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Monday
Mar182019

New Zealand prime minister vows gun law changes after mass shooting, a novel idea for some Americans

iStock/artas(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- New Zealand residents have been told to prepare for something that Americans rarely see: legislative action in the wake of a mass shooting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed there will be changes to the country's gun laws following the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history.

"What we're looking here is for an effective gun law that will make a difference," Ardern said Monday at news conference before a cabinet meeting. Ardern said they would be discussing "what we have a responsibility to pursue in the aftermath of this terrorist attack, so that will include work around gun laws."

The shooting that left 50 people dead after a self-proclaimed white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday has led to a number of questions about how it could have happened in a country in which the last deadliest mass shooting took place nearly 30 years ago.

"While work is being done as to the chain of events that led to both the handling of this gun license and the possession of these weapons, I can tell you one thing right now: our gun laws will change," Ardern said Monday. The alleged shooter possessed one of the country’s required gun licenses.

The prime minister even put a timeline on the changes that she planned to discuss with the cabinet, saying that "within 10 days of this horrific act of terrorism we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer."

New Zealand has a far lower rate of gun homicides than the U.S., but the deadly mass shooting last week exponentially increased its number of gun fatalities.

There were a total of 69 murders with a firearm in the entire country from 2008 to 2017, according to New Zealand police.

From December 1998 to December 2018, there were a total of 15 murders committed by someone who had a firearms license, according to police.

By comparison, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2017, there were 39,773 gun deaths in the U.S., the majority of which were suicides. Of that total number, 37 percent were homicides with guns, meaning that in one year alone there were more than 14,700 gun homicides in the U.S.

The two countries are dramatically different in size, and the population of the U.S. is more than 68 times larger than New Zealand.

But gun control advocacy groups in the U.S. are applauding New Zealand's promise of swift action after the mass shooting.

David Hogg, a former Parkland student-turned-activist who survived a mass shooting at his school during which 17 people were killed, tweeted his reaction to Ardern's vow, writing "Imagine."

Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, a gun violence-prevention advocacy group, told ABC News that he thought Ardern’s actions were "refreshing."

"Americans should absolutely look to other countries as to what's possible," Ambler told ABC News.

In 2019, the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan background check bill, one of the most far-reaching gun laws passed in recent memory. However, it is not expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

"The politics of this issue are changing in this country," Ambler said, noting that the shift in the U.S. has happened incrementally "over the past six years," as opposed to after a single incident, like in New Zealand.

Ambler said that Ardern's comments can inspire not just her constituents but also the U.S, saying that her actions give "Americans an example of the type of courage they should expect form their leaders."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Mar182019

Human rights worker in Chechnya sentenced to 4 years in prison amid fears of further crackdown

iStock/JANIFEST(MOSCOW) -- A court in Chechnya has sentenced a prominent human rights worker to four years prison in a case that has been widely condemned by international rights organizations as fabricated, and which some fear may unleash a new wave of repression in the troubled Russian province.

Oyub Titiev, the director of the local branch of Memorial, one of Russia’s most respected human rights organizations, was convicted of marijuana possession, a charge his lawyers said was manufactured in order to punish Titiev for his work investigating and exposing human rights abuses in Chechnya, including extrajudicial killings.

Memorial has long worked to record such crimes in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous republic in southern Russia that is ruled by strongman president Ramzan Kadyrov. Human rights abuses and violent attacks on Kadyrov's opponents have been reported in Chechnya, and human rights campaigners fear that Titiev’s trial could mark the beginning of a renewed crackdown after Kadyrov said that he would no longer allow rights activists to operate in the region.

“I officially declare to human rights activists: after the end of the trial, Chechnya will be forbidden territory for them, like it is for terrorists and extremists,” Kadyrov said in late August of 2018, referring to Titiev’s trial in a speech to local law enforcement that aired on Chechen television.

The guilty verdict against Titiev was expected by his colleagues and human right organizations, which have slammed the case as a show trial, filled with inconsistencies and fabricated evidence.

