shorter attention spans, and a decreased ability to learn.

“We try to work with families inside of Ukraine, those trying to get their children back [those forcibly deported to Russia] but also families who have had their children returned”, Ajman Yamin, Save the Children’s Advocacy, Campaigns, Communication and Media Director for Ukraine told Euronews.

“This is one of the situations that is very sensitive for families. Sometimes after they get their children back they don’t even want to talk about it, because they worry that something else might come after,” he said.

Collective centres have been set up to cater to Ukraine’s displaced population. There are some 7,000 collective centres in the country but many of them lack child-friendly facilities and infrastructure for small children.

In addition, Save the Children has reported that collective site managers do not have the experience to deal with diverse groups of IDPs, such as ethnic minorities, people with specific needs, female-headed households with children, older people, etc., which can exacerbate IDP vulnerabilities and introduce barriers to accessing services.

To better address the needs of children, the charity has a large focus on reintegration through what Save the Children calls ‘child-friendly spaces’. These centres cater to children who are not up to speed with the education curriculum, provide space for parents to discuss their financial needs, and help children process difficult emotions through designated therapy dogs.

Educating a lost generation

Education comes in two parts, both formal and social as Ajman Yamin explained: “Children are trying to form their opinions of what life looks like. It is vastly important for them to socialise, and meet each other. And this is why we continue to push not only to work with the Minister of Education but also work with families on improving the quality of learning and making sure there are opportunities for children to speak to each other, learn from each other, and socialise which will help them develop a healthier view of themselves and of life.”

For many children in Ukraine, remote learning has become the norm. The shelling of critical infrastructure and residential areas has forced many schools in frontline areas to conduct lessons online.

Poor internet connection, energy blackouts, and a lack of suitable smart devices can disrupt lessons, while less than 30% of school children have access to a laptop or tablet.

As a consequence and after two years of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children are not educated or do not have the age-appropriate skills required by Ukraine’s Department of Education.

To facilitate both online and in-person learning, Save the Children has developed digital learning centres (DLCs) and mobile learning stations. Teachers are transported on purpose-fitted buses with learning materials to war-torn areas to provide families and children with educational support and to allow children to socialise together.

UNICEF is also on the ground providing essential services such as medical care, psychological support, family support, clean water and education.

“UNICEF is delivering both humanitarian assistance and humanitarian recovery all the way along that spectrum from bottled water and medical kits in frontline locations all the way through to supporting health clinics with power generation and all the equipment they need to get wastewater treatment plants back online and functioning again”, Damian Ranch, the Chief of Communications for UNICEF in Ukraine told Euronews.

“One of the most important things, as far as UNICEF is concerned, is ensuring that wherever children may be, no matter what the set of circumstances is, children get the opportunity to access learning, whether it be in a formal school setting or whether it be online,” he said.

For UNICEF, the focus remains on ensuring that children return to education as soon as possible. However, many humanitarian organisations in Ukraine depend on private donations to continue their work.

As Russia’s full-scale invasion nears the one-and-a-half-year mark, some experts fear compassion fatigue will hit financial supporters.

“The world has been very generous to Ukraine and to us [Save the Children] in particular,” said Yamin. “But sadly, the level of funding cannot meet the level of need, and the number of people in need is big” he continued.

Ukraine has a land mass of 603,700 square kilometres making it the second largest country on the European continent after Russia, this adds further logistical challenges. “It can take more than 14 hours just to get from the west to the centre, so that puts large demands on us,” explained Yamin.

“I think beyond UNICEF, it’s something that all organisations working in conflict zones worry about. But we have seen a significant decline [in funding] in 2023 compared to last year. I think people are looking ahead to 2024 and are worrying about how much programming they can put in place”, echoed Damian Rance.

While online learning is helping to bridge the gap for students in the interim, Rance warned that schools will not be repaired overnight.

“Recovery and rebuilding are not just about infrastructure, this is also about rebuilding the community and society here in Ukraine so that it is child-centric and child-focused, one that puts children and their needs at the centre. And that requires, of course, significant resources,” he concluded.

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Explained | Why is the U.S. SEC cracking down on crypto exchanges?

The story so far: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges. On Monday, the SEC filed over a dozen charges against Binance, alleging the exchange commingled billions of dollars of investors’ funds and routed them to a company in Europe owned by CEO Changpeng Zhao. A day later, on June 6, the securities regulator slapped a lawsuit against another major crypto exchange. It sued Coinbase for evading disclosure requirements.

What happened to Binance?

Crypto exchange Binance handles tens of billions of dollars in trading volumes every day. Due to trading controls in the U.S., strict oversight, and registration procedures for crypto businesses, Binance did not allow U.S. customers to trade on But it offered the Binance.US trading platform to the U.S.-based users. The regulator alleged that Binance worked to let “high-value U.S. customers” access the international Binance platform. Binance.US is operated by Binance and BAM Trading Services Inc.

The regulator alleged that BAM Trading and BAM Management US Holdings, Inc. misled investors about trading controls that did not exist on Binance.US. The regulator also stated that Binance and its CEO commingled and diverted customer funds while Zhao was controlling the operations of Binance.US in secret.

The SEC has filed 13 charges against Binance entities and Zhao, alleging that they were “engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.”

