WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump has blamed leftwing extremist groups for instigating nights of looting and violence in cities across the United States, but an intelligence assessment offers limited evidence that organized extremists are behind the turmoil.
FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators take part in a rally following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., June 2, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo
In part of a June 1 internal, intelligence assessment of the protests viewed by Reuters, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said most of the violence appears to have been driven by opportunists.
The assessment, prepared by the department’s intelligence and analysis unit, said there was some evidence based on open-source and DHS reporting that the anarchist movement Antifa may be contributing to the violence, a view shared by some local police departments in public statements and interviews with Reuters.
Reuters reviewed only a portion of the document and could not determine if it addressed the tactics of the groups involved in the protests in greater detail elsewhere.
The part of the document seen by Reuters did not provide any specific evidence of extremist-driven violence, but noted that white supremacists were working online to increase tensions between protesters and law enforcement by calling for acts of violence against both groups. There was no evidence, however, that white supremacists were causing violence at any of the protests, the document said.
DHS spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the agency would “hold those responsible for the unrest accountable,” but did not specifically comment on the intelligence assessment.
The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
People took to the streets to protest the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer who pinned Floyd’s neck under a knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis on May 25.
In the days that followed, protests in several U.S. cities descended into looting and clashes with police officers.
As protests intensified over the weekend, U.S. Attorney General William Barr said violence in Minneapolis and other cities was being driven by “far-left extremist groups,” echoing comments Trump had made earlier. Barr said those causing the violence were traveling to hotspots from out of state without elaborating further.
Two Justice Department officials who declined to be identified told Reuters they had seen little evidence to support that claim.
Court and police records from some of the cities where violence erupted – Baltimore, Minneapolis and Washington – show most of the people the police had charged with rioting, property damage and violent offenses over the weekend lived either in those cities or in nearby suburbs. In Minneapolis, records show 25 of the 312 people booked into the county jail since May 26 listed addresses outside the state.
Still, some local and federal officials cited clear signs of organization behind clashes. A New York City Police Department official said protesters there prepared for a confrontation with police by using scouts, encrypted communications and arranging medical teams in advance.
“We’re seeing a lot of outside and independent agitators connected with anarchist groups who are deliberately trying to provoke acts of violence,” said John Miller, the head of the department’s intelligence unit.
One senior DHS official said there are “incredibly strong indications” that the violence in some cities was organized. The official cited allegations that New York City protesters tried to bring supplies of rocks, bottles and flammable liquids to protest areas and that protesters in at least two other cities tried to disrupt police radio transmissions.
In Las Vegas, assistant sheriff Christopher Jones said much of the looting and destruction was being caused by people taking advantage of the chaos. However, he also said graffiti and property damage which he described as targeting “capitalist structures” suggested Antifa involvement. He added that social media posts showed people expressing views “very consistent” with white supremacist ideology had intermingled with the crowd.
Federal authorities said they were beginning to identify people who helped turn the protests violent.
The Justice Department filed charges against an Illinois man, Matthew Rupert, after authorities said he posted a Facebook video in which he passed out what appeared to be explosive devices to protesters in Minneapolis, proclaiming at one point: “We came to riot.”
Prosecutors said police found more “destructive devices” in his car when he was arrested two days later in Chicago.
They did not say whether he claimed to identify with any particular group, either right wing or left wing. Rupert’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In New York, prosecutors charged three people with trying to use homemade incendiaries to burn police vehicles, but again did not identify them as belonging to any group.
Slideshow (3 Images)
SIGNS OF COORDINATION
In addition to New York, police in other places said they saw signs that some of the attacks on officers and looting was more organized, though they stopped short of blaming particular groups.
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said on Sunday that a portion of the damage in that city had been caused by people “bent on further destruction,” and that some of the looters targeting stores had by the weekend organized themselves into “caravans” of cars.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said that while protesters there were well coordinated it was “too early to tell” whether specific groups were orchestrating any of the rioting there. Outlaw said police were looking into “known agitators.”
Reporting by Brad Heath and Ted Hesson in Washington; additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Mica Rosenberg in New Yok; additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan; editing by Ross Colvin and Grant McCool
India to have a ‘window’ for Bitcoin, says minister amid crypto ban FUD
The Ministry of Finance of India continues to form a careful position on private cryptocurrencies.
