Gunman kills 4, then himself, after Mass at Brazil cathedral
By PETER PRENGAMAN and C.H. GARDINER
Tuesday, December 11
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A man opened fire in a cathedral in southern Brazil after Mass on Tuesday, killing four and leaving four others injured before taking a bullet in the ribs in a firefight with police and then shooting himself in the head, authorities said.
The mass shooting, a rarity in Latin America’s largest nation, happened right after the midday service had ended at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Campinas, a city about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Sao Paulo.
“It’s so sad,” said Wilson Cassante, a press officer with the archdiocese. “It’s hard to imagine the pain this has caused.”
Hours after paramedics were seen taking bodies and injured out of the church, authorities identified the shooter as 49-year-old Euler Fernando Grandolpho of Valinhos, a nearby city in the densely populated state of Sao Paulo.
Grandolpho, a systems analyst, was not a member of the church, authorities said. According to public records, Grandolpho had held various jobs with government entities, including a stint as an assistant to the prosecutor in the public ministry in Sao Paulo.
Authorities said they had not identified a motive. A backpack found near the dead gunman had his identification but no note or other clues, police investigator Jose Henrique Ventura told reporters outside the church. “Thanks to the intervention of police, something much bigger was avoided,” said Ventura, adding that the four injured were in stable condition.
Danielle Coutinho told EPTV that she was sitting in the church chatting after Mass when the shooting began. A man sitting close to her was shot as she and others ran.
“I saw people getting shot. I can’t get it out of my head,” she said in tears. “It was horrible.”
Brazil has long struggled with gun violence, and is routinely the world leader in total homicides. Last year, nearly 64,000 people were killed. President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, campaigned on promises to crack down on violence, in part by loosening gun laws so more civilians could arm themselves.
Still, mass shootings like those in the United States are unusual.
Hamilton Caviola Filho, a police investigator, told news portal G1 that authorities had reviewed surveillance footage from inside the cathedral.
The shooter “came into the church, sat on a pew, with time to think, and then got up and starting shooting,” said Caviola Filho.
The investigator also said that before shooting himself in the head, the suspect took a bullet in the ribs from responding police. In total, the suspect fired at least 20 shots, said Caviola Filho.
Father Amaury Thomazi, who celebrated Mass before the shooting, posted a video recounting the chaos that followed the burst of gunfire.
“Nobody could do anything or help in any way” to stop the rampage, Thomazi said, calling on people to pray for the dead, the injured and the shooter.
Canada-China relations turn icy over arrest of Chinese exec
By JIM MORRIS, ROB GILLIES and PAUL WISEMAN
The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 11
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — China has detained a former Canadian diplomat in Beijing in apparent retaliation for the jailing of a top Chinese executive at the request of the United States, escalating a legal and diplomatic wrangle between the three countries.
Relations were shaken by Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei and daughter of its founder. Canadian authorities detained Meng on Dec. 1 during a layover at the Vancouver airport. The U.S. accuses Huawei of violating American economic sanctions against Iran.
The Huawei case has threatened to complicate U.S.-China efforts to resolve a bitter trade dispute — though the two countries signaled Tuesday they are preparing to resume talks.
Heightening tension between China and Canada, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed Tuesday that a former Canadian diplomat had been detained in Beijing. The detention came after China warned Canada of consequences for Meng’s arrest.
“We’re deeply concerned,” said Goodale, who did not identify the former diplomat. “A Canadian is obviously in difficulty in China. … We are sparing no effort to do everything we possibly can to look after his safety.”
Michael Kovrig, who previously worked as a diplomat in Beijing, Hong Kong and the United Nations, was taken into custody Monday night during one of his regular visits to Beijing, according to a person familiar with the matter. Kovrig is now based in Hong Kong as North East Asia adviser for the International Crisis Group.
