As critics have taken aim at law enforcement for missing warning signs about South Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz, public records have emerged that conflict with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel’s statements about the number of times deputies were dispatched to the shooter’s home.
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office is investigating why three of its deputies apparently remained outside the Florida high school where 17 people were killed this month, Sheriff Scott Israel said Sunday.
Two law enforcement sources told NBC News that the deputies didn’t enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland during one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings on Feb. 14. Israel told NBC News on Sunday that the department’s internal affairs division was trying to determine whether they stayed outside when they shouldn’t have.
The acknowledgement came three days after Israel announced the resignation of another deputy, Scot Peterson, who’d been assigned to the high school but remained outside during the shooting, and as the sheriff’s response to the shooting came under increasing scrutiny.
Gov. Rick Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate that response on Sunday.
Meanwhile, in a letter signed by 73 state lawmakers and released Sunday, Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran asked Scott, a Republican, to suspend Israel, a Democrat, immediately over the department’s alleged failures to appropriately handle “repeated warning signs” from the man who’s been charged with the shooting, Nikolas Cruz, 19.
During one report to the sheriff’s office in 2016, for example, a caller said Cruz planned to shoot up a school and had posted photos on Instagram in which he was holding a gun. Last November, another caller said Cruz was collecting guns and knives and described him as a school shooter in the making.
The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Corcoran’s letter. Earlier, Israel dismissed an open letter to Scott from state Rep. Bill Hager, who backed Corcoran and called for the sheriff’s ouster.
In a response to Scott (PDF), Israel disputed Hager’s “reckless letter,” saying it was filled with “factual errors, unsupported gossip and falsehoods.” In an interview, Israel said he believed the effort against him was “politically motivated.”
The FBI has also acknowledged that it didn’t investigate a message left on a tip line about Cruz’s “gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts.”
Israel said investigators were still trying to figure out whether the other deputies who reportedly remained outside Marjory Stoneman on Feb. 14 should have pursued Cruz.
He said Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told a sheriff’s official that as his officers approached the high school on Feb. 14, they saw two or three deputies outside the school. Investigators plan to take statements from those officers and review possible surveillance video.
“At this point, I have no independent knowledge from video or personal knowledge that any Broward sheriff’s deputy did not go in when they should have,” he said.
Coral Springs police have declined to comment on the reports, saying in a statement: “Any actions or inactions that negatively affected the response will be investigated thoroughly, and the information will be released officially from the proper agency spokesperson.”
Marjory Stoneman held a voluntary orientation on Sunday afternoon as the school prepared for a phased-in reopening this week. Staff members would return Monday and Tuesday, Broward County Public Schools said in a statement, while students would return Wednesday.
By KERRY SANDERS and TIM STELLOH – MSN.com
Palestinian protesters in the West Bank inadvertently burned down a local factory this week while confronting IDF soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus.
According to Hadashot news, protesters in the Nablus-area village of Beita on Sunday were clashing with IDF soldiers, and rolled burning tires in their direction.
But one flaming tire had other plans and changed direction, rolling directly into a nearby plastics factory.
The building went up in flames and the factory was completely destroyed.
The report said Israeli firefighters arrived at the scene to help Palestinian Authority responders put out the fire.
The Nablus area has seen low-level clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters after an illegally built Jewish settlement outpost in the area sparked tensions.
The makeshift homes in the outpost called Evyatar were dismantled by the army last week.
Former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown is under investigation by the province’s integrity watchdog over his financial affairs.
Integrity Commissioner David Wake announced on Monday that he is conducting an inquiry into Mr. Brown in response to a complaint filed by Randy Hillier, the Progressive Conservative MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington.
Mr. Hillier says in his complaint that “disconcerting patterns” related to Mr. Brown’s finances require explanation, including whether he has failed to disclose gifts, “lavish” travel and other sources of income in addition to his salary. Mr. Hillier is backing former Tory MPP Christine Elliott for the leadership of the PC Party. Ms. Elliott is one of five candidates, including Mr. Brown, in the race.
