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Maryland firefighters indicted on arson charges and setting fires while working

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Maryland firefighters indicted on arson charges and setting fires while working

Five volunteer firefighters in Maryland have been accused of intentionally setting fires — so they could put out the flames and play hero.

The suspects were indicted on arson and misconduct charges Friday after allegedly setting four fires at vacant homes during their shifts, according to WUSA 9.

The alleged arsons occurred over a one month period across Prince George’s County in 2019 and 2020, the local station reported. No one was injured.

Four of the suspects were criminally summoned, and one was arrested and is now behind bars on a $50,000 bond, the report said.

“If you violate the public’s trust, if you devastate our community in an impactful way, we will hold you accountable,” State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said Friday.

The accused fire-setters have reportedly been sidelined from fighting fires over the last 14 months due to the ongoing investigation, which involved 60 search warrants.

Investigators became suspicious after the fourth inferno, the report said.

About 100 firefighter arsonists are convicted in North America every year, an expert told the CBC in 2016.

Three volunteer firefighters on Long Island were convicted of similar crimes in 2018.

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6-year-old girl fatally shot in San Antonio, suspect arrested

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6-year-old girl fatally shot in San Antonio, suspect arrested

A 6-year-old girl was fatally shot at a car club meetup in San Antonio on Sunday night, authorities said.

The girl, identified as Saryah Perez, was struck by gunfire that rang out after a fight broke out at the meetup near Southwest 24th Street and West Commerce Street, KSAT reported.

Perez was inside a vehicle when she was shot. She was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.

The child’s mother was also grazed in the back by a bullet, according to police.

By Monday, police had arrested Andrew Elizondo, an acquaintance of the child’s mother, in the shooting.

Elizondo, 23, is charged with capital murder. Police said the shooting was not a case of domestic violence.

With Post wires

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Thousands suspended at Myanmar universities as junta targets education

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Thousands suspended at Myanmar universities as junta targets education

More than 11,000 academics and other university staff opposed to Myanmar’s ruling junta have been suspended after going on strike in protest against military rule, a teachers’ group told Reuters.

The suspensions come as the resumption of universities after a year closed due to the coronavirus epidemic prompts a new confrontation between the army and the staff and students who are calling for boycotts over the Feb. 1 coup.

“I feel upset to give up a job that I adored so much, but I feel proud to stand against injustice,” said one 37-year-old university rector, who gave her name only as Thandar for fear of reprisals.

“My department summoned me today. I’m not going. We shouldn’t follow the orders of the military council.”

A professor on a fellowship in the United States said she was told she would have to declare opposition to the strikes or lose her job. Her university authorities had told her every scholar would be tracked down and forced to choose, she told Reuters.

As of Monday, more than 11,100 academic and other staff had been suspended from colleges and universities offering degrees, an official of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation told Reuters, declining to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Reuters was not immediately able to ascertain exactly what proportion of total staff that figure represents. Myanmar had more than 26,000 teachers in universities and other tertiary education institutions in 2018, according to the most recent World Bank data.

Students and teachers were at the forefront of opposition during nearly half a century of military rule and have been prominent in the protests since the army detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and halted a decade of tentative democratic reforms.

Many teachers, like medics and other government workers, have stopped work as part of a civil disobedience movement that has paralyzed Myanmar. As protests flared after the coup, security forces occupied campuses in the biggest city, Yangon, and elsewhere.

A spokesman for the junta did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on the suspensions.

The junta-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said teachers and students should cooperate to get the education system started again.

“Political opportunists do not wish to see such development by committing sabotage acts,” it said.

Boycotts

It was not clear to what extent the 11,000 staff suspensions would hamper efforts to reopen colleges but many students are also boycotting classes.

At the public West Yangon Technological University, the student’s union published a list of 180 staff who had been suspended to hail them as heroes.

“I don’t feel sad to miss school,” said 22-year-old Hnin, a student of the Yangon University of Education. “There’s nothing to lose from missing the junta’s education.”

Zaw Wai Soe, education minister in a rival National Unity Government set up underground by opponents of the junta, said he was touched that students had told him they would only return “when the revolution prevails.”

Doubts have also been raised over the return to school of younger students, with institutions now taking registrations for the start of a new year. There are nearly 10 million school students in the country of 53 million.

Protesters daubed “We don’t want to be educated in military slavery” at the entrance of a school in the southern town of Mawlamyine last week, a phrase that has been echoed at demonstrations across Myanmar by students.

“We’ll go to school only when Grandmother Suu is released,” read a banner of students in the northern town of Hpakant at the weekend, referring to detained leader Suu Kyi. “Free all students at once,” said another sign.

Many students are among at least 780 people killed by security forces and the 3,800 in detention, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group.

At least 47 teachers are also among the detainees while arrest warrants have been issued for some 150 teachers on charges of incitement.

Myanmar’s education system was already one of the poorest in the region – and ranked 92 of 93 countries in a global survey last year.

Even under the leadership of Suu Kyi, who had championed education, spending was below 2% of gross domestic product. That was one of the lowest rates in the world, according to World Bank figures.

Students could have little expectation of progress in Myanmar this year, said Saw Kapi, a founding director of the Salween Institute for Public Policy think tank.

“When it comes to education, I would suggest that instead of thinking about getting a bachelor’s degree, you must go to the University of Life with a major in revolution,” he wrote on social media. “You can go for a Masters or PhD later.” 

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Tiger roaming Houston street leads to tense confrontation

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Tiger roaming Houston street leads to tense confrontation

A tiger was spotted on the loose in a Houston neighborhood Sunday night — with one man pointing what appears to be a gun at the wild animal.

The big cat with a collar was roaming around the residential area on Ivy Wall Drive at about 8 p.m. when the unidentified man armed with the apparent gun yells at another man to take the tiger inside, KHOU 11 reported.

“Get the f–k back inside. F–k you and your f—-ng tiger,” the man can be heard saying while training the apparent weapon at the animal, according to video posted to social media.

The other man, who claims to be the owner, replies, “I’ll get him, I’ll get him,” according to the video posted to Twitter by user @robwormald.

In another video, a woman shelters inside her home while watching the standoff.

“There is a freaking bengal tiger roaming in this yard and this dude needs to be careful,” the woman said. “What the heck? Why is there a tiger?”

The apparent owner eventually grabs the tiger and brings it back inside his home, photos show.

The incident was reported to police. It was not immediately clear if any charges will be filed.

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