Canada had been bracing for retaliation for Meng’ arrest. The Canadian province of British Columbia canceled a trade mission to China amid fears China could detain Canadians to put pressure on Ottawa over Meng’s detention.
Former Canadian Liberal leader Bob Rae said it’s clear why Kovrig was detained, declaring in a tweet: “It’s called repression and retaliation.”
In Vancouver, meanwhile, Meng appeared in court for a third day Tuesday as she sought release on bail.
Meng’s lawyer, David Martin, said his team had worked through the night to satisfy concerns about the Chinese executive’s potential release.
Martin said they contacted four people willing to put up money to guarantee that Meng won’t flee. One is a real-estate agent who met Meng in 2009 and sold two properties to her and her husband. The man has pledged his home, valued at $1.8 million Canadian (US$1.3 million), and says he understands he would lose it if Meng violated the conditions of her release.
Another said he got to know Meng while working at Huawei in China in the mid-1990s. He said he vouches for Meng’s character to comply with any conditions imposed by the British Columbia Supreme Court and has pledged $500,000 Canadian (US$373,000) from the equity on his home in Vancouver, which is valued at $1.4 million (US$1 million).
Justice William Ehrcke had questioned whether Meng’s husband can offer a financial guarantee for his wife because he is not a resident of British Columbia as required and is on a visitor’s visa that expires in February.
Meng has denied the U.S. allegations through her lawyer in court, promising to fight them if she is extradited to face charges in the United States.
Earlier in the day, China vowed to “spare no effort” to protect against “any bullying that infringes the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens.”
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi didn’t mention Meng by name. But ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Wang was referring to cases of all Chinese abroad, including Meng’s.
Washington accuses Huawei of using a Hong Kong shell company to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. It says Meng and Huawei misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran.
On Tuesday, U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters in Washington “the charges against Meng pertain to alleged lies to United States financial institutions” about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran.
“It is clear from the filings that were unsealed in Canada, Meng and others are alleged to have put financial institutions at risk of criminal and civil liability in the United States by deceiving those institutions as to the nature and extent of Huawei’s business in Iran,” Palladino said.
Huawei, the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet companies, is the target of U.S. security concerns. Washington has pressured other countries to limit use of its technology, warning they could be opening themselves up to surveillance and theft of information.
The U.S. and China have tried to keep Meng’s case separate from their wider trade dispute and suggested Tuesday that talks to resolve their differences may resume.
The Chinese government said that its economy czar had discussed plans with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer for talks aimed at settling the two countries’ differences. Lighthizer’s office confirmed that he had spoken by phone with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
The news that trade negotiations may resume lifted stock markets around the world.
The United States has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports in response to complaints Beijing steals American technology and forces U.S. companies to turn over trade secrets.
Tariffs on $200 billion of those imports were scheduled to rise from 10 percent to 25 percent on Jan. 1. But Trump agreed to postpone those by 90 days while the two sides negotiate.
Gillies reported from Toronto. Wiseman contributed from Washington. Associated Press writers Matthew Lee in Washington and Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this report.
Canada’s genocide: The case of the Ahiarmiut
December 9, 2018
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann
Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Wilfrid Laurier University
Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann has received funding in the past from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which contributed to her studies in comparative genocide and international human rights. She is currently a professor emeritus without any research funds.
As a human rights scholar, I have long argued that Canada committed cultural genocide against Indigenous peoples. But recently, I’ve come to conclude, in the case of the Ahiarmiut, that it’s not cultural genocide —it’s actual physical genocide.
An article in the Globe and Mail last summer by Gloria Galloway told the story of what happened to the Ahiarmiut, a small group of Inuit in 1950.
The Canadian government forcefully relocated them 100 kilometres from their original home in what is now Nunavut. The government’s reason for moving the Ahiarmiut people was that they were becoming too dependent on trade with federal employees at a nearby radio tower.
Galloway got much of her information from David Serkoak, an Elder who lived through the relocations. Recently, Serkoak collaborated with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) to tell his story and to be a storyteller for his community.
