Police in New York are continuing to search for a gunman who opened fire on a crowded subway train in Brooklyn during rush hour Tuesday morning. The gunman fired 33 shots after throwing two smoke grenades on the floor of the train. Ten people were shot, and another 13 were injured. The New York Times described it as the worst attack in the history of the city’s subway system. The shooting occurred in the working-class neighborhood of Sunset Park, which has a large Latinx and Asian immigrant population. Police have identified a 62-year-old man named Frank James as a person of interest in the mass shooting. Investigators say the gunman left behind a bag on the train carrying fireworks, a hatchet and two gas canisters, indicating he might have been plotting a broader attack. New York Governor Kathy Hochul spoke outside the train station Tuesday.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: “The people of the entire state of New York stand with the people of this city, this community, and we say, 'No more. No more mass shootings. No more disrupting lives. No more creating heartbreak for people just trying to live their lives as normal New Yorkers.' It has to end, and it ends now.”
The Brooklyn attack is just one of several mass shootings that have occurred in the United States in recent days. On Sunday, two people died and 10 were injured in a shooting at a nightclub in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In Indiana, six people were shot, including one fatally, at a birthday party on Sunday in Indianapolis. And four people, including two teenagers, were shot Saturday in Washington, D.C., near Nationals Park after a baseball game.
In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a law Tuesday to allow residents to carry handguns in public without a license or background check. We will have more on the New York subway shooting after headlines.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said peace talks with Ukraine have hit a dead end. Putin made the comment during a trip to eastern Russia.
President Vladimir Putin: “And, what is most important, the Ukrainian side moved away from its agreement in Istanbul. Now, the requirement for security guarantees is one thing, and the questions regarding settlement of relations with respect to Crimea, Sevastopol and Donbas are to be taken outside the framework of those agreements. So we are again back in the dead-end situation for all of us.”
Putin’s remarks came as Russia is preparing a major offensive in eastern Ukraine. Putin said the “military operation will continue until its full completion.”
This comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has proposed a prisoner swap with Russia after Ukraine’s secret services detained Viktor Medvedchuk, a prominent pro-Russia Ukrainian politician who had escaped house arrest in February. Zelensky offered to swap Medvedchuk for captured Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The Washington Post is reporting the Biden administration is considering vastly expanding the type of weapons the U.S. is sending to Ukraine. A proposed military aid package worth $750 million includes money for armored Humvees, Mi-17 helicopters, howitzer cannons and more drones, all this in addition to the $1.7 billion in military aid already provided to Ukraine by the Biden administration since the Russian invasion. This comes as the Pentagon is holding a meeting with the top eight U.S. weapons manufacturers to discuss ways to keep arming Ukraine if the war goes on for years.
In another development, President Biden has accused Russia of committing genocide in Ukraine. He made the comment during a speech in Iowa about rising fuel prices.
President Joe Biden: “Your family budget, your ability to fill up your tank, none of it should hinge on whether a dictator declares war and commits genocide a half a world away.”
In recent months Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of committing genocide in eastern Ukraine, where Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists have been fighting since 2014.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar: “If you are looking at energy purchases from Russia, I would suggest that your attention should be focused on Europe, which probably — we do buy some energy, which is necessary for our energy security. But I suspect, looking at the figures, probably our total purchases for the month would be less than what Europe does in an afternoon. So, you might want to think about it.”
In economic news, the soaring price of energy and food has led consumer prices in the United States to rise by 8.5% in March compared to last year. Inflation is now at its highest rate since 1981, according to a report from the Labor Department. On Tuesday, President Biden visited Iowa, where he announced a plan to suspend a rule preventing the sale of higher ethanol blend gasoline this summer, in a move to lower prices at the pump. Environmental groups warn the decision could lead to more smog this summer. The Center for Biological Diversity criticized the decision, saying, “The ethanol lobby will be happy and kids with asthma will be sicker.”
In global economic news, Oxfam is warning over 260 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty by the end of the year due to the pandemic and rising energy and food costs. Oxfam International said, “Without immediate radical action, we could be witnessing the most profound collapse of humanity into extreme poverty and suffering in memory.”
Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has signed into law a total ban on abortion in the state.
Gov. Kevin Stitt: “We want Oklahoma to be the most pro-life state in the country. We want to outlaw abortion in the state of Oklahoma.”
The law makes performing an abortion in Oklahoma a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Reproductive rights advocates say the Oklahoma law is one of the most sweeping abortion bans because there is no exception for rape or incest and the ban starts at conception.
In related news, Yelp has become the latest company offering to reimburse costs for workers and their spouses who must travel out of state to access abortion care. Other companies offering a similar benefit include Citigroup, Match, Bumble, Lyft and Uber.
The number of known COVID-19 cases in the world has topped 500 million, but that number is believed to be a vast undercount. One recent analysis by the World Health Organization estimated that the total number of people in Africa who have been infected may be almost 100 times higher than the official count. Meanwhile, new data from the CDC shows more people died in the United States in 2021 than any previous year, due to a rise in COVID deaths. The agency said about 415,000 people with COVID died in 2021 compared to about 350,000 the previous year. In other pandemic news, COVID cases continue to rise in the Northeast and other parts of the country. In recent days a number of colleges have reinstated some form of indoor mask mandates — the list includes Columbia, American, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Rice universities.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is rejecting calls to resign after he was fined for breaking U.K. COVID lockdown rules by attending a party for his birthday at 10 Downing Street in June 2020. Johnson becomes the first sitting British prime minister ever to be officially found to have broken the law while in office. Johnson’s birthday party was held at a time when the British government was barring residents from visiting sick relatives. British Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Johnson’s wife were also fined.
New CDC data shows the number of teenagers dying of drug overdoses nearly doubled between 2019 and 2020 and then rose again by 20% last year. The CDC found most of the overdoses involved the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The soaring number of overdoses comes despite a drop in overall drug use by teenagers in the United States.
New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin resigned Tuesday after being arrested on federal corruption charges. He is accused of directing $50,000 in state funds to a real estate investor in exchange for campaign donations. New York Governor Kathy Hochul appointed Benjamin as lieutenant governor in September, after she became governor following the resignation of Andrew Cuomo.
Officials in Nigeria say as many as 150 people were killed on Sunday when armed men invaded a number of villages in Nigeria’s central Plateau state, opening fire on residents and burning down homes. The attackers are believed to have abducted dozens of people. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
In the Philippines, at least 58 people have died after a large tropical storm triggered landslides and floods in the central province of Leyte and other areas. Dozens of people remain missing. The storm came just four months after a super typhoon devastated areas of the Philippines, killing more than 400 people and leaving thousands homeless.
Protesters in Sri Lanka are camping outside the president’s office for a fifth day demanding he resign from office as Sri Lanka faces a growing economic and political crisis. For months Sri Lanka has faced dire shortages of food, fuel and medicine. Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and announced Tuesday that it would stop repaying its foreign debt.
Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has vowed to stop illegal mining in Indigenous areas and vowed to roll back rules set by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro that open up more land for mining. Lula spoke in Brasília, where thousands of Indigenous Brazilians have been camped out to protest Bolsonaro’s policies.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva: “No one has done more than we have in our relations with the Indigenous people. And what’s serious is that practically everything we’ve done has been dismantled. … All decrees which have been an obstacle to the protection of the Indigenous people must be repealed immediately.”