THE BIG IDEA: We’ve seen this movie before. Will the remake end differently?
President Trump tweeted this morning that Republicans and Democrats should come together to pass “strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform,” so that those killed over the weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, will not have died in vain.
In a speech at the White House, Trump called for “red flag” laws, or extreme risk protection orders, to ensure people who “pose a grave risk to public safety” do not have access to guns — or so that their guns can be taken with “rapid due process.” He also directed the Justice Department to flesh out a proposal to ensure that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the death penalty — and for capital punishment to be delivered “without needless delay.”
Then Trump opened the door to bigger action. “I am open and ready to discuss all ideas that will actually work,” he said.
Here are eight reasons to take this with a grain of salt. As always, watch what the president does more than what he says:
1. Trump talked a big game about the need to change gun laws after the February 2018 massacre in Parkland, Fla., but he never followed through with anything significant. He held a televised White House meeting with leaders from both parties during which, among other things, he expressed openness to raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. But then he caved to pressure from the National Rifle Association and did an abrupt about-face. Instead, he created a Federal Commission on School Safety. A week before Christmas, the panel led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos quietly released a report that advised against increasing the minimum age required for gun purchases. The Trump administration did, however, move to ban bump stocks through the regulatory process after the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017. That ban went into effect this March.
2. The devil is in the details. Trump’s tweet today is generic and vague. He’s not endorsing any of the many proposals that have been floating around for years.
3. Trump has previously threatened to veto two background check bills that passed the House in February. Congressional Republicans overwhelmingly opposed both measures. “The first bill, receiving 240 votes — with just eight Republicans voting ‘yes’ — would extend existing laws to require background checks for all gun sales and most gun transfers,” Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane note. “The second bill, which passed with support from three Republicans, aims to close the ‘Charleston loophole,’ a reference to the 2015 shooting in South Carolina. The gunman was able to purchase the weapons after a three-day federal background check failed to turn up a prior conviction, and this proposal would extend that window for completing a background check to at least 10 business days. Trump has threatened to veto both measures.”
4. Both bills are being pigeonholed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), who is up for reelection in Kentucky next year and therefore has little incentive to upset his right flank. McConnell, who fractured his shoulder yesterday in a fall outside his Louisville home, is very unlikely to bow to calls for a special session to take the bills up.
5. Injecting immigration into the already fraught gun debate is a poison pill. Congress has been unable to act on guns or immigration because both are issues full of political land mines. The fact that Trump suggests they should be grouped — when both issues divide both parties — suggests strongly that this is more about messaging than a desire to put points on the board.
6. Time is on the gun lobby’s side. Congress’s summer recess is scheduled to last five more weeks. Five weeks is an eternity in politics, and the passage of time may sap momentum as the public’s attention turns elsewhere.
7. The NRA is weakened by scandal, but the gun lobby is still strong. The NRA played a pivotal role in getting Trump elected in 2016 by spending heavily in the states he flipped and activating conservatives in places such as Pennsylvania. But the group’s strength has always been the passion of its adherents. The Republican Party has grown more dependent on rural voters in recent years, who tend to be more opposed to gun control.
8. Trump’s divisiveness makes it harder for him to bring the country together, even if he’s earnest about wanting to do so. Just 38 minutes after calling for national unity this morning, Trump suggested that the media is to blame for the shootings. “Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years,” he tweeted. “News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!”
The president’s criticism of the media follows a string of articles that highlight the ways he’s fanned the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment. “After yet another mass slaying, the question surrounding the president is no longer whether he will respond as other presidents once did, but whether his words contributed to the carnage,” White House bureau chief Phil Rucker writes on the front page of today’s newspaper.
The manifesto apparently written by the suspected shooter in El Paso closely mirrors Trump’s rhetoric, including language about a Hispanic “invasion” of Texas. “The author’s ideology is so aligned with the president’s that he decided to conclude the manifesto by clarifying that his views predate Trump’s 2016 campaign and arguing that blaming him would amount to ‘fake news,’ another Trump phrase,” Rucker notes.
Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, pointed to that part of the manifesto. “People are going to hear what they want to hear,” he said on NBC. “My guess is this guy’s in that parking lot out in El Paso, Texas, in that Walmart doing this even if Hillary Clinton is president.”
-- Why this time could be different: Trump has the power to get something done if he wants. This could be his Nixon-to-China moment. During the brief period last year when Trump was calling for strict gun laws, polls showed Republican support for gun control surging. He’s popular enough with Republicans that he could strong-arm enough senators to pass a bill if he wanted to invest the political capital. Going into an election year, Trump may decide that passing a law strengthening background checks would boost his standing with suburban women and other constituencies he’s struggling with. Unlike last year, there’s a Democratic-controlled House.