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What happened to Coinbase?

The regulator alleged that Coinbase evaded disclosure requirements that were put in place to safeguard investors. The lawsuit charged that the exchange traded at least 13 crypto tokens that should have been registered. Coinbase said in a statement that it will continue its regular operations.

The lawsuit against Coinbase follows a Wells notice sent by the regulator to the crypto exchange in March. A Wells notice is a letter sent by the SEC to a firm or individual after it concludes an investigation that could lead to an enforcement action.

Coinbase went public in 2021 during the crypto boom, and opened at $381 a share on its first trading day. On Tuesday, the company’s shares were down to $51.61 a piece.

What will be the impact of the SEC’s action against Binance?

At the basic level, the regulator’s actions will spook U.S.-based crypto traders who use Binance’s services but wish to invest in crypto assets legally. The SEC’s message has made it clear that U.S. traders using both and Binance.US are in danger of violating the law. The SEC also questioned the ability of Binance and its entities to keep its customers’ funds safe.

“Defendants’ purposeful efforts to evade U.S. regulatory oversight while simultaneously providing securities-related services to U.S. customers put the safety of billions of dollars of U.S. investor capital at risk and at Binance’s and Zhao’s mercy,” said the SEC’s legal filing dated June 5.

SEC Chair Gary Gensler warned that the “public should beware of investing any of their hard-earned assets with or on these unlawful platforms.”

How has Binance responded to the allegations?

Binance issued a statement on Monday, saying that it was disappointed with the SEC and that it had previously cooperated with the regulator’s investigations. The crypto exchange also accused the SEC of trying to make headlines rather than protecting investors. Binance stressed its intention to defend itself “vigorously.” It pointed out that as a U.S. regulator, the SEC’s control over the trading platform was limited because Binance was not a U.S. company.

“Any allegations that user assets on the Binance.US platform have ever been at risk are simply wrong, and there is zero justification for the Staff’s action in light of the ample time the Staff has had to conduct their investigation,” said Binance, insisting that all user assets on Binance and affiliate platforms were “safe and secure.”

Zhao, meanwhile, used the number ‘4’ to signal his Twitter followers to not give in to “FUD” – a crypto slang acronym referring to fear, uncertainty, or doubt – and said that the media had received the SEC complaint before he did.

“Our team is all standing by, ensuring systems are stable, including withdrawals, and deposits,” he tweeted on Monday.

What does the U.S. SEC want?

The U.S. SEC has strongly pushed crypto businesses and trading platforms to register themselves with the regulator, claiming this will ensure investor protections and greater transparency. However, major crypto company heads have been wary of the SEC’s invitations for negotiation, especially in light of the SEC’s history of taking legal action against cryptocurrency companies it claims are breaching U.S. securities laws.

Coinbase’s legal head Paul Grewal noted in a tweet that the U.S. is falling behind and this absence is enabling other markets to frame rules and regulations that can enable crypto to thrive in their jurisdictions. In a detailed response to the Wells notice sent by the regulator in March, Grewal pointed out that the SEC, instead of developing a regulatory framework for crypto, is “continuing to regulate by enforcement only.”

While the Binance and Coinbase lawsuits are different in their charges, they seem to have one common goal: the SEC’s intention to bring crypto exchanges under the U.S. securities law. The SEC has long held the view that tokens constitute securities, and has asserted control over crypto assets. And more recently, the agency has taken aim at unregistered crypto exchanges.

Earlier this year, SEC Chair Gary Gensler commented that all crypto assets except Bitcoin are securities. He singled out Bitcoin as a commodity, and hence it must be regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The SEC’s definition of a security is broad, and it includes any investment contract in which an individual invests in a common enterprise for the only purpose of making profit from the effort of others. And based on the regulator’s view, tokens traded on crypto exchanges could come under the SEC’s purview.

How will these events affect the cryptocurrency market?

The cryptocurrency market is small and extremely susceptible to shocks and spooks when compared to more mainstream finance sectors. After the SEC’s lawsuit against Binance, the price of Bitcoin (BTC), the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, fell around 3.90% in a day to retail at under $26,000. The second largest coin, Ether (ETH), fell by 2.96% in the same interval to trade at below $1,900.

However, the Binance-created BNB (BNB) cryptocurrency took a harder hit, dropping by around 7.95% on Tuesday and plunging under the $300 mark to trade at around $277. Meanwhile, the BinanceUSD (BUSD) stablecoin that is pegged to the value of the U.S. Dollar dipped slightly before recovering.

Experienced investors may have already taken into account Binance’s legal tangles with regulators worldwide, and the Wells notice SEC served to Coinbase. But new investors may panic and sell their tokens. Others may wait to see how the regulatory landscape changes for the volatile crypto industry.

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(W.E. Talk) What does Iran’s resumption of diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia mean to the world?

Special: W.E. Talk

(ECNS)–On June 6, 2023, the Iranian Embassy in Riyadh officially reopened, starting a new chapter in the history of bilateral relations.

Before then, under the mediation of China, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore ties and reopen embassies seven years after cutting diplomatic ties. On April 6, Saudi Foreign Minister met his Iranian counterpart in Beijing, which was the first formal meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries in more than seven years. Both countries announced the resumption of diplomatic relations as of the same day. What benefits will the conciliation of two Middle Eastern countries after long-time severing relations bring to the region and the world? Faced with the new situation in the Middle East, what solutions has China proposed?

