Norway police air video in tycoon’s wife abduction case
By JAN M. OLSEN
Thursday, January 10
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norwegian police investigating the believed abduction of millionaire Tom Hagen’s wife released Thursday two surveillance videos taken outside the businessman’s office on the day she disappeared.
Police called for the three people seen in the Oct. 31 video to get in touch. Hagen’s 68-year-old wife, Anne-Elisabeth Falkevik Hagen, disappeared that day and police believe she has been abducted.
Chief police investigator Tommy Broeske said one of the men was seen walking on a road before turning around and going back down the road immediately. Police wanted to speak to the man, as well as another person walking on the same road and a passing cyclist.
According to Norway’s VG newspaper, a note found in the couple’s house, east of Oslo, claimed that Falkevik Hagen would be killed if the ransom — reportedly to be of 9 million euros ($10.3 million) — wasn’t paid in the cryptocurrency Monero or if the police got involved.
Police were informed about Falkevik Hagen’s disappearance on Oct. 31, but did not publicly speak about the incident until Wednesday. Since then, police had received “more than 100 tips,” Broeske said, adding “several seems to be interesting” without elaborating.
“We still have no suspects,” he said.
Hagen is number 172 on a list of Norway’s wealthiest people published by the financial magazine Kapital, with a fortune estimated to be nearly 1.7 billion kroner ($200 million) in 2018.
Remembering American saint Elizabeth Seton’s legacy and how it continues to inspire work with immigrants
January 10, 2019
Author: Catherine O’Donnell, Associate Professor of History, Arizona State University
Disclosure statement: Catherine O’Donnell does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Arizona State University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
January marks the feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Born in New York City in 1774, Seton became the first person born in what would soon become the United States to be canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, she has been celebrated as an “American saint.”
As the author of her recent biography, I believe Seton’s life and legacy transcend national boundaries. Seton drew inspiration from other cultures, and the religious community she created continues to serve and learn from immigrants.
When the American Revolution began, Seton’s family, like many other colonists, remained loyal to the Crown. After the war she witnessed the difficulties that defeated Loyalists faced.
As she grew to womanhood in New York City, Seton educated herself through an intellectual and social world that went beyond national boundaries. She was fascinated by French philosophy and English theology.
She married a transatlantic merchant, William Seton, son of an English immigrant, who had lived in Italy. The Setons socialized with other cosmopolitan merchant families, some of them immigrants.
If there was anything distinctly American about Seton’s experience of religion, it was that she saw around her many different faiths practiced openly. An Episcopalian by birth, she loved the Methodist hymns she overheard on Manhattan’s streets. She also admired the plain bonnets of Quaker women – “pretty hats,” as she called them – that they wore to demonstrate their humility.
New Yorkers worshiped in any number of ways, and Seton believed they all had value.
Converting to Catholicism
Seton’s discovery of Catholicism emerged from her willingness to appreciate, as she once wrote, “many different customs and manners.” A chance visit to Italy introduced her to the faith that would transform her life.
In 1804, William Seton’s health and business failed. The Setons traveled to Italy, hoping that the climate would cure William’s tuberculosis and that Italian merchant friends would resuscitate his business. William died, bankrupt, weeks after their arrival.
In Italy, Elizabeth visited Catholic churches, moved by the same interest in other faiths that characterized her New York life. She was first dazzled by the beauties of Florence, and then moved by the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, a belief that God was present during the sacrament of communion.
Back home in New York, Seton wavered in the face of her friends’ and family’s mistrust of a faith they did not consider appropriate for the United States. Among Protestant Americans, anti-Catholic attitudes were deeply rooted. Many believed Catholics were loyal only to Rome and untrustworthy.
After an agonizing deliberation, Seton formally converted. But weary of her family’s distaste for her new faith, she hoped to emigrate to Quebec, home to French-speaking Catholics and many churches. She hoped to find in Quebec a unified, Catholic society.
Founding a new community
Emigration proved impractical, and Seton instead moved to Maryland. Over the next 15 years, she developed a new understanding of how to live a faithful life in a diverse nation. Her beliefs did not change, but while earlier she had tried to persuade relatives to convert, she no longer did so.
In Maryland, Seton founded the American Sisters of Charity, an apostolic women’s religious community. The Sisters of Charity began orphanages and schools in Philadelphia, New York and beyond. Many of those cared for were newcomers to the United States or their children. The sisters were laying the groundwork for a Church that drew strength from immigrants in American cities and towns.