Like Trump, there are Republicans in Congress who are up for reelection next year and might benefit from passing some bill on this issue. “I have long supported closing loopholes in background checks to prevent the sale of firearms to criminals and individuals with serious mental illness,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), whose approval rating has been tanking since she voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, referring to the bipartisan measure by Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that failed to get 60 votes after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.
MORE FROM TEXAS:
-- The 21-year-old man accused of slaying 20 people in an El Paso shopping center will be treated as a domestic terrorist, authorities said Sunday, adding that they are seriously considering charging him with federal hate crimes. Annie Gowen, Mark Berman, Tim Craig and Hannah Natanson report: “The suspect, Patrick Crusius, from suburban Dallas, is probably the author of a rambling, hate-filled manifesto posted on the 8chan website shortly before Saturday morning’s shooting, authorities believe, but they are still investigating. … In jail, Crusius has been cooperating with investigators and answering questions, officials said, though they declined to detail what he said. ‘He was forthcoming with information,’ said El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen. ‘He basically didn’t hold anything back.’ ”
- John Bash, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said the possible charges — including hate crimes and firearms charges — could carry a death sentence.
- El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said the state has filed capital murder charges against Crusius. “We will seek the death penalty,” Esparza said Sunday.
- The FBI is looking at a number of possible charges, said Emmerson Buie Jr., the special agent in charge of the bureau’s El Paso division.
-- “Crusius was raised in Allen, Tex., a predominantly white and affluent suburb north of Dallas. His childhood had challenges: His parents divorced in 2011, and his father chronicled a four-decade drug addiction in a self-published memoir. … As a student in Plano High School in 2017, he participated actively in calculus and law enforcement class. … After graduation, Crusius enrolled in Collin College, which he attended from fall 2017 to spring of 2019 … Crusius would often appear zoned-out during class, according to a classmate … During chemistry lab, the classmate said, the classmate noticed that Crusius frequently muttered to himself. After his parents divorced and sold the house in 2018, Allen police said, Crusius would frequently stay at different locations throughout the Dallas region, including with his grandparents, his mother and his father.”
-- Survivors said the shooter was calm and expressionless as he murdered people in a Walmart parking lot and then inside the store. Eli Rosenberg, Heather Long, Griff Witte and Alex Hinojosa report: “It was the second-to-last weekend before the start of school, and 1,000 customers had crammed into the Walmart Supercenter on Gateway Boulevard, where pens, notebooks and crayons were all on sale. Children filled the aisles, trying on new backpacks and clothes. The shoppers had come from both sides of the border that separates this Texas city from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. …
“For Robert Jurado, it began as a regular Saturday. He had taken his car to get washed, then ridden with his 87-year-old mother to the nearby Walmart for groceries. They were coming out of the store around 10:30 a.m. when they heard a loud bang. … There was a shooter in the parking lot, firing on anyone he encountered. As he walked, he fired — with no expression on his face. ‘He was, like, all calm,’ Jurado said. ‘He didn’t show no remorse.’ … Police say the first call about the shooter reached them at 10:39 a.m., and they arrived by 10:45 a.m., meaning the gunman was on the move for at least 15 minutes. …
“After his rampage through the parking lot, the gunman entered the Walmart — with CCTV footage capturing his arrival. … Most of Saturday’s victims were hit inside the Walmart, with a smaller number struck in the parking lot. The shooter kept firing after leaving the store, but then he abruptly stopped and drove away. Police officials said Sunday that they don’t know why. … Crusius was apprehended a short distance from the Walmart at 11:06 a.m.”
-- Mexican officials angrily denounced the shooting and raised the possibility of charging the perpetrator in Mexican courts. Mary Beth Sheridan reports from Mexico City: “President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said seven Mexicans were among the 20 killed in the attack Saturday in the border city, and seven more were wounded. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the country would take action under international law. ‘Mexico is indignant,’ he told journalists. ‘But we are not proposing to meet hate with hate. We will act with reason and within the law, but with firmness.’ The remarks represented a toughening of Mexico’s official reaction to the shootings. On Saturday, López Obrador appeared to play down the U.S. government’s responsibility for the violence, saying the attack was ‘a product of [societal] decomposition, of problems certain people have. It’s not a generalized issue.’ … López Obrador said Mexico didn’t want to get mixed up in the U.S. presidential campaign.”
