A suspect was apprehended after killing three people and injuring one other Tuesday in downtown Fresno, California, in what authorities are calling “a random act of violence.” Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a news conference the suspect, who was identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, allegedly shot and killed three people in the city’s downtown area, including a Pacific Gas & Electric employee and two others outside a Catholic Charities facility. Muhammad, who police say yelled “God is great” in Arabic before he was apprehended, was wanted by police on suspicion of fatally shooting a security guard outside a Fresno hotel last week. Dyer added the suspect’s Facebook page indicated “he does not like white people,” and also included “anti-government sentiments.” Authorities did not label the incident a hate crime, and said it is too soon to determine if it was an act of terrorism. Muhammad is believed to have acted alone and faces four counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder.
This story is developing and we will update it as we learn more.
Pedro Hernandez Sentenced to 25 Years to Life in Etan Patz Murder Case
Pedro Hernandez was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison Tuesday for the kidnapping and murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz, marking an end to the infamous case that began nearly four decades ago. Hernandez was convicted by a New York jury in February at the end of the case’s second trial. The first, which took place in 2015, ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked. Hernandez confessed in 2012 that he lured Patz into the basement of the grocery store where he worked in 1979 and strangled him; Hernadez’s lawyers argued the confession was a product of police manipulation and that Hernandez is mentally ill. Patz, whose body was never found, was one of the first missing children to ever be pictured on a milk carton. The anniversary of his disappearance has since been commemorated as National Missing Children’s Day.
United Airlines CEO: No One Will Be Fired Over Dragging Incident
United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said Tuesday no one would be fired from the airline over last week’s incident in which a passenger was dragged off what was thought to be an overbooked flight. The airlines’s executives added it was too soon to tell how the incident has affected ticket sales. Video of the incident, which showed police forcibly drag the 69-year-old passenger, Dr. David Dao, off his seat and down the plane’s aisle, generated global backlash against the airline and wiped nearly $1 billion off United Continental Holdings Inc’s value. Munoz condemned the event as a “system failure” and vowed the airline would no longer use law enforcement to remove passengers who are “booked, paid, seated.” The controversy prompted other airlines to revisit their policies, as well. Delta Airlines announced Friday it would increase its compensation to passengers removed from overbooked flights from $1,350 to $9,950, and American Airlines said it would no longer permit the removal of passengers who have already boarded the plane.
Police Say Facebook-Murder Suspect Steve Stephens Found Dead
Updated at 1:23 p.m.
Pennsylvania State Police announced Tuesday that Steve Stephens, the man authorities in Cleveland say shot and killed a 74-year-old man and uploaded video of the slaying to Facebook, killed himself in Erie County.
Steve Stephens was spotted this morning by PSP members in Erie County. After a brief pursuit, Stephens shot and killed himself.
Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams thanked the public for their help in finding Stephens, noting authorities had 400 tips on his whereabouts. He also warned of using social media to post videos of violence. “We can’t do this in this country,” Williams said in a news conference. “I think the people on social media kind of know the power and the harm it can do.” The video remained on Facebook for more than two hours before it was removed by the social-networking site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening.”
Stephens made several Facebook posts before the shooting, saying he’d lost all his money gambling and that he was upset with his girlfriend. He also claimed to have committed a dozen other murders, though police have not verified if that is true. The killing happened Sunday afternoon, and the video, as described byThe Washington Post, shows Stephens approach a man, then ask him to repeat the name of his girlfriend. The man does so, then Stephens says, “She’s the reason why this is about to happen to you.” Stephens then raises the gun and fires, according to the Post. The victim was identified as Robert Godwin Sr., and police said there was no indication the men knew each other. Authorities say they believe Stephens left the state, and they cautioned residents in Pennsylvania and New York that he is armed and dangerous. Stephens was last seen in a white Ford Fusion.
Following the killing, Facebook said it needed to respond to such videos more quickly. “We know we need to do better,” Justin Osofsky, Facebook’s vice president of global operations, said Monday in a blog post. As early as this morning, Stephens’s whereabouts were unknown. Rumors that Stephens had been spotted in other cities and as far afield as Texas were dismissed by authorities in those places. This is not the first time a crime has been committed and video of it found on Facebook.
The U.S. Supreme Court declined early Tuesday to vacate the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling halting a scheduled execution from taking place. The high court’s ruling, which came just minutes before the death warrant of 54-year-old inmate Don Davis expired, prevented the state of Arkansas from conducting the first of eight lethal injections scheduled to take place this month, as well as the first execution to take place in the state since 2005. The court provided no explanation for the denial, and no dissents were recorded. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he was “disappointed” by the decision, but added the state “will continue to fight back on last minute appeals and efforts to block justice for the victims’ families.” As Garrett Epps noted, the state’s decision to schedule eight executions over the span of just 11 days—a rate the Death Penalty Information Center, which monitors executions in the U.S., called “unprecedented”—correlates with the state’s supply of execution-drug midazolam that is set to expire at the end of the month.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May Calls for New Elections on June 8
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has called for early general election on June 8, a date that marks almost one year since the country voted to leave the European Union. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” May said, referring to the U.K.’s Parliament. Lawmakers will vote tomorrow on May’s call, and they are expected to approve early elections; elections were previously scheduled for 2020. While political opposition to Brexit remains high, polls still narrowly support the vote; more good news for May is that her Conservative party is comfortably ahead of most of its rivals.
The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.
On August 21, the “moon” will pass between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the light of the latter. The government agency NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights.” The astronomers there claim to have calculated down to the minute exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.
This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself.
Meanwhile the scientists tell us we can’t look at it without special glasses because “looking directly at the sun is unsafe.”
