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HeadlinesMay 21, 2018

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8 Students & 2 Teachers Killed in Shooting Rampage at Santa Fe, TX High School

May 21, 2018

In Santa Fe, Texas, funerals have begun for the victims of Friday’s school shooting massacre at Santa Fe High School, where eight students and two teachers were killed in the Friday morning rampage.

The killings began around 8 a.m., when 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis entered the school wearing a trench coat and armed with a shotgun and a .38 revolver and opened fire. Ahead of the attack, Pagourtzis posted on his Facebook page a T-shirt that read “Born to Kill” as well as images of his trench coat and an explanation of its decorations, noting that “Hammer and Sickle=Rebellion” and “Rising Sun=Kamikaze Tactics. Iron Cross=Bravery. Baphomet=Evil.”

Students who survived the massacre say the first classroom the shooter entered was an art classroom, where he fatally shot students, including 16-year-old Shana Fisher. Her mother said her daughter had repeatedly turned down the shooter’s advances in recent months. The Washington Post reports 2018 has been deadlier for school children than servicemembers. This is in part because of the 17 people killed in February in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. March for Our Lives, the group founded by Parkland students who organized nationwide protests in March, tweeted support for the Santa Fe High School students, saying, “This is not the price of freedom. This is the most fatal shooting since the one at our school and tragedy like this will continue to happen unless action is taken.”

The massacre has renewed calls for gun control, including from Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

Police Chief Art Acevedo: “I believe that anyone that owns a firearm that doesn’t secure it properly, ends up in the wrong hands and used to kill innocent people, that that should carry some significant consequences. And we need to think about that on the national level across this country.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the National Rifle Association’s incoming president, Oliver North, blamed Ritalin for school shootings. We’ll have more on the school shooting after headlines.

NYT: Trump Jr. Met with Israeli Social Media Manipulation Expert Ahead of 2016 Election

May 21, 2018

The New York Times is reporting that three months before the 2016 election, Donald Trump Jr. held a secret meeting with an Israeli man specializing in social media manipulation and with George Nader, an emissary representing the princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The New York Times reports the Israeli specialist, Joel Zamel, had already written a multimillion-dollar proposal for a social media manipulation campaign aimed at helping Trump win, ahead of the August 3 meeting, which was organized by Erik Prince, the head of the now defunct mercenary firm Blackwater.

The New York Times also reports George Nader told Donald Trump Jr. that both the Saudi and Emirati princes wanted to help Trump win the election. While it is not known whether the multimillion-dollar media manipulation proposal was ever put into effect, the Times reports that after Trump won the election, George Nader paid Joel Zamel, the Israeli specialist, up to $2 million.

On Twitter, Trump Demands DOJ Probe Alleged Surveillance of Trump Campaign

May 21, 2018

In response to The New York Times exposé, President Trump launched a tweetstorm Sunday, in which he lashed out at both The New York Times and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. In one of the tweets, he wrote, “The Failing and Crooked (but not as Crooked as Hillary Clinton) @nytimes has done a long & boring story indicating that the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt has found nothing on Russia & me so now they are looking at the rest of the World!”

President Trump went on to call for an investigation into his claims his campaign had been surveilled, writing, “I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes–and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!”

Trump has been claiming for months, without evidence, that the Obama administration spied on his campaign. Legal experts say his tweet Sunday crossed a line by applying overt presidential pressure on the Justice Department, which could possibly set up a clash similar to the one between President Nixon and the Justice Department during the Watergate scandal. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has responded to Trump’s tweet by asking the Justice Department’s inspector general to probe whether the FBI surveilled Trump’s campaign.

Trump to Meet with South Korean President at White House Tuesday

May 21, 2018

President Trump is slated to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House Tuesday, only weeks ahead of Trump’s proposed meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This comes as The New York Times reports President Trump is increasingly nervous about the proposed June 12 summit in Singapore. North Korea is threatening to cancel the meeting, after President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said the U.S. should use the so-called Libyan model for denuclearization in North Korea. In 2011, the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, eight years after Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program.

Cuba: 110 People Die in Plane Crash Outside Havana

May 21, 2018

Cuba has begun two days of national mourning Saturday, after 110 people died when a plane crashed and burned right after takeoff on Friday outside Havana. Officials say three survivors are in critical condition. This is Ana Avilés Gómez, whose son died in Friday’s crash.

Ana Avilés Gómez: “My son, he was my life. I don’t want to think about it. I was talking to him before the flight, and I told him, 'Be good, eat, enjoy, take care of yourself.' And he said, “Yes, mother, yes, yes.’ He was with his wife. They were very happy.”

Experts say the U.S. embargo of Cuba has crippled Cuba’s aviation industry, forcing Cuba to fly decades-old planes and scramble to obtain parts to make essential repairs. The Boeing 737 that crashed on Friday was nearly 40 years old, which an aviation specialist said was “one of the oldest passenger jets I have heard of that is still in service.”