“The guilty verdict against Oyub Titiev is gross injustice to him, a disgrace to Russian criminal justice system, and a further sign that Ramzan Kadyrov, the governor of Chechnya, will be emboldened to silence reporting on human rights abuses,” Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Titiev was arrested in January of 2018 by Chechen police, who claimed to have found 200 grams of marijuana in his car. Titiev's lawyers have accused police of planting the drug in Titiev's vehicle after they arrested him.

Director of Memorial's Chechnya office since 2009, Titiev had been working for the organization since 2001. His case has become one of Russia's most prominent political trials. In October, the European Union awarded Titiev a prestigious human rights prize, giving it to him in absentia.

Human rights workers and journalists have for years been frequent targets for attacks in Chechnya, where dissent is heavily suppressed.

Natalia Estemirova, Titiev's predecessor as director of Memorial’s Chechnya office, was kidnapped in Grozny and shot dead outside the city in 2009. In 2016, masked men attacked a group of journalists trying to enter Chechnya on a tour organized by the Committee to Prevent Torture, beating the reporters and setting their bus on fire. The same month, the head of the organization, Ilya Kalyapin was attacked in Grozny.

In 2017 and again this January, reports emerged that dozens of people suspected of being gay were rounded up and tortured by Chechen security forces. Some have linked the renewed surge in repression and pressure against rights activists to the international outcry that followed those round ups, after which Kadyrov and some of his top lieutenants sanctioned by the European Union and the U.S.

Memorial has long been a target of Kadyrov, and repeatedly suffered attacks, and. Around the time of Titiev’s arrest, the organization’s office in a neighboring region was burnt down by masked men. One of Titiev’s colleague in Dagestan was beaten outside his home last March.

It’s unclear why Titiev, who has been documenting crimes for years, was arrested now. His colleagues have said that in the months before he was detained, he had been investigating alleged extrajudicial killings by security forces linked to Kadyrov.

Some rights researchers have attributed the case to a growing intolerance in Chechnya for human rights organizations in any form.

“Memorial was the last human rights organization that still maintained a presence in Chechnya and exposed enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and other egregious abuses,” Human Rights Watch wrote ahead of Monday’s verdict. Titiev’s trial, the organization wrote, was aimed at “forcing Memorial completely out of Chechnya.”

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Monday
Mar182019

Alleged gunman in twin mosque massacres that left 50 dead practiced at gun range where members spoke of 'zombie apocalypses': Military veteran

ABC News(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- The alleged gunman who authorities said killed 50 worshippers and wounded dozens more at two mosques in New Zealand apparently took target practice at a gun range that a military veteran claimed he reported to police after overhearing members speaking of "zombie apocalypses" and "homicidal fantasies."

Police confirmed Monday that they are investigating Brenton Tarrant's connection to the Bruce Rifle Club and gun range in Milton, New Zealand, more than 400 miles south of Christchurch, where he allegedly went on a shooting rampage on Friday.

Investigators believe Tarrant took target practice at the club in the days leading up to the attack.

Pete Breidahl, a former New Zealand military machine gunner, posted a video on Facebook in the aftermath of the shootings claiming he asked police in the nearby town of Dunedin to investigate the rifle club based on troubling things he witnessed and overheard.

He said he saw members taking target practice using guns with 30-bullet magazines, talking about "zombie apocalypses, rifles for combat when they're overweight and ... useless" and discussing "homicidal fantasies."

Breidahl told the New York Times that he reported the club to police in 2017, shortly after visiting the club for the first time. He told the newspaper he was concerned about the mental stability of the club's members and the way they handled guns.

"They wore cammo around the range, like they were living some military base fantasy," Breidahl said.

He told The Times that he contacted police following the Christchurch massacre and says he is scheduled to meet with investigators on Tuesday.

"I went there for one shoot and was so ... horrified by what I saw. That was it for me," Breidhal said in his video.

"That ... made me concerned enough about the safety of people to go to a ... police officer, the arms officer, and say, 'You've got to do something about the Bruce Rifle Club, those people are not ... right," Breidahl said.

