Police officer dies after car rams U.S. Capitol complex

An attack at the US Capitol complex in Washington DC has left one police officer dead and another in hospital with injuries.

A car crashed into a security barrier before the driver lunged towards the officers with a knife, police said.

The officers opened fire and the suspect was shot dead.

The city’s acting police chief has said the attack does not appear to be terrorism-related. An investigation has been opened.

“Whether the attack was at law enforcement, or whoever, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it and we’ll do that,” Robert Contee, the acting chief of Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department, said at a news conference on Friday.

“It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at the conference.

In a later statement, Ms Pittman named the officer as William “Billy” Evans, who had been a member of the Capitol Police for 18 years.

“Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” she said.

William "Billy" Evans
image captionThe officer killed in the attack has been named as William “Billy” Evans

The exact circumstances of the officer’s death are not yet clear.

Two law enforcement sources involved in the investigation told BBC partner CBS News that the suspect in the attack was 25-year-old Noah Greene from Indiana.

They added that no prior information about him had been found on any police databases, and that he did not appear to have any ties to the military.

There is an increased security presence around the Capitol building, where the US Congress sits, and a number of police cars surrounding the area.

The entry point on Constitution Avenue where the vehicle struck the barricade is frequently used by senators and staff.

But Congress is currently in recess, meaning the majority of politicians are not at the Capitol complex today. View original tweet on Twitter

President Joe Biden left Washington earlier in the day for Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. The White House said the president has been briefed on the situation.

However, some reporters, maintenance workers and Capitol Hill employees are likely still on the Capitol grounds.

The lockdown order on the Capitol was lifted just after 15:00 local time. Officials said there was no ongoing threat.

Presentational grey line

A second attack in less than three months

Analysis by Samantha Granville, US Capitol

Capitol Hill has been tense over the past three months. Since the riot on 6 January, the complex has been like a fortress with barbed wire, metal fencing and heightened security.

But just weeks later, we are back here with blocked roads, extra troops, and a solemn feeling.

Congress is in recess today and staff I have spoken to are grateful to be home and nervous about returning to work after the Easter holiday.

They say, understandably, that it is scary to have your workplace attacked twice in a short space of time.

It is concerning for them that even with ramped up security, an event that led to an officer’s death still happened.

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What do we know about the attack?

Shortly after 13:00 local time (18:00 GMT) the Capitol Police alert system sent an email to lawmakers and their staff ordering them to stay away from exterior windows and doors due to a threat. Anyone outside was instructed to seek cover. 

At that time, a man driving a blue sedan had rammed the car into two officers standing at the North Barricade, according to police.

He exited the vehicle and ran towards the officers – at least one of whom drew a weapon and shot the suspect. The officers were then transported to hospital, one in an ambulance and one in a police cruiser.

Footage of the scene showed a helicopter flying overhead and what appeared to be two people on stretchers being moved into ambulances. 

Onlookers were told to clear the area.

Police said the suspect died due to his injuries at 13:30 local time. Chief Contee told reporters the suspect appeared to act alone.

Officer investigate the crime scene

The FBI’s Washington Field Office is responding to the situation and is providing support to the Capitol Police. The US Attorney General is also aware of the incident and is being updated, according to CBS News. 

The incident comes nearly three months after the deadly 6 January riot at the Capitol.

Source: BBC

Nawal El Saadawi: Feminist firebrand who dared to write dangerously

“They said, ‘You are a savage and dangerous woman.’

“I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.”

So wrote Nawal El Saadawi, who has died at the age of 89, according to Egyptian media reports.

The pioneering Egyptian doctor, feminist and writer spent decades sharing her own story and perspectives – in her novels, essays, autobiographies and eagerly attended talks.

Her brutal honesty and unwavering dedication to improving the political and sexual rights of women inspired generations. 

But in daring to speak dangerously, she was also subjected to outrage, death threats and imprisonment. 

“She was born with fighting spirit,” Omnia Amin, her friend and translator, told the BBC in 2020. 

“People like her are rare.”

Born in a village outside Cairo in 1931, the second of nine children, El Saadawi wrote her first novel at the age of 13. Her father was a government official, with little money, while her mother came from a wealthy background.

Her family tried to make her marry at the age of 10, but when she resisted her mother stood by her. 

Her parents encouraged her education, El Saadawi wrote, but she realised at an early age that daughters were less valued than sons. Later she would describe how she stamped her foot in fury when her grandmother told her, “a boy is worth 15 girls at least… Girls are a blight”.

“She saw something wrong and she spoke out,” says Dr Amin. “Nawal can’t turn her back.”

One of the childhood experiences El Saadawi documented with uncomfortable clarity was being subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) at the age of six. 

