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O'Rourke breaks $ record

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke raised more than $6 million online during the first 24 hours after he announced his White House bid, the highest 24-hour number reported by any candidate, his campaign said Monday.

The "record-breaking" $6.1 million came "without a dime" from political action committees, corporations or special interests, O'Rourke spokesman Chris Evans tweeted.

The $6.1 million is just above what Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders reported for his first day as a candidate.

O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman, jumped into the 2020 presidential race on Thursday after months of speculation, shaking up the already packed Democratic field and pledging to win over voters from across the political spectrum.

O'Rourke raised an eye-popping $80 million in grassroots donations last year in his failed U.S. Senate race in Texas against incumbent Republican Ted Cruz, all while largely avoiding money from PACs. His early fundraising numbers in the presidential contest will be seen as an initial signal of whether his popularity during the Senate campaign will carry over to his White House bid.

The new figures set O'Rourke and Sanders apart from the rest of the Democratic field in launch-day fundraising. California Sen. Kamala Harris reported raising $1.5 million in the 24 hours after she launched her campaign in January. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar reported raising $1 million in the 48 hours after launching her campaign in February.

Asked last week if he thought he would top Sanders, O'Rourke said only, "We'll see."



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Shooting leads to manhunt

A shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday left "multiple" people wounded, police said, adding that they are considering the possibility of a "terrorist motive." A manhunt was launched for the shooter.

Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting that happened in the morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection in a residential neighbourhood.

Utrecht police said that trauma helicopters were sent to the scene and appealed to the public to stay away to allow first responders to do their work. Television footage showed that a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the situation "very worrying" and the country's counterterror co-ordinator said in a tweet that a crisis team was meeting to discuss the situation. The alert level was raised to its highest level for the area around Utrecht.

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said that no one had been detained yet.

Jens said that "one explanation is that the person fled by car." He did not rule out the possibility that more than one person was involved.

"We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible," Jens said.



Tyson returns to TV

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will return to the air on two TV shows that had been put on hold for a sexual misconduct investigation.

The National Geographic Channel said in a statement Friday that Tyson's "StarTalk" will return to the air in April with the 13 episodes that remain in the season.

The statement says Tyson's other show, "Cosmos," will return on National Geographic TV and Fox at a date to be determined.

Late last November, National Geographic Networks and Fox said they would examine reports that Tyson behaved in a sexually inappropriate manner toward two women. Friday's statement did not address the complaints or investigation.

A message with a representative seeking from Tyson wasn't immediately returned.

Tyson said in December that he denied the allegations and welcomed the investigation.



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Gun reform on table now

The New Zealand leader's promise of tightened gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings has been widely welcomed by a stunned population.

Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern said her Cabinet will consider the details of the changes on Monday. She has said options include a ban on private ownership of semi-automatic rifles that were used with devastating effect in Christchurch and a government-funded buyback of newly outlawed guns.

While curtailing gun owners' rights is a political battleground in the United States, Christchurch gun owner Max Roberts, 22, predicted Ardern won't face serious opposition to her agenda.

"There will be no opposition to it. There's no movement in New Zealand for that. Our media and politics are more left wing," said Roberts, a carpenter who uses guns for hunting.

Elliot Dawson, who survived the shooting at Christchurch's Linwood mosque by hiding in a bathroom, hopes New Zealand follows Australia's lead on gun control.

In Australia, a virtual ban on private ownership of semi-automatic rifles and a government-funded gun buyback cut the size of the country's civilian arsenal by almost a third.

The ban followed a 1996 massacre in which a lone gunman used assault rifles to kill 35 people in Tasmania state in 1996.

"Personally, I don't think guns should be legal at all. Maybe in some extreme self-defence, but I don't think they need such firearms like that," Dawson said. "New Zealand is not America. America is a totally different situation. I think in America it would be probably more dangerous to take people's guns away. But here, I don't think we need them at all."

Akshesh Sharma moved to Christchurch from Fiji to study. He was shocked that the shooter was able to get his hands on such military-style weapons.

Sharma agrees with the prime minister that gun laws need to be tightened.

"I don't see this as a place where you need guns to live to feel safe," Sharma said. "I can understand in the U.S. maybe, but here it's a different story."