Bruce Rifle Club's vice president Scott Williams would only confirm to the RNZ Radio Network, New Zealand's public-service radio broadcaster, that Tarrant became a member of the club last year. He said Tarrant never did anything at the club that raised suspicions.

Williams told RNZ Radio that club members were shocked and stunned by the killing rampage and are cooperating with police.

Even as the police continued to probe what authorities called the deadliest terrorist attack in New Zealand history, three people were shot to death on a public tram in the Netherlands Monday in what police said had the hallmarks of a terrorist attack. A manhunt was underway for a suspect or suspects in the attack that occurred about 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam.

Alleged killer's live stream

Alleged mass killer Brenton Tarrant, an Australian living in New Zealand, carried out the ambush attacks on Friday afternoon, livestreaming the bloodshed on Facebook as he unleashed a torrent of gunfire inside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, killing 42 Muslim worshipers and wounding scores of others, police said.

Tarrant -- dressed in military tactical gear, including a helmet and camouflage gloves -- then drove three miles across Christchurch to the Linwood mosque, where he allegedly opened fire, killing another eight people engaged in afternoon prayers, police said.

At least 50 people were wounded in the twin attacks. David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, said Monday that 31 victims remained hospitalized, nine in critical condition, including a 4-year-old girl.

Law enforcement officers swarmed both mosques and captured Tarrant as he attempted to flee the Linwood mosque.

Tarrant has, so far, been charged with one count of murder, but more murder charges are expected to be filed against the 28-year-old suspect, who in online writings, expressed hatred for immigrants and espoused white supremacist views against minorities, authorities said.

Tarrant, who appeared briefly in court on Saturday, has told authorities he plans to represent himself in the case.

Gunman acted alone


New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police are certain that Tarrant was the only gunman but aren't ruling out that he had support.

"I would like to state that we believe absolutely there was only one attacker responsible for this," Bush said at a news conference on Monday. "That doesn't mean there weren't possibly other people in support and that continues to form a very, very important part of our investigation."

New Zealand officials and Facebook workers have worked feverishly to scrub the internet of Tarrant's alleged livestream video of the attack, 17 minutes of which made it online before authorities were able stop it.

A 22-year-old New Zealand citizen has been arrested in connection with distribution of the video and Facebook officials said they removed 1.5 million videos of the attack from the global social media platform within the first 24 hours that followed the rampage.

Despite those efforts, the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, used an edited version of the attack at an election rally on Sunday in an apparent attempt to galvanize support from Islamist followers.

Gun store owner speaks out

The alleged killer obtained a New Zealand gun license in November 2017 and bought his first firearm at Gun City in Christchurch in March 2018, the owner of the gun store said during a news conference Monday.

Gun City owner David Tipple said Tarrant purchased four guns from the store but denied selling him a semi-automatic rifle used in the mosque attacks.

"We detected nothing extraordinary about the license holder. The military style semi-auto used by the alleged gunman was not purchased from Gun City," Tipple said. "All Gun City sales to this individual followed a police verified online mail order process."

As protesters gathered outside his store condemning the attack, Tipple said that he and his staff "are dismayed and disgusted" by the mass killings at the mosques.

"We can't comprehend how the despicable actions could take place at a place of prayer and worship," Tipple said.

'Zombie apocalypses'

Police are also investigating Tarrant's connection to the Bruce Rifle Club and gun range in Milton, New Zealand, more than 400 miles south of Christchurch. Investigators believe Tarrant took target practice at the club in the days leading up to the attack.

Pete Breidhal, a former New Zealand military machine gunner, posted a video on Facebook in the aftermath of the shootings, claiming he asked police to investigate the rifle club years ago after hearing members discussing "zombie apocalypses" and mass shootings.

"I went there for one shoot and was so ... horrified by what I saw. That was it for me," Breidhal said in his video.

The investigation of the rampage has spread to Tarrant's homeland of Australia, more than 2,500 miles from New Zealand. The New South Wales Joint counter-terrorism team in Australia said Monday that they executed search warrants on two homes as part of the New Zealand investigation.

The law enforcement agency said they searched homes believed connected to Tarrant in Sandy Beach and in Lawrence, both near the coast of New South Wales.

