Three people have been killed in shootings at two Jewish facilities in Kansas. A former member of the Ku Klux Klan is accused of opening fire inside a Jewish community center and an assisted living home in the town of Overland Park. The suspect reportedly yelled “Heil Hitler” upon his arrest. Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said the attack is being investigated as a hate crime.
John Douglass: “We have a suspect. And again, I would caution everybody to understand suspects are not convicted; suspects are people of interest. This gentleman is in his seventies. He is a white male. He has a beard. And outside of that, there’s not a whole lot I know that I can confirm. We’re investigating it as a hate crime. We’re investigating it as a criminal act. We haven’t ruled out anything. I don’t want to say the terrorism word, but, you know, this is, again, three hours into it. It’s only wise and prudent that we use every resource we have.”
The suspect, Frazier Glenn Miller, had been a “grand dragon” as a KKK member. The shooting came on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover.
Ukraine is threatening to send troops into eastern towns today after a deadline passed for pro-Russian demonstrators to stand down. The protesters have occupied state buildings in a call for breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia. Ukraine has warned of a full-scale assault to retake the buildings and end the standoff. At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest.
Samantha Power: “These armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called for referendums and union with Russia. We know who is behind this. Indeed the only entity in the area capable of these coordinated professional military actions is Russia.”
A Ukrainian operation could spark a new military incursion by Russia, which has massed tens of thousands of troops on its Ukraine border.
The United Nations’ top environmental panel is warning the world has just 15 years to stave off devastating climate change. In a new report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says countries have taken so long to act that only immediate steps will prevent a climate catastrophe by century’s end. The IPCC says action by individual states has not been enough to tackle the problem, highlighting the need for a binding global treaty in the coming years. Emissions have increased at twice the rate in this century’s first decade than in the last decades of the 20th century. The report says the lowering costs of alternative energies have made transitioning on a mass scale practical and affordable.
President Obama has taken aim at the Republican-led rollback of voting rights with some of his most pointed comments to date. Speaking to the National Action Network in New York City, Obama said voter ID laws and the gutting of the Voting Rights Act have undermined democracy.
President Obama: “The principle of 'one person, one vote' is the single greatest tool we have to redress an unjust status quo. You would think there would not be an argument about this anymore, but the stark simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago. Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote.”
President Obama has nominated Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the new head of Health and Human Services. Burwell would replace Kathleen Sebelius, who stepped down last week. Burwell appeared with Obama and Sebelius at the White House on Friday.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell: “If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to carrying on the important work of ensuring that children, families and seniors have the building blocks of healthy and productive lives, whether it’s through implementing the Affordable Care Act, supporting affordable childcare or finding new frontiers to prevent and treat disease.”
Senate Republicans are expected to use Burwell’s confirmation hearings to take shots at President Obama’s healthcare law. Sebelius oversaw the law’s troubled rollout but ended her tenure with the administration hitting its enrollment target by signing up more than 7.5 million people for private insurance.
The Obama administration is blocking Iran’s new ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States to take up his post. The White House says it will not grant an entry visa to Hamid Aboutalebi because he allegedly belonged to the group behind the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced the decision.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney: “We have informed the United Nations and Iran that we will not issue a visa to Mr. Aboutalebi. We certainly share the intent of the bill passed by Congress, as we have already told the U.N. and Iran that we will not issue a visa. We’ll review the legislation. We’re doing that now. And we will work to address any issues related to its utility and constitutionality. But we share the intent of the bill.”
Aboutalebi has previously served as Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union, and has denied playing a direct role in the hostage crisis. Iran has rejected the U.S. decision and says it will bring the matter before the United Nations.
Israel has seized a new tract of land in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government has declared around 250 acres in a settlement bloc south of Jerusalem as “state land.” The Israeli newspaper Haaretz says it is one of Israel’s biggest land appropriations in years. The move comes amidst U.S. efforts to salvage peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Dozens of people have been killed in a bombing of a bus station in Nigeria. There are at least 35 confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise.
The National Security Agency has reportedly known of the massive new Internet bug “Heartbleed” for several years — and even adopted it for its own use. Bloomberg News reports the NSA was made aware of Heartbleed in early 2012. The bug leaves private web information open to theft by hackers, including passwords and browsing history. Instead of reporting Heartbleed to repair its flaws, the NSA reportedly started using it as a means to steal passwords. The NSA has denied the report, saying it wasn’t aware of the Heartbleed vulnerability until it became public this month. If confirmed, the use of Heartbleed would apparently fall under a newly revealed exemption for the NSA’s handling of Internet security flaws. According to The New York Times, President Obama has exempted the NSA from disclosing major Internet bugs in cases where “a clear national security or law enforcement need” would justify keeping it secret.
A veteran attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission says his bosses have been too lenient in going after Wall Street banks. Speaking at his retirement party, James Kidney said the SEC has been “tentative and fearful” in going after major financial firms for the reckless polices that caused the 2008 financial crisis. Kidney said: “[The SEC is] an agency that polices the broken windows on the street level and rarely goes to the penthouse floors. On the rare occasions when enforcement does go to the penthouse, good manners are paramount. Tough enforcement, risky enforcement, is subject to extensive negotiation and weakening.”
Residents of a small Canadian town have voted to oppose a major pipeline that would carry crude oil from Alberta’s tar sands. In a referendum-style vote, residents of Kitimat, British Columbia, voted to reject hosting the terminal for the Enbridge corporation’s Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would bring tar sands oil to Canada’s West Coast. The project has sparked protests for standing to cut through sensitive environmental areas and indigenous land. The Northern Gateway is seen as the main back-up option should President Obama reject another tar sands pipeline, the Keystone XL. The Canadian government has final say over the Northern Gateway, with a decision expected in mid-June.