Mr. Hillier’s complaints cites, among other issues, a Globe and Mail report that documented a proposed deal whereby Mr. Brown was to sell an interest in a restaurant he partly owns and some Aeroplan miles for $375,000 to Jass Johal, a Brampton paralegal who went on to become a Tory candidate.
According to a copy of an affidavit shown to The Globe, Mr. Johal says he agreed to purchase two million Aeroplan miles and an ownership interest in Hooligans restaurant in Barrie from Mr. Brown. The affidavit is dated June 11, 2016, and signed by Mr. Johal.
Mr. Brown told The Globe in an e-mail that “no deal was ever done.”
Other documents seen by The Globe, including bank statements, show that Mr. Brown deposited $375,000 into his account at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on July 11, 2016. That same month, property records show he purchased a waterfront house on Lake Simcoe’s Shanty Bay for $2.3-million. He took out a mortgage of $1.72-million from Toronto-Dominion Bank, according to public mortgage documents.
When asked about that, Mr. Brown, who earned $180,886 a year as the leader of the Official Opposition, responded in the e-mail: “Like many people in Ontario, I received help from my family purchasing my home.”
After The Globe published the story, Mr. Brown tweeted out a picture of an affidavit dated June 16, 2016, that he says proves there was no deal. Mr. Johal was acclaimed as the Tory candidate for Brampton North on Nov. 21, 2016.
Mr. Brown posted his response to the Integrity Commissioner on Facebook on Feb. 22. “Mr. Hillier’s complaint was intended solely to distract the public from the discussion I am having with Ontarians about how to make life more affordable,” he says. “It is unfortunate that Mr. Hillier, a legislator who claims to represent hard-working taxpayers, has opted to usurp the resources of a taxpayer-funded institution such as the Office of the Integrity Commissioner to fight an internal Party leadership race.”
Regarding suggestions that the Shanty Bay house was beyond his means, Mr. Brown said in his letter to the Integrity Commissioner that his after-tax income was approximately $120,000, leaving him with $30,000 in annual income after his mortgage payments. His calculations did not include property taxes or utilities.
The Toronto Star has reported that the Integrity Commissioner was also asking Mr. Brown why he had not declared rental income on his Shanty Bay house. Those questions arose before Mr. Hillier filed his complaint.
By Karen Howlett – The Globe and Mail
Claiming he’s faced death threats, that his family members have been harassed and that his mother has been hospitalized because of stress, Patrick Brown intends to pull out of the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race, two senior members of his campaign team said Monday.
The Ontario Conservative’s political maneuvers in the last few weeks have been nothing if not unpredictable. Brown’s apparent decision caps a bizarre, roller-coaster few weeks for the party, beginning with his resignation as leader last month, then a dramatic decision to enter the contest to fill his old job.
A formal announcement was planned for later Monday, the source told the National Post, though earlier Monday a Brown spokeswoman had refuted rumours that he was dropping out.
The campaign’s internal polling, released to the Post, suggested that Brown was doing surprisingly well, showing him tied for the first-ballot lead with former legislative member Christine Elliott and apparently gaining strength.
By Tom Blackwell – The National Post
The president was doubling down on his criticism of an armed sheriff’s deputy who did not confront the shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed earlier this month.
“They weren’t exactly Medal of Honor winners, alright?” Trump said. “The way they performed was frankly disgusting.”
Trump also told the governors he ate lunch last weekend with leaders of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
“Don’t worry about the NRA,” Trump told the governors. ”They’re on our side.”
By Jordan Fabian – The Hill
(JTA) The Archbishop of Canterbury has written a moving account of his recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, saying the Nazi death camp “defies description”.
Archbishop Justin Welby toured the site as part of an Anglican delegation last week, wearing snow boots in freezing conditions, with temperatures dipping to -14 degrees.