"The family of the Australian man arrested in Christchurch continues to assist police with their inquiries," the joint counter-terrorism team said in a statement. "The community can be assured that there is no information to suggest a current or impending threat related to this search warrants."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ardern said authorities hope to release all of the murdered victims to their loved ones by Wednesday. Ardern said the New Zealand government will cover the costs of the funerals.

"Everyone is grieving and I'm grieving with them, but I also have a very important job to do," Ardern said. "I need to ensure that we are looking after those affected, that they have ongoing care and support not just in the coming days but the coming months and years. So that's why I'm incredibly focused. I have a job to do."

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Monday
Mar182019

At least 3 dead in shooting on Netherlands tram, suspect arrested

ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/AFP/Getty Images(UTRECHT, Netherlands) -- At least three people are dead and five others are wounded after a suspect opened fire on a tram Monday morning, local authorities said.

Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen confirmed the fatalities in a video posted to Twitter in Dutch.

The shooting occurred near the 24 Oktoberplein station in Utrecht, located about 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam in central Netherlands.

The main suspect, a 37-year-old Turkish-born man, was apprehended, the mayor and Rob van Bree of the Utrecht police said in an early evening press conference. At this time, a motive remains unknown.

A second person was also arrested they said, although that person's identity and connection to the incident is unclear.

Earlier in the day, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the national coordinator for counterterrorism and security, said at a press conference that it was unclear whether other perpetrators were involved in the shooting.

Utrecht police had asked for the public's help in finding Gokman Tanis, the 37-year-old believed to be connected to the shooting.

The public had also been urged to stay indoors and away from the area.

On Monday morning, Utrecht police said on Twitter they were investigating a shooting, adding that a "possible terrorist motif is part of the investigation." The shooting happened around 10:50 a.m. local time.

The Dutch counterterror office raised Utrecht's threat level to maximum, according to The Associated Press.

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Monday
Mar182019

'Clear similarities' between Ethiopian, Lion Air crashes: Ethiopia's transport minister

@Bea_Aero/Twitter(ADDIS ABABA, Ethi­o­pia) -- Flight data from last week's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash showed "clear similarities" with another fatal crash that involved Boeing's 737 Max 8 aircraft, Ethiopia's transport minister said Sunday.

Dagmawit Moges told journalists flight recorder data showed links between the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10 and Lion Air Flight 610 in October, according to the Washington Post.

Moges didn't offer up specific details to support her claim, but she did say the government would release a detailed report within a month or so.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board said they're working with the full cooperation of Ethiopian authorities to transcribe and analyze information retrieved from the flight data recorder, but that data hadn't been verified as of Sunday afternoon, sources with knowledge of the investigation told ABC News.

The March 10 crash killed 157 people from more than two dozen countries when the Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight plummeted shortly after takeoff.

The accident prompted the U.S. and other major countries to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 jets until its safety could be confirmed.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order to ground the jets on Wednesday, citing satellite-based tracking data that linked the Ethiopia jet's movements to those of Lion Air Flight 610, which killed 189 people when it crashed off Indonesia in October.

Boeing issued a statement shortly after the transportation minister's press conference on Sunday, but it did not address her claims directly.

"While investigators continue to work to establish definitive conclusions, Boeing is finalizing its development of a previously announced software update and pilot training revision that will address the MCAS flight control law's behavior in response to erroneous sensor inputs," the statement said. "We also continue to provide technical assistance at the request of and under the direction of the National Transportation Safety Board, the U.S. Accredited Representative working with Ethiopian investigators."

"In accordance with international protocol," the statement continued, "all inquiries about the ongoing accident investigation must be directed to the investigating authorities."

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Sunday
Mar172019

Pope Francis leads prayers for peace over hate at the Vatican 

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(ROME) -- As Pope Francis condemned the mass killing of 50 worshippers at two New Zealand mosques and led a prayer for the victims on Sunday in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, some of the bodies of those slaughtered were being returned to their loved ones for burial.