-- Mexican authorities released a list identifying five of the Mexican nationals who were slain in El Paso. Among them were Sara Esther Regalado, of Ciudad Juarez, and Adolfo Cerros Hernández, of Aguascalientes: The couple lived in Ciudad Juarez and had been shopping at the Walmart when the shooting began, according to El Sol del Centro. Elsa Mendoza, of Yemopera, was a special ed teacher in Ciudad Juarez who was visiting family in El Paso with her husband and son at the time of the shooting, according to Zacatecas en Imagen. Maria Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, of Chihuahua, was in town to pick up her teenage daughter from the airport. She stopped at the Walmart while she waited for the flight to land, per Milenio.
-- U.S. authorities have not released an official list of victims. Among those identified:
Jordan and Andre Anchondo, of El Paso, had just marked their first wedding anniversary and their oldest daughter was turning 6, Andre’s older brother Tito said. They were preparing to show off their new house and were planning on throwing a big party on Saturday. They didn’t make it. The Anchondos and their infant son were at Walmart shopping for school supplies when the gunman opened fire, killing both parents and sending their baby to the hospital. The baby survived but had several broken bones. Jordan was a stay-at-home mother of three: the 6-year-old and 1-year-old daughters from earlier relationships and her and Andre’s 2-month-old. Leta Jamrowski, Jordan’s sister, said that, based on the baby’s injuries, it appeared that Jordan died while trying to shield the baby from the gunshots. (Rebecca Tan)
Arturo Benavides, of El Paso, was running errands with his wife, Patricia. They were almost out of the Walmart when the shooting began. Patricia was pushed into a bathroom stall and was able to get away unhurt but Arturo, who lived for his family, his dog and upside-down pineapple cake, didn’t make it. The couple had been married for more than 30 years. Jacklin Luna, his great-niece, said Arturo, a former bus driver and an Army veteran, was “always the first person to offer anything he had.” (Hannah Natanson)
Angelina Englisbee was on the phone with one of her sons just before the shooting began, and she told him she had to hang up because she was at the Walmart checkout line. That was the last her family heard from her, said her granddaughter, Mike Peake. Englisbee had seven children and a son who died in infancy, Peake said. She loved watching sports and “General Hospital.” “She was a very strong person, very blunt,” Peake said. (New York Times)
-- Jorge Sainz, a Mexican American pediatrician, described treating El Paso’s victims to the New Yorker: “This was getting close to military trauma. This guy wasn’t shooting a .22 or a little rifle. I was seeing scooped-out flesh. It kept coming. And coming.”
THE LATEST FROM OHIO:
-- The Dayton gunman killed his sister and eight others. Kevin Williams, Hannah Knowles, Hannah Natanson and Peter Whoriskey report: “In the hours before the mass shooting, siblings Connor and Megan Betts drove the family’s 2007 Corolla to visit this city’s historic Oregon District, an area alive on a summer night with restaurants, bars and nightlife. Then, police said, they separated. It is not clear what Megan, 22, did at this point. But Connor, 24, donned a mask, body armor and ear protection. Wielding an AR-15-like assault weapon with magazines containing 100 rounds, he set out on a street rampage that, although it lasted only about 30 seconds, killed nine people and injured 27 others, police said. Among the first to die was Megan Betts. Her male companion was injured, but survived.
“Less than a minute into the barrage, police patrolling the area saw people fleeing and neutralized Connor Betts — he was shot to death — as he was about to enter a bar where dozens of people had run in to hide. … Authorities said that in Dayton, four women and five men were killed. Of the 27 people who were injured, 15 had been discharged from a hospital as of Sunday afternoon. … The guns had been legally purchased, police said. …
“Midway through Betts’s freshman year at Bellbrook High School, the school became aware that he was toting around a ‘hit list,’ including classmates, of people he wanted to take ‘revenge’ on, said Samantha Thomas, 25, who attended Bellbrook at the same time Betts did. … ‘He got kicked out of school for it.’ David Partridge, 26, who also attended Bellbrook with Betts, said the list included a member of his family.”
-- Here’s more information on the victims, as collected by Post reporters:
- Megan K. Betts, 22, spent the past couple of months as a tour guide helping visitors explore Montana at the Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center. Her former supervisor, Daniel Cottrell, said she was a “very positive person” and was well-liked by her peers.
- Monica E. Brickhouse, 39, who lived in Virginia, was probably visiting family in her old hometown, said her childhood friend, Farren Wilmer. She was a mother of one and ran her own business. “She was always funny and smart and beautiful,” Wilmer said. “You know how kids always say, ‘I’m going to do this’ or ‘I’m going to do that?' Monica grew up and actually did what she said she was going to do. That’s the sort of person she was.”