In the latest W.E. Talk, Josef Gregory Mahoney, professor of Politics and International Relations at East China Normal University, and Qu Qiang, fellow researcher at Beijing Foreign Studies University were invited to share their opinions.

Prof. Mahoney believed that it’s a clear signal that both sides trust China, and are willing to demonstrate both their positive regard for China and their capacity for fostering peace with each other under the mediation of China, contrary to their distrust of the United States. The U.S. is experiencing a downward trend in power but is still stuck in a Cold-War mentality, while China is serving decisively as a global peacemaker.

Qu Qiang said that China has always been a contributor to the development of the Middle East. The fact that the two countries with historical differences once again “chose” Beijing indicates that they both recognize China’s fair, neutral and trustworthy international status in the region. Choosing to connect each other with China being a bridge shows their strongest trust in China’s strength in all aspects, and signals the end of an era of theU.S. dominance in the Middle East.

Here are the excerpts of the dialogue.

CNS: What are the reasons for the resumption of the diplomatic tie between Saudi Arabia and Iran? What impacts will it have on global politics and economy?

Josef Mahoney: For decades, we blamed the Saudi-Iran conflict on the religious differences. But to what extent was the conflict dependent on U.S. antagonism towards Iran and the desire to provoke a so-called divide-and-conquer mentality in the Middle East in order to make sure that the U.S. played a dominant role in oil prices? To what extent was it contingent on the special relationship that Riyadh enjoyed with Washington?

Now that the U.S. has disengaged increasingly from the Middle East in part to abandon the messes it made there and largely to escape those responsibilities to accomplish its pivot against China. Along the way, as we’ve seen, U.S. and Saudi ties are souring. And given the fact that both Saudi Arabia and Iran have good relations with Beijing, China served as a mediator and successfully made the reconciliation without the U.S. in the picture.

Qu Qiang: In the U.S. Middle East policies, the first stage after WWII is happening mostly because of the petrodollar. The reason why they’ve been supporting the Saudi royal family, and been supporting the Pahlavi Dynasty in Iran is because they can form allies to make sure the supply of oil and the bond between the oil and the U.S. dollar can be tight. But later what happened is that revolution in Iran happened. And so America, in order to meet its best interest, has been using the second stage of policies, which is “split and manage”. U.S. cannot stabilize the Middle East because Iran has a hostile relation with the U.S. They used to be allies, but now they are the largest competitor in the oil businesses. So either side America favors will create more push back from the other side.

However, China is quite a very different story. China is a builder in the Middle East. China doesnot have any historical (relations) in a problem in the Middle East region. China has been rebuilding the war-hit zones in Iraq and helping Saudi Arabia to build a future city, and China has also been working with Iran and rebuilding their economy. Because China is the friend of both sides, everybody will have this patience to sit down and talk and eventually to decide what is of the best interest of both sides and of the whole region.

CNS: Why did Saudi Arabia and Iran incline to Beijing again when they talkedabout the resumption of diplomatic ties? What signalsare released? Does the reconciliation between the two countries mean the end of the era of U.S. dominance in the Middle East?

Josef Mahoney: Given the constructive role Beijing plays in helping the two countries restore ties, given Beijing’s neutrality, it’s sensible that they would continue to meet in Beijing as they take concrete steps forward.

What signals may be sent? It’s a clear signal that both sides trust China and feel comfortable discussing what was previously unimaginable in Beijing. It’s also a clear signal that both countries are willing to demonstrate both their positive regard for China and their capacity for fostering peace with each other in China, contrary to the distrust both sides have for the United States.

We might be entering a new era where China’s major-country diplomacy equates with China serving decisively as a global peacemaker, contra the U.S. which is still stuck in a Cold-War mentality.

Qu Qiang: First, the two nationswho have major historical differences once again choose China, which indicates that different factions of geo-states represented in the region all recognize China’s fair, neutral and trustworthy international status there. Second, China’s unique economic role is a good complementation to other countries in the region,therefore, China is welcomed. All countries are willing to grab this opportunity to establish long-term cooperation with China. The Chinese-style modernization and Belt and Road Initiative provide important opportunities for the sustainable and long-term growth of countries in the region. Third, as an independent major developing country with peaceful mission, China’s political influence and comprehensive national capacity can provide material and security support for the future stable growth of the region. In the past, the two countries also had a desire to build contact with each other, but failed to do so due to the interference of the U.S. and Western countries. Their choice to connect each other with China being a bridge shows their strongest trust in China’s strength in all aspects.

It also sends an important signal to the world that the era of the U.S. being the dominant country in the Middle East has ended. Today,the Middle East hopes to regain its position and influence in the international arena, and the Middle Eastern countries will increasingly embrace the participation and cooperation of big countries outside the region, including China.

CNS: China has helped settle disputes between two Middle Eastern countries. And previously, it released the Global Security Initiative which aims at addressing the security dilemma and safeguard world peace. Based on all these, what are the differences between China’s and the U.S. views on global security?

