—Police arrested Scott Michael Greene, a 46-year-old white man, in connection with the fatal shootings on Wednesday of two Des Moines-area officers. He was detained west of Des Moines without incident and charged Thursday.
—The officers—one from Urbandale, Iowa, and the other from Des Moines—were shot 20 minutes apart early Wednesday. Both were in their patrol cars. Police said they were killed in an “ambush-style attack.” They were identified as Anthony “Tony” Beminio and Justin Martin.
The Des Moines Register and other news organizations are reporting that Scott Michael Greene was charged Thursday with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of Urbandale, Iowa, Police Officer Justin Martin and Des Moines Police Sergeant Anthony Beminio.
“The investigation has produced probable cause to support these charges,” according to a news release quoted by the Register.
Greene, who is being held at the Polk County Jail, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges.
President Obama paid tribute to the two Iowa police officers who were killed early Wednesday, saying they “represented our best, most decent instincts as human beings—to serve our neighbors, to put ourselves in harm’s way for someone else.”
The president praised officers across the country for their service to communities and risking their lives in the line of duty. He said in part:
All across the country, our police officers go to work each day not knowing whether they’ll come home at night. Their families live each day with the same fears. So as Americans, we owe them our respect and gratitude for their efforts to safeguard our families and our communities. And so as we once again mourn American police officers lost in the line of duty, we must also renew the call to match that same sense of service, that same devotion within our own lives and our own communities.
Obama, who has spent a good deal of time in Iowa in the last eight years on the campaign trail, also praised the community with how they handled the tragedy Wednesday, saying residents of Des Moines and Urbandale are “good, big-hearted people who look out for each other and are willing to come together across our differences.”
It is unclear whether the president will visit Des Moines in the wake of the shooting.
The Des Moines officer killed was Sergeant Anthony “Tony” Beminio, Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, said at a news conference. He was “a great guy,” Parizek said. “It’s real hard” to lose him. Deminio had been with the department since 2005, he said. He was promoted last year.
The Urbandale officer was identified as Justin Martin, who joined the department in 2015. Both officers are white, as was the suspected shooter.
Parizek added that authorities did not know whether the videos posted on YouTube are a “relevant piece to our investigation.” He said he couldn’t confirm whether the man in the video was Scott Michael Greene.
Greene flagged down officers, presented his ID, and asked police to call 911, Parizek said. Greene was arrested without incident, he said.
In a statement, the attorney general said “the Department of Justice has offered any and all assistance to our state and local counterparts as they investigate these appalling attacks.”
I know that this is a time of particular tension and mistrust between law enforcement and many communities. I know that while we do not yet know what led the perpetrator to commit these awful crimes, many will be nevertheless be tempted to read a message or motive into this assault. But let me be clear: there is no message in murder. Violence creates nothing; it only destroys. And the path to the more just and peaceful society that we desire for ourselves and for our children is paved not with hatred and malice, but with compassion, and understanding, and the hard work of cooperation. Let those be our watchwords in the days to come.
The suspected shooter was first arrested for a misdemeanor in 2014 that came from an incident where he resisted arrest by two officers trying to pat him down for weapons at an apartment complex in Urbandale, The Des Moines Registerreported. Officers called Greene, who is 46 years old, noncompliant, hostile, and combative in that instance. He would later plead guilty.
Two days after that arrest, officers responded to a call saying Greene had threatened to kill a man in the parking lot of the same complex and he was charged with first-degree harassment. The Register reported Greene was accused of shining a flashlight in the man’s eyes, calling him a racist epithet, and then saying, “I will kill you.” Greene pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, and received a sentence of one year of probation.
A YouTube video posted two weeks ago to an account named “Scott Greene,” and titled “Police Abuse, Civil Rights Violation at Urbandale High School 10/14/16” shows an unpictured man arguing with several officers. The police ask the man to leave the property, saying he was “causing disturbance in the stands.” The video has not been confirmed, but is being investigated by Urbandale police. In another video on the same account, this one posted last week, a man resembling Greene holds a Confederate flag in front of people seated on bleachers. Urbandale High School's football stadium is located near the intersection where one officer was found dead Wednesday, the Register reported. Law-enforcement have not said if the videos were posted by the man arrested for the fatal shootings on Wednesday.
Police arrested Scott Michael Greene in connection with the fatal shootings of the two officers, the Des Moines Registerquoted Sergeant Chad Underwood, a spokesman for the Urbandale Police Department, as saying.
Other news organizations are also reporting the arrest.
The New York Timesquoted Sergeant Paul Parizek, the spokesman for the Des Moines Police Department, as saying Greene was on foot when he was taken into custody in Dallas County, Iowa. He offered no resistance, Parizek said.