- Nicholas P. Cumer, 25, was a graduate of the cancer care program at Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and was working in Dayton as an intern for the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, a treatment center, the organization said on Facebook. On the night of the shooting, he had been celebrating the end of the summer with friends. “He was intelligent, he was extremely caring and kind. He loved his patients, and he always went above and beyond for them,” said Tyler Erwin, one of his co-workers who was at the scene of the shooting. Cumer was one week away from completing his internship.
- Derrick R. Fudge, 57, was out with relatives when the shooting began, his sister, Twyla Southall, said. “He was a good man and loved his family,” she said.
- Thomas J. McNichols, 25, was a father of four whom an aunt described as a “gentle giant.” “Everybody loved him. He was like a big kid,” the aunt, Donna Johnson, told WHIO-TV. His four children are all between the ages of 2 and 8.
- Lois L. Oglesby, 27, was the mother of two, her uncle Joe Oglesby said. The nurse’s aide had just had her second baby last month.
HATE IS CONTAGIOUS:
-- This weekend reflected how American violence — quickly and effortlessly — goes viral. Marc Fisher reports: “Whether the proximate cause was political or personal, whether it grew out of ideological indoctrination, mental illness or some toxic blend of factors that left shooters isolated and damaged, each attack demonstrated a troubling disorder festering in modern America. … ‘These are not single shooters,’ said Daniel Okrent, author of ‘The Guarded Gate,’ a history of anti-immigrant bigotry in the United States. ‘They’re a mob with high-powered rifles, people who feel they’re part of something bigger. The technology has changed: A mob doesn’t have to get together in the street with torches anymore.’ …
“Whatever label is attached to any mass shootings committed by anti-immigrant extremists, they should be viewed not as individual acts but as part of a contagion, said J.M. Berger, a researcher on terrorism and propaganda and author of ‘Extremism.’ ‘Social media allows a lot of people with similar ideological ideas to synchronize their actions,’ Berger said. … The notion that a ‘great replacement’ of whites by some other group is being encouraged by powerful forces is often credited to a French writer, Renaud Camus, who wrote a 2012 book called ‘The Great Replacement.’ … On Sunday, Camus denied responsibility for the El Paso shooting, but endorsed the ideas Crusius may have touted in the manifesto. ‘It is obviously not ‘The Great Replacement,’ the book, which causes the mass massacres,’ Camus wrote on Twitter. ‘It is the great replacement itself.’”
-- “There are no lone wolves,” writes Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security: “White-supremacist terror is rooted in a pack, a community. And its violent strand today is being fed by three distinct, but complementary, creeds. The community has essentially found a mission, kinship and acceptance.”
-- The FBI insists it is fully engaged in combating the threat of violence from white supremacists, but some veteran counterterrorism experts say the bureau has been doing far too little despite internal concerns that have been building up for more than a decade. Devlin Barrett reports: “Dave Gomez, a former FBI supervisor who oversaw terrorism cases, said he thinks FBI officials are wary of pursuing white nationalists aggressively because of the fierce political debates surrounding the issue. ‘I believe Christopher A. Wray is an honorable man, but I think in many ways the FBI is hamstrung in trying to investigate the white supremacist movement like the old FBI would,’ Gomez said. ‘There’s some reluctance among agents to bring forth an investigation that targets what the president perceives as his base. It’s a no-win situation for the FBI agent or supervisor. … I don’t think there’s any faith by the FBI right now that the Justice Department is an independent law enforcement organization,’ he said. ‘I think the FBI is up to the challenge of investigating white nationalism and white supremacy as a domestic terrorism threat, they just have to be allowed to do it.’”
-- Three of this year’s mass shootings began with a hateful screed on the anonymous message board 8chan, one of the Internet’s most venomous refuges for extremist hate. Drew Harwell reports: “Like after the shootings in Christchurch and the Chabad of Poway synagogue, the El Paso attack was celebrated on 8chan as well: One of the most active threads early Sunday urged people to create memes and original content, or OC, that could make it easier to distribute and ‘celebrate the [gunman’s] heroic action.’ … The message boards tied to mass violence have fueled worries over how to combat a Web-fueled wave of racist bloodshed.
“The El Paso shooting also prompted the site’s founder to urge its owners to ‘do the world a favor and shut it off.’ ‘Once again, a terrorist used 8chan to spread his message as he knew people would save it and spread it,’ Fredrick Brennan, who founded 8chan in 2013 but stopped working with the site’s owners in December, told The Washington Post. ‘The board is a receptive audience for domestic terrorists.’ …
“The site has for years been shielded by U.S. laws that limit websites’ legal liability for what their users post and has been further protected by an Internet infrastructure that makes it difficult to take sites down. Some online researchers also fear that a shutdown of 8chan would only spur hate groups to organize elsewhere. … The site is registered as a property of the Nevada-based company N.T. Technology and owned by Jim Watkins, an American Web entrepreneur living in the Philippines. Asked for comment, Watkins replied with a single sentence: ‘I hope you are well.’”
