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Texas church shooting 'protector' Jack Wilson receives first-ever Medal of Courage from Texas Gov. G

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AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott honored Monday the man who stopped a gunman at the West Freeway Church of Christ near Fort Worth last month.Three people died at the church in White Settlement, a town of about 17,000 people near Fort Worth, but the shooting lasted only seconds. The gunman mortally wounded two people before he was shot and killed by Jack Wilson, the head of the church’s volunteer security team.Wilson, a former reserve sheriff’s deputy and firearms instructor, fired a single shot.Abbott bestowed for the first time an award he created called the Governor’s Medal of Courage, described by his office as the highest honor given to civilians by the governor for those “who display great acts of heroism by risking their own safety to save another’s life.”Abbott’s spokesman did not respond to a question about when the governor created the award.In front of roughly a dozen friends and family at the Governor’s Mansion, Abbott placed the medal around Wilson’s neck.“Only God knows who is alive today because of Jack Wilson,” Abbott said. “What we do know is that so many lives were saved because of Jack Wilson’s quick action, his calmness under pressure and, above all else, his courage and his willingness to risk his own life to save the lives of others.”’We’ve helped him’:Texas church had fed gunman who opened fire during service, was watching him before rampageWilson, 71, spoke for several minutes from the podium after receiving the medal, saying that he didn’t feel like a hero but rather “a protector.”“When events arise, you’re going to do one of two things. You’re either going to step up and do what’s right or walk away, and I’m not one to walk away,” Wilson said.Astros owner Jim Crane fires manager A.J. Hinch, GM Jeff Luhnow after MLB suspensions in cheating scandal Shooting at Pensacola Navy base was ‘act of terrorism,’ attorney general says Prince Harry meets with Queen Elizabeth at royal summit Like what you see? Download the USA TODAY appThe ceremony comes in the midst of a yearslong debate over how to curb gun violence.Following a 2017 mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Legislature passed a bill that allows armed volunteer guards and churchgoers in houses of worship.Gun advocates argue that such laws expanding gun rights help prevent gun violence, while gun control activists say stricter gun laws are needed to keep criminals from obtaining weapons.President Donald Trump weighed in after the shooting in White Settlement, praising the Texas law that allows armed parishioners.Jack Wilson:Firearms instructor who trained parishioners brought down Texas church gunman with a single shot“It was over in 6 seconds thanks to the brave parishioners who acted to protect 242 fellow worshipers,” Trump tweeted. “Lives were saved by these heroes, and Texas laws allowing them to carry arms!”Wilson on Monday said that an expansion of gun rights allowed him to stop the shooter.“There are no safe havens left, whether i

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Two dead, seven injured after South Carolina bar shooting

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HARTSVILLE, S.C. — Two people were killed and seven people were injured early Sunday in a shooting at a bar in South Carolina, officials said.

The shooting took place at Mac’s Lounge in Hartsville, Darlington County Coroner Todd Hardee told news outlets.

The conditions of those injured weren’t immediately clear. No further details, including what led to the shooting, were immediately released. More information will be released later Sunday, he said.

The coroner said the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division would help process the scene.

According to its Facebook page, Mac’s Lounge also serves as a music venue.

Hartsville is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Florence, South Carolina, and about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of the North Carolina state line.

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Survivor in Slovenia turns 100 on Holocaust Remembrance Day

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For  Marija Frlan, it’s as symbolic as it can get

RAKEK, Slovenia —
For Marija Frlan it’s as symbolic as it can get: A survivor of a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, the Slovenian woman turns 100 years old on Monday, the international Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Frlan, who was held at the Nazi’s Ravensbruck camp in northern Germany for over a year in 1944-45, will join other survivors and officials in Poland on Monday for ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

Ahead of the ceremonies, Frlan told The Associated Press that one could talk at length about what it was like in the Ravensbruck camp, but that only those who were there really know how horrific it was.

“The ones who didn’t survive this, they can’t understand, no,” the energetic woman said at her home in the small village of Rakek in southwestern Slovenia. “It was terrible.”

Frlan said prisoners at the Nazi camp for women were given just enough food to survive and had to work throughout the day. Obligatory inspections were held outside every morning, lasting for at least one hour.

