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Three people have been killed and 16 have been wounded by a U.S. soldier who opened fire at the Fort Hood military base in Texas and then took his own life. The gunman was identified as Ivan Lopez, an Iraq War veteran who was being treated for mental illness. He was being evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder but had not yet been diagnosed. President Obama reacted to the shooting during a trip to Chicago.
President Obama: “We’re heartbroken that something like this might have happened again. And I don’t want to comment on the facts until I know exactly what has happened. But for now, I would just hope that everybody across the country is keeping the families and the community of Fort Hood in our thoughts and in our prayers. The folks there have sacrificed so much on behalf of our freedom. Many of the people there have been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve with valor, and they serve with distinction. And when they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe.”
At least three of the surviving 16 victims are listed in critical condition, some suffering multiple gunshot wounds. Fort Hood is the same base where 13 people were killed and 32 wounded in a 2009 shooting also by a U.S. soldier.
The Supreme Court has struck down a long-standing limit on how much donors can give to federal candidates, political parties and political action committees in a two-year election cycle. Without any aggregate limit, a donor can now give millions directly to candidates and parties. The 5-to-4 decision is being described as the “next Citizens United” for further removing barriers to big money in politics.
President Obama continues a public campaign for a hike in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Speaking to students at the University of Michigan, Obama said workers deserve a living wage.
President Obama: “As Americans, we understand that some people will earn more than others. But here’s one thing we do believe: Nobody who works full-time should be raising their family in poverty, right? If you’re working, if you’re responsible, you should be able to pay the rent. There are always going to be folks who do critical work, who bust their tails every day—airport workers, restaurant workers and hospital workers and retail sales people—who deserve an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. They’re doing necessary jobs. They should be able to make a living.”
Thousands of apartment building workers have marched in New York City ahead of an upcoming strike vote. The workers are seeking a new contract that offers higher pay and protects benefits. On Wednesday, a large crowd marched through some of the city’s wealthiest blocks on the Upper East Side.
James Bouccoleri: “The city is the way it is because we put our hard work in it. We want to make it right for everybody. We fight for a fair contract, no givebacks.”
Marco King: “I’ve got to work two jobs, you know, just to keep up with what’s going on in this city. We’re not asking for too much. We’re just asking for a fair increase, just to keep on living in this city that all of us love.”
Newly leaked documents show the offices of two top Tennessee Republicans — Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam — coordinated with an effort to defeat a union drive at a local Volkswagen plant earlier this year. In a blow to organized labor, Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga rejected unionization, declining to make their plant the first unionized foreign-owned car factory in the United States. The union faced intense opposition from Republican lawmakers including Corker, who suggested the plant might miss out on future subsidies or on a new SUV line if the union was approved. According to Nashville TV station NewsChannel 5 and the website In These Times, aides to Corker and Haslam had extensive communications with a prominent anti-union group and several other anti-union consultants.
Abortion providers in Texas have filed a federal lawsuit to block an anti-choice rule they say could shut down all but six remaining abortion clinics in the state. The provision, which takes effect in September, requires abortion providers to meet hospital-style building requirements. It was passed as part of the sweeping anti-choice bill challenged by Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis and a people’s filibuster last summer. The new lawsuit also seeks to immediately block the law’s requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at a nearby hospital as it applies to two clinics in McAllen and El Paso, which are among the last providers in their communities. The McAllen clinic was recently forced to close, leaving the poorest part of the state without a legal abortion provider. In a statement, the Center for Reproductive Rights said: “We filed this lawsuit to stop the second-largest state in the nation from plunging millions of women back into the darkness and grave danger of illegal abortion.”
Lawmakers in Mississippi have passed a bill banning abortion at 20 weeks, with no exception for rape or incest. The bill takes effect 20 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period — two weeks earlier than 20-week bans passed in other states. A law with a similar cutoff in Arizona has been permanently blocked by courts. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has pledged to sign the measure. Mississippi lawmakers have also passed a so-called religious freedom bill which critics say would legalize discrimination against LGBT people. The bill has been compared to the one vetoed in Arizona earlier this year following a national uproar.
A former government contractor whose case ignited a controversy over the Obama administration’s targeting of journalists been sentenced to 13 months in prison. Stephen Kim was convicted earlier this year of leaking documents on North Korea to Fox News. Kim was charged under the Espionage Act, the nearly century-old law which was also used to classify Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” in the case. Kim is the sixth official to be convicted of leaking documents under the Obama White House.
The equipment giant Caterpillar is being accused of hiding billions of dollars in profits offshore to avoid paying taxes. A new Senate report says Caterpillar has exploited a tax loophole in Switzlerland to avoid taxes of $2.4 billion in the United States. Instead, Carterpillar was able to pay just $55 million.
The world’s first-ever treaty regulating the $70 billion global arms trade has moved a step closer to taking effect. On Wednesday, 18 United Nations member states ratified the measure, bringing the total number of ratifications to 31 — 19 short of the 50 needed for it to enter force. Anna MacDonald of the Control Arms Coalition urged the remaining holdouts to sign on.
Anna MacDonald: “You now have the opportunity to lead by example. All governments are responsible for the arms trade, and all governments need to act to ensure it is brought under control. States must now rigorously asses all arms and ammunition transfers, whether they are leaving, entering or passing through their territory. They must apply the treaty’s criteria robustly and deny arms transfers where there is a substantial risk that they will be used for violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including gender-based violence.”
The measure regulates the sale of conventional weaponry, including tanks and guns, in a bid to prevent acts of genocide or terrorism. The United States is the world’s largest weapons exporter. It signed the treaty last year, but has not yet ratified it over opposition in the Senate.
In a victory for advocates of an open Internet, the European Parliament has voted in favor of net neutrality, the principle of equal treatment for all Internet traffic. The decision comes ahead of talks with the European Union member states on an overhaul of regulations for the telecommunications industry.