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The Latest: Thousands mourn for Puerto Rico at May Day rally
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The Latest: Thousands mourn for Puerto Rico at May Day rally

The Latest: Thousands mourn for Puerto Rico at May Day rally
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa
A boy dressed in a military uniform salutes from his father's shoulders during the annual May Day parade at Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

The Latest: Thousands mourn for Puerto Rico at May Day rally

The latest on May Day events and rallies around the world (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

Thousands of Puerto Ricans marched to the rhythm of traditional music and tambourines while opposing austerity measures, with many demanding the ouster of a federal control board overseeing the U.S. territory's finances.

Protesters in San Juan also called Wednesday for much faster federal help in the island's recovery from September 2017's Hurricane Maria.

Many in the crowd waved Puerto Rican flags made in black and white rather than red, white and blue to symbolize mourning for the territory's plight.

Participants also urged the local government to save a public pension system that faces nearly $50 billion in payments it doesn't have funds to cover.

A protester dressed as comic book superhero Spiderman was arrested after jumping over a street barrier and hugging a police officer.

___

7 p.m.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have taken part in the country's annual May Day march, filing past former President Raúl Castro and successor Miguel Díaz-Canel in an event dedicated to denouncing new restrictions and sanctions announced by the U.S. government.

The crowd held an enormous white banner that read, "Unity, Commitment and Victory" in red letters.

The U.S. recently said it would place a new cap on the amount of money that families in the United States can send relatives in Cuba and moved to restrict "non-family travel."

Loudspeakers blared the words of a march leader: "No foreign or extra-territorial law will take decisions in our country."

___

4:30 p.m.

Italian news agency ANSA says two protesters and a police officer were injured when police blocked a demonstration to oppose construction of a high-speed rail tunnel between France and Italy.

ANSA said none of the injuries on Wednesday were reported to be serious.

The group of protesters who assembled on a street in Turin included members of the 5-Star Movement, which opposes the tunnel through the Alps. Torino city councilor Damiano Carretto said on Facebook he was hit on the head and hand with a police truncheon.

The movement's partner in governing Italy, the League, has supporters that consider the tunnel vital. The 35.7-mile (57.5-kilometer) long Turin-Lyon High-Speed Train link is a key part of a European Union project linking southern Spain with eastern Europe.

A deputy with the Democratic Party has accused the rival 5-Stars of pushing and verbally abusing Democrats at May Day celebrations.

___

4:15 p.m.

French police and some violent protesters have clashed again during a May Day march in Paris.

Some of the troublemakers, wearing masks and black hoods, could be seen throwing rocks and other objects at riot police, who responded with tear gas and flash grenades near the Place d'Italie square.

More than 7,400 police officers were deployed on Wednesday for May Day events in Paris. More than 200 people had been arrested by mid-afternoon.

Authorities had warned against the presence of "radicalized protesters."

The masked protesters clashed with police earlier at the starting point of the main march, near Montparnasse train station.

Activists with France's yellow vest movement joined the traditional march to show solidarity with labor unions in rejecting French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies.

___

4:00 p.m.

An activist group says more than 100 people have been arrested at May Day rallies across Russia, with over half of the detentions taking place in St. Petersburg.

The OVD-Info group said Wednesday that at least 68 people were detained in St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, in an anti-government contingent that authorities had sanctioned as part of the main May Day demonstration. Two people reported injuries.

Police brutally manhandled people in the opposition contingent, including local lawmaker Maxim Reznik. He was released quickly because of his status as a public official.

Reznik told the Dozhd TV station that officers detained almost everyone in his protest group and would not give the reason for the arrests.

Some of them were carrying placards saying "Putin is not immortal" in reference to President Vladimir Putin who has been at the helm of the country since 2000. Most of them are supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

___

3:35 p.m.

Police have briefly clashed with protesters in Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city, and in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, as May Day rallies were being held.

In Sweden, protesters threw cobblestones and fireworks at police as they were being kept away from reaching a rally by a neo-Nazi movement that had received official permission to march.

In Copenhagen, helmeted police circled their vans around a group of hooded people in black who were shouting anti-police slogans, trying to keep them away from other May Day demonstrations.

A handful of people were detained in both countries.

The heaviest May Day clashes in Europe took place in France, where police clashed with stone-throwing protesters as tens of thousands of people started marching in Paris on Wednesday under tight security. More than 200 arrests were made.

___

2:30 p.m.

Car-sharing companies are urging customers in Berlin not to park vehicles in areas where May Day protests are expected.

