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HeadlinesMay 16, 2022

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Racist Shooter Kills 10 at Supermarket in Majority-Black Neighborhood of Buffalo, NY

May 16, 2022

Residents of Buffalo, New York, gathered at vigils Sunday to mourn the 10 people killed a day earlier when a white supremacist wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle opened fire on a supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Of the 13 shoppers and store workers shot in the assault, 11 were Black. Among those killed was 72-year-old Kat Massey, who wrote to The Buffalo News last year in support of federal gun control laws.

Police arrested an 18-year-old suspect who reportedly live-streamed the massacre on the video streaming service Twitch. The site took the video down within minutes, but the footage continues to circulate among white supremacists online. The suspect left behind a racist manifesto that included a plan to target a mainly Black neighborhood. The manifesto heavily plagiarized a screed left behind by the white supremacist who killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The manifesto refers to the “Great Replacement,” a racist conspiracy theory promoted by far-right media figures including Tucker Carlson of Fox News and embraced by some Republicans, including New York Congressmember Elise Stefanik.

Prosecutors say the shooter purchased the Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle used in the assault lawfully from a licensed gun dealer in his hometown of Conklin, New York, after he passed a background check. That’s despite the fact that the suspect previously threatened a mass shooting at his high school. He allegedly modified his rifle to use high-capacity magazines that are banned in New York state.

President Biden spoke from the White House Sunday as the nation mourned the attack. 

President Joe Biden: “We’re still gathering the facts, but already the Justice Department has stated publicly that it is investigating the matter as a hate crime, racially motivated act of white supremacy and violent extremism. As they do, we must all work together to address the hate that remains a stain on the soul of America. Our hearts are heavy once again, but our resolve must never, ever waver.”

The White House says President Biden will visit Buffalo on Tuesday to meet with the families of victims. 

Mass Shooting in California Church Leaves One Dead and Four Critically Injured

May 16, 2022

Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo came on another bloody weekend of gun violence across the United States. In Southern California, one person was killed and four others critically wounded Sunday after a gunman opened fire at a Presbyterian church in Orange County. Most of the victims were of Taiwanese descent, though it’s not clear whether race played a role in the shooting. Local officials said the shooting could have been even worse.

Lisa Bartlett: “From what we know, there was a shooter that came in with multiple weapons and started opening fire. And fortunately, some of the parishioners here in the congregation jumped on the shooter and tackled him, brought him down to the ground and held him until the sheriff’s department came and was able to arrest the individual.”

Meanwhile, in Chicago, at least five people were killed and 27 others wounded in shootings across the city since Friday. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been nearly 58,000 gun deaths across the U.S. since President Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

Protesters Declare “Summer of Rage” as SCOTUS Prepares to Void Reproductive Rights

May 16, 2022

Abortion rights protests took place across the United States on Saturday, kick-starting what organizers are calling a “summer of rage.” Organizers said 20,000 people rallied in Washington, D.C., with over 10,000 more in New York. Protests took place in over 400 cities and towns as part of a coordinated day of action dubbed Bans Off Our Bodies. The protests came after the publication of a leaked draft opinion showed the Supreme Court was preparing to overturn Roe v. Wade. Speakers in Washington included Rachel O’Leary Carmona, the executive director of the Women’s March.

Rachel O’Leary Carmona: “Today is day one of an uprising to protect abortion rights. It is day one of our feminist future. And it is day one of a summer of rage, where we will be ungovernable. Ungovernable!”

Monica Simpson, the executive director of SisterSong, also spoke at the D.C. rally.

Monica Simpson: “We need you to get in this fight with us. We need you in every action. We need you in every state, in every place and everywhere to ensure that we have the reproductive justice that we deserve. I know it’s a hard fight, y’all. I know we’ve got the long haul to go, but if we stay connected, if we stay together, then I believe that we will win. Do y’all believe that we will win? I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will — that’s what I’m talking about! Peace and blessings everybody. Thank y’all!”

Sweden and Finland Formally Request NATO Membership

May 16, 2022

Leaders of Sweden and Finland have formally announced that they will seek to join NATO within days, ending decades of neutrality. If accepted, Sweden and Finland would become the 31st and 32nd nations in NATO. Finland shares an 830-mile border with Russia, which has warned both countries it would be a “grave mistake” to join NATO. On Saturday, Russia cut off electricity to Finland — Russia had provided Finland with about 10% of its electricity. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson spoke on Sunday.

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson: “Today the Social Democratic Party has concluded that Sweden should join NATO. Our 200-year long-standing policy of military nonalignment has served Sweden well, but the issue at hand is whether military nonalignment will keep serving us well. And Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is not only illegal and indefensible, it also undermines the European security order that Sweden builds its security on.”

