School shooting survivors target NRA-linked companies

School students from Montgomery County, Md., in suburban Washington, on Wednesday rally in solidarity with those affected by the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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School shooting survivors target NRA-linked companies

NEW YORK: Survivors of a mass shooting at a Florida high school are hoping to expand the reach of their gun control movement by seeking a boycott of companies doing business with the NRA and urging tourists to boycott the Sunshine State.
As the #BoycottNRA movement grew on Twitter, with petitions circulating against companies that offer discounts to NRA members, a growing number of those businesses announced they are cutting or reducing ties with the association.
Both Delta and United said Saturday that they will no longer offer discounted airfares to NRA members to attend their annual meetings, and both have asked the gun rights group to remove any references to their companies from the NRA website. Rental-car company Hertz said it would no longer offer a discount program to NRA members and First National Bank of Omaha, one of the nation’s largest privately held banks, said it will not renew a co-branded Visa credit card it has with the NRA.
In an email Saturday, the NRA called the companies’ actions “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice” and said the loss of corporate discounts and other perks “will neither scare nor distract” NRA members.
“In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve,” the NRA statement said.
The State of Florida also was facing some backlash. One of the survivors of the Florida school shooting suggested Saturday on Twitter that tourists stay away from the state. He got an immediate response.
“Let’s make a deal,” tweeted David Hogg, a Stoneman Douglas student who has been a major player in the #neveragain movement. “DO NOT come to Florida for spring break unless gun legislation is passed.”
Wendy Glaab, 60, of Fonthill, Ontario, Canada, was among the first to respond. “I like many Canadians travel to Florida from time to time to escape our winter. I can’t speak for others but I will not be returning until meaningful gun control legislation is in place.”
Glaab told The Associated Press on Saturday that her sister owns property in Fort Lauderdale and she is able to visit any time she chooses.
Members of the NRA have access to special offers from partner companies on its website, ranging from life insurance to wine clubs. But the insurance company MetLife Inc. discontinued its discount program with the NRA on Friday. Symantec Corp., the software company that makes Norton Antivirus technology, did the same. Insurer Chubb Ltd. said it is ending participation in the NRA’s gun-owner insurance program, but it provided notice three months ago. The program that provided coverage for people involved in gun-related incidents or accidents had been under scrutiny by regulators over marketing issues.
Car rental company Enterprise Holdings, which also owns Alamo and National, said it was cutting off discounts for NRA member, as did Hertz.
Other companies, including Wyndham Hotels and Best Western hotels, have let social media users know they are no longer affiliated with the NRA, though they did not make clear when the partnerships ended.
The swiftness of the corporate reaction against the NRA has differed from that of past shootings, including the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that claimed 26 lives, and the killing of 58 people in Las Vegas last fall, said Bob Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and a scholar on gun politics. Spitzer said the reaction was likely a reaction to the student mobilization that followed the Florida shooting, but he said it was too soon tell how significantly it will sway the country’s wider gun debate.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference that those advocating for stricter gun control are exploiting the Florida shooting.
President Donald Trump has aligned himself with the NRA, suggesting some teachers could be armed so that they could fire on any attacker. However, Trump has also called for raising the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles, a move the NRA opposes.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott announced plans Friday to put more armed guards in schools and to make it harder for young adults and some with mental illness to buy guns. While criticized by some as not going far enough, the measures were significant in a state that hasn’t passed any type of gun control since Republicans took control of state government in 1999.


France bans Iran’s Mahan Air for flying arms, troops to Syria, elsewhere

Updated 25 March 2019
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France bans Iran’s Mahan Air for flying arms, troops to Syria, elsewhere

  • The ban will become effective starting April 1
  • The airlines were also banned by Germany since January

PARIS: France has banned flights in and out of the country by Iran’s Mahan Air, accusing it of transporting military equipment and personnel to Syria and other Middle East war zones, diplomats said on Monday, after heavy US pressure on Paris to act.
The decision to revoke Mahan’s license to operate in France was made after Germany banned the airline in January.
Paris had considered revoking its license more than two years ago under the presidency of Francois Hollande, but had backed down because it feared it could harm relations just after a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers was signed in 2015.
The United States imposed sanctions on Mahan Air in 2011, saying it provided financial and other support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and Washington has been pressing its European allies to follow suit.
“We knew of their activities from our own intelligence services and after the German move it was a question of credibility,” said a French diplomatic source.
The French ban on the airline, which had four flights a week to Paris from Tehran, takes effect from April 1. The airline’s website is no longer taking reservations and calls to its offices in Paris were not answered.
Tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as President Emmanuel Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s ballistic missile tests, regional activities and a foiled attack on an Iranian exile group in France, which Paris says Iranian intelligence was behind.
Both countries only reappointed ambassadors to each other’s capitals last month after more than six months without envoys.
There are no plans at this stage to ban another airline — Iran Air — said one diplomat.
Mahan Air, established in 1992 as Iran’s first private airline, has the country’s largest fleet of aircraft and has flights to a number of European countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Greece.
European countries have been under sustained US pressure to reimpose sanctions on Iran since President Donald Trump last year pulled Washington out of an international nuclear non-proliferation treaty reached with Tehran under his predecessor Barack Obama.
Along with Iran, the other signatories to the deal — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — are still trying to keep it alive and set up in January a mechanism to allow trade with Tehran and circumvent US sanctions.