The Canadian government moved the Ahiarmiut to an isolated island and did not provide them with food, shelter or tools.
To survive, they ate bark and other scavenged food until winter came. Many died. In 1957, they were relocated again. They were given tents, as well as a “starvation box” that might feed them for a week. Many more died.
There were three more relocations after this.
The way Canada’s government treated the Ahiarmiut is similar to the way the Soviet Union treated several minority groups in 1944 including the Tartars, the Chechens and ethnic Koreans. Trainloads of people were sent to Siberia and left without food, clothing and shelter.
Up to 50 per cent died, just like the Ahiarmiut people. Scholars recognize the Soviet Union’s actions as genocide.
You might ask whether the term “genocide” can be applied to a group as small as the Ahiarmiut. Yes, it can. The United Nations adopted a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UNGC) in 1948.
The UNGC does not say that genocide requires a minimum number of victims. It also refers to the destruction of groups “in whole or in part.” The entire group doesn’t need to die for a deportation to be considered genocide.
In sociological terms, rather than legal, Helen Fein, a genocide scholar, coined the term “genocide by attrition.” This means the genocide takes a while, with victims dying of starvation and disease rather than outright murder.
I suspect that there’s been a lot of genocide by attrition of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
For example, in 2018, the government is still promising to clean up the rivers in Grassy Narrows, Ontario. Indigenous people in Grassy Narrows have been suffering and dying from water-borne mercury poisoning for decades.
Our government has known about this since the 1980s, yet it continues.
In legal terms, the only reason not to call the deportations of the Ahiarmiut genocide is the question of intent. The UNGC specifies that actions constituting genocide must be accompanied by “an intent to destroy” the group in question.
Perhaps Canadian bureaucrats did not intend that the Ahiarmiut should die. Perhaps they believed that Indigenous people could survive even if they were left on an isolated cold island they had never lived on before and where they were given no shelter, tools or food.
Even so, when Canada deported the Ahiarmiut, it violated its international commitments to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which Canada voted for on Dec. 10, 1948. This was a declaration, not a legal treaty. But it implied a commitment to all human rights, including rights to adequate food and protection from starvation, the right to housing and the right to health.
Canada signed the UNGC on Nov. 28, 1949, although it did not ratify it (the second step to accepting legal obligations) until Sept. 3, 1952.
Had anyone with political authority noted in 1950 that Canada was committing genocide against the Ahiarmiut, the government could have argued that it had not yet ratified the UNGC, so it was in the clear. And the government could have argued that although it accepted the UDHR rights to health, shelter and food in principle, it did not yet have to provide them.
More likely though, to the Canadian government, Indigenous people at the time were disposable. The government could move them when and where it wanted, for whatever reason it wanted.
Reparations and apology
From 1927 to 1951 it was illegal for Indigenous peoples in Canada to organize or meet, making it extremely difficult to resist these brutal acts.
Ahiarmiut survivors have asked for reparations and an apology. The Canadian government and the Inuit have recently agreed to settle, in part to bring “closure” to this event.
If ever a group of Indigenous people were entitled to apology, memorialization and compensation, it is the Ahiarmiut. But more than that, the Ahiarmiut are entitled to an acknowledgement by the Canadian government that they were victims of genocide.
In White House shake-up, Kelly’s departure now seems certain
By ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN
Saturday, December 8
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is inching closer to his long-teased major White House shake-up, gearing up for the twin challenges of battling for re-election and dealing with the Democrats’ investigations once they take control of the House.
The biggest piece of the shifting picture: Chief of Staff John Kelly’s departure now appears certain.
Trump announced Friday he was picking a new U.S. attorney general and a new ambassador to the U.N. , and at the same time two senior aides departed the White House to beef up his 2020 campaign. But the largest changes were still to come. Kelly’s replacement in the coming weeks is expected to have a ripple effect throughout the administration.