Wednesday’s killings in Des Moines comes just months after Micah X. Jones, an Army veteran angry at the police’s treatment of African Americans, killed five police officers on July 7 in Dallas.
Then on July 17, Gavin Long, a self-described black separatist, killed three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund noted that 14 officers were killed in ambushes in the first six months of 2016. Three officers were killed in that manner in the same period in 2015. The percentage increase: 300 percent.
The Urbandale officer was killed at the intersection of 70th Street and Aurora Avenue at about 1:06 a.m. CT, police said. About 20 minutes later, a Des Moines police officer, responding to the scene where the first officer was shot, was killed near the intersection of Merle Hay Road and Sheridan Avenue.
Both officers were killed in their patrol cars.
“The shootings appear to have been ambush-style attacks,” the Urbandale police said in a statement.
A statement from Des Moines Public Schools said the Urbandale school district has cancelled classes Wednesday because the shootings occurred near Urbandale High School.
Classes in Des Moines are not being cancelled, but the city’s public schools “will be in close contact with the Des Moines Police Department throughout the day, and will take any additional precautions if needed.”
Ben Hammes, a spokesman for for Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, said:
The governor and lt. governor have been alerted to the attacks on law enforcement this morning. Shortly after the shootings, our office was briefed by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on the shootings. DPS is working hand in hand with local law enforcement in the investigation. We will continue monitoring and working with law enforcement in the interest of public safety.
An attack on public safety officers is an attack on the public safety of all Iowans. We call on Iowans to support our law enforcement officials in bringing this suspect to justice. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the police officers who were tragically killed in the line of duty as well as the officers who continue to put themselves in harm’s way.
Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity.
There’s no place like home—unless you’re Elon Musk. A prototype of SpaceX’s Starship, which may someday send humans to Mars, is, according to Musk, likely to launch soon, possibly within the coming days. But what motivates Musk? Why bother with Mars? A video clip from an interview Musk gave in 2019 seems to sum up Musk’s vision—and everything that’s wrong with it.
In the video, Musk is seen reading a passage from Carl Sagan’s book Pale Blue Dot. The book, published in 1994, was Sagan’s response to the famous image of Earth as a tiny speck of light floating in a sunbeam—a shot he’d begged NASA to have the Voyager 1 spacecraft take in 1990 as it sailed into space, 3.7 billion miles from Earth. Sagan believed that if we had a photo of ourselves from this distance, it would forever alter our perspective of our place in the cosmos.
When the polio vaccine was declared safe and effective, the news was met with jubilant celebration. Church bells rang across the nation, and factories blew their whistles. “Polio routed!” newspaper headlines exclaimed. “An historic victory,” “monumental,” “sensational,” newscasters declared. People erupted with joy across the United States. Some danced in the streets; others wept. Kids were sent home from school to celebrate.
One might have expected the initial approval of the coronavirus vaccines to spark similar jubilation—especially after a brutal pandemic year. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the steady drumbeat of good news about the vaccines has been met with a chorus of relentless pessimism.
It’s not just one problem—and we’re going to need a portfolio of approaches to solve it.
Why wouldn’t someone want a COVID-19 vaccine?
Staring at the raw numbers, it doesn’t seem like a hard choice. Thousands of people are dying of COVID-19 every day. Meanwhile, out of the 75,000 people who received a shot in the vaccine trials from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax, zero died and none were hospitalized after four weeks. As the United States screams past 500,000 fatalities, the choice between a deadly disease and a shot in the arm might seem like the easiest decision in the world.
Or not. One-third of American adults said this month that they don’t want the vaccine or are undecided about whether they’ll get one. That figure has declined in some polls. But it remains disconcertingly high among Republicans, young people, and certain minority populations. In pockets of vaccine hesitancy, the coronavirus could continue to spread, kill, mutate, and escape. That puts all of us at risk.
The GOP has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
We are living in a time of bad metaphors. Everything is fascism, or socialism; Hitler’s Germany, or Stalin’s Soviet Union. Republicans, especially, want their followers to believe that America is on the verge of a dramatic time, a moment of great conflict such as 1968—or perhaps, even worse, 1860. (The drama is the point, of course. No one ever says, “We’re living through 1955.”)
Ironically, the GOP is indeed replicating another political party in another time, but not as the heroes they imagine themselves to be. The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.
I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.
Adam Kinzinger says he’ll fight to take his party back from Donald Trump.
adam Kinzinger is a liberated individual—liberated from his party leadership, liberated from the fear of being beaten in a primary, liberated to speak his mind. The 43-year-old representative was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“I don’t have a constitutional duty to defend against a guy that is a jerk and maybe says some things I don’t like,” Kinzinger told me, explaining what had pushed him to finally break with the president. “I do when he’s getting ready to destroy democracy—and we saw that culminate on January 6th.”