Josef Mahoney: The U.S. approach has been a zero-sum game. The entire U.S. economy at this point relies on the U.S. dollar, and on the Fed who is able to manipulate this system with a specific method. The U.S. cares about whether or not the U.S. can continue to maintain its hegemony, which is essential for the role of the dollar in its hegemony.The U.S. is used to having this hegemony, which nevertheless was degrading.

However, China knows that whatever happens in the world eventually has some influences on China because it plays such a monumental role in the global economy as the leading trade partner of most countries in the world. Therefore, what’s good for China is good for the world and what’s good for the world is good for China. But it’s not the same case for the U.S.and there lies the key difference between the two approaches.

Qu Qiang: The zero-sum game is a very obsolete thinking adopted by certain politicians in the West. The current world has been changed. Just take a look around, travel around, and you find this is a whole new world. It’s not a zero-sum game. You would like to watch your neighbor get better and better because you will get better too. It’s kind of a win-win result and America should also understand that.

China is a very steady advocate of internationalism. For example, the Belt and Road Initiative benefits local countries as well as China. Eventually, everybody wins. We can all together make the whole world a better place.

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Critics call them ‘credit mills.’ But some students say private courses give them the boost they need | CBC News

In high school, Saira Talut kept busy. She was a member of the model United Nations club and worked-part time at a fast food restaurant, all while keeping up an overall grade average in the 90s.

But she worried this wouldn’t guarantee her admission to competitive business and humanities programs at McMaster and Western University. So she turned to an independent private school in Scarborough, Ont., paying $500 for a Grade 12 calculus course at A+ Academy of Advancement.

The now third-year Western University student says the course offered smaller class sizes, flexible study time and opportunities for one-on-one support from instructors.

She ended the course with a mark in the high 80s — 10 percentage points higher than a similar course she had taken a year earlier at her high school.

In January 2020, CBC reported relaxed standards and potentially inflated marks from some independent private schools in the Greater Toronto Area. These schools are sometimes referred to as “credit mills” due to concerns from universities that they inflate students’ grades for a price.

Experts are raising concern over potentially inflated marks from some independent private schools. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

But the demand for these courses appears to only be growing. In 2020, there were about 650 private schools in Ontario offering high school credit. As of May, there were 690 such schools.

Talut says these courses can give students like her the little boost they need to get into “the program I really wanted, versus a program where I’m failing because I can’t get into anything else.”

Low self-confidence, academic pressure

Even though Talut was a top student, she says her self-confidence was low. She says there was a lot of social pressure to succeed at her academically rigorous public high school.

“I was constantly comparing myself to other people, whether that be in the form of scholarships, grades or program acceptances,” said Talut.

Ontario private schools that offer for-credit courses are required to follow the curriculum and are subject to inspections.

Saira Talut during a high school football game
Attending an academically rigorous high school with a competitive environment, Talut says she never felt good enough, despite how well she was doing in her classes. (Submitted by Saira Talut)

In a statement, the province’s Ministry of Education said credit-granting private schools are inspected on a “recurring basis” for “requirements regarding curriculum, assessment and evaluation policies.”

The ministry says that when a school is inspected, the inspector will recommend another inspection in the same year, the following year or in two years, “as circumstances warrant.”

Support for marginalized students

Aware of the criticism of other credit mills over the years, the owner of Rouge Valley Education Centre, another private school in Scarborough, says it does things differently.

Selvin Gnanapragasam says he welcomes students from diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds who he says have been failed by the public school system. He doesn’t charge kids from single-parent homes who are dealing with tough circumstances and cannot afford it, he says.

“I don’t do it as a business. [Students] come here with the trust I’m going to educate them. The education we give is the one they’re going to use as a tool for tomorrow,” said Gnanapragasam.

He says he waives fees for about 50 students every year.

A tutoring centre in Scarborough, Ontario.
The Rouge Valley Education Centre is located in a strip mall near the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. It offers virtual and in-person classes for students. (Nishat Chowdhury/CBC)

All of the centre’s teachers are his former students and have a master’s degree from the University of Toronto, he says. While they aren’t certified teachers, Gnanapragasam says they are “experts” in their fields.

Gnanapragasam says his priority is to support his students beyond academics.

“The best of you is hidden inside until somebody brings it out,” he said.

Two men sitting and posing for a picture in an office at Rouge Valley Education Centre in Scarborough, On.
Godwin Iwelomen, right, sent his son to Rouge Valley Education Centre when he began to struggle in Grade 11. He says Selvin Ganapragasam, left, welcomed his son with open arms and set him up for university. (Nishat Chowdhury/CBC)

Godwin Iwelomen sent his son to Rouge Valley Education Centre when he started struggling in his Grade 11 functions class, where he says his son lacked one-on-one time with his teacher.

“Those children who didn’t even consider going to university can become successful. My son can teach math now,” said Iwelomen.

Grade inflation’s ‘ceiling effect’ 

But some researchers still see the risks in students qualifying for post-secondary education with these types of courses on their record. Louis Volante, a professor of education governance at Brock University, says grade inflation has made it challenging for some institutions to see who truly stands out.

“The grades have been inflated so high and we’re getting what we refer to as a ceiling effect,” said Volante.