Miles, which has a fleet of cars in the German capital that can be reserved with an app, warned customers against leaving them in parts of the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain district s until Thursday.

Rallies and May Day celebrations are planned in both areas and have in the past erupted into violence, with protesters torching vehicles.

___

1:10 p.m.

French protesters and police have clashed briefly in Paris as thousands of people gather for a May Day march.

Authorities fear some troublemakers could join anti-government protesters and union workers.

Police used some tear gas to control a crowd near Paris' Montparnasse train station.

AP reporters observed groups of hooded people in black shouting anti-police slogans, mixing with other protesters wearing yellow vests or waving union flags.

French authorities warned "radical activists" may join the Paris demonstration and renew scenes of violence that marked previous yellow vest protests and May Day demonstrations in the past two years.

More than 7,400 police have been deployed in Paris.

Yellow vests have joined traditional May Day union march to show their common rejection of French President Emmanuel Macron's economic policies.

___

1 p.m.

Spain's workers are marching on May Day in major cities to make their voices heard days before acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez starts negotiating with other parties to form a new government.

Spain's leading labor unions are pressing for Sánchez to roll back business-friendly labor and fiscal reforms that have remained in place since the previous conservative administration.

Sánchez's Socialist party won Sunday's election on Sunday, but will still need other parties to form a government and pass laws. Sánchez will meet with the leaders of the three other top vote-getters next week. The far-left United We Can party is offering to enter the new Socialist government.

Unai Sordo, leader of Spain's CCOO union, says in Madrid that "the result of the general elections gives us the possibility for a progressive political majority."

___

12:30 p.m.

Activists say more than a dozen people have been detained in Russia's second-largest city for participating in an unsanctioned political protest on May Day.

The OVD-Info group that monitors detentions of political activists says that at least 15 people were detained at the May Day rally in St. Petersburg. Most of them are supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The activists were marching with the main May Day demonstration through central St. Petersburg. Some of them were carrying placards saying "Putin is not immortal" in reference to President Vladimir Putin who has been at the helm of the country since 2000.

___

12:15 p.m.

An opposition party in South Africa is using May Day to rally voters a week before the country's national election.

Economic Freedom Fighters members, wearing their signature red shirts and berets, gathered at a stadium in Johannesburg to cheer in support of populist stances that have put pressure on the ruling African National Congress to address issues like economic inequality and land reform.

The EFF has made some South Africans uncomfortable, however, with comments about foreigners and whites.

___

12 p.m.

Greece has been left without national rail, island ferry and other transport services for a day as unions hold strikes and rallies to celebrate May Day.

Hundreds of people gathered in central Athens Wednesday for three separate rallies and marches to parliament organized by rival unions and left-wing groups.

The Greek capital was left without public bus, trolley bus and urban rail services all day due to a 24-hour transport union strike, although the city's metro trains were running most of the day.

The national train and island ferry services are set to resume Thursday.

___

11:55 a.m.

Russian authorities say that about 100,000 people are taking part in a May Day rally in central Moscow.

Moscow police said on Wednesday that the rally organized by Kremlin-friendly trade unions on Red Square attracted around 100,000 people.

Over the years, the May Day in Russia has transformed from the occasion for rallies for workers' rights to an official event carefully orchestrated by Kremlin-controlled groups.

Opposition activists, however, often try to use the May Day to promote their agenda.

The respected activists' group OVD-Info which compiles police reports on detentions of political activists said that six political activists have been detained in Moscow before the morning rallies. Separately, in the remote Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in Russia's Far East, police have detained at least 10 people who showed up at the local May Day rally wearing yellow vests in an apparent nod to the protest movement in France.

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11:45 a.m.

Turkish police detained May Day demonstrators who tried to march toward Istanbul's symbolic main square in defiance of a ban.

Turkey declared Taksim Square off-limits to May Day celebrations citing security concerns. Roads leading to the square were blocked Wednesday and police allowed only small groups of labor union representatives to lay wreaths at a monument.

Still, small groups chanting "May Day is Taksim and it cannot be banned," attempted to break the blockade. The official Anadolu news agency said more than two dozen were detained.

Trade unions and political parties will mark the day with rallies at government-designated areas in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara.

Taksim holds symbolic value for Turkey's labor movement. In 1977, 34 people were killed there during a May Day event when shots were fired into the crowd from a nearby building.

___

11 a.m.

Ahead of a May Day rally in over a dozen German cities, Germany's biggest trade unions are urging voters to participate in this month's European elections and reject nationalism and right-wing populism.

