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Apology over New Zealand mosque accused’s ‘hateful’ letter

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Officials in New Zealand apologized Thursday after the alleged Christchurch mosque gunman was allowed to send a letter from prison espousing “hateful” views that a supporter then shared online.

Australian Brenton Tarrant is in a maximum-security jail in Auckland awaiting trial for the murder of 51 Muslim worshippers on March 15 in the worst mass shooting in modern New Zealand history.

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Yet despite the government vowing to deny Tarrant a platform to disseminate hate speech, corrections officials revealed he had been allowed to send mail from his prison cell.

One of the letters from the self-avowed white supremacist, addressed to a Russian man named Alan, was posted to the website 4Chan.

Handwritten in block letters, the six-page note discusses a trip Tarrant made to Russia in 2015, his admiration for British fascist Oswald Mosley and his belief “there is a great conflict on the horizon”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has vowed never to mention Tarrant by name, was furious the letter had bypassed the correction department’s vetting system.

“Corrections themselves have acknowledged the failing here… this individual should not be able to share his hateful message from behind prison doors,” she told reporters in Tuvalu, where she is attending a regional summit.

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Corrections Department chief executive Christine Stevenson said the letter should never have been sent.

“I would like to apologise for the distress that this has caused to those impacted by the tragic events of 15 March,” she said.

– ‘Fine balance’ –

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Stevenson said Tarrant’s mail privileges had been suspended while screening processes were reviewed.

“It is a fine balance to uphold our lawful obligations and mitigate all potential risks posed by the prisoner,” she said.

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“However, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that he has no opportunity to cause harm or distress, either directly or indirectly.”

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said that before the mail ban, Tarrant had sent nine letters while in custody: two to his mother and seven to “associates”, two of which were stopped by officials.

Davis said managing the 28-year-old was a challenge for the prison system.

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“The thing is, we’ve never dealt with a prisoner like this before,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“I’ve asked whether our laws are actually fit for purpose. I’ve asked corrections for advice on where they think we need to make changes.”

Tarrant allegedly opened fire in the packed Al Noor mosque during Friday prayers on March 15, and then travelled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque, while livestreaming his actions on social media.

He is scheduled to stand trial in May next year on 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act.

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His case came before the Christchurch High Court on Thursday for a brief hearing on procedural matters, although Tarrant was not required to appear via audio-visual link, as he has previously.

The case was adjourned until October 3, when the court is expected to make a decision on whether to move the trial away from Christchurch.


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Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying threat from coronavirus: report

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Major Fox News personalities like Sean Hannity spent weeks assuring viewers that the novel coronavirus wasn't a serious threat. In recent weeks, however, they have shifted to a different narrative, acknowledging that the virus is dangerous but giving President Donald Trump credit for taking action and criticizing Democrats' lack of action — even though many Democrats, in fact, warned the pubic first.

But according to The Daily Beast, even as there is no clear end to the crisis in sight, and even as the U.S. crosses 13,000 deaths, many Fox News hosts are going back to downplaying the virus, either telling viewers it wasn't as bad as advertised and urging the president to end public safety measures against it.

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The dangers of Trump TV: MSNBC host hammers Fox News as ‘genuine public health threat’ amid pandemic

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Tuesday night, Fox News decided that all anyone needed to do is to pump Americans with a Malaria drug and send them back to work to save President Donald Trump's economy.

Speaking Wednesday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes bashed the conservative network for downplaying the seriousness of coronavirus, saying that they are "a genuine public health threat."

While Trump has advisers like Dr. Anthony Fauci, he also has the unofficial advisers he sees on Fox News.

They "are coalescing around the idea the whole thing is just overblown and we need to pump everyone full of the malaria drug and get them back to work. This is what you heard if you watch trump tv just last night," Hayes said. He then played clips illustrating exactly that, with hosts ranting and raving about the virus not being as serious as the flu.

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‘Don’t let him rewrite history’: GOP ex-congressman slams Trump for painting fewer than 100,000 COVID-19 deaths as a victory

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At Wednesday's coronavirus task force press conference, President Donald Trump reiterated his claim that if fewer than 100,000 Americans die from COVID-19, it will be a victory for him.

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) had none of it.

He ignored the warnings. He ignored the scientists & doctors. He refused to prepare. He lied about the virus. This country wasn’t ready. People got sick. People died. People lost their jobs. Because he cared more about himself than the country.

Don’t let him rewrite history. https://t.co/9snqoJ1VQI

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