Pope Francis called the mass shooting in Christchurch a "horrible attack" and implored people around the world to fight anti-immigrant and white supremacist extremism espoused by the alleged killer.

"I pray for the dead, the injured and their families," the pope said. "I am close to our Muslim brothers and to all that community, and I renew an invitation to join in prayer and gestures of peace to combat hate and violence. Let's pray together in silence for our Muslim brothers who have been killed."

The alleged gunman, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, launched his vicious attack Friday afternoon in Christchurch on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, where Muslims were gathered for prayer services.

In a twisted move, Tarrant allegedly livestreamed the attacks on Facebook live, showing his face on camera and his arsenal of high-powered weapons and ammo clips used in the massacre lying on the passenger side floor of his vehicle. The livestream was broadcast for 17 minutes before Facebook officials took action to end it.

Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian, allegedly started the attack at the Al Noor mosque, killing 42 people and wounding scores of others before driving three miles to the Linwood mosque and fatally shooting eight victims, New Zealand police said. Tarrant was captured by police when they rammed his car off the road as he tried to flee.

The slain victims ranged from age 3 to 77, and included at least four women, officials said.

The alleged gunman's grandmother and uncle spoke out against the attack, saying they are as stunned as anyone, saying their relative is "obviously not of sound mind."

"It's just so much for everything to take in that somebody in our family would do anything like this," the grandmother, Marie Fitzgerald, told 9News in Australia in an exclusive interview.

She said her grandson spent most of his time on computers, "learning all the ins and out" and playing video games.

"It's only since he traveled overseas, I think that that boy has changed completely [from] the boy we knew," the grandmother said.

Tarrant's uncle, Terry Fitzgerald, said he couldn't believe his nephew was involved in what New Zealand officials described as the "worst terrorist attack in New Zealand's history" until he saw his photo on TV news reports.

"We say sorry, for the families over there, for the dead and the injured. Yeah we just, can't think nothing else, just want to go home and hide," Terry Fitzgerald told 9News.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that some of the bodies would be returned to their loved ones on Sunday for burial. Graves were already being dug for the victims even as authorities were still working to identify the victims.

Mike Bush, New Zealand's commissioner of police, said authorities are keenly "aware of the cultural and religious needs" of victims, whose faith customarily calls for Muslims to be buried within 24 hours of death.

Authorities are working as "quickly and sensitively as possible" to return the bodies to grieving family members, Bush said Saturday.

Investigators said three other people arrested in the aftermath of the attacks apparently were not involved in the massacre and released.

Bush said an additional 50 people were wounded in the rampage. He said 36 remained hospitalized, two in critical condition.

Tarrant has been charged with murder. In his first court appearance on Saturday, Tarrant briefly flashed hand gestures that some witnesses and officials described as white supremacist signals.

In online writings, Tarrant, according to investigators, spewed hatred aimed at non-white people immigrating to Western countries.

Tarrant also cited in his online writings the 2015 attack by white supremacist Dylann Roof that left nine African-American worshippers dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, according to investigators. He also said in his writings that he was inspired by Anders Breivik, a Norwegian far-right terrorist, who killed 77 people in a rampage in Norway, officials said.

He also praised President Donald Trump in his online writings as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.

On Friday, Trump was asked by ABC News' Terry Moran if he considered white nationalism on the rise across the world.

"I don't, really," Trump, sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, replied. "I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems."

FBI statistics show that the number of hate crimes in the United States rose 17 percent from 2016 to 2017. Of the 6,000 suspects who allegedly carried out the crimes on 8,000 victims, 58 percent were motivated by hate and 22 percent by religion, according to the FBI.

Lianne Dalziel, the mayor of Christchurch, told ABC News that the mass shooting exposed the rise of extremism in her country, which recorded just 35 murders in all of 2017. Dalziel pointed out that the hatred she has seen locally was imported to inflict damage on a safe city in a safe country.

Dalziel said cities across the world need to gather together and unify around diversity.

Tom Bossert, the former homeland security adviser to Trump and former deputy homeland security adviser under President George W. Bush, said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Trump isn't downplaying the hate crimes in the country, but apparently comparing the numbers to atrocities committed to well-organized groups like ISIS.

