Weekend Review: Workers Locked in Burning Bangladesh Factory, Owner Faces Murder Charges
Late last Thursday, a fire inside a six-story food processing factory in Bangladesh tragically killed 52 people. Soon after, it was discovered that an exit was illegally locked, preventing workers from escaping the burning building. Children, some reportedly as young as 11, were among those trapped inside.
The fire burned for almost 24 hours before it was extinguished due to chemicals and plastic inside the factory. Investigators found a pile of charred bodies, so many families will have to wait for DNA results to identify their loved ones’ remains.
Now, Abul Hashem, owner of Hashem Foods, four of his sons, and three others associated with Hashem’s multinational conglomerate of companies have been arrested. “We have arrested them for murder charges,” Jayedul Alam, police superintendent for Narayanganj district, told The Associated Press by phone. Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzman Khan confirmed to reporters that the tragedy was being treated as mass murder.
A separate investigation has been launched to examine the use of child labor. Survivors and families reported that Hashem employed children for approximately $0.24 an hour. Bangladesh labor minister Monnujan Sufian said, “If child labor is proved, we will take action against the owner and the inspectors.”
Billionaire Space Race Takes Off
British billionaire Richard Branson blasted off to space today in a rocket made by his spaceflight company, Virgin Galactic. The ship took off from New Mexico with Branson and three crew members aboard for the historic flight. It ascended 53 miles, or 85 kilometers, and then returned to earth.
Branson planned this trip for 17 years. He told NPR that it took so long because “rocket science is very difficult.” Despite that, his flight launch date was moved up when American billionaire Jeff Bezos announced his rocket would launch sooner.
Though Branson’s flight launched first, Bezos’ rocket is expected to go higher. Notably, Branson’s rocket did not pass the currently accepted “boundary” of space, an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level. That line is under review to be lowered to 80 kilometers.
Branson reported to NPR that he hopes to begin offering trips to space for the general public early next year. More than 700 people are signed up for commercial flights to space in 2022 that cost up to $250,000.
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse Tortured and Assassinated
Last Wednesday, an armed group stormed the residence of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse and killed him. First Lady Martine Moïse was also injured in the attack and reported that mercenaries burst in and killed her husband before he could “say a single word.”
Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph told ABC News that “mercenaries came to the president’s house, they tortured him and they killed him.” He added that 20 people have been arrested for involvement in the crime. The men, many of whom are Colombian, claimed to have been recruited by a private security firm based in Florida, according to the Miami Herald.
Some reports suggest that the president’s palace guards were involved in the plot. It has been suggested that they could have set up the Colombians to take the fall, or even collaborated with them during the attack.
Haitian detainees told investigators they were hired to translate and help arrest Moïse, not assassinate him. They claimed that they arrived and found him dead.
The interim government of Haiti has asked for the FBI’s assistance in finding who organized the crime. The US has declined to send troops to help stabilize the struggling and turbulent country.
Statues of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Others Removed in Charlottesville
On Saturday, three controversial statues were removed from the city of Charlottesville, Va. The city council voted unanimously to remove a statue of Merriweather, Lewis, and Sacagawea the same day statues of Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were scheduled for removal.
City Spokesperson Brian Wheeler said the council previously considered having the third statue removed after speaking with Native American delegations back in 2019. The abrupt vote and removal came after the successful relocation of the first two statues.
There were many concerns surrounding the removal of the statue of Lee stemming from 2017. White supremacists rallied in the city for the “Unite the Right” event protesting proposals by the city to remove the statue. A counter-protester named Heather Heyer was killed when a white nationalist and extremist drove his car into a crowd.