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Facebook bans ‘violent’ Boogaloo-linked network

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Facebook says it has removed and banned hundreds of accounts connected to a “violent” and “anti-government” US movement.

It said the network was loosely linked to the broader far-right “Boogaloo” movement but was distinct because it actively sought to commit violence.

Armed Boogaloo members have been seen at recent US protests.

The move comes Facebook faces a boycott from advertisers over hate speech on the platform.

Major companies including Ford, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Starbucks have pulled advertising from Facebook, urged on by campaigners who say the social media firm doesn’t do enough to remove racist and other hateful content.

On Tuesday, Facebook said it was disrupting the “dangerous” group on its platform.

“It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions,” a statement said. “Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so.”

The Boogaloo movement shares followers with some neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, as well as libertarians and anarchists.

Facebook removed 220 accounts on its namesake platform and another 95 accounts from Instagram, as well as 28 pages and 106 groups that “currently comprise the network”.

“We have also removed over 400 additional groups and over 100 other pages for violating our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy,” it said.

It added that the removal of the accounts was “the latest step in our commitment to ban people who proclaim a violent mission from using our platform”.

The social media site said it had been closely following the Boogaloo movement since 2019.

The movement, often referred to as the “Boogaloo Bois”, is loose and leaderless. Followers generally sign up to two fundamental beliefs: a desire for an armed overthrow of the government, and an unwavering commitment to gun ownership.

It began as a relatively small movement on the website 4chan but over years has grown considerably in size.

Last month, an air force sergeant with links to the movement was charged with the murder of a federal security officer during a Black Lives Matter protest. He was also charged with the murder of another officer eight days later.

US Attorney General William Barr last week formed a Justice Department task force to counter violent anti-government extremists including the Boogaloo movement.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53244339

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Redskins sponsor, FedEx, urges team to rebrand

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The headline sponsor of the Washington Redskins, Fedex, has called on the American football team to change its controversial name.

The Washington DC-based team has faced repeated calls to change its name, which is considered offensive to Native Americans.

After pressure from investors, FedEx on Thursday added its voice to the calls.

“We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name,” it said in a statement.

At the turn of the millennium, FedEx paid $205m (£165m) for the naming rights to the Redskins’ 82,000-seat stadium in Maryland. The deal expires in 2025.

But that is not the delivery giant’s only tie to the team. The boss and founder of FedEx, Frederick Smith also owns a minority stake in the Redskins.

The team has come under sustained pressure to change its name for decades.

Six years ago FedEx shareholders voted to allow the Redskins to keep its name after the shipping giant received a complaint from the Wisconsin-based Oneida Indian tribe.

But as firms assess their stance on issues around race, following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, FedEx has now called for the team to rebrand.

Last week, 87 investment firms and shareholders wrote to FedEx, along with fellow Redskins’ sponsors Nike and PepsiCo, calling on the firms to sever ties with the Redskins, according to AdWeek.

“‘Redskins’ remains a de-humanising word characterizing people by skincolour and a racial slur with hateful connotations,” the letter written to PepsiCo said.

As of Thursday, Nike’s website did not display any Redskins merchandise. The Washington-based team was the only one of the 32 NFL teams no longer listed in the site’s index. Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the past, the team’s owner Dan Snyder has remained steadfast on keeping the name, calling it a “badge of honour”.

The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53276070

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Vanessa Guillen: Woman charged over missing soldier ‘killed with hammer’

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A woman has been charged in the case of a missing Texas soldier whose body she is accused of helping to dismember and bury, prosecutors say.

Cecily Aguilar, 22, faces one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in the disappearance of Private First Class Vanessa Guillen.

Ms Guillen, 20, was last seen on 22 April at the Fort Hood military base where she worked.

Human remains believed to be hers were found in Bell County earlier this week.

Fort Hood officials named 20-year-old Aaron David Robinson as the main suspect in Ms Guillen’s disappearance on Thursday.

Investigators said the suspect, a junior soldier at Fort Hood, killed himself as police closed in on him after fleeing his post on Tuesday.

