Mourners gathered over the weekend in New Zealand and around the world to pay tribute to the victims of Friday’s deadly terrorist massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The death toll has reached 50, with at least 50 people injured. Police have arrested and charged 28-year-old Australian Brenton Tarrant, who they say acted as a lone gunman and is described as a right-wing, anti-immigrant white supremacist. Tarrant live-streamed the attack and published a manifesto in which he praised President Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”
In the wake of the horrific attack, the deadliest shooting in New Zealand’s history, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to reform the country’s gun laws.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “We cannot be deterred from the work that we need to do on our gun laws in New Zealand. They need to change. Regardless of what activity may or may not have happened with gun retailers, they will change.”
Meanwhile, President Trump came under fire for refusing to acknowledge the global rise of white nationalism in the wake of the attack.
Reporter: “Do you see, today, white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?”
President Donald Trump: “I don’t, really. I think it’s a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess. If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that’s the case. I don’t know enough about it yet. They’re just learning about the person and the people involved. But it’s certainly a terrible thing, terrible thing.”
Trump tweeted more over the weekend about the late Senator John McCain and advocating for Fox News to bring back host Jeanine Pirro—who appeared to be suspended after attacking Congressmember Ilhan Omar on air for wearing a hijab last week—than he did about the New Zealand massacre. He did not tweet once—in more than 20 tweets—about the massacre.
Security experts and government agencies have warned that white nationalist attacks are on the rise and pose a major domestic threat. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said, in 2017, white supremacist groups carried out more attacks in the U.S. than any other domestic extremist group since 2001.
On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was asked on Fox News if Trump would deliver a speech condemning white supremacy and Islamophobia, to which he responded, “The president is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that.”
President Trump signed his first presidential veto Friday, after lawmakers in both houses of Congress voted in favor of a resolution reversing Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border. He once again attacked immigrants as he signed the veto.
President Donald Trump: “It is a tremendous national emergency. It is a tremendous crisis. Last month, more than 76,000 illegal migrants arrived at our border. We’re on track for a million illegal aliens to rush our borders. People hate the word 'invasion,' but that’s what it is. It’s an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. We have no idea who they are.”
Trump’s statement came just after the manifesto of the New Zealand attacker was released, in which he echoed that term, “invasion.” The veto sends the measure back to lawmakers, but they are not expected to garner the two-thirds majority required to overturn it. California and other states filed a lawsuit last month challenging Trump’s national emergency.
The Ethiopian transport minister said early investigations have revealed “clear similarities” between the crashes of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and October’s Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia. While detailed information has yet to be released, flight tracking data shows both flights on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft seemed to go through unpredictable climbs and descents after they took off. Both flights killed all crew and passengers on board after the planes crashed minutes after takeoff.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the Transportation Department is launching investigations into regulators’ approvals of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, as well as into the development of the aircraft. Faulty flight control software has been cited as a possible culprit in the two fatal crashes.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday the U.S. will start denying visas to members of the International Criminal Court who may be investigating alleged war crimes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “In November of 2017, the ICC prosecutor requested approval to initiate an investigation into, quote, 'the situation in Afghanistan,' end of quote, that could illegitimately target American personnel for prosecutions and sentencing. … I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel.”
In response to the news, the ACLU said, “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day.”
In more news about the ICC, the Philippines officially withdrew from the court Sunday. The International Criminal Court is investigating whether the thousands of murders committed as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs amount to crimes against humanity. At least 5,000 people have been killed by the police since 2016, with many more killed in extrajudicial attacks.
Students around the world left the classroom and took to the streets Friday for the “Youth Climate Strike,” calling for decisive action on climate change. The international day of action was inspired by 16-year Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who started a weekly Friday strike outside the Swedish parliament building last year. This is Thunberg speaking at the Stockholm demonstration.
Greta Thunberg: “And we, the young people, have not contributed to this crisis. … We are not going to accept it. We are not going to let it happen. And that is why we are striking. We strike because we want a future, and we will continue.”
Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Here in New York City, Democracy Now! spoke to students rallying outside City Hall Friday.
Tasnim Emu: “My name is Tasnim Emu, and I’m from Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women. … They say that education isn’t worth sacrificing to make a political point. But I think they’re wrong, because we’re all here going to school, and we think that we have this big future for us, but our education will be ignored if we’re too busy trying to survive instead of living.”
Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with a high school student from the Bronx High School of Science.
At least two people have died, with thousands more displaced, as historic levels of flooding in the Upper Midwest due to heavy rains and melting snow from last week’s “bomb cyclone” led to states of emergency in the region. Nebraska saw its worst flooding in half a century, prompting concerns about a nuclear power plant located along the Missouri River, although authorities say the plant continued to operate as usual through the weekend.
In Zimbabwe and Mozambique, at least 120 people are believed to be dead, with many more missing, after Tropical Cyclone Idai battered the southern African nations from Thursday to Saturday. The death toll is expected to mount in what Mozambique’s environment minister called the “biggest natural disaster” the country has ever faced.
In Indonesia, major flooding and landslides in the eastern Papua region killed at least 77 people over the weekend, according to officials. Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes. Also in Indonesia, a landslide triggered by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake on Lombok island killed at least two people Sunday.
In Israel, the Supreme Court banned the far-right leader of the Otzma Yehudit—or “Jewish Power” party—from running in the upcoming elections, citing racist, anti-Arab comments by Michael Ben-Ari. Last month, embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu formed an alliance with the party despite it being compared to the KKK for its racist and homophobic beliefs. Meanwhile, the court ruled that candidates from the Balad-United Arab List—an alliance of Israeli Arab parties—can run, overturning a ban by Israel’s election committee earlier this month.
In Denver, Colorado, noted immigrant rights activist Jeanette Vizguerra once again took sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society of Denver church after her stay of deportation expired Friday. She spent 86 days in sanctuary at the church in 2017 before receiving her stay of deportation. Vizguerra also announced she is suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement for denying her right to due process in her immigration battle. Vizguerra spoke to her supporters at the Denver church Friday.
Jeanette Vizguerra: “It’s ridiculous to call it a national emergency. They want to put up a wall, when there are national emergencies inside the country, like public health, the environment, housing. We have lots of homeless who, when they come on hard times, must sleep on the streets. They are American citizens, and they are not extending a helping hand to them.”
In Kentucky, a federal judge blocked the new, highly restrictive so-called fetal heartbeat law, hours after Republican Governor Matt Bevin signed the legislation Friday. The law would have banned abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected—something that typically happens just six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women even realize they’re pregnant. The measure is now on hold for two weeks, pending further hearings.
Staffers on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign announced Friday they are unionizing, in what is believed to be a first for any major presidential campaign. The president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which will represent the Sanders campaign staffers, said, “We expect (unionizing) will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker, whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else.” Several women staffers accused Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign of not properly handling sexual harassment and unequal pay complaints.
And New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand officially launched her 2020 presidential bid Sunday. In her campaign video, entitled “Brave Wins,” Gillibrand pledged support for paid family leave, universal healthcare, a Green New Deal, gun control and taking money out of politics. She was also an outspoken early supporter of the #MeToo movement, but reports emerged earlier this month that her office mishandled a sexual harassment complaint from a former staffer. Gillibrand is inviting supporters to meet her for a rally on March 24 in front of the Trump International Hotel in New York.