-- Cloudflare, the Internet infrastructure company that houses 8chan, announced it will stop hosting the website after this weekend. Matthew Prince, Cloudflare’s CEO, explains why in a blog post: “Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit. We do not take this decision lightly. Cloudflare is a network provider. In pursuit of our goal of helping build a better internet, we’ve considered it important to provide our security services broadly to make sure as many users as possible are secure, and thereby making cyberattacks less attractive — regardless of the content of those websites. … We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line.”
-- Bystanders shared videos of El Paso’s violent aftermath, and strangers online begged them to stop. Abby Ohlheiser reports: “One video posted Saturday, with more than 250,000 views on Facebook, appears to begin outside [the El Paso Walmart]. … A man, whose Facebook name matches that of a witness to the shooting quoted by media outlets, walks inside the store while filming on his phone. He approaches a body, face down in the entrance, in a pool of blood. Another bystander is already there, phone also pointed toward the body. The two nearly collide, both watching their phones. … More than 4,000 people have shared this video, which was streamed live and now carries a graphic content warning from Facebook. But others, in the video’s comments, pushed back. ‘Stop filming,’ one Facebook user wrote as the live video was broadcast.”
-- Walmart has a complicated history with guns. Derek Hawkins and Morgan Krakow report: “In addition to being the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is often referred to as the world’s largest gun retailer. … But Walmart’s relationship with firearm sales has been fickle in the 26 years since it made the landmark decision to stop carrying handguns. As economic and political winds have shifted, so have Walmart’s gun policies, though the general trend has been toward more restrictions. … Last year, Walmart said it would raise the minimum age to buy a firearm or ammunition from 18 to 21 and remove products resembling assault-style rifles, such as airsoft guns and toys, from its inventory … In 2006, Walmart announced that it would stop selling firearms entirely at all but a third of its U.S. stores, which then numbered around 3,000. … Just two years later, Walmart made it harder to buy firearms at the stores that were still selling them. …
“But when the economic recession took hold in 2009, Walmart’s sales slumped. And after a five-year hiatus at most of its locations, the company started filling up shelves with shotguns, rifles and ammunition. … In 2012, after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Walmart resisted calls to stop selling assault-style rifles such as the Bushmaster AR-15 … Three years and numerous mass shootings later, however, Walmart did stop selling the AR-15 and similar weapons. … Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who has headed the company since 2014, has stressed that he wants to cater to hunting and sports shooting, the things [founder Sam] Walton enjoyed.”
-- This is what perpetual war looks like in America, writes our art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott: “When we saw images of the war dead from Iraq or Afghanistan, they were surrounded by an architecture that seemed odd, often low-rise buildings made of dun-colored concrete. When a bomb blast tore a hole in the facade of a distant city, we stared into the gaping vacuity at disorderly domestic spaces that were strange and unrecognizable, full of clothes, appliances and shattered dishware that wasn’t like the stuff you find at Walmart. Now the war has come to Walmart. And Hooters. And Sam’s Club and McDonald’s, and an unnamed but homey looking restaurant that has a $7.99 Lunch Special. If this doesn’t look like war, that’s only because we so reflexively resist the idea of a war on American soil that we refuse to see the obvious.”
-- The Navy’s football team in Annapolis apologized and changed its initial motto for the 2019 season: “Load the clip.” Cindy Boren reports: The phrase “was deemed inappropriate and insensitive in a community still recovering from a fatal shooting last year in the Capital Gazette newsroom, only a few miles from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. … ‘We sincerely apologize if it upset anyone, but it was not meant to be taken the way it may have been by some,’ said Coach Ken Niumatalolo. ‘We understand that it probably wasn’t appropriate considering the current climate and certain things that are happening in our society.’”
-- It wasn’t just Texas and Ohio: Gun deaths were reported all over the country this weekend. From ABC News:
- In Chicago, at least three people were killed and 37 more injured this weekend in shootings within city limits, including 22 people shot Sunday in less than four hours, according to the Chicago-Sun Times.
- In Shreveport, La., a 1-month-old girl was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting.
- In Charles County, Md., officers responded to a call that a 42-year-old man shot and killed his in-laws. The suspect, police said, then shot at an 11-year-old boy who was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. The man, Mark Hughes, was later found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the sheriff’s office.