Seton also founded a school for girls. She insisted that non-Catholic children be welcome, and that they not be pressed to change their beliefs.
Seton was canonized in 1975. Pope Paul VI declared she had performed posthumous miracles, led a holy life and entered heaven. There are now 11 men and women who have been canonized for their work in the United States or colonies that would become part of the United States.
Some of those who advocated Seton’s canonization emphasized her status as a native-born citizen. The reason lies not in Seton’s life but in the later history of Catholicism.
In the decades after Seton’s death in 1821, large numbers of Irish and German Catholics immigrated to the United States. The cultural antipathy and economic competition that resulted revived anti-Catholic sentiments that had begun to recede.
The heavily immigrant Church was often anxious in the face of anti-Catholicism. Seton’s canonization was meant to be the ringing affirmative answer to the question of whether one could be both a good American and a good Catholic.
Today, the religious communities Seton inspired, the Sisters and Daughters of Charity, honor her as an American and a faithful Catholic. Yet they interpret Seton’s legacy as a commitment to human community that extends beyond national boundaries.
Members of the Sisters of Charity Federation aid immigrants in a variety of ways, including working with the legal system and offering homes to refugee families.
The Federation works with the United Nations to “give voice to those living in poverty,” and has joined other religious communities in a statement on behalf of “our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
As 2019 begins, and issues about stopping immigrants from entering the United States loom large, it is worthwhile to remember Elizabeth Seton belonged to many communities during her life – the nation was just one of them.
Lawyer: Georgia prosecutor seeking info about R. Kelly
Thursday, January 10
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. (AP) — A lawyer representing a couple who appeared in a recent documentary detailing abuse allegations against R. Kelly said prosecutors in Georgia have reached out to him.
Atlanta-based lawyer Gerald Griggs represents Timothy and Jonjelyn Savage, who have said repeatedly that Kelly has kept their daughter from contacting them and has brainwashed her. The Savages, who live in Stockbridge, just south of Atlanta, appeared in Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” series.
The series, which aired earlier this month, looks at the singer’s history and allegations that he has sexually abused women and girls. Kelly, who turned 52 on Tuesday, has denied wrongdoing.
Savage and his wife have said they haven’t heard from their daughter in about two years.
The Lifetime series reported that their daughter has repeatedly denied that Kelly has done anything wrong and has said she doesn’t want to talk to her family.
Griggs said the Fulton County district attorney’s office reached out to him on Monday seeking contact information for witnesses. Griggs said Fulton County investigators “haven’t confirmed or denied an investigation.”
Chris Hopper, a spokesman, for the Fulton County district attorney’s office, declined to comment.
Griggs said he has also been contacted by prosecutors in Kelly’s hometown of Chicago. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx addressed reporters Tuesday afternoon after her office had been inundated with calls about the allegations in the documentary, some tied to his Chicago-area home.
But Foxx also said there’s no active investigation of Kelly and launching one would require victims and witnesses.
WMAQ-TV reported that Foxx’s office said Wednesday it has received calls after Foxx asked the public to come forward with information about potential victims of the singer. The office said it is “reviewing and following up” on the calls, but has no additional information at this time.
Kelly’s Chicago attorney, Steve Greenberg, said in a phone interview Tuesday evening that the allegations in the Lifetime documentary were false. He also said it was inappropriate for a state’s attorney to characterize allegations she’d seen on TV, prior to charges or even an investigation.
Also in Chicago, according to WMAQ, police confirmed Wednesday that they conducted a “business check” at Kelly’s recording studio on the city’s West Side but “have no criminal complaints from anyone about the location.”
Timothy Savage told a police officer on Jan. 3 that Don Russell, whom he identified as Kelly’s manager, had texted him saying it would be best for him and his family if the documentary didn’t air, according to a Henry County police report.
Russell called Savage while the officer was there and Savage put the phone on speaker so the officer could listen, the police report says. It went on to say that Russell accused Savage of lying to Lifetime and said that if Savage continued to support the series, Russell and Kelly would be forced to release information that would show Savage was a liar and that would ruin him, his reputation, his business and his family.
Contact information for Russell could not be immediately found.
Savage also called police in May to report that a man named James Mason had threatened him because Savage was trying to reach his daughter, who he said was being held by Kelly, according to a police report. The report doesn’t say what the relationship between Mason and Kelly is.
Savage told the officer that Mason had called him around 3:10 p.m. on May 23 and said, “I’m gonna do harm to you and your family, when I see you I’m gonna get you, I’m gonna (expletive) kill you.”