“While law enforcement agencies attempted to make contact with the suspect in Killeen, Texas, Specialist Robinson displayed a weapon and took his own life,” Damon Phelps, of the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, said at a news conference on Thursday.

Ms Guillen’s family has called for a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood base.

They allege that Ms Guillen had been harassed by someone within her unit, but officials have said they have no report to indicate she was sexually harassed or assaulted.

A Texas state legislator who has been working with Ms Guillen’s family told reporters last week Army officials suspected “foul play” in the case.

Why has Ms Aguilar been charged?

A criminal complaint against Ms Aguilar says Mr Robinson told her he had killed a female soldier at Fort Hood.

He admitted to bludgeoning Ms Guillen to death with a hammer in the armoury of the base before moving her body to a remote site, prosecutors said.

After her disappearance, around noon on 22 April, Ms Guillen’s car and barracks keys, ID card and wallet were found in the armoury room.

Mr Robinson allegedly attempted to dispose of Ms Guillen’s body, enlisting the help of Ms Aguilar, who is the estranged wife of a former soldier at the base.

When Mr Robinson showed Ms Aguilar the body, she recognised it to be that of Ms Guillen, the criminal complaint says.

Prosecutors said the pair attempted to dismember the body with a “machete-type knife” before burying the remains in three holes. They returned later to fill the holes with concrete, prosecutors said.

Ms Aguilar is being held in custody while the criminal investigation continues. If convicted, Aguilar could face up to a 20-year prison sentence.

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The remains have not yet been positively identified as Ms Guillen’s.

Agents from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, Texas Rangers, FBI and local police found the remains near the Leon River, about 30 miles (48km) from Fort Hood, after receiving a tip off.

Ms Guillen, a small-arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, is originally from Houston, Texas – about 200 miles (320km) from Fort Hood.

She was promoted to specialist on Wednesday due to her time in the military, Fort Hood officials said.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53273954

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Armed man held after entering Trudeau’s estate

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An armed member of Canada’s military has been arrested after driving a pick-up truck through the gates of an estate where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lives, police say.

The suspect used his vehicle to breach the main entrance of Rideau Hall in Ottawa early on Thursday morning.

He then entered the grounds on foot before being confronted by police.

The man was arrested at 08:30 local time (12:30 GMT) without incident. He is in custody, with charges pending.

Mr Trudeau and his family, who are currently living at a cottage on the Rideau Hall estate while the prime minister’s official residence is being renovated, were not at home at the time of the incident.

Nor was Governor General Julie Payette, who resides at Rideau Hall as the official representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s head of state.

“We thank the RCMP and police for quickly resolving the situation this morning at Rideau Hall. All of our staff are safe,” Ms Payette tweeted on Thursday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the suspect was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, whose identity “will be confirmed as soon as possible”.

The RCMP said it is working closely with the Canadian Armed Forces to investigate the incident, which was resolved “quickly and safely”.

“Through our members’ vigilance, quick action and successful de-escalation techniques, this highly volatile incident was resolved swiftly and peacefully,” the RCMP’s deputy commissioner, Mike Duheme, said.

The grounds of Rideau Hall, which sits on an 88-acre (0.35 sq km) wooded estate, have been closed to the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Pictures taken outside Rideau Hall appear to show damage to its main pedestrian gate, which the suspect rammed through in his vehicle. The vehicle was disabled on impact, the RCMP said.

Other pictures show an empty black pick-up truck inside the grounds of the estate. The RCMP said an army unit with a bomb-disposal robot searched the vehicle as a precaution.

Citing sources, Canadian media outlet Global News said the suspect had multiple firearms, including one rifle and two shotguns. The man indicated he wanted to speak to the prime minister but surrendered peacefully to police, a source told Global News.

CBC News cited a source as saying the suspect had driven his truck from the central province of Manitoba, about 1,900 km (1,180 miles) west of Ottawa.

Mr Trudeau has moved to limit the ownership of certain weapons in Canada, where gun ownership is popular, especially in rural parts of the country.

He introduced a long-promised ban on assault-style weapons in May this year, after a gun a rampage across the province of Nova Scotia that became the deadliest shooting in Canada’s history.

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-53273154

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