San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Calls grow for probe of deadly stampede
Demands grew louder Saturday for establishing an official inquiry into a stampede at a religious festival in Israel that killed 45 people, in part to gauge the responsibility of politicians and officials for allowing the mass gathering to take place despite repeated warnings over the years about safety lapses.
At least 10 youths younger than 18 were among the ultraOrthodox Jews killed early Friday, according to a partial list of names published Saturday as the identification of victims in Israel’s deadliest civilian disaster continued.
Four Americans, a Canadian and a man from Argentina were also among those killed. The stampede had cut short the annual festival of Lag BaOmer on Israel’s Mount Meron that had drawn some 100,000 people.
Experts have long warned that the celebrations were ripe for disaster due to the crowded conditions, large fires and hot weather. In a 2008 report, the state comptroller, a watchdog government office, warned conditions at the site, including escape routes, “endanger the public.”
The Justice Ministry said it was opening a probe into possible criminal misconduct by police officers. Witnesses complained that police barricades had prevented people from exiting properly.
However, there were growing demands Saturday, including from retired police commanders, for an official commission of inquiry that could also review decisions by the political leadership.
Israeli media said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured ultraOrthodox leaders that the celebrations would take place, despite objections from public health officials. Netanyahu’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
Nations ease border tensions
Neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to withdraw troops from their borders after an outburst of intense fighting that killed about 40 people and wounded 175.
The heads of national security for the two former Soviet republics in Central Asia agreed to the pullback during a meeting Saturday.
The fighting broke out Wednesday when Tajik officials attempted to mount surveillance cameras to monitor a water supply facility near the village of KokTash in Kyrgyzstan. Both nations have claimed the area, and clashes quickly erupted.
Kyrgyz officials say 33 people were killed on their side. Tajik officials have not announced casualties on their side, but media reports say about eight people were killed.
Election efforts to resume
The controversial twoyear term extension for Somalia’s president was revoked Saturday after intense public pressure, as the lower house of parliament approved his request to instead support efforts to organize the country’s longdelayed national election. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed asked the lawmakers to retreat from their decision last month to extend his time in office. The extension had been blasted by the Senate as illegal and opposed by soldiers who took up key positions in the capital and clashed with other security forces.
Saturday’s actions mean a return to talks on how to carry out the election that has been delayed since early February. Mohamed asked Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to lead the election preparations.
Some in the opposition had hoped that the president would resign. Mohamed left the future unclear, not saying whether he would run for a second term. MEXICO
Federal clash over governor
Mexico’s congress voted Friday to impeach Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of the border state of Tamaulipas, on charges of tax evasion, money laundering and organized crime.
But the legislature in Tamaulipas, a cartelplagued state across from Texas, voted not to recognize the action by the federal congress. It appears likely the issue will be decided at the Supreme Court.
Garcia Cabeza de Vaca is a member of the opposition National Action Party, which claimed the charges were part of a campaign by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party to win votes in the June 6 midterm elections. COLORADO
Officers resign after arrest
Three members of the Loveland, Colo., police department have resigned after they arrested and booked a 73yearold woman with dementia who was thrown to the ground and handcuffed, officials said. The woman, Karen Garner, who was suspected of shoplifting, was pinned against a squad car, and her arm was twisted behind her back, breaking a bone and dislocating her shoulder during the roadside arrest in Loveland last June, a lawsuit says.
The district attorney for Larimer County, Gordon McLaughlin, has requested a criminal investigation.
On Friday, Loveland’s police chief, Robert Ticer, said that two police officers who had arrested Garner — Austin Hopp and Daria Jalali — as well as a community service officer, Tyler Blackett, who had booked Garner, were “no longer employed” by the Police Department. INDIANA
Attack victims memorialized
Gov. Eric Holcomb told members of the Sikh community and others who gathered at an Indianapolis football stadium Saturday to remember the eight people killed in a mass shooting at a FedEx warehouse that he knows their anguish from the attack is far from over.
The memorial at Lucas Oil Stadium came two weeks after a former FedEx employee, Brandon Scott Hole, 19, fatally shot the eight people, including four members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community, before killing himself. Authorities have not released a motive in the April 15 shooting.
Under the stadium’s open roof, Holcomb said in his remarks that the capital city “is still reeling from the impact of that dark night.”
In a letter read aloud during the ceremony, former Vice President Mike Pence emphasized the grief for the Sikh community, whose members “add to the tapestry of this country.”