Capt. Joey Smith with the Henry County Police Department confirmed by email Wednesday that a magistrate judge had issued a warrant for Mason on charges of terroristic threats and acts. The email says detectives would like to meet with Mason to “review his version of events.” The Henry County Sheriff’s Office said no one by that name has been arrested since the warrant was issued last year.
Mason did not respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment.
A Cook County jury acquitted Kelly of all 14 counts of child pornography in 2008. Prosecutors had argued a videotape showed him engaged in graphic sex acts with a girl as young as 13. Kelly and the alleged victim, in her 20s at the time of the trial, denied it was them in the video.
Kelly rose from poverty on Chicago’s South Side to become a star singer, songwriter and producer. Despite his legal troubles a decade ago, he still retains a following.
Kelly won a Grammy in 1997 for “I Believe I Can Fly,” and is known for such raunchy hits as “Bump N’ Grind” and “Ignition.”
Rebel drone bombs Yemen military parade, kills at least 6
By AHMED AL-HAJ
Thursday, January 10
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A bomb-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Shiite rebels exploded over a military parade for the Saudi-led coalition and its allies on Thursday near the southern port city of Aden, killing at least six people in a brazen attack that threatened U.N.-brokered peace efforts to end the yearslong war tearing at the Arab world’s poorest nation.
The attack at the Al-Anad Air Base, where American special forces once led their fight against Yemen’s al-Qaida branch, targeted high-ranking military officials in Yemen’s internationally recognized government with what the rebel Houthis described as a new version of one of their drones.
The attack also raised new questions about Iran’s alleged role in arming the Houthis with drone and ballistic missile technology, something long denied by Tehran despite researchers and U.N. experts linking the Yemeni rebel weapons to the Islamic Republic.
“Once again this proves that the Houthi criminal militias are not ready for peace and that they are exploiting truces in order for deployment and reinforcements,” said Information Minister Moammar al-Eryani, who said two senior military officials were wounded in the attack.
“This is time for the international community to stand by the legitimate government and force the militias to give up their weapons and pull out of the cities,” he added.
The Houthis immediately claimed the attack through their al-Masirah satellite news channel, saying the attack targeted “invaders and mercenaries” at the base in the southern province of Lahj, leaving “dozens of dead and wounded.”
Yemeni officials said that among the wounded were Mohammad Saleh Tamah, head of Yemen’s Intelligence Service, senior military commander Mohammad Jawas, and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki, adding that authorities were still searching for wounded among the rubble. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Local reporter Nabil al-Qaiti was attending the ceremony and standing in front of the stage when he saw a drone approach at a height of about 25 meters (82 feet) in the air, minutes after the parade started. Army spokesman Mohammed al-Naqib was delivering a speech from a podium when the drone exploded.
“It was a very strong explosion and we could feel the pressure,” he said, adding that two of the people standing next to him — a soldier and another journalist— were wounded. Al-Qaiti saw many wounded but no dead.
“The drone was packed with explosives,” he added.
Some 8,000 soldiers had been taking part in the parade, as well as two governors and a large number of top military commanders, including the chief of staff. Initial reports said six troops were killed.
Yemen plunged into civil war in 2014 when the rebels captured Sanaa, the country’s capital. A Saudi-led coalition entered the war in March 2015 as government forces looked poised to lose Aden to the Houthi advance. The U.S. supported the Saudi-led coalition for years despite its airstrikes killing civilians, only recently beginning to step back after the assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
The two sides last month agreed to a prisoner swap and cease-fire in the port city of Hodeida, through which much of the country’s humanitarian aid flows, in an effort to provide relief to a country pushed to the brink of famine by the war.
Fighting has largely abated in Hodeida but progress on the withdrawal has been slow. The U.N. humanitarian aid chief Wednesday accused the rebels of blocking humanitarian supplies traveling from areas under their control to government-held areas.
The use of drones also raised new concerns over Iran’s influence in the conflict. Officials in the Saudi-led coalition have shown journalists a series of drones they said showed a growing sophistication by the Houthis, starting first with plastic foam models that could be built by hobby kit to one captured in April that closely resembled an Iranian-made drone.
Those drones have in the past been flown into the radar arrays of Saudi Arabia’s Patriot missile batteries, according to the research group Conflict Armament Research, disabling them and allowing the Houthis to fire ballistic missiles into the kingdom unchallenged.
