Trump turns on FBI over school shooting after criticism from survivors

Police officers are seen in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as law enforcement officials continue their work investigating the 17 people who were killed at the school on Feb. 17, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested 19 year old former student Nikolas Cruz in the killing of the high school students. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images,/AFP)
Updated 18 February 2018
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Trump turns on FBI over school shooting after criticism from survivors

FORT LAUDERDALE, United States: US President Donald Trump said Saturday the FBI was so caught up in the Russia probe that it failed to heed signs which could have prevented the Parkland school shooting.
His comments came as he faces criticism from survivors of the attack over his ties to the powerful National Rifle Association, and after several thousand rallied in Florida to demand urgent action on gun control.
“Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.
“They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!“
US authorities have come under mounting scrutiny for failing to act on a series of warning signs ahead of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in which 17 people were killed.
The FBI admitted Friday it received a chilling warning in January from a tipster who said the gunman Nikolas Cruz could be planning a mass shooting, but that agents failed to follow up.
But the attack, the 18th school shooting this year alone, has also renewed calls for greater gun control with several survivors leading the charge.
One of them, 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez delivered a fiery address to a crowd of students, parents and residents in Ft. Lauderdale.
“To every politician taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” she thundered, assailing Trump over the multi-million-dollar support his campaign received from the gun lobby. The crowd chanted in turn: “Shame on you!“
“We are going to be the last mass shooting... We are going to change the law,” she vowed — slamming the fact 19-year-old Cruz was able to legally buy a semi-automatic firearm despite a history of troubling and violent behavior.
“The question on whether or not people should be allowed to own an automatic weapon is not a political one. It is question of life or death and it needs to stop being a question of politics,” Gonzalez told AFP following her speech.
In Washington, the political response has made clear that the powerful NRA pro-gun lobby remains formidable, while Trump himself suggested the root cause of mass shootings was a crisis of mental health — making no mention of gun control.
“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy and... how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said in her impassioned address.
“It doesn’t matter because I already know. Thirty million,” she said, citing the sum spent by the NRA to support Trump’s election bid and defeat Hillary Clinton.
She then ran through a list of the pro-gun lobby’s talking points — for example, that “a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun,” that no law could ever stop a madman intent on killing — answering each argument with “We call BS.”
The young woman’s powerful address immediately went viral, with her name a top trending topic on Twitter.
In addition to the FBI’s missteps, Cruz was also known to local police after his mother repeatedly reported him for violent outbursts, while records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show authorities investigated Cruz in 2016 after he cut his arms on messaging app Snapchat and threatened to buy a gun.
The newspaper, citing Department of Children and Family Services documents, said the investigation came four days after Cruz turned 18 — legally an adult, and thus able to buy a firearm.
Investigators said there were “some implications” for the teen’s safety, but concluded that his “final level of risk is low as (he) resides with his mother, attends school and receives counseling” as an outpatient at a mental health center, the Sun Sentinel said.
Cruz later passed a background check, allowing him in February 2017 to buy the AR-15 rifle used in the massacre.
Trump spoke by phone Saturday with the Parkland mayor, the county commissioner and the principal of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to express his condolences and offer his support.
He then pivoted to politics late Saturday with his allegations against the FBI — though the federal government’s investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race and collusion with the Trump campaign has been led by special prosecutor Robert Mueller since last May.
There was no immediate response from the FBI to Trump’s latest allegation.
Mueller’s investigation has so far swept up four members of Trump’s campaign, with two agreeing to work for the probe under a plea deal.
On Thursday Mueller indicted 13 Russians for allegedly running a secret campaign to tilt the vote, but did not accuse any Americans of knowingly participating in that effort.


