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Florida school officer ‘didn’t have the courage’: Trump




Washington, Feb 24: An armed officer who stood outside a Florida school where a gunman killed 17 people last week “certainly did a poor job”, US President Donald Trump has said.

Deputy Scot Peterson resigned after an investigation found he failed to confront the suspect.

Trump on Friday said Peterson might be a “coward” who “didn’t react properly under pressure”, BBC reported.

Florida’s governor meanwhile called for law enforcement officers to be placed in every public school in the state.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, President Trump criticised the police officer who did not confront the perpetrator of the February 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida.

“He trained his whole life but when it came time to do something he didn’t have the courage,” he said.

“He certainly did a poor job.”

“But that’s a case where somebody was outside, they’re trained, they didn’t react properly under pressure or they were coward,” he added.

The Republican president later touted his love for gun rights on Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (Cpac) in Maryland.

He again proposed arming teachers as a solution to school safety, a method long championed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) gun lobby.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel revealed on Thursday that Peterson, the 54-year-old school resource officer, stood outside while the alleged gunman shot students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

He said video footage showed Peterson arriving at the building where the shooting broke out about 90 seconds after the first shots were fired, and that he remained outside for about four minutes. The attack lasted six minutes, Sheriff Israel said.

“I am devastated. Sick to my stomach. He never went in,” Sheriff Israel said.

Asked what Peterson should have done, Sheriff Israel said: “Went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer.”

Peterson is yet to publicly comment on what happened. Officers are reportedly guarding his home. It is unclear if he will face charges.

The suspect used a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, police say, and escaped the scene before being captured later.

School resource officers are sworn law enforcement officers who are responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools, although their exact roles differ from school to school and authority to authority.

Employed by the local police or sheriff’s office, they document incidents and can make arrests, as well as working on areas such as mentoring and education.

There are between 14,000 and 20,000 such officers in the US, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers.

Peterson had been in his position at the school since 2009.



Republicans warn Trump over Mueller’s Russia inquiry

The warnings came after Trump on Sunday morning criticised Mueller on Twitter, one day after his lawyer John Dowd issued a statement saying he prays for the Justice Department to end the special counsel’s investigation.



Donald Trump

Washington, March 19: Key Republicans have warned President Donald Trump not to interfere with special counsel Robert Mueller and his team’s ongoing probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the media reported.

The warnings came after Trump on Sunday morning criticised Mueller on Twitter, one day after his lawyer John Dowd issued a statement saying he prays for the Justice Department to end the special counsel’s investigation.

In his tweets, Trump reiterated that there had been “no collusion” between his team and Russia and called the probe a “witch hunt”.

He added that it was dominated by “hardened Democrats”.

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake on Sunday told CNN that he expected his colleagues in Congress to push back on the President’s comments on Mueller and any potential move to force the end of the probe.

“I mean, talking to my colleagues all along it was, you know, once he goes after Mueller, then we’ll take action,” Flake said.

He called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe late Friday, who was ousted a little over 24 hours before he was to retire, as a “horrible day for democracy”.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that he continues to believe that any attempt to fire Mueller would be catastrophic for Trump.

“If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency,” Graham told CNN.

Graham also said the Senate Judiciary Committee should conduct a public hearing on the firing of McCabe for the sake of transparency.

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio told NBC News: “I remain confident that the special counsel is going to conduct a probe that is fair and thorough and is going to arrive at the truth…”

Meanwhile, Democrat leaders also voiced their disapproval of Trump’s tweet.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff both called on their Republican colleagues to temper the President.

Also on Sunday, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said in a statement: “In response to media speculation… The White House yet again confirms that the President is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel,” the BBC reported.


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Wang Yi is China’s key negotiator on border talks with India



China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will now be its key negotiator with India on the vexed border issue after Beijing promoted him to the post of State Councillor, the country’s top diplomat, it was announced on Monday.

Beijing, March 19: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will now be its key negotiator with India on the vexed border issue after Beijing promoted him to the post of State Councillor, the country’s top diplomat, it was announced on Monday.

Wang succeeds Yang Jiechi, China’s senior-most diplomat, who until now was the country’s Special Representative on border talks with India.

He will also remain the Foreign Minister. The decision was taken at the ongoing annual session of China’s parliament.

Wang will talk to India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval who is its Special Representative on boundary talks.

China and India by far have held 20 rounds of talks on their 3,448-km disputed border. The countries fought a war in 1962 and have seen their armies cross into each other’s territories due to the different perceptions of the boundary.

Wang repeatedly slammed India during the 73-day military stand-off at Doklam in the eastern sector of their border last year. The crisis was resolved in August.

Wang, however, struck a positive tone about Sino-India ties while addressing the media on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament session.

Wang said if China and India were united then one plus will be equivalent to 11, a remark welcomed by India and answered in the similar tone.

India’s Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale last month met Wang who had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Wang had previously served as China’s envoy to Japan and worked at the Asia desk of the Chinese foreign ministry.


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Voting underway in Russia presidential election



Russia election
Voters write ballots at a polling station in Vladivostok, east Russia, March 18, 2018. Russia held presidential election on Sunday.

Moscow, March 18: Voting was underway for Russia’s presidential election on Sunday, in which incumbent President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in office and is widely expected to cement his power for the next six years.

The polling stations will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in every Russian region in accordance with the 11 different time zones, reports Sputnik news.

Voting first began in the Far-East regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka and began in Moscow nine hours later.

Counting will start on Sunday night in Kaliningrad, Russia’s western-most region.

Putin, 65, cast his vote at a polling station in the headquarters of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow’s Lenin Avenue, reports Efe news.

Asked about the percentage of votes he hopes to win, Putin told reporters that he would be satisfied with “any that gives the right to serve as president”.

There are 108.9 million eligible voters in Russia with 1.87 million others living abroad.

A total of 97,000 polling stations have been set up across Russia and another 400 in 145 countries.

However, Russians living in Ukraine will not be allowed to participate, after the Ukrainian government barred them from visiting Moscow’s diplomatic delegations because it considers Russia to be an “aggressor” and has dismissed its elections as “illegal”.

Russians in Crimea will be able to vote on Sunday, which coincides with the fourth anniversary of the peninsula’s annexation by Moscow.

Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov also cast his ballot, reports Sputnik news.

The results will be announced on early Monday morning.

Apart from Putin, the other seven contenders in the fray are: Sergei Baburin from the All-People’s Union party; Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin; Civil Initiative party candidate Ksenia Sobchak; Communists of Russia party chairman Maxim Suraykin; Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov; co-founder of the Yabloko party Grigory Yavlinsky; and head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The voter turnout in Moscow in the first two hours was 16.55 per cent, according to the Central Election Commission (CEC).

While the turnout in most of the country’s eastern regions was 30.37 per cent by noon (local time).

Meanwhile, the CEC has registered 15 DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks on its website, coming from 15 countries.

Pre-election polls have placed Putin, the country’s longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, as a clear front-runner, reports CNN.

There is no meaningful opposition in the running, and Putin’s fiercest political opponent, Alexei Navalny, has been barred from competing. Navalny has called for a boycott of the election.

A win would mean a Putin-led Russia until 2024, after which he is constitutionally obliged to stand down.


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