WASHINGTON — Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says Democrats, not white supremacists, are to blame for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., last month.

“It’s all baloney,” Rohrabacher told the San Francisco Chronicle in an article about his 2018 re-election chances.

Rohrabacher, R-Calif., told the Chronicle he believes a supporter of former presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders prompted the violence by arranging for Civil War re-enactors to protect a Robert E. Lee statue at the center of the dispute between white supremacist protesters and counterprotesters.

“It was a setup for these dumb Civil War re-enactors,” Rohrabacher said. “It was left-wingers who were manipulating them in order to have this confrontation” and to “put our president on the spot.”

The conspiracy theory that a Democrat organized the white supremacist rally that led to the death of one person was stoked by right-wing provocateur Alex Jones of “InfoWars” and has been debunked by nonpartisan fact checking site PolitiFact.

—Tribune Washington Bureau


Wounded security officer who lied about being shot said gunman was black

MINNEAPOLIS — St. Paul police say they were immediately skeptical of a St. Catherine University security officer’s claims that he was shot by a nonexistent black suspect on campus Tuesday night before he admitted that the gun accidentally went off and he made up the story to avoid getting fired.

Brent P. Ahlers, 25, who is white, was arrested Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report with police. He was treated for a shoulder wound, then booked into the Ramsey County jail and released.

Messages were left with Ahlers seeking comment about his version of events Tuesday on the St. Paul campus. The university said he was placed on paid leave from his job.

Ahlers told police Wednesday the gun went off accidentally in the woods and that he lied about being shot by someone else. Given that police have only Ahlers’ account for why the gun went off, Police Sgt. Mike Ernster said that “we didn’t have enough to charge him with reckless discharge of a firearm,” a more serious count.

He told police he made up the story because he was afraid of losing his job for bringing his own gun to work, Ernster added. The school does not arm its security personnel, the sergeant said. Ernster said he doesn’t know whether Ahlers has a state-issued permit to carry a firearm in public.

Emergency dispatch audio described the supposed suspect as a black man with a “short Afro” in a navy blue sweatshirt, according to the Police Clips website. Soon to follow were social media postings of the description.

Ernster said authorities did not disclose the description provided by Ahlers because other information he provided about the shooting wasn’t adding up.

Ahlers’ fabricated account “had basically 1,800 students held captive in their dorm rooms at St. Catherine’s,” Ernster said Wednesday night, “and it had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearing they would be hurt in their homes.”

The sergeant said 55 police officers and four K-9s, as well as a State Patrol aircraft, joined in the search for a supposed suspect Tuesday night. Police conducted a building-by-building search and advised people to stay indoors as they searched for the shooter.

—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)


Up to 20,000 Rohingya refugees arriving daily in Bangladesh, UN agency says

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — An estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees are arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar each day, the International Organization for Migration has said.

“We have to estimate the worst-case scenario where everybody moves out,” Mohammed Abdiker Mohamud, director of operations and emergencies for the U.N. agency, told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.

“We cannot just put our heads in the sand that everything will be OK,” Mohamud said.

International pressure is mounting on Buddhist-majority Myanmar to end the violence against ethnic Rohingya Muslims in the country’s west, which was triggered Aug. 25 when Rohingya militants attacked police outposts in the state of Rakhine.

The mass exodus of Rohingya has been described as “catastrophic” by the United Nations, with U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein saying that situation appears to be “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The Rohingya crisis “has caught all of us by surprise,” the International Organization for Migration’s Mohamud said. “Nobody expected that you are going to get 400,000 people cross(ing) the border into Bangladesh, so nobody was ready with food, shelter, health facilities.”

According to the U.N. Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, around 60 percent of the 400,000 refugees who have streamed into Bangladesh since the end of August are children.

The U.N. has started delivering water and sanitation supplies to the Bangladeshi fishing port of Cox’s Bazar, which has been overwhelmed with the new arrivals.

“There are acute shortages of everything, most critically shelter, food and clean water,” Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF’s representative in Bangladesh, said.

Myanmar’s government spokesman Zaw Htay said that Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, will address the issue in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday for the sake of “national reconciliation and peace.”

Suu Kyi, who rules Myanmar as state counsellor, is skipping the U.N. General Assembly next week to “manage humanitarian assistance” and “security concerns,” Zaw Htay said.


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