Mandela’s widow urges world: put egos aside and end violence

Graca Machel, member of the Elders speaks at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, US, September 24, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 50 min 36 sec ago
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Mandela’s widow urges world: put egos aside and end violence

  • Garces said Mandela “represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering”

UNITED NATIONS: Nelson Mandela’s widow challenged world leaders celebrating his life on Monday to put their egos and partisan politics aside and honor his legacy by ending the “senseless violence” plaguing too much of the world.
“History will judge you should you stagnate too long in inaction,” Graca Machel told a UN “peace summit” commemorating the 100th anniversary of Mandela’s birth. “Humankind will hold you accountable should you allow suffering to continue on your watch.”
With peace a scarce commodity, Machel’s challenge was echoed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other leaders who acknowledged the world is far from achieving Mandela’s ideals which also include human rights and global cooperation.
“Today, with human rights under growing pressure around the world, we would be well served by reflecting on the example of this outstanding man,” Guterres said. “We need to face the forces that threaten us with the wisdom, courage and fortitude that Nelson Mandela embodied.”
The tributes to Mandela began with a rare UN honor — the unveiling of a $1.8 million statue of the South African anti-apartheid campaigner who became the world’s most famous political prisoner, played a key role in ending white-minority rule, and became president in the country’s first democratic election. The statue is a gift to the United Nations from South Africa.
Mandela’s arms are outstretched in the statue, as if to embrace people everywhere. But after the cover was pulled off, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, with help from Guterres, placed a small South African flag in his lapel.
The day-long summit, with nearly 160 scheduled speakers, set the stage for Tuesday’s opening of the General Assembly’s annual meeting of world leaders, where conflicts from Syria to South Sudan, rising unilateralism, and tackling a warming planet and growing inequality are among issues expected to be in the spotlight.
With a bang of the gavel by General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, the leaders on Monday adopted a political declaration resolving “to move beyond words” to promote peace and prevent, contain and end conflicts. “Dialogue is key, and courage is needed to take the first steps to build trust and gain momentum,” it said.
Garces said Mandela “represents a light of hope for a world still torn apart by conflicts and suffering.”
Like others, she warned of the rise of populism and unilateralism and its threat to the 193-member United Nations.
“Drifting away from multilateralism means jeopardizing the future of our species and our planet,” Garces said. “The world needs a social contract based on shared responsibility, and the only forum that we have to achieve this global compact is the United Nations.”
The appeal for collective action to tackle the world’s many conflicts, hotspots and challenges is being tested by the “America First” agenda of US President Donald Trump and populist governments in Italy, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere as well as Britain’s impending divorce from the European Union.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that “unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise” and urged the international community to “stand united under the umbrella of multilateralism.”
The Trump administration and China have been engaged in a trade war in recent months, with the two sides imposing higher tariffs on imports from each other.
Wang said “the UN is the symbol of multilateralism” and “an important guardian of world peace.” During Mandela’s time, he said, it was the “strong moral pressure” of the UN and the international community “that accelerated the disintegration of apartheid.”
“The international community must stand united under the umbrella of multilateralism, uphold the central role of the UN in international affairs and provide more predictability and stability in this turbulent world,” Wang said.
Addressing the Mandela event, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani never mentioned the United States — which has accused Tehran of promoting international terrorism, a charge it vehemently denies.
But Rouhani appeared to be taking aim at Trump and his pledge to build a wall on the US-Mexican border when he said Mandela was a model for the “historical reality that great statesmen tend to build bridges instead of walls.”
Alluding to the Trump administration, Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said recent announcements about military expenditures are “alarming” and are pushing the world into a new arms race “to the detriment of the enormous resources that are needed to build a world of peace.”
South Africa’s Ramaphosa said his country’s “deepest hope” is that the summit, “in the name of one of our greatest exemplars of humanity, serves as a new dawn for the United Nations.”
“We hope we will rediscover the strength of will to save successive generations from war, and to overcome the hatred of our past and the narrow interests that blind us to the vision of a common future that is peaceful and prosperous,” he said. “We hope we will prove ourselves worthy as the bearers of the legacy of Nelson Mandela.”