MONDAY, August 5
Two mass shootings that killed 29 people in Texas and Ohio have reverberated across the United States, as Democratic presidential candidates call for stricter gun laws with some accusing President Donald Trump of being a white nationalist.
Dozens were also wounded on Saturday and early Sunday in the attacks, which occurred within just 13 hours of each other.
The carnage has shocked the USA, who has become accustomed to mass shootings and heightened concerns about domestic terrorism.
The first massacre occurred on Saturday morning (local time) in the heavily Hispanic border city of El Paso, where a gunman killed 20 people at a Walmart store before surrendering.
Authorities have linked a racist, anti-immigrant screed posted online shortly before the incident to the man arrested over the shooting, 21 year-old Patrick Wood Crusius.
Early on Sunday, in Ohio a gunman opened fire in a downtown district of Dayton killing nine people, including his sister and wounding at least 26 others.
The gunman was killed by police, adding to the death toll.
Police have named the gunman as Connor Betts, a 24-year-old man of Caucasian descent.
The attacks came less than a week after a 19-year-old gunman killed three people and injured 13 others at the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival in California before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
According to a mass murder database that tracks homicides where four or more people are killed, the shootings were the 21st and 22nd mass killings of 2019 in the US.
According to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, there have been 8,752 gun-related deaths in the US so far in 2019, not including suicides or accidents.
US President Donald Trump has ordered that all flags be flown at half mast in remembrance of the victims of the weekend shootings.
Trump told reporters in New Jersey that “hate has no place in our country” and said he would present a full statement on Monday.
Federal authorities said the El Paso shooting would be handled as a domestic terrorism case and charges could carry the death penalty.
A local prosecutor announced that he would bring capital murder charges against the suspect, saying the assailant “lost the right to be among us”.
League of United Latin American Citizens president Domino Garcia said that “unfortunately what we saw here was another massacre by again somebody using racial hatred as a basis to kill people of Mexican-American descent, and we need to stand up and fight against it.”
He also called on Trump and Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, to stop fuelling anti-immigrant rhetoric that was “costing the lives of innocent people”.
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was asked on CNN if he believed Trump was a white nationalist, he responded, “Yes, I do”.
Let’s be very clear about what is causing this and who the President is,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“He is an open avowed racist and is encouraging more racism in this country.”
British student Alana Cutland was reportedly fearing she’d be sent to prison for not completing a crab project in the hours before she leapt 3,500ft (1067 metres) to her death from a plane.
Alana broke open the door on a small aircraft and fell to her death over Madagascar.
The 19-year-old had “vacant eyes” and had not slept for days after suffering acute paranoid, The Sun reported.
Staff at the conservation project at the island’s remote Anjajavy nature reserve, where Alana was an intern at, have described how the young woman’s mental health dramatically declined during her stay.
Reports from The Mail Online describe how Cutland had fraught telephone chats with her increasingly concerned parents Neil and Alison Cutland.
Her declining mental state has led to speculation that she may have suffered an adverse reaction to antimalarial medication, according to an air accident investigation witness statement.
The general manager of the Anjajavy Le Lodge hotel, Cèdric Martin, described how “excited” she was when she arrived on July 16.
Mr Martin said soon after she changed, “she began to show some signs of paranoia by telling me that she was afraid to end up in prison in Madagascar if she did not finish her research.
“After that she told me ‘It sounds silly when I say it out loud’.”
Describing her behaviour in the hours before the flight on Thursday last week, he said Johnson had gone to see Cutland to check if she was ready.
But she “found her sitting on a chair staring into space”.
Mr Martin said, “she immediately called us and I went with the doctor. Her eyes were vacant and she did not seem to have slept.
It emerged that Cutland was half-hanging out the Cessna plane’s side door for two minutes before fellow passenger Johnson and the pilot finally lost their grip.
A search has been underway to find her body.
Ex Masterchef Judge, Gary Mehigan, 52, has set the record straight in his first interview since the headline making news about their shock departure.
Mehigan told the Sydney Morning Herald, “I didn’t think they’d do it without picking up the phone. It was abrupt, but that’s television. And there are many stories like that.”
Mehigan was quick to squash claims that all three judges were let go due to pay rise demands, he told the Sydney Morning Herald, “there’s the ‘three greedy judges’ narrative, then there’s reality.”
He said that contract negotiations almost came to a halt when Ten wanted to contract him for Masterchef Australia until the end of 2020 but he wanted to finish earlier.
Mehigan added that he thought the network would have tried to meet them halfway. He adds, “that’s what saddens me. We’d always imagined we’d farewell our viewers and pass the baton to three younger and possibly brighter stars… there was a grieving process; a sense of loss, a sense of anger and some tears.”
He candidly remarks that “after 11 years, it’s time to step off those floorboards and do something different.”
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