Roberts, the gun owner, doubted banning certain types of weapons would be effective. But he said New Zealand should only allow its own citizens to buy guns. Brenton Harrison Tarrant, the Australian charged in the Christchurch shootings, obtained a New Zealand gun license in November 2017 and started legally amassing an arsenal of five guns within a month.

"I think when people harbour hate like, that these things are possible," Roberts said.

"Particularly Australian citizens, I don't understand how they can get access to firearms in New Zealand when New Zealand citizens can't get access to firearms in Australia," he added.



Where eagles flirt

It's a tale with everything you'd need for a soap opera: star-crossed lovers, a stable relationship threatened by younger suitors, pregnancy and loss, and a hungry raccoon.

Washingtonians, along with a global community of eagle-watchers, have been transfixed this winter by Liberty and Justice, bald eagles who've nested and raised eaglets together for 14 years on the grounds of the city's police academy.

Their annual mating ritual, egg-laying and hatching process normally draws thousands of viewers to a special eagle cam. But this year has been unusually dramatic, with twists and turns that became headline news outside the eagle-watcher community.

"It's been a roller-coaster ride," said Tommy Lawrence, managing director of the Earth Conservation Corps, which runs the eagle cam and has been instrumental in repopulating the local bald eagle community. "People kind of take ownership of the eagles and really become invested in their well-being."

The saga of Justice and Liberty isn't the capital's only eagle drama. Last Wednesday, the Blue Line of Washington's Metro was delayed to rescue an injured bald eagle from the tracks . The bird later had to be euthanized.

Another eagle cam , at the National Arboretum, also has chronicled relationship tensions this year. Two eagles, known as Mr. President and The First Lady, experienced a comparatively mild relationship drama when another female showed up and tried to woo Mr. President. The interloper was chased off by The First Lady.

But the bigger drama involved Liberty, the female, and Justice.

Their mating season started normally. Together they prepared the nest they've shared for 14 years. They mated on Feb. 9. Normally at that point, Liberty would lay eggs — usually two — and spend most of her time sitting on them while they incubated and the male sought food for the family.

But this year, Justice disappeared almost immediately after mating, leaving Liberty with no way to gather food while keeping the eggs warm. During his absence a younger male eagle began appearing at the nest and courting Liberty. Researchers named him "Aaron Burrd" and speculated that he had fought Justice and driven him from the territory. A second young male rival also made some appearances.

After about 10 days, Liberty began making short flights away from the nest, meaning the temperature of the eggs dropped too low to hatch. On Feb. 23, Liberty flew away with one of her new suitors for two days, essentially abandoning her nonviable eggs. The next day, Justice reappeared after a more than two-week absence to reclaim his place. When Liberty returned, she didn't accept him back at first but gradually they reconciled.

Then came a final Darwinian twist. While the reunited pair was away from the nest, a raccoon climbed up and ate both eggs live on camera . Nothing was actually lost. The eggs were never going to hatch. But Lawrence said some newer eagle-cam devotees didn't fully understand what had happened.

"The reaction was intense," Lawrence said. "People would start freaking out on Facebook and asking why we didn't rescue the eggs and then some older members of the community would calm them down."

When interviewed Friday by The Associated Press, Lawrence announced breaking news: Justice and Liberty, after slowly rekindling their relationship, had mated the day before. Now the watch is on to see if Liberty is still fertile this late in the mating season and will lay more eggs. Justice, by the way, has continued his mysterious disappearances. On March 7, he vanished for five days before returning.

"We don't know where he keeps going," Lawrence said. "Our minds go to 'Does he have a second nest somewhere?' "

The twists and turns have been covered by multiple local media outlets with Kardashian-level of detail. Now speculation is running hot as to whether Justice and Liberty have a long-term future together or whether the younger suitors are a glimpse of the future.



Mourners await burials

A steady stream of mourners paid tribute Sunday at a makeshift memorial to the 50 people slain by a gunman at two mosques in Christchurch, while dozens of Muslims stood by to bury the dead when authorities finally release the victims' bodies.

Hundreds of flowers were piled up amid candles, balloons and notes of grief and love outside the Al Noor mosque. As a light rain fell, people clutched each other and wept quietly.

