The death toll in Saturday’s massacre at an El Paso Walmart has gone up to 22 people after two more injured victims died Monday. The gunman posted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto online 20 minutes before the shooting. Hours after the massacre in Texas, a gunman shot and killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, and injured dozens of others. Trump addressed the nation Monday and called on Americans to “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.”
In his manifesto, the El Paso shooter said he was “defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.” So far this year, Trump’s re-election campaign posted over 2,000 Facebook ads that include the word “invasion,” referring to migrants. Trump has also repeatedly used the term in speeches. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked Trump Monday to stop using the “language of 'invasion'” when describing immigrant and refugee communities. Trump went on to blame the mass shootings on violent video games, mental illness and the “dark recesses of the internet.”
President Donald Trump: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”
Trump did not call for major changes to the nation’s gun control laws but earlier in the day wrote on Twitter, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.” In his address, Trump also called for the death penalty for mass shooters. Last month, the Justice Department announced the federal government would resume capital punishment after nearly two decades.
As he signed off from his televised address, Trump named the wrong Ohio town in reference to Sunday’s shooting in Dayton, saying, “May God bless the memories of those who perished in Toledo.”
Cesar Sayoc, the avid Trump supporter who last year sent homemade pipe bombs to CNN and high-profile Democrats, including the Obamas and the Clintons, was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said Sayoc should receive a life sentence for sending the 16 Do-It-Yourself bombs, but the judge determined that, although he hated them, Sayoc had not intended to kill his victims based on the flawed design of the devices which never went off. Sayoc’s attorneys said he was radicalized by reading Trump’s tweets, watching Fox News and reading conspiracy theories on the internet.
Tensions are mounting over the disputed region of Kashmir following India’s revocation of its special status Monday. Kashmir remains on lockdown, with internet and other communications blocked and leaders placed under house arrest. The status change would mean Hindu Indians from outside Kashmir could buy land and settle in the region, among other actions that will shift the demographic makeup of the Indian-administered, Muslim-majority region. Critics and many Kashmiris say this would threaten the state’s autonomy, further consolidating it into Indian rule.
Protests were held across Pakistan Monday as political and military leaders convene today to discuss the issue. Raja Farooq Haider, the prime minister of Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir, issued a stern warning, saying Pakistan’s Army would defend the region and make “a graveyard for Indian soldiers” if “India dares to try any mischief” over Kashmir. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said India’s actions were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, while the U.N. is calling for all parties to exercise restraint.
The political crisis in Puerto Rico continues as its Senate sued against the appointment of Pedro Pierluisi as the new governor following Ricardo Rosselló’s resignation last week. Pierluisi was sworn in despite not having been confirmed by the Puerto Rican Senate; Pierluisi argues he is in the line of succession for governor after being nominated as secretary of state by Rosselló last week. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz also sued after his swearing-in. Pierluisi’s law firm represents the unelected, federally appointed control board with sweeping powers to run Puerto Rico’s economy. Puerto Ricans also say he represents a continuation of the corruption and status quo in the island’s leadership.
The Treasury Department designated China a currency manipulator after it allowed its currency to weaken to an 11-year low amid the ongoing trade war with President Trump. China’s move came after Trump last week threatened to impose a further 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese goods. Trump lashed out Monday, accusing China of using currency manipulation to “steal our business and factories, hurt our jobs, depress our workers’ wages and harm our farmers’ prices. Not anymore!” China also directed state-owned companies to suspend imports of U.S. crops. Economists have refuted Trump’s claims that China will bear the economic brunt of increased tariffs, saying U.S. consumers will in fact suffer the most. Stocks dropped in response Monday, with Wall Street suffering its worst day of 2019.
President Trump signed an executive order Monday imposing new sanctions against Venezuela and the government of President Nicolás Maduro, in what amounts to a near-total economic embargo. The latest move freezes the property and assets of the Venezuelan government as the country grapples with ongoing sanctions targeting its oil industry. The Wall Street Journal reports that the sanctions are on a par with those against North Korea, Iran, Syria and Cuba. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez said in an interview that the country is “facing a transnational legal coup planned by the U.S. government.” Venezuela has been plunged into a political crisis following the attempted overthrow of Maduro by opposition leader Juan Guaidó in January. The ongoing unrest and U.S.-imposed sanctions have crippled the Venezuelan economy. According to the U.N., around a quarter of Venezuela’s population is in need of aid, and 3 million people have left the country since 2016.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is speaking today at a conference in Lima, Peru, where he will reiterate U.S. support for Guaidó. Special envoy to Venezuela Elliott Abrams and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are also set to attend the meeting.
In southwestern Libya, officials say a drone strike on the remote town of Murzuq Sunday killed 42 people and injured 60 others — 30 of them critically. The U.N.-backed government in Tripoli blamed the assault on forces loyal to the Benghazi-based warlord Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in April aimed at seizing the capital. Haftar is a former CIA asset whom the White House has praised for his “role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.”
The singer and accused serial pedophile R. Kelly has been charged in Minnesota with two felony counts of prostitution and solicitation involving a minor. R. Kelly is accused of luring the girl, then 17, to his hotel room, where he offered her $200 to undress and dance for him. R. Kelly is currently behind bars in New York, where he faces multiple federal criminal charges for abusing women and girls. He was arrested last month in Chicago and indicted on counts including obstruction of justice, child pornography and sexual assault.
Police in Galveston, Texas, apologized following outrage over a photo showing horse-mounted officers leading a handcuffed black man down the street with a rope. The man was arrested Saturday on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. The president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, Leon Phillips, said the officers humiliated the man and that the photo was reminiscent of racist images from the 1920s. James Douglas, the president of Houston’s NAACP, also lamented the photo, saying, “This is 2019 and not 1819.”
In media news, two of the country’s largest newspaper publishers are merging. GateHouse Media acquired Gannett, which owns USA Today, among other papers, for $1.4 billion. The new company will own over 250 daily newspapers and hundreds of other weekly and community publications. The company, which will retain the name Gannett, will own over one-sixth of all daily newspapers in the United States. Critics warn the merger could result in newsroom layoffs and that local reporting may be sacrificed in favor of stories produced remotely and republished across many of the companies’ newspapers.