Louis Volante, a Brock University professor in the department of educational studies, is seen on the school's campus in St. Catharines, Ont., on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.
Louis Volante, a Brock University professor in the department of educational studies, says grading in high school is not as rigorous as it once was, which can lead to challenges for students when they enter university. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Volante added that this not only puts the students who attend schools with tougher grading at a disadvantage for admission, but it can also give other students a false sense of their academic ability.

“They’re both equally problematic,” said Volante.

In the faculty of engineering at the University of Waterloo, an adjustment factor is tracked by comparing the grade average students come in with, to the average they end up with at the end of their first year.

André Jardin, the admissions registrar at the university, says when the faculty started asking students for their high school transcripts rather than just their Grade 12 marks, many did not proceed with their application.

“We are not asking students from private schools for things that we don’t already get from other schools. We’re just ensuring that we have a complete picture,” said Jardin.

Last resort for busy students

Tomi Tufford says he was encouraged to take a private Grade 12 kinesiology course by his guidance counsellor, since his school didn’t offer it.

“I took it to have a little bit of prior knowledge before I go into first year to help me out,” he said of the $550 course from Ontario Virtual School in which he’s currently enrolled.

Working part time as a lifeguard, he couldn’t fit night school or summer school into his schedule. The virtual class, with pre-recorded lectures, offered him more flexibility.

While it worked out for him, Tufford says self-directed learning is not for everyone.

“If you’re someone who needs help throughout a course and you don’t have anyone around you that can help you with that, then it’s probably not the best option,” he said.

“If you have the option to go to school and learn it, I feel that’s a better learning experience. But if you are in need of a quick credit, and night school or summer school isn’t an option, it’s a pretty good alternative.”

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‘People will call me a hypocrite’: Why golf competitions the PGA, LIV and European Tour are merging

In an announcement so shocking that many players didn’t know it was coming, major golf organisations the PGA Tour, European Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf have confirmed they are merging, in the hope of unifying the sport.

It comes after what the PGA Commissioner called “two years of disruption and distraction” in golf, and it means pending lawsuits between the parties will now be dropped.

Some players say they feel betrayed, while others haven’t commented — and missing from all the announcements was Australia’s Greg Norman, the commissioner of LIV Golf.

Let’s take a look at how this massive shift in golf came about, what it means for the sport, and how the industry and players have reacted.

Who is part of the merger?

The merger involves:

  • The PGA Tour, which hosts most of its tournaments in the US but also runs some events internationally;
  • The European Tour, which hosts most of its tournaments in Europe; and
  • LIV Golf, a controversial rival (until now) league funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that has tried to reinvent the structure of professional golf while luring former major champions.

What’s the controversy around LIV Golf?

LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia have been accused of using “sportswashing” to gloss over human rights abuses in the country, such as the 2018 killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which the CIA said occurred on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Michael Wood asked 12 times by Cabinet Office if he had sold Auckland Airport shares

  • Michael Wood has been stood down as Transport Minister over shares in Auckland Airport.
  • Wood did not properly declare the shares and did not complete the sale of shares last year.
  • The Cabinet Office asked him 12 times since November 2020 if he had divested the shares.
  • Wood’s wife Auckland councillor Julie Fairey is also a beneficiary of a trust that owns airport shares in a managed fund.

Michael Wood was approached 12 times by the Cabinet Office over his Auckland Airport shares, seeking to confirm he had divested or was in the process of divesting his shares.

Wood told media the Cabinet office provided advice to him, which he “should have responded to with more urgency.”

He has not sold the shares yet, but contacted his new broker on Wednesday morning to get the process underway.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins was questioned about the suspended transport minister’s shares in the House on Wednesday by deputy National leader Nicola Willis.

* Michael Wood, the shares, and the taint of incompetence
* Michael Wood asked ‘about half a dozen times’ about his Auckland Airport shares, Hipkins says
* Auckland Council looking into potential conflicts of interest over airport shares

Hipkins listed the 12 dates, ranging from November 19, 2020 to March 27, 2023, when the Cabinet Office “sought to confirm whether he had divested the shareholding”.

“Throughout the process Michael Wood confirmed he was about to, or was in the process of divesting the shareholdings,” Hipkins said.


Prime Minister Chris Hipkins listed the dates when the suspended transport minister was approached by the Cabinet Office.

Willis asked if it was honest of Wood to, on 12 occasions, commit to divesting the airport shares but fail to do so.

“I think he should have divested the shares when he first said he was going to,” Hipkins said.

Wood said he regretted that he did not pursue that advice from the Cabinet Office as quickly as he should have.

Michael Wood was suspended as transport minister by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday.


Michael Wood was suspended as transport minister by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins on Tuesday.

When asked on Tuesday how many times the Cabinet Office had checked whether Wood had divested the shares, Hipkins said “probably somewhere around half a dozen”.

That doubled on Wednesday, with Hipkins listing all the occasions since 2020 that the Cabinet Office had sought to confirm the shares were divested.

The Opposition is questioning the Government around Wood’s Auckland Airport shares during Question Time, which is being livestreamed above.

Wood is standing by his decision to decline a North Shore Airport application last year while holding shares in Auckland Airport, saying he carefully considered “overwhelmingly negative feedback”, and advice.

National’s Nicola Willis on what she thinks should happen to Minister Michael Wood.


