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Eight Killed in Brazil School Shooting

Two gunmen opened fire at a school in Brazil, killing eight people , five of which were students. The two attackers were former students of the school, but their motive is still unknown. Despite high homicide rates, mass shootings are rare in Brazil, and the attack has ignited a debate about whether or not access […]

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  • Two gunmen opened fire at a school in Brazil, killing eight people , five of which were students.
  • The two attackers were former students of the school, but their motive is still unknown.
  • Despite high homicide rates, mass shootings are rare in Brazil, and the attack has ignited a debate about whether or not access to guns causes more violence.

Shooting at Raul Brasil

At least ten people are dead after two attackers opened fire at a school near São Paulo, Brazil on Wednesday.

Security camera footage showed two men wearing ski masks entering the Raul Brasil school in Suzano at 9:30 a.m. One of the men immediately started firing at students.

It has been confirmed that the attackers killed at least eight people before killing themselves.

Five of those killed were students, all of whom were around 15-years-old, according to police. Two of the other people that were killed were employees at the school.

Before entering the school, the attackers also shot and killed the owner of a rental car agency and stole a car. It was later discovered that the owner of the agency was the uncle of one of the attackers.

The number of people who were injured is unclear at this time. The New York Times and the Associated Press have reported that nine people were injured, while Voice of America and Vice reported over 23 injuries.

Police arrived at the school about eight minutes after the shooting started, but the men had already killed themselves.

According to police, the assailants brought a handgun, a crossbow, a hatchet, knives, and Molotov cocktails.

Motive Still Unknown

The motive behind the attack is still unknown.

Shortly after the shooting, it was revealed that the men were both former students at the school. They were 17 and 25 years old.

The 17-year-old was said to have been enrolled at Raul Brasil as recently as last year, but eventually dropped out.

Following the attack, his mother told a Brazilian newspaper that her son had been bullied at school, reportedly saying, “Bullying, they call it. … He stopped going to school … because of this.”

She also said she was surprised he was involved in the shooting and only found out about the attack from the televvision coverage.

Just minutes before the shooting, he posted 26 photos on his Facebook page, including several with a gun.

On Thursday, Reuters reported that police said the attack was inspired by the 1999 attack on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two students killed 13 people.

According to an investigator who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity, the former students spent more than a year planning their attack which they “Hoped would draw more attention than the Columbine massacre.”

Response

The attack has prompted a broad response from a wide range of Brazilian politicians and political figures.

During a press conference at the school, the governor of São Paulo, João Doria, stated: “This is the saddest thing I have tended to in my whole life. I am very sad that an event such as this one happened in our country and here in São Paulo.”

Doria also reiterated his condolences for the victims and their families in a tweet, and stated that he “decreed official mourning for three days in the State of São Paulo.”

Translated via Twitter: @Jdoriajr

State Secretary of Education, Rossieli Soares, stated: “If only we could have identified the difficulties of these boys. This is a problem in our society.”

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro also offered his condolences to the families in a tweet, describing the shooting as, “A monstrosity and cowardice without size.”

Translated via Twitter: @JairBolsonaro

Gun Violence in Brazil

However, many people feel Bolsonaro’s statement is empty.

One of Bolsonaro’s main campaign promises was to crack down on criminals and violence, which he vowed to do in part by expanding public access to guns.

Sure enough, one of the first things he did after he was inaugurated in January was issue a decree that made it easier for Brazilian citizens to buy guns.

Wednesday’s shooting has started a debate among political leaders about gun control. Some people say arming teachers could have prevented the killings, while others have said easier access to guns will only lead to more deaths.

Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. According to a report from the Brazilian Forum of Public Saftey, Brazil saw over 63,800 violent deaths in 2017, which amounts to about 175 murders per day.

Brazil’s 2017 violent death rate marks the highest number of homicides in the country’s history.

Source: Public Safety Yearbook

Twenty percent of the deaths in 2017 were caused by the police, which comes out to about 14 police-related deaths per day.

Despite the country’s high homicide rates, mass shootings are rare in Brazil.

The last mass shooting was in 2011 when a 23-year-old man killed 12 teenagers at a school in Rio de Janeiro. That gunman was also a former student of the school in question.

