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Mass Shootings at New Zealand Christchurch Mosques, Dozens Killed

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Christchurch shooting

On Friday, incidences of deadly mass shootings in the New Zealand city of Christchurch shook the entire country. Dozens of people have been killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of people attending the Friday prayer. The police asked the people to remain indoors till the possibility of more than one gunman wasn’t ruled out.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the violence as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days”. She also added that the mass shooting in the city of Christchurch represented “an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence”.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said that one person has been arrested, but it was too soon to predict the involvement of other people. He also warned people not to be around a mosque anywhere in the country.

The officials have not yet disclosed who they have arrested. However, a man has claimed the responsibility for the shootings. He left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto, explaining his identity and giving a reason behind his violent actions. He called the dreadful event a terrorist attack.

The man in his manifesto said he was a 28-year-old white Australian who came to New Zealand just to plan and train for the attack. He also said that he didn’t belong to any organisation, but had worked with many nationalist groups. He said he acted alone in these mass shootings and no group had ordered the attack.

At a news conference, Ardern hinted at anti-immigrant sentiment as the possible motive behind the mass shooting in the city of Christchurch. She said that while many people who have been affected by the incidence may be migrants or refugees “they have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not”.

At least 40 people have been killed and more than 20 wounded. “It’s a very serious and grave situation,” Bush said.

Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch witnessed the most fatal shooting at around 1:45 pm.

Len Peneha, a witness who lives close to the mosque, saw a man dressed in black entering the mosque and then heard multiple shots, with people running out of the mosque. He said the gunman later ran out of the holy place, dropping a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway. Peneha then went inside to help.

“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “It’s unbelievable nutty. I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”

Peneha said the gunman, who was white, wore a helmet with a device attached on its top, giving him military-type resemblance.

A second shooting took place at the Linwood Masjid Mosque, police said.

The man who claimed the responsibility of the attacks said his main targets would be mosques in Christchurch and Linwood. He also aimed for a third shooting at a mosque in the town of Ashburton, if possible.

He chose New Zealand as his target location because he wanted to prove that even the remotest parts of the world were not free of “mass immigration”.

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Prison Sentence of 175 Years Aggravates Allies of WikiLeaks Founder

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WikiLeaks Founder

Following Julian Assange’s extradition to the US, the former Australian foreign minister Bob Carr said that the prison sentence faced by the WikiLeaks founder would be similar to the capital punishment, hurting the sentiments of his allies. He asked the Australian government to stand in support of the former.

47-year-old Assange, whose earlier charges included hacking a Pentagon computer system, is now serving a 50-week sentence in the UK jail for skipping bail, when he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in London in 2012.

The US prosecutors on Thursday announced 17 additional charges against Assange for publishing secret diplomatic cables and files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The WikiLeaks founder would face a maximum sentence of 175 years in the US prison, if convicted.

Earlier Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson assured Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, by signing a letter, confirming that the British legislation suggested that if a person could face a death penalty, then he cannot be extradited.

On Friday, Carr said the government “must oppose” the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder that could lead to capital punishment. He added that the size of the punishment, attracting a 175 years imprisonment might aggravate Assange’s allies and partners. He continued that the US-UK extradition treaty excluded “political offences” and Assange’s cases were “thoroughly political”, as he exposed war crimes and other abuses through WikiLeaks.

Carr criticized the current Australian foreign minister Marise Payne, saying that she failed in her duty to protect the life of the WikiLeaks founder.

The Australian press freedom groups have criticized the US prosecutors for the latest charges, claiming that these were hampering their freedom of expression. They believed that the charges were an attempt to criminalise Assange on matters of national security. 

Australian Senator Rex Patrick said that the Australian government should actively provide diplomatic support to Julian Assange so as to avoid him being extradited to the US on charges that possess a great threat to the freedom and expression of press.

Greg Barns, Australian Barrister and adviser to Assange, asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign minister Payne to intervene in the case. He said that the nature of sentences faced by Assange, including the accusations that the latter violated the Espionage Act, is not proportionate.