"Both are morally repugnant and difficult challenges, and so we don't want to downplay it," Bossert told ABC News' chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. "I think what the president said is it's a smaller threat. I hope he doesn't maintain the position that it's not a threat at all. Some resources are needed. Clearly this is a trend that needs to be addressed."

Bossert also said authorities should consider requiring delays on live broadcasts or live streaming to prevent others bent on committing mass killings from following in the alleged footstep of the Christchurch mass shooter.

"There's no negative or downside to forcing some delay into that broadcast," Bossert said. "It will require some time and money, but I think it's something we should consider."

Jae Johnson, former secretary of homeland security under President Barack Obama, said on "This Week" that companies that provide social media platforms be required to be more vigilant when it comes to policing hate speech.

"In social media now there are very very few barriers to entry and, frankly, standards of exit," Johnson said.

Johnson also suggested that voters should require a prerequisite for all candidates running for public office to adopt a more civil tone in what they say publicly and to lower the level of espousing ideas that can be interpreted as condoning acts of extremist hate.

"Americans do listen to their leaders," Johnson said.

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Sunday
Mar172019

New Zealand man, 22, arrested for allegedly distributing video of mosque shootings

ABC News(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- A 22-year-old man from New Zealand has been arrested in connection with distribution of the video recording of Friday's tragic mosque shootings that killed 50 people.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, who has been charged with murder in the mass shooting, filmed the massacres at Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Masjid in Christchurch on a Facebook livestream. Facebook was notified of the video and immediately took steps to remove the user and the recording, but not before it had been downloaded and reposted across the internet.

The 22-year-old, who has not been named by police, will be charged under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have repeatedly urged citizens and the media not to share footage of the attack.

Mia Garlick, a spokesperson for Facebook New Zealand, said 1.5 million videos of the attack had been removed from the platform globally within the first 24 hours of it occurring. That included 1.2 million that were blocked during the upload stage.

Police said they do not believe the 22-year-old was directly involved with the attack and is not being charged in relation to it.

"We would like to remind people that it is an offence to distribute or possess an objectionable publication (under the Films Videos and Publications Classifications Act 1993), which carries a penalty of imprisonment," New Zealand police said in a statement.

"The live stream video of the shootings in Christchurch has been classified by the Chief Censor’s Office as objectionable," police added.

Sky News Australia was taken off the air by New Zealand's largest satellite provider after the network repeatedly showed clips of the shooting.

Tarrant, who made an initial appearance in court Saturday, is expected to face additional charges.

A man and woman were also arrested in the hours following the attack, but the woman was released without charges. The man is facing a weapons charge unrelated to the attack itself.

In addition to the 50 people killed, 50 others were injured and 12 remain in critical condition, officials said Sunday.

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Sunday
Mar172019

Authorities download cockpit recording from doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight

iStock/Thinkstock(ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia) -- Audio recordings from doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 were successfully recovered by French authorities on Saturday.

The data from the Ethiopian Airlines cockpit voice recorder was downloaded by the French Civil Aviation Safety Agency (BEA), which is doing the work as Ethiopian officials do not have the proper capabilities to do so.

The EBA announced on Twitter that data from the CVR was transferred to Ethiopian investigators, adding that they did not listen to the audio files.

Work on retrieving information from the flight data recorder will resume on Sunday.

In an earlier tweet, the BEA said that representatives from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing have been present as they're conducting their work.

Processing on the plane's voice recorder and data recorder began on Friday.

Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff on March 10, killing all 157 people on board the aircraft. The plane had taken off from Addis Ababa and was destined for Nairobi, Kenya.

The crash triggered a worldwide fear over the safety of Boeing's new 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft. The FAA and President Donald Trump eventually announced all Max 8s and 9s would be grounded in the U.S. after countries around the world took the planes out of service or suspended the planes from flying through their airspace.

Fear over the Boeing Max jets was ignited due to similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and one last October in Indonesia.

