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Guilty Plea For The Pittsburgh Shooting Suspect

Trump shook hands with the synagogue's rabbi, Jeffrey Myers

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Pittsburgh shooting
This courtroom sketch depicts Robert Gregory Bowers, who was wounded in a gun battle with police as he appeared in a wheelchair at federal court. VOA

The man accused of killing 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue pleaded not guilty Thursday in a U.S. federal court on 44 charges that include murder and hate crimes.

Robert Bowers, 46, spoke little during the brief court appearance beyond saying he understood the charges and his “not guilty” plea.

A grand jury indicted Bowers on Wednesday in connection with the October 27 attack at the Tree of Life synagogue.

In announcing the indictment, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the alleged crimes “are incomprehensibly evil and utterly repugnant to the values of this nation. Therefore this case is not only important to the victims and their loved ones, but to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire nation.”

 

USA Shooting, pittsburgh
Pittsburgh police stand guard as the casket of Irving Younger, 69, is wheeled from Congregation Rodef Shalom after his funeral, VOA

 

Victims’ funerals 

Funerals for the victims continue Thursday with services for Bernice and Sylvan Simon, as well as Dr. Richard Gottfried.

On Wednesday, hundreds of friends gathered to pay tribute to Melvin Wax, 88, who was leading Sabbath services on Saturday when the gunman burst into the synagogue shouting, “All Jews must die!” and began shooting. Funerals also were held for retired real estate agent Irving Younger, 69, and retired university researcher Joyce Fienberg, 75.

Trump visit 

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited the synagogue on Tuesday, placing a stone at each of the 11 Stars of David set up outside. Placing stones at a grave or remembrance site is an ancient Jewish tradition.

Trump also met with police officers wounded by gunfire in a shootout as they apprehended Bowers and spent an hour talking with Peg Durachko, whose husband, Dr. Richard Gottfried, was among the 11 killed.

shooting, pittsburgh
A sign during a protest gathering on the block of the Jewish Community Center in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where the funeral for Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz. VOA

“Melania and I were treated very nicely yesterday in Pittsburgh,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Office of the President was shown great respect on a very sad & solemn day. We were treated so warmly.”

Protests 

Several thousand protesters demonstrated in the streets during Trump’s visit, contending that his rhetoric helped fuel the gunman’s anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant views against a Jewish group that aids refugees arriving in the U.S. from overseas. Trump complained about news coverage of the several hours he spent in Pittsburgh.

“Small protest was not seen by us, staged far away,” he said. “The Fake News stories were just the opposite-Disgraceful!”

Trump shook hands with the synagogue’s rabbi, Jeffrey Myers, and the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer.

pittsburgh shooting
Flowers surround Stars of David on Oct. 31, 2018, part of a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life Synagogue to the 11 people killed during worship services Saturday in Pittsburgh., VOA

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner — wearing a Jewish yarmulke — and daughter Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism when she married Kushner, accompanied the first couple to offer their condolences.

“The president was very moved by the visit and his time with the rabbi and called it very humbling and sad,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

Also Read: Trump Meets Florida School Shooting Survivors, Suggests Arming Teachers

Worst attack in history 

The Anti-Defamation League, which has tracked hatred and violence against Jews since the 1970s, said the Pittsburgh mayhem was the worst attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history. (VOA)

Next Story

US Health Officials Prepare to Battle Flu Season as Coronavirus Fear Rises

US Prepares for Second Wave of Flu as Coronavirus Fears Rise

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Coronavirus
While there have only been 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of Friday, health officials have expressed concern that if the virus were to spread in the country. Pixabay

U.S. health officials are preparing for a second wave of the winter flu season, complicated this year by similarities between flu symptoms and those of the coronavirus that has killed more than 1,500 in China and spread fear around the world.

A first round of seasonal flu, caused by a strain of influenza B, named B-Victoria for the city in which it was discovered, peaked in the United States in late December and then dropped off, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the CDC says a second round of flu began in late January, caused by a strain of influenza A that is related to the swine flu that first appeared in 2009, and cases continue to increase.

Coronavirus
Cesar Gonzalez reacts to getting an influenza vaccine shot at Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas. VOA

While there have only been 15 confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States as of Friday, health officials have expressed concern that if the virus were to spread in the country, it could initially look like the spread of seasonal flu.

Coronavirus testing

In part to address these concerns, U.S. health officials announced they would begin testing some patients who have flulike symptoms for coronavirus in several U.S. cities.

The testing will initially be carried out by public health labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York, which are already testing for seasonal flu.

Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters in a telephone briefing Friday that labs will conduct the coronavirus test on patients who show flulike respiratory symptoms, but who test negative for the seasonal flu.

Both the seasonal flu and coronavirus cause respiratory illness, fever and cough. Other typical flu symptoms include sore throat, muscle aches, runny nose and fatigue, according to the CDC.

While scientists have studied the flu for decades, little is known about this coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, because it is so new. Health officials are still trying to understand all the symptoms related to the new virus, as well has how it spreads and how often cases are severe. There have been few studies on the symptoms of coronavirus, however, research suggests patients most commonly suffer from fever, cough and shortness of breath and are less likely than flu patients to suffer from a sore throat and runny nose.

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus to the United States, CDC officials have put in place travel restrictions and quarantine policies for people who recently visited China. However, officials say that strategy would change if the virus were to spread quickly in the United States.

Messonnier said if there were an outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, the CDC would call for “social distancing” strategies that would include online schooling, teleworking, and canceling mass gatherings, in an effort to prevent people from spreading the virus.

Coronavirus
Passengers arrive at LAX from Shanghai, China, after a positive case of the coronavirus was announced in the Orange County suburb of Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

Flu kills 14,000 in US

While health officials put plans in place for any possible outbreak of coronavirus, doctors around the United States continue to help patients battle the seasonal flu. The CDC estimates that 26 million Americans have gotten sick with flu this season and around people 14,000 have died.

Health officials say the first wave of the flu, a B strain, has hit children particularly hard this season, causing 92 deaths in children. B strains are more likely to cause a more severe illness and death in children. Cases of the flu among the elderly have been down this season.

Also Read- Find Out Why You Need to Replace Unhealthy Beverages with Green Tea

The CDC says concern about coronavirus might have prompted more people with flu symptoms to go their doctor for testing this season, although they say there is nothing in their data to confirm this. Messonnier said if more people are going to the doctor that is a good thing. “

People being a little worried and seeking care doesn’t especially worry me, because that’s the point,” she said. (VOA)