Following yesterday’s shooting, pro-gun politicians were quick to defend looser regulations.

Flávio Bolsonaro, President Bolsonaro’s son, blamed the shooting on gun restriction rules introduced in 2003 that restrict the purchase and possession of guns in a tweet.

Translated via Twitter: @FlávioBolsonaro

Sen. Major Olímpio, who is a member of Bolsonaro’s party and a well-known supporter of loosening gun legislation, also reiterated his stance on gun control in a tweet criticizing the “disarmament policy farce.”

Translated via Twitter: @majorolimpio

However, research done by the Brazilian Government in 2014 shows that a 1 percent rise in gun accessibility increases the homicide rate by 2 percent.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Wednesday’s attack will affect gun policy in Brazil.

Editors Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murderers, or suspected mass murderers, to avoid giving these individuals the attention they may have wanted.

International

ByteDance Lays Off Hundreds of Workers After China’s Private Tutoring Crackdown

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Major changes to the massive education industry in China have left many companies scrambling to adapt.


Industry Blowback

TikTok owner ByteDance laid off hundreds of employees Thursday in response to new Chinese regulations that prohibit private, for-profit tutoring in core curriculum subjects.

These employees worked in ByteDance’s online education businesses, such as GoGokids, which were effectively killed by the new rules. The over 300 workers have been laid off “with compensation,” although it’s unclear just how much compensation they will receive.

The entire education industry, one of the largest in China, was gutted by last month’s new rules, which not only ban private tutoring in the most important subjects but also give preferential treatment to public school students trying to enter China’s top universities.

Some firms, like the $15.5 billion startup known as Yuanfudao, had to largely shut down all marketing while figuring out what to do next. Others have had to shutter nearly all of their facilities. The only exceptions are those that offer tutoring in extra-curricular activities like music, which is still allowed.

Leveling the Playing Field

The move is supposed to help combat inequities within China between wealthier students and those who are poor or from more rural areas. Often, those with fewer resources often struggle to get into top universities because of their need to go to public schools and lack of access to increasingly costly private tutors in subjects like math, Chinese, history, science, and physics.

Those subjects are almost exclusively what Chinese universities look at when considering applicants.

It’s expected that with the ban and preferential treatment to public school students, the percentage of university applicants being accepted will lead to more low-income Chinese people having better opportunities.

Even if the long-term goals have merits, companies like ByteDance and even those outside of China are reeling in the short term.

The new rules not only target for-profit tutoring. They also prohibit most foreign investment into the Chinese education market, bar foreign curriculums, and ban most foreign teachers working in China, effectively shutting off large segments of the worldwide education industry, which catered to sending teachers to China.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Financial Times) (The Wall Street Journal)

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Police Arrest Hong Kong Man for Booing Chinese National Anthem

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The man’s boos were launched during the first time the Chinese national anthem had ever been played for a Hong Kong athlete at the Olympics.


Instulting the Anthem

Hong Kong authorities announced Friday that a man was arrested for allegedly booing and “insulting” the Chinese national anthem while watching the Olympics on Monday.

The unnamed 40-year-old, who identified himself as a journalist, was allegedly watching the Olympics fencing medal ceremony for Hong Konger Edgar Cheung at a local mall. When the anthem began playing, he allegedly began booing and chanted “We are Hong Kong!” while waving a British Hong Kong Colonial flag.

The man’s actions were particularly noteworthy because it was the first time the Chinese national anthem had been played for a Hong Kong athlete in the Olympics. Hong Kongers compete at the Games under a separate committee called Hong Kong, China. The last time a Hong Konger won gold was in 1996 for windsurfing, at which time the British anthem of “God Save the Queen” was played.

Concerns for Freedom of Speech

The man is suspected of breaking the relatively new National Anthem Ordinance, which was passed in June 2020, and has a penalty of up to three years in prison and fines of $6,000 for anyone who publicly and intentionally insults the anthem. The law mirrors one in mainland China, but it has faced considerable scrutiny from increasingly persecuted pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong.

