First Thing: Buffalo gunman allegedly did reconnaissance of area

·8 min read
<span>Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP</span>
Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

Details show plotting had likely been in development for months, while signs of trouble had surrounded shooter for some time. Plus, good news for narwhals


Good morning.

As Buffalo, New York, mourns the victims of a mass shooting at a supermarket Saturday that left 10 dead and three wounded, details are emerging about the shooter’s movements and how the devastating racist attack unfolded.

The 18-year-old shooter, who is a self-confessed white supremacist, shot 11 Black and two white victims in a “racially motivated hate crime” authorities said. It plunged the mostly Black Buffalo East Side neighborhood into grief and shock.

But the plotting of the attack happened many miles away, had likely been in development for months and even apparently involved a reconnaissance of the targeted area.

The shooter is believed to have traveled about 200 miles (320km) from his home of Conklin, New York, to Buffalo but signs of trouble had surrounded him for some time. One year ago, he was the subject of a law enforcement investigation, according to the Buffalo News.

  • Where did the shooter get the gun? Officials have said that the shooter purchased his gun legally in New York. He did not purchase the high-capacity magazine in this state, they said.

  • Meanwhile, California parishioners managed to subdue a gunman who killed one person and wounded five senior citizens. A pastor was able to hit the gunman on the head with a chair and then other parishioners tied him up with electrical cords.

Supreme court ‘dangerous to families and to freedoms’

Nancy PelosiSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leads an event with House Democrats after the Senate failed to pass the Women&#x002019;s Health Protection Act to ensure a federally protected right to abortion access, on the Capitol steps in Washington, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House speaker rails against conservative judges appointed by Trump. Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The supreme court is “dangerous to families and to freedoms in our country”, Nancy Pelosi said yesterday, as justices prepare to finalize a draft ruling stripping almost half a century of abortion rights in the US.

The House speaker railed against conservative judges appointed by the former president Donald Trump in an interview Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, in which she urged Democrats to keep their “eye on the ball” to protect other freedoms she sees under threat.

“Beware in terms of marriage equality, beware in terms of other aspects,” she said. “Understand this. This is not just about terminating a pregnancy. This is about contraception, family planning.

“This is a place where freedom and the kitchen table, issues of America’s families, come together. What are the decisions that a family makes? What about contraception for young people? It’s beyond just a particular situation. It’s massive in terms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, a woman’s right to decide.”

  • What did Bernie Sanders say on the subject? He said he remained hopeful that abortion rights legislation could be resurrected before the midterms. “Nobody should think this process is dead. We should bring those bills up again, and again and again.”

Russians and Ukrainians in battle around Izium as Sweden joins Finland in Nato bid

Ukrainian troops stand at the Ukraine-Russia border in what was said to be the Kharkiv region, Ukraine in this screen grab obtained from a video released on May 15, 2022. Ukrainian Ministry of Defence/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT
Ukrainian troops in the Kharkiv region. Photograph: Ukrainian Ministry Of Defence/Reuters

Russia has attacked positions in eastern Ukraine as it tries to encircle Ukrainian forces in the Donbas and fend off a counteroffensive around the city of Izium.

The Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said Russia’s Donbas offensive had stalled and Ukraine could win the war, an outcome few military analysts predicted at the outset of the conflict. “Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned,” Stoltenberg said.

Finland on Sunday confirmed it would apply to join Nato, while Sweden’s ruling Social Democrats backed Nato membership, paving the way for an application and abandoning decades of neutrality.

Nato and the US said they were confident both countries would be accepted and that reservations from Turkey could be overcome – it wants them to halt support for Kurdish militant groups present in their territory.

  • How is the Russian invasion going? British military intelligence said Russia had lost about a third of the ground combat force deployed in February, and its Donbas offensive had fallen “significantly behind schedule”.

  • What is the US doing to help? Washington has delivered all but one of the 90 artillery pieces it was due to send, according to the US embassy in Kyiv. The US is set to press ahead this week with efforts to send more aid.