The DGB, a confederation of unions with almost 6 million members, said Wednesday that the European Union has helped ensure peace on the continent for decades and brought significant benefits to millions, from paid holidays to maternity protection.

The unions called for ambitious EU-wide investments to boost employment and growth, saying "people must feel that the EU improves their lives in a lasting and tangible way."

The unions warned that the political and economic turmoil in Britain following its vote to leave the European Union nationalism "shows what happens if those who stoke fear but have no plan for the future gain the upper hand."

___

10 a.m.

Thousands of trade union members and activists are marking May Day by marching through Asia's capitals and demanding better working conditions and expanding labor rights.

A South Korean major umbrella trade union has issued a joint statement with a North Korean workers' organization calling for the Koreas to push ahead with engagement commitments made during a series of inter-Korean summits last year.

Many of the plans agreed between the Koreas, including joint economic projects, have been held back by a lack of progress in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

May Day rallies are also being held in the Philippines, Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar and elsewhere in Asia.

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • The Florida Department of Children and Families is working to suspend operations at a Westside preschool, after a baby girl was left in the facility’s van for five hours, and died. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office says Ewing’s Love & Hope Preschool & Academy picks up some of their children, but this morning, an infant was left in a car seat in the back of the facility’s van. That was around 8 AM, and it wasn’t until around 1 PM that JSO says the baby was found unconscious and not breathing. She was taken to the hospital, but died. “Every day, parents entrust child care providers with their most precious gifts. Tragically, today a family has just been notified of the gut-wrenching loss of their precious baby girl,” says a statement from DCF Secretary Chad Poppell. Poppell says DCF has opened a joint child death and child care licensing investigation, as it also works with law enforcement. They have started the administrative process of getting an emergency suspension order to stop operations at the facility. DCF additionally says the preschool did not notify them that they were transporting children, so transportation standards were not being monitored. Some of those standards include maintaining a driver’s log of each child that includes verification that each has left the vehicle, conducting a physical inspection of the vehicle to ensure no child is left behind, and having a second staff member perform similar verifications. The most recent inspection of this preschool took place last month, and there were no violations, according to online records. Overall, since the preschool was licensed in 2016, they have not had any Class I violations- which are the most serious- two Class II violations, and 13 Class III violations. At this time, no arrests have been made in connection to the baby’s death today. JSO says they’re working with the State Attorney’s Office to determine what charges are appropriate in this case and if any charges will be filed.
  • John Walker Lindh, the American, who as a teenager, joined the Taliban in Afghanistan in the run-up to the 911 terror attacks, is scheduled to leave a federal prison in Indiana Thursday after serving 17 years on charges of providing support to the Islamic fundamentalist group. >> Read more trending news   Lindh, who is now 38, said he converted to Islam after seeing the film “Malcolm X as a teenager. He left the United States to go to Yemen to study Arabic and the Quran. Then when he was 21 he traveled to Pakistan to join the Taliban. He was with the group on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers flew planes into the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. and a crashed a fourth plane into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A little more than two months after the attacks, Lindh was captured when the United States attacked Afghanistan after the country’s leaders refused to turn over 911 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Lindh was taken to the Qala-i-Jangi fortress which was being used as a prison for captured Taliban soldiers. While there, he was interrogated by American intelligence officers. A violent uprising by the prisoners at Qala-i-Jangi on Nov. 25, 2001, resulted in the death of CIA officer Micheal Spann along with more than 400 Taliban soldiers and supporters. Spann’s family opposes Lindh’s scheduled release. Lindh is said to have known of the planned uprising at Qala-i-jangi, though he did not directly take part in the attack. Neither did he let American interrogators know about the planned uprising, according to American prosecutors. Here are seven things to know about Lindh before he is released: Lindh went by the name Sulayman al-Faris during his time in Afghanistan. He became known as the “American Taliban” after his capture in 2001. Lindh was the first American detainee to be brought to the United States for trial on during the War on Terror. He was first charged with conspiring with al-Qaeda, but was not charged with Spann’s death. He was indicted on 10 charges on Feb. 5, 2002. He was in a Taliban training camp and said he met bin Laden there.  Lindh said he never intended to fight against Americans, even though he stayed with the Taliban after 9-11 and knew bin Laden had planned the attacks. Lindh’s defense attorneys entered into a plea bargain in July 2002. Lindh pleaded guilty to two charges – supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony – and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. One condition of the plea deal was that he had to consent to a gag order keeping him from making any public statement. LIndh contended that he was tortured by U.S. military personnel after his capture. As part of the plea deal, he had to drop the claims of mistreatment.