The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed.
The strangest part about the continued personality cult of Robert E. Lee is how few of the qualities his admirers profess to see in him he actually possessed.
Memorial Day has the tendency to conjure up old arguments about the Civil War. That’s understandable; it was created to mourn the dead of a war in which the Union was nearly destroyed, when half the country rose up in rebellion in defense of slavery. This year, the removal of Lee’s statue in New Orleans has inspired a new round of commentary about Lee, not to mention protests on his behalf by white supremacists.
The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.
Just seven months into his presidency, Trump appears to have achieved a status usually reserved for the final months of a term.
In many ways, the Trump presidency never got off the ground: The president’s legislative agenda is going nowhere, his relations with foreign leaders are frayed, and his approval rating with the American people never enjoyed the honeymoon period most newly elected presidents do. Pundits who are sympathetic toward, or even neutral on, the president keep hoping that the next personnel move—the appointment of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, say, or the long-rumored-but-never-delivered departure of Steve Bannon—will finally get the White House in gear.
But what if they, and many other people, are thinking about it wrong? Maybe the reality is not that the Trump presidency has never gotten started. It’s that he’s already reached his lame-duck period. For most presidents, that comes in the last few months of a term. For Trump, it appears to have arrived early, just a few months into his term. The president did always brag that he was a fast learner.
An analysis of Stormfront forums shows a sometimes sophisticated understanding of the limits of ancestry tests.
The white-nationalist forum Stormfront hosts discussions on a wide range of topics, from politics to guns to The Lord of the Rings. And of particular and enduring interest: genetic ancestry tests. For white nationalists, DNA tests are a way to prove their racial purity. Of course, their results don’t always come back that way. And how white nationalists try to explain away non-European ancestry is rather illuminating of their beliefs.
Two years ago—before Donald Trump was elected president, before white nationalism had become central to the political conversation—Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, sociologists then at the University of California, Los Angeles, set out to study Stormfront forum posts about genetic ancestry tests. They presented their study at the American Sociological Association meeting this Monday. (A preprint of the paper is now online.) After the events in Charlottesville this week, their research struck a particular chord with the audience.
More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone—she’s had an iPhone since she was 11—sounding as if she’d just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. “We go to the mall,” she said. “Do your parents drop you off?,” I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I’d enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. “No—I go with my family,” she replied. “We’ll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we’re going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.”
Those mall trips are infrequent—about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. “It’s good blackmail,” Athena said. (Because she’s a minor, I’m not using her real name.) She told me she’d spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That’s just the way her generation is, she said. “We didn’t have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.”
A big proposed deduction is pitting some larger corporations against the GOP’s small-business base.
There are few more-prized constituencies in American politics than small businesses, those emblems and underdogs of Main Street U.S.A. that are, as any seasoned officeholder will describe, “the backbone” of the nation’s economy.
And for Republicans trying to sell the public on the job-creating potential of a once-in-a-generation tax overhaul, there may be no handier example than Neutral Posture, the furniture company Rebecca Boenigk runs with her mother, Jaye Congleton, in Bryan, Texas. They launched the business in their garage on January 1, 1989, manufacturing and selling ergonomic chairs designed by Boenigk’s father, an engineer at Texas A&M. Twenty-eight years later, Neutral Posture is not so small anymore: What began as exclusively a chair company now produces entire office suites, right down to the cubicles. Boenigk, the 53-year-old CEO, employs 82 people in Texas, along with some 60 contractors in other U.S. states, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
Antifa’s activists say they’re battling burgeoning authoritarianism on the American right. Are they fueling it instead?
Since 1907, Portland, Oregon, has hosted an annual Rose Festival. Since 2007, the festival had included a parade down 82nd Avenue. Since 2013, the Republican Party of Multnomah County, which includes Portland, had taken part. This April, all of that changed.
In the days leading up to the planned parade, a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed.” The alliance said it didn’t object to the Multnomah GOP itself, but to “fascists” who planned to infiltrate its ranks. Yet it also denounced marchers with “Trump flags” and “red maga hats” who could “normalize support for an orange man who bragged about sexually harassing women and who is waging a war of hate, racism and prejudice.” A second group, Oregon Students Empowered, created a Facebook page called “Shut down fascism! No nazis in Portland!”
Charlottesville marks a new era of even bolder assertion of the right to threaten violence for political purposes.
It could have been so much worse.
Like ISIS attackers in Europe, the Charlottesville murderer used a car as his assault weapon. But Charlottesville this past weekend was crammed with anti-social personalities carrying sub-military firearms. It could just as easily have been one—or more—of those gun-carriers who made the decision to kill. If so, Americans might this week be mourning not one life lost to an attack, but dozens.
As recently as 2009, the nation retained a capacity to be shocked when individuals carried weapons to political events. Such was the case in Phoenix, Arizona, on August 18, 2009:
A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Obama's speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which weapons have been seen near presidential events.
If the president is concerned about violence on the left, he can start by fighting the white supremacist movements whose growth has fueled its rise.
In his Tuesday press conference, Donald Trump talked at length about what he called “the alt left.” White supremacists, he claimed, weren’t the only people in Charlottesville last weekend that deserved condemnation. “You had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he declared. “Nobody wants to say that.”
I can say with great confidence that Trump’s final sentence is untrue. I can do so because the September issue of TheAtlantic contains an essay of mine entitled “The Rise of the Violent Left,” which discusses the very phenomenon that Trump claims “nobody wants” to discuss. Trump is right that, in Charlottesville and beyond, the violence of some leftist activists constitutes a real problem. Where he’s wrong is in suggesting that it’s a problem in any way comparable to white supremacism.