- In Pinellas County, Fla., deputies shot and killed a 35-year-old man after police said he pointed a 12-guage shotgun at them. The man, the sheriff’s office said, was a suspect in the fatal shooting of his mother.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"This was avoidable,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said at a vigil in her city last night. “Something must be done, Dayton.”
WHILE YOU WERE IN YOUR MORNING MEETING:
-- July was the hottest month humans have ever recorded. From Brady Dennis and Andrew Freedman: “A local television station in the Netherlands aired non-stop images of wintry landscapes to help viewers momentarily forget the heat wave outside. … Wildfires raged across millions of acres in the Arctic. A massive ice melt event in Greenland sent hundreds of billions of tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean, raising sea levels. And temperature records evaporated, one after another: 101.7 in Cambridge, England. 108.7 degrees in Paris. … A study released Friday by a group of researchers who study climate change’s role in extreme weather found that climate change made July’s heat wave at least 10 times more likely. … In Belgium, one zoo fed its tigers with chickens frozen into blocks of ice. … In parts of Germany, authorities saw themselves forced to lower autobahn speed limits over concerns that the German high-speed motorways might suffer heat damages. Undeterred, one motor scooter rider took to the roads of eastern Germany, but was stopped after officers spotted him wearing nothing aside from a helmet.”
-- Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Tex.) plans to announce his retirement today, per the New York Times: “Marchant would become the fourth Republican House member from Texas in recent weeks to head for the exits rather than face re-election in 2020 in a state that is rapidly becoming more competitive. Mr. Marchant, who was first elected in 2004, won his suburban Dallas district by comfortable margins for over a decade, but last year he prevailed by only three points against a Democratic opponent who had relatively modest financial resources. Mr. Marchant, a low-key member and reliably conservative vote, sits on the influential Ways and Means Committee. With Mr. Marchant, a total of 11 House Republicans plan to retire or seek another office in 2020.”
THE WORLD IS A TINDERBOX:
-- The U.S. launched a last-ditch effort to stop the Turkish invasion of northeast Syria that is expected to come within the next two weeks. Karen DeYoung, Souad Mekhennet and Louisa Loveluck report: “With tens of thousands of Turkish troops massed near the border, a high-level Defense Department delegation plans to present what U.S. officials describe as a final offer to address Turkey’s concerns at a meeting [today] in Ankara. … Failure of the U.S. effort could throw the war-devastated region into even deeper turmoil, endangering efforts to rout Islamic State remnants and Trump’s goal of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria. The proposal includes a joint U.S.-Turkish military operation to secure a strip south of the Syria-Turkey border that would be about nine miles deep and 87 miles long and from which the Kurdish fighters would be withdrawn.”
-- India said it is revoking a provision that grants certain autonomous powers to Kashmir, setting the stage for new clashes in a region claimed by India and Pakistan. Niha Masih reports: “Amit Shah, India’s Interior Minister, told Parliament that New Delhi would revoke Article 370, which gives Kashmir the right to make its own laws. The step also nullifies another provision that bars nonresidents from purchasing property in the state. Shah said that India was taking the controversial step ‘keeping in view the prevailing internal security situation fueled by cross-border terrorism.’ He also announced reorganizational measures that would effectively limit the state government’s powers. … India’s army and air force were put on high alert and 8,000 troops were airlifted to Kashmir after the announcement, according to media reports. Local life in Kashmir remained paralyzed with curfew-like situation as communication lines remained down. … Pakistan condemned India’s decision, saying it violated a United Nations resolution. … Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said it was the ‘darkest day in Indian democracy,’ which would make India an ‘occupational force’ in the region.”
-- Iran said it seized another foreign vessel suspected of smuggling fuel in the Persian Gulf, according to state media. Erin Cunningham reports: “The naval forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps detained the ship and seven crew members in a ‘surprise operation’ authorized by Iran’s judiciary, the organization said in a statement. The seizure comes amid Iranian efforts to ‘detect and fight against organized smuggling,’ the statement continued. The Revolutionary Guard did not identify the ship or give the nationalities of its crew members but said that the vessel, which it said was Iraqi, was carrying roughly 185,000 gallons of smuggled diesel fuel. It was the third ship seized by the Revolutionary Guard in recent weeks amid a simmering standoff between Iran and the West in the Persian Gulf. … A Revolutionary Guard commander, Gen. Ramazan Zirahi, told reporters Sunday that the vessel was seized near Farsi Island, where his forces maintain a naval base, in Iranian territorial waters in the gulf, state television reported.”