Afghanistan: 8 Killed in Bombing at Cricket Match in Jalalabad

May 21, 2018

In Afghanistan, a series of bombings at a cricket match killed eight people and wounded dozens more in the eastern city of Jalalabad Friday night. On Twitter, the chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board wrote, “Cricket has been a source of happiness & pride for all Afghans, it has played a key role in bringing peace and uniting people. These attacks are against peace, unity and humanity.” The Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack, which occurred during the holy month of Ramadan.

All of Chile’s Roman Catholic Bishops Offer Resignation over Sex Abuse Scandal

May 21, 2018

All of Chile’s 34 Roman Catholic bishops have submitted letters of resignation to Pope Francis, offering to resign en masse after Francis accused the Chilean church of failing to protect children from sexual abuse by priests and destroying evidence of the sexual crimes. Pope Francis himself has faced criticism in Chile for ordaining a bishop who was accused of blocking a sexual abuse investigation into Reverend Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican has found guilty of sexually abusing young boys.


Saudi Government Arrests Slew of Prominent Saudi Feminist Activists

May 21, 2018

The Saudi government has arrested at least six of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent feminist activists, including women who have been campaigning for decades for the right to drive. Their arrest comes only weeks before the Saudi government is finally slated to lift the ban on women driving. The feminists have now been organizing against Saudi Arabia’s guardianship system, under which women need the permission of a male guardian to do almost everything. After their arrest, a Saudi government spokesperson accused the women of seeking to “destabilize the kingdom and breach its social structure and mar the national consistency.”

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Wins New 6-Year Term

May 21, 2018

In Venezuela, President Nicolás Maduro has won a new 6-year term in Sunday’s contested presidential elections. Most of the opposition parties boycotted Sunday’s elections, in protest of alleged fraud and vote buying by Maduro’s party. The election board said turnout was just over 46 percent, far lower than the 80 percent turnout from the last election in 2013. The United States says it won’t recognize the results of Sunday’s election and is considering new oil sanctions against Venezuela.


Asia Argento at Cannes: I Was Raped by Harvey Weinstein

May 21, 2018

In France, the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival was rocked by a powerful #MeToo speech by Italian actress and director Asia Argento, who is among the more than 100 women who have accused former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, assault and rape.

Asia Argento: “In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground. I want to make a prediction: Harvey Weinstein will never be welcomed here ever again. He will live in disgrace, shunned by a film community that once embraced him and covered up for his crimes. And even tonight, sitting among you, there are those who still have to be held accountable for their conduct against women, for behavior that does not belong in this industry, does not belong in any industry or workplace. You know who you are. But, most importantly, we know who you are. And we’re not going to allow you to get away with it any longer.”

That was Italian actress and director Asia Argento. Meanwhile, at Cannes, director Spike Lee’s latest film, “BlacKkKlansman,” won one of the festival’s top prizes. The film chronicles the true story of how an African-American police detective infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s in Colorado.

Royal Wedding Celebrates African-American Culture and History

May 21, 2018

In Britain, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married Saturday at Windsor Castle, in a ceremony that many heralded as ushering in a new era for the royal family. Meghan Markle, a former American actress, is biracial, divorced and a self-proclaimed feminist. The wedding celebrated black culture and history, including with a rousing gospel choir performance of the song “Stand by Me.” Bishop Michael Curry, the first African American to preside over the Episcopal Church, also delivered a powerful sermon in which he preached about slavery, poverty and the enduring power of love.

Bishop Michael Curry: “The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said—and I quote—’We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love—love is the only way.’ There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalize it. There’s power, power in love. If you don’t believe me, think about a time when you first fell in love. The whole world seemed to center around you and your beloved.”

Another performer at the royal wedding was the 19-year-old cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. He was the first black British musician to win the BBC’s Young Musician of the Year award in its 40-year existence. And among the songs performed was Etta James’s civil rights anthem “This Little Light of Mine.” The royal wedding is estimated to have cost $45 million.

Survivors of White Supremacist Attack in Charlottesville Marry

May 21, 2018

And in more wedding news, a couple who narrowly survived the deadly white supremacist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, has married. The couple’s story went viral after Marcus Martin pushed his partner, Marissa Blair, out of the way of the speeding car being driven by Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields. A Pulitzer Prize-winning photo captured Marcus Martin mid-air, after being struck by the car. He survived, but the couple’s close friend, Heather Heyer, died in the attack. Last weekend, Marcus Martin and Marissa Blair exchanged vows in Virginia, surrounded by purple flowers, in honor of Heather, whose favorite color was purple. Heather Heyer’s mother was among the attendants at the funeral.

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