National’s Nicola Willis on what she thinks should happen to Minister Michael Wood.

ACT Leader David Seymour says the public can no longer give Wood the “benefit of the doubt” over not realising he still owned shares in Auckland Airport, and that Wood needed to resign.

Seymour said Wood, who was stood down as transport minister on Tuesday, could not “carry on as a minister after declining airport authority status to North Shore Aerodrome, despite owning shares in a competing airport”.

“The question of Wood being a minister is no longer a matter of ‘life admin’ as Chris Hipkins has put it,” Seymour said. “It is now a matter of whether people can trust the New Zealand Government to be open and transparent about who it serves.”


Transport Minister Michael Wood during caucus run.

Wood said the decision around the North Shore airport was made “after carefully considering the overwhelmingly negative feedback from the community and advice from officials”.

“I have already acknowledged that this conflict was mismanaged, and a mistake that I take full responsibility for,” he said in a statement.

North Shore Aerodrome applied to become an airport authority in 2020 with plans for a “modest expansion”.

The plan to expand North Shore operations left some residents fearing for their land and future generations.

In its application, the club said airport authority status would ensure the airport keeps up with the “changing legislative and operation requirements necessary for the management of a modern airport”, while supporting the future business and industrial urbanisation of the surrounding area.

It hoped to extend its runway to improve safety and to allow for small regional turboprop aircraft to operate, with limited additional regional transport links.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the Transport Minister decided not to recommend to the Governor General to grant the North Shore Aero Club airport authority status in 2022.

A spokesperson for Wood told news agency Localmatters at the time there remained “unresolved questions about what future requirements could be, were the airport to grow; and sufficient consultation between the airport and the community had not occurred”.

Dairy Flat School principal Katie Hills was among the community members who opposed the application at a public meeting attended by Wood in 2022.

Hills said the school could already hear the existing aircraft and an increase in flights or larger planes could make it difficult for teachers to be heard by students.

It also comes as Auckland Council looks into whether councillors – or their spouses – owning shares in Auckland International Airport was a conflict of interest ahead of a major council meeting this week.

Wood’s wife, Albert-Eden-Puketāpapa ward councillor Julie Fairey, is also the beneficiary of a trust that owns airport shares.

David Seymour on stage at the ACT party conference in Auckland.


David Seymour on stage at the ACT party conference in Auckland.

Fairey told Stuff she is a beneficiary of JM Fairey Family Trust which owns shares in Auckland International Airport as part of an investment in a managed fund, with just under 2% allocated to airport shares.

Fairey said trustees do not have control over the airport holding, only whether to hold the managed fund itself.

A member of the Puketāpapa Local Board for 12 years prior to being elected a councillor in October, Fairey declared she is a trustee of the JM Fairey Family Trust in previous Auckland Council elected member declarations of interest.

However, it does not appear in her 2022 register of interests. Fairey said that was because she did not realise she was a beneficiary of the trust.

“Today I updated my elected member declaration form to reflect my beneficiary title in the JM Fairey Family Trust, as I was not aware of this role until this morning. In previous years, I have proactively declared what I knew, which was my trustee role,” Fairey said.

The focus on airport share ownership comes as councillors are set to decide the fate of the council’s 18% shareholding in the airport company – worth about $2.2 billion.

Earlier on Tuesday, Wood said Hipkins’ decision to stand him down as transport minister was appropriate and that he accepted it “with good grace”.

“I made a mistake here. I accept that. That’s on me. And the appropriate thing to do now is to fix it.

“I made two mistakes. The first was not to declare that earlier on and that was a genuine error, and the second one was not completing the sale of the shares last year, I’ll be fixing both of those.”

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Elecciones 23J: el regreso de los debates ‘cuerpo a cuerpo’ en TV

Madrid (EFE).- Las elecciones del próximo 23 de julio traerán de regreso el modelo ‘cuerpo a cuerpo’ de los debates televisados tras aceptar el líder del PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, la oferta que 24 horas antes le lanzó el presidente del Gobierno, Pedro Sánchez. Sin embargo, no serán seis duelos electorales, uno a la semana hasta que se celebren los comicios, tal y como propuso el candidato socialista, sino, de momento, sólo uno.

El candidato de los populares criticó la propuesta del secretario general del PSOE y la tildó de imposición, ya que “los debates no se obligan”, sino que se “negocian”, y acto seguido avanzó que “habrá un cara a cara” entre Sánchez y él”.

Añadió en una entrevista en Onda Cero que tendrán que ser los jefes de campaña los que decidan el formato, la fecha y el lugar, en lo que habrá que tener en cuenta la legislación electoral, el artículo 66 de la Ley Orgánica del Régimen Electoral General (LOREG) en concreto.

Moncloa no descarta que haya más de uno. Fuentes gubernamentales consideran que un único duelo televisado es poco, por lo que mantendrán la presión al PP para que haya más, e incluso se reservan la posibilidad de que el presidente eluda la asistencia a ese ‘cara a cara’ aceptado por Feijóo si los populares no se avienen a que se celebren otros.

“Cuerpo a cuerpo”: formato del bipartidismo

La propuesta de Pedro Sánchez, un debate semanal con Feijóo desde el próximo lunes hasta llegar a las elecciones, encaja en un formato, ‘el cara a cara’, característico del bipartidismo.