Reflecting on the cold experienced by both his party and the camp’s inmates, he wrote on Facebook: “We had layers and layers of clothing, hats, gloves, scarves, yet it worked through and we were cold to the core. They wore the equivalent of pyjamas and clogs. We were there for five hours, they were out for 12. We were fed, they were starved.”
The senior leader of the Church of England said there were “so many statistics about Auschwitz-Birkenau, but it defies description,” later adding: “I’ve come away with too much to write, and no words to write it.”
Among the aspects he said would “stay with me” was “the way that the perpetrators at Auschwitz tried to dehumanise their victims… In a way that actually cost the humanity of both,” he wrote. “It worked to some extent. Prisoners killed others in order to live – and were then killed themselves.”
The visit, the first in a new programme designed for clergy to receive in-service training, prompted the delegation to reflect on the human capacity for evil, said Welby, and the need to both recognise and challenge this wherever it appears.
“We must protest to the limit against evil: before it occurs, as it happens, and in its aftermath,” he wrote. “But there is also a need for silent reflection – in which we honour the victims, mourn our capacity for evil, and learn to beware.”
(JTA) — A swastika was drawn in the snow on the front lawn of a columnist for a Canadian Jewish publication.
The swastika and a sexist slur were drawn on Saturday night at the home of B’nai Brith Canada columnist Sara McCleary, who frequently writes about anti-Semitism. McCleary lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, which has a small Jewish population.
McCleary wrote in her column on the organization’s website Monday that at first she thought the drawn symbol was random, but then realized that she was being targeted.
“But the more I thought about it – and after seeking advice from a B’nai Brith professional who deals with hate crimes – the more I came to think that it was targeted at me,” she wrote. “I’ve said before in previous posts that I live in a small city with a tiny Jewish population. What are the odds that it would just so happen to be in my front yard, when my name and face is on the website of Canada’s foremost Jewish advocacy organization every week? No, this was clearly meant for me.”
Sault Ste. Marie police said Tuesday that they have opened an investigation into the incident. There are no suspects, a police spokesman said in a statement.
McCleary said she is angry and concerned.
“My main concern in all of this has been to protect my children and shield them from such actions,” she said. “Fortunately, they’re young enough that they aren’t aware of what’s happened, but one day they’ll be old enough to understand, and how do you explain to a child that people hate you just because of who your grandparents were or because of what you believe in and do behind closed doors? And the more I contemplate this question, the more I think of how many people have to have these conversations with their kids nowadays, and it breaks my heart.”
By The Sun Newspaper
A NOTORIOUS Nazi war criminal who invented mobile gas vans to kill Jews died in a miserable squalid cellar surviving on army rations after fleeing to Syria, it has been revealed.
The fate of Alois Brunner – who was Nazi hunters’ number one wanted war criminal – had remained a mystery after he fled Germany in 1953, evading capture.
But now three Syrian spies have revealed the evil Nazi – who tutored them in torture and clandestine police work – died in misery, squalor and agony in a grim basement in Damascus, aged 88.
The monster, who described Jews as “human garbage”, was personally responsible for rounding up at least 130,000 Jewish men, women and children in France – and having them shipped off for extermination.
The twisted killer’s fate was revealed by French magazine XXI this week, with veteran Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld saying the report was “highly credible”.
A diabolical Nazi, Brunner was the inventor of mobile “gas vans” – innocent looking lorries whose passenger compartments were sealed.
Exhaust gas from the engine of the trucks fed back into the van, killing all its occupants.
The vans operated outside of ghettos and concentration camps in eastern Europe before mass killing factories like Auschwitz were built.
He occupied the number one slot of most wanted war criminals on a list compiled by by the Simon Wiesdenthal Nazi-hunting organisation in America.
Brunner, who died in 2001, was the right-hand-man to Adolf Eichmann, the supreme logistician of the Holocaust of who plotted the transports across Europe to the extermination camps in occupied Poland.