In her book, The Hidden Face of Eve, she described undergoing the agonising procedure on the bathroom floor, as her mother stood alongside. 

She campaigned against FGM throughout her lifetime, arguing that it was a tool used to oppress women. FGM was banned in Egypt in 2008, but El Saadawi condemned its continued prevalence.

Nawal El Saadawi 28 February1986.
image captionEl Saadawi, pictured in 1986, was a fierce critic of religion

El Saadawi graduated with a degree in medicine from Cairo University in 1955 and worked as a doctor, eventually specialising in psychiatry. 

She went on to become director of public health for the Egyptian government, but was dismissed in 1972 after publishing her non-fiction book, Women and Sex, which railed against FGM and the sexual oppression of women. 

The magazine Health, which had she founded a few years earlier, was closed down in 1973. 

Still, she continued to speak out and write. In 1975, she published Woman at Point Zero, a novel based on a real life account of a woman on death row she had met.

It was followed in 1977 by the Hidden Face of Eve, in which she documented her experiences as a village doctor witnessing sexual abuse, “honour killings” and prostitution. It caused outrage, with critics accusing her of reinforcing stereotypes of Arab women.

Then, in September 1981, El Saadawi was arrested as part of a round-up of dissidents under President Anwar Sadat and held in prison for three months. There she wrote her memoirs on toilet paper, using an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her by a jailed sex worker.

“She did things that people just didn’t venture to do, but for her it was normal,” Dr Amin says.

“She wasn’t thinking about breaking rules or regulations, but telling her truth.” View original tweet on Twitter

After President Sadat was assassinated, El Saadawi was released. But her work was censored and her books banned.

In the years that followed, she received death threats from religious fundamentalists, was taken to court, and eventually went into exile in the US. 

There she continued to level attacks against religion, colonialism and Western hypocrisy. She railed against the Muslim veil but also make-up and revealing clothes – upsetting even fellow feminists.

When BBC presenter Zeinab Badawi suggested during an interview in 2018 that she tone down her criticism, El Saadawi replied: “No. I should be more outspoken, I should be more aggressive, because the world is becoming more aggressive, and we need people to speak loudly against injustices.

“I speak loudly because I am angry.”

Dr Nawal El Saadawi , Egyptian writer, doctor, novelist , visits the Occupy London camp at St Paul's on her 80th birthday
image captionEl Saadawi visited the Occupy London camp at St Paul’s on her 80th birthday in 2011

As well as sparking outrage, El Saadawi gained much international recognition, with her books translated into more than 40 languages.

“I know people do not always agree with her politics, but what inspires me most is her writing, what she has achieved and what that can do for women,” says British author and publisher Kadija Sesay, who acted as her agent in London. 

“Especially if you are an African woman, or a woman of colour, you will be affected by her work.”

She received numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world. In 2020, Time magazine named her one of its 100 Women of the Year, dedicating a front cover to her. 

But one thing would remain out of reach.

“Her only dream or hope was for some acknowledgement from Egypt,” Dr Amin says. “She said she had received honours worldwide, but never got anything from her own country.”

El Saadawi returned to her beloved Egypt in 1996 and soon caused a stir. 

She stood as a presidential candidate in the 2004 election and was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for the 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak. 

She spent her final years in Cairo, close to her son and daughter. As Egyptian newspapers reported her death, the simple message (in Arabic) “Nawal Al-Saadawi…….. goodbye”appeared on her Facebook page.

“She has been through a lot,” said Dr Amin. “She has affected generations. 

“The young try to look for role models. She stands up.”

Kadija Sesay remembers the writer for her willingness to listen to other women’s stories and speaking to them about their harsh experiences. 

“I don’t know many people, especially when thy are that well known, who are that giving,” she says.

“But she didn’t want to be anybody’s hero – she’d say, ‘Be your own hero’.”

By Jasmine Taylor-Coleman
BBC News

Peloton: Child killed in ‘tragic’ treadmill accident

Peloton has warned parents to keep children away from its treadmills after the death of a child.

Peloton treadmill

Boss John Foley said the firm recently learned of the “tragic accident”, one of a “small handful” of incidents in which children have been hurt on its exercise equipment.

He did not provide further detail about how the accident happened.

But he said children should stay away from the firm’s machines, which surged in popularity during the pandemic.

“We design and build all of our products with safety in mind. But in order to help ensure that you and your family members stay safe with Peloton products in your home, we need your help,” he wrote in the letter to customers.

“Keep children and pets away from Peloton exercise equipment at all times. Before you begin a workout, double check to make sure that the space around your Peloton exercise equipment is clear.”

Peloton sells cycling machines and treadmills that can be connected online to virtual fitness classes. Its business has boomed as people look for alternative ways to exercise during lockdowns and gym closures.

