President Biden is visiting Buffalo today as families there mourn the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting, when a white 18-year-old suspect killed 10 people at a supermarket he deliberately targeted in the city’s Black community. Investigators say the shooter spent months carefully planning his assault and intended to continue his rampage with an attack on a second location. Amid the mourning, calls for justice are growing. Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump spoke in Buffalo Monday.
Benjamin Crump: “What happened on Saturday was an act of domestic terrorism, and we have to define it as such. We can’t sugarcoat it. We can’t try to explain it away, talking about mental illness. No, this was a act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a young white supremacist.”
In California, officials in Orange County say Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Laguna Woods was a “politically motivated hate crime” targeting the Taiwanese community.
Sheriff Donald Barnes: “It is believed the suspect involved was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan.”
Police named the suspect: 68-year-old David Chou of Las Vegas, a Chinese immigrant and U.S. citizen. He reportedly placed Molotov cocktails around the church and chained exit doors shut before opening fire on a congregation gathered for a luncheon. Dr. John Cheng died in the assault, and four others were rushed to the hospital with gunshot wounds. On Monday, Orange County officials hailed Dr. Cheng as a hero who rushed the gunman, giving others a chance to subdue their attacker.
President Joe Biden has approved a Pentagon plan to redeploy up to 500 U.S. troops to Somalia. The move largely reverses a withdrawal ordered by then-President Trump during his final days in office. The Pentagon says the troops are needed to train Somalia’s army to combat al-Shabab militants. The Pentagon’s announcement came just after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was sworn in as president, a post he previously held from 2012 to 2017.
In news from Ukraine, more than 260 Ukrainian troops have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, ending a week-long standoff. About 50 injured Ukrainian fighters were taken to a hospital in the Russian-controlled town of Novoazovsk. The other fighters were taken to another town under Russian control. With the plant evacuated, Russia now controls all of Mariupol, which has been left in ruins after months of fighting.
The U.S. Senate has voted to advance a $40 billion military and economic aid package for Ukraine. By a vote of 81 to 11, the Senate agreed to limit debate on the bill, setting up its passage, which is expected on Wednesday. The entire Democratic Caucus supported the measure. The 11 “no” votes came from Republicans including Senator Rand Paul, who temporarily stalled passage of the $40 billion package last week. Paul accused Senate leaders of trying to ram through the spending bill without any oversight on how the money is being spent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia can accept Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but not if new military bases are set up in the two countries.
President Vladimir Putin: “As for the expansion of NATO, including through new members of the alliance, Finland and Sweden, Russia wants to inform you that it has no problems with these states. None. And so, in this sense, there is no immediate threat to Russia from an expansion of NATO to include these countries. But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory would certainly provoke our response. What that response will be, we will see what threats are created for us.”
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted he may block Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, but many analysts expect Turkey to back down in exchange for some concessions. Turkey has accused both countries of supporting the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is banned in Turkey.
Here in New York City, public health officials strongly recommended Monday that people wear medical-grade masks indoors — but stopped short of ordering a mask mandate. The warning came as New York prepared to raise its COVID alert level to “high” for the second time this month.
The New York Times reports the Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize third-dose booster shots of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.
Across the U.S., coronavirus hospitalizations are continuing to rise, with public health officials warning the nearly 100,000 new cases reported each day represents a significant undercount.
The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has sided with Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz in a case challenging a federal anti-bribery law. Writing for the majority in Monday’s 6-3 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts ruled that the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech protects the right of a candidate to use unlimited post-election contributions to repay loans made to their campaign. The federal campaign finance law known as the McCain-Feingold Act previously capped such loans at a quarter-million dollars. In her dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, “The theory of the legislation is easy to grasp. Political contributions that will line a candidate’s own pockets, given after his election to office, pose a special danger of corruption.”
