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I never said ‘give teachers guns’

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Donald Trump appears to have backtracked on his suggestion that teachers should have guns to prevent mass shootings.

The President tweeted on Thursday: “I never said ‘give teachers guns’ like was stated on Fake News @CNN & @NBC.

“What I said was to look at the possibility of giving concealed guns to gun adept teachers with military or special training experience – only the best. 20% of teachers, a lot, would now be able to immediately fire back if a savage sicko came to a school with bad intentions.

“Highly trained teachers would also serve as a deterrent to the cowards that do this. Far more assets at much less cost than guards. A ‘gun free’ school is a magnet for bad people. ATTACKS WOULD END!”

The President’s tweets come a day after he held a “listening session” following America’s latest mass shooting in Florida.

Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day, killing 17 people.

Survivors of the massacre urged the President to bring in stricter gun control.

Mr Trump said at the session on Wednesday: “If the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy – the coach was very brave and saved a lot of lives I suspect – but if he had a firearm he wouldn’t have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it.”

He added this “would only be obviously for people who are very adept at handling a firearm” and that they “would go for special training”.

But on Thursday, despite saying “I never said ‘give teachers guns'”, he appeared to reinforce precisely that message, tweeting: “If a potential sicko shooter knows that a school has a large number of very weapons talented teachers (and others) who will be instantly shooting, the sicko will NEVER attack that school.

“Cowards won’t go there…problem solved. Must be offensive, defense alone won’t work!”

He added he would be “strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health”, and that he intended to have the age raised to 21 and end the sale of bump stocks.


President Trump floats the idea of arming teachers



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Trump on teachers having guns

:: President’s cheat sheet: ‘I hear you’

Students from the school, along with the parents of children killed in shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and Columbine High School, delivered powerful speeches at Wednesday’s session and pleaded for a change in laws controlling assault weapons.

One parent who spoke at the emotional hour-long session was Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was killed in the shooting. At one point, he yelled at Mr Trump: “Fix it!”

Describing how he now has to visit his daughter in a cemetery, he said: “It’s not about gun laws right now. We need our children safe.”


Andrew Pollack's daughter Meadow died in the Florida school massacre



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‘I visit my daughter in the cemetery now’

Student Sam Zeif told how he texted his mother and two brothers during the shooting to say he would not see them again, before realising his 13-year-old sibling was in the classroom above him, where teacher Scott Beigel died shielding students from bullets.

The 18-year-old said: “I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR. Let’s never let this happen again please, please.”

Lorenzo Prado explained how he feared for his life after being held at gunpoint by six SWAT team members when he was mistaken for the gunman.

Similar clothes, hair colour and facial structure to Cruz led him to be “tossed to the ground and handcuffed” before his real identity was discovered.


Samuel Zeif



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‘I want to feel safe in my school’

The mother of a six-year-old Sandy Hook victim, Nicole Hockley, urged the President to use his time in office to stop school shootings happening.

Talking about her late son Dylan, she said: “Every parent who sends their child to school should know without any question they’re going to be coming home that day.

“How many more deaths as a country can we take? How many more teenagers and six and seven-year-olds can we allow to die? Don’t let that happen anymore on your watch.”

Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was killed in the 1999 Columbine shooting, described how she was shot, while her brother had a gun pointed at him as he lay covered with blood from his slain friends.


Nicole Hockley lost her son Dylan in te sandy hook massacre



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‘How many more deaths can we take?’

His son’s life was only saved when the two killers were distracted by an emergency alarm going off.

At the same time in Tallahassee, Florida, thousands of students marched into the State Capitol, calling for changes to gun laws, a ban on assault-type weapons and improved care for the mentally ill.



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Italy: Injured drivers and smashed windscreens as hailstorm halts traffic | World News

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A violent hailstorm has brought traffic to a halt on one of Italy’s main highways, injuring a number of people and smashing car windows.

The storm hit part of the northern stretch of the road between Milan and Naples, which runs for almost 500 miles.

Hundreds of cars were pelted with hail, forcing drivers to pull up by the roadside and causing authorities to close part of the road for a short time.

Footage broadcast by Italian weather channel Meteo Weather 24, showed vehicles with smashed windscreens, stopped on the road as the storm passed.

A number of people were hurt, mainly by glass shards from cracked windscreens but no one is believed to be seriously injured.

While hailstorms ravaged mainland Italy, forest fires forced at least 900 people from their homes in central Sardinia.

France and Greece sent four planes to help put out the wildfires, which consumed around 20,000 hectares in the Italian province of Oristano.

The aircraft joined 10 Italian firefighting squads and five other planes deployed to tackle the fires which broke out over the weekend and have been spread by dry southerly winds.

No deaths or injuries have been reported.

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Italy wildfires: Hundreds of people forced from their homes in Sardinia’s ‘unprecedented disaster’ | World News

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Raging forest fires in central Sardinia have forced at least 900 people from their homes.

Four planes from France and Greece were sent to help put out the wildfires, which have consumed around 20,000 hectares in the Italian province of Oristano – the size of about 20,000 rugby fields.

The aircraft joined 10 Italian firefighting squads and five other planes deployed to tackle the fires which broke out over the weekend and have been spread by dry southerly winds.

Firefighters spent all night battling the blaze near the town of Montiferro, which destroyed farms and engulfed some residential areas in smoke.

“Currently, the situation for the people seems to be under control,” said Alessandro Paola, deputy chief for the Italian firefighters’ emergency department.

He said this is dependent on the weather forecast.

The wildfires hit the area of Montiferru, in the centre-west of the island, because of a heatwave, according to the European Commission.

No deaths or injuries have been reported.

Christian Salinas, president of Sardinia region, called it “one of the most serious natural disasters ever to happen in Sardinia”, according to Italian news outlet Corriere della Sera.

He said the “huge firestorms favoured by weather and climate conditions absolutely at the limit” were an “unprecedented disaster” in Sardinia’s history.

“Up to now, 20,000 hectares of forest that represent centuries of environmental history of our island have gone up in ashes.”

According to Italian news outlet La Stampa, it could take at least 15 years to rebuild the woods and the Mediterranean scrub destroyed by the flames that have reached pastures, olive trees, sheds, barns with stocks of fodder and agricultural vehicles but also killed animals.

The planes sent by France and Greece were used to pick up water to drop on the fires.

A Canadair plane drops water to put out a fire, near Oristano, on the island of Sardinia, Italy, Monday, July 26, 2021. Fires raged Sunday on Italy's Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where nearly 400 people were evacuated overnight. No deaths or injuries have been reported. Firefighters said several homes were damaged in the island's western interior region. (Alessandro Tocco/LaPresse via AP)
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France and Greece dispatched aircraft to help battle the flames

Claudio Atzori, president of Legacoop Sardegna, told La Stampa: “We ask for an immediate investigation to verify the reason for the damage to homes and businesses, in or close to the villages, which should have been protected, through greater attention in the maintenance phase of the territory and prevention.”

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Arab Spring: What is legacy of protests and uprisings as Tunisia’s president ousts PM in ‘coup’ | World News

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Long considered one of the few success stories that sprang from the Arab Spring, Tunisia has seen its president accused of staging a coup after he sacked his prime minister and suspended parliament with the help of the army.

President Kais Saied’s dismissal of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi on Sunday followed violent demonstrations across the country over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has led to clashes between supporters and opponents of the president in the streets of the capital, Tunis.

President Kais Saied (pictured) fired the prime minister less than a year after Hichem Mechichi was appointed o the role. Pic AP
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President Kais Saied (pictured) fired the prime minister less than a year after Hichem Mechichi was appointed to the role. Pic AP

Mr Saied has said he will name a new prime minister, but his critics have accused him of a power grab that threatens Tunisia‘s young democracy.

Here is a look at the legacy of the Arab Spring and how protests and uprisings dramatically altered the political structure of much of the Arab world.

The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring spread across much of the Arab world from early 2010 as demonstrators rallied against the region’s dictatorial leaders in protests over corruption, poverty and oppression.

Escalating anti-government protests spilt over into uprisings and eventually civil wars in several countries as the Arab Spring spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Syria, Libya and Yemen, resulting in the ousting of the leaders in those countries, with the exception of Syria.

It has directly contributed to the refugee crisis and the rise of the Islamic State and has seen fresh authoritarian leaders seize power in many countries, leaving many with their hopes crushed as they struggle to live under increasingly authoritarian regimes in countries beset by greater levels of poverty and unemployment.

Tunisia

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People took to the streets in the capital, Tunis, to celebrate the PM’s dismissal – but others have called the move ‘a coup’

The roots of the Arab Spring can be traced back to Tunisia, where Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, set himself on fire in protest after police confiscated his goods and a female officer slapped him on 17 December 2010.

Footage of his self-immolation spread across the country and led people in his home city of Sidi Bouzid to take to the streets in rage.

Within a month, protests had forced Tunisia’s authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee to Saudi Arabia.

Despite the relative success of Tunisia’s revolution, the country has recently seen large protests over mass unemployment and many consider its parliament inefficient and stagnant.

These problems have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the economy hard as infection rates soared over the summer.

Egypt

Thousands of Egyptians protest in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo on 29 July, 2011. Pic: Associated Press
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Thousands of Egyptians protest in Tahrir Square, the focal point of the Egyptian uprising, in Cairo in July 2011. Pic: Associated Press

Demonstrations in Tunisia following the death of Bouazizi inspired massive protests across Egypt, leading President Hosni Mubarak to leave office within weeks.

A presidential election in 2012 gave power to President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but Mr Morsi himself was later deposed when Egypt’s military generals seized power in 2013.

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi then became president and imposed a police state, which has seen tens of thousands of Egyptians imprisoned and hundreds executed.

The country remains under military rule.

Syria

President Bashar al Assad with his wife Asma as she casts her vote
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President Bashar al Assad with his wife Asma as she casts her vote in Syria’s president election in May 2021

As unrest spread across Syria, Bashar al Assad’s government began using live ammunition against protesters, leading tensions to boil over and igniting a civil war in 2011 between the regime and rebel groups.

IS emerged from among the myriad rebel groups and expanded across the border into Iraq, where it declared a new Islamic caliphate in 2014.

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Sky’s Mark Stone visits refugee camps in northern Syria and hears of the growing influence of Islamic State inside

Syria’s brutal decade-long civil war has seen hundreds of thousands of people killed and over 6.8 million Syrians become asylum seekers and 6.7 million displaced within the country’s borders.

Despite this, Mr Assad has managed to cling on to power with the support of Russia, Iran and Lebanon-based Shia-militant group Hezbollah, although fighting in the war-ravaged country continues and several areas remain under the control of rebels.

Libya

Members of the Libyan pro-government forces gesture as they stand on a tank in Benghazi, Libya, 21 May, 2015
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Members of the Libyan pro-government forces gesture as they stand on a tank in Benghazi, Libya, in May 2015

Similarly, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi decided to crack down on the largest protests in the country’s history with force.

The move sparked a civil war and a NATO-led coalition began conducting airstrikes in support of the country’s rebels.

Rebel forces deposed and later killed Gaddafi in October 2011. However, efforts to transition away from Gaddafi’s rule broke down and the country descended into a renewed civil war.

The internationally recognised Government of National Accord remains in control of Tripoli and the city of Misrata, while the Libyan National Army, commanded by General Khalifa Haftar, runs Benghazi and much of the oil-rich east. General Haftar’s forces are supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Yemen

A malnourished girl at a hospital in Sanaa in October 2020
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Yemen’s civil war has led to one of the worst famines the world has ever seen

As protests spread throughout much of the Arab world, pressure on Yemen’s authoritarian president Ali Abdullah Saleh led him to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, in 2011.

However, Mr Hadi’s presidency was beset by continuing problems of corruption, unemployment and an insurgency from the Houthi militia.

The Houthis took control of the capital, Sana’a, in 2014 and declared themselves in charge of the government. Yemen’s President, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, fled to Aden, where he continues to lead Yemen’s internationally-recognised government.

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David Miliband criticises Yemen aid cut

Fierce fighting between the Iran-backed Houthi group and the western-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia has led to one of the worst famines the world has ever seen, with half of the population lacking food and almost 16 million on the brink of starvation in 2016.

Other countries affected

While the Arab Spring saw rulers deposed in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen, it also led to street protests in Iraq, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were able to use military force to effectively end revolts before they could seriously threaten the status quo.

Legacy of the Arab Spring

While the reverberations of the Arab Spring continue to affect life in the Arab World, continuing issues including corruption, authoritarianism and poverty are likely to be exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis.

Only Tunisia’s uprising resulted in a transition to a constitutional democracy, but with the country’s president ousting his prime minister, the shift away from authoritarian rule is looking increasingly fragile.

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