"We wish we knew your name to write upon your heart. We wish we knew your favourite song, what makes you smile, what makes you cry," read one of the tributes, which contained cut-out paper hearts under a nearby tree. "We made a heart for you. 50 hearts for 50 lives."

Two days after Friday's attack, New Zealand's deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were still waiting for authorities to release the bodies. Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.

Supporters arrived from across the country to help with the burials in Christchurch and authorities sent in backhoes to dig graves at a site that was newly fenced off and blocked from view with white netting.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said authorities hoped to release all the bodies by Wednesday, and Police Commissioner Mike Bush said authorities were working with pathologists and coroners to complete the task as soon as they could.

"We have to be absolutely clear on the cause of death and confirm their identity before that can happen," Bush added. "But we are so aware of the cultural and religious needs. So we are doing that as quickly and as sensitively as possible."

Police said they had released a preliminary list of the victims to families, which has helped give closure to some who were waiting for any news.

The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old white supremacist Brenton Harrison Tarrant, appeared in court Saturday amid strict security, shackled and wearing all-white prison garb, and showed no emotion when the judge read one murder charge and said more would likely follow.

Tarrant had posted a jumbled 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto online before the attacks and apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter.

Ardern said the gunman had sent the manifesto to her office email about nine minutes before the attacks, although she hadn't gotten the email directly herself. She said her office was one of about 30 recipients and had forwarded the email to parliamentary security within a couple of minutes of receiving it.

People across the country were still trying to come to terms with the massacre that Ardern described as "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

At the Vatican, Pope Francis offered prayers for "our Muslim brothers" killed in the attack. At his traditional Sunday prayer, Francis renewed "an invitation to unite in prayer and gestures of peace to oppose hatred and violence."

The gunman livestreamed 17 minutes of the rampage at the Al Noor mosque, where he sprayed worshippers with bullets. Facebook, Twitter and Google scrambled to take down the video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the bloodbath.

The second attack took place at the Linwood mosque about 5 kilometres (3 miles) away.

Ardern has said Tarrant was a licensed gun owner who legally bought the five guns he used.

At a news conference, the prime minister reiterated her promise that there will be changes to the country's gun laws. She said her Cabinet will discuss the policy details Monday.



Floods, slides kill at least 50

Flash flood and mudslides triggered by days of torrential downpours tore through mountainside villages in Indonesia's easternmost province, killing at least 50 people and injuring 59 others, disaster officials said Sunday.

The disaster in Papua province's Jayapura district submerged hundreds of houses in neck-high water and mud, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. The floods and slides also destroyed roads and bridges, hampering rescue efforts.

Nugroho said 50 bodies had been pulled from the mud and wreckage of crumpled homes by Sunday, and another 59 people were hospitalized, many with broken bones and head wounds.

The dead included three children who drowned after the floods began late Saturday.

He said the number of dead and injured will likely increase since many affected areas have not been reached.

"We are overwhelmed by too many injuries," said Haerul Lee, the head of Jayapura health office, adding that some medical facilities had been hit by power outages. "We can't handle it alone."

Papua's provincial administration has declared a two-week emergency in order to get assistance from the central government.

Papua military spokesman Col. Muhammad Aidi said rescuers managed to save two injured infants who had been trapped for more than six hours. The parents of one of the babies were washed away and died.

Worst hit was Sentani subdistrict, where a landslide early Sunday was followed minutes later by a river that burst its banks, sweeping away residents in a fast-moving deluge of water, heavy logs and debris, said the local disaster mitigation agency head Martono.

Martono, who goes by a single name, said rescuers have been evacuating more than 4,000 to temporary shelters.

Television footage showed hundreds of rescuers and members of the police and military evacuating residents to shelters at a government office. Ambulances and vehicles were seen carrying victims on muddy roads to several clinics and hospitals.

Seasonal downpours cause frequent landslides and floods and kill dozens each year in Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains.



Premier sides with egger

Australia's prime minister on Sunday suggested an anti-Muslim senator should be charged after he slapped a teen who cracked a raw egg over the legislator's head.

Sen. Fraser Anning has been widely condemned for blaming Muslim immigration for racist attacks on two New Zealand mosques that claimed at least 50 lives.

Will Connolly, the 17-year-old boy who egged Anning, has become an online hero for the incident, which was captured on video.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday took Connolly's side, telling reporters: "The full force of the law should be applied to Sen. Anning."

