Online diary: Buffalo gunman plotted attack for months
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The white gunman accused of massacring 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket wrote as far back as November about staging a livestreamed attack on African Americans, practiced shooting from his car and traveled hours from his home in March to scout out the store, according to detailed diary entries he appears to have posted online.
The author of the diary posted hand-drawn maps of the grocery store along with tallies of the number of Black people he counted there, and recounted how a Black security guard at the supermarket confronted him that day to ask what he was up to. A Black security guard was among the dead in Saturday’s shooting rampage.
The diary taken from the chat platform Discord came to light two days after 18-year-old Payton Gendron allegedly opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle at the Tops Friendly Market. He was wearing body armor and used a helmet camera to livestream the bloodbath on the internet, authorities said.
He surrendered inside the supermarket and was arraigned on a murder charge over the weekend. He pleaded not guilty and was jailed under a suicide watch. Federal authorities are contemplating bringing hate crime charges.
Copies of the online materials were shared with The Associated Press by Marc-André Argentino, a research fellow at the London-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence.
Ukraine says mission at Mariupol steel mill is complete
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The regiment that doggedly defended a steel mill as Ukraine’s last stronghold in the port city of Mariupol completed its mission Monday after more than 260 fighters, including some badly wounded, were evacuated and taken to areas under Russia’s control, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the evacuation to separatist-controlled territory was done to save the lives of the fighters who endured weeks of Russian assaults in the maze of underground passages below the hulking Azovstal steelworks. He said the “heavily wounded” were getting medical help.
“Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes to be alive. It’s our principle,” he said. An unknown number of fighters stayed behind to await other rescue efforts.
The steel mill’s defenders got out as Moscow suffered another diplomatic setback in the war, with Sweden joining Finland in deciding to seek NATO membership. And Ukraine made a symbolic gain when its forces reportedly pushed Russian troops back to the Russian border in the Kharkiv region.
Still, Russian forces pounded targets in the industrial heartland of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas, and the death toll, already many thousands, kept climbing with the war set to enter its 12th week on Wednesday.
Accused Buffalo gunman followed familiar radicalization path
The 18-year-old gunman accused of a deadly racist rampage at a Buffalo supermarket seems to fit an all-too-familiar profile: an aggrieved white man steeped in hate-filled conspiracies online, and inspired by other extremist massacres.
Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, appears to have been driven to action roughly two years from when his radical indoctrination began, showing just how quickly and easily murderous assaults can be spawned on the internet. No tactical training or organizational help required.
While law enforcement officials have grown adept since the Sept. 11 attacks at disrupting well-organized plots, they face a much tougher challenge in intercepting self-radicalized young men who absorb racist screeds on social media and plot violence on their own.
“That’s why everyone is so concerned. You just go and you pick your ideology — and then, if you have a weapon, you don’t need a big plan,” said Christopher Costa, former senior director for counterterrorism in the Trump administration’s National Security Council. “What’s changed is the internet.”
Gendron is accused of fatally shooting 10 Black people and could face federal hate crime charges in the coming days. He purportedly left behind a 180-page diatribe in which he said the rampage was intended to terrorize nonwhite people and get them to leave the country. It parrots ideas left behind by other white killers whose massacres he had extensively researched online.
US deaths from COVID hit 1 million, less than 2 1/2 years in
The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 hit 1 million on Monday, a once-unimaginable figure that only hints at the multitudes of loved ones and friends staggered by grief and frustration.
The confirmed number of dead is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 336 days. It is roughly equal to how many Americans died in the Civil War and World War II combined. It’s as if Boston and Pittsburgh were wiped out.
“It is hard to imagine a million people plucked from this earth,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, who leads a new pandemic center at the Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, Rhode Island. “It’s still happening and we are letting it happen.”
Some of those left behind say they cannot return to normal. They replay their loved ones’ voicemail messages. Or watch old videos to see them dance. When other people say they are done with the virus, they bristle with anger or ache in silence.
“’Normal.’ I hate that word,” said Julie Wallace, 55, of Elyria, Ohio, who lost her husband to COVID-19 in 2020. “All of us never get to go back to normal.”
US allows more baby formula imports to fight shortage
WASHINGTON (AP) — Under fire from parents and politicians, President Joe Biden’s administration announced steps Monday to ease a nationwide shortage of baby formula, including reopening the largest domestic manufacturing plant and increasing imports from overseas.
The Food and Drug Administration said it was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the U.S.
“The FDA expects that the measures and steps it’s taking with infant formula manufacturers and others will mean more and more supply is on the way or on store shelves moving forward,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf told reporters.
Califf said the U.S. will prioritize companies that can provide the largest shipments and quickly show documentation that their formulas are safe and compatible with U.S. nutrition standards. The policy is structured as a temporary measure lasting six months.
The imports announcement came shortly after regulators said they’d reached a deal to allow Abbott Nutrition to restart its Sturgis, Michigan-based plant, which has been closed since February due to contamination issues. The company must overhaul its safety protocols and procedures before resuming production.
