Students return to Florida school where 17 were killed
PARKLAND, Fla. (AP) — Students at a Florida high school where 17 of their classmates and staff members were killed returned Sunday to gather their belongings thrown down in panic during the school shooting nearly two weeks ago.
Thousands of students joined their parents in walking past the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where the Feb. 14 massacre took place. It is now cordoned off by a chain link fence that was covered with banners from other schools showing their support.
“Just seeing the building was scary,” freshman Francesca Lozano said as she exited the school with her mom. Still, she was happy to see her friends. “That made it a lot better.”
Seventeen people dressed in white costumes as angels stood by a makeshift memorial outside the school before moving near the entrance. Organizer Terry Decarlo said the costumes are sent to mass shootings and disasters so the survivors “know angels are looking over them and protecting them.” Many of Sunday’s angels were survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando where 49 people died, Decarlo said.
The school reopens Wednesday and administrators said families would get phone calls about details later. Sunday was a day to ease into the return.
Congress has ideas on gun violence, but no consensus
WASHINGTON (AP) — After a 10-day break, members of Congress are returning to work under hefty pressure to respond to the outcry over gun violence. But no plan appears ready to take off despite a long list of proposals, including many from President Donald Trump.
Republican leaders have kept quiet for days as Trump tossed out ideas, including raising the minimum age to purchase assault-style weapons and arming teachers, though on Saturday the president tweeted that the latter was “Up to states.”
Their silence has left little indication whether they are ready to rally their ranks behind any one of the president’s ideas, dust off another proposal or do nothing. The most likely legislative option is bolstering the federal background check system for gun purchases, but it’s bogged down after being linked with a less popular measure to expand gun rights.
The halting start reflects firm GOP opposition to any bill that would curb access to guns and risk antagonizing gun advocates in their party. Before the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, Republicans had no intention of reviving the polarizing and politically risky gun debate during an already difficult election year that could endanger their congressional majority.
“There’s no magic bill that’s going to stop the next thing from happening when so many laws are already on the books that weren’t being enforced, that were broken,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the third-ranking House GOP leader, when asked about solutions. “The breakdowns that happen, this is what drives people nuts,” said Scalise, who suffered life-threatening injuries when a gunman opened fire on lawmakers’ baseball team practice last year.
10 Things to Know for Monday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Monday:
1. ‘JUST SEEING THE BUILDING WAS SCARY’
Students at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School return to gather their belongings for the first time since a gunman killed 17 classmates and staff members.
2. WHITE HOUSE: ‘WE WILL SEE’ IF NKOREA SERIOUS ON TALKS
During the Winter Olympics closing ceremony, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office announced that a North Korean delegate said his country is willing to meet with the U.S.
Months after exodus began, Rohingya see no end to suffering
COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — Their houses are often made of plastic sheets. Much of their food comes from aid agencies. Jobs are few, and there is painfully little to do. The nightmares are relentless.
But six months after their horrors began, the Rohingya Muslims who fled army attacks in Myanmar for refuge in Bangladesh feel immense consolation.
“Nobody is coming to kill us, that’s for sure,” said Mohammed Amanullah, whose village was destroyed last year just before he left for Bangladesh with his wife and three children. They now live in the Kutupalong refugee camp outside the coastal city of Cox’s Bazar.
“We have peace here,” Amanullah said.
On Aug. 25, Rohingya insurgents attacked several security posts in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, killing at least 14 people. Within hours, waves of revenge attacks broke out, with the military and Buddhist mobs marauding through Rohingya villages in bloody pogroms, killing thousands, raping women and girls, and burning houses and whole villages. The aid group Doctors Without Borders has estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Myanmar in the first month of the violence, including at least 730 children younger than 5. The survivors flooded into Bangladesh.
Trump to discuss Florida school shooting with governors
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday that the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school is the top issue he wants to discuss with the nation’s governors.
Under pressure to act to stem gun violence on school grounds, Trump planned to solicit input from the state chief executives during meetings Monday at the White House. The governors are in Washington for their annual winter meeting.
But socializing was the focus Sunday night as Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted the governors for an annual black-tie ball.
In brief remarks before dinner beneath dimmed lights in the State Dining Room, Trump said the governors are “very, very special people.”
“The job you do is really incredible. It’s not easy, but we’re very proud of you and we’re very proud to have you here,” he said as tall candles flickered and bouquets of hydrangeas adorned an assortment of round and oblong dinner tables.
China paves way for Xi Jinping to remain leader for years
BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party has proposed scrapping term limits for the country’s president, the official news agency said, appearing to lay the groundwork for party leader Xi Jinping to rule as president beyond 2023.
The party’s Central Committee proposed to remove from the constitution the expression that China’s president and vice-president “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms,” the Xinhua News Agency said Sunday.