He fled to Syria after the war where the Assad regime sheltered him for decades, but his notoriety meant he was practically kept as a prisoner.
Israeli agents managed to send him parcel bombs on two occasions, which wounded him but did not kill him.
Now three ex-members of the Syrian secret service who he tutored in torture and clandestine police work revealed his final years were spent in “miserable and squalid” conditions beneath an apartment block in Damascus.
One of his guards called Omar said Brunner, who went by the name of Abu Hussein, “suffered and cried a lot in his final years. Everyone heard him. In the end he couldn’t even wash himself.
“All he had to eat were army rations – awful stuff – and an egg or a potato. He had to choose one or the other.”
Nazi-hunter Mr Klarsfeld, whose father was murdered in Auschwitz, once flew to Damascus in the 1980s to plead with the Assad regime to give Brunner up for trial in the west.
“I am satisfied to learn that he lived badly rather than well in exile,” he said.
Brunner left Germany for Egypt in 1953 with a passport in the name of Georg Fischer and worked for a time as a gun-runner for Algerians fighting to throw off French colonial rule in their country.
Then he moved on to Damascus, where he taught secret service agents all the terrible interrogation and torture techniques which the Gestapo used during the Third Reich.
Convicted by French courts in absentia to death, he lost an eye and four fingers in the two Mossad bomb attacks, but nothing diminished his love of Nazism or his hatred of the Jews.
In a 1987 telephone interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, he stated that he didn’t regret his part in the Holocaust.
“All of them deserved to die because they were the devil’s agents and human garbage. I have no regrets and I would do it again.”
According to XXI, Brunner was practically under house arrest in his apartment in the diplomatic quarter of Damascus from 1989 onwards.
He was moved into the basement by the Assad regime for unspecified “security reasons.”
“Once he was in the room, the door was closed and never opened again,” Omar told the magazine.
He claimed Brunner was buried secretly in accordance with Muslim rites in the city’s Al-Affif cemetery in December 2001.
“In a dictatorship like Syria, he was untouchable as long as the dictator didn’t want rid of him,” said Mr Klarsfeld.
“Until the end he kept his hatred of Jews intact, as well as his faith in National Socialism.
“He was someone who hated France as much as he hated Jews.”
A battle over Israel’s future is being fought at a factory that once employed Scarlett Johansson to tout its bubbly water.
Facing calls for an international boycott, along with falling revenues andstock prices, the carbonation company called SodaStream is shutting down its operation in the occupied Palestinian territory next month and moving to a larger new facility in Israel’s Negev desert.
Leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement claim the company’s withdrawal from the West Bank just east of Jerusalem is a big win for the Palestinian cause. Although hundreds of Palestinians will soon be out of jobs, BDS leaders say it is worth it.
“This is a clear-cut BDS victory against an odiously complicit Israeli company,” said Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS movement. Israel should not be allowed to exploit its occupation by operating factories in Palestinian lands, he said.
Daniel Birnbaum, the chief executive of SodaStream, said the closure of the West Bank factory had “zero” to do with the boycott campaign against his company and its “brand ambassador,” the actor Johansson, who last year performed in a Super Bowl ad for the machines.
Instead Birnbaum accused BDS critics of robbing ordinary Palestinians of well-paying jobs.
“It’s propaganda. It’s politics. It’s hate. It’s anti-Semitism,” he said.
Birnbaum called the factory “an island of peace in the Middle East,” where Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze make home-carbonation machines that retail for $79. BDS activists called it apartheid.
The skirmish over who is right and who is hurt by the boycott movement comes as Israeli leaders express growing fear that a campaign of “delegitimization” against the Jewish state is more dangerous than Islamist militants from Hamas and Hezbollah.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government vowed to spend $25 million to combat BDS efforts. At a conference in June hosted by the Las Vegas casino magnate, GOP megadonor and Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson, as much as $50 million more was pledged for anti-BDS campaigns by wealthy American Jews.
