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.


Protests in Bangladesh after girl is burned to death

Updated 46 min 6 sec ago
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Protests in Bangladesh after girl is burned to death

  • Nusrat Jahan Rafi told her family she was lured to the roof of her rural school in the town of Feni on April 6 and asked to withdraw the charges by five people clad in burqas
  • The violence has shaken Bangladesh, triggering protests and raising concerns over the plight of women and girls in the conservative nation of 160 million people

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Dozens of protesters gathered in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday to demand justice for an 18-year-old woman who died after being set on fire for refusing to drop sexual harassment charges against her Islamic school’s principal.
Nusrat Jahan Rafi told her family she was lured to the roof of her rural school in the town of Feni on April 6 and asked to withdraw the charges by five people clad in burqas. When she refused, she said her hands were tied and she was doused in kerosene and set alight.
Rafi told the story to her brother in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and he recorded her testimony on his mobile phone. She died four days later in a Dhaka hospital with burns covering 80% of her body.
The violence has shaken Bangladesh, triggering protests and raising concerns over the plight of women and girls in the conservative Muslim-majority nation of 160 million people where sexual harassment and violence are often unreported, victims are intimidated and the legal process is often lengthy. Many avoid reporting to police because of social stigma.
“We want justice. Our girls must grow up safely and with dignity,” Alisha Pradhan, a model and actress, told The Associated Press during Friday’s demonstration. “We protest any forms of violence against women, and authorities must ensure justice.”
Tens of thousands of people attended Rafi’s funeral prayers in Feni, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised Rafi’s family when they met in Dhaka that those responsible would be punished.
At least 17 people, including students, have been arrested in connection with the case, said Banaj Kumar Majumder, the head of the Police Bureau of Investigation.
In late March, Rafi filed a complaint with police that the principal of her madrasa, or Islamic school, had called her into his office and touched her inappropriately and repeatedly. Her family agreed to help her to file the police complaint, which prompted police to arrest the principal, infuriating him and his supporters. Influential local politicians backed the principal, and ruling party members were also among the arrested.
Police said the arrested suspects told them during interrogations that the attack on Rafi was planned and ordered by the school’s principal from prison when his men went to see him. It was timed for daytime so that it would look like a suicide attempt, Majumder said.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Rafi’s family said that they had received death threats before the attack telling them to drop the case.
While Rafi’s case is now being treated with urgency, that wasn’t the case until her death.
A video taken on March 27 while Rafi reported the assault shows the local police chief registering her complaint but telling her that the incident was “not a big deal.” The chief was later removed from the police station for negligence in dealing with the case.
For Bangladeshi women, it is often not easy to file sensitive complaints with police. Victims often fear further harassment and bullying. Police also often show an unwillingness to investigate such cases and are often accused of being influenced by local politics or bribes.
But the call for dealing with violence against women, especially related to sexual harassment and assault, is also getting louder.
“The horrifying murder of a brave woman who sought justice shows how badly the Bangladesh government has failed victims of sexual assault,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Nusrat Jahan Rafi’s death highlights the need for the Bangladesh government to take survivors of sexual assault seriously and ensure that they can safely seek a legal remedy and be protected from retaliation.”