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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

Leaked Documents and Photos Give Unprecedented Glimpse Inside Xinjiang’s Detention Camps

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The so-called vocational schools, which China claims Uyghurs enter willingly as students, oversee their detainees with watchtowers armed with machine guns and sniper rifles, as well as guards instructed to shoot to kill anyone trying to escape.


Detained for Growing a Beard

The BBC and a consortium of investigative journalists have authenticated and published a massive trove of leaked documents and photographs exposing the Chinese government’s persecution of Uyghur Muslims in unprecedented detail.

According to the outlet, an anonymous source hacked several police computer servers in the northwestern Xinjiang province, then sent what has been dubbed the Xinjiang police files to the scholar Dr. Adrian Zenz, who gave them to reporters.

Among the files are more than 5,000 police photographs of Uyghurs taken between January and July 2018, with accompanying data indicating at least 2,884 of them were detained.

Some of the photos show guards standing nearby with batons.

The youngest Uyghur photographed was 15 at the time of their detention, and the oldest was 73.

One document is a list titled “Relatives of the Detained,” which contains thousands of people placed under suspicion for guilt by association with certain family members. It includes a woman whose son authorities claimed had “strong religious leanings” because he didn’t smoke or drink alcohol. He was jailed for ten years on terrorism charges.

The files also include 452 spreadsheets with information on more than a quarter of a million Uyghurs, some of whom were detained retroactively for offenses committed years or even decades ago.

One man was jailed for ten years in 2017 because he “studied Islamic scripture with his grandmother” for a few days in 2010.

Authorities targeted hundreds more for their mobile phone use, like listening to “illegal lectures” or downloading encrypted apps. Others were punished for not using their phones enough, with “phone has run out of credit” listed as evidence they were trying to evade digital surveillance.

One man’s offense was “growing a beard under the influence of religious extremism.”

The Most Militarized Schools in the World

The files include documents outlining conditions inside Xinjiang’s detention camps, or so-called “Vocational Skills Education and Training Centers.”

Armed guards occupy every part of the facilities, with machine guns and sniper rifles stationed on watchtowers. Police protocols instruct guards to shoot to kill any so-called “students” trying to escape if they fail to stop after a warning shot.

Any apprehended escapees are to be taken away for interrogation while camp management focuses on “stabilizing other students’ thoughts and emotions.”

The BBC used the documents to reconstruct one of the camps, which data shows holds over 3,700 detainees guarded by 366 police officers who oversee them during lessons.

If a “student” must be transferred to another facility, the protocols say, police should blindfold them, handcuff them and shackle their feet.

Dr. Zenz published a peer-reviewed paper on the Xinjiang police files, in which he found that more than 12% of Uyghur adults were detained over 2017 and 2018.

“Scholars have argued that political paranoia is a common feature of atrocity crimes,” he wrote. “Here, it is suggested that the pre-emptive internment of large numbers of ordinary citizens can be explained as a devolution into political paranoia that promotes exaggerated threat perceptions.”

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Newsweek) (The Guardian)

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Biden Vows to Defend Taiwan if Attacked by China

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Some praised the remarks for clarifying U.S. foreign policy, while others feared they could escalate tensions with China.


Biden’s Remarks Create Confusion

During a Monday press conference in Tokyo, U.S. President Joe Biden said the United States would intervene to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

The remark caught many off guard because it contradicted decades of traditional U.S. foreign policy toward China.

A reporter said, “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?”

“Yes,” Biden answered. “That’s a commitment we made. We are not — look, here’s the situation. We agree with a One China policy. We signed onto it and all the attendant agreements made from there.”

“But the idea that it can be taken by force — just taken by force — is just not appropriate,” he continued. “It will dislocate the entire region and be another action similar to what happened in Ukraine.”

Beijing considers the Taiwanese island to be a breakaway province, but Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, has claimed to represent the real historical lineage of China.

Since 1972, the U.S. has officially recognized only one China, with its capital in Beijing. However, Washington maintains extensive informal diplomatic ties with Taipei and provides military assistance through weapons and training.

Successive U.S. presidents have also committed to a policy of “strategic ambiguity,” refusing to promise or rule out a direct military intervention in case China attacks Taiwan.