Police allege Connolly, who calls himself "Egg Boy" online, assaulted the senator with the egg.

Anning "retaliated and struck the teen twice" before Connolly was dragged to the ground by Anning supporters, a police statement said.

"The incident is being actively investigated by Victoria Police in its entirety," the statement said, including Anning's actions.

Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets on Friday, including one that said, "Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?"

"The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place," he said in a later statement.

Anning has now been assigned a federal police security detail, a precaution usually reserved for the prime minister.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the first time on Sunday joined the public condemnation of Anning.

Asked by a journalist what she thought of Anning's comments, she replied simply: "They're a disgrace."

A GoFundMe page set up to raise 2,000 Australia dollars ($1,400) to pay for Connolly's "legal fees" and "more eggs" had exceeded AU$25,000 on Sunday.

The site says most of the money will go to Christchurch victims.

"Love the spunk of egg boy who puts his egg where we'd like it to be!" donor Val Lehmann-Monck posted.

"This kid is awesome. The senator will not get re-elected due to the publicity and those comments and his reaction," donor Nikhil Reddy wrote.

After the egging, Anning supporters pinned Connolly to the ground until journalists appealed for him to be allowed back on his feet, The Sun-Herald newspaper reported.

Police say they arrested Connolly, took his details and then released him without charge.



Hero of mosque tragedy

When the gunman advanced toward the mosque, killing those in his path, Abdul Aziz didn't hide. Instead, he picked up the first thing he could find, a credit card machine, and ran outside screaming "Come here!"

Aziz, 48, is being hailed as a hero for preventing more deaths during Friday prayers at the Linwood mosque in Christchurch after leading the gunman in a cat-and-mouse chase before scaring him into speeding away in his car. But Aziz, whose four sons and dozens of others remained in the mosque while he faced off with the gunman, said he thinks it's what anyone would have done.

The gunman killed 50 people after attacking two mosques in the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand's modern history.

The gunman is believed to have killed at least 41 people at the Al Noor mosque before driving about 5 kilometres across town and attacking the Linwood mosque, where he killed seven more people. One person died later in a hospital, and police announced Sunday that a 50th body had been found.

White supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with one count of murder in the slayings and a judge said Saturday that it was reasonable to assume more charges would follow.

Latef Alabi, the Linwood mosque's acting imam, said the death toll would have been far higher at the Linwood mosque if it wasn't for Aziz.

Alabi said he heard a voice outside the mosque at about 1:55 p.m. and stopped the prayer he was leading and peeked out the window. He saw a guy in black military-style gear and a helmet holding a large gun, and assumed it was a police officer. Then he saw two bodies and heard the gunman yelling obscenities.

"I realized this is something else. This is a killer," he said.

He yelled at the congregation of more than 80 to get down. They hesitated. A shot rang out, a window shattered and a body fell, and people began to realize it was for real.

"Then this brother came over. He went after him, and he managed to overpower him, and that's how we were saved," Alabi said, referring to Aziz. "Otherwise, if he managed to come into the mosque, then we would all probably be gone."

Aziz said as he ran outside screaming, he was hoping to distract the attacker. He said the gunman ran back to his car to get another gun, and Aziz hurled the credit card machine at him.

He said he could hear his two youngest sons, aged 11 and 5, urging him to come back inside.

The gunman returned, firing. Aziz said he ran, weaving through cars parked in the driveway, which prevented the gunman from getting a clean shot. Then Aziz spotted a gun the gunman had abandoned and picked it up, pointed it and squeezed the trigger. It was empty.

He said the gunman ran back to the car for a second time, likely to grab yet another weapon.

"He gets into his car and I just got the gun and threw it on his window like an arrow and blasted his window," he said. The windshield shattered: "That's why he got scared."

He said the gunman was cursing at him, yelling that he was going to kill them all. But he drove away and Aziz said he chased the car down the street to a red light, before it made a U-turn and sped away. Online videos indicate police officers managed to force the car from the road and drag out the suspect soon after.

Originally from Kabul, Afghanistan, Aziz said he left as a refugee when he was a boy and lived for more than 25 years in Australia before moving to New Zealand a couple of years ago.

"I've been to a lot of countries and this is one of the beautiful ones," he said. And, he always thought, a peaceful one as well.