Assange’s supporters have abruptly responded to the current charges, considering it as an escalation of attack on the journalism and a direct assault on the First Amendment. They believe it to be a threat to all the news organisations. Such precedents would also be dangerous for US journalists, who uncover the secrets of other nations.

In the wake of the recent charges, there has been a constant disruption amongst the WikiLeaks founder’s allies, demanding his freedom.

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Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70

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Formula 1 Champion Niki Lauda Loses the Race of Life at 70

Renowned Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda, who spent his life running cars in speed, lost the race of life, on Monday. The racer survived 9 months after a lung transplant in August, and “passed away peacefully” at the age of 70, as confirmed by his family.

Born in Vienna in February 1949, the legendary Austrian was a motor racing legend. His most remarkable time goes back to when he took the title for Ferrari in 1975 and 1977, and for McLaren in 1984.

Ferrari’s Formula 1 team said he would “remain forever in our hearts”.

People also remember Niki Lauda as the man who cheated death. A year after winning his first title, he suffered three-degree burns to his head and faced after a crash in the German Grand Prix on August 1, 1976. Inhaling the toxic gases after his vehicle burst into flames at Nurburgring, the motor racer damaged his lungs.

His recovery from after the accident was miraculous, as the doctors had given him the last rites in hospital. Being the legend and a passionate racer, he returned to racing in just 40 days, still bandaged covering the burns on his face.

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said, “We haven’t just lost a hero who staged the most remarkable comeback ever seen, but also a man who brought precious clarity and candour to modern Formula 1.”

Niki Lauda became known to the new generation of fans in the acclaimed 2013 film Rush, which set forth his rivalry with British driver James Hunt, the 1976 world champion.

After a legendary journey in motor racing and retirement, he became a successful entrepreneur in the business of airlines. Most recently, he became a non-executive chairman for the Formula 1 Mercedes team.

Mercedes stated that the passing of their “irreplaceable” chairman “leaves a void in Formula 1”.

His family’s statement stated, “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur are and will remain unforgettable, his tireless zest for action, his straight forwardness and his courage remain a role model and a benchmark for all of us.”

His ill health followed him into his years later, where he spent several years fighting for life. Niki Lauda leaves behind his wife, their twins born in 2009, and three sons from his previous relationships.

The legend will forever be remembered by numerous people of mixed generations for his racing skills both on track and in life.

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Chelsea Manning: “Won’t Answer Subpoena”

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Chelsea Manning

Former US Army Intelligence Analyst, Chelsea Manning, also known as Bradley Manning was released on Thursday from a prison in Northern Virginia. She served in the US army as Bradley Manning, and was seen in the news after she disclosed thousands of diplomatic and military secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010.

She experienced imprisonment of 62 days on accusations of civil contempt as she denied to testify to a grand jury. Manning was released because the term of her Grand Jury ended, although her lawyers worried that she could be imprisoned again.

During her first interview with the media, after serving jail time, Chelsea Manning denied to accept another subpoena or to answer the questions of a new grand jury on May 16. Considering that she will not testify and will stick to her principles, her lawyers have asked the court to not sentence her again.

She was arrested and charged with imprisonment of 35 years in the military prison, after leaking diplomatic and military secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010. However, the former US president Barack Obama modified her sentence, after she completed seven years of her total term in 2017.

During her interview with Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources”, Manning said, “I think that we have a much stronger case in terms of like the legal objections, which the previous judge didn’t — refused to even hear. He refused to even hear or act on the motions. He just simply placed me in contempt and ignored our motions.”

“I think that the Eastern District of Virginia is now turned into a rubber stamp for all these different prosecutions. I think that ultimately what they really want is they want to go after journalists.”

“This administration clearly wants to go after journalists,” she added.
Earlier, US Prosecutors revealed that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks was charged discreetly by the US grand jury in March 2018 on the accusations of plotting with Manning to bypass the military computer system.

Comments of Chelsea Manning come into light during the argument, if the accusations of US prosecutors on Assange can be considered as an assault on the freedom of press.