-- The Hong Kong protests continued this weekend: Strikers brought the city’s transportation networks to a halt, forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights and shut down scores of businesses. Casey Quackenbush and Shibani Mahtani report: “Protesters sent police on a chase through the city Sunday night, changing routes several times and briefly shutting down traffic in several neighborhoods. … Police had to respond to protests in at least eight neighborhoods, as protesters changed routes multiple times to stave off arrests. … By 9 a.m., transportation networks in the normally efficient financial hub were suspended or delayed, including the airport express train linking the city center to the airport. Terminals were chaotic as more than 200 flights into or out of Hong Kong were delayed. … ‘We are very angry,' said Kenji Chen, a 39-year-old English teacher at the park rally on Hong Kong island. ‘Hong Kong people, we are so frustrated. The government should be of the people, for the people, by the people. But what the government is doing is to please the Chinese government. It’s not listening to the people.’”
-- China allowed its tightly controlled currency to slide to an 11-year low in a counteroffensive move against the new U.S. tariffs. Gerry Shih reports: “The Chinese currency on Monday punctured the 7 renminbi-per-dollar floor that had not been broken since 2008. The central bank, the People’s Bank of China, downplayed the significance of the milestone but said the rate drop was related to the dispute with Washington. The currency move came after Trump announced new tariffs Thursday on $300 billion in Chinese goods, effectively escalating the trade war with no end in sight. ‘Influenced by unilateralism, trade protectionism and tariff expectations imposed on China, the renminbi has depreciated against the US dollar today, breaking through 7,’ China’s central bank said in a statement on its website. The bank said it was confident it could keep the currency at a ‘reasonable and balanced level.’”
-- Germany called on Russia to release the hundreds of protesters detained during a massive Saturday rally for independent and opposition candidates in Moscow. From the AP: “Russia’s Interior Ministry said police detained 600 people Saturday at the unsanctioned protest. A previous demonstration a week ago over the candidates’ exclusion from the Sept. 8 local vote resulted in nearly 1,400 arrests. The German Foreign Ministry said Russia is breaching international commitments to uphold peaceful assembly and free speech. It said Germany ‘expects the swift release of all peaceful protesters’ and the inclusion of independent candidates who meet all legal requirements in the Moscow election.”
-- Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega is strangling La Prensa, one of Latin America’s most legendary and persistent newspapers. Mary Beth Sheridan reports: La Prensa, in its storied history, “has been closed, temporarily, by right- and left-wing governments alike. One editor was assassinated. Its headquarters were bombed. But now, the paper might be facing its greatest threat yet. ‘They’ve cut off our newsprint,’ said [Jaime] Chamorro, the publisher, sitting in an office crammed with papers and photos of his family. … The government customs office has held up La Prensa’s imports of newsprint and ink since October, according to its editors. Nicaragua’s leading daily is now a skeletal eight pages — down from 36. While La Prensa operates a website, it still draws most of its income from its newspaper. As its supply of newsprint dwindles, the entire organization could be forced to close.”
-- North Korea, China, India and Russia have been arming Myanmar’s military, supplying weapons used in the crackdown against Rohingya Muslims, according to a new U.N. report. Shibani Mahtani reports: “The most extensive study on the military’s financing to date also found that dozens of Myanmar companies — some of which spent years on a United States blacklist before sanctions were lifted in 2016 — donated more than $10 million to the military, responding to a call to fund the Rohingya campaign in 2017. … ‘The revenue the military earns from domestic and foreign business deals substantially enhances its ability to carry out gross violations of human rights with impunity,’ the U.N.-mandated fact-finding mission that put together the report said in a news release. It pinpointed 140 companies owned or controlled by the military.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
Beto O’Rourke is comforting former constituents in the congressional district he represented until this year:
El Paso is a community that shows up for one another—on our best days and our worst. I met Rosemary’s family on the plane back to El Paso. They asked that we visit her and share her story. She was shot in the chest but is doing well after surgery. She’s strong—just like our city. pic.twitter.com/qjy4ecJOCw— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) August 4, 2019
The front page of the New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch, calls for a ban on assault weapons:
Europe's newspapers emphasized the rise of white supremacy in the United States. This is how it's playing in Germany:
German press coverage of El Paso: “The White Danger”. Front page pic.twitter.com/VwQMZ8GO0a— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) August 4, 2019
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who represents Fort Wayne, was among the Republicans who called what happened in El Paso “white supremacist terrorism”:
I deployed to Afghanistan as a response to radical Islamic terrorism. We now face a different enemy that has also emerged from the shadows but demands the same focus and determination to root out and destroy. #WhiteSupremacistTerrorism should be named, targeted and defeated.— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) August 4, 2019
The former deputy attorney general shared a statement from Texas Land Commissioner (and Jeb's son) George P. Bush:
George is right. Killing random civilians to spread a political message is terrorism. FBI classifies it as domestic terrorism, but "white terrorism" is more precise. Many of the killers are lone-wolf losers indoctrinated to hate through the internet, just like Islamic terrorists. https://t.co/uyyjkoh1fR— Rod Rosenstein (@RodRosenstein) August 4, 2019
“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “Sadly, there are some issues, like homelessness and these shootings, where we simply don't have all the answers.”