The firm has said the skyrocketing demand has created supply chain pressures, leading to backlogs in orders for the machines.

a woman with a Peloton bike

‘Devastating’

Its treadmills, which sell for more than $2,400 (£1,722), were designed for use by those aged 16 and older, who weigh at least 105 pounds, it said.

Mr Foley said the company did not intend to release more information about the accidents, in order to respect privacy of those involved.

“While we are aware of only a small handful of incidents involving the Tread+ where children have been hurt, each one is devastating to all of us at Peloton, and our hearts go out to the families involved,” he wrote.

The company is “currently assessing ways to reinforce our warnings about these critical safety precautions to hopefully prevent future accidents,” he added.

Last year, Peloton recalled about 27,000 bikes in the US, citing problems after clip-on pedals broke unexpectedly during use.

John Magufuli: Tanzania’s president dies aged 61

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died aged 61, the country’s vice-president has announced.

He died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Samia Suluhu Hassan said in an address on state television.

Mr Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health.

Opposition politicians said last week that he had contracted Covid-19, but this has not been confirmed.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you that today… we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement.

She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast.

Mr Magufuli was declared president on his 56th birthday in October 2015. He was elected for a second term following a disputed poll last year.

He was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus.

Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.

Mr Magufuli was last seen in public on 27 February, but Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa insisted last week that the president was “healthy and working hard”.

He blamed the rumours of the president’s ill-health on “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.

But opposition leader Tundu Lissu told the BBC that his sources had told him Mr Magufuli was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.

On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.

Audio cassette tape inventor Lou Ottens dies aged 94

Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer credited with inventing the audio cassette tape, has died aged 94. 

An estimated 100 billion cassette tapes have been sold around the world since they were introduced in the 1960s. 

Ottens’ invention transformed the way people listened to music, and there has even been a resurgence of the cassette in recent years. 

The engineer died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family announced on Tuesday.

Ottens became head of Phillips’ product development department in 1960, where he and his team developed the cassette tape. 

In 1963, it was presented at the Berlin Radio electronics fair and soon became a worldwide success. 

Ottens struck a deal with Phillips and Sony that saw his model confirmed as the patented cassette, after a number of Japanese companies reproduced similar tapes in a number of sizes. 

On the 50th anniversary of its creation, he told Time magazine that it was a “sensation” from day one. 

Customers look at music cassettes displayed at a Fnac store, on August 28, 1987
image captionBillions of cassette tapes have been sold around the world since their invention in the 1960s

Ottens was also involved in the development of the compact disk, and more than 200 billion of those have been sold worldwide to date.

In 1982, when Phillips showed off a production CD player, Ottens said: “From now on, the conventional record player is obsolete”. 

He retired four years later. When asked about his career, he said his biggest regret was that Sony and not Phillips had created the iconic cassette tape player, the Walkman

Cassette tapes have experienced an unlikely surge in popularity in recent years. A number of artists including Lady Gaga and The Killers have released their music on them.

According to the Official Charts Company in the UK, the sale of cassettes in the first half of 2020 increased by 103% compared to the same time period the previous year.

And in the US, according to Nielsen music, sales of cassette tapes grew by 23% in 2018 compared with the previous year.

South Sudan plane crash kills all 10 on board

The authorities in South Sudan have confirmed that a small plane crashed on Tuesday evening in the eastern Jonglei State, killing all the 10 people on board.

The plane crashed at Pieri airstrip shortly after takeoff while heading to the capital, Juba.

A team of investigators will on Wednesday be sent to the site of the crash to conduct preliminary investigations, according to Transport Minister Madut Biar Yel.

The plane belonged to a local aviation company, the South Supreme Airlines. The firm has not yet issued a statement on the crash.

Jonglei State Governor Denay Jock Chagor said he received the news with “shock and horror” and sent condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

South Sudan’s air safety profile is not yet rated by the International Aviation Safety Assessment Programme. 

But the database on Aviation Safety Network (ASN) shows that at least 10 planes crashed in different locations in South Sudan between 2018 and 2020, which caused about 30 fatalities.

By: Nichola Mandil, BBC News, Juba

Hannu Mikkola: Finnish rallying great dies aged 78

Hannu Mikkola, nicknamed ‘The Flying Finn’, won 18 world championship races

Hannu Mikkola

Finland’s rallying great Hannu Mikkola has died at the age of 78.

He won the world title in 1983 at the wheel of an Audi Quattro and was runner-up in the championship three times.

Mikkola also claimed his home 1,000 Lakes event on a record seven occasions.

“We lost my father Hannu to cancer this weekend. Most knew him as a rallying great who ushered in the golden years of the sport,” said his son Vesa.

The 2003 world champion Petter Solberg was among those to pay tribute.

