The families of three Palestinian students who were shot in Vermont have called on US officials to investigate the incident as a hate crime.
The three men, all aged 20, were wearing keffiyehs – a traditional scarf – and speaking Arabic when they were attacked as they walked down a street in the city of Burlington on Saturday night, according to Sky News’ US partner NBC.
Police said a white man suddenly approached the trio without saying anything and then fired four rounds from a pistol before running away.
Two of the men were hit in the torso, while the third was hit in the “lower extremities,” police said.
At the time, the group were on their way to visit one of the victim’s relatives for dinner over the Thanksgiving holiday.
All three are receiving treatment in hospital. Two of the men are in a stable condition, while the other is said to have suffered “much more serious injuries”.
One of the men, Kinnan Abdalhamid, was named by Haverford College as one of its students. The other two have been named as Brown University student Hisham Awartani and Tahseen Ahmed, who attends Trinity College in Connecticut.
Their families said in a joint statement: “As parents, we are devastated by the horrific news that our children were targeted and shot.
“We call on law enforcement to conduct a thorough investigation, including treating this as a hate crime. We will not be comfortable until the shooter is brought to justice.
“We need to ensure that our children are protected, and this heinous crime is not repeated.”
They added: “Our children are dedicated students who deserve to be able to focus on their studies and building their futures.”
The men were all graduates of Ramallah Friends School, a secondary school in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, according to its Facebook page.
The school said in a statement: “We extend our thoughts and prayers to them and their families for a full recovery, especially considering the severity of injuries – as Hisham has been shot in the back, Tahseen in the chest, and Kinnan with minor injuries.”
Vermont senator and former Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “It is shocking and deeply upsetting that three young Palestinians were shot here in Burlington, VT. Hate has no place here, or anywhere.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said the shooting had come during an “unprecedented surge” in anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment in the US amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Ambassador Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, posted a photo of the trio on social media and added: “The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop”.
It comes following the death of a six-year-old Palestinian-American who was stabbed 26 times in a suspected hate crime in Illinois last month.
Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said: “In this charged moment, no one can look at this incident and not suspect that it may have been a hate-motivated crime.
“And I have already been in touch with federal investigatory and prosecutorial partners to prepare for that if it’s proven.”
Two of the students hold US citizenship, while the third is living in the country legally, police added.
The FBI said it was not yet treating the shooting as a hate crime.
A spokesperson said: “If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate.”
Joe Biden twice confuses Gaza with Ukraine as he approves military aid airdrops
President Joe Biden twice confused Gaza with Ukraine as he announced the US would provide desperately-needed aid to the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.
Mr Biden, 81, confirmed on Friday that humanitarian assistance would be airdropped into Gaza – a day after the Hamas-run health ministry said 30,000 Palestinians have died since the war began last October.
“In the coming days, we’re going to join with our friends in Jordan and others who are providing airdrops of additional food and supplies”, the president said, adding the US will “seek to open up other avenues in, including possibly a marine corridor”.
But Mr Biden twice mistakenly referred to airdrops to help Ukraine – leaving White House officials to clarify that he was in fact talking about Gaza.
Mr Biden revealed the development while hosting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Washington – as he warned “children’s lives are on the line”.
“Aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough,” he said.
“Now, it’s nowhere nearly enough. Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line.
“We won’t stand by until we get more aid in there. We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.”
Mr Biden’s vow to help came a day after dozens of Palestinians perished during a deadly aid truck incident in Gaza City.
At least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, on Thursday.
Airdrops are a last resort for when things are really desperate
Airdrops are a last resort. They are inefficient, inaccurate, expensive and dangerous.
They are only chosen as an option when things are really desperate.
The White House spokesman admitted as much just after the president’s announcement: “There are no missions more complicated than humanitarian assistance airdrops,” John Kirby said.
In this case, the decision to resort to them is all the more remarkable because America is dropping aid to counter failures in a war being prosecuted with US weapons by one of its closest allies.
Israel controls the aid that gets into Gaza. To have to airdrop it is to admit a fundamental failure and a humanitarian disaster.
It’s inefficient because only small amounts of aid can be dropped at a time – palates of food parachuted from the back of planes.
It is inaccurate because you have no control over precisely where the aid will land.
It is dangerous because the aid drops could hit people as they land and because they could cause stampedes on the ground.
Usually aid is distributed with the coordination of aid officials on the ground.
It’s also dangerous for the aircrews flying over a war zone.
It is expensive because it requires significant military coordination.
In short – it is a stark illustration of just how much of a (man-made) disaster Gaza now is.
Witnesses said nearby Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.
Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a stampede linked to the chaos – and that its troops fired at some people in the crowd who they believed moved towards them in a threatening way.
On Friday evening, the UK joined demands for an investigation into the killings, described by Foreign Secretary David Cameron as “horrific”.
Lord Cameron said there must be “an urgent investigation and accountability” – amid growing international calls for a probe into the episode.
“This must not happen again,” he said.
While he did not directly blame Israel, he linked the deaths to the lack of aid being allowed into Gaza.
“We can’t separate what happened yesterday from the inadequate aid supplies,” Lord Cameron said.
“In February, only half the number of trucks crossed into Gaza that did in January. This is simply unacceptable.
“Israel has an obligation to ensure that significantly more humanitarian aid reaches the people of Gaza.”
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “strongest condemnation” for the shootings and called for “truth, justice and respect for international law” in a post on X.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the incident on the social media platform, writing: “The desperate civilians in Gaza need urgent help, including those in the north where the UN has not been able to deliver aid in more than a week.”
Donald Trump and Joe Biden promise tough action on immigration in rival Texas visits
At two Texas border towns both President Biden and former President Trump made duelling visits.
