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Florida school shooting survivors dread Parkland campus return

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The fire alarm, gunshots and piercing cries still ring loudly in Jake Glacer’s mind.

“There’s so much I still hear, I still see,” the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School junior told Fox News. “Four people in my class were shot. I couldn’t imagine going back into the building.”

A week after the Valentine’s Day massacre at the Parkland, Florida high school, students, administrators and lawmakers are now focusing on something more concrete: The future of Building 12, the three-story structure where 17 people were gunned down.

“I have four classes in that building, and I know that if I were to go back in there, all I would be able to think about is what we all heard and what we all saw,” student Kaelan Small told Fox News.

Some families are considering moving because it would be too “traumatizing” to step foot on campus again.

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Passersby pray outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School just days after the Valentine’s Day massacre.

 (Fox News)

“It’s just something that makes you grow up really quickly, you know?” junior Josh Charo said.

The plan for now is to demolish the building, which has housed mainly the freshman class since it was built almost three decades ago.

“We’re working and have been working since we toured the site to tear down the building and put a memorial there,” said Florida State Sen. Lauren Book, R-Plantation.

Book described the building as a “war zone,” with blood smeared on walls and floors. She said keeping the infrastructure and just renovating the building is not an option.

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Two staff members and 15 students were killed in a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 (Fox News)

“We are tearing that building down,” she said.

The school shooting in Newtown, Conn. sparked similar concerns over the future of the building. More than five years later, a memorial is still in its design phase. It took three-and-a-half years to build a new, $45 million elementary school in Newtown, according to former First Selectman Patricia Llodra. She spearheaded the process to decide the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School, holding a series of meetings for the community and elected officials.

Llodra urges Florida lawmakers and the school district not to rush the decision-making process. Instead, she said, they should take the time to involve the people of Parkland.

“It’s one of the most critical decisions the community has to make,” Llodra said. “It’s the first step in the recovery process.”

“The last thing I would have to say is tell the loved ones that are around you that you love them.”

– Josh Gallagher, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Aztec High School in New Mexico took a different approach after its December shooting. Instead of demolishing the entire school, officials agreed on gutting two classrooms and transforming them into a lounge/memorial.

But the shooting there was on a much smaller scale – two people died, as well as the gunman.

Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said the decision made efficient use of the district’s time, space and money.

“To get a project like this done in a month’s time was absolutely amazing,” Carpenter told Fox News. “No one’s going to change what we do at that high school, and that’s to make sure learning takes place.”

Book admits demolishing Building 12, erecting a new building and implementing a memorial park on campus is a daunting task, especially with Florida’s legislative session nearing its end. Estimates for the proposal come in around $25 to 30 million, which would come from state appropriations.

Not to mention the freshman building on Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ campus holds about 900 students, a quarter of the school’s population.

Map of MSD

Lawmakers are pushing to demolish Building 12 and implement a memorial park in its place.

 (Fox News)

The school, named after a women’s suffrage advocate, opened in 1990. It’s about two hours north of Miami.

Charo acknowledges it will be hard for the school to adjust without the building, saying it “doesn’t seem logical for them to tear it down.”

“I think going back to school is going to be helpful,” Glacer said. “We have to get used to the new normal.”

But, even considering this, Charo and Glacer can’t fathom returning to the place that carries memories of their worst day.

Lawmakers and school officials understand that.

The district is considering splitting up the school day into sessions to avoid using Building 12.

Students are expected to return to school on Feb. 27.

In the meantime, survivors said they are embracing each and every moment with their loved ones.

“The last thing I would have to say is tell the loved ones that are around you that you love them,” said junior Josh Gallagher. “Because you never know when it’s going to be cut short or life is going to be taken away.”

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Cross country runners at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School organized a walk/run in honor of the victims, in particular Coach Scott Beigel.

 (Fox News)

Emilie Ikeda is a multimedia reporter based in Atlanta. 

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Tokyo Olympics: Opening ceremony was ‘respectful, hopeful but sombre night’ | World News

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Olympic opening ceremonies are something of a unique art form. Playing to a global audience but with the host nation wanting to make the night their own.

Japan chose sombre. It was a respectful, hopeful but above all sombre night. They didn’t want to show off when everyone has lived through such hardship – and while so many people continue to do so.

Their display using 1,824 flying drones combining like a swarm of giant worker bees to create a giant globe stood out.

Naomi Osaka of Japan holds the Olympic torch after lighting the Olympic cauldron
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Naomi Osaka of Japan holds the Olympic torch after lighting the cauldron

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There were no Team GB fans at the 2021 summer olympic opening ceremony in Tokyo due to COVID-19 but Japan put on a stunning visual show regardless

So too Japanese tennis superstar Naomi Osaka who was given the honour of firing up the hydrogen-fuelled Olympic cauldron.