Hasta el lunes pasado, cuando el presidente hizo la propuesta, se habían interesado por su organización y retransmisión Atresmedia y RTVE, que se lo ofrecieron a los dos candidatos para el 12 de julio y el 10, respectivamente.

Telecinco informó después de que la semana pasada también trasladó a ambas formaciones su propuesta para un debate entre Sánchez y Feijoo, aunque sin precisar fecha.

El presidente del Gobierno, Pedro Sánchez (c), en un mitin en Valencia con motivo de las elecciones del 28M. EFE/ Kai Forsterling

El último precedente: hace ocho años

Este tipo de estrategia electoral no se utiliza desde el 14 de diciembre de 2015. El último ‘cara a cara’ hasta la fecha fue protagonizado por el entonces presidente y líder de los populares, Mariano Rajoy, y el candidato de los socialistas Pedro Sánchez, y será uno de los más recordados por este lance entre ambos:

Sánchez acusó a Rajoy: “El presidente del Gobierno tiene que ser una persona decente, y usted no lo es”.

Y el candidato del PP respondió: “Hasta ahí hemos llegado. Primero, si usted creía que tenía que haber dimitido y no era digno de ser presidente del Gobierno, su obligación era presentar una moción de censura; yo es lo que hubiera hecho”.

Pero la aparición de otras fuerzas políticas ha hecho que este debate dialéctico se abra en las últimas contiendas electorales a cuatro candidatos de media, e incluso cinco, como el del 4 de noviembre de 2019, después de que Sánchez convocará elecciones legislativas tras no conseguir formar Gobierno.

Feijóo felicita a Núñez por
El presidente del Partido Popular, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, antes de un Comité de Dirección del PP. EFE/ Chema Moya

Ese debate a cinco (Sánchez, Pablo Casado, Albert Rivera, Pablo Iglesias y Santiago Abascal) lo realizó la Academia de las Ciencias y las Artes de la Televisión y el Audiovisual, fue moderado por los periodistas por Ana Blanco (TVE) y Vicente Vallés (Antena 3) y se emitió en doce cadenas.

Unos meses antes, previamente a las elecciones del 28 de abril del mismo año, en plena campaña, se produjo una anomalía: dos debates en 24 horas. Los protagonizaron cuatro candidatos, ya que Vox no contaba con representación parlamentaria y no reunía los requisitos que marca la Junta Electoral Central para participar. Esos candidatos fueron Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Casado, Albert Rivera y Pablo Iglesias.

Historia de los debates a dos

Los debates televisivos tienen poca trayectoria en España. La primera vez en la que dos aspirantes a La Moncloa se enfrentaron fue con motivo de las elecciones de 1993, dos años y medio después del nacimiento de las televisiones privadas. Felipe González y José María Aznar celebraron dos debates, uno en Antena 3 TV y otro en Telecinco.

La segunda vez que dos aspirantes a la presidencia del Gobierno defendieron de esta forma sus programas fue con motivo de las generales de marzo de 2008. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero y Rajoy debatieron en dos ocasiones.

YouTube player

Para las elecciones generales del 20 de noviembre de 2011, los candidatos Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba y Rajoy realizaron un sólo debate a dos y también fue producido por la Academia de Televisión y moderado por el presidente de la Academia, Manuel Campo Vidal, que ya lo hizo en 1993 y 2008.

En las elecciones generales del 20 de diciembre de 2015 se celebraron tres debates convocados por medios de comunicación, en algunos de los cuales participaron por primera vez los representantes de las dos nuevas formaciones emergentes Ciudadanos y Podemos.

El que enfrentó a los dos candidatos de las fuerzas mayoritarias, el del 14 de diciembre, también lo moderó Campo Vidal.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (d) y Mariano Rajoy, a su llegada al debate de marzo de 2008. EFE/Sergio Barrenechea

El árbitro: la Junta Electoral Central

La ausencia de normativa que regule en España los debates electorales en televisión ha dejado a la diferencia que marcan las encuestas la decisión de pedir o declinar la participación de los líderes en los “cara a cara”.

La formación que parte como vencedora no los concede, y sólo cuando los sondeos dan empate técnico los candidatos se arriesgan para intentar estimular y elevar el nivel de participación y hacerse con el voto indeciso.

En España, la Junta Electoral Central (JEC), que es quien los autoriza, mantiene que la pluralidad, la proporcionalidad y la neutralidad deben de estar en la información general de los medios de comunicación, tanto de titularidad pública como privada, y no en determinados programas.

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Family demands arrest of white woman after Black mother shot in alleged dispute over her kids | CBC News

Authorities came under intense pressure Tuesday to arrest and charge a white woman who killed a Black neighbour on her front doorstep in a case that has put Florida’s divisive “stand your ground” law back in the spotlight.

About three dozen mostly Black protesters gathered outside the Marion County Judicial Center to demand that the shooter be arrested in the country’s latest flashpoint over race and gun violence.

A 35-year-old mother of four, Ajike Owens, was killed in the Friday night shooting that Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said was the culmination of a two and a half year feud between neighbours.