“Xi Jinping has finally achieved his ultimate goal when he first embarked on Chinese politics — that is to be the Mao Zedong of the 21st century,” said Willy Lam, a political analyst at the Chinese University in Hong Kong, referring to the founder of communist China.
Xi, 64, cemented his status as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao in the 1970s at last year’s twice-a-decade Communist Party congress, where his name and a political theory attributed to him were added to the party constitution as he was given a second five-year term as general secretary.
It was the latest move by the party signalling Xi’s willingness to break with tradition and centralize power under him. Xi has taken control of an unusually wide range of political, economic and other functions, a break with the past two decades of collective leadership.
At the Olympics, fans became walking corporate billboards
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — He didn’t get the hashtag quite right on the first try, so they withheld the free stuffed bear he waited in line a half-hour to earn.
“Add play,” the agent said. “It should be #CokePlay.”
On the final night of the Pyeongchang Olympic Games on Sunday evening, this “agent” was policing Daniel Zabek’s Instagram feed to make sure he branded his post to exactly match the corporation’s chosen slogan.
Zabek and hundreds of others stood in a line that snaked around the Olympic Park in the hours before the closing ceremony just for this: to take a photo in front of a corporation’s advertisements and post the pictures on social media with the company’s predetermined hashtag.
In exchange, he would get a stuffed bear, the soda company’s mascot with the brand name embroidered on a red scarf around its neck.
Trump to attend Rev. Billy Graham’s funeral on Friday
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump will attend Friday’s funeral for the Rev. Billy Graham.
The evangelist and spiritual adviser to numerous presidents died last week at his North Carolina home. Graham was 99.
Before the funeral, Graham will be afforded the rare tribute of lying in honour in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday and Thursday.
He is to be buried Friday on the grounds of his namesake library in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trump said last week that Graham was a “great man” who had a “great family” and was “for us” — meaning Trump’s campaign — from the beginning.
Ground zero ceremony set to commemorate 1993 terror bombing
NEW YORK (AP) — Survivors and others are set to gather at ground zero for a solemn tribute to victims of the first terror attack on the World Trade Center, the deadly bombing 25 years ago.
Monday is the anniversary of the blast, which killed six people, one of them pregnant. The planned commemoration includes a Mass at a church near the trade centre and a ceremony on the 9-11 memorial plaza, with the reading of victims’ names and a moment of silence at 12:18 p.m., when the bomb exploded and became a harbinger of terror at the twin towers.
“While overshadowed by 9-11, the 1993 bombing represented a pivotal moment in the history of the World Trade Center, in the history of New York City, and, frankly, our own national reckoning with terrorism in a global age,” said Sept. 11 museum president Alice Greenwald, whose institution has a permanent exhibition on the bombing and a special installation to commemorate the anniversary. “It had so many of the elements that we would later come to associate with 9-11.”
The bomb, in an underground parking garage, was set by Muslim extremists who sought to punish the U.S. for its Middle East policies, according to federal prosecutors. Six bombing suspects were convicted and are in prison, including accused ringleader Ramzi Yousef — a nephew of self-proclaimed 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. A seventh suspect in the bombing remains at large.
An estimated 50,000 people fled the blacked-out twin towers, some groping their way down smoky stairs, others rescued from stalled elevators or plucked from rooftops by police helicopters. More than 1,000 were injured.
AP Was There: The 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center
EDITOR’S NOTE — On Feb. 26, 1993, a group of Islamic terrorists drove a rented van into the underground parking garage at the World Trade Center and set off a 1,200 pound bomb in a failed attempt to collapse the twin towers. The blast didn’t cause the destruction its planners intended. But it opened up a multi-story crater in the building, injured more than 1,000 people and ultimately killed six. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, investigators didn’t know much about who might be responsible. Early on, officials speculated that the attack was related to the ongoing civil war in the former Yugoslavia. In the coming months, though, they identified a cell of Middle Eastern terrorists responsible for the attack. Seven men were ultimately identified as suspects. One is still at large. Six were captured and convicted, including alleged lead planner Ramzi Yousef. His uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was later labeled by U.S. authorities as the chief architect of the Sept. 11 attacks that destroyed the towers in 2001.
The Associated Press is republishing a version of its report on the bombing to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1993 bombing.
NEW YORK (AP) — An explosion apparently caused by a car bomb in an underground garage rocked the 110-story World Trade Center on Friday, killing at least five people, injuring 600 and forcing thousands to flee down dark, smoke-filled stairs.
A pregnant woman was plucked off the roof of one of the two towers by a helicopter. About 200 kindergartners and elementary school children were stranded for hours on the observation deck. Other people were trapped in elevators, or in rubble in the garage and a train station beneath it.