Aziz said he didn't feel fear or much of anything when facing the gunman. It was like he was on autopilot. And he believes that God, that Allah, didn't think it was his time to die.



Survivors recount horror

They had walked that once innocuous stretch of sidewalk side-by-side so many times. Every Friday, Yasir Amin and his dad had ambled along the path toward the mosque where they prayed together in peace, a routine so serene and so ordinary that Amin was nearly blinded by confusion when the man drove up with the gun.

Amin and his father, Muhammad Amin Nasir, were just 200 metres from the Al Noor mosque on Friday when everything went wrong. They had no idea that a white supremacist had just slaughtered at least 41 people inside the mosque's hallowed halls, or that more people would be killed at a second mosque soon after. All they knew was that a car that had been driving by had suddenly stopped. And a man was leaning out the car's window, pointing a gun at them.

"RUN!" Amin screamed.

The bullets began to fly. The men began to run. But at 67, Nasir couldn't keep up with his 35-year-old son. And so he fell behind, by two or three fateful steps.

Amid the blasts, Amin turned to scream at his father to get down on the ground. But his father was already falling.

The gunman drove away. A pool of blood poured from Nasir's body.

"Daddy!" Amin screamed. "Daddy! DADDY!"

Amin had never seen anyone shot before. He left Pakistan for Christchurch five years ago, and was embraced by a multicultural city that felt like the safest place on earth. His father, who farms vegetables, wheat and rice back in Pakistan, also fell for the leafy green city at the bottom of the world.

And so Nasir began making routine visits to see his son, sometimes spending up to six months in New Zealand before returning to Pakistan to tend to his crops. Nasir had been in town only three weeks for his most recent visit when he was shot three times on the street of the city he had adopted as a second home.

From the ground, Nasir stared up at his son, unable to speak, tears running down his face. Amin ran to his car to grab his phone and called the police. Officers quickly arrived, and soon the father and son were in an ambulance racing to the hospital.

Like many other victims struggling to cope with the horrific events of Friday that left 50 dead, Amin made his way to Hagley College near the hospital. The college was serving as a community centre for the grieving, and members of the public poured in with meals and drinks, doling out hugs and words of support to those in need.

Outside the college, Javed Dadabhai mourned for his gentle cousin, 35-year-old Junaid Mortara, who is believed to have died in the first mosque attack. As of Saturday, many families were still waiting to find out if their loved ones were alive.

The long wait for information on the status of the dead was particularly painful because Muslim tradition calls for burials within 24 hours of a person's death.



Yellow vests riot in Paris

French yellow vest protesters set life-threatening fires, smashed up luxury stores in Paris and clashed with police Saturday in the 18th straight weekend of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron. Large plumes of smoke rose above the rioting on Paris' landmark Champs-Elysees avenue, and a mother and her child were just barely saved from a building blaze.

Cobblestones flew in the air and smoke from fires set by protesters mingled with clouds of tear gas sprayed by police, as tensions continued for hours along the Champs-Elysees. By dusk, as the demonstrators had dispersed, the famed avenue was a blackened expanse.

The resurgent violence comes at a watershed moment for a movement, which had been fizzling in recent weeks, and at the end of a two-month-long national debate called by Macron that protesters say failed to answer their demands for economic justice.

Police appeared to be caught off guard by the speed and severity of Saturday's unrest. French riot police tried to contain the demonstrators with repeated volleys of tear gas and water cannon, with limited success.

One arson fire targeted a bank near the Champs-Elysees on the ground floor of a seven-story residential building. A mother and her child had to be rescued just as the fire threatened to engulf their floor, Paris' fire service told The Associated Press. Eleven people in the building, including two firefighters, sustained light injuries.

A 43-year-old German factory worker who identified himself only as Peter had travelled to Paris to show solidarity with yellow vest protesters. Standing Saturday outside the burned-out bank, he said he agreed with the destruction, calling banks "the biggest problem in the world."

Protest organizers had hoped to make a splash Saturday, which marks the 4-month anniversary of the yellow vest movement, which started Nov. 17, and the end of the "Great Debate" that the French president organized to respond to protesters' concerns about sinking living standards, stagnant wages and high unemployment.

They claimed Macron failed in that aim.