“One time, the inspection was going on for four hours,” she recalled. “It was a rainy day. It is impossible to explain if you weren’t there.”

Women at the camp encouraged each other not to give up, telling one another “Girls, hold on!” and “No moaning!” she recalled.

The Ravensbruck concentration camp was the second in size only to the women’s camp in Auschwitz, according to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Toward the end of the war, some 50,000 prisoners, mostly women, were held at the camp.

Frlan was shipped to Ravensbruck in March 1944 from a prison in her native Slovenia. After having to clean the the offices of the secret Gestapo police for nine months, Frlan was jailed for helping the resistance movement in Slovenia in a bombing.

“The Gestapo knew that I was responsible for the bombs,” she said. “So they took me to prison.”

It was then that she saw her husband for the last time. He was captured too and executed soon after.

“We even couldn’t say hello,” she said. “That was it.”

Frlan was sent to Ravensbruck on train via Munich with a group of other prisoners. The only meal she had in five days was a bowl of soup and three loaves of bread.

The inmates at Raversbruck came from some 30 countries, with the biggest number from Poland. Soviet troops liberated the camp in April 1945.

With the Red Army troops approaching, the Germans forced the prisoners to walk out of the camp toward the front lines, Frlan said. The march continued until early May.

“Suddenly, there were no Germans anymore and a Russian soldier appeared on a horse,” she remembered. “He said: The war is over!”

The prisoners from Slovenia and other nations in the former Yugoslavia then decided to walk back home together, Frlan said. Once she was back in Slovenia, the despair hit again.

“I had lost my husband, I had no flat,” she said. “Nothing.”

Still, Frlan managed to get back on her feet. She married again and had a family, giving birth to six children. She worked as a cleaner and factory worker after the war and even climbed Slovenia’s highest Alpine peak of Triglav at the age of 70.

Her family — Frlan has survived her second husband and three of her children — is planning a big birthday party in the village once she returns from Poland. Still generally healthy and able to walk on her own, Frlan always keeps a magnifying glass close by because of poor eyesight.

So what is her recipe for longevity?

“I always worked hard,” she said.

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As some Americans closely watch Trump’s impeachment trial, others say their interest has faded

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PHOENIX — Sarah Edwards woke up early Saturday, thinking less about President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and more about getting her golden retriever puppy, Ralphie, to the dog park downtown.

It was not that Edwards, 40, who was born and raised in Phoenix, did not understand the event’s historical significance or its importance — her curiosity in the proceedings grew when a formal inquiry was announced and was piqued again last month when the House voted to pass two articles of impeachment against Trump. But she was exhausted after reading the news coverage about Trump’s all-but-imminent acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate. The facts seemed blurred, and her interest began to fade.

Rather than follow every detail, she decided to pay attention to just the major developments.

“Sometimes, that just makes for a better day,” said Edwards, who works in the health insurance industry, adding that her interest in the trial has diminished because she feels like Trump has gotten away with so many egregious acts during his presidency and the outcome will be no different this time.

“I’ve just lost so much hope,” she said.

Personal attorney to President Donald Trump, Jay Sekulow, speaks during the impeachment trial in the Senate on Jan. 25.Senate TV via AP

The Senate’s trial into the charges against Trump began on Jan. 21, marking it only the third time in American history that a president has been impeached.

While the Senate impeachment trial that began Jan. 21 was broadcast live on TV and the internet and made the front pages of newspapers across the country, the public’s interest has waxed and waned. Like Edwards, some people say they believe the outcome of the trial has been predetermined, causing their interest to fade. Others have remained engaged, following every detail, while some have pulled away completely.

Traffic on news sites show that between Monday and Thursday, impeachment trial coverage did not attract the most viewers (that went to other Trump-related coverage, which captured 35 million views). But it still held public interest, coming in third place with 13,106,960 views, right behind the coronavirus, which received 13,851,440 views, said Sachin Kamdar, CEO of Parse.ly, a web analytics firm.

Benedict Nicholson, managing editor of Newswhip, a company that tracks how people engage with stories across social networks, said their data showed that weekly engagement to web content about impeachment peaked at around 80 million the week of Dec. 16, when the House voted to impeach Trump. Last week, when the Senate trial began, it showed about 22 million social media engagements for impeachment-related coverage through Thursday.