Authorities: Hate against Taiwanese led to church attack
LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (AP) — A Chinese-born gunman motivated by hatred against Taiwan chained shut the doors of a California church and hid firebombs before shooting at a gathering of mostly elderly Taiwanese parishioners, killing a man who tackled him, possibly saving dozens of lives, authorities said Monday.
David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas drove to Orange County on Saturday and the next day attended a lunch held by Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the community of Laguna Woods. Though he knew no one there, he spent about an hour mingling with about 40 attendees and then executed his plot, authorities said at a news conference.
He chained the doors and put super glue in the keyholes. He had two 9mm handguns — legally purchased years ago in Las Vegas — and three bags, containing among other things four Molotov-cocktail-type incendiary devices and extra ammunition. He opened fire and in the ensuing chaos Dr. John Cheng, 52, tackled him, allowing other parishioners to subdue him and tie him up with extension cords.
Cheng died and five people were wounded, the oldest 92. Sheriff Don Barnes called Cheng’s heroism “a meeting of good versus evil” that probably saved the lives “of upwards of dozens of people.”
Chou was booked on suspicion of murder and attempted murder and jailed on $1 million bail. He was expected to appear in state court Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. A federal hate crimes investigation is also ongoing.
White House moves to loosen remittance, flight rules on Cuba
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration announced Monday that it will expand flights to Cuba, take steps to loosen restrictions on U.S. travelers to the island, and lift Trump-era restrictions on remittances that immigrants can send to people on the island.
The State Department said in a statement that it will remove the current $1,000-per-quarter limit on family remittances and will allow non-family remittance, which will support independent Cuban entrepreneurs. The U.S. will also allow scheduled and charter flights to locations beyond Havana, according to the State Department.
The administration said it will also move to reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program, which has a backlog of more than 20,000 applications, and increase consular services and visa processing.
“With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home,” State Department spokesman Ned Price added. “We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, to respect the Cuban people’s fundamental freedoms and to allow the Cuban people to determine their own futures.”
The policy changes come after a review that began soon after a series of widespread protests on the island last July.
North Korea reports another fever surge amid COVID-19 crisis
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Tuesday reported another large jump in illnesses believed to be COVID-19 and encouraged good health habits as a mass outbreak spreads through its unvaccinated population and military officers were deployed to distribute medicine.
State media said the North’s anti-virus headquarters reported another 269,510 people were found with fevers and six people died. That raises North Korea’s deaths to 56 after more than 1.48 million people became ill with fever since late April. North Korea lacks testing supplies to confirm coronavirus infections in large numbers, and the report didn’t say how many of the fever cases were COVID-19.
The outbreak is almost certainly greater than the fever tally, considering the lack of tests and resources to monitor and treat the people who are sick. North Korea’s virus response is mostly isolating people with symptoms at shelters, and as of Tuesday, at least 663,910 people were in quarantine.
In addition to lacking vaccines for its 26 million people, North Korea also grapples with malnourishment and other conditions of poverty and lacks public health tools, including antiviral drugs or intensive care units, which suppressed hospitalizations and deaths in other countries.
Some experts suspect North Korea is underreporting deaths to soften the blow for authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, who already was navigating the toughest moment of his decade in power, with the pandemic further damaging an economy already broken by mismanagement and U.S.-led sanctions over his nuclear ambitions.
Musk hints at paying less for Twitter than his $44B offer
DETROIT (AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk gave the strongest hint yet Monday that he would like to pay less for Twitter than his $44 billion offer made last month.
Musk told a Miami technology conference that a viable deal at a lower price would not be out of the question, according to a report by Bloomberg News, which said it viewed a livestream video of the conference posted by a Twitter user.
Also at the All In Summit, Musk estimated that at least 20% of Twitter’s 229 million accounts are spam bots, percentage he said was at the low end of his assessment, according to the report.
The appearance came a few hours after Musk began trolling Twitter CEO Paraj Agrawal, who posted a series of tweets explaining his company’s effort to fight bots and how it has consistently estimated that less than 5% of Twitter accounts are fake.
In all, the day’s events bolstered theories from analysts that Musk either wants out of the deal or is seeking a lower price, largely due to a huge decline in value of Tesla stock, some of which he has pledged to finance the Twitter acquisition.
NBC, Fox offer fall television plans, to a point amid change
NEW YORK (AP) — Something was missing when Fox announced its plans for the fall television season: a schedule.
It was one of several signs of how the business has changed since networks resumed their annual glitzy presentations for advertisers, which had been suspended because of the pandemic. Both NBC and Fox, which kicked off the week Monday, emphasized how the flagship networks were now part of larger media companies.
Networks still can boast star power. Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Raymond Lee, Camila Cabello and Trace Adkins will be featured in new contexts. Kelly Clarkson sang to open NBC’s show, and Miley Cyrus performed to end it.
The traditional presentations usually reveal what new shows are coming, what old shows are departing and when they will air during the week and year. While fixed schedules remain they are obsolete for many viewers, who are becoming accustomed to deciding for themselves when they want to watch or stream programs.
That wasn’t part of Fox’s reasoning for not revealing a schedule. Fox Entertainment CEO Charles Collier said the network was trying a “new approach” to give equal weight to its Tubi streaming service.
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