The women lived in a neighbourhood in north Florida, in the rolling hills south of Ocala, known as the state’s horse country. On Tuesday, a stuffed teddy bear and bouquets of flowers marked the area near where Owens was shot.

Nearby, children were riding bikes and scooters, and playing basketball. Protesters chanted “No justice, no peace” and “A.J. A.J. A.J” using Owens’ nickname. They carried signs saying: “Say her name Ajike Owens” and “It’s about us.” There was no violence during the protest, which included a number of small children.

A protester holds a poster of Ajike Owens at the Marion County Courthouse on Tuesday. Officials are under pressure to charge the white woman who allegedly shot her Black neighbour on her front doorstep. (John Raoux/The Associated Press)

Racial slurs

The sheriff said Owens was shot moments after going to the apartment of her neighbour, who had yelled at Owens’ children as they played in a nearby lot. He also said a neighbour had thrown a pair of skates that hit one of the children.

Deputies responding to a trespassing call at the apartment Friday night found Owens suffering from gunshot wounds. She later died at a hospital in Ocala.

Before the confrontation, the shooter had been yelling racial slurs at the children, according to a statement from civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Owens’ family — and represented Trayvon Martin’s family in 2012. The sheriff’s office hasn’t confirmed there were slurs uttered or said whether race was a factor in the shooting.

Lauren Smith, 40, lives across the street from where the shooting happened. She was on her porch that day and saw one of the Owens’ young sons pacing, and yelling, “They shot my mama, they shot my mama.”

She ran toward the house and started chest compressions until a rescue crew arrived. She said there wasn’t an altercation and that Owens didn’t have a weapon.

“[The shooter] was angry all the time that the children were playing out there,” Smith said. “She would say nasty things to them. Just nasty.”

Smith, who is white, said the neighbourhood is “family-friendly” and the fact that the shooter is claiming self-defence is “outrageous.”

“I wish our shooter would have called us instead of taking actions into her own hands,” the sheriff said Monday. “I wish Ms. Owens would have called us in the hopes we could have never gotten to the point at which we are here today.”

Shooting ‘so senseless’

The sheriff said that since January 2021, deputies responded at least a half-dozen times in connection with the feuding between Owens and the woman who shot her.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken,” Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, told The Associated Press. She described the fatal shooting as “so senseless.”

Ferrell-Zabala said “stand your ground” cases, which she refers to as “shoot first laws,” are deemed justifiable five times more frequently when a white shooter kills a Black victim.

“We’ve seen this again and again across this country,” she said, adding that “it’s really because of lax gun laws and a culture of shoot first.”

WATCH | How Black teen’s shooting could test stand your ground laws:

Ralph Yarl shooting could set up another test of controversial ‘stand your ground’ laws

CBC News Network’s Hannah Thibedeau speaks with former career prosecutor Bill Tackett.

Stand your ground cases spark outrage

In fact, “stand your ground” and “castle doctrine” cases — which allow residents to defend themselves either by law or court precedent when threatened — have sparked outrage amid a spate of shootings across the country.

In April, 84-year-old Andrew Lester, a white man, shot and injured 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, a Black teenager who rang his doorbell in Kansas City after mistakenly showing up at the wrong house to pick up his younger siblings.

Lester faces charges of first-degree assault and armed criminal action; at trial, he may argue that he thought someone was trying to break into his house, as he told police.

A youth poses for a photograph.
Ralph Yarl was shot in the head in April after accidentally going to the wrong house to pick up his siblings in Kansas City, Mo. (Ben Crump Law/The Associated Press)

Missouri and Florida are among about 30 states that have “stand your ground” laws.

One of the most well-known examples of the “stand your ground” argument came up in the trial of George Zimmerman, a white man who fatally shot Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Zimmerman, who had a white father and Hispanic mother, told police that Martin, who was Black, attacked him, forcing him to use his gun in self-defence. He was allowed to go free, but was arrested about six weeks later, after Martin’s parents questioned his version of events and then-governor Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor.

Before trial, Zimmerman’s attorneys chose not to pursue a “stand your ground” claim, which could have resulted in the dismissal of murder changes as well as immunity from prosecution. But during the trial, the law was essentially used as part of his self-defence argument. Jurors found him not guilty.

Since Zimmerman’s trial, Crump has become outspoken on cases of gun violence.

Family seeking justice

The sheriff was joined at his news conference by community leaders and a local attorney retained by the family, Anthony Thomas. Their singular message was a call for patience while the sheriff’s office conducted its investigation.

Police haven’t interviewed Owens’ children, two of whom witnessed the shooting, because investigators first want child therapists to work with them. Most of the information the deputies have is coming from the shooter, the sheriff said.

“There was a lot of aggressiveness from both of them, back and forth,” the sheriff said the shooter told investigators. “Whether it be banging on the doors, banging on the walls and threats being made. And then at that moment is when Ms. Owens was shot through the door.”

At a vigil with the family later Monday, Thomas said the sheriff had promised him the most professional service that he and his deputies could provide, and Thomas plans to hold the agency to that.

During the same gathering, Owens’ mother, Pamela Dias, said that she was seeking justice for her daughter and her grandchildren.

“My daughter, my grandchildren’s mother, was shot and killed with her nine-year-old son standing next to her,” Dias said. “She had no weapon. She posed no imminent threat to anyone.”

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