Nicholson noted that the trial proceedings did not start until Tuesday and focused more on rules and processes, which could explain the much lower engagement numbers.

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“I think it’s fair to say that although it’s not been as big a week in terms of engagement as some of the House proceedings, people are very much still paying attention to what is going on,” he said, adding that the numbers are still growing.

Eric Forman, 43, an IT engineer in Phoenix, was one of those who paid close attention when the House hearings began, watching CSPAN for at least two to three hours every day, along with reading stories online each evening. But his interest waned last week when the Senate approved a trial rules resolution by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, that left the question of whether the chamber would subpoena witnesses and documents for later in the trial. Recent polls have shown that many Americans would like to hear from witnesses..

But when the decision was postponed, that’s the moment Forman said he knew Trump would be acquitted.

“That’s like presenting the evidence of your case after the judge has already hit the gavel,” he said, adding that he stopped keeping up with the proceedings as much as he had before. “They are having a trial without having a trial, and it’s a sham.”

Nancy Flynn, 51, of Las Vegas, said she followed the impeachment trial closely until last week when she lost interest after listening to arguments by House Manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. She said she did not find the lead impeachment prosecutor credible. But she intended to start paying attention again as Trump’s defense team presents its case, and senators begin questioning both sides.

“I think they (Democrats) are going after him because they don’t like him,” said Flynn, who owns a small marketing business.

She said she believes Trump will be acquitted of the charges that he used his presidential power to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic political rivals. “They (Democrats) are really setting a dangerous precedent.”

While some have lingering curiosity about the trial’s developments, others say they are not keeping up with it at all because nothing will sway them from their views.

Nathan Beck, 40, of Los Angeles, said he has no interest in watching the trial and will vote for Trump no matter what because “when Trump speaks, it’s from the heart, unlike the other people.”

House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump on Jan. 23.Senate TV via AP

Natasha Watson, a Philadelphia resident who was visiting Detroit to participate in an equity, diversity and inclusion workshop last week, said watching the impeachment process has left her “disheartened and annoyed.”

“I really don’t really have faith that it’s going to make a difference at all,” she said, predicting that Senate Republicans would unanimously vote to keep Trump in office. “I have no doubt in my mind that he (Trump) will be our next president and we will suffer for it.”

Cody Quinn, 37, who works for a car dealership in Las Vegas, said he has not paid any attention to the impeachment proceedings because he feels it’s out of his hands and watching the trial would only bring him frustration.

“We vote and we’ve done our job,” Quinn said, adding that he does not believe lawmakers have brought forth any evidence that shows Trump committed a crime. “Now it’s up to the politicians we voted for.”

Others have little interest in continuing to watch the proceedings because they feel their time would be better spent paying attention to the upcoming presidential election.

“It’s like watching someone sitting in front of all their friends and asking them if they should send you to jail, and you know they are going to say no,” said Lakisha Banales, 42, a phlebotomist at a blood bank in Las Vegas. “Let’s move on and all come together to get someone into office who doesn’t cause so much division.”

Patrick Monahan, 26, a law student from Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan, said he also believes lawmakers have been voting along party lines.

“I think the most important thing is probably just getting through with this,” said Monahan, who watched “probably three quarters” of the House hearing and is watching some of the Senate proceedings. “We just need to move on with this and start getting ready for 2020 (the election).”

Many are still committed to keeping up with details of the impeachment trial, regardless of outcome. Ronald Simms, 36, of Beverly Hills, California, said he understands that people are not watching because they feel the trial’s end has been predetermined, but he thinks it is important for Americans to pay attention.

“This is a historic moment and it’s finally happening and it’s important and everybody should be watching,” he said. “If anything, people need to be informed of what their government is doing, what their president is doing. What the president does is news.”

Mark Nimmons, 53, a lifelong Democrat who lives in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Michigan, and works as a robot programmer for Ford Motor Co.,says he has watched “quite a lot” of the process in both the House and the Senate.

“I really do believe that this is the biggest threat to our democracy or democracy, period, that this country has ever had,” he said. “We really and truly need our democracy to pass this test.”

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