Fighting gun violence after shooting gives teens purpose

Angelina Lazo, 18, center, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, holds a sign with other students and parents at an intersection near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
Updated 20 February 2018
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Fighting gun violence after shooting gives teens purpose

PARKLAND, Florida: Chris Grady was a theater kid counting down the days until he reported for duty in the US Army this summer, when a gunman opened fire at his school. As he huddled in his classroom at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last Wednesday listening to shots ring out nearby, what he felt wasn’t fear, but anger.
“Full-on anger,” the thin, curly haired 19-year-old said.
Grady’s anger deepened the day after the shooting, when he heard news that the FBI had failed to follow up on a tip about the former student who police say gunned down 14 students and three staff members with an AR-15 styled rifle. News also emerged that Nikolas Cruz had legally purchased the gun despite a documented history of mental health issues.
The FBI received a tip last month that Cruz had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate, the agency acknowledged Friday. Others had received warnings as well: Records show the Florida Department of Children and Families investigated, but concluded Cruz wasn’t a danger to himself or others.
On Friday, as gun-control debates raged anew on social media, one of Grady’s close friends created a Twitter account, @NeverAgainMSD, to channel the students’ anger and frustration.
“The Never Again movement started formulating, and we got to work,” Grady said.
Grady and his friend are among about 100 Stoneman Douglas students who are heading to Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, to push lawmakers to do something to stop gun violence. They also plan to maintain the momentum by attending what they hope will be a massive march on Washington next month.
The efforts have offered students a way to channel their anger and sadness into action. Grady’s life was upended by the shooting. But now, as one of the organizers behind the students’ call for stricter gun-control laws, he is laser-focused on planning and media interviews.
On Tuesday, he will ride a bus to Tallahassee. On Wednesday, he and a small group of Never Again organizers will fly back to Parkland for a televised Town Hall meeting about the shooting. Then their focus will turn to the planned March for Life on the nation’s capital on March 24.
That doesn’t leave a lot of time for school.
“If we’ve got to take some extra days off, that’s fine to continue the movement,” he said. “Academics have been put on the back burner.”
Prior to the shooting, Chris’ time was spent studying theater and working out to get his body in shape for the Army, where he wants to pursue a career in information technology. The second-oldest of four kids, he moved to Parkland from Massachusetts when he was 6. His mother is a property manager, and his step-father is an electrician.
Given his interest in a military career, Chris said he is not anti-gun and supports the Second Amendment. But he believes assault rifles such as the AR-15 styled rifle that authorities say Cruz used should be reserved for the military.
“They’re weapons of war made to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible,” he said.
Grady said he’s ready to work as much as it takes to keep the gun-control movement’s momentum going until he ships out.
“The kids in Newtown were too young to understand what happened and were too young to have their own voice,” he said, referring to the 20 first-graders killed in the 2012 Connecticut school shooting. “We want to be the voice for those kids and thousands of others who have been affected by tragedies like this.”



More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

Updated 24 April 2019
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More than 60 dead in South Africa flooding after heavy rains

  • Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday
  • The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban

DURBAN: At least 60 people have been killed and more than 1,000 have fled their homes after heavy rains caused flooding and mudslides along South Africa’s eastern coast, authorities said on Wednesday.
Most of the deaths were in KwaZulu-Natal province. Flooding also killed at least three people in neighboring Eastern Cape province, state broadcaster SABC said.
The rains mainly hit areas around the port city of Durban. Multiple dwellings collapsed in mudslides, said Robert McKenzie, a KwaZulu-Natal Emergency Medical Services spokesman.
Rescue workers were digging through collapsed buildings on Wednesday.
Victor da Silva, a resident of the coastal town of Amanzimtoti, said his family managed to evacuate before the floods destroyed their home and cars.
“On Monday, the water was just crazy. And yesterday morning I got here, everything was fine, my garage was still here, the other part of the house was still here, and it just couldn’t stop raining,” Da Silva said. “And then an hour and a half later, everything poof (vanished) because the rain just hasn’t stopped.
Authorities in southern Tanzania ordered evacuations of residents from low-lying areas and the closure of schools and offices ahead of landfall of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth on neighboring Mozambique’s coast on Thursday.
“We’ve decided to evacuate all residents of valleys and other low-lying areas and we advise them to seek refuge at public spaces,” Mtwara regional commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa, told reporters.
Johan Fourie said he fled his home in Amanzimtoti, Kwazulu-Natal, just before part of it collapsed.
“I nearly lost my life, and my neighbor, I believe, is in hospital,” Fourie told eNCA television.
The region had been hit by heavy rains for days, but authorities did not foresee the extent of the downpour late on Monday, said Lennox Mabaso, a spokesman for the provincial Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs department.
“As a result, there was flooding and some structures were undermined and collapsed on people,” Mabaso said.
Some people were swept away by the water, he added.
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited affected communities in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday and was expected in the Eastern Cape in the next few days.
“This is partly what climate change is about, that it just hits when we least expect it,” he said.
Last week, 13 people were killed during an Easter service in KwaZulu-Natal when a church wall collapsed after days of heavy rains and strong winds.