“Really sad to hear the news about Hannu Mikkola – he was a legend, a proper gentleman, a real champion, and a great father to great kids. Sending all my condolences to his family and friends. RIP,” he said on Twitter.

Daniel Prude: No charges for US officers over ‘spit-hood’ death

New York police officers filmed restraining an unarmed black man until he stopped breathing will not be charged over his death, officials say.

Daniel Prude, who had mental health issues, died in Rochester city after officers put him in “spit hood” designed to protect police.

The death in March last year led to days of protests against police.

On Tuesday, New York’s attorney general said a grand jury had declined to indict any officers in the case.

“I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed by this outcome,” Letitia James said at a news conference.

“My office presented an extensive case, and we sought a different outcome than the one the grand jury handed us today.”

A grand jury is set up by a prosecutor to determine whether there is enough evidence to pursue a prosecution. In legal terms, it determines whether probable cause exists to believe a crime has been committed.

Ms James expressed disappointment with the grand jury’s verdict, alluding to other cases in which officers had not been held accountable for “the unjustified killing of unarmed African Americans”.

Mr Prude’s death was one of the key events in months of unrest over racial injustice in the US last year.

Source: BBC

Covid: US on verge of exceeding 500,000 deaths

The US is on track to top 500,000 deaths from Covid-19 – the most for any country in the world – on Monday.

It comes just over a year after the first infection of the novel coronavirus, first detected in China, was recorded on the US west coast.

The grim milestone will be marked by a candle-lighting ceremony and moment of silence at the White House. President Joe Biden will also deliver remarks.

More than 28.1 million Americans have been infected – another global record.

The number of Americans who have had the coronavirus is nearly double that of second-highest India (11 million) and Brazil (10.1 million). Brazil has recorded the second-largest death toll at 244,000 while Mexico is in third with 178,000.

“People decades from now are going to be talking about this as a terribly historic milestone in the history of this country, to have these many people to have died from a respiratory-borne infection,” the nation’s top immunologist, Dr Anthony Fauci, told CNN on Sunday.

At least 90,000 more Americans are expected to be killed by 1 June, according to a recent projection from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME).

The IHME estimates that by late May, the virus will kill around 500 Americans per day – down from approximately 2,000 daily deaths now.

Hospital admission rates have fallen for 40 straight days, as approximately 1.6 million vaccinations are administered to Americans daily.

How is the US death toll being marked?

At the White House, President Biden will be accompanied by his wife Jill, as well as Vice-president Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff.

They will gather at the building’s South Portico for a candle-lighting ceremony, which will take place just after sunset. Mr Biden will also deliver remarks and a moment of silence will be held for the victims of the pandemic.

Mr Biden’s approach to the pandemic is different to his predecessor Donald Trump, who cast doubt on the impact of the deadly virus and was viewed as having politicised the wearing of masks and other measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

On 19 January, one day before Mr Biden took office, he held an event to mark 400,000 Americans dying of the disease.

“To heal, we must remember, and it’s hard sometimes to remember, but that’s how we heal,” he said from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along the sacred pool of reflection, and remember all whom we lost,” he said less than one month ago.

Source: BBC

Wall Street Charging Bull sculptor Arturo Di Modica ‘dies aged 80’

The sculptor behind Wall Street’s famous Charging Bull statue has died aged 80, reports say.

"Charging Bull" statue artist Arturo Di Modica speaks at a press conference addressing legal rights over the "Fearless Girl" installation on Wall Street on April 12, 2017 in New York City.
image captionArturo Di Modica originally installed the bull in New York in 1989

Friends of Arturo Di Modica told Italian media that the sculptor died in his home town of Vittoria, Sicily. He had been fighting cancer for many years, La Repubblica reported.

The bull was originally installed in New York in 1989 without permission.

It was designed to represent the “strength and power of the American people” after the 1987 market crash.

Police seized the 7,100 pound (3,200 kg) bronze statue from its position outside the New York Stock Exchange. But following a public outcry, city officials allowed it to be reinstalled days later in the heart of Manhattan’s financial district.

It has gone on to become one of the most recognisable images of New York, and a major tourist attraction. 

The Charging Bull or Wall Street Bull is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 16, 2019.

In recent years, Di Modica opposed the temporary installation of another now famous statue, called Fearless Girl, opposite the bull. 

Di Modica complained at the time that his bull was meant to embody “strength, power and love”, and that having Fearless Girl – designed to call attention to gender inequality and the pay gap in the corporate world – face off against it turned its message into something negative.

Other notable works by Di Modica include marble pieces exhibited at the Rockefeller Center, works in bronze at Castle Clinton National Monument, and a bronze horse exhibited in the Lincoln Center, his biography on chargingbull.com says.