Turkey, which is a member of NATO, has voiced concern over Finland and Sweden joining the military alliance, but it is not expected to veto their membership. Turkey has long accused Sweden of supporting the PKK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is banned in Turkey. 

Sen. Mitch McConnell and GOP Lawmakers Meet Ukraine’s President in Kyiv

May 16, 2022

In news from Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a secret trip with other Republican lawmakers to meet Ukraine’s President Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday. The trip comes as the Senate is preparing to vote as soon as Wednesday on a $40 billion military and economic aid package for Ukraine. Arms control experts are expressing concern that the massive military package could lead to a surge in arms smuggling because the U.S. has few systems in place to track the arms pouring into Ukraine. 

Kremlin Accuses U.S. and Allies of “Hybrid War” Against Russia in Ukraine

May 16, 2022

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused Western nations of waging what he called a hybrid war against Russia.

Sergey Lavrov: “The collective West has declared total hybrid war on us, and it is hard to predict how long this will last, but it is clear the consequences will be felt by everyone, without exception. We did everything to avoid a direct clash, but now that the challenge has been thrown down, we of course accept it. We are no strangers to sanctions: They were almost always there in one form or the other.”

India Bans Wheat Exports After Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Sets Off Global Food Crisis

May 16, 2022

Foreign ministers of the G7 are warning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is leading to a global hunger crisis. This is Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

Annalena Baerbock: “Russia has deliberately decided to extend the military war against Ukraine into a war of grains, a so-called wheat war, into many states across the world, especially Africa. With the blockade of Ukrainian grain exports as a result of destroyed transport routes and warehouses, the Russian incursion into Ukrainian territory in the east and in the south of the country, we are now faced with this incredibly difficult problem. Russia’s actions are causing supplies to fail, prices to rise immeasurably, not only in our country but around the world, and the threat of brutal hunger.”

In related news, India has imposed a ban on wheat exports, citing a risk to the nation’s food security caused in part by the war in Ukraine, as well as a massive heat wave.

Russia Extends Pretrial Jailing of WNBA Star Brittney Griner

May 16, 2022

Russia has extended the pretrial detention of WNBA superstar Brittney Griner by another month. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and seven-time WNBA all-star has been jailed in Russia since February after cannabis oil was allegedly found in her luggage when she flew into Russia to play during the WNBA’s offseason. The U.S. State Department recently declared that Griner is being “wrongfully detained” in Russia.

Saudi Aramco Made $40 Billion in Profits in Early 2022

May 16, 2022

The Saudi oil giant Aramco has reported making nearly $40 billion in profits during the first three months of the year — an 80% jump over last year. The Wall Street Journal reports Aramco recently became the world’s most valuable company, surpassing Apple. The company is now worth $2.4 trillion.

16 Wounded as Israeli Forces Attack Palestinians Marking Nakba Day

May 16, 2022

Palestinians held protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza Sunday to mark the 74th anniversary of the Nakba, or Catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes after the state of Israel was formed. At least 16 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank city of al-Bireh when Israeli forces attacked a Nakba Day protest. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said seven Palestinians were shot by live ammunition, three others by rubber-coated steel bullets. 

Meanwhile, Israel is facing international condemnation after Israeli forces attacked mourners on Friday at the funeral of the Palestinian American Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh, who was shot dead while covering an Israeli raid in the Jenin refugee camp. A spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “deeply disturbed” by what happened at the funeral. 

Lebanon Holds First Parliamentary Elections Since 2018

May 16, 2022

In Lebanon, voters headed to the polls on Sunday for the first parliamentary elections since 2018. Lebanon is facing a dire economic crisis with the official unemployment rate at 30%. 

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Hassan Sheikh Mohamud Sworn In as Somali President 

May 16, 2022

In news from Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been sworn in as Somalia’s next president after beating 35 other candidates in a long-overdue election. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud previously led Somalia from 2012 to 2017. Somalia is facing multiple crises, including a devastating drought and an armed insurgency led by the group al-Shabab. Earlier this month, al-Shabab fighters attacked an African Union base in Somalia, killing 10 soldiers from Burundi who were serving as part of an African Union peacekeeping team.

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Trump-Backed Candidates Put to the Test as Five States Hold Primaries

May 16, 2022

In political news, today is the final full day of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s closely watched primary races in Pennsylvania. On Friday, Pennsylvania’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, who is running for Senate, suffered a stroke but said he is on his way to full recovery. Meanwhile, in the Republican Senate race, polls show a tight three-way race between television doctor Mehmet Oz, who was endorsed by Donald Trump; hedge fund executive David McCormick; and far-right Republican Kathy Barnette, who has soared in polls in recent weeks. Over the weekend, Barnette and Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano banned reporters from campaign events. Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch described the ban as part of a “dramatic escalation in the war on a free press in America.”

In other political news, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland suffered what he called a “minor stroke” on Sunday. 

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