'This is unbelievably catastrophic' – Shooter thought to be 18-year-old former student

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"This is unbelievably catastrophic," is how Broward County Florida Sheriff Scott Israel described the shooting scene at a Florida high school. 

There are multiple dead and injured after the violent incident today at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, US. 

"I'm sick to my stomach," Mr Israel said to US ABC today. 

"There are folks who have lost their lives."

He could not confirm how many are dead, but could say it was more than one. 

The suspected shooter was found off campus, with reports he blended into fleeing students to escape to a nearby suburb where he was captured by police. 

Mr Israel said the was thought to be 18-year-old and attended the high school but was not a current student. 


 


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Turkey steps up pressure on Saudi Arabia over missing journalist

Turkey's president increased his pressure on Saudi Arabia over the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, local media reported today, while President Donald Trump expressed reservations over withholding American arm sales over the writer.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's comments appear aimed at slowly intensifying the criticism while balancing the need to maintain the kingdom's investments in Turkey and relations on other issues.

Mr Trump's remarks, on the other hand, came as prominent American lawmakers increasingly criticise Saudi Arabia - America's longtime security ally in the region.

Turkish officials fear Mr Khashoggi was killed by the Saudis after walking into the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul on October 2, though they haven't offered any evidence to support that.

The kingdom calls the allegation "baseless," but has not offered any evidence to explain why Mr Khashoggi simply walked out of the consulate and disappeared though his fiancée waited outside for him.

Mr Erdogan was quoted by Turkish media today as telling journalists flying with him back home from a visit to Hungary that "we cannot remain silent to such an incident".

"How is it possible for a consulate, an embassy not to have security camera systems? Is it possible for the Saudi Arabian consulate where the incident occurred not to have camera systems?" Mr Erdogan asked. 

"If a bird flew, if a mosquito appeared, these systems would catch them and (I believe) they (the Saudis) would have to most advanced of systems."

Meanwhile, Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office that he has a call in to Mr Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who has appealed to the president and first lady Melania Trump for help.

Mr Trump said he had spoken with the Saudis about what he called a "bad situation," but he did not disclose details of his conversations. He also said the US. was working "very closely" with Turkey, "and I think we'll get to the bottom of it".

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said national security adviser John Bolton and presidential senior adviser Jared Kushner spoke on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) to Crown Prince Mohammed about Mr Khashoggi.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo then had a follow-up call with the crown prince to reiterate the US request for information and a thorough, transparent investigation.

In an interview later on Wednesday with Fox News @ Night, Mr Trump said he wanted to find out what happened to Mr Khashoggi but appeared reluctant to consider blocking arms sales, citing economic reasons.

"I think that would be hurting us," Mr Trump said. "We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before."

"Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems and everybody's wanting them," he continued. "And frankly, I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country. I mean, you're affecting us and, you know, they're always quick to jump that way."

On his first international trip as president, Mr Trump visited Saudi Arabia and announced $US110 billion in proposed arms sales. The administration also relies on Saudi support for its Middle East agenda to counter Iranian influence, fight extremism and support an expected peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Khashoggi had gone to the consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to get paperwork he needed for his upcoming marriage while his Turkish fiancee waited outside.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday evening that US intelligence intercepts outlined a Saudi plan to detain Mr Khashoggi. The Post, citing anonymous US officials familiar with the intelligence, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to lure Mr Khashoggi from his home in Virginia, where he lived most recently, to Saudi Arabia and then detain him.

Turkish officials have released footage of a squad of Saudi men arriving in Istanbul the day Jamal Khashoggi vanished. Source: BBC

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Hurricane Michael charges into US Southeast after slamming north Florida, leaving at least two dead

The most powerful hurricane on record to hit Florida's Panhandle left wide destruction and at least two people dead and wasn't nearly finished  today as it crossed Georgia, now as a tropical storm, toward the Carolinas, that are still reeling from epic flooding by Hurricane Florence.

A day after the supercharged storm crashed ashore amid white sand beaches, fishing towns and military bases, Michael was no longer a Category Four monster packing 250 km/h winds. As the tropical storm continued to weaken it was still menacing the US Southeast with heavy rains, blustery winds and possible spinoff tornadoes.

Authorities said at least two people have died, a man killed by a tree falling on a Panhandle home and according to WMAZ-TV, an 11-year-old girl was also killed by a tree falling on a home in southwest Georgia. Search and rescue crews were expected to escalate efforts to reach hardest-hit areas and check for anyone trapped or injured in the storm debris.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the eye of Michael was about 40 kilometres east of Macon in central Georgia at 2am Thursday (Thursday evening NZT). The storm had top sustained winds of 96 km/h and was moving to the northeast at 32 km/h.