Iran has been accused by the U.S. and the U.N. of supplying ballistic missile technology and arms to the Houthis, something Tehran denies.
Houthi media quoted its military describing the drone as a new variant of its Qasef, or “Striker,” drone. The drone, a Qasef-2K, has been designed to explode from a height of 20 meters — about 65 feet — in the air and rain shrapnel down on its target, according to the Houthis.
A United Nations panel of experts on Yemen issued a report in 2018 noting that the Houthi’s Qasef-1 drone “is virtually identical in design, dimensions and capability to that of the Ababil-T, manufactured by the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industries.” The Ababil-T can deliver up to a 45-kilogram (100-pound) warhead up to 150 kilometers (95 miles) away.
Such drones remain difficult to shoot down with either light or heavy weapons fire. Iraqi forces learned while driving out the Islamic State group from northern Iraq, where the extremists would load drones with grenades or simple explosives to target their forces.
Qasef drones are launched with pre-programmed coordinates to follow, unlike other drones where a pilot flies it with a video link, said Jeremy Binnie, a weapons expert who works as the Middle East and Africa editor at Jane’s Defence Weekly.
“They’re like slow missiles. Once they are launched, there is no control,” Binnie said. “They do have excellent intelligence on the ground. They needed to specifically know when those guys are in the stands to be able to target.”
Associated Press writers Brian Rohan and Maggie Michael in Cairo, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.
Combating Racism With Exposure
By Matthew Johnson
When I started volunteering at a youth detention center, whose incarcerated population was entirely African American and Latino, I was told by an Africana Studies professor I respected that I should focus on my own community — white people — instead. He said this after I asked whether my presence in the detention center was fostering cross-racial solidarity. Despite respecting his knowledge and experience, I took exception to his advice then and still do now.
My reason for taking exception is purely strategic: I am not sure that a white person can convince another white person to be less racist. This is, in effect, what it means to be a “white ally” in the grassroots left. White allies take their marching orders from people of color, and then reenter their own (presumably white) communities to conduct missionary work in reverse: instead of racist attempts to “civilize” darker-skinned peoples, white allies conduct anti-racist attempts to civilize their lighter-skinned neighbors. This is somewhat misguided in my opinion.
I am a believer in the mere-exposure effect because it worked for me. To give just one example, I studied abroad in China as an undergraduate student and grew so accustomed to seeing mostly Han Chinese people everywhere that, upon my return home, diverse crowds of Americans seemed strange to me. People were larger, louder, and more intimidating than ever before.
But Chinese people not only became more familiar, they became more attractive. A similar change occurred in my psyche when I lived and worked in areas with more African Americans than whites.
I am not arguing that racism can be eradicated solely by (positive or neutral) exposure or that racist white people never encounter people of color on the streets or at work — but I am positing that exposure is a necessary condition for abolishing racism. Racism cannot be resisted in the abstract: it must be addressed practically and contextually. If ‘Racist Rick’ were replaced in his job some time ago by a person of color, and this was his only experience with an individual from said community of color, he would likely remain racist — especially if the media he consumes, the education he recalls, and the friends he keeps cast further suspicion on the black community. He would need a positive experience to shift his thinking.
I met a Palestinian man in the historic town of Beit Sahour a few years ago who allowed me to stay in his home for the night. He told me he opened his doors to just about anyone who wanted to visit — including Jewish settlers who laid claim to his land and denied his rights. When I asked him why, he recounted a story about an Israeli (Jewish) man: a stranger who had given him a ride when he was stranded and desperate. The man took him to his home, introduced him to his family, and served him dinner. My host said this experience changed him and that henceforth he was committed to exposing even the most reactionary Jews to Palestinians (himself and his family) by hosting them so that their minds would open the way his did. He bragged that he had even convinced a Jewish-American guest to reject an offer to settle in the West Bank out of respect for the Palestinians living there.
My Palestinian friend did not refuse the ride or his potential guests — he did not tell said Jewish guests to go home and lecture their (Jewish) friends about Palestinian rights. He made bold attempts at integration and (willingly) put himself in a vulnerable position in order to do so. The man who gave him a ride did likewise. The context may be different, but the power differential between Israelis and Palestinians is comparable to whites vs. (some) communities of color in the United States. The level of segregation is also comparable in some respects — and it will be more so if Trump gets his wall.
Exposure, however, is not as easy as it sounds given continued de-facto segregation in America. And this segregation is only one aspect of a larger system of racial oppression that most whites are loath to address. That system will have to be dismantled for racism to die, but in the meantime, we should allow ourselves to be exposed.
