U.S. Donald Trump, White House condemn New Zealand mosque shooting in Christchurch David Jackson and Sean Rossman •Dozens killed in mass shooting in New Zealand mosques WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and the White House on Friday condemned the terrorist attacks at New Zealand mosques and said the U.S. will extend any support necessary.”My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealandafter the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured,” Trump tweeted. „The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”Trump plans to speak with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern later Friday.White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders sent out a separate statement saying „we stand in solidarity with the people of New Zealand and their government against this vicious act of hate.”
My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques. 49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!
The shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch left 49 people dead in what Ardern called „one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”‘
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern said.
Trump extended prayers to New Zealand while under criticism in the United States over an interview in which he spoke about how his supporters could „play tougher” if necessary.
„I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad,” Trump told the Breitbart News Network website.
Breitbart said Trump was talking about the „vicious” tactics of „the left.”
“So here’s the thing—it’s so terrible what’s happening,” Trump said before discussing his supporters. “You know, the left plays a tougher game, it’s very funny. I actually think that the people on the right are tougher, but they don’t play it tougher. Okay?”
Trump’s critics accused him of fomenting violence by his backers.
„I think it sounds very much to me like he’s encouraging them to engage in something that’s probably illegal such as assaulting people, you know behave in a dangerous way,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, speaking on MSNC. „That sounds like a threat to me. I think it’s appalling.”
Leaders from around the world also expressed their remorse over the shooting.
French President Emmanuel Macron called the shootings “heinous crimes” in a tweet.
“France stands against all forms of extremism and acts with its partners against terrorism in the world,” he said.
Queen Elizabeth II said she was “deeply saddened” at the “appalling” attack.
“Prince Philip and I send our condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives,” she said.
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo called on world leaders to fight hate.
“This is also a moment of reckoning for leaders across the world who have encouraged or turned a blind eye to the scourge of Islamophobia,” Naidoo said. „The politics of demonization has today cost 49 people their lives. Reports that the attackers followed a white supremacist manifesto must galvanize world leaders to start standing against this hate-filled ideology.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s office said he sent a message of condolence to Ardern. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe published his message to the New Zealand leader, which said „Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., urged people to „be there” for the Muslim community in the wake of the attacks.
„Perhaps extend a kind gesture at your local mosque. There is so much fear and hate,” she tweeted. „We must negate it with active, courageous love.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump, White House condemn New Zealand mosque shooting in Christchurch
WASHINGTON – As lawmakers begin to scrutinize Boeing’s grounded 737 Max 8, they will be probing one of the nation’s most powerful corporate political players, backed with a multi-million-dollar lobbying budget and a direct line to the White House.
Chicago-based Boeing, the second-largest U.S. government contractor, suffered a setback this week when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) followed its counterparts around the world in grounding the 737 Max 8 after two catastrophic crashes raised new questions about the plane’s software.
Now Boeing faces a test of its influence as congressional investigators look into how the plane was approved, what caused the crashes and why the FAA delayed its grounding order. The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduling a hearing and key House Democrats have vowed „rigorous oversight.”
Like other large U.S. employers, Boeing spends millions of dollars each year on lobbying the administration and making campaign contributions. The company spent $15 million lobbying in 2018, according to disclosure reports, more than household brands like Amazon and Facebook.
Boeing ranked 11th in a Center for Responsive Politics list of the nation’s top spenders on lobbying in 2018.
The company contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, Federal Election Commission records show. Boeing’s employees, meanwhile, pumped about $5 million into campaigns and political committees in last year’s midterm election, according to a USA TODAY analysis of FEC data.
„This does not bode well for Americans who fly,” Walter Shaub, senior adviser to the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics wrote in a post on Twitter. „Boeing donates $1 million to Trump’s sketchy inaugural fund and the U.S. breaks with other nations that have grounded the Boeing 737.”
Trump and Muilenburg
Large companies regularly contribute money to political candidates and spend heavily on lobbying. But what sets Boeing apart from most others is the care CEO Dennis Muilenburg has taken to cultivate a relationship with Trump, who owns one of the company’s planes, a 757.
That relationship wasn’t always so strong. During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly slammed Boeing for the cost of its Air Force One design, suggesting it was „out of control.” Candidate Trump criticized the company for setting up a plant in China to finish its 737s, saying it would take „a tremendous number of jobs” out of the country.
