Current Events Briefing for Week ending October 6, 2017
Attacks of Violence and Terrorism
On Sunday night, a gunman, identified as 64-year-old Nevada resident Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel towards an open-air music festival attended by 22,000 people in Las Vegas.
He apparently killed himself as officers stormed the room where in excess of 10 guns were found. He was said to have had a large arsenal, a huge number of weapons in that hotel room, which police finally stormed using explosives.
The attack is the worst mass shooting in recent US history.
Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo described the shooting as a "lone wolf" attack and there was no information about Paddock's motives or belief system.
Four Canadians were among the 59 people killed in the attack. There were nearly 530 people injured in the shooting including at least another six Canadians. Jessica Klymchuk, 34, of Valleyview, Alta., Calla Medig, 28, of Jasper, Alta, Tara Roe, 34, of Okotoks, Alta. and Jordan McIldoon, 23, of Maple Ridge, B.C., have been confirmed dead. Klymchuk was a mother of four and worked at a Catholic school in Valleyview, east of Grande Prairie.
In Alberta, in Edmonton, on the weekend, a Somali refugee, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, and who is alleged to be a ISIS sympathizer, conducted two separate attacks. Around 8:15 p.m. on Saturday near Commonwealth Stadium, an Edmonton officer was struck by a Chevrolet Malibu while working crowd control for a CFL game. Const. Mike Chernyk was sent flying into the air. A man got out of the Malibu and attacked Chernyk with a knife before fleeing on foot.
Then, more than three hours later, a white U-Haul van was pulled over at a check-stop on the north side. A police officer recognized the driver's name as similar to the name of the registered owner of the car that had struck the officer earlier. The U-Haul then sped off toward downtown Edmonton, where streets were filled with Saturday night bar crowds and football fans. Pursued by police, the van struck and injured four pedestrians. The van tipped over on its side and a suspect was arrested at the scene.
Terrorism charges are pending against the suspect, who is in custody. He has also been charged with five counts of attempted murder and several vehicular offenses.
A person who knows the accused said: " He would just bounce from idea to idea, tangent to tangent, just about what he believed in and he definitely had genocidal beliefs, you could say. He had major issues with polytheists. He said they need to die. That sort of thing."
The officer, who suffered stab wounds to his head and face, has been released from hospital. One person who was listed in critical condition has been upgraded to stable. Two others have been released from hospital. The fourth victim suffered a fractured skull but has regained consciousness, police said.
The Edmonton police chief confirmed a black ISIS flag was seized from a car where the police officer was attacked. Edmonton’s mayor said the violent attacks were the work of a “lone wolf.”
Sharif kept a low profile in the city's Somali community and no one in that community appeared to know Sharif and condemned the man’s actions.
Former astronaut Julie Payette sworn in as Canada’s 29th Governor General
Former astronaut Julie Payette, 53, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's pick for Governor General, was sworn in Monday in Ottawa. She took the formal oath of office to become the country’s 29th Governor General in a traditional ceremony on Parliament Hill. She is now the Queen’s representative in Canada.
Payette read the oaths of allegiance of the Governor General and commander-in-chief of Canada, and of the Keeper of the Great Seal of Canada to an audience that included the prime minister, justices of the Supreme Court, political and Indigenous leaders and other dignitaries, including former governors general, several provincial premiers and Payette’s friends and family.
One of the first things Payette plans to do as the Queen’s representative in Canada is to open an Instagram account. Her predecessor, David Johnston, never had one. She will also take over her predecessor’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Payette, a Montreal-born astronaut, engineer and businesswoman, was accompanied by her 14-year-old son, Laurier Payette Flynn. Her parents and sister and brother were among the invited guests who felt the rumble of a 21-gun salute after Payette signed the oath book and took her seat on the Senate throne.
Jagmeet Singh wins leadership of federal NDP on first ballot
Jagmeet Singh is the new leader of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada. He took more than the 50 per cent of the votes in the party's federal leadership contest on the first ballot. In total 65,782 votes were cast, with Singh taking 35,266 on the first ballot.
The Ontario provincial politician beat northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus who won 12,705 votes, Niki Ashton who won 11,374 votes and Quebec MP Guy Caron who won 6,164 votes to claim the federal NDP's top job.
Singh talked about his family's past financial struggles to make the case for ending job insecurity and precarious work. As an Ontario MPP, Singh worked to end the practice of carding: when police officers stop and question citizens, gathering information that is then stored indefinitely in a secret database. Critics say it targets young black men and other ethnic minorities. The Ontario government eventually banned the tactic. Singh also explained how he decided to learn how to speak French because he wanted to form a bond with Canada's francophones and pledged to respect and protect French as he readies for the next big fight in his political career.
Singh has said he will not immediately seek a seat in the House of Commons, but will use his time outside Parliament to speak with people across Canada about the issues that matter to them. He will likely have to appoint someone to speak for him during question period in the House and appoint leadership positions within his caucus.
Catalonia’s Independence Vote marred by violence
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont says the Spanish region has won the right to statehood following a contentious referendum that was marked by violence. He said the region was open to a unilateral declaration of independence after Catalan officials said voters had backed secession with a 42.3% turnout.
Spain's government has warned it could suspend Catalan autonomy.
The constitutional court banned the vote and almost 900 people were hurt as police tried to stop it going ahead.Officers from the national police and paramilitary Civil Guard seized ballot papers and boxes at polling stations.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an illegal vote.
More than 2.2 million people were reported to have voted, according to Catalan authorities, out of 5.3 million registered voters. Just under 90% of those who voted backed independence.
Marred by violence, the Catalan independence referendum has put the E.U. in an awkward position. The bloc defends democratic rights but is wary of encouraging separatist forces.
Word of the Week
Lone wolf or lone-wolf terrorist is someone who prepares and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group. He or she may be influenced or motivated by the ideology and beliefs of an external group and may act in support of such a group. Generally, they are individuals acting on their own with little or no connection to militant- Islamic or otherwise - groups except in their own minds. These so-called lone-wolf terrorists are especially difficult to detect in advance, and thus to stop.
Video of the Week
What is a 'lone wolf' attack?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUpWTnm1QNM
Reading of the Week:
Writing Tips: Thesis Statements
Essay Hooks and Attention Grabbers
Improving Reading Comprehension
Ten Tips for finding the Right Word