Matt Johnson, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is co-author of Trumpism.
Pompeo repudiates Obama Mideast policy, takes aim at Iran
By MATTHEW LEE
AP Diplomatic Writer
Thursday, January 10
CAIRO (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a scathing rebuke of the Obama administration’s Mideast policies on Thursday as he denounced the former president for “misguided” and “wishful” thinking that diminished America’s role in the region, harmed its longtime friends and emboldened its main foe: Iran.
In a speech to the American University in Cairo, Pompeo unloaded on President Donald Trump’s predecessor for being naive and timid when confronted with challenges posed by the revolts that convulsed the Middle East, including Egypt, beginning in 2011. Pompeo laid the blame notably on a vision outlined by President Barack Obama in a speech he gave in Cairo in 2009 in which he spoke of “a new beginning” for U.S. relations with countries in the Arab and Muslim world.
“Remember: It was here, here in this very city, another American stood before you,” Pompeo told an invited audience of Egyptian officials, foreign diplomats and students. “He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from ideology. He told you 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”
“In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid about asserting ourselves when the times — and our partners — demanded it,” Pompeo said, without mentioning the former president by name.
Pompeo blamed the previous administration’s approach to the Mideast for the ills that consume it now, particularly the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Iran’s increasing assertiveness, which he said was a direct result of sanctions relief, since rescinded by the Trump administration, granted to it under the 2015 nuclear deal.
He criticized Obama for ignoring the growth of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement in Lebanon to the detriment of Israel’s security and not doing enough to push back on Iran-supported rebels in Yemen.
Since Trump’s election, however, Pompeo said this was all changing.
“The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering,” he said. “Now comes the real ‘new beginning.’ In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region, because we’ve learned from our mistakes. We have rediscovered our voice. We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies.”
In the speech entitled “A Force for Good: America’s Reinvigorated Role in the Middle East,” Pompeo extolled the Trump administration’s actions across the region cementing ties with traditional, albeit authoritarian governments, taking on the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and imposing tough new sanctions on Iran.
“President Trump has reversed our willful blindness to the danger of the regime and withdrew from the failed nuclear deal, with its false promises,” Pompeo said.
Since withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran last year, the administration has steadily ratcheted up pressure on Tehran and routinely accuses the nation of being the most destabilizing influence in the region. It has vowed to increase the pressure until Iran halts what U.S. officials describe as its “malign activities” throughout the Mideast and elsewhere, including support for rebels in Yemen, anti-Israel groups and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“The nations of the Middle East will never enjoy security, achieve economic stability, or advance the dreams of its peoples if Iran’s revolutionary regime persists on its current course,” Pompeo said.
In a rebuttal to the speech, a group of mainly former Obama administration foreign policy officials rejected Pompeo’s assertions as petty and weak.
“That this administration feels the need, nearly a decade later, to take potshots at an effort to identify common ground between the Arab world and the West speaks not only to the Trump administration’s pettiness but also to its lack of a strategic vision for America’s role in the region and its abdication of America’s values,” the National Security Action group said in a statement.
Pompeo’s speech came on the third leg of a nine-nation Mideast tour aimed at reassuring America’s Arab partners that the Trump administration is not walking away from the region amid confusion and concern over plans to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria.
Earlier in Cairo, he met with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry to discuss security and economic cooperation.
Trump has boasted of his close relationship with el-Sissi, a former general who has been criticized for his human rights record and democratic shortcomings. The Trump administration has resumed weapons sales to Egypt that had been suspended over human rights concerns, including the jailing of several American citizens on what U.S. officials say are false charges.
At a brief news conference with Shoukry, Pompeo said he raised human rights with both el-Sissi and Shoukry and reminded them that “open and honest public debates are a hallmark of a thriving society.” He said he discussed a “panoply” of rights concerns, including the detention of political prisoners but gave no specifics.
Shortly before Pompeo arrived, the State Department noted improvements in Egypt’s human rights record. It welcomed the recent acquittal of employees of American civil society groups who had been “wrongly convicted of improperly operating in Egypt” and said the U.S. supports el-Sissi’s pledges “to amend Egyptian law to prevent future miscarriages of justice.” On Wednesday, however, an Egyptian court sentenced a leading activist behind the country’s 2011 uprising to 15 years in prison after convicting him of taking part in clashes between protesters and security forces later that year.