Shortly after the election, Muilenburg sought to smooth things over with the president during a visit to Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago. A month later, and days before Trump became president, Muilenburg appeared at Trump Tower, praising Trump’s „engagement.”
When it came time for Trump to make his first trip out of Washington in early 2017 he went to a Boeing plant in South Carolina to tout U.S. economic growth. The company was later awarded a contract to build two Air Force One planes for $3.9 billion.
„We’ve got a whole wave of policy issues, topics we’re working on,” Muilenburg told analysts on a call last year, „but we have a voice at the table, which is encouraging.”
A member of Trump’s Cabinet, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, spent more three decades with Boeing as an executive before joining the administration in 2017.
Trump has continued to praise the company even as he announced the grounding.
„It’s a great, great company with a track record that is so phenomenal,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. „And they want this solved; they want it solved quickly.”
Still, the company has had a mixed track record meeting its policy ambitions in Washington. Muilenburg personally spoke with Trump to lobby for the safety of the 737 Max 8. And the FAA initially stood by the plane as Britain, France and Germany joined a growing list of countries suspended its use in their airspace.
U.S. regulators relented Wednesday, citing new information from the crash site and satellite data that the agency said suggested similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday that killed 157 people and the crash in October of a Lion Air Flight off the coast of Indonesia that killed 189 passengers and crew.
„Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” Trump posted on Twitter days after the crash, a missive that preceded Muilenburg’s call to the White House. „I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.”
Experts said Boeing has long been a major player in Washington’s influence game, but noted there was no evidence that effort had anything to do with the FAA’s delay in grounding the latest 737 model. The federal government spent $23 billion with Boeing in 2017, a U.S. General Services Administration report on federal contracting shows.
„They’re really good at capturing defense contracts,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at Teal Group and an aviation consultant. „But there’s absolutely no evidence that there’s anything untoward with the the FAA’s decision here.”
A Boeing spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Like many other agencies in the Trump administration, the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t working at full capacity. Daniel Elwell, a former Air Force lieutenant general and American Airlines pilot, has been serving as the agency’s acting administrator for more than year.
Trump floated the idea of nominating his personal pilot for the top FAA job last year, but backed down following resistance from lawmakers.
The National Transportation Safety Board, by contrast, is a five-member board that investigates crashes and makes non-binding recommendations on how to avoid future mishaps. Trump appointed two of its five members and elevated a third – originally a Bush appointee – to chairman. The board has one vacancy.
The NTSB is not investigating either the Ethiopian crash or the Lion Air crash. Foreign countries must request NTSB or similar European agencies to investigate.
Mike Slack, a pilot and lawyer who has represented passengers and family members in crash cases, said Trump had little choice but to ground the Max 8 and Max 9 planes. Allowing the aircraft to fly would have gambled jobs – and American lives – and raised even more questions for the administration and Boeing.
“Is this about protecting Boeing competitively against Airbus, its primary competitor? And why would Boeing’s CEO be calling the president of the United States?” said Slack, a former NASA engineer. “That’s not good form when the background story is already that the FAA is not acting.”
Boeing has had a mixed record scoring policy wins in Washington.
The company fought hard to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, an independent agency that provides loans to foreign companies so they can buy high-priced U.S. goods such as aircraft. Congress reauthorized the bank in 2015, despite concern from many Republicans that it used taxpayer money to benefit huge companies like Boeing that didn’t need the help.
But while Congress reauthorized the bank, Senate Republicans have declined to confirm all of the board’s members. That has left the bank unable to sign deals valued at more than $10 million, far less than the price of the 737 MAX 8 and other Boeing planes.
Boeing also benefited from a fight to give foreign carriers, including airlines based in Persian Gulf countries, better access to the U.S. market – an outcome that would help them sell more airplanes to their overseas customers. Domestic airlines mostly opposed the idea, arguing that state-owned air carriers brought unfair competition to U.S. skies.
Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Transportation allowed the Gulf carriers to serve the U.S., but required more public reporting of their finances.
Boeing lost another major fight last year. When Delta Airlines sought to import jets from Montreal-based manufacturer Bombardier, Boeing objected to the International Trade Commission. The company argued that the Bombardier planes were subsidized by the Canadian government and, because of that, represented unfair competition to their own planes.