They were 300 miles apart but with an identical aim, to eke out political advantage from the immigration crisis which will be one of the defining issues of the 2024 election.
The Biden administration has presided over a record number of border crossings, a surge which Republicans have used to characterise the president as being weak on the issue.
In Brownsville, Texas, a town which historically has large influxes of migrants, Mr Biden made only his second visit to the border, but this time promised change.
“It’s real simple. It’s time to act, it’s long past time to act,” he said.
He also accused Mr Trump of political point-scoring after a bipartisan bill, which would have resulted in a crackdown on the border, was thwarted by Republicans who were being egged on by the former president.
“You know and I know it’s the toughest, most efficient, most effective border security bill this country’s ever seen,” he said.
“So instead of playing politics with the issue, why don’t we just get together and get it done?”
Immigration is a happier hunting ground for Mr Trump. His rhetoric on the issue has become more extreme in recent months, notably when he said immigrants were “poisoning the blood” of America.
But it only seems to have enlivened his base, with the polls suggesting his advantage over President Biden on immigration is growing.
Speaking from Eagle Pass, Texas, with the backdrop of a razor wire fence, Mr Trump seized on the flashpoint of the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student killed in Georgia.
The man charged with her murder is a Venezuelan migrant, previously arrested for crossing the border illegally in 2022 and then released, before being arrested in New York and released again.
“The United States is being overrun by the Biden migrant crime,” he said. “Migrant crime is a new form of vicious violation to our country.”
Mr Trump’s words are reverberating in other border cities, too.
In the remote town of Jacumba Hot Springs, California, where migrants often cross the border, I meet a group of a dozen veterans outside a casino.
They are part of an organised convoy heading to the border to, they say, shore up defences.
I ride along with Derrek Cardinale, a former marine and estate agent, in his white pickup truck. The conversation quickly turns to immigration and the terror threat.
“It only takes one to cause another 9/11 or another October 7th in Israel,” he says.
“I have four kids, and seeing this young girl Laken Riley recently being murdered by a Venezuelan who is here illegally. My wife travels with my four kids and she doesn’t have the training that I do to be aware all the time, so it definitely worries me.”
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When we get to the border wall separating Mexico and the United States, where the 30ft-tall fence ends, the group have bundled out razor wire on top of boulders where migrants might scramble.
“What happens if a person gets caught on it?” I ask.
“Well it definitely hurts,” one woman replies. “It’s about making sure it’s painful enough that they at least can’t come in this way.”
‘It’s ugly, it’s dangerous’
For the migrants who do make it through, their first few hours in the United States often involves sitting on pavements in downtown areas outside detention centres, waiting for buses, first to transport hubs and then to the airport.
Waiting on a pavement in central San Diego I find Maria, a 21-year-old from Ecuador.
She says it has taken her a month and 12 days to get to the US after fleeing gang violence in her home country.
“The situation in Ecuador, it’s ugly, it’s dangerous,” she says. “We came over here for a better future, to support our family and to stay for a while.”
Many of the migrants wear tracking devices placed on them by border control services, to monitor them while their asylum claims are processed.
Immigration is not just a potent political issue in border cities, many of the migrants are heading to destinations across the US, including Miami, Chicago and New York.
At San Diego’s marina, locals and tourists watch the sunset. Laurie and Tom, from Denver, Colorado, say the immigration system in their city can’t cope.
“We can only handle so many people,” says Laurie.
“We only have the resources for so many and allow people just to keep coming in and coming, and something’s going to break.”
Robin and Greg from Wisconsin, say they will vote for Donald Trump if he is an option in November because they believe he will protect America’s borders.
“I think anybody would protect the border better than the Biden administration,” says Greg. “Regardless of who that is.”
US Supreme Court will decide if former president Donald Trump can be prosecuted over January 6 Capitol riot
The US Supreme Court has said it will decide on whether Donald Trump can be prosecuted for alleged interference with the 2020 election.
Under the court’s schedule, issued on Wednesday, it will start to hear the case in late April, with a decision likely no later than the end of June.
The court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, said in an unsigned statement that it will consider “whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office”.
The court, three of whose nine members were appointed by Mr Trump, 77, has previously said presidents are immune from civil liability for official acts.
But Mr Trump, the odds-on favourite to be the Republican Party’s nominee for this year’s ballot, has claimed that he should also be protected from criminal prosecution.
So far, his theory that former presidents enjoy absolute immunity for any official actions has been rejected by lower courts.
Earlier this month, a US court of appeals panel backed district Judge Tanya Chutkan’s decision to proceed with the case.
It ruled Mr Trump can be prosecuted for what he did in the White House and in the run-up to the riots of 6 January 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol.
Supreme Court justices will also hear Mr Trump’s appeal to remain on the presidential ballot despite attempts to kick him off because of his efforts following his election loss in 2020.
During arguments earlier this month, the court seemed likely to side with Mr Trump and a decision in that case could come any time.
The election interference case, brought by special counsel Jack Smith, is one of four prosecutions Mr Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House.
Mr Trump is set to go on trial in New York next month over alleged hush money payments made to porn actor Stormy Daniels.
He has also been charged with retaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate, a case that was also brought by Smith and is set for trial in May.
In Georgia, he has been charged in state court with plotting to subvert that state’s 2020 election.
Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty in all the cases, frequently referring to them as political “witch hunts”.
Presuming Mr Trump, as expected, wins the Republican nomination to take on Joe Biden in November, the timetable means that he’ll be fighting court cases while in the thick of an election campaign.
Should he be nominated and win the White House, he could try to have any federal cases against him dismissed.
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