  • A former Somali army colonel accused of war crimes was found guilty of torture Tuesday in Virginia, where he’s lived for decades and, up until earlier this month, worked as a driver for both Uber and Lyft.  A federal civil jury ordered Yusuf Abdi Ali, of Fairfax, to pay $500,000 to Farhan Mohamoud Tani Warfaa, who said he was tortured for four months as a teen in 1987 before being shot multiple times and left for dead. The jury unanimously found Ali guilty and awarded Warfaa, now 49, $400,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, federal court records show.  Jurors found Ali liable for the torture Warfaa suffered but found he was not liable for the attempted killing of the teen, the verdict form shows.  “We’re thrilled that the jury came back and found that our client had in fact been tortured,” Warfaa’s attorney, Kathy Roberts, of the Center for Justice and Accountability, or CJA, told The Washington Post. “It’s a good verdict; it stands for the principle that no one above the law. Our client is very happy.” >> Read more trending news No criminal charges have ever been brought against Ali related to the his military service. Warfaa, who traveled for the trial from his home in northern Somalia, also now known as Somaliland, said in a statement through the CJA that he hopes Tuesday’s verdict can contribute to the continued healing of those who suffered at the hands of Ali, who was purportedly a high-ranking commander in former Somali President Jaalle Mohamed Siad Barre’s regime.  Ali was known as Col. “Tukeh,” or “Crow,” during his time in Siad Barre’s command, the Post reported.  “It has been a long journey, seeking justice for what happened to me and to my community,” Warfaa said in the statement. “Today’s verdict was a vindication not only for me, but also for many others in Somaliland who suffered under Col. Tukeh’s command.” The torture Warfaa was subjected to as a 17-year-old farmer stemmed from a missing water tanker.  “Over the course of a three-day trial, the jury heard evidence that early one morning in 1987, Mr. Warfaa was rounded up with other men from his village and taken to the military headquarters of the Fifth Brigade of the Somali National Army, where Col. Tukeh held command,” CJA attorneys said in a news release. “Mr. Warfaa testified that Col. Tukeh’s soldiers tortured and interrogated him, and that Col. Tukeh himself shot Mr. Warfaa multiple times at point blank range, leaving him for dead.  “Miraculously, he survived.” See a 2016 Canadian Broadcasting Corp. report about Yusuf Abdi Ali below. Warfaa said in his lawsuit that he survived only because the men Ali assigned as his gravediggers saw he was alive and solicited a bribe from his family to let him live.  Ali’s attorney, Joseph Peter Drennan, told reporters the jury’s split decision suggested his client was found guilty of torture simply because of his position in the Somali army.  “Yusuf Abdi Ali was held liable because he was a commander in an army that served under a regime that had a poor human rights record,” Drennan said, according to CNN. “But aside from the plaintiff's testimony, there was virtually no evidence that Ali tortured anyone.” Drennan argued that his client cannot afford to pay the damages ordered by the jury, pointing out that Ali recently lost his job as a ride-share driver. He was considering an appeal of the verdict. Watch CNN’s report below on Yusuf Abdi Ali, who drove for Uber even as his federal civil case began last week. It was CNN that sent undercover reporters earlier this month to find Ali, who was working full-time as an Uber driver even as his civil trial for Warfaa’s torture and shooting was set to begin. At the time the reporters caught a ride with Ali, he was listed as an “Uber Pro Diamond” driver who had been working for the company for 18 months.  “I do this full-time,” Ali, who worked in suburban Virginia, told the reporters, saying he preferred working weekends because “that’s where the money is.” During the car ride, which the reporters surreptitiously caught on video, Ali said applying for the job had been easy.  “They just want your background check, that's it,” Ali said. “If you apply tonight, maybe after two days, it will come, you know, everything.” Ali passed the background check despite his name turning up in documents and news accounts of his alleged war crimes that are easily found in a Google search, CNN reported. The alleged atrocities under his command have also been detailed in a documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Witnesses who participated in the CBC documentary recounted murders they allege Ali committed during his command. During the civil trial in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, former soldiers who served under Ali and witnesses in Warfaa’s village testified on the plaintiff’s behalf. Ali has denied the claims against him, the Post reported.  Watch the entire 1992 CBC documentary about Ali, Crimes Against Humanity, below. “I did nothing to anybody,” he said in a deposition, according to the newspaper. “They’re just lying.” CNN reported that, following its questions about Ali, Uber suspended his access to the app. Lyft, which he had stopped working for in September, permanently banned him from working for the company.  