Australian family of NZ mosques gunman devastated for victims

In this image made from a video, a woman and a man who Australia's Nine Network television says are a grandmother and an uncle of Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian man accused of carrying out the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques, are interviewed in Grafton, New South Wales, Australia on March 17, 2019. (CHANNEL 9 via AP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Australian family of NZ mosques gunman devastated for victims

  • Tarrant’s grandmother said she was “gobsmacked” when she first saw the terror attack on television last Friday

MELBOURNE, Australia: A grandmother of the Australian man suspected of killing 50 people in two New Zealand mosques said she was “just devastated” for the dead and injured.
Speaking publicly for the first time in their home town of Grafton in the Australian state of New South Wales after the killings, 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant’s grandmother Marie Fitzgerald expressed her sorrow, as did his uncle Terry Fitzgerald.
Tarrant, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday and is due back in court on April 5. Police said he was likely to face further charges.
“We’re so sorry for the families over there, for the dead and the injured. I can’t think nothing else,” his uncle said on Australia’s Channel Nine television late on Sunday.
Tarrant’s grandmother said she was “gobsmacked” when she first saw the news on television last Friday.
She said in high school, Tarrant had spent most of his time playing games on computers and learning the ins and outs of computers.
In a document published online, Tarrant said he received “little education during my schooling, barely achieving a passing grade,” skipping university to work and deal in cryptocurrency, which he said was profitable.
He then traveled extensively, including through Western Europe, Turkey and Bulgaria, between 2016 and 2018.
“It’s only since he traveled overseas I think that that boy has changed completely to the boy we knew,” she said.
He visited Grafton a year ago for his sister’s birthday celebration and was “his normal self,” she said, further adding “now everyone’s just devastated.”
Police on Monday said they had executed two search warrants in towns on the New South Wales mid-north coast related to the investigation into the mass shootings.


Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

Updated 21 min 53 sec ago

Trump: I am Israel’s best pal in the White House

  • Unlike his predecessors, Donald Trump says ‘I kept my promises’
  • The president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough

HOLLYWOOD, Florida: President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises.”
Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Florida by recounting his record on issues of importance to Jews, including an extensive riff on his promise to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and relocate the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
Trump said his predecessors only paid lip service to the issue.
“They never had any intention of doing it, in my opinion,” Trump said. “But unlike other presidents, I kept my promises.”
Trump also highlighted his decision to reverse more than a half-century of US policy in the Middle East by recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the strategic highlands on the border with Syria.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war but its sovereignty over the territory had not been recognized by the international community.
In his speech, the president also claimed there are some Jewish people in America who don’t love Israel enough.
“We have to get the people of our country, of this country, to love Israel more, I have to tell you that. We have to do it. We have to get them to love Israel more,” Trump said, to some applause. “Because you have Jewish people that are great people — they don’t love Israel enough.”
Aaron Keyak, the former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, denounced Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic.
“Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans,” Keyak said.
Trump has been accused of trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes before, including in August, when he said American Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” A number of Jewish groups noted at the time that accusations of disloyalty have long been made against Jews.
The Israeli American Council is financially backed by one of Trump’s top supporters, the husband-and-wife duo of Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate.
Both Adelsons appeared on stage to introduce Trump, with Miriam Adelson asserting that Trump “has already gone down in the annals of Jewish history, and that is before he’s even completed his first term in office.”
The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for the 2018 congressional elections.
Trump’s entourage at the event included Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, along with Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Michael Waltz, whom he described as “two warriors” defending him against “oppression” in the impeachment inquiry.
Trump criticized Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran, saying he withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal with other world powers because Tehran must never be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon
But Trump voiced support for Iranian citizens who have been protesting a decision by their government to withdraw fuel subsidies, which sent prices skyrocketing.
Trump said he believes thousands of Iranians have been killed in the protests and that thousands more have been arrested.
“America will always stand with the Iranian people in their righteous struggle for freedom,” he said.