The Commerce Department threatened to impose tariffs that would have quadrupled the cost of the Bombardier jets.
The Trade Commission found Bombardier planes should have cost about three times more than the ticket price because of those subsidies but also declined to rule that the planes would harm the U.S. industry, blocking the tariffs in a loss for Boeing.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: As Boeing faces scrutiny over the 737 Max 8, it can draw on high-flying influence campaign
The scenes of violence were reminiscent of the worst „yellow vest” riots in Paris in December
Paris (AFP) – Rioters looted and torched shops and businesses on the famed Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on Saturday, on the 18th weekend of French „yellow vest” protests, characterised by a sharp increase in violence after weeks of dwindling turnout.
President Emmanuel Macron cut short a skiing trip in the Pyrenees to return to Paris for a crisis meeting, as hooded protesters went on the rampage in Paris, leaving a trail of destruction in the touristic heart of the city.
He vowed to take „strong decisions” to prevent further violence, following the emergency talks held at the interior ministry late Saturday.
„There are people today who try by all means… to damage the Republic by breaking, by destroying things at the risk of killing someone,” Macron said.
„All those who were there were complicit in” the havoc spread across the Champs-Elysees, he added.
The police appeared overrun as protesters swarmed the Champs-Elysees, vandalising and later setting fire to Fouquet’s brasserie, a favourite hangout of the rich and famous for the past century — as well as luxury handbag store Longchamp, a bank, another restaurant and several news stands.
The rioters also looted several clothing stores and set fire to barricades in scenes reminiscent of the worst yellow-vest riots in Paris in December.
„Like the vast majority of French people, I feel very angry today,” tweeted French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who visited the scene.
„Today’s actions are not the work of protesters, but of looters, arsonists and criminals. No cause justifies this violence,” he added.
In a statement, the national police denounced the „mindless violence, cowardly attacks” and stressed their determination to guarantee public order against „provocateurs and vandals”.
– Bank blaze –
Saturday’s turnout was seen a test of the ongoing strength of the movement, which began in November over fuel tax hikes and quickly ballooned into a rebellion against Macron’s policies, seen by the protesters as geared towards the rich.
In recent weeks, the protests have dwindled in size. But the interior ministry estimated the turnout in Paris Saturday at 10,000, out of around 32,300 nationwide.
That is a fraction of the 282,000 people they said took part in the inaugural demonstrations across France on November 17, but more than the previous weekend.
Saturday’s protests were markedly more violent than in recent weeks. Police said close to 240 people were arrested, while prosecutors said more than 100 had been taken into custody.
The bank set alight was on the ground floor of an apartment building, and fire firefighters had to quickly evacuate the residents, including a nine-month-old baby.
Eleven people suffered minor injuries in the bank blaze, the fire service told AFP.
The violence left 17 members of the police injured, and 42 protesters, said police.
– ‘Ultra-violent’ minority –
The rally coincides with the end of the public debates called by the president to try take the heat out of the protests and give voters a forum to propose policy changes.
Around half a million people turned out at town hall-style meetings held around the country over the past two months.
But many „yellow vests” dismissed the consultation exercise as a smoke-screen.
On Saturday, the police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to try repel protesters who gathered at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe war memorial, which was sacked by protesters on December 1.
But for seven hours they continued to be pelted with paving stones by mostly black-clad demonstrators.
„There are a number of people who have come just to smash things,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, estimating that some 1,500 „ultra-violent” activists had infiltrated the crowd.
„We have been too nice, that’s why it’s violent today. I’m not in favour (of violence) but we are ruled by corrupt people who dare to lecture us,” Jean-Francois Bernard, a landscape gardener who was among the protesters, told AFP.
The presidency later announced that Macron was returning home from La Mongie ski resort where he and his wife Brigitte arrived Thursday to spend the weekend.
– ‘We want results’ –
Protesters streamed into the capital by train and car for a rally they called an „ultimatum” to the president. Over 5,000 police were deployed, along with several armoured police vehicles.
Macron was caught off guard when grassroots protesters began occupying traffic roundabouts in November over fuel taxes. He has loosened the state’s purse strings to the tune of 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion) to try defuse the protests.
But the measures failed to quell the anger of the demonstrators, who accuse the former investment banker of being elitist and favouring the rich.