They argue that it tramples the right to free speech, which is supposed to be enshrined in the city’s Basic Law. Hong Kong police, however, say that’s not the case and claim that his actions breach common restraints on freedom of speech. Senior Superintendent Eileen Chung said that his actions were “to stir up the hostility of those on the scene and to politicize the sport.”

Police issued a warning that it would investigate reports of others joining his chants or violating the separate National Security law passed last year.

This incident isn’t the only case of alleged politicization of the Games. Badminton player Angus Ng was accused by a pro-Beijing lawmaker of making a statement by sporting a black jersey with the territory’s emblem. The imagery was very similar to the black-and-white Hong Kong flag used by anti-government protesters.

Ng countered that he wore his own clothes to the event because he didn’t have sponsorships to provide jerseys and he wasn’t authorized to print the emblem on a jersey himself.

See what others are saying: (Inside) (Al Jazeera) (CNN)

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Canadian Catholic Priest Says Residential Schools Survivors Lied About Abuse

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The Roman Catholic Church is facing considerable backlash across Canada for its treatment of indigenous peoples in the residential school system, along with its subsequent efforts to downplay the problem.


Priest Sparks Outrage

Father Rheal Forest was put on forced leave Wednesday following remarks he made over a weeks-long period starting July 10 in which he doubted victims of the country’s infamous residential school system.

Residential schools were a system of schools largely for indigenous children that were mostly run by the Catholic Church with federal government funding. The schools were notoriously cruel and long faced allegations that children had been abused or went missing under their care.

To date, over 1,300 unmarked graves have been found at four former residential schools across Canada, a fraction of the over 130 that used to exist.

Forest, of the St. Boniface archdiocese in Winnipeg, was standing in for a couple of weeks while the main priest at his church was away. During that time, Forest told parishioners that victims of the residential schools, particularly those sexually abused, had lied.

“If [the victims] wanted extra money, from the money that was given to them, they had to lie sometimes — lie that they were abused sexually and, oop, another $50,000,” he said.

“It’s kind of hard if you’re poor not to lie.”

In that same sermon, he also added that during his time with Inuit groups in the north of the country, most had allegedly said they appreciated the residential school system. Instead, he said they blamed any abuses on lay people working at the facilities rather than priests or nuns.

Forest’s comments drew a ton of backlash, prompting the archdiocese to place Forest on leave. A spokesperson for the archdiocese said that the institution “completely disavow” Forest’s comments, adding, “We very much regret the pain they may have caused to many people, not least of course Indigenous people and, more specifically, survivors of the Residential School system.”

Overall, the archdiocese has attempted to apologize to indigenous communities for its part in the residential school system, with Archbishop Albert Legatt saying in a video that the way forward was by “acknowledging, apologizing, and acting” on terms set by indigenous groups.

Church Allegedly Kept Money From Victims

Forest’s views and subsequent dismissal aren’t the only public relations scandal the Roman Catholic Church faces in Canada.

According to documents obtained by CBC News, the Church spent over a decade avoiding paying out money to survivors per a 2005 agreement. At the time, it, alongside the protestant churches that also ran some residential schools, agreed to pay an amount to victims of the schools in the tens of millions.

Instead, according to an internal summary of 2015 court documents, the Catholic Church spent much of that money on lawyers, administration, a private fundraising company, and unapproved loans. It seems that some of this was technically legal, such as a promise to give tens of millions back via “in-kind” services; however, there was no audit completed to confirm that these services actually happened or to prove the alleged value of the services. This led to doubts about whether or not they were done effectively.

The Catholic Church was unique among the signatory churches in the 2005 agreement with its efforts to avoid paying victims. All of the other denominations paid out their sums many years before without issues.

While priests such as Father Forest have supported the Church, there has been internal backlash. Father André Poilièvre, a Saskatoon priest and Order of Canada recipient, said the Church’s actions are “scandalous” and “really shameful,” adding, “It was a loophole. It might be legal, but it’s not ethical.”

With these latest revelations, widespread anger at the Church has triggered allegations that indigenous groups are behind a spree of church burnings across the country.

The entire situation is likely going to continue to smolder as a government commission set up to investigate the schools estimates there will be thousands of more unmarked graves found across Canada.

See what others are saying: (CBC News) (The Guardian) (CTV News)

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