Monday morning news: March 18, 2019

New Zealanders mourn those killed in mosque massacre » Mourners in New Zealand gathered at a makeshift memorial Sunday to pay tribute to the 50 people slain in Friday’s mass shooting at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

They piled hundreds of flowers, balloons, and notes of grief and love outside the Al Noor mosque.

And at a mosque in Wellington, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern comforted mourners, hugging a woman as she wept.

AUDIO: [Sound of mourners]

Ardern later addressed reporters…

ARDERN: The bodies of those who died are beginning to be returned to their families from this evening. It is likely, however, to be a small number to begin with. 

She said officials expect to return all remains to families by Wednesday.

The suspect in the shootings, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant, had five guns, which he’s believed to have purchased legally. That has sparked a new debate about gun laws in New Zealand. Ardern has promised to change those laws.

But the shooting is also sparking debate over the role and responsibilities of social media networks. Ardern noted the suspect apparently live streamed the massacre.

ARDERN: These social media platforms have wide reach. This is a problem that goes well beyond New Zealand.

And former U.S. homeland security and counterterrorism advisor Tom Bossert told ABC This Week

BOSSERT: I think it might be time to think about delaying or forcing those providers to delay live broadcasting or live streaming. 

Tarrant, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, also posted a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto online before the attacks.

Ethiopia Air investigation » Also on Sunday, mourners in Ethiopia gathered at a mass funeral for victims of last week’s jetliner crash.

AUDIO: [Ethiopia mourners]

Thousands paid respects at a cathedral in Addis Ababa before following a procession of 17 caskets through the streets of the capital city. Those caskets are empty as officials are still working to identify victims’ remains.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to analyze flight data from the doomed Boeing 737 Max 8. Officials say data from the plane’s black box shows a clear similarity between last week’s crash and an earlier one in Indonesia that also involved a Max 8 jet.

Both planes flew with erratic altitude changes that could indicate the pilots struggled to control the aircraft. Some experts believe faulty sensors and software may have contributed to the crashes.

Record flooding causes widespread destruction in Nebraska » Floodwaters swamped large areas of Nebraska over the weekend causing widespread destruction and killing at least one person.

Rain water combined with snowmelt overwhelmed creeks and rivers causing record flooding at 17 locations. Authorities used boats and large trucks to rescue at least 300 people from high water.

In Sarpy County, just south of Omaha, a second levee broke in the span of two days on Saturday. Floodwaters completely submerged up to 400 homes. Hundreds more were damaged across the state.

And it’s not over yet. Serious flooding is expected to continue in Nebraska at least through next weekend. Floodwaters have also spilled into southwestern Iowa and many residents downstream near the Missouri River are now being forced to evacuate.

Democratic White House hopefuls campaign in Iowa » But elsewhere in Iowa life was interrupted and several Democratic White House hopefuls hit the campaign trail in the state over the weekend.  

KLOBUCHAR: I believe we need to do more on healthcare, right? Affordable Care Act was a start.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar meeting with voters in the town of Independence.

And newly declared contender, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, continued building on a platform of uniting America. Between campaign stops in Iowa, he told NBC’s Meet the Press

O’ROURKE: And not just coming together for the sake of it, although that’s important enough, but coming together so we can achieve these really ambitious goals.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker also stumped in the Hawkeye State.

Meantime, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made her campaign official in a video announcement.

GILLIBRAND: We can definitely achieve universal healthcare. We can provide paid family leave for all.

She announced her presidential exploratory committee in January.

NCAA men’s basketball tournament set » The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is set.

Duke is the number one seed in the East bracket. Virginia tops the South with defending national champion Villanova, seeded sixth in that bracket. Gonzaga tops the West. And North Carolina is the number one in the Midwest. That makes a record 17th appearance for the Tar Heels as a number one seed.

The tournament tips off with play-in games tomorrow and Wednesday.

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian) Candles are placed to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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