Trump: “This Isn’t A Guns Situation”
We are shocked and grievously saddened by the mass shooting at a small church in Texas, where an ex-Air Force logistics specialist, who was dishonorably discharged, opened fire on a congregation at prayer. According to the San Antonio Express News, he killed 26 people, perhaps half the people attending the service. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72.
When the shooter, 26-year old Devin Patrick Kelley was confronted by a resident, who also had a gun, he dropped his own gun and sped away in a car, pursued by that second resident and another man, only to be found dead by the side of the road a short while later. It’s unclear whether his fatal wounds were self inflicted or the result of his encounter with the other people.
Always the biggest question: Why?, remains unanswered at this time.
A candlelight vigil was held in the small town outside of San Antonio.
Here’s Trump, in Tokyo this morning, talking about the shooting (click here or on the photo to play):
We are angered, but not surprised by the Presidents response. We write “The Chaos Report” the night before, and then revise it in the morning. And we wrote our headline today 12 hours before Trump spoke those exact words, because we were so sure that’s what he was going to say. (We would’ve changed it, obviously, if he hadn’t). Not because we are psychic: but because the response has become so predictable, as mass shootings become part of the landscape of modern America, and guns are never to blame.
Already, Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton had told Fox News “You can’t necessarily keep guns out of the hands of people who are going to violate the law…If someone is willing to kill someone, they’re also going to be willing to violate a gun law.” Except there’s no evidence the shooter had obtained his guns illegally, and according to multiple reports, he’d already violated the law.
While it is undoubtedly true that this is a “mental health issue,” and it is undoubtedly true that the two people who confronted the shooter are heroes, why does that make it untrue this has anything to do with easy access to guns? Especially if, as the President says, the shooter was “a very deranged individual, a lot of problems for a very long time”?
According to the San Antonio Express News, and subsequently confirmed by multiple other news sources, Kelley had been court-martialed for domestic violence against his wife and child. Yet he was still able to buy military-style assault weapons. He was considered too unstable to be in the Air Force. Yet was not too unstable to buy a gun as a civilian.
What Exactly Happened In Saudi Arabia?
The Saudi heir-to-the throne, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, arrested 11 members of the Royal family, ostensibly as part of an anti-corruption campaign, confining many (for now) to the 5-star Ritz Carlton hotel. Royal Family members have also been ordered not to leave the country.
This seems to represent an effort by the 32-year old Prince and his father, King Salman, to consolidate power and accelerate reform in the Kingdom, which for years has been governed by a loose association of Royal family members, many of whom formed their own powerful factions. It’s also seen as a response to a more organized Iran vying for power in the region.
Two detainees in particular stand out in this weekend’s events:
- Multi-billionaire Prince Alwaleed, a famed stock market investor, listed by Bloomberg as the 50th richest person in the world with personal wealth close to $20-billion.
- Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, son of the former King, who had been fired from his position as head of the National Guard just hours previously. He was seen as Prince Mohammed’s most formidable political rival.
The New York Times suggests the moves are also intended to send a message to Saudi Arabia’s powerful religious leaders.
CNN suggests part of the reason for the timing is the decline of ISIS as an occupying force in Iraq and Syria. That effort had Saudi Arabia and Iran both opposing ISIS (although not together); now they’re again focusing attention on each other.
This is important to the U.S. too, as Trump has positioned himself as a great friend to Saudi Arabia, and great enemy to Iran. Trump spoke to the Saudi King over the weekend without mentioning the purge, which was taken as tacit approval. Trump’s been lobbying the Saudi’s to list their state-owned oil company, Aramco on the New York Stock Exchange when it goes public, and he Tweeted about that.
And to add literal fireworks: the Saudis said they successfully shot down a home-made missile launched from Yemen in the direction of the main airport in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s been involved in a lingering military conflict with Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Why Trump’s Words About “Samurai” Japan Matter
According to the Kyodo news agency, Trump, now in Japan, said he could not understand why a “country of samurai warriors” did not shoot down the missiles North Korea fired in its direction. (Japan says since it determined the missiles would overfly the country, it did not take an action which could’ve escalated the situation). Earlier, during an appearance on Fox News, he called Japan a “warrior nation”.