"It was hot air. It was useless and it didn't achieve anything. We're here to show Macron that empty words are not enough," said yellow vest demonstrator Frank Leblanc, 62, from Nantes.

"We're marking the end of the great debate ... Macron has given us no great solutions," said protester Francine Sevigny from Lyon.

Others praised the violence that tore through Paris.

"I'm glad there are the thugs, because without them our movement wouldn't get any attention. We need the violence so we can be heard," said Marie, a mother of two from Seine-et-Marne who wouldn't give her surname.

The violence started minutes after the protesters gathered Saturday, when they threw smoke bombs and other objects at officers along the Champs-Elysees — the scene of repeated past rioting — and started pounding on the windows of a police van.

Simultaneous fires were also put out from two burning newspaper kiosks, which sent black smoke high into the sky. Several protesters posed for a photo in front of one charred kiosk.

Demonstrators also targeted symbols of the luxury industry, smashing and pillaging shops including brands Hugo Boss and Lacoste, and tossing mannequins out of broken windows. A posh eatery called Fouquet's, which is associated with politicians and celebrities, was vandalized and set on fire. A vehicle burned outside the luxury boutique Kenzo, one of many blazes on and around the Champs-Elysees.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who inspected the damage Saturday evening on the Champs-Elysees, said an estimated 10,000 yellow vest protesters were in Paris and another 4,500 had demonstrated around France. He also said the Paris crowd included 1,500 "ultraviolent ones who are there to smash things up."



Trump downplays threat

President Donald Trump played down any threat posed by white nationalism after the gunman accused of the New Zealand mosque massacre called the president "a symbol of renewed white identity."

Trump, whose own previous responses to the movement have drawn scrutiny, expressed sympathy for the victims who died at "places of worship turned into scenes of evil killing." But he declined to join expressions of mounting concern about white nationalism. When asked whether he thought it was a rising threat around the world, he responded, "I don't really."

"I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems, I guess," Trump said Friday. "If you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet. But it's certainly a terrible thing."

Trump was asked about white nationalism and the shooting deaths of 49 people at mosques in Christchurch after he formally vetoed Congress' resolution to block his declaration of a national emergency at the Mexico border. His veto, aimed at freeing money to build more miles of a border wall against illegal immigration, is expected to survive any congressional effort to overturn it.

Questioned about the accused gunman's reference to him, Trump professed ignorance.

"I didn't see it. I didn't see it," he said. "But I think it's a horrible event ... a horrible, disgraceful thing and a horrible act."

The man accused of the shootings left behind a lengthy document outlining his motivations. He proudly stated that he was a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants and was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims. He mentioned the U.S. president in a single reference.

"Were/are you a supporter of Donald Trump?" was one of the questions he posed to himself. His answer: "As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose? Sure. As a policy maker and leader? Dear god no."

The White House immediately denounced the connection. But the mention from the suspect, who embraced Nazi imagery and voiced support for fascism, nonetheless cast an uncomfortable light on the way the president has been embraced by some on the far right.

Trump, who as a candidate proposed a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, has drawn criticism as being slow to condemn white supremacy and related violence. After a 2017 clash between white nationalists and anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one demonstrator dead, Trump said there were "very fine people on both sides" of the confrontation. He also did not immediately reject the support of David Duke, a former KKK Grand Wizard, during his presidential campaign.

Some of the Democrats who are campaigning for the right to challenge Trump in 2020 criticized his response to the New Zealand attack.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar told Iowa voters Saturday that "it's our job to stand up against" white supremacism. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, accused Trump of taking "rank with those who want to spread fear and division across the world."

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who entered the Democratic race this week, said, "We must call out this hatred, this Islamophobia, this intolerance, and the violence that predictably follows from the rhetoric that we use."

The White House rejected any link to Trump.

"It's outrageous to even make that connection between this deranged individual that committed this evil crime to the president who has repeatedly condemned bigotry, racism and made it very clear that this is a terrorist attack," Mercedes Schlapp, the White House's director of strategic communication, told reporters on Friday. "We are there to support and stand with the people of New Zealand."

Trump telephoned New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, offering condolences, prayers and any help the U.S. might be able to provide. She told reporters she answered, "My message was: to offer sympathy and love to all Muslim communities."



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