School shooting tragedy in US | Daily News

School shooting tragedy in US

Mourners pray after a vigil to honour the victims of a mass shooting at Ulvade, Texas' Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.
Mourners pray after a vigil to honour the victims of a mass shooting at Ulvade, Texas' Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.

The second mass shooting in the US in ten days has been brought to the highlight of global affairs. In Buffalo, New York 10 black people were killed by a gunman at a grocery store, ten days later another gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, which is a shocking echo of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012.

President Joe Biden made a strong and emotive statement on this soon after his return from Japan and South Korea. “What struck me on that 17-hour flight was these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why?,” the president questioned. “They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost, but these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”

The president said he is “sick and tired” of mass shootings like this, and “we have to act.”

“As a nation, we have to ask, when in God's name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Mr. Biden said. “When in God's name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

He said it's been 3,448 days since he stood up at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman massacred 26 people, including 20 first graders, in 2012. Since then, he said there have been over 900 incidents of gunfire reported on school grounds.

Two law enforcement sources have confirmed that the 18-year-old latest shooter had a handgun, AR-15 rifle and high-capacity magazines. The gunman's motivation is unclear at this time.

On Tuesday night, the president urged Congress to pass “commonsense” gun laws. “We can't and won't prevent every tragedy. But we know they work, and have a positive impact,” the president said of gun restriction measures. “... The idea that an 18-year-old kid can walk into a gun store and buy two assault weapons is just wrong.”

Vice President Kamala Harris also addressed the mass shooting at the beginning of a speech Tuesday night, saying, “Our hearts keep getting broken” and “enough is enough.”

All of the children killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday were fourth graders. The two teachers who were killed in the shooting have been identified as Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia.

Frustrated onlookers at the tragic incident had urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where the gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses have told the Associated Press.

“Go in there! Go in there!” Nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting, arriving while police were still gathered outside the building.

Upset that police were not moving in, he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”

There have been global responses from national leaders to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the deadliest such incident to take place in the U.S. in nearly a decade.

Global reactions

Pope Francis said his “heart is broken” after 19 children and two teachers died in this.

The Pope said during his general audience he is “praying for the children and adults who were killed, and for their families.”

“It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of arms,” he added, “Let us all commit ourselves, so that such tragedies can never happen again.”

As President Biden has called on US lawmakers to stand up to the gun lobby, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the shooting, as both a politician and a mother. After two consecutive mosque shootings in 2019, New Zealand collected thousands of weapons through a nationwide buyback, and lawmakers voted to ban almost all semi-automatic weapons.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin expressed condolences for the victims’ families, but also called the U.S. Government hypocritical for failing to act on gun violence at home while attacking foreign countries over their human rights records.

Condolences also poured in from Ukrainian politicians, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, who drew parallels between the loss of young innocent lives in Texas and his own war-torn country.

“The people of Ukraine share the pain of the relatives and friends of the victims and all Americans,” he tweeted.

Leaders and officials from various countries — including Canada, France, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom — as well as global faith leaders shared messages of shock and sympathy.

Ukraine: Russian moves in East

Fierce battles have continued to rage in Eastern Ukraine with Russian troops on the verge of encircling a key industrial city, bringing a sharp rebuke of the West from Volodymyr Zelenskiy for not doing enough to help Kyiv win the war.

As the Ukrainian military reported on Thursday that 40 towns in the Donbas region were under Russian bombardment, Luhansk Governor Sergiy Gaiday described fighting outside Sievierodonetsk, a key military goal for Russia, as “very difficult”, saying Russian troops were shelling the city from the outskirts with mortars, the Guardian reported.

“The coming week will be decisive,” Gaiday said in a video posted on Telegram, adding he believes Russia’s goal is to “capture the Luhansk region no matter what cost”.

“There is a colossal amount of shelling,” he added.

Having failed to seize Ukraine’s capital or its second city, Kharkiv, after invading in February, Russia is trying to take full control of the Donbas, comprising two Eastern Provinces Moscow claims on behalf of separatists.

Russia has poured thousands of troops into the region, attacking from three sides in an attempt to encircle Ukrainian Forces holding out in Severodonetsk and its twin, Lysychansk. Their fall would leave the whole of the Luhansk Province under Russian control, a key Kremlin war aim.