The Paris protest was one of several in the capital on Saturday, where tens of thousands of climate campaigners also held a demonstration to demand that the French government uphold its commitments on reducing emissions.
Yellow vest protests also took place several other French cities. At Bordeaux, in the southwest, police clashed with protesters and a bank was damaged.
Officials identified the man as Anthony Comello and said he was in custody in New Jersey pending extradition to Staten Island.
„The investigation is far from over,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told reporters. „We do not believe this is a random act.”
Shea said police were still working to determine the suspect’s motive and whether he was working with or for other people.
„We are well aware of Mr. Cali’s past. That will be a part of this investigation as we determine what was the motive for the incident on Wednesday evening,” Shea said.
Comello had multiple residences, including one in Staten Island, Shea said. Comello had „crossed paths” with New York police multiple times in limited circumstances including a parking summons the day of the alleged murder.
Comello is being held in the Ocean County jail on a murder count, according to authorities.
Cali, 53, died at a hospital after being shot multiple times in the torso in front of his home in Staten Island. Police found Cali wounded after receiving a 911 call reporting an assault about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had referred to Cali in court filings in recent years as the underboss of the Gambino organization, related through marriage to the Inzerillo clan in the Sicilian Mafia.
Multiple press accounts since 2015 said Cali had ascended to the top spot in the gang, although he never faced a criminal charge saying so.
His murder marked the most notable killing of a Gambino boss since 1985, when Paul Castellano was shot dead in front of the Sparks Steak House in Manhattan. Cali lived less than a half-mile away from Castellano’s Staten Island mansion.
Cali was a native of Sicily, and his wife is the niece of Gambino head John Gambino.
The Gambino family was once among the most powerful criminal organizations in the United States, but federal prosecutions in the 1980s and 1990s sent its top leaders to prison and diminished its reach.
Contributing: John Bacon, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: NYPD: Man arrested in death of Frank Cali, reputed Gambino crime family boss
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The manifesto that the presumed New Zealand shooter published is shorter and „more sloppy” than the one written by a Norwegian right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in 2011, but expresses similar sentiments, a Swedish terror expert said Friday.
Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defense College says the shooter is against mass immigration and „has to some extent the same themes as (Anders Behring) Breivik,” who posted his 1,500-page manifesto online before carrying out his deadly attacks.
Ranstorp told Swedish radio Friday that the New Zealand shooter, who killed at least 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, claims to „have been in contact with Breivik’s sympathizers.”
On July 22, 2011, Breivik killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo and then opened fire at an island summer camp run by the left-wing Labor Party’s youth wing, killing 69. He is serving a 21-year prison sentence.
Breivik’s lawyer, Oeystein Storrvik, told Norway’s VG newspaper that his client has „very limited contacts with the surrounding world so it seems very unlikely that he has had contact.” Storrvik was not immediately available for comment.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the shooter’s manifesto „unfortunately gives associations to a situation in Norway” that she described as „one of the worst in our time.”
On Twitter, Ranstorp noted that the New Zealand shooter claimed he would leave prison after 27 years and likened himself to late South African President Nelson Mandela, saying he would get the Nobel Peace Prize.
„Yet another narcissistic right-wing extremist terrorist who has a distorted fantasy world,” Ranstorp wrote.
You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news. For even more facts, figures and discussion, check out our live FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast in New York City on March 20. 420 to 0 On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution, by a vote of 420 to 0, […]
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis has asked aides to resume plans for a visit to South Sudan, a trip that had to be scrapped in 2017 because of the civil war in the world’s youngest country.
During a meeting with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Saturday, Francis „expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a Vatican statement said.
It added that he wanted to make the trip as „a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process”.
Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.
In September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a unity government in May.
Three days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps have occurred, just two months before the deadline.
More than half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is predominantly Muslim.
In 2017, Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year. The tentative plans were scrapped because of security concerns.
About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.
The original trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to have flown in after spending a night in another African country.
Francis is expected to visit several African countries this year, including Madagascar.
The pope was to have made the 2017 trip to South Sudan with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the worldwide Anglican communion, in an effort to promote unity in the mostly Christian country.
The conflict sparked Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and plunged parts of the country into famine.
More than 875,000 refugees have fled into neighboring Uganda since the war broke out.
The pope and Kiir discussed the return of refugees, the Vatican statement said.
(Additional reporting by Hereward Holland in Nairobi)