The strategy is meant to deter China while avoiding a hard commitment to any action.

Biden Sparks Controversy

The White House quickly sent a statement to reporters appearing to walk back Biden’s remark.

“As the president said, our policy has not changed,” the statement said. “He reiterated our One China Policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. He also reiterated our commitment under the Taiwan Relations Act to provide Taiwan with the military means to defend itself.”

Monday was not the first time Biden made similar remarks regarding China and Taiwan.

Last August, he promised that “we would respond” if there was an attack against a fellow member of NATO and then added, “same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with Taiwan.”

In October, he again told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the U.S. would defend Taiwan from a Chinese attack, prompting the White House to hurriedly walk back his statement.

Monday’s remark was received with support as well as criticism.

“Strategic ambiguity is over. Strategic clarity is here,” Tweeted Matthew Kroenig, professor of government at Georgetown University. “This is the third time Biden has said this. Good. China should welcome this. Washington is helping Beijing to not miscalculate.”

“It is truly dangerous for the president to keep misstating U.S. policy toward Taiwan,” historian Stephen Wertheim wrote in a tweet. “How many more times will this happen?”

“The West’s robust response to Russian aggression in Ukraine could serve to deter China from invading Taiwan, but Biden’s statement risks undoing the potential benefit and instead helping to bring about a Taiwan conflict,” he added. “Self-injurious and entirely unforced.”

Biden also unveiled the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), a trade agreement signed by the U.S. and 12 Asian nations.

The agreement appeared to many like another move to cut off China from regional trade pacts and supply chains in Washington’s strategic competition with Beijing.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The New York Times) (The South China Morning Post)

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Russia Takes Over 900 Azovstal Fighters Prisoner as Mariupol Surrenders

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Ukraine said the soldiers successfully completed their mission, but the fall of Mariupol represents a strategic win for Putin.


Azovstal Waves the White Flag

Russia’s foreign ministry announced on Wednesday that it had captured 959 Ukrainians from the Azovstal steelworks, where besieged soldiers have maintained the last pocket of resistance in Mariupol for weeks.

A ministry spokesperson said in a statement that 51 were being treated for injuries, and the rest were sent to a former prison colony in the town of Olenivka in a Russian-controlled area of Donetsk.

The defense ministry released videos of what it claimed were Ukrainian fighters receiving care at a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk. In one, a soldier tells the camera he is being treated “normally” and that he is not being psychologically pressured, though it is unclear whether he is speaking freely.

It was unclear if any Ukrainians remained in Azovstal, but Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, said in a statement Wednesday that the “commanders of the highest level” were still hiding in the plant.

Previously, estimates put the number of soldiers inside Azovstal around 1,000.

Ukraine officially gave up Mariupol on Monday, when the first Azovstal fighters began surrendering.

Reuters filmed dozens of wounded Ukrainians being driven away in buses marked with the Russian pro-war “Z” symbol.

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister said in a Tuesday statement that the Ukrainian prisoners would be swapped in an exchange for captured Russians. But numerous Russian officials have signaled that the Ukrainian soldiers should be tried.

Mariupol Falls into Russian Hands

After nearly three months of bombardment that left Mariupol in ruins, Russia’s combat mission in the city has ended.

The sprawling complex of underground tunnels, caverns, and bunkers beneath Azovstal provided a defensible position for the Ukrainians there, and they came to represent the country’s resolve in the face of Russian aggression for many spectators.

Earlier this month, women, children, and the elderly were evacuated from the plant.

The definitive capture of Mariupol, a strategic port city, is a loss for Ukraine and a boon for Russia, which can now establish a land bridge between Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists. The development could also free up Russian troops around Mariupol to advance on the East, while additional reinforcements near Kharkiv descend from the north, potentially cutting off Ukrainian forces from the rest of the country.

The Ukrainian military has framed events in Mariupol as at least a partial success, arguing that the defenders of Azovstal completed their mission by tying down Russian troops and resources in the city and giving Ukrainians elsewhere more breathing room.

It claimed that doing so prevented Russia from rapidly capturing the city of Zaporizhzhia further to the west.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (BBC) (BBC)

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