“The occupiers shelled more than 40 towns in Donetsk and Luhansk region, destroying or damaging 47 civilian sites, including 38 homes and a school. As a result of this shelling, five civilians died and 12 were wounded,” the Joint Task Force of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Facebook.

The statement said 10 enemy attacks were repelled, four tanks and four drones destroyed, and 62 “enemy soldiers” were killed.

Ukrainian Leader Zelenskiy said in his nightly address on Wednesday that Russian troops “heavily outnumber us” in some parts of the East and echoed pleas from his Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to the World Economic Forum in Davos for more weaponry from the West.

“We need the help of our partners - above all, weapons for Ukraine. Full help, without exceptions, without limits, enough to win,” Zelenskiy said.

And he called out the international community for paying too much attention to Russia’s interests and too little to Ukraine’s.

The Ukrainian President took specific aim at the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the New York Times for suggesting territorial sacrifices might be necessary to end the conflict.

The 98-year old Kissinger, this week told World Economic Forum attendees in Davos that a return to the “status quo” before Russia’s February 24 invasion would be ideal. Russia had formally annexed Crimea in 2014, while separatist groups aligned with Moscow have long controlled the easternmost regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Pushing Moscow to surrender that territory threatened to turn the conflict into a new, broader war, Kissinger warned, adding that negotiations needed to begin within two months.

“It seems Mr. Kissinger’s calendar is not 2022, but 1938,” Zelensky responded, comparing his suggestion to the agreement that ceded part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany more than 80 years ago.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to call on Thursday for further military aid and sanctions to help Ukraine, during a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Russia’s aggression cannot be appeased. It must be met with strength,” Truss is expected to say, noting concessions made to Putin before operations were launched in Georgia, the Crimea and Donbas.

Russia’s invasion of its pro-western neighbour has caused global shockwaves, with the latest being fears of food shortages, particularly in Africa.

Moscow blamed the international sanctions imposed after the invasion, while the West says the shortage is mainly down to Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports.

“Solving the food problem requires a comprehensive approach, including the removal of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian exports and financial transactions,” said Russian deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko.

But Kuleba urged delegates at Davos in Switzerland not to give in. “This is clear blackmail. You could not find a better example of blackmail in international relations,” Kuleba told the WEF in Davos. Kuleba also slammed the Western military alliance, NATO for “doing literally nothing” to stop Russia.

QUAD Summit

The four QUAD leaders wrapped up their summit this week with a joint statement that vowed their “steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient.” The QUAD member states are the US, Japan, India and Australia.

The statement reflected on how rapidly the loose partnership has developed. After having largely fallen apart in 2008, the QUAD was revived in 2017, and the leaders of the four members met for the first time last year.

Today marks their fourth joint event, and their second in-person summit, the statement said.

The statement highlighted “challenges to the maritime rules-based order, including in the East and South China Seas” — both waters that have long been contested, with overlapping territorial claims by numerous countries.

China claims almost all of the vast South China Sea as its sovereign territory. It has been building up and militarizing its facilities there, turning islands into military bases and airstrips, and allegedly creating a maritime militia that could number hundreds of vessels.

Meanwhile, in the East China Sea, China claims sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands. In recent years, the US has reiterated its promise to defend the islands in the event of foreign aggression.

The statement did not include any explicit mention of China, but offered a veiled warning: “We strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”

War in Ukraine: The leaders also discussed their responses to the ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, and “reiterated our strong resolve to maintain the peace and stability in the region,” the statement said. “We underscored unequivocally that the centrepiece of the international order is international law, including the UN Charter, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.”

Asia crises: The statement also condemned North Korea's recent surge in missile testing; called for an end to violence in Myanmar, where the military seized control in a coup last year; and pledged to continue cooperating on pandemic response, infrastructure investment, climate action and more.

Though not a formal military alliance, the Armed Forces of the QUAD joined together represent a formidable group.

The United States has Asia-Pacific’s most powerful military, according to the 2021 Asia Power Index from the Lowy Institute, an independent Australian think tank.

The index puts India as the fourth most powerful of 26 nations in its rankings. Japan ranks seventh and Australia eighth.

China, the country seen as the QUAD’s biggest concern, ranks second.

“For the purpose of this index, power is defined as the capacity of a state to direct or influence the behaviour of other states, non-state actors, and the course of international events,” the Lowy Institute says.

