Pizza outlet attacked as India, U.S. fail to cool diplomat row

Published: Friday, December 20, 2013 @ 7:30 AM
Updated: Friday, December 20, 2013 @ 7:30 AM

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Indian protesters ransacked a Dominos Pizza outlet in a Mumbai suburb on Friday, demanding a ban on U.S. goods as officials from the two countries struggled to defuse a row over the arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York.

Police and the Indian franchise of the U.S. chain said no-one was hurt in the attack, which came amid unrelenting rage in India over the arrest and subsequent strip-search of Devyani Khobragade for visa fraud and under-payment of her housekeeper.

India has demanded that the charges be dropped against the diplomat and her father threatened to start a fast if U.S. authorities pressed ahead with the case.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret over the case in a phone call to India's national security adviser this week, but U.S. prosecutors have defended the investigation against Khobragade and her treatment.

Police in Mumbai said they were stepping up patrolling of major U.S. outlets including McDonald's after workers of the small Republican Party of India attacked the Dominos store. The group sent pictures to media organizations showing a broken glass door.

"The fact is that (the) American authorities have behaved atrociously with an Indian diplomat. And obviously, America has to make good for its actions," said Manish Tiwari, minister for information and broadcasting.

"So therefore, I think it is a legitimate expectation, that if they have erred, and they have erred grievously in this matter, they should come forth and apologize."

Khobragade was arrested last week and released on $250,000 bail after giving up her passport and pleading not guilty to charges of visa fraud and making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper. She faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted on both counts.

The U.S. Justice Department confirmed that Khobragade was strip-searched after her arrest. A senior Indian government source has said the interrogation also included a cavity search, although U.S. officials have denied this.

"I want these false and fabricated charges to be dropped," said Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat's father, adding that he would go on a hunger strike if his demands aren't met. "That will be my last option."

Protesters also gathered at the U.S. consulate in Hyderabad for a second day on Friday, shouting slogans, local media said.

Furious that one of its foreign service officers had been handcuffed and treated like "a common criminal", India on Tuesday removed security barriers outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi and withdrew some privileges from U.S. diplomats.

But the reaction was even more intense because none of the political parties preparing for next year's election wanted to be seen as weak against a superpower.

Politicians, including the leaders of the two main parties, refused to meet a delegation of visiting U.S. lawmakers.

"Because of the election, they will try to outdo each other," said Neerja Chowdhury, a political analyst and a former political editor of Indian Express newspaper.

"They don't want to be seen as weak on the issue when the mood in the country is one of huge anger about this."

The party that runs India's most populous Uttar Pradesh state urged Khobragade to stand for parliament, highlighting how public outrage has turned the case into a battleground for votes.

"Whatever happened with her is condemnable," said Azam Khan, the state's urban development minister, according to media reports. "If she returns to India, we are ready to give her a ticket for the 2014 polls."

Breathless and indignant coverage by Indian TV news channels has added to a sense that national pride has been wounded.

There has been little focus, however, on the predicament of the housekeeper, whose lawyer says was denied her wages, underpaid and now feels it would be unsafe to return to India.

"One wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement on Wednesday.

Body of child found on Texas beach

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 3:16 PM

A couple walks along the Galveston, Texas, beach during low tide Friday, Oct. 3, 2008.
Pat Sullivan/ASSOCIATED PRESS
A couple walks along the Galveston, Texas, beach during low tide Friday, Oct. 3, 2008.(Pat Sullivan/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Police are investigating after a young child's body was found on a Texas beach.

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Officers responded to a call Friday evening from an individual who said they found a body near the shoreline of a Galveston beach, according to the report posted on the Galveston Police Department's Facebook page. Police determined that the body was that of a white boy, approximately 3-5 years old. The child has not been identified and no missing persons reports match the child's description, KHOU reported.

Galveston police Capt. Joshua Schirard told KHOU that this is a very unusual case. Schirard said the U.S. Coast Guard and agencies in surrounding counties are assisting with the case.

Pizza shop owners remove bathroom signs after protests

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 1:45 PM

A file image of a public restroom sign.
fcl1971/Freeimages
A file image of a public restroom sign.(fcl1971/Freeimages)

The owners of a Colorado pizza shop are reluctantly removing the controversial bathroom signs at their restaurant after receiving backlash.

The signs depict a man trying to lift up a woman's skirt, The Durango Herald reported. While the restroom signs have been up since HomeSlice Pizza opened four years ago, the complaints skyrocketed after images of the signs were shared on social media. Some found the signs to be in poor taste and making light of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

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Lynn Kitch and her husband own the restaurant. Kitch submitted a statement to the Herald, in which she said that she was removing the signs not because they are offensive, but because she didn't want her employees subjected to "adverse working conditions." Kitch said in the statement that she is a sexual assault survivor and would have welcomed a meaningful conversation about the signs, but instead, protesters were making harassing calls to the restaurant and cyberbullying the business by leaving bad reviews online.

Some HomeSlice Pizza customers supported the owners, saying the sign was meant to be humorous.

Kitch said at least one of the signs will be auctioned off and the proceeds will be donated to a local organization who supports sexual assault victims.