Israeli officials insist that BDS has not hurt the economy — yet — although they don’t act like it.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported last month that Israeli military intelligence units have been tasked with tracking BDS groups abroad, as they would terror organizations.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin called academic boycotts against Israel a“strategic threat of the first order” at a conference he hosted at his official residence in May, when Israeli university presidents vented their anxieties about blocked collaborations.
Boycott activists say they seek to win Palestinian rights by applying the same kind of pressure used in the 1980s against apartheid South Africa. Israel’s military has occupied the West Bank for 48 years on land the Palestinians want for a future state. Israel says the lands are disputed.
Israel says the BDS movement doesn’t just want Israel to withdraw; it wants to destroy it. The Israeli government says the BDS call for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinian refugees and descendants who were forced from or fled Israel in 1948 would overwhelm the Jewish state.
“We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the state of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name,” Netanyahu warnedearlier this summer.
BDS activists say they are on a roll. The boycott movement convinced hip-hop artist Lauryn Hill not to perform in Israel — although Mariah Carey played in Tel Aviv and toured the SodaStream plant to “support Palestinian and Jewish coexistence.”
Activists claimed that the French company Transdev, half-owned by the infrastructure giant Veolia, pulled out of Jerusalem’s light-rail system because of the BDS movement.
The tramway — frequently pelted by Palestinian rock-throwers — connects Israel’s West Jerusalem with occupied East Jerusalem. The French said the decision was all business and not about BDS.
At the new SodaStream factory in Israel, Palestinian workers said they like their jobs, although they weren’t happy about the new location and their four-hour round-trip commute on buses and through military checkpoints.
Ahmed Abdel Wahid, 31, is one of only 36 Palestinians who worked at the SodaStream plant in the West Bank to find a job at the new facility in Israel.
“I like it here. It’s a good work. It’s good money,” Wahid said. “We are treated as equals here.”
Wahid said he would rather work closer to home in the West Bank. “But there are no jobs and even if there are jobs, the pay is rotten,” he said. He makes about $1,400 a month, he said.
At its peak, 600 Palestinians worked for SodaStream in the West Bank, but the Israeli government gave the company only 130 permits for Palestinians to work at the facility inside Israel. Most of those jobs have not been filled because Israel will not allow young, male, unmarried Palestinians to work in Israel, and many Palestinian women don’t feel comfortable with such a long commute.
BDS co-founder Barghouti said the Palestinian workers backed the boycotts. “They all know that resisting Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid comes at a price, sometimes steep, but freedom, justice and equality are well worth it to them,” he said.
Bassem Eid, a Palestinian political analyst who opposes the boycott in the West Bank, said, “We pay the boycott lip service, but there are no jobs in the West Bank, so BDS asks of the Palestinians, please, suffer just a little bit more. For what? For who? For how many more years?”
The BDS movement burst into the mainstream last year when activists targeted SodaStream and Johansson. At the time, Johansson served a similar, although unpaid, role for Oxfam. The charity and Johansson parted ways after she refused to sever her ties with SodaStream.
Oxfam said businesses that operate in Jewish settlements in the West Bank “further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.” Jewish settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by the international community, although Israel disputes that.
During a tour of the new plant, SodaStream’s Birnbaum said world leaders should come to his factory.
“We respect each other. It’s family for me,” said Hanadi Ghoruf, 38, one of the few Palestinian women to make the transition from the West Bank to Israel. She pointed at fellow workers on the assembly line, who smiled and waved.
Barghouti said the argument that boycotts will hurt poor Palestinian workers “is not only disingenuous and intended to divert attention from the illegality of all Israeli colonies . . . but plagiarizes from South African apartheid companies that used this exact argument.”
Ohad Cohen, head of the foreign trade administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, said now that SodaStream has left the West Bank, there aren’t that many big Israeli brands left for BDS to go after. “We are talking about maybe only 100 companies; their exports are only between 1 and 2 percent of Israel’s total exports,” he said.
By The Washington Post