The Biden administration is easing Trump-era restrictions on travel between the United States and Cuba. The State Department said Monday it will reinstate the Cuba Family Reunification Parole program, expanding visa processing and making it easier for families to visit relatives in Cuba. The administration is also lifting a $1,000 cap on remittances family members can send to relatives in Cuba. The new measures fall short of U.S.-Cuba rapprochement seen under former President Obama.
In occupied East Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians were injured Monday as Israeli forces used rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and foul-smelling “skunkwater” to attack a funeral procession of a Palestinian man killed by Israeli soldiers. On Saturday, Waleed al-Sharif succumbed to wounds he suffered April 22 when Israeli troops shot him in the head with a rubber-coated bullet as they fired so-called less lethal munitions at worshipers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. An eyewitness said Israeli forces left al-Sharif bleeding for nearly half an hour before he was finally taken to the hospital in a coma. He’s among 54 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year.
The Catholic Church’s top official in Jerusalem has condemned Israeli police for their violent attack on last Friday’s funeral for Shireen Abu Akleh. The veteran Al Jazeera journalist was killed last week covering an Israeli raid in the West Bank, in an attack that Palestinians and Al Jazeera blame on Israeli military snipers. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa said on Monday that Israel’s attack on Abu Akleh’s funeral was a severe violation of international norms and regulations.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa: “The police stormed into a Christian health institute, disrespecting the church, disrespecting the health institute, disrespecting the memory of the deceased and forcing the pallbearers almost to drop the coffin. Israel’s police invasion and disproportionate use of force, attacking mourners, striking them with batons, using smoke grenades, shooting rubber bullets, frightening the hospital patients, is a severe violation of international norms and regulations.”
In Lebanon, Hezbollah and its political allies have lost their majority in Parliament after final results from Sunday’s election showed no outright winner. The inconclusive outcome leaves Lebanon’s Parliament split among several camps, even as the nation grapples with soaring inflation, rampant poverty and corruption. It was Lebanon’s first election since a devastating economic collapse in 2019 and the massive 2020 explosion at the Port of Beirut that killed at least 215 people while destroying entire neighborhoods.
Sri Lanka’s newly sworn-in prime minister has warned his nation is down to a one-day supply of gasoline as a devastating economic crisis is set to deepen. Ranil Wickremesinghe said Monday Sri Lanka’s government will have to print money to pay government wages, even though it will lead to the devaluation of the currency. He said Sri Lanka will seek to privatize its state-owned airline, and called on citizens to accept even deeper austerity measures.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe: “The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives. We must prepare ourselves to make some sacrifices and face the challenges of this period. I have no desire to hide the truth and to lie to the public. Although these facts are unpleasant and terrifying, this is the true situation.”
In recent weeks, Sri Lanka has been rocked by protests demanding the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid rolling blackouts, soaring inflation, and shortages of fuel, medicine and food.
The Biden administration has announced a number of steps to alleviate a critical nationwide shortage of baby formula. The Food and Drug Administration and Abbott Laboratories have reached an agreement to allow Abbott Laboratories to reopen the nation’s largest baby formula plant, which was closed due to concerns over bacterial contamination following the deaths of two babies. Meanwhile, the FDA has eased import rules on baby formula made overseas. And the American Academy of Pediatrics has said babies as young as 6 months old can now be fed cow’s milk for a brief period of time due to the baby formula shortage. Up until now, pediatricians had recommended babies not be fed cow’s milk until they were a year old. We’ll have more on this story later in the broadcast.
The longtime LGBTQ lawyer and activist Urvashi Vaid has died at the age of 63. From 1989 to 1992, she headed the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and became an outspoken critic of the federal government’s response to the AIDS crisis. In 1990, she interrupted a speech by President George H.W. Bush while holding a sign that read “Talk Is Cheap, AIDS Funding Is Not.” She appeared on Democracy Now! in 2009.
Urvashi Vaid: “I feel that, you know, as a woman of color, it’s not really separable for me. Racial justice, gay rights, social justice, economic justice, they’re intertwined. And the context that we live in requires, I think, the gay movement to see how intertwined our struggle is with the defeat of right-wing values and right-wing ideology.”