Italian town offers people $2,350 to move there

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 3:23 PM

Italian Town Offering Thousands to New Residents

The views are picturesque from the panoramic terraces of the homes winding atop each other.

The Baroque architecture and maze of alleyways through the medieval town of Candela, in Italy’s Puglia district, were once part of a thriving tourist destination with a robust population of more than 8,000 people in the 1990s.

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Now, about 2,700 people live there.

Nicola Gatta, mayor of Candela, came up with the plan to offer people up to $2,350 (2000 euros) to relocate there.

"I work each day with passion and commitment to bring Candela back to its ancient splendor,” Gatta told CNN.

The council offers $940 (800 euros) for singles, $1,415 (1,200 euros) for couples, $1,770 to $2,120 (1,500 to 1,800 euros) for three-member families, and more than $2,350 (2,000 euros) for families of four to five people.

The catch? New residents must take up residency in Candela, rent a house and have a job with a salary of at least $8,835 (7,500 euros) a year.

“We don't want people flocking here thinking they get to live off the town hall's revenues; all new residents must work and have an income", Stefano Bascianelli, who works with the mayor, told CNN.

North Carolina politician sparks controversy with tweet comparing Trump to Hitler

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 12:45 PM

Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.
WSOCTV.com
Charlotte councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted a controversial tweet.(WSOCTV.com)

A Charlotte city councilwoman is under scrutiny for a controversial tweet she posted comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Councilwoman LaWana Mayfield posted the tweet Friday morning, which reads in part: “For All who read about Hitler you are Now Living how he reigned in #45."

WSOC spoke with members of the community for reactions to Mayfield’s statement.

"I don't think it's appropriate,” Charlotte resident Ulga Mazets said. 

Mazets is from eastern Europe and said her family was impacted by Hitler’s reign.

“My grandfather was in (a) concentration camp, so I feel it's a very harsh comparison,” she said.

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Others felt the comparison was inappropriate but said Mayfield had the right to make it.

“Everybody got their own opinion,” a Charlotte resident said.

Earlier this year, one of Mayfield’s fellow council members, Dimple Ajmera, landed in hot water when she said Trump supporters have no place leading Charlotte government.

[READ MORE: Councilwoman receives death threats following Trump comments]

Ironically, Mayfield just called for an investigation into a Charlotte Housing Authority worker who allegedly posted a tweet on Facebook applauding the death of Keith Lamont Scott, who was shot by police during an incident that sparked a nationwide debate.

University of North Carolina - Charlotte professor Anita Blanchard said these types of comments on social media are becoming more common.

She said leaders and those who use social media platforms should learn to be more media savvy.

“Finding a way to say something that’s not rude that still gets your point across,” she said.

Mayfield didn’t immediately respond to Channel 9’s calls about the tweet, but she tweeted again Friday afternoon saying, “I wish the media would question #45 about why we were in Niger.”

Mayfield is up for re-election. Her Republican opponent Daniel Herrera sent WSOC the following statement:

"I have heard of my opponent's divisive, and inflammatory tweet of political rhetoric comparing the President of the United States to Hitler, pure evil and everything President Trump and I stand to oppose. 

While LaWana Mayfield only wishes to divide our community by using the power of fear to distract from her failures. I stand to change and unite District Three. I will move us forward with policies that support safer streets that allow mail to be delivered and not canceled because of street violence. I have a real plan to promote affordable housing rather than subsidized soccer stadiums that only support the developers who own her vote. I will always represent my faith and never write a policy like her devastating bathroom bill, the one she spearheaded and forced upon our Queen City and which brought so much distrain to our community.

Shame on Mayfield for her continuation of divisive political tactics. Shame on her for disrespecting the over 400,000 Defenders of Freedom who fell beneath our flag to defeat Hitler." 

Mayfield's statement in response to the backlash:

"The Constitutional right of "Free Speech" is a precious and uniquely beloved gift among Americans. With this gift of free speech comes great responsibility. To some, I did not express that responsibly within the limited characters of my earlier tweet. I apologize for the brevity of my statement due to being limited to 140 characters. Many times, we cannot fully express intent or emotion through this limited platform."

"I do not want to diminish the heinous treatment and genocide that our Jewish brothers and sisters experienced at the hands of this dictator nor do I want to further create a dialogue that does not focus on the facts at hand."

"Today, we read about history as a story in a book and sometimes disassociate from the realities of lives impacted. Our communities must unite and realize that at this intersectionality of both conservative and liberal, white and people of color, gay or straight, young and seniors, these variances and diverse populations have strength when they unite in one voice."

"My anger and passion when tweeting was directed to those that continue to make excuses for a man who is leading our Nation in a divisive direction. His policies, the creation of the 'Birther movement,' executive orders and continual mistreatment of marginalized communities has quickly eroded the landscape of civility and civil discourse in our society. 

"I value the diversity of my community, work to be inclusive and give voice to those that are not at the table and bring equity to this city that I love.""While my words chosen have offended some, my intent was to bring attention to the continued crisis that we face each day while this president is leading us. My post angered some and I stay in a state of anger every day I watch the news and this like many posts was shared to shine a light on hypocrisy and the discourse rising in our nation."