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Police: Synagogue Gunman Said He Wanted All Jews To Die

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Police: Synagogue Gunman Said He Wanted All Jews To Die

The suspect in the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue expressed hatred of Jews during the rampage and told officers afterward that Jews were committing genocide and that he wanted them all to die, according to charging documents made public on Sunday.

Robert Gregory Bowers killed eight men and three women inside the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday during worship services before a tactical police team tracked him down and shot him, authorities said in state and federal affidavits, which contained unreported details on the shooting and the police response.

“I just want to kill Jews,” Bowers told an officer, according to one of the documents.

Officials released the names of all 11 victims during a news conference on Sunday, all of them middle-aged or elderly. The victims included a pair of brothers and a husband and wife. The oldest was 97.

Mayor Bill Peduto called it the “darkest day of Pittsburgh’s history”.

Calls began coming in to 911 from the synagogue just before 10:00 on Saturday. Bowers, 46, shot one of the first two officers to respond in the hand, and the other was wounded by “shrapnel and broken glass,” according to court documents.

A tactical team found Bowers on the third floor, where he shot two officers multiple times, an affidavit said.

Bowers, who authorities said used an AR-15 rifle and three handguns in the attack, told an officer while he was being treated for his injuries “that he wanted all Jews to die and also that they (Jews) were committing genocide to his people,” a Pittsburgh police affidavit said.

Bowers was charged with 11 state counts of criminal homicide, six counts of aggravated assault and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation in what the leader of the Anti-Defamation League called the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.

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He was also charged in a 29-count federal criminal complaint that included counts of obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs resulting in death — a federal hate crime — and using a firearm to commit murder. US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the charges “could lead to the death penalty”.

Bowers, who underwent surgery and remained hospitalised, is scheduled for a court appearance on Monday. It wasn’t clear whether he had an attorney to speak on his behalf. A message left with the federal public defender’s office in Pittsburgh wasn’t immediately returned.

His neighbour, Chris Hall, said he never heard or saw anything to indicate that Bowers harboured anti-Semitic views or posed a threat. Bowers kept to himself, he said.

“The most terrifying thing is just how normal he seemed,” Hall said. “I wish I knew what was going on inside his head. Maybe something could have been done. I don’t know.”

The victims included Melvin Wax, a retired accountant in his late 80s who was always one of the first to arrive at synagogue and among the last to leave.

“He and I used to, at the end of services, try to tell a joke or two to each other,” said Myron Snider, a fellow member of New Light Congregation, which rented space in the basement of Tree of Life. “Most of the time they were clean jokes. Most of the time. I won’t say all the time. But most of the time.”

The toll also included professors, dentists and physicians.

Former Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Law Claus sent an email to former co-workers on Sunday asking them to pass his condolences to the family of Jerry Rabinowitz, a 66-year-old personal physician and shooting victim. Rabinowitz was “truly a trusted confidant and healer,” Claus wrote.

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The nation’s latest mass shooting drew condemnation and expressions of sympathy from politicians and religious leaders of all stripes. With the midterm election just over a week away, it also reignited a longstanding and bitter debate over guns.

Pope Francis led prayers for Pittsburgh on Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

“In reality, all of us are wounded by this inhuman act of violence,” he said. He prayed for God “to help us to extinguish the flames of hatred that develop in our societies, reinforcing the sense of humanity, respect for life and civil and moral values.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman quoted Merkel on Twitter as offering her condolences and saying that “all of us must confront anti-Semitism with determination — everywhere”.

Trump on Saturday said the outcome might have been different if the synagogue “had some kind of protection” from an armed guard, while Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, up for re-election, noted that once again “dangerous weapons are putting our citizens in harm’s way.”

Calling the shooting an “evil anti-Semitic attack,” Trump ordered flags at federal buildings throughout the US to be flown at half-staff in respect for the victims. He said he planned to travel to Pittsburgh but offered no details.

In the city, thousands gathered for a vigil Saturday night. Some blamed the slaughter on the nation’s political climate.