The minister of finance of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has given a ray of hope for the Indian cryptocurrency community as more fear, uncertainty and doubt circulate regarding a supposedly impending ban on digital assets.
“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options off. We will allow certain windows for people use, so that experiments on the blockchain, Bitcoins or cryptocurrency […] and fintech, which depend on such experiments, will have that window available for them. We are not going to shut it off,” she said.
Sitharaman said that the ministry is finalizing a cabinet note on crypto as India continues formulating its official stance on the asset class. “It is nearing completion, and then it will be taken to the cabinet. The Supreme Court had commented on cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank of India will take a call on an official cryptocurrency,” she said.
After India’s supreme court lifted a crypto banking ban one year ago, reports of a new ban started circulating in early 2021. In February, another anonymous Indian official claimed that the government was about to introduce a complete ban on crypto, giving investors up to six months to liquidate their holdings.
On Sunday, Reuters published a report citing an anonymous senior government official who claimed that India is preparing to enforce a blanket ban on crypto and impose major penalties on rule-breakers. As part of an alleged bill, India is planning to criminalize “possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets,” the source claimed.
Despite reports of a ban from anonymous sources continuing to surface, Sitharaman said in early March that the ministry wants to form a “calibrated” stance on digital assets.
Nischal Shetty, founder of local crypto exchange WazirX, seemed optimistic about Sitharaman’s comments in a tweet, stating that it is time for the Indian crypto community to build.
There you go! #Bitcoin crypto will NOT be shut off.
CBDC does not mean shutting off other Crypto assets & utilities.
India, your time is here. Time to BUIDL and win
— Nischal (WazirX) ⚡️ (@NischalShetty) March 14, 2021
The RBI and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).
Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.
An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.
Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp. priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.
SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.
Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.
He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.
“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.
Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.
He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.
Source: Reuters – Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO
Trade with the Official CFD Partners of AC Milan
Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC – source
(Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co executives Kevin Mayer and Thomas Staggs plan to raise $300 million in an initial public offering for a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The duo’s first SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition Corp, agreed a three-way merger last week with fitness companies Beachbody LLC and Myx Fitness LLC that was valued at around $2.9 billion.
Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also on the board of directors at pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc, and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, are working for Forest Road II as a strategic advisor and a director, respectively, the source said.
Mayer and Staggs will serve as co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the new SPAC, the source said. They had worked with the first Forest Road SPAC as a strategic advisor and director, respectively.
The source requested anonymity ahead of a regulatory disclosure on the SPAC IPO.
Mayer was Disney’s top streaming executive before he left the media giant last year to become the chief executive of popular video app TikTok. He departed the company three months after joining. Staggs worked at Disney for 26 years and held various roles including chief operating officer.
SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to take a private company public. They have gained immense popularity since last year, as they allow companies to go public by eschewing traditional IPOs.
A string of high-profile SPACs have been raised in the last 12 months, including by financial investors William Ackman and Barry Sternlicht, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Source: Reuters – Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC-source
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Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues
(Reuters) – Companies raised $546 billion from new bond and share issues in January, as a flood of central bank money-printing and recovering stock markets brought record numbers of new listings, SPAC deals and share sales, Refinitiv data showed on Wednesday.
The numbers included $106.15 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs), SPACs and secondary offerings, with the amount of money raised by SPACs alone soaring 20 times to $24.26 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.
Companies also raised nearly $439.9 billion in corporate debt in January, a 5% fall since the same period last year, but still the second largest January in 25 years.
A SPAC, a shell company that raises money in an IPO before later merging with a privately held company to take the latter public, has become many investors structure of choice over the past year.
January’s haul was already 30% of a total $79 billion raised by SPACs in the whole of 2020.
Traditional IPO volumes in the United States, however, remained higher than SPACs in January, hitting a 25-year high of $33.9 billion.
Some 47% new bond and share issues were U.S. offerings in January this year, with China second with $23.96 billion.
Nasdaq was the clear winner among exchanges, with 167 issues raising $41.12 billion, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange a close third, with both raking in a little more than $18 billion respectively.
That was in stark contrast to European financial hubs London and Frankfurt, which raised $4.29 billion and $1.72 billion respectively.
Chinese online video company Kuaishou Technology is the biggest IPO globally so far this year, raising $5.42 billion in Hong Kong, followed by Polish parcel locker business InPost SA which raised $3.40 billion in Amsterdam.
Source: Reuters – Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues
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