But we need to keep trying. Focusing on law abiding citizens excersizing their constitutional rights solves nothing. We need to treat these crimes as problems to be solved, rather than one to be exploited for partisan political gain.— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) August 4, 2019
The president’s daughter, who works in the White House, called white supremacy “evil”:
White supremacy, like all other forms of terrorism, is an evil that must be destroyed.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) August 4, 2019
An Iraq veteran who writes for National Review and has been critical of Trump said the alt-right cannot be dismissed:
I remember being told to chill out about the alt-right.— David French (@DavidAFrench) August 4, 2019
It was just memes. It was just trolling. It was just trying to trigger the libs.
Then it was a terror attack in Charlottesville.
Then it was manifestos. Then it was massacres.
Burn it down. This is a defining moment.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who represents Newtown, the city where the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened, pleaded with his colleagues to take action:
19 out of 20 murderers have no mental illness diagnosis.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 4, 2019
4 out of 5 mass shooters have no mental illness diagnosis, and half showed no signs on a prior, undiagnosed illness.
Framing this as just a mental illness problem is a gun industry trope. Period. Stop.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said finger pointing doesn’t solve any problems:
We need to come together, America.— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) August 4, 2019
Finger-pointing, name-calling & screaming with your keyboards is easy, yet...
It solves not a single problem, saves not a single life.
Working as one to understand depraved evil & to eradicate hate is everyone’s duty. Unity.
Let’s do this.
By the numbers:
El Paso shooting is the 8th deadliest in modern US history:— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) August 3, 2019
58 - Las Vegas concert
49 - Pulse nightclub
32 - Virginia Tech
27 - Sandy Hook
26 - Sutherland Springs
23 - Luby's Cafe
21 - San Ysidro
*20 - El Paso Walmart*
18 - University of Texas
17 - Parkland
14 - San Bernardino
From a Columbine survivor:
Since the Columbine class of 1999 reunited for our 20th reunion last Saturday, 53 Americans have been killed in mass shootings.— Stephen Cohen (@scohenSEA) August 4, 2019
A Politico editor noted a time the government took quick action:
In 1987, the federal government banned metal-tipped lawn darts because a single child died from one— David Freedlander (@freedlander) August 3, 2019
A Los Angeles Times reporter looked for the one time Trump decried “hate crimes” on Twitter:
In the one tweet I can find by Trump in which he uses word "hate crime" he is demanding an apology from Jussie Smollett.— Del Quentin Wilber (@DelWilber) August 4, 2019
He is much more direct about Islamic radicalism and immigrant invasion. pic.twitter.com/APNFObHwTI
Celebrities condemned this weekend’s attacks:
Woke up to the news of #DaytonOH shooting. This senseless loss of life is unbearable. When will our US representatives give the people of this country the common sense gun laws we are all demanding? I’m calling my congressman. Again. @Everytown— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) August 4, 2019
When we condemn the racist venom coming from the President's mouth and point out the bigotry of his policies, it's not an academic question, it's not a political game, it's about life and death. The President regularly inspires killers. He is a part of the problem— John Legend (@johnlegend) August 4, 2019
Just got off the phone w/ fam in Dayton... it was a close call for them but that’s not the case for 9 other families— |L I Z Z O| (@lizzo) August 4, 2019
between this & the terrorist attack in El Paso & recent other shootings I feel completely helpless.. make noise & bring awareness.. vote.. don’t normalize this
From the chief executive of Apple:
I'm heartbroken about what's happening in my country. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. It's time for good people with different views to stop finger pointing and come together to address this violence for the good of our country.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) August 4, 2019
On Saturday night, as the nation mourned, the president dropped by a wedding being held at his New Jersey golf club:
Trump stopped by another wedding at Bedminster last night pic.twitter.com/38IEhTouFk— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) August 4, 2019
A reminder from a reporter for the Atlantic:
The presumed consoler and moral compass of America right now is someone who, 48 hours ago, gloated about a burglary at the home of one of its citizens.— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) August 4, 2019
VIDEOS OF THE DAY:
Speaking from St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis condemned the gun violence in the United States:
Trump often insists his accomplishments happened after 45-year political stalemates, even when they didn’t:
John Oliver explained prison labor:
And Hasan Minhaj took a look at the dark side of the video game industry: