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A 7-year-old girl ran away from home, boarded plane with no ticket

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

A seven-year-old girl who ran away from her parents managed to take a train to Geneva airport and board a plane despite having no ticket.

The girl gave her parents the slip near Geneva’s central railway station on Sunday, then took the one-stop ride to the airport. Her parents rang the Swiss police, who tracked her progress through the airport on security videos, airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli said.

She went through the security gate and managed to pass herself off as the child of adults around her, before using her small stature to slip through the departure gate without being noticed and boarding a plane, the airport said in a statement.

On her first attempt she followed a crew toward the plane and was turned back. She melted into the crowd and pretended to look for her parents. The second time, she managed to get into a plane, was spotted by an official, stopped, and handed over to police.

Staempfli declined to say which airline was involved or where it was flying to, but he said it was leaving from the airport’s French sector and the destination was in France.

Geneva airport straddles the French-Swiss border and passengers can leave from France or Switzerland.

The airport said in the statement it would tighten safety rules and boarding procedures as a result of what it called the “highly regrettable incident”.

“This should never have happened,” Staempfli said.

 

(Reporting by Tom Miles)

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Armed deputy who failed to confront gunman at Florida school resigns

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The armed sheriff’s deputy assigned to the Florida high school where 17 people were shot dead has resigned rather than face suspension after an internal investigation showed he failed to enter the school to confront the gunman during the attack, the county sheriff said on Thursday.

Deputy Scot Peterson, who was on duty and in uniform as the resource officer posted at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was the only law enforcement officer present on Feb. 14 when the rampage started, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

Peterson’s actions were caught on video during the massacre, which ranks as the second-deadliest shooting ever at a U.S. public school, carried out by a lone gunman wielding a semiautomatic AR-15-style assault rifle.

Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old former student, was later arrested and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the assault.

“What I saw was a deputy arrive at the west side of Building 12, take up a position and he never went in,” Israel said, referring to the building on campus where authorities said the bulk of the shooting occurred.

Israel told reporters the shooting in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Parkland lasted six minutes, and that Peterson reached the building under attack about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired, then lingered outside for at least four minutes.

Asked what the deputy should have done, Israel replied, “Went in. Addressed the killer. Killed the killer.”

Peterson has not given a reason for why he did not enter the building, Israel said. Neither the deputy nor any representatives could immediately be reached for comment.

Israel said he had decided on the basis of his review of the video to suspend Peterson, but the deputy resigned first.

The sheriff said two other deputies have been placed on restricted duty pending an internal investigation into whether they properly handled two telephone tips, received in 2016 and 2017, warning that Cruz might be inclined to commit a school shooting.

Authorities have said that Cruz, who was expelled from Stoneman Douglas High last year for unspecified disciplinary problems, made his getaway moments after the shooting by blending in with students fleeing the school for safety.

LAW ENFORCEMENT RESPONSE UNDER SCRUTINY

Police officers arriving on the scene from the adjacent city of Coral Springs thought the gunman was still inside as they searched the building, based on a security camera video feed that they mistakenly believed was showing them real-time images but was actually footage from 20 minutes earlier.

Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi told reporters on Thursday that the confusion stemmed from human error and a “communication failure,” not malfunctioning equipment. He insisted that the mishap did not put any lives in danger.

Still, the disclosure may help explain the time lapse between the shooting and the suspect’s arrest.

The Broward sheriff has said Cruz, after slipping away from the school, casually spent more than an hour drifting through a Walmart store and visiting two fast-food outlets before he was spotted and taken into custody without a struggle.

The shooting has renewed a national debate between proponents of gun rights, as enshrined in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and advocates for tougher restrictions on firearms.

High school students from Stoneman Douglas and elsewhere around the country have launched a protest and lobbying campaign demanding new curbs on assault weapons. U.S. President Donald Trump has suggested school gun violence could be abated by arming teachers.

On Thursday, the head of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, lashed out at gun control advocates, accusing liberal elites of politicizing the Florida mass shooting to try to attack “our firearms freedoms so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

The carnage also has raised questions about whether law enforcement agencies did all they could to detect and follow up on possible warning signs of last week’s gun violence in advance.

The Broward sheriff’s office received at least 18 calls for service or tips about Cruz during the past decade, and internal affairs detectives are still reviewing two of them to determine if they were properly handled, Israel said.

In one instance from February 2016, the sheriff’s office received information from a neighbor’s son that Cruz “planned to shoot up” a school, based on an Instagram post with a picture of a “juvenile with guns,” according to an agency fact sheet released to the media. A deputy subsequently determined Cruz possessed knives and a BB gun and notified a school resource officer, the document said.

In a more recent incident dated Nov. 30, 2017, a caller told the sheriff’s office that Cruz was collecting guns and knives and “could be a school shooter in the making,” according to the fact sheet. The tipster, it said, advised that the weapons were kept at a friend’s house at an unknown location.

A deputy in that case referred the caller to the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office because Cruz was said to have moved to that jurisdiction, the Broward sheriff’s office said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation prompted widespread outrage last Friday when it said it had failed to act on a tip warning that a man, since identified as Cruz, had possessed a gun, the desire to kill and the potential to commit a school shooting.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker)

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South Korea’s ‘Penis Park’ Grabs Attention of Olympic Visitors

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There’s a park full of giant penises in South Korea.

Believe it or not, the statues were erected for a sweet reason. Watch and find out why.

South Korea's 'Penis Park' Grabs Attention of Olympic Visitors

Get a load of this. There's a 'penis park' in South Korea.

Posted by Better than the Weekend on Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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‘I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law’

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By Katanga Johnson

Dozens of students and parents from the Florida high school where 17 teens and staff members died in a shooting rampage boarded buses on Tuesday for a trip to the state capital Tallahassee to push for a ban on assault rifles.

Reuters

Last week’s massacre, the second-deadliest shooting at a public school in U.S. history, has inflamed a national debate about gun rights and prompted teens from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and across the United States to demand legislative action. The incident has galvanized advocates for stricter gun controls, including many survivors of the shooting.

“I am not going back to school until lawmakers, and the president, change this law,” said Tyra Hemans, an 18-year-old senior, referring to Florida’s law permitting the sale of assault rifles. “Three people I looked to for advice and courage are gone but never forgotten, and for them, I am going to our state capital to tell lawmakers we are tired and exhausted of stupid gun laws.”

Fourteen students and three educators were killed in the Feb. 14 attack at the school in Parkland, near Fort Lauderdale. Authorities have charged Nikolas Cruz, 19, with 17 counts of premeditated murder for allegedly returning to the school from which he had been expelled and opening fire with a semiautomatic AR-15 assault rifle.

The youth-led protest movement that erupted within hours of the shooting attracted a prominent celebrity supporter on Tuesday when actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, a human rights lawyer, said they would donate $500,000 to help fund a planned March 24 gun control march in Washington.

Reuters

A Washington Post/ABC News opinion poll released on Tuesday showed 77 percent of Americans believe the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is not doing enough to prevent mass shootings, with 62 percent saying President Donald Trump, also a Republican, has not done enough on that front.

Trump said on Tuesday he had signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to draw up regulations banning devices that turn firearms into machine guns, like the bump stock used in October’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

MARCHES IN FLORIDA, TENNESSEE

Students in states including Florida and Tennessee staged sympathy protests on Tuesday, according to local media reports. Miami’s WTVJ-TV showed video of about 1,000 teens and adults marching from a high school in Boca Raton to the site of the Parkland shooting, about 12 miles (19 km) to the west.

Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature has taken up at least two bills during its current session intended to provide broader access to guns. On Tuesday the state House turned down an attempt to bring up a bill that would block sales of assault rifles, News Service Florida reported.

State Senator Bill Galvano, the chamber’s next president, called for a bill to limit sales of assault rifles to people at least 21 years old, with some exceptions, up from the current minimum age of 18. The legislature’s current session ends on March 9, leaving little time for a vote.

Current U.S. high school students were born after the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in which a pair of teen gunmen killed 13 people. There have been numerous mass shootings, not just in schools, since then in the United States, and students in this age group have grown up in an environment where they regularly train for the possibility of being targeted by a shooter on the loose in school.

Gun ownership is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and remains one of the nation’s more divisive issues. The Washington Post/ABC News poll found that fewer than seven in 10 Republicans support the idea of a ban on assault weapons, the reverse of Democrats, 71 percent of whom support it. A federal ban on assault weapons, in force for 10 years, expired in 2004.

Funerals continued for the young victims of Wednesday’s attack.

Reuters

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday said it made a rare posthumous letter of acceptance to Peter Wang, a student of the school killed in the shooting. A Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, Wang had aspired to attend the elite academy.

(Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker)

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