A gunman opened fire at a small Christian college in Oakland, California, on Monday, killing at least seven people and wounding three. It was the deadliest U.S. school shooting since the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007. The killings occurred at Oikos University, a college affiliated with a Korean-American church. Police identified the suspect as a 43-year-old Korean-American man named One Goh. He is a former student at the school. Howard Jordan is the Oakland police chief.
Howard Jordan: “We don’t know exactly how the sequence took place. We knew that when we got there officers found several victims throughout the classroom, throughout the building. There were several people hiding in locked buildings, locked doors, behind desks, as you can imagine, very frightened, very scared. Some of them were injured, so we had to rescue them out.”
Eyewitnesses said the gunman entered a reception area of the college mid-morning and opened fire before walking into one of two classes in session and spraying the room with bullets.
Witness: “He stood up in the class and just started firing, shot one guy in the chest, shot another person. And once, you know, he just started firing like crazy, and that’s when people started getting — that’s when she came running out, I guess. But there’s two more — there was also two dead bodies that came out, as well, too, so — as time went on.”
President Obama took an unusual shot at conservative justices on the Supreme Court on Monday, warning that a rejection of the Affordable Care Act would be an unprecedented step. Obama spoke about the Court’s review of the healthcare law at a joint press conference with the presidents of Canada and Mexico.
President Obama: “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.”
The Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-to-4 vote that officials can strip-search anyone who is arrested and brought to jail, even if there is no reason to suspect them of concealing anything. Under the ruling, all those brought to jail could be required to strip naked and undergo a “close visual inspection.” At least 10 states forbid such practices, and the American Bar Association said in a brief that international human rights treaties also ban the procedures. The suit stemmed from the case of Albert Florence, a man who was arrested in 2005 after his wife was pulled over for speeding in New Jersey. Florence was held for a week and strip-searched twice for having an unpaid fine. It later turned out the fine had been paid.
Voters head to the polls today in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. While newly released opinion surveys suggest Mitt Romney will sweep all three primaries, his chief rival Rick Santorum has vowed to stay in the race until at least May, when he hopes to pick up victories in Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. On Monday, Santorum released a new ad comparing Romney to President Obama. Throughout most of the ad, a photo of Obama’s face appears on the screen.
Rick Santorum: “I’m Rick Santorum, and I approved this message.”
Speaker: “What if I told you this man’s big government-mandating healthcare included $50 abortions and killed thousands of jobs? Would you ever vote for him? What if I told you he supported radical environmental job-killing cap-and-trade and the Wall Street bailouts? And what if I told you he dramatically raised taxes and stuck taxpayers with a $1 billion shortfall? One more thing. What if I told you the man I’m talking about isn’t him [Obama]? It’s him [Romney].”
That Rick Santorum ad ends with President Obama’s face morphing into Mitt Romney’s.
A Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, was firebombed Sunday when a homemade explosive device was left on a windowsill. An exam room was damaged, but no one was in the building at the time, and the clinic plans to reopen today. The incident follows a firebombing at the office of Texas Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis, a known Planned Parenthood supporter. That attack came right after Texas announced plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Another clinic in Pensacola, Florida, was also firebombed earlier this year.
The attacks coincide with a wave of anti-abortion measures at the state level. Last week Georgia state lawmakers passed a bill banning most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the highly contested notion that a fetus can feel pain at that stage.
More than 3,100 undocumented immigrants have been arrested in a massive nationwide sweep by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Some 1,900 agents took part in the raids which occurred in all 50 states. ICE officials said the raids targeted immigrants who were convicted of serious crimes or otherwise considered fugitives or threats to national security.
Syria has pledged to withdraw all military units from towns by April 10 to pave the way for a ceasefire with rebels two days later. Diplomats announced the deal after U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan briefed the U.N. Security Council on the deal behind closed doors. Susan Rice is the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Susan Rice: “Joint special envoy Annan said that in his discussions with the Syrian regime, he emphasized the urgency of the situation and pressed the government to cease troop movements, cease the use of heavy weapons, and pull out of population centers.”
The ceasefire agreement in Syria came just one day after the Obama administration and at least 60 other governments agreed to pay the rebels $100 million in aid. The United States has also pledged to send communications equipment to help the rebel forces. Syrian officials said such actions amounted to a declaration of war. Bashar Jaafari is the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations.
Bashar Jaafari: “Every single act that is not in line with the provisions of Mr. Kofi Annan’s mission is a violation of this mission. So everybody should bear the responsibility, including United States’ claims of supplying communications and other kind of supplies. And for those who said it publicly that they would like to send even money and salaries to these armed groups in Syria, somebody should put them at the confessional seat in the Security Council and ask them why they are doing that. This is not only a violation of the charter, this is not a violation of Mr. Kofi Annan’s mission, this is a violation and a declaration of war against the sovereignty of Syria.”
The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on the political crisis in Mali today after dissident soldiers seized power in a military coup last month. Tuareg rebels seized the ancient city of Timbuktu over the weekend, while the West African regional trade bloc has imposed tough diplomatic and financial sanctions against the military leaders.
The Colombian rebel group FARC has released 10 police and military hostages that had been held captive for more than a decade. Four soldiers and six policemen were released to a humanitarian group led by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Some say the release may indicate the FARC is moving toward negotiations with the Colombian government after five decades of fighting. Former Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba helped coordinate the release of the hostages.
Piedad Córdoba: “We can say that we achieved this because we did it through dialogue, and we achieved it without a drop of blood being spilled, and we achieved it with respect and because we recognized one another. And above all, we achieve it through knowing that what Colombia wants is peace and no more spilling of blood.”
In international economic news, the unemployment rate in the eurozone has reached 10.8 percent — the highest it has been since the introduction of the single currency in 1999. Spain has the highest rate of 23.6 percent.
In economic news from Europe, about half of the homeowners in Ireland have joined a tax boycott called for by anti-austerity protesters. An estimated 800,000 homeowners refused to pay a new flat-rate $133 property tax by Saturday’s deadline.
Dozens of federal agents have raided a number of properties connected to Richard Lee, the most prominent advocate for the legalization and regulation of marijuana in California. The largest raid occurred at Oaksterdam University, which offers courses in the growing and dispensing of medical marijuana. Agents also raided Lee’s home, a medical marijuana dispensary run by Lee, a nearby cannabis museum and the home of Todd McCormick, another longtime medical marijuana activist.
Nearly 80 Occupy San Francisco activists were arrested after they took over an abandoned building owned by the Catholic Church. Activists said they were hoping to turn the building into a center for health services and education.
The City Council in Denver, Colorado, is considering an ordinance that would ban unauthorized camping and effectively make it illegal for people to sleep on the streets. Critics say the proposal is an attempt to criminalize homelessness and target Occupy protesters. The American Civil Liberties Union has said the ban may be unconstitutional. The proposal appears to be part of a nationwide crackdown against the homeless. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty found 16 percent of municipalities it surveyed have made it illegal to sleep in public places.
South Korea has refused to allow three senior Greenpeace staff members into the country. Greenpeace has been a vocal critic of South Korea’s plans to double its reliance on nuclear power, building 13 more nuclear power plants to go with the 21 that already exist.