None of that may mean much to Americans other than “there goes our silly President again.” But to Japanese (at least Japanese who take Trump seriously), those words speak volumes.
Japan’s Constitution was written by the U.S. following World War II. It expressly forbids Japan to raise an army and wage war. (Japan does maintain a “Self Defense Force”). Japan’s Constitution has never been amended. Its current Prime Minister, and Trump golfing buddy, Shinzo Abe wants to, badly. Specifically and only the part about the military: Article 9, which reads as follows:
“ARTICLE 9. (1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
(2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”
Not everyone in the country agrees this should be changed, or even that it’s a priority. Right-wing nationalists have long (and loudly) argued Japan should not abide by the U.S.-imposed Constitution (some even argue Japan never should’ve surrendered). Now Trump is helping them and their supporters in Parliament gain a new foothold. Not only is he bringing back a rabid form of Nationalism to the U.S., he’s helping Japan along that road too.
Leaked Documents From Offshore Law Firm Reveal Cozy Relationship Between Trump’s Billionaire Commerce Secretary And Putin’s Closest Friends And Relatives
The documents, known as the “Paradise Papers” come from the same group that released the “Panama Papers”. They show a shipping company in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is invested, has significant ties to Putin’s son-in-law. More specifically, Navigator Holdings, has multi-million dollar contracts with Russia’s Sibur to transport energy products. Sibur is owned by a Putin friend who is currently under U.S. sanction, and Putin’s son-in-law. While Ross has not hidden his investment in Navigator, he has not mentioned its ties to the Russian company.
A spokesperson says Ross recuses himself from any matters of transoceanic shipping.
Although there seems to be the appearance of a conflict of interest here, we have a different problem with it: This release of documents from the Cayman law firm Appleby shows us is that Ross and several other top Trump advisors are benefiting immensely from globalization, while at the same time, publicly, at the President’s behest, they attack it. Yet now proof that they know it’s happening. They know it’s inevitable. They know it’s making them tons of money.
The BBC has a bunch of tidbits coming out of the Paradise Papers, including some about investments by the Queen of England.
We Think Same Thing Goes For Climate Change
We’ve always believed a lot of climate change deniers don’t really believe what they’re saying. But it’s not about science for them: it’s about business. They know they’re fighting a losing battle and are just trying to extend their financial interests as far and as long as possible.
The Trump Administration did not suppress what may be the most damning report from the government yet on the role of humans in global warming. But it seems to be hoping it’ll get lost in a flood of other news stories. Which for now it is. (In fact, we almost dropped it because the report was getting a little long today…)
New York City’s Quick, Low-Tech Response To Last Week’s Terrorist Attack
Our New York based editor writes: In the days since the Halloween terrorist attack that left 8 people dead, the City of New York has transformed the Hudson River bike path, where the attacks took place, into a series of chutes and funnels. Huge concrete barriers are plopped down all along the route.
In some places there would still be enough space for a small car to squeeze onto the path, but not a big truck, and it wouldn’t be able to accelerate for any significant distance without having to slow down to weave around a barrier.
This is especially the case in highly trafficked areas, such as Midtown Manhattan. (Coverage elsewhere was spotty: we were surprised to find some major intersections remained without any barriers to entry at all, while so many others were so fortified.)
Of course, being New York, most of the barriers had a sign affixed to them, urging people to protest their placement. Very politely.
Our view is if it’s going to protect us from a possible copycat, we’re all for it, at least until a more permanent fix can be devised or installed (perhaps retractable metal posts like they have on bike paths that go over bridges).
Still, just by our eye, there are about half as many people out riding as usual. This is especially true on the weekends. During the week, commuters and messengers still seem to be out in force.
Lots of people shout things at me when I’m on a Citibike (bike share bicycle) like “Brave man!” and “Watch out! You’re taking your life into your own hands” and “It’s so sad”…
Yes, it is. It’s heartbreaking. And now, Texas.