According to nearly a dozen current and former administration officials and outside confidants, Trump is nearly ready to replace Kelly and has even begun telling people to contact the man long viewed as his likely successor.
“Give Nick a call,” Trump has instructed people, referring to Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, according to one person familiar with the discussions.
Like all of those interviewed, the person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive personnel matters.
Trump has hardly been shy about his dissatisfaction with the team he had chosen and has been weighing all sorts of changes over the past several months. He delayed some of the biggest shifts until after the November elections at the urging of aides who worried that adding to his already-record turnover just before the voting would harm his party’s electoral chances.
Now, nearly a month after those midterms, in which his party surrendered control of the House to Democrats but expanded its slim majority in the Senate, Trump is starting to make moves.
He announced Friday that he’ll nominate William Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, to the same role in his administration. If confirmed, Barr will fill the slot vacated by Jeff Sessions, who was unceremoniously jettisoned by Trump last month over lingering resentment for recusing himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.
Sessions was exiled less than 24 hours after polls closed. But Trump’s broader efforts to reshape his inner circle have been on hold, leading to a sense of near-paralysis in the building, with people unsure of what to do.
Trump also announced that State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is his pick to replace Nikki Haley as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and he said he’d have another announcement Saturday about the military’s top brass.
All this came the same day that Trump’s re-election campaign announced that two veterans of the president’s 2016 campaign, White House political director Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, the director of the office of public liaison, were leaving the administration to work on Trump’s re-election campaign.
“Now is the best opportunity to be laser-focused on further building out the political infrastructure that will support victory for President Trump and the GOP in 2020,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
The moves had long been planned, and will give Kelly’s eventual successor room to build a new White House political team.
Kelly was not at the White House on Friday, but was expected to attend an East Room dinner with the president and senior staff.
Ayers, who is a seasoned campaign veteran despite his relative youth — he’s just 36 — has the backing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law and senior advisers, for the new role, according to White House officials. But Ayers has also faced some resistance. During Trump’s flight home from a recent trip to Paris, some aides aboard Air Force One tried to convince the president that Ayers was the wrong person for the job, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Trump and Kelly’s relationship has been strained for months — with Kelly on the verge of resignation and Trump nearly firing him several times. But each time the two have decided to make amends, even as Kelly’s influence has waned.
Kelly, a retired Marine Corps four-star general, was tapped by Trump in August 2017 to try to normalize a White House that had been riven by infighting. And he had early successes, including ending an open-door Oval Office policy that had been compared to New York’s Grand Central Station and instituting a more rigorous policy process to try to prevent staffers from going directly to Trump.
But those efforts also miffed the president and some of his most influential outside allies, who had grown accustomed to unimpeded access. And his handling of domestic violence accusations against the former White House staff secretary also caused consternation, especially among lower-level White House staffers, who believed Kelly had lied to them about when he found out about the allegations.
Kelly, too, has made no secret of the trials of his job and has often joked about how working for Trump was harder than anything he’d done before, including on the battlefield.
Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report.
On Twitter follow Miller at https://twitter.com/ZekeJMiller and Colvin at https://twitter.com/colvinj
A Chicago neighborhood battles endless flow of illegal guns
By SHARON COHEN
AP National Writer
Monday, December 10
CHICAGO (AP) — In just one Chicago community, police have recovered more than 1,000 guns this year. The seizures are seen as a success, but few in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood think they will stop the flow of illegal weapons and bring permanent peace to a place plagued by violence.
Chicago’s gun violence has captured the national spotlight and President Donald Trump has, at times, threatened to send in federal troops and breezily called the problem “very easily fixable.”
Those who battle this daily see it much differently. Guns not only shatter families, they determine what time people leave their homes, the streets they avoid, whether a church should have a metal detector. Chicago police regularly recover more illegal guns than officials in New York and Los Angeles. The 2018 tally exceeds 8,300.