Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is in mourning after what’s being described as deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history. On Saturday, a 46-year-old white man named Robert Bowers stormed the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, yelling “All Jews must die” as he opened fire on worshipers preparing for Shabbat services. SWAT officers arrived on the scene of carnage and detained Bowers after a shootout about 20 minutes after the rampage began. Bowers had an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle and at least three handguns at the time of his arrest. The victims ranged from 54 to 97 years in age. Six others were injured, including four policemen. On Sunday, some 2,500 people gathered for memorial services to pay their respects and call for healing. This is Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto.
Mayor Bill Peduto: “I think the approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those that are looking to express hatred through murder.”
Just before the shooting rampage, the gunman Robert Bowers wrote on a far-right social media site, ”HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” HIAS refers to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, a humanitarian aid nonprofit group that has provided assistance to refugees for more than 130 years. Just last month, HIAS condemned President Trump for capping the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. this year at just 30,000, writing, “President Trump has once again betrayed America’s history and global leadership in providing safe haven for innocent human beings fleeing violence and persecution.” On Saturday, President Trump said that the shooter should face the death penalty, and claimed that if there had been armed guards inside the synagogue, the results would have been different.
President Donald Trump: “This has little to do with it, if you take a look. If they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. This is a dispute that will always exist, I suspect, but if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation, but they didn’t.”
A group of Jewish leaders has told the president that he is no longer welcome in Pittsburgh until he denounces white nationalism. Eleven members of the Pittsburgh affiliate of Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice wrote a letter to Trump that reads in part, “Our Jewish community is not the only group you have targeted. … You have also deliberately undermined the safety of people of color, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and people with disabilities. Yesterday’s massacre is not the first act of terror you incited against a minority group in our country.”
Their letter came after Trump cheered on a group of young black Republican leaders at the White House on Friday, as they shouted “Soros!” and “Lock him up!” It was a reference to George Soros, the billionaire financier and liberal philanthropist, who’s a frequent target both of Republicans and neo-Nazi groups. Soros is Jewish and survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary before becoming an advocate for refugee rights. This is Trump at the White House Friday.
President Donald Trump: “They’re called globalists. They like—they like the globe. I like the globe, too.”
Crowd of supporters: “[inaudible] Soros! Soros!”
President Donald Trump: “I like the globe, too. But we have to take care of our people. We have to. Globalists.”
Crowd of supporters: “Lock him up!”
President Donald Trump: “Heh, heh. Lock him up.”
Meanwhile, the Fox Business Network has pulled an episode of the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” program after a member of the right-wing organization Judicial Watch made anti-Semitic remarks attacking George Soros. On Thursday, Chris Farrell described the State Department as “Soros-occupied” territory to Dobbs.
And House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has deleted a tweet he posted last week suggesting three wealthy Jewish Democratic donors were trying to buy the midterm elections. A tweet by McCarthy posted Tuesday and deleted Wednesday read, “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg to BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA,” also referencing Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg.
In Jeffersontown, Kentucky, a white man arrested for shooting and killing two African-American customers at a grocery store last Wednesday was seen unsuccessfully trying to enter a predominantly black church shortly before his rampage. Police say 51-year-old Gregory Bush was captured on a surveillance camera trying to force open the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown for several minutes, before turning his attention instead to a nearby Kroger supermarket, where he opened fire and killed two African Americans—Maurice Stallard and Vickie Lee Jones. After the killings, Bush was confronted by an armed bystander, Ed Harrell, in the parking lot outside the supermarket. This is Harrell’s son, Steve Zinninger, speaking with a local NBC affiliate.
Reporter: “So, your dad was confronting the shooter.”
Steve Zinninger: “Yeah. Yeah.”
Reporter: “OK. Did that man say anything? Or, how did your dad figure out something wasn’t right?”
Steve Zinniger: “He didn’t realize it was him 'til he'd already seen the gun by his side. And he said, ’Don’t shoot me, I won’t shoot you.’ He’s like, 'Whites don't kill whites.’”
Gregory Bush has a history of making racist slurs and has a long rap sheet of misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, menacing and making terroristic threats. In 2009, a judge ordered Bush to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment, after his parents claimed Bush threatened to shoot them in the head. Bush’s father said his son “carries a gun wherever he goes.” It’s not clear whether Bush’s guns were returned when the court order expired in 2011. Gregory Bush will face two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment at a court hearing scheduled for November. Prosecutors are investigating the murders as a “possible hate crime.”
In Florida, Cesar Sayoc, the man suspected of sending a series of explosive devices to high-profile Democrats and CNN, is appearing in court today where he will face federal charges and a possible prison sentence of up to 48 years. Sayoc, a 56-year-old man from Aventura, Florida, was picked up Friday after investigators tracked him down thanks to a fingerprint left on one of the bomb packages.
