Trump demands answers after 17 gunned down at Florida school

People react at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a city about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Miami on Thursday following a school shooting. (AFP)
Updated 15 February 2018
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Trump demands answers after 17 gunned down at Florida school

FLORIDA: No mention of fire arms or gun control, President Donald Trump's statement Thursday skirted the big issues and demanded to know how a “disturbed” former student with an obsession with firearms slipped through the net to sow carnage at a Florida high school, killing at least 17 people in the latest gun massacre to rock the nation.
The 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder over Wednesday’s deadly rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, America’s worst school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre left 20 children and six teachers dead in 2012.
After a night of questioning in police custody, the young man was reportedly transferred to a local Florida jail early yesterday.
Trump ordered flags to fly at half-staff and was to deliver a televised address later Thursday, to a nation stunned by the mounting toll of school shootings which US authorities have so far appeared powerless to stop.
Wednesday’s harrowing shooting spree saw terrified students hiding in closets and under desks as they texted for help, while the gunman stalked the school with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle.
Fifteen people were killed at the school itself, and two later died in hospital. One of those killed was a football coach in Parkland, a city of about 30,000 people, located 50 miles north of Miami.
The president weighed in on the tragedy on Twitter by pointing to indications the shooter — who had been expelled for disciplinary reasons — was “mentally disturbed.”
“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior,” Trump wrote.
“Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!“
Cruz was reportedly known to have firearms at home and had talked about using them.
A teacher at the school said Cruz had been identified previously as a potential threat to his classmates.
“We were told last year that he wasn’t allowed on campus with a backpack on him,” math teacher Jim Gard said in a Miami Herald interview.
“There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.”
According to a BuzzFeed report, the FBI had been informed Cruz could carry out a school shooting last year, after the teen commented on a video: “I’m going to be a professional school shooter.”
The creator of the video tipped off both the FBI and YouTube, BuzzFeed said.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday called Cruz a “deeply disturbed person,” and questioned how the teenager “escaped detection, was able to acquire this weapon, and then go on and kill 17 people and injure many more.”
“This was someone that people knew was a danger,” Rubio said.
The United States has been hit by almost 20 school shootings since the start of the year, a terrifying phenomenon that is part of a broader epidemic of gun violence in a country that loses 33,000 people to gun-related deaths each year.
While the latest mass shooting has inevitably reignited questions about America’s permissive gun laws, Trump — who is the first president to have addressed the NRA gun lobby — is staunchly opposed to any additional gun control.
Opponents of gun control have consistently sought to steer public debate away from the issue, and onto the behavior and motives of people using the weapons.
When questioned at a press conference late Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott — who described the massacre as “just pure evil” — declined to make a statement on gun control.
“There’s a time to continue to have these conversations about how through law enforcement, how through mental illness funding that we make sure people are safe, and we’ll continue to do that,” said Scott, a Republican.
Cruz had mixed in with students fleeing the school before being caught, officials said.
“We have already begun to dissect his websites and things on social media that he was on and some of the things... are very, very disturbing,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.
“If a person is predisposed to commit such a horrific event by going to a school and shooting people ... there’s not anybody or not a lot law enforcement can do about it.”
“This is a terrible day for Parkland,” Israel said.
The FBI said it was assisting local law enforcement with the investigation.
Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said a police officer was always stationed at the school and there was a “single point of entry.”
Since January 2013, there have been at least 291 school shootings across the country — an average of about one a week, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a non-profit group that advocates for gun control.
“It is pretty clear that we’re failing our kids here,” said Melissa Falkowski, a teacher who squeezed 19 students into a closet to shield them from harm.


UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

Updated 43 min 11 sec ago
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UAE gift helps French palace reopen ‘forgotten theater’

  • Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi
  • The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017

FONTAINEBLEAU: An exquisite 19th-century French theater outside Paris that fell into disuse for one and half centuries has been restored with the help of a €10 million donation from oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
The Napoleon III theater at Fontainebleau Palace south of Paris was built between 1853 and 1856 under the reign of the nephew of emperor Napoleon I.
It opened in 1857 but was used only a dozen times, which has helped preserve its gilded adornments, before being abandoned in 1870 after the fall of Napoleon III.
But during a state visit to France in 2007, Sheikh Khalifa, ruler of Abu Dhabi and president of the United Arab Emirates, was reportedly entranced by the abandoned theater and offered €10 million ($11.2 million) on the spot for its restoration.
After a project that has lasted 12 years the theater is now being reopened.
An official inauguration is expected soon, hosted by French Culture Minister Franck Riester and attended by UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
Now called the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Theatre, it is the latest example of the close relations between Paris and Abu Dhabi.
The UAE capital already hosts the Louvre Abu Dhabi, opened by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and President Emmanuel Macron in 2017, the first foreign institution to carry the name of the great Paris museum.
For all its ornate beauty, the theater has hardly ever been used for its orginal purpose, hosting only a dozen performances between 1857 and 1868, each attended by around 400 people.
“While it had been forgotten, the theater was in an almost perfect state,” said the head of the Fontainebleau Palace, Jean-Francois Hebert.
“Let us not waste this jewel, and show this extraordinary place of decorative arts,” he added.
According to the palace, the theater is “probably the last in Europe to have kept almost all its original machinery, lighting and decor.”
Having such a theater was the desire of Napoleon III’s wife Eugenie. But after the defeat, his capture in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 and the declaration of France’s Third Republic, the theater fell into virtual oblivion.
Following the renovation, the theater will mainly be a place to visit and admire, rather than for regularly holding concerts.
“The aim is not to give the theater back to its first vocation” given its “very fragile structure,” said Hebert.
Short shows and recitals may be performed in exceptional cases, under the tightest security measures and fire regulations. But regular guided tours will allow visitors to discover the site, including the stage sets.
The restoration aimed to use as little new material as possible, with 80 percent of the original material preserved.
The opulent central chandelier — three meters high and 2.5 meters wide — has been restored to its original form.