Rocket attacks on school and bus in Ukraine kill 9
DONETSK, Ukraine — Rocket fire slammed into an elementary school and a city bus here on Wednesday morning, killing nine people, while fighting continued to rage at the Donetsk airport.
Although both the Ukrainian government and the separatist rebels who hold Donetsk formally declared a cease-fire on Sept. 5, the increasing tally of the dead and wounded in recent days has shown the agreement to be largely a fiction.
Several witnesses said that a biology teacher, a parent, and a rebel fighter of the Donetsk People’s Republic were killed in one rocket attack, which took place at Elementary School 57 on the first day of school.
Zoya Nikolayevna, the school’s receptionist, said that all of the students were in class when she heard two “loud claps” and the windows of the building blew in.
None of the students were killed, she said.
“I was late ringing the bell” to end the first day of classes, which ended early, she said. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if I had been on time. They could have been killed.”
Down the street, a rocket that appeared to have been launched in the same volley struck a public bus, killing six and leaving the carcass of the bus burning in the street for hours.
The Ukrainian army and the separatists blamed each other for the attack. The city remains under rebel control and the attack came from the direction of the airport, which is held by the Ukrainian army. Near the school, there were large fragments of metal consistent with Grad rockets, which are fired somewhat indiscriminately from truck-mounted, multiple-rocket launchers and are used by both sides in the conflict.
Mikhail S. Zoloto, the deputy director of the Donetsk morgue, said in an interview earlier this week that more than 1,400 bodies had passed through the morgue since March 15, when the fighting began. It is not uncommon for the morgue to take in dozens of bodies a day, he said, especially on Mondays when he and his colleagues return to work after the weekend. In total, the war has left more than 3,500 people dead.
—Andrew Roth, The New York Times
NY governor orders overhaul of state university system assault policies
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Thursday that he had instructed the State University of New York to overhaul its approach to preventing, investigating and prosecuting sexual assault, including making affirmative consent the rule on all 64 of its campuses.
Cuomo, announcing the change at a Manhattan news conference, Cuomo said SUNY’s new approach, which is to be put into effect in the next 60 days, would eventually lead to a statewide law regulating sexual assault policies at all New York colleges and universities.
Calling campus sexual assault a national epidemic, the governor said: “This is Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Albany and Buffalo and Oswego. It is not SUNY’s problem by origination. I would suggest it should be SUNY’s problem to solve, and SUNY’s place to lead.”
SUNY’s approach resembles that recently set by California, by defining consent as an affirmative act, in which both partners must express their desire to engage in each sexual act. Previous consent is not sufficient, and people who are physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or asleep are considered unable to consent at all.
“Consent is clear, knowing and voluntary,” the SUNY rules will say. “Consent is active, not passive. Silence, in and of itself, cannot be interpreted as consent.”
Consent need not be verbal, but it must be unambiguous and mutual. “Consent to any one form of sexual activity cannot automatically imply consent to any other forms of sexual activity,” the rules will say.
The proposed changes also include a Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights, a simple and widely distributed document to inform victims of their right to go to the police, as well as campus security, with complaints; a promise of immunity for students who report sexual assault but who might have been violating laws or campus rules, like the prohibition on underage drinking; a statewide program to train college officials on how to prevent assaults and respond to them when they do occur; and an education campaign for students and parents alike.
—Ariel Kaminer, The New York Times
5,500 killed in Iraq since Islamic State offensive began its military drive, UN says
GENEVA — More than 5,500 people have been killed in Iraq since an offensive by the Islamic State militant group began in June, the United Nations reported Thursday, including hundreds of minority Yazidis slaughtered in mass executions. The report takes particular note of the extremists’ campaign of physical and sexual violence against women and children, with accounts of women being captured and sold as sex slaves to Islamic State recruits, and children being used as soldiers.
Those deaths represent more than half of the 9,343 civilians killed in Iraq from January through September, the United Nations said in a report by its Iraq mission and its Geneva human rights office, emphasizing that its figures were “absolute minimums.” The total casualty count for the year so far, including wounded, is at least 26,000.
The accounts of atrocities were not limited to the Islamic State, a Sunni militant group also known as ISIS or ISIL. Iraqi government security forces and militias associated with them have also committed “gross violations” of international law, abducting civilians and hanging their bodies from lampposts in Baquba, summarily killing captured Islamic State fighters and launching airstrikes that resulted in “significant” civilian deaths and injuries, according to the report.
But as the Islamic State seeks to expand its control of parts of northern Iraq, its campaign of terror has shocked the world, officials said.
—Nick Cumming-bruce, The New York Times