When looking specifically at military capabilities, the index measures defense spending, military and paramilitary forces, training, readiness and sustainment, combat experience, command and control capabilities, weapons and platforms, signature capabilities and Asian military posture.

The US ranks at the top of all those categories except military and paramilitary forces, where India, with more than three million troops, ranks No. 1.

Australia’s top ranking is No. 3, for both combat experience and command and control.

Japan’s highest rank is No. 5 for weapons and platforms.

In its key findings, the Lowy report notes, “US partners are enhancing their collective deterrence to support a military balance. Yet Asia’s deepening security dilemma presents a significant risk of war.”

Looking at China's overall influence in the region, which measures economic and diplomatic influence among other factors, the 2021 survey saw a decline in Beijing’s sway.

“China’s comprehensive power has fallen for the first time, with no clear path to undisputed primacy in the Indo-Pacific,” the key findings say.

Davos - WEF

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine and called for global cooperation to overcome life-threatening challenges such as Climate Change, hunger and dependency on fossil fuels.

Speaking on Thursday at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Scholz said: “invasion of Ukraine does not mark the outbreak of any conflict anywhere in Europe. Here, a nuclear-armed superpower claims to redraw borders.”

Scholz said Russian President Vladimir “Putin wants to return to a world order in which the strongest dictate what is right, in which freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are not.”

The German Chancellor described Putin’s war politics as “imperialism,” which is “trying to bomb us back to a time when war was a common means of politics, when our continent and the world lacked a stable peace order.”

He says the world is no longer bipolar like during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Instead of using the power politics of past centuries, the chancellor said it’s important all powers work together to solve threats like hunger, Climate Change or dependence on fossil fuels.

Scholz said: “If some want to take us back to the past of nationalism, imperialism and war, our answer is not with us. We stand for the future.”

As Davos closed on Thursday, the need for radical change does not, says Jenny Ricks, Global Convenor of Fight Inequality Alliance. The usual warm words contrast with the cold, hard reality outside the elite bubble. Protests continued this morning from South Africa to India, where people experiencing the sharp end of inequality are demanding wealth taxes and more.

“The world has changed rapidly and leaders must meet these serious challenges. Inequality is a real threat to our lives and livelihoods that require action from governments’ now not broken neoliberal economic policies well past their sell by date.”

A group of climate activists were holding a demonstration outside the World Economic Forum, as the Annual Meeting wrapped up.

Greta Thunberg held a climate strike here in 2019, on her first visit to WEF, and in 2020, so it’s turning into a regular event.

Several of the activists have spoken on WEF panels this week, including Climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the founder of the Rise Up Movement. She told a panel session earlier this week: “We know who caused the climate crisis and we know who has to pay for it. We need a compensation fund for loss and damage. It’s happening right now, it’s pushing people to places where they cannot recover. People cannot adapt to the loss of their cultures, the loss of their islands and the loss of their histories. I’m looking at the West to pay this bill.”

“When we talk about Climate Change we are also talking about food security. Look at the East Africa, drought that has left more than 26 million people with no access to food. It’s really important to understand the intersections of this crisis.

“The African continent is responsible for less than 4% of emissions, but the East Africa, drought has left 28 million people with no access to food.”

Afghan - female news anchors

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have started to enforce a new order requiring all female TV news anchors in the country to cover their faces while on air.

After the order was announced Thursday, only a handful of news outlets complied. But on Sunday, most female anchors were seen with their faces covered after the Taliban’s Vice and Virtue Ministry began enforcing the decree.

The Information and Culture Ministry previously announced that the policy was “final and non-negotiable”.

“It is just an outside culture imposed on us, forcing us to wear a mask, and that can create a problem for us while presenting our programmes,” said Sonia Niazi, a TV anchor with Afghanistan’s TOLOnews.

Niazi told Al Jazeera that, for the first time, she “wasn’t feeling good at all”, while presenting programmes.

“This decree is unpredictable for all female presenters because Islam has not commanded us to cover our faces,” Niazi said.

“Every Islamic scholar and political figure has opposed this decree.”

The Taliban has said female presenters could wear medical masks instead. Regardless, Niazi said she feels trapped by the order to cover her face.

“If such decrees are issued and imposed on women, then women across Afghanistan will be eliminated, as we see now that women are being gradually eliminated,” she said.

In an act of solidarity with female colleagues, the channel’s male personnel covered their faces with masks, including the main evening newsreader.


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