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‘Ordinary white man’? Picture of New Zealand accused emerges

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A one-time gym trainer from rural Australia who became steeped in neo-fascist ideology during travels in Europe, Brenton Tarrant described himself as an “ordinary white man” — until he became anything but ordinary.

The gunman behind the massacre of 49 people in two New Zealand mosques flashed a white power sign during a brief court appearance Saturday, but he was not on any terrorist watch-list and appeared to have no criminal history.

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Tarrant, 28, grew up in the small town of Grafton in northern New South Wales, where he graduated high school before earning some fitness qualifications and going on to find work at a local gym in 2009.

The gym’s owner, Tracey Gray, described him as a hard-working trainer but said he appeared to have been changed by his travels in Europe and Asia — which social media posts suggested included trips as far afield as Pakistan and North Korea.

“I think something must have changed in him during the years he spent travelling overseas,” Gray told national broadcaster ABC.

“Somewhere along the lines, experiences or a group have got a hold of him,” she said.

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Gray’s speculation was backed up by a rambling, hate-filled, manifesto Tarrant posted to social media ahead of the Christchurch killings.

In the 74-page screed, he says he first began considering an attack in April and May of 2017 while travelling in France and elsewhere in Western Europe.

He mentions being shocked at the “invasion” of French cities by immigrants and his “despair” at the French presidential vote that year which saw pro-European centrist Emmanuel Macron defeat his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen.

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In a brief biographical sketch included in his manifesto, Tarrant describes himself as “just a ordinary white man… born in Australia to a working class, low income family”.

His childhood was “regular” and, he insisted, issue-free. He “barely” achieved a passing grade in school and had no interest in pursuing higher education.

According to media reports, his father died of cancer in 2010 and gym owner Gray said she believed he had a mother and sister still living in Grafton.

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Tarrant left the gym in 2011 and his travels, he says, were funded by money he made investing in Bitconnect — an open source cryptocurrency that collapsed in early 2018 amid charges it was a glorified Ponzi scheme.

Two modified semi-automatic weapons — reportedly AR-15s — two shotguns and a lever-action gun were used in Friday’s deadly rampage, and photos of the weaponry with distinctive writing on them were posted on social media days before.

Scrawled in English and several Eastern European languages were the names of numerous historical military figures — many of them Europeans involved in fighting the Ottoman forces in the 15th and 16th centuries. A few took part in the Crusades, centuries earlier.

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Ankara on Friday said it was investigating Tarrant’s multiple visits to Turkey, and who he might have met while he was there.

The Bulgarian government has also said it was looking into Tarrant, who apparently visited the country late last year, as well as having earlier travelled to other parts of the Balkans — including Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tarrant’s manifesto said he took “inspiration” from other right-wing extremists including racist Norwegian killer Anders Behring Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2011 motivated by his hatred of multiculturalism.

Tarrant described Oswald Mosley, a notorious British fascist leader and anti-Semite from the 1930s, as “the person from history closest to my own beliefs”.

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Trump trying to fire inspector general is a confession he ‘did something criminal’: Nicolle Wallace

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MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace on Tuesday explained why President Donald Trump attempting to fire inspector general who validated the White House whistleblower complaint.

"We’re back with breaking news from The New York Times that could have implications for Donald Trump’s impeachment," Wallace reported. "Donald Trump, based on a new report in The Times has considered firing the inspector general -- the one who looked at the whistleblower’s complaint on Donald Trump’s Ukraine conduct and deemed it credible and urgent."

Wallace read from the new report.

"President Trump has discussed dismissing the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, because Mr. Atkinson reported a whistleblower’s complaint about Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine to Congress after concluding it was credible, according to four people familiar with the discussions," The Times reported. "Mr. Trump first expressed his dismay about Mr. Atkinson around the time the whistleblower’s complaint became public in September. In recent weeks, he has continued to raise with aides the possibility of firing him, one of the people said."

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Russian official mocks Trump for wanting to go back to Syria for the oil

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President Donald Trump withdrew from Syria abruptly and against the advice of those on the ground in the region. It left American Kurdish allies high-and-dry as Turkey began a bombing campaign against them.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov mocked Trump for the move and then his bizarre decision to go back into Syria "for the oil."

“We’re keeping the oil — remember that,” Trump told a group of Chicago police officers last month. “I’ve always said that: ‘Keep the oil.’ We want to keep the oil. Forty-five million dollars a month? Keep the oil.”

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Trump discussed firing inspector general who agreed whistleblower report was legitimate

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The New York Times reported late Tuesday that President Donald Trump has talked about firing the intelligence community's inspector general, who agreed that the whistleblower's complaint was legitimate.

Trump reportedly blames his own appointee, Michael Atkinson, for finding the complaint credible enough to send it to Congress. The report is the basis for the investigation into Trump's July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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