Shooting survivors on potential collision course with Trump

By Jason Dearen, Terry Spencer and Allen G. Breed | Associated Press

PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Student survivors of the deadly Florida school shooting who hope to become the face of a revived gun control movement are on a potential collision course with President Donald Trump.

Several of the students have criticized the president, whose election was strongly supported by the National Rifle Association and who ran on a platform opposing gun control. Trump spent the weekend at his estate in South Florida, only an hour’s drive from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were fatally shot last week. His only mentions of the massacre came in tweets Saturday contending that the FBI was too focused on the Russia investigation to respond to warnings about the alleged shooter and mocking Democrats for failing to pass gun control.

“You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida, speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“How dare you,” he added.

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After more than a day of criticism from the students, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified students Wednesday and meet Thursday with state and local security officials.

Florida politicians, meanwhile, scrambled to produce legislation in response to the Feb. 14 attack that killed 17 people. Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, is being held without bail in the Broward County Jail, accused of 17 counts of first-degree murder.

In a TV interview, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others.

Gov. Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, blocks from the shooting site. He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP lawmakers this week.

Emma Gonzalez, another student survivor, gave an impassioned speech at a weekend rally with a stinging citation of the NRA’s $30 million in expenditures on Trump’s behalf in the presidential election. On Sunday she cited Trump, Rubio and Scott by name in a warning to politicians backed by the NRA.

“Now is the time …read more

Source:: East Bay – National & World


IS ambushes Iraqi Shiite-led force, killing 27 fighters

BAGHDAD — Islamic State militants ambushed a group of Iraq’s Shiite-led paramilitary fighters, killing at least 27 more than two months after Baghdad declared victory over the extremist group, officials said Monday

The Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of mostly Shiite militias, said in a statement that the attack took place southwest of the northern city of Kirkuk, where the paramilitaries were conducting overnight raids.

The attackers were disguised in army uniforms and manning a fake checkpoint, the statement said, adding that ensuing clashes lasted for at least two hours and that some of the militants were killed while others fled the area.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, an Iraqi military spokesman, blamed IS “sleeper cells” and said Iraqi forces were searching the area to find the perpetrators.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency.

Karim al-Nouri, a PMF spokesman, described the attack as a “heinous crime” and called for greater scrutiny of Iraqis returning to areas liberated from IS. He said the attackers had taken advantage of heavy rains overnight.

Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Brigade, one of the most prominent Shiite militias, vowed “revenge.”

Speaking at a military airfield in Baghdad where the bodies were being flown in, he called on security forces to be vigilant, saying “the war against terrorism is not over yet.”

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office put out a statement expressing condolences to family members of those killed. It said it had issued orders to hunt down those responsible and other sleeper cells, and to investigate the incident and take any required steps.

At least 11 of the slain troops were from the southern city of Basra, where a three-day mourning period was declared.

Iraq declared victory over IS in December, after more than three years of heavy fighting. The group has been driven from all the territory it seized in the summer of 2014, but U.S. and Iraqi officials have said it is likely to continue launching insurgent-style attacks. Last month, IS launched back-to-back suicide bombings in central Baghdad, killing at least 38 people.


Associated Press writers Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

…read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


Nevada’s Heller warming to Trump before primary

LAS VEGAS — When Ivanka Trump assembled a group of Republican senators at her tony Washington home last fall, the guest list included one particularly notable name. Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada had been publicly chided by President Donald Trump months earlier and had, at times, kept the president at arm’s length.

But within weeks of dining with the president’s daughter and adviser, Heller, who is up for re-election this year, was working closely with the White House, writing part of the Republican tax bill.

The tax collaboration was part of steady rapprochement between the swing-state senator and loyalty-loving president. Through a series of White House meetings and phone calls, a round trip on Air Force One, and work on multiple issues with Ivanka Trump, Heller has quietly mended an awkward relationship with the president.

The slow, careful warming is driven in part by political pragmatism. Heller is facing a primary challenger who has been quick to criticize the senator as insufficiently supportive of the president. An angry and meddling Trump could throw up additional hurdles.

But should he emerge from that fight, Heller — the only Republican senator seeking re-election in a state Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election — must then face an electorate far less friendly toward the president.

The senator has not recanted his once sharp criticism of the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, but has found another way into the president’s good graces. Deliberately and behind the scenes, he’s shepherded a body of policy legislation to Trump’s desk, and in doing so, made himself a Senate ally the president has promised to defend.

“His actions speak louder than words — on what he’s accomplished with his agenda and the president’s,” said Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, a Heller friend whom Trump regularly consults. “It’s a relationship between two men that has grown.”

There was plenty of room to grow.

In late July, Trump publicly ribbed Heller at a White House meeting of GOP senators. With Heller to his immediate right, Trump motioned to the senator, who had recently held up the GOP’s long-promised effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care law, and declared he was “worried” about Heller and whether he was onboard. “You weren’t there,” he said. “But you’re going to be. Look, he wants to remain a senator, doesn’t he?”

Trump’s lightheartedness masked frustration with Heller’s opposition to the repeal legislation, which Heller argued would drop too many …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News