Uber permanently removed Ali’s access following Tuesday’s verdict, CNN said.  The news network said that background checks for both Uber and Lyft are mainly done by a third party company called Checkr, which checks for red flags in sex offender databases, federal and local court records, as well as databases used to flag suspected terrorists.  A Checkr spokesperson told CNN its background checks “rely on public criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law rather than unverified sources like Google search results.” “Similarly, most employers don’t request background checks that include pending civil litigation due to its subjective nature,” the spokesperson said.  The lawsuit against Ali was first filed in 2005, when Warfaa learned the former military commander was living in the area of Alexandria, Virginia. According to the complaint, Ali served as commander of the Somali army’s Fifth Brigade from 1984 to 1989 before seeking asylum in Canada in 1990, as the tide turned against dictator Siad Barre. Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, plunging the country into decades of civil war.  “Col. Tukeh fled to Canada after the Barre regime was overthrown and eventually became a permanent resident of the United States, where he has been living since 1996,” the CJA said in its background of the case.  Warfaa’s civil suit says Ali was deported from Canada in 1992 for “having committed gross human rights abuses in Somalia,” at which time he came to the U.S. When deportation proceedings were initiated against him here, he voluntarily left the country.  He returned in 1996, reportedly on a visa obtained through his Somali wife, who had become a U.S. citizen, CNN reported. Ali’s wife was found guilty in 2006 of naturalization fraud for claiming she was a refugee from the country’s Isaaq clan -- the same clan that Ali has been accused of brutalizing during the civil war.  Warfaa’s lawsuit claims he was targeted because he is a member of the Isaaq clan, members of which established an opposition force called the Somali National Movement during the war.  “The Somali National Army committed widespread human rights abuses in its violent campaign to eliminate the SNM and any perceived supporters,” the civil complaint states. “It killed and looted livestock, blew up water reservoirs, burned homes, and tortured and detained alleged SNM supporters.” Read the entire amended complaint against Yusuf Abdi Ali below. Warning: The details of the alleged acts against Farhan Warfaa may be disturbing to some readers. The court document states that when the water tanker, which had been used to provide water to Ethiopian refugees, was stolen, Ali went to Warfaa’s village, Jifo Uray, with his men and threatened to execute everyone there unless the tanker was returned.  It was a few nights later that Warfaa and others from the village were rounded up and imprisoned by Ali’s men, the lawsuit states.  CNN’s report earlier this month was not the first time the network tracked Ali down in the United States. Reporters found him in 2016 working as a security guard at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. He was fired from that job a short time after the story aired, the network said. 
  • A one-time IB program teacher at Terry Parker High School has now pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography online. Jordan Schemmel changed his plea in federal court today, and now faces a mandatory minimum of five years in prison. He will also be required to register as a sex offender, and he may have a life term of supervised release. Schemmel was first arrested in October, and he initially pleaded not guilty to the charge. The criminal complaint says Schemmel had used Kik and seen things that were illegal, but said he removed himself from those groups. He also allegedly admitted to using Grindr, but said he would report any user he didn’t believe was over 18-years-old. The criminal complaint says Schemmel did ultimately admit to sending a video to someone on Kik- who was actually an undercover agent. He also allegedly told investigators he had other images and videos of child porn on his phone. The US Attorney’s Office says a total of 106 images and 28 videos showing the sexual abuse of a young child were found on Schemmel’s phone and thumbdrive. The court records show Schemmel said he knew child pornography was wrong, and he had tried unsuccessfully to stop himself, but he believed it was an addiction. The criminal complaint says Schemmel previously taught in both Duval and St. Johns counties. At the time of his arrest, the Duval County Public School District said they would remove Schemmel from any contact with students pending the outcome of an internal investigation, if he were to be released from prison. DCPS says Schemmel resigned his position in January, pending disciplinary action. Schemmel’s sentencing date is not immediately available.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is crediting multiple witnesses for helping their investigation of a double shooting in March, which has now led to an arrest. 19-year-old Cashmere Bland is accused of a robbery and shooting that happened on Atlantic Blvd. on March 16th. Police say Bland walked up to a vehicle with two people he knew inside, robbed the driver, and then opened fire. The driver was killed and the passenger was shot, but survived. Bland has been arrested for murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. 

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