In San Jose, California, a public transit worker shot and killed nine people at a rail yard Wednesday morning before fatally shooting himself. Authorities identified the gunman as 57-year-old Samuel Cassidy, a white man. At least one explosive device was found near the scene of the massacre. The shooter’s home, around 10 miles away, was found ablaze by firefighters. The victims are believed to be all or mostly co-workers. Their names are Paul Delacruz Megia, Taptejdeep Singh, Adrian Balleza, Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, Timothy Michael Romo, Michael Joseph Rudometkin, Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, Lars Kepler Lane and Alex Ward Fritch. California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke Wednesday from San Jose.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: “It begs the damn question: What the hell is going on in the United States of America? What the hell is wrong with us? And when are we going to come to grips with this? When are we going to put down our arms, literally and figuratively?”
The Gun Violence Archive reported San Jose was the 232nd mass shooting in the U.S. this year. That’s 100 more mass shootings than were recorded by this time in 2020. President Biden urged Congress to take immediate action to pass stricter gun control laws. He said, in a statement, “I have the solemn duty yet again of ordering the flag to be lowered at half-staff, just weeks after doing so following the mass shootings at spas in and around Atlanta; in a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado; at a home in Rock Hill, South Carolina; and at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.”
On Capitol Hill, senators held a hearing for David Chipman, President Biden’s nominee to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Chipman served at the ATF for two decades and has advised gun control groups. He faces intense opposition from Republican lawmakers for his pro-gun-control stance. This is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.
Sen. Chuck Grassley: “Many see putting a command — committed gun control proponent like Mr. Chipman in charge of ATF is like putting a tobacco executive in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services or antifa in charge of the Portland Police Department.”
Republicans blasted Chipman for supporting a ban on the AR-15 assault rifle — the most popular rifle in the United States. Chipman defended his position on gun control even as he pledged to enforce existing gun laws.
David Chipman: “The AR-15 is a gun I was issued on ATF’s SWAT team, and it’s a particularly lethal weapon. And regulating it as other particularly lethal weapons, I have advocated for. As ATF director, if I’m confirmed, I would simply enforce the laws on the books. And right now there is no such ban on those guns.”
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign a recently passed bill which would allow Texans to carry handguns openly in public without a permit. It also allows people without a felony criminal conviction to carry a handgun without a background check.
In a historic ruling, a court in the Netherlands has ordered the Royal Dutch Shell oil company to cut its greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade, in order to align its policies with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. The ruling only affects Shell’s Dutch operations but sets a precedent that could rein in fossil fuel companies far beyond the Netherlands. The case was brought by Friends of the Earth, which celebrated its victory outside a courthouse in The Hague. Lawyer Roger Cox argued the case.
Roger Cox: “This is a groundbreaking verdict, as far as I’m concerned. It’s the first time in the world that a large multinational CO2 polluter like Royal Dutch Shell is ordered by the court to do its share in avoiding dangerous climate change. … We expect that this will have a ripple effect against other multinational oil and gas companies and coal companies in the world.”
Meanwhile, shareholders of ExxonMobil voted unexpectedly Wednesday to send at least two activist candidates to the company’s board of directors. It was a surprise victory for a small hedge fund that’s pushing ExxonMobil to take the climate crisis seriously and to accelerate the transition to clean energy. Also on Wednesday, 61% of Chevron’s shareholders voted to slash greenhouse gas emissions.
The White House says President Biden has ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to determine whether the novel coronavirus escaped from a research laboratory in Wuhan, China. This comes amid mounting calls on the World Health Organization to further investigate the origins of COVID-19.
Cases continue to fall around the United States, with an average of fewer than 25,000 infections per day. Vaccinations keep falling, too, with an average of 1.7 million doses administered daily. That’s about half of the peak vaccination rate seen in April.
States are increasingly offering prizes to entice people to get shots. On Wednesday, Ohio gave away the first of five weekly $1 million “Vax-a-Million” prizes to Abbigail Bugenske, a recent college graduate and engineer, while 14-year-old Dayton student Joseph Costello won a full-ride scholarship to Ohio public colleges. Colorado, Oregon, New York and New Jersey are offering similar prizes.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore City School Board said this week it will not hold back students who are failing classes due to the pandemic. Students who struggled during unprecedented online classes will be given additional time and customized instruction to make up gaps in their education.
In Austria, talks continue this week on relaunching the Iran nuclear deal, from which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew in 2018 under Trump’s presidency. Officials expressed cautious optimism at the talks’ progress as one diplomat called a renewal of the deal “feasible.” The head of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency expressed concern this week with the continued push by Tehran to enrich uranium at “weapons grade” levels. Iran has said the U.S. would need to lift all sanctions before it comes back into compliance with the deal's terms
In Mexico, a mayoral candidate in the city of Moroleón was assassinated Tuesday ahead of June 6 legislative elections, when thousands of local candidates will be chosen. Witnesses say two armed men arrived at a campaign event for Alma Barragán and shot her dead, injuring two other people. On the same day, armed men kidnapped Omar Plancarte, a Green Party mayoral candidate in the state of Michoacán. At least 34 political candidates were murdered in Mexico this year. This is Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope.
Alejandro Hope: “The attacks against the candidates are only the surface of the violence that is being exercised. There are threats. There are various acts of intimidation, many of which are kept quiet by the candidates. There are not such showy interventions, but they can be very insidious in the process, which can determine the outcome of the election in some places.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to block Arkansas’s first-in-the-nation bill criminalizing gender-affirming treatment for transgender youth. In April, Arkansas state lawmakers voted to override Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of the highly contested bill. In a statement, the ACLU of Arkansas wrote, “No child should be cut off from the medical care they need or denied their fundamental right to be themselves — but this law would do both.”
Samaria Rice, the mother of Tamir Rice, has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to prevent the officer who killed her son in 2014 from being reinstated. Tamir Rice was just 12 years old when Timothy Loehmann fatally shot him, claiming he thought Rice’s toy gun was real. He was never charged but was eventually fired after it was revealed he lied on his job application. A police union is now seeking to reinstate him.
Lee Evans, an African American sprinter who helped found the Olympic Project for Human Rights after leading protests against racism in the United States, has died in Nigeria at the age of 74. Lee Evans won two gold medals while setting world records in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
His victories came just days after John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute as the U.S. national anthem played during an awards ceremony. Carlos and Smith were suspended from the U.S. team and would later be banned for life from the Olympics for their protest in support of Black lives. Just two days later, Lee Evans wore a black beret and raised his fist in a similar protest, after winning a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.
Harry Edwards, who co-founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights, said, “Lee Evans was one of the greatest athletes and social justice advocates in an era that produced a generation of such courageous, committed and contributing athlete-activists.”