After denying to testify in front of a new grand jury, it might be possible that Chelsea Manning will be arrested soon enough. Also, after her sparking interview with Stelter, it might be possible that her message against the Trump administration reaches many people and they might come in her support, avoiding further assault on the Freedom of Press.

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Is Saudi Using the “Sabotage Attack” as a Defense Strategy or Tool?

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Attack on Two Saudi Oil Tankers: A Strategy in Disguise

Two vessels of Saudi Arabia, which were on their way to cross into the Arabian Gulf, have become a victim to “a sabotage attack” in the exclusive economic zone of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Sunday. However, the Kingdom’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih confirmed the news on Monday, stating that two of their oil tankers were damaged in attacks that wrecked the vessels off the coast of the Emirate of Fujairah.

As per the reports, one of the two tankers was on the move to get loaded with Saudi crude oil at the port of Ras Tanura. Besides, it was to be delivered to the state-owned oil beneficiary Saudi Aramco’s customers in the United States.

The attack came amidst the soaring tensions at the Persian Gulf, due to the US-Iran rift. Although the tankers were not identified, the blame has shifted slightly towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. As the US and its Arab rival are tangled in a conflict, chances of attacks are also high.

Considering that, the Trump administration deployed warships and bombers at the Persian Gulf.

While the relations between the Kingdom and Iran are similar, the attack on Saudi’s oil tankers is also being associated to Tehran.

On the other hand, the Foreign Ministry of Iran called for clarification on the incident and to Saudi’s claim that its vessels were targeted in a “sabotage attack”. On Monday, the Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that more details should be provided about what exactly happened, as he expressed his concerns over the matter.

Moreover, state-run IRNA news agency also quoted Mousavi as cautioning against any “conspiracy orchestrated by ill-wishers” and “adventurism by foreigners” to undermine the region’s stability and security.

As per the statement of Saudi’s Energy Minister Falih, there were no casualties or oil spill, but it did cause a significant damage to the structures to the two vessels. Besides, no details on the nature of the sabotage were provided.

On one hand the Kingdom has no specific details on the so-called “sabotage attack” on its oil tankers, and on the other it is subtly targeting its long-time enemy, Iran, by putting the blame of unproven attacks on it.

As the story draws, it could be perceived that Saudi Arabia is trying to assist its western ally, the United States, by bring its rival in the picture without any proves. Moreover, the Kingdom could possibly be using the “two vessels” loading oil to bury down the story of the vessel spotted at the French coast to load weapons, which were supposed to be deployed in Yemen war.

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Crime

1 killed and 8 injured after two students opened fire in Colorado School

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Colorado school shooting

Two high school students opened vacuous firing at students of a Colorado community school, killing at least one and injuring eight others.

According to the Douglas County sheriff officials, the 18-year-old Devon Erickson and a juvenile student rushed into the classrooms of STEM School Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on Tuesday afternoon, causing havoc in the corridors.

Within a few minutes, the suspects were engaged and taken into custody by the Douglas County sheriff officials.

Eight victims, of age 15 and older, received treatment at local hospitals, including two who were in critical condition. At least four other victims were released the same day. No employees or teachers were injured in the shooting, authorities have confirmed.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock said that the motive behind shooting was unclear, and the officials have not received any information about someone being particularly targeted by the juvenile shooters.

The FBI and Denver’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were rendering assistance in the investigation.

In an official statement, the White House said that the tragic incident was reported back to President Donald Trump, and he is monitoring the situation.

“Tragically, this community and those surrounding it know all too well these hateful and horrible acts of violence,” Judd Deere, the White House deputy press secretary, said. “We offer our full support to local law enforcement and first responders and thank them for their heroism.”

The STEM School and other nearby schools were completely evacuated and locked-down for many hours, as stated by the Douglas County School District.

Over 1,850 students in elementary, middle, and high school have been enrolled in STEM School, according to its website.

STEM School is situated close to the Columbine High School, where 13 people were shot dead by two students on April 20, 1999. The incident was so far the worst in US’s history.

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