It is unclear how much the Ethiopian Airlines accident and last fall's Lion Air flight 610 crash have in common other than the aircraft type and that the flights went down shortly after takeoff while apparently struggling to gain altitude.

Ethiopian officials are expected to announce findings from both of the black boxes in the week ahead.

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Saturday
Mar162019

Death toll rises to 50 in New Zealand terror attack

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images(CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand) -- The death toll from the largest terror attack in New Zealand's history has now risen to 50, police said.

For those who survived the mass shooting, 34 are still hospitalized including 12 patients in the intensive care unit and are in critical condition, said Christchurch Hospital head of Surgery Greg Robertson at a news conference on Sunday afternoon local time.

Two children, who under the age of 16, are among the victims in stable condition, and two adults are still in critical condition, said Christchurch Hospital head of Surgery Greg Robertson at a news conference on Sunday afternoon local time.

On Thursday morning, a gunman, who had posted white supremacist language on social media attacked two mosques in Christchurch in a shooting spree he livestreamed on Facebook.

Authorities have named Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian citizen, as the shooter. He was charged with murder and appeared in Christchurch District Court on Saturday and remanded back into custody without entering a plea. He may face more charges.

His next court appearance will be on April 5.

Three other people, who have been taken into custody, were deemed unrelated to the attack, Bush said.

Two others were stopped because they had a firearm, Bush said.

"A woman was released without charge. A man in that vehicle was charged with a firearms offense. We do not believe they were involved in these attacks," Bush said.

Another 18-year old man who "went to assist children and did decide to arm themselves which is not the right approach" will appear in court on Monday, Bush said, adding that the charge was "tangential to this matter" and that police "believe he was involved in this attack."

"A list of victims’ names have been shared with family," Bush said. The list was not formalized yet and would not yet be distributed.

Security around mosques "will continue until we believe there is no threat," said Bush, adding, that law enforcement around the country would stay on high alert to protect citizens and visitors.

Tarrant had a New Zealand firearms license he obtained in 2017, and appeared to have modified the gun he used, Bush said.

On Saturday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern again disavowed the attacks and anti-Muslim sentiment, while promising a change to the country's gun laws.

"This is not the New Zealand that any of us know," she told reporters at a press conference. "The commissioner has advised that security from police will continue at mosques throughout New Zealand until it is deemed that there is no longer a threat."

She also added to the timeline of the attacks, saying that the police "responded immediately" to the attack, saying Tarrant "was in custody 36 minutes from receiving the first call. The offender was mobile. There were two other firearms in the vehicle that the offender was in and it absolutely was his intention to continue with his attack."

Arder also said the weapons used in the attack "appear to have been modified," a challenge that the government will "look to address in changing our laws."

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Saturday
Mar162019

'Eggboy': Teen cracks an egg over anti-Muslim Australian lawmaker's head

iStock/chelovek(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- An Australian lawmaker who has been condemned for making anti-immigration remarks hours after the New Zealand mosque attacks had egg on his face on Saturday. Literally.

Fraser Anning, 69, a far-right Queensland senator, was speaking to reporters in Melbourne when a 17-year-old boy cracked a raw egg against the politician's head, video of the incident shows. The footage quickly went viral on social media, where he was given the nickname "eggboy."

Anning immediately punched back at the teen as egg yolk skittled down his face, the video showed. He also attempted to get a few kicks in before being fully restrained. Others in attendance, meanwhile, appeared to hold down the teen in a chokehold.

Victoria police took the teen into custody before releasing him without charges, but are investigating the incident, according to local media reports. The police were not immediately available for comment.

Anning, who is known for anti-immigration language, immediately blamed the New Zealand attacks on Muslim immigration. In the past, he has invoked Nazi language of a "final solution" to combat Muslim immigration to Australia.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison called Anning’s inflammatory comments blaming the Islamic community “appalling and ugly."

"I would normally not want to give this any oxygen, but I want to absolutely and completely denounce the statements made by Senator Anning…on this horrendous terrorist attack, with issues of immigration, in his attack on Islamic faith specifically," Morrison said, adding that his government would censure the senator.

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