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North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un said Friday he will stop testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, and will close a site where at least six prior nuclear tests were held. The announcement came less than a week ahead of a planned meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and as the Trump administration makes plans for an unprecedented face-to-face summit between Kim and President Trump. In response, Trump tweeted, “they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!” In fact, North Korea has said that it will suspend tests of its nuclear program. Trump has previously threatened to use nuclear weapons against North Korea, saying he would “totally destroy” the nation of 25 million people.
French President Emmanuel Macron kicks off a three-day state visit today with a sightseeing trip to George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate in Virginia, where he’ll be joined by President Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Macron is reportedly planning to press Trump to keep U.S. troops in Syria, and will pressure him not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, as he’s repeatedly threatened to do.
In Tennessee, police have launched a manhunt for a killer who opened fire on a Waffle House restaurant in suburban Nashville early Sunday morning, killing four people and wounding four others before being disarmed by a patron and escaping on foot. Police have identified the killer as a 29-year-old white man from Morton, Illinois, named Travis Reinking. All of his victims were young people of color. Reinking reportedly arrived at the Waffle House naked, except for a jacket, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle. He fled the scene after 29-year-old James Shaw Jr. wrestled Reinking’s assault rifle away from him. Shaw, who was injured in the struggle, has been widely hailed as a hero who prevented the further loss of life. Reinking was arrested in July 2017 by the Secret Service for trespassing on the White House grounds. He would go on to tell investigators he wanted to set up a meeting with President Trump. It was one of several incidents in which Reinking was reported to have displayed delusional thinking. After the White House incident, the FBI seized four of Reinking’s guns—but the weapons were later returned to Reinking’s father, who has acknowledged he then gave the guns back to his son. One of those guns was the AR-15 used in Sunday’s massacre. This is Nashville Mayor David Briley, speaking to reporters on Sunday.
Mayor David Briley: “We need comprehensive gun reform to address mass shootings, domestic shootings, accidental shootings and homicides. If we can all just come together for this and for the greater good, we can take these weapons of war off the streets of our country.”
The mass shooting came two days after thousands of students at schools across the U.S. walked out of classes for another coordinated day of action against gun violence.
In Afghanistan, a suicide bomber struck a voter registration center in the capital Kabul Sunday, killing at least 57 people and injuring 119 others. The attack came just days after authorities began opening voter ID distribution centers ahead of October elections. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the bombing, which appeared to target members of the Shia Hazara minority community. Later Sunday, six people were killed in Baghlan province when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli military snipers shot and killed four Palestinians Friday as they protested near the heavily militarized border cordoning off the Palestinian territory from the outside world. Among the dead was 15-year-old Mohammad Ayoub, who was shot in the head. This is the boy’s mother, Raeda Ayoub.
Raeda Ayoub: “Mohammad was standing unarmed. The Israeli forces were armed and were taking cover. They bring in reinforcements to kill the boys in Gaza so they don’t get to grow up and get their rights.”
Israeli forces have killed 36 Palestinians since protests against the Israeli occupation began on March 30. Meanwhile, the number of Palestinians injured by Israeli bullets has topped 1,700. The aid group Médecins Sans Frontières—or Doctors Without Borders—warns most of those shot will be left with “serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a Palestinian man was shot and killed Saturday by two assailants who fired 14 rounds before speeding away on a motorcycle. The victim, 35-year-old Fadi al-Batsh, was a senior lecturer at the University of Kuala Lumpur who specialized in engineering and who’d been living in Malaysia for the past decade. Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said the killers had “European features,” and said they were linked to a foreign intelligence agency. In the Gaza Strip, members of Batsh’s family blamed the Israeli spy agency Mossad for carrying out the killing.
In Syria, government forces have stepped up a massive campaign of airstrikes and artillery fire on the last opposition-held districts around the capital Damascus. Among areas taking heavy fire is the Yarmouk Camp, home to Palestinian refugees, which has been held by ISIS since 2015. Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA—the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees—warned of a humanitarian catastrophe inside the camp.
Chris Gunness: “Yarmouk was a refugee camp transformed into a death camp akin to one of the lower rungs of hell. Things were absolutely beyond inhumane for the people trapped there. And for the civilians in Yarmouk today, we are extremely concerned, because things are getting worse by the hour.”
On Saturday, a U.N. team of chemical weapons inspectors collected samples from Douma two weeks after an alleged gas attack. The incident was cited by President Trump—along with the French and British governments—as justification for a round of U.S.-led airstrikes on April 14.
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega has canceled unpopular plans to raise taxes while cutting pension benefits, after the death toll from resulting protests rose to at least 26 over the weekend. Human rights groups have accused police of using live rounds on demonstrators. Among those killed was reporter Ángel Gahona, who was shot dead as he broadcast coverage of the protests on Facebook Live. The protests erupted last Wednesday as the government moved to decrease people’s pensions even as it requires workers and employers to contribute more money to the social security system.