But it was their courteous bow towards the pain of the pandemic that defined the evening.

Video montages of empty cities during lockdowns, and athletes cobbling together training regimes in their back gardens – it all made for an understated opening ceremony.

Outside, the protests in the streets continued among those still vehemently against the Games taking place while Tokyo remains in a state of COVID emergency.

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There were also people outside who just felt drawn to the Olympic stadium – to come and wave to the very select numbers of VIPs and media going inside. It was as close as they could get to the Games that they had waited almost a decade for.

While these Olympics will feel unusual there were reminders too of the magic they can create.

There was a towering Tongan taekwondo player who strode into the stadium with his bare oiled chest puffed out as he carried his island nation’s flag like a warrior on a mission.

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Protests held outside Olympic stadium

The Olympics can still produce special moments like that and there will be plenty more over the coming weeks.

There will be more COVID-19 disruption too but the Games of 2020 are finally open, just one year late.

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Business leaders have ‘obligation to speak up’, ex-Unilever boss says amid Ben & Jerry’s row | Business News

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Unilever’s ex-boss has said business leaders have an “obligation to speak up” after his former company became embroiled in a row with Israel over its Ben & Jerry’s business.

Paul Polman mounted a defence of the need to “fight for what is right” in remarks to Sky News after the ice cream brand said it would stop selling its products in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Ben & Jerry’s is owned by consumer goods giant Unilever – whose array of brands ranges from Marmite spread to Dove soap – but has an independent board to take such decisions.

Alan Jope, Unilever chief executive
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Current boss Alan Jope has spoken to Israel’s prime minister about the matter

Its announcement is one of the strongest steps taken by a well-known company over Israel’s settlements, which are widely seen as illegal by the international community.

The move drew condemnation from the Israeli government, whose new prime minister Naftali Bennett said this week that Israel would “use the tools at its disposal – including legal – on this issue” and that those taking such action “need to know that there will be a price to pay”.

Mr Polman, speaking to Sky’s Ian King Live, said it would be inappropriate to say how he would have handled the issue had he still been in charge of Unilever.

But he added: “What is very important is if we want humanity to function for the long term we need to be sure that we fight for the basic values, the basic values of dignity, respect, equity, compassion.

“If we see these values being violated anywhere in the world I think we have an obligation to speak up.

“What we’ve seen in the US in the last few years – too few people, also from the business side, spoke up against things that then bit by bit moved the boundaries and put us in a very difficult situation.

Naftali Bennett will serve as prime minister for two years
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Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said there would be a “price to pay”

“So, fight for what is right and one of the few things we should fight for always is, these basic human rights.”

Mr Polman was speaking a day after current Unilever boss Alan Jope, in a conference call to discuss latest results, said the company remains “fully committed” to doing business in Israel but gave no indication that Unilever would press Ben & Jerry’s to reverse the decision.

Mr Jope, who has spoken to Mr Bennett on the phone to discuss the matter, said that it was a “complex and sensitive matter”.

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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine withdraws to avoid facing Israeli competitor Tohar Butbul | World News

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An Algerian judo competitor has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics after learning he could have faced an Israeli opponent.

Fethi Nourine said his political support for the Palestinian cause made it impossible to compete against Tohar Butbul.

He told Algerian TV he would not “get his hands dirty” and his “decision was final”.

“We worked a lot to reach the Olympics, and the news came as a shock, a thunder”, he added.

Tohar Butbul of Israel
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Tohar Butbul of Israel

The 30-year-old was drawn against Sudan’s Mohamed Asdalrasool on Monday for his first match in the men’s 73kg class. If he had won that match, he would have faced Butbul, who has a first-round bye, in the next round.

Nourine also withdrew from the world championships in 2019 for the same reason.

At the time, his coach Amar Ben Yaklif was quoted in Algerian media saying: “We were unlucky with the draw. We got an Israeli opponent and that’s why we had to retire. We made the right decision.”

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Tensions between Israel and Palestinians flared in Jerusalem earlier this year causing the worst violence in the region since 2014.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Judo - Training Sessions - Nippon Budokan, Tokyo, Japan - July 22, 2021. Technicians work on the mat in Nippon Budokan Arena, during training sessions. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
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Judo training sessions take place at the Tokyo Games

The conflict between the two sides has been going on for decades and has seen athletes from Iran and Egypt also previously refuse to compete against Israeli opponents.

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The opening ceremony for this year’s Olympic games took place on Friday, with fans not allowed in the national stadium for the event due to COVID-19 concerns.

Instead, around 1,000 dignitaries and members of the media were allowed the witness the spectacular event.

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