After daylight Thursday residents of north Florida would just be beginning to take stock of the enormity of the disaster.

Damage in Panama City near where Michael came ashore on Wednesday afternoon was so extensive that broken and uprooted trees and downed power lines lay nearly everywhere. Roofs were peeled away, sent airborne, and homes were split open by fallen trees. Twisted street signs lay on the ground. Palm trees whipped wildly in the winds. More than 380,000 homes and businesses were without power at the height of the storm.

Vance Beu, 29, was staying with his mother at her home, Spring Gate Apartments, a complex of single-story wood frame buildings where they piled up mattresses around themselves for protection. A pine tree punched a hole in their roof and his ears even popped when the barometric pressure went lower. The roar of the winds, he said, sounded like a jet engine.

"It was terrifying, honestly. There was a lot of noise. We thought the windows were going to break at any time," Mr Beu said.

Sally Crown rode out Michael on the Florida Panhandle thinking at first that the worst damage was the many trees downed in her yard. But after the storm passed, she emerged to check on the cafe she manages and discovered a scene of breathtaking destruction.

"It's absolutely horrendous. Catastrophic," Ms Crown said. "There's flooding. Boats on the highway. A house on the highway. Houses that have been there forever are just shattered."

Governor Rick Scott announced that thousands of law enforcement officers, utility crews and search and rescue teams would now go into recovery mode. He said "aggressive" search and rescue efforts would get underway.

"Hurricane Michael cannot break Florida," Mr Scott vowed.

Michael’s scale and force surprised many, having suddenly strengthened while passing over the Caribbean Sea’s warm waters. Source: 1 NEWS

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Gay students, teachers could be banned by Australian religious schools

Gay students and teachers could be banned by religious schools in Australia.

Under proposed changes to discrimination laws religious schools would have the right to turn away gay students and teachers so they can "cultivate an environment which conforms to their beliefs".

It's the controversial recommendation of a leaked review into religious freedom which was carried out after last year's same-sex marriage vote.

Some states - but not all - already allow schools to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status.

Commonwealth laws also contain some provisions to permit faith-based schools to exercise this discretion.

A Fairfax Media report suggested the review recommended the right be enshrined in the federal Sex Discrimination Act to ensure a consistent national approach.

The review's panel, chaired by former Liberal minister Phillip Ruddock, said it accepted the right of schools to select or preference students who uphold their religious convictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison played down the proposal, saying such exemptions to anti-discrimination laws already exist.

"We're not proposing to change that law to take away that existing arrangement," he told reporters.

Attorney-General Christian Porter later clarified that no changes to the current arrangement, created by Labor in 2013, are proposed in the report.

"The Ruddock report does not recommend any changes to this regime," Mr Porter said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he can't believe the prime minister hasn't ruled out the "silly" idea completely.

"The fact is every child is entitled to human dignity. We shouldn't even be having this debate," Mr Shorten told reporters, demanding the Government release the report.

Gay rights activists slammed the proposal as a shameful assault on equality.

Alex Greenwich, who co-chaired the national campaign in support of same-sex marriage, is demanding the Federal Government rule it out.

The panel reportedly did not accept that businesses should be allowed to refuse services on religious grounds, such as denying a gay couple a wedding cake.

Under proposed changes to discrimination laws, religious schools could be offered new rights. Source: 1 NEWS


Singapore Airlines to premiere non-stop 16,700km flight from Singapore to New York

Singapore Airlines is scheduled to premiere a non-stop flight from Singapore to New York that will cover 16,700km and last a whopping 18 hours and 45 minutes.

The record-breaking flight, which departs at 23.35pm local time on an Airbus A350-900ULR, will unseat Qatar Airways from the current record for the world's longest flight - a 17-hour 40-minute marathon journey from Doha to Auckland.

But passengers on the Singapore Airlines flight need not fret over cramped economy seats during the ultra-long-haul flight. The plane has been configured in a two-class layout that features only 67 business class and 94 premium economy class seats.

Prices from NZ to Singapore and then on to Newark on the long flight start from NZ$6,685 in premium economy and $17,285 in business class for return flights.

Newark Liberty International Airport is in New Jersey but it is just 19km outside New York City and is one of three major airports serving the New York metropolitan area.

The route will initially be served three times a week, with daily operations expected to commence from October 18 onwards.

This is not the first time the airline has flown from Changi Airport to New York.

The relaunch comes after Singapore Airlines suspended services on the route in 2013 after climbing fuel prices made the use of four-engine Airbus A340-500 jets an economic liability.

However, the flight may not hold the mantle of world's longest for long. Qantas chief Alan Joyce announced plans in August to introduce a direct flight between Sydney and London within the next four years that would take a total of 20 hours.

Source: 1 NEWS


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