This was the sort of language a number of Republicans used in the immediate aftermath of the riot. “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on January 13. But by the end of the month, McCarthy was traveling hat in hand to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump.
A global pandemic doesn’t give us cause to treat the aged callously.
Crises can elicit compassion, but they can also evoke callousness. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve witnessed communities coming together (even as they have sometimes been physically forced apart), and we’ve seen individuals engaging in simple acts of kindness to remind the sick and quarantined that they are not forgotten. Yet from some quarters, we’ve also seen a degree of cruelty that is truly staggering.
Earlier today, a friend posted on Facebook about an experience he’d just had on the Upper West Side of Manhattan: “I heard a guy who looked to be in his 20s say that it’s not a big deal cause the elderly are gonna die anyway. Then he and his friend laughed … Maybe I’m lucky that I had awesome grandparents and maybe this guy didn’t but what is wrong with people???” Some have tried to dress up their heartlessness as generational retribution. As someone tweeted at me earlier today, “To be perfectly honest, and this is awful, but to the young, watching as the elderly over and over and over choose their own interests ahead of Climate policy kind of feels like they’re wishing us to a death they won’t have to experience. It’s a sad bit of fair play.”
Side effects are just a sign that protection is kicking in as it should.
At about 2 a.m. on Thursday morning, I woke to find my husband shivering beside me. For hours, he had been tossing in bed, exhausted but unable to sleep, nursing chills, a fever, and an agonizingly sore left arm. His teeth chattered. His forehead was freckled with sweat. And as I lay next to him, cinching blanket after blanket around his arms, I felt an immense sense of relief. All this misery was a sign that the immune cells in his body had been riled up by the second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, and were well on their way to guarding him from future disease.
Side effects are a natural part of the vaccination process, as my colleague Sarah Zhang has written. Not everyone will experience them. But the two COVID-19 vaccines cleared for emergency use in the United States, made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, already have reputations for raising the hackles of the immune system: In both companies’clinical trials, at least a third of the volunteers ended up with symptoms such as headaches and fatigue; fevers like my husband’s were less common.
Chloé Zhao’s Oscar contender about one woman’s itinerant life speaks volumes about this country’s myths of self-sufficiency.
Fern (played by Frances McDormand), the hardscrabble hero of Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, is the kind of resolute, independent protagonist that has dominated American movies since the dawn of the Western genre. She drives around the country in her van, living as self-sufficiently as possible, and carries a flinty affect with people, revealing little about herself and the turmoil that has led to her life on the road. But Fern is not a bullheaded cowboy fighting on the frontier. She’s a newly widowed woman in her early 60s searching for meaningful existence in a nation that’s become hostile to ordinary citizens in need of help.
Zhao’s epic sweep of a movie, which travels the American West from Nevada to South Dakota, is crammed with beautiful photography of some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. It’s also overflowing with Zhao’s empathetic style of storytelling, and the ensemble largely features nonactors playing themselves, relaying stories of survival on the road in the aftermath of 2008’s Great Recession. As the United States weathers another seismic economic and humanitarian crisis, Zhao’s film offers insightful perspective on how terrifying and tenuous the American dream can be.
We’ll never know for sure how contagious people are after they’re vaccinated, but we do know how they should act.
Every day, more than 1 million American deltoids are being loaded with a vaccine. The ensuing immune response has proved to be extremely effective—essentially perfect—at preventing severe cases of COVID-19. And now, with yet another highly effective vaccine on the verge of approval, that pace should further accelerate in the weeks to come.
This is creating a legion of people who no longer need to fear getting sick, and are desperate to return to “normal” life. Yet the messaging on whether they might still carry and spread the disease—and thus whether it’s really safe for them to resume their unmasked, un-distanced lives—has been oblique. Anthony Fauci said last week on CNN that “it is conceivable, maybe likely,” that vaccinated people can get infected with the coronavirus and then spread it to someone else, and that more will be known about this likelihood “in some time, as we do some follow-up studies.” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky had been no more definitive on Meet the Press a few days before, where she told the host, “We don’t have a lot of data yet to inform exactly the question that you’re asking.”
An uncertain spring, an amazing summer, a cautious fall and winter, and then, finally, relief.
Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET on February 24, 2021.
The end of the coronavirus pandemic is on the horizon at last, but the timeline for actually getting there feels like it shifts daily, with updates about viral variants, vaccine logistics, and other important variables seeming to push back the finish line or scoot it forward. When will we be able to finally live our lives again?
Pandemics are hard to predict accurately, but we have enough information to make some confident guesses. A useful way to think about what’s ahead is to go season by season. In short: Life this spring will not be substantially different from the past year; summer could, miraculously, be close to normal; and next fall and winter could bring either continued improvement or a moderate backslide, followed by a near-certain return to something like pre-pandemic life.