As further details emerged of Thursday’s fatal shooting in Louisiana – and as police in Los Angeles shot and killed a man apparently firing into the air on Ventura Boulevard – the American epidemic of gun violence is again in the spotlight, together with the nation’s perpetual and polarized debate over second amendment rights.
Christopher Ingraham at the Washington Post breaks it down perfectly thus:
Events were given a cloak of sad inevitability in part because of the seemingly prescient interview President Obama gave the BBC hours before the Lafayette incident.
Meanwhile, Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal told Fox News that he was “suspending” his Presidential campaign in order to “do whatever we can to support our community.” He did not say how long such a suspension might last. Jindal sparked criticism from the left after silencing a reporter who asked him about his state’s gun laws – some of the weakest in the county – by saying that it was not the right time for such a discussion. The Hill reports:
“There will be an absolute appropriate time for us to talk about policies and politics, and I’m sure that folks will want to score political points of this tragedy, as they’ve tried to do on previous tragedies…”
“You can ask me these questions in a couple of days. I’m not going anywhere. I’m happy to talk about this, we’re happy to talk about politics, but not here.”
But some believe the Governor has enabled his state’s gun violence problem – Louisiana has the second-highest gun death rate in the nation.
* POLITICS * The New York Times got itself into something of a kerfuffle on Thursday night over multiple alterations to a story about Hillary Clinton’s personal emails.
The fallout largely overshadowed a speech the Democratic front-runner gave on Friday on the economy. Worse still for the Clinton campaign, the email issue shows little sign of abating anytime soon. Kurt Eichenwald at Newsweek – a former Times staffer – was excoriating.
After the Des Moines Register wrote an editorial last week urging Donald Trump to drop out of the Republican primary contest, the Trump campaign banned the paper from covering the candidate’s Iowa events on Saturday.
New photographs emerged of senior figures in the Bush administration reacting in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001.
* WORLD * Jonathan Pollard, the American who has spent 30 years in prison after being convicted of selling classified information to Israel, is apparently set to be released soon. He is eligible for parole in November this year, but reports are suggesting he could be freed earlier. Adam Taylor writes at the Washington Post on why Israel wants him free, why the US doesn’t, and what might happen next.
For some Israelis, the idea that a Jewish American could be sentenced so harshly for service to Israel is horrifying, and there have been a number of campaigns to free Pollard. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 after a request from his lawyer, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has played a specific role in support for Pollard, admitting in 1998 that Pollard was an Israeli source (though it has also been denied) and visiting him in prison in 2002 while Netanyahu was not in office.
After being welcomed to the Kenyan capital Nairobi by cheering crowds and having dinner with members of his extended family, President Obama begins the formal part of his trip on Saturday, when he will open a major business summit and visit a memorial to the 1998 US Embassy bombing in the city.
Turkey said it had continued its air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria for a second day, but also announced that it had launched air and artillery attacks against camps in northern Iraq operated by the anti-ISIS Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The New York Times reports:
It was the first time Turkish jets have struck Kurds in northern Iraq since a peace deal was announced in 2013 between Ankara and the rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The group has been fighting Turkey for autonomy since 1984 and is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and its allies.
* BUSINESS * In the first-ever automotive recall for a cybersecurity issue, Chrysler announced it was recalling 1.4million vehicles in the wake of the recent hack of a Jeep’s systems, reported by Wired earlier this week. Federal regulators are investigating the circumstances of the recall, which is being handled by the company sending a USB drive with corrective software to owners.
AT&T and DirecTV completed a merger making the combined organization the nation’s largest pay-TV company. Reuters reports:
The No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier AT&T Inc and the biggest satellite-TV provider DirecTV became the country’s largest pay-TV company on Friday, completing their $48.5 billion merger after receiving final regulatory approval.
The newly expanded AT&T leapfrogs the biggest U.S. cable company Comcast Corp. The company said it will serve more than 26 million U.S. customers and more than 19 million in Latin America, making it the world’s biggest pay-TV company.
* MEDIA * After what appeared to be something between an existential wrestling match and a Damascene conversion in recent days, Gawker is set to relaunch on Monday and according to co-founder Nick Denton, it will be “20 per cent nicer”. Staffers who don’t like the idea can take severance packages.
* SPORTS * Saturday sees the world’s football great and good gather in St Petersburg, Russia, to observe the draw for the qualifying stages of the 2018 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the man in charge of Russia’s 2018 tournament organization tells the BBC that resigning Fifa President Sepp Blatter is a “victim” and has always been “a friend of our country.” The draw marks Blatter’s first trip outside Switzerland since the Fifa corruption investigations escalated. He will appear at Saturday’s draw alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Things are all getting a bit fraught as the Tour de France heads towards its concluding stage, with leader Chris Froome hitting out at the “appalling behavior” of some spectators.
“Primarily we’re human beings and then we’re sportsmen. People need to remember that. You can’t come to a bike race to spit at someone, or to punch them or to throw urine at them. That’s not acceptable”