  • What else is happening? Here’s what we know on day 82 of the invasion.

In other news …

Kash Patel, a former chief of staff to then-acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller
The Plot Against the King is set to be published by Brave Books. Photograph: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
  • Kash Patel, a former Republican aide on the House intelligence committee who Donald Trump weighed installing as deputy CIA director, is publishing a children’s book that perpetuates the false claim the Steele dossier sparked investigations into Russian collusion.

  • Warnings that a new statue of Margaret Thatcher would attract egg-throwing protests proved prescient within two hours of it being installed. The bronze statue of the controversial former UK prime minister was, without ceremony, placed on a 10ft high plinth to make it more difficult for protesters to inflict any damage.

  • A British man has claimed the record for the most ascents of Mount Everest by a foreigner after standing on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain for the 16th time. Kenton Cool from Gloucestershire reached the top of the mountain in Nepal early yesterday morning, according to a post on his Instagram page.

  • Shanghai has set out plans for the return of more normal life from 1 June and the end of a painful Covid-19 lockdown that has lasted more than six weeks and contributed to a sharp slowdown in China’s economic activity. Shanghai’s reopening would be carried out in stages, with movement curbs largely to remain in place until 21 May.

Stat of the day: US Covid deaths hit 1m, a death toll higher than any other country

American flags fly at half-staff to mark one million deaths from the coronavirus on the National Mall in Washington
American flags fly at half-staff to mark one million deaths from the coronavirus on the National Mall in Washington. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

More than 1 million people have died in the Covid-19 pandemic in the US, according to Johns Hopkins, far and away the most deaths of any country. While the sheer number of deaths from the coronavirus sets the US apart, the country’s large population does not explain the staggering mortality rate, which is among the highest in the world. Among the 20 worst affected nations, only two other countries – Brazil and Poland – have higher mortality rates per 100,000 people.

Don’t miss this: Why is Cannes a ‘cathedral of cinema’?

The red carpet at the Cannes film festival
The red carpet at the Cannes film festival. Photograph: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

The perennial question about Cannes, that millionaire’s playground on the Côte d’Azur, is whether it is a creative response to the woes of the world or a means of laundering its worst excesses? Nobody is certain. The jury’s always out. Cannes thrives on frictions, contradictions; that’s part of its appeal. This year marks the festival’s 75th edition, a birthday of sorts. It provides the perfect excuse to rewind through the event’s past, celebrating its history as a home for provocation.

… or this: ‘We cannot live without love’

“Love is a biological necessity. We cannot live without it,” Dr Stephanie Cacioppo says. “And that’s hard to say for someone who lost their best friend, their soul mate, and the love of their life. But I realised that love does not have to be with the person who is physically here with you … We can be in love with someone even if they live far away from you. Or even if they passed away; we lost so many people in our lives during Covid and I think many people can relate to that.”

Climate check: Rejection of Arctic mine expansion bid offers hope for narwhal population

Narwhals
The news came as a surprise and a relief to conservationists. Photograph: David Fleetham/Alamy

The expansion of an iron ore mine in the Arctic that would have increased shipping and led to the “complete extirpation of narwhal” from the region has been blocked. After four years of deliberations, the Nunavut Impact Review Board rejected a request from Baffinland Iron Mines Corp asking to significantly increase mining on the northern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. The area is home to one of the world’s richest iron ore deposits, and the densest narwhal population in the world.

Last Thing: Caesar’s favourite herb was the Viagra of ancient Rome. But what killed it off?

Of all the mysteries of ancient Rome, that of the fate of silphium is among the most intriguing. Romans loved the herb as much as we love chocolate. They used silphium as perfume, as medicine, as an aphrodisiac and turned it into a condiment. It was so valuable that Julius Caesar stashed more than half a tonne in his treasury. Yet it became extinct less than a century later and for nearly 2,000 years people have puzzled over the cause. Researchers now believe it was the first victim of man-made climate change.

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