On Friday, authorities intercepted more suspicious packages destined for California Senator Kamala Harris, billionaire donor Tom Steyer and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, bringing the total to at least 14 packages sent. Sayoc, who was working as a DJ at a strip club, was active on social media, praising Trump and attacking his political opponents, including those targeted by his mail bombs. Sayoc’s social media posts showed him at rallies and wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. His Twitter account was previously reported to the company after he made threats to a political commentator, but no action was taken.
The Intercept is reporting that Sayoc’s home was foreclosed on in January of 2009 by IndyMac Bank, a failed bank which, two months later, was renamed OneWest Bank and taken over by Steven Mnuchin, the current U.S. treasury secretary. Investigators believe that Sayoc was living in his van, where he built the bomb devices. His van is covered in pro-Trump and Pence stickers, as well as images of prominent Democrats with crosshairs over them. The images include Hillary Clinton—one of the targets—and filmmaker Michael Moore. An outtake from Moore’s recent film “Fahrenheit 11/9” shows Sayoc at a Trump 2020 rally last year.
Cesar Sayoc and Trump supporters: ”CNN sucks! CNN sucks! CNN sucks! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!”
That protest was in Melbourne, Florida. Cesar Sayoc was among the protesters chanting ”CNN sucks!”
In Brazil, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won a sweeping victory in a presidential runoff election on Sunday, marking the most radical political shift in the country since military rule ended more than 30 years ago. Bolsonaro defeated rival Fernando Haddad of the leftist Workers’ Party by a margin of 55 to 45 percent. Bolsonaro is a former Army officer with a history of making racist, misogynistic and homophobic comments. He has praised Brazil’s former military dictatorship, spoken in favor of torture and threatened to destroy, imprison or banish his political opponents. Bolsonaro has also encouraged the police to kill suspected drug dealers, and once told a female lawmaker she was too ugly to rape.
Environmentalists warn Bolsonaro will speed catastrophic climate change by opening up vast swaths of the Amazon to agribusiness giants who will replace rainforest with fields of soybeans, corn and sugarcane. Bolsonaro’s election was met with dismay by thousands of protesters, who poured into the streets of São Paulo and other cities—and were met by riot police—after the results were announced.
Protester: “I am in mourning, not for me, but for Brazil, which doesn’t deserve this. It doesn’t deserve this ignorance. The Brazilian people are ignorant. Brazil owes a lot to former President Lula.”
Later in the broadcast, we’ll go to Rio de Janeiro to speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald about the rise of Jair Bolsonaro and what he means for democracy in Brazil.
In Indonesia, a passenger jet carrying 189 people crashed into the sea near the capital Jakarta shortly after it took off Monday morning. Search and rescue workers reported finding wreckage and personal belongings from Lion Air Flight 610, but no sign of any survivors. A cause of the crash is not yet known.
Saudi Arabia has rejected a call by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to extradite suspects accused of killing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi so they can be tried in Turkey. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saturday that 18 suspects would be tried in Saudi Arabia after a Saudi-led investigation. Turkey says a squad of Saudi hit men lured Khashoggi to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2, where they tortured him and cut him to pieces using a bone saw. President Erdogan has demanded that Saudi officials show him where Khashoggi’s body is, and name those responsible for ordering the killing.
In Gaza, an airstrike from an Israeli drone killed three Palestinian teenagers Sunday near the heavily militarized separation barrier with Israel. The deaths capped a weekend of violence. On Friday, Israeli forces shot and killed five Palestinians as they joined weekly protests under the banner of the Great March of Return. The Gaza Health Ministry said 170 others were injured, many by live fire. Overnight Friday, Israeli warplanes pounded parts of Gaza with dozens of bombs, leveling buildings, as Palestinians fired about three dozen rockets toward southern Israel before a brief ceasefire took effect Saturday.
In India, federal authorities raided the offices of Amnesty International’s India branch Thursday, in the latest crackdown on civil society groups by the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Investigators spent over 10 hours searching tax records in Amnesty’s Bangalore headquarters, before freezing the NGO’s bank accounts. The raid follows a similar government action against the environmental group Greenpeace earlier this month.
German media is reporting that Chancellor Angela Merkel will not seek re-election when her term ends in 2021. She will also not seek leadership of her party, the CDU, or Christian Democratic Union. Merkel’s party suffered heavy losses in the state of Hesse Sunday, with the far-right AfD party making gains. Merkel has been leader of her party since 2000 and the German chancellor since 2005.
And in Tennessee, a federal judge has ruled the Memphis Police Department violated an agreement to stop engaging in political surveillance. The ACLU successfully argued in court that Memphis police broke a 1978 consent decree when it set up a phony Facebook profile to surveil activists with Black Lives Matter and other civil rights groups.