In Peru, mourners paid their last respects Saturday to 81-year-old Olivia Arévalo Lomas, an indigenous rainforest protector who was found murdered in her ancestral home in the Amazon. Arévalo Lomas was a traditional healer, a leader in her community and an indigenous rights activist. On Thursday, she was shot twice by an unknown gunman who fled on a motorcycle. On Friday, an angry mob surrounded 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe, a Canadian man they blamed for Arévalo Lomas’s death, before dragging him away and lynching him. Police say they’re looking into whether Woodroffe had anything to do with Arévalo Lomas’s killing, and are investigating both murders.
In Armenia, thousands of protesters defied a police crackdown and rallied in the capital Yerevan Sunday, demanding the release of opposition leaders and calling on longtime leader Serzh Sargsyan to step down. Protesters are accusing Sargsyan of clinging to power, after he served two terms as the country’s president, then led a campaign to make the role of the presidency ceremonial while elevating the position of prime minister and assuming that role. At least 200 people have been arrested as police have sought unsuccessfully to stop the ongoing protests.
In Massachusetts, thousands of graduate students and undergraduate teaching assistants at Harvard University have voted to unionize. Harvard’s student newspaper reported that a Harvard representative repeatedly declined to answer whether administrators will now recognize the Harvard Graduate Students Union, a chapter of the United Automobile Workers, the UAW.
A climate change denier with no scientific credentials is set to helm NASA, after he was narrowly confirmed by the Senate in a 50-49 vote. Oklahoma Republican Congressmember Jim Bridenstine previously demanded President Obama apologize for funding climate change research, and said falsely from the House floor that global temperatures stopped rising early this century. Bridenstine will now oversee an agency whose Earth Sciences Division is responsible for much of the satellite data used to investigate how human activity is driving global warming.
In a major victory for environmentalists, banking giant HSBC said Friday it will no longer finance the development of tar sands oil extraction, most coal fired power plants, and oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. HSBC says its new policy, which will also end financing to hydroelectric and nuclear power projects that don’t meet certain requirements, is targeted at helping keep greenhouse gas emissions below targets set in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord. In a statement, the Sierra Club’s Kelly Martin welcomed the policy, calling it “yet another signal to Donald Trump and the rest of the world that, despite their worst laid plans, the era of fossil fuels is coming to a close.”
The winners of the 2018 prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize have been announced, with women claiming five of the six prizes. Among this year’s winners are anti-nuclear activists Liz McDaid and Makoma Lekalakala, who led a successful campaign against South Africa’s bid to purchase as many as 10 nuclear power plants from Russia. In Latin America, Francia Márquez wins a prize for her campaign against illegal mining in the Amazon, which led Colombia’s government to crack down on cyanide and mercury pollution. And in the U.S., LeeAnne Walters wins a Goldman Prize for uncovering the crisis of toxic lead in Flint, Michigan’s water supply, after she commissioned a test of her home’s tap water and found it was so contaminated it qualified as hazardous waste.
In Georgia, hundreds of militarized police officers patrolled a small rally of neo-Nazis in the Atlanta suburb of Newnan on Saturday, arresting members of an anti-fascist counterprotest after they refused an order to remove their masks.
Police officer: “State law requires you to remove your masks right now! You will do it right now, or you will be arrested!”
When some of the Antifa protesters refused, police moved in, brandishing semiautomatic assault rifles and pointing them at the heads of unarmed demonstrators. Ten people were arrested. The police were enforcing laws drafted years ago to combat the Ku Klux Klan. After the protest, the neo-Nazis gathered in a field and made fascist salutes as they burned large wooden swastikas.
In New York, former Black Panther Herman Bell is poised to leave prison for the first time in nearly 45 years, after a judge rejected a lawsuit challenging his upcoming release on parole. Bell was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the killing of two New York City police officers in 1971. At the time, he was a member of the Black Liberation Army and a former Black Panther. Since then, he has mentored thousands of young men while behind bars and kept a clean disciplinary record. Click here for more on the case of Herman Bell.
And former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has accepted Amnesty International’s highest prize, the Ambassador of Conscience Award. In 2016, Kaepernick sparked a movement against racism and police brutality at sporting events across the U.S. by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem ahead of NFL games. This is Colin Kaepernick speaking Saturday night at an Amnesty awards ceremony in Amsterdam.
Colin Kaepernick: “It was James Baldwin who said, 'To be black in America and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.' My question is: Why aren’t all people? How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates freedom and justice for all, that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? How can you not be in a rage when you know that you are always at risk of death in the streets or enslavement in the prison system? How can you willingly be blind to the truth of systemic racialized injustice?”