Agence France Presse
KIRKUK, Iraq: Jihadists have launched fresh attacks on Christian areas in north Iraq, sparking a new wave of displacement, the country’s Chaldean patriarch and witnesses said Wednesday.
The towns are among many in the area where thousands of Christians who were forced to abandon their homes in the main northern city of Mosul last month had found refuge.
Some of them are less than 50 kilometers away from Arbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Chaldean patriarch Louis Sako said at least one man had been killed by mortar fire, naming him as Lajin Hekmat, an employee of the main church in Tal Kayf, just north of Mosul.
A resident of Tal Kayf, Hanna Aziz Paulus, confirmed that the town had been targeted by shelling.
The town of Bartella had also been attacked by the jihadists, sparking an exodus, according to Sako.
“Bartella has seen the flight of many families in recent days,” he told AFP, adding the population had feared a major eruption of fighting following a jihadist offensive in the nearby Sinjar region.
Thousands of civilians, including from the Yazidi and other minorities, were forced to flee their homes at the weekend when ISIS militants ousted Kurdish peshmerga forces there.
Sako said he had this week sent a new message to Pope Francis demanding urgent mobilisation to protect one of the world’s oldest Christian communities.
“Christians are isolated, afraid and aware that in the face of such a sudden development, anything can happen,” the patriarch said in his message.
The Ultimate American Road Trip: Route 66
If you’re looking for the omega American road trip then you’ve got to hit the Mother Road, otherwise known as Route 66. From Chicago to LA, it’s a journey that’ll provide the experience of a lifetime, showing you the heart of a great nation.
Start in Chicago & Chase the Sun
In reality, the best always head west. Would you rather end the trip in the Windy City, or just in time to catch a gorgeous L.A. sunset on the beach? There’s just something deeply spiritual for folks when we head west. It becomes an adventure. It becomes a vehicular voyage to the sea. Here are some of the highlights you can expect in order:
• Illinois: It’s a pretty straight shot through the state from Chicago through Springfield (which has some stretches of restored Route 66) and southwest to St. Louis. There’s a bit of the bright lights of big cities, but also a good calm stretch of rural to cruise through as well; vast fields of corn and farmland for close to 300 miles.
• Missouri: Once you hit East St. Louis you’ll again be greeted by sky scrapers, industrial areas and the mark of modernity but then it’s another SE straight shot through the entire belly of the state.
• Kansas: You’re only going to spend a little time in the good’ol Kansas heartland. And by little we mean a whopping 14 miles far down in the bottom south east corner. You’ll go through two towns: Galena and Baxter Springs but rest assured there’s great classic restaurants and places that’ve been open as long as Route 66 has been around. In fact, it’s because of road tripper like you just passin’on through that keep’em goin.
• Oklahoma: You’re going to go through two huge metropolises that have “country” written all over’em: Tulsa first and then into Oklahoma City before heading directly west towards the Pan Handle. Of all 8 states, it’s here that they take Route 66 the most seriously. It’s got the most preserved still-drivable miles and you’ll be able to see the remnants of Kiowa, Apache and Comanche Native American land. And, you’ll get to take the same route as families long ago in the Dust Bowl took to escape.
• Texas: You’re going to go through the upper tip of the Texas Pan Handle that takes you through Amarillo. It looks short on a map but the 200-mile stretch of plains is a sight to behold like none other. If you can time it so you cut through here in the afternoon on a sunny day your spirit will be recharged. Just try not to pay any attention to all the truckers!
• New Mexico: Welcome to the Land of Enchantment where you’ll pass through Sun Belt city and Albuquerque. These days, it can be a bit challenging to stay strictly on the old road but with all the sandstone mesas and pine forests it’s definitely worth it.
• Arizona: In Arizona you’ll stay in the northern plains rather than heading down into the really hot areas around Phoenix. Instead, you’ll pass directly through Flagstaff which is a mountain town and where Northern Arizona University is located. The sights here are like a completely different world from everything you’ve seen so far, especially once you begin to head south right before passing into California. Oh, and because of the high speeds on the I-40, this will feel like one of those awesome car track days.
• California: Once you reach this point get ready to cruise through rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, stunning landscapes and then at Barstow you should begin smelling the sea. From San Bernardino and Pasadena to Santa Monica it’s simply breathtaking.
This is only a taste of the experience really. You’ve just got to get out and do it. There’s plenty of great resources online to keep you on track and if you have the time you don’t have to miss a thing. Enjoy!
Key Moments from Trump’s Impeachment Hearing
Heartbreaking; Another School Shooting Santa Clarita, CA
Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) — A 16-year-old boy shot five fellow students, two fatally, Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita before turning the .45-caliber handgun on himself, authorities said.
A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said multiple 911 calls prompted firefighter-paramedics to respond about 7:40 a.m. to the school at 21900 Centurion Way.
Six students, including the gunman, were found in the quad suffering from gunshot wounds, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. All six were transported to hospitals, where two of them, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were later pronounced dead.
The surviving victims were described as two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy.
In a tweet, Henry Mayo Hospital said it had received four patients.
Their names were not immediately disclosed. The sheriff said the deceased girl’s parents were at the hospital. He was notified of the second fatality during a press conference at the school.
Gunman turns .45 caliber on himself
According to sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener, surveillance video “clearly” shows the suspect pulling a semi-automatic handgun out of his backpack in the quad and shooting five classmates before shooting himself in the head.
Thursday was the gunman’s 16th birthday, the captain said.
He was listed in grave condition at a hospital, according to Villanueva.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, authorities released a description of the suspect as a manhunt got underway. Heavily armed deputies and an armored SWAT vehicle were seen at a home near the school, but it was unclear if the house was connected to the investigation.
The high school remained on lockdown for hours after the incident. Shortly before 11 a.m., lockdowns were lifted at all campuses in the district, as well as Rosedell and Highland elementary schools.
Central Park, at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, was being used as a reunification point for parents and students, the Sheriff’s Department said.
Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to parents, saying investigators need to interview “every student at Saugus HS” before they can be released.
In a statement, the White House said President Donald Trump was monitoring ongoing reports about the shooting.
“The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,” the statement said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an expression of gratitude to the emergency responders.
“We simply should not have to fear for our kids’ lives when we drop them off at school,” the governor said. Addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Newsom asked: “How many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”
Amid the chaos at the scene, the number of reported victims fluctuated throughout the morning. The sheriff later confirmed that six people were shot, including the gunman.