“When you spew hate speech, people act on it. Very simple. And this is the result. A lot of people dead. Senselessly,” said Stephen Cohen, co-president of New Light Congregation, which rents space at Tree of Life.

Little was known about Bowers, who had no apparent criminal record but who is believed to have expressed virulently anti-Semitic views on social media. Authorities said it appears he acted alone.

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The Jewish community is “an important part of the cultural and social identity of Pittsburgh, and so this was an attack upon our neighbors and upon our friends,” Scott Brady, the chief federal prosecutor in western Pennsylvania, said.

The gunman targeted a building that housed three separate congregations, all of which were conducting Sabbath services when the attack began just before 10:00 in the tree-lined residential neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, about 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and the hub of the city’s Jewish community.

During the week, anyone who wanted to get inside Tree of Life synagogue had to ring the doorbell and be granted entry by staff because the front door was kept locked. Not so on Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath — when the building was open for worship.

Michael Eisenberg, the immediate past president of the Tree of Life, said synagogue officials had not received any threats that he knew of before the shooting. But security was a concern, he said, and the synagogue had started working to improve it.

One of the police officers wounded in the attack was treated and released, and a second was expected to be released Sunday. The other two injured officers were expected to stay in the hospital, and one of them, a 40-year-old man, remained in critical condition on Sunday.

Two other people in the synagogue were wounded by Bowers. A 61-year-old woman was listed in stable condition, and a 70-year-old man was in critical condition, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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Brexit Will Not Happen Next Week

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Brexit Will Not Happen Next Week

Brexit will not happen next week.  The United Kingdom has been granted a bit more time to figure out the terms of its departure from the European trading bloc.  The date could be April the twelfth or may the twenty-second.

European Council President, Donald Tusk, says he would push the departure date to May the twenty-second if the UK parliament approves a withdrawal agreement next week.

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Parliament’s failure to approve the Brexit deal next week would mean deadline for departure from the European Union will be April the twelfth.

The decision to grant the delay came a day after may delivered a televised speech blaming parliament for the Brexit impasse. That speech angered the political spectrum.

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May hopes with this European Council next decision, the House of Commons would pass a Brexit deal next week.  She says that would help bring an end to the uncertainty and would help the UK to leave Europe in a smooth and orderly manner.

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Chemical Factory Explosion In China Kills 47, Injures Over 600

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Chemical Factory Explosion In China Kills 47, Injures Over 600

An explosion at a chemical plant that occurred on Thursday in China’s eastern Jiangsu province has killed 47 people and injured over 600, among which 90 are critically injured, state media reported.

The fire which happened at a plant that contained highly inflammable chemical owned by the Tianjiayi Chemical Company spread to neighbouring factories was finally brought under control at 3.00 a.m. on Friday.

President Xi Jinping, who is in Italy on a state visit, ordered all-out efforts to care for the injured and to “earnestly maintain social stability”, state television said.

Authorities must step up action to prevent such incidents and determine the cause of the blast as quickly as possible, Xi added.

Reuters disclosed that some police at the scene were wearing face masks, sealed off roads to the plant. The blast smashed windows in the village of Wangshang two kilometres (1.2 miles) away, and shocked villagers likened it to an earthquake.

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New Zealand Bans Sale Of Assault Rifles, Semi-Automatic Weapons

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New Zealand Bans Sale Of Assault Rifles, Semi-Automatic Weapons

New Zealand has banned the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons after the country’s worst-ever attack in which fifty persons were killed in two mosques.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference the ban is in the national interest and it’s about safety… To prevent an act of terror from ever happening again in New Zealand.

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Ardern said she expects the new law to be in place by mid-April.  Buy-back schemes will be established for banned weapons.

Ardern said the suspect arrested in the attacks had purchased his weapons legally and enhanced their capacity by using 30-round magazines “done easily through a simple online purchase.”

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The changes in New Zealand’s gun laws are expected to curtail future acts of random violence like the mass mosques shootings in Christchurch.

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