This is Garrison Hardie with your CrossPolitic Daily News Brief for Thursday, April 6th, 2023.
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Nashville police find trans school shooter’s suicide note—refuse to release details
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department reportedly found a suicide note left by trans-identifying school shooter Audrey Hale during their search of the now deceased assailant’s home.
While authorities have confirmed that the note exists, its contents have not disclosed what it contains.
According to NBC News, on Tuesday authorities released a list of items discovered at the home following the shooting. Among them were several journals, a shotgun, cellphones, laptops, and a suicide note. Old photos and yearbooks from The Covenant School, where Hale was a former student, were also recovered.
The MNPD declined to provide further details regarding the contents of the note, a document which many have suggested could shine some light on the potential motive behind the mass shooting, which left six people dead.
Officers did reveal, however, that many of the othe documents they found included notes about firearms courses and school shootings of the past.
On Monday, police revealed that Hale planned the attack “over a period of months,” and that she fired 152 rounds from the time she shot her way into the school until being killed by police.
“The writings remain under careful review by the MNPD and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The motive for Hale’s actions has not been established and remains under investigation by the Homicide Unit in consultation with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit,” MNPD wrote.
Hale’s manifesto has also been recovered, and its contents will reportedly be released to the public as soon as the FBI has analyzed it.
Another Biden Administration COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Struck Down by Court
President Joe Biden’s administration did not have the authority to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers and volunteers in a federal childcare program, a U.S. judge has ruled.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) forced Head Start workers, and some volunteers, to get a COVID-19 vaccine starting in early 2022. Head Start provides childcare to children from low-income families.
HHS cited the Head Start Act, which says the health secretary can add “administrative and financial management standards,” “standards relating to the condition and location of facilities (including indoor air quality assessment standards, where appropriate),” and “such other standards as the secretary finds to be appropriate.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that the mandate was outside of the power granted by the act. The law “does not mention vaccinations,” he and other plaintiffs said in a brief.
U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix agreed.
“The wisdom of Head Start’s rule is not before the Court—only its legality. If the people, through Congress, wish to impose a vaccine mandate on Head Start programs, they may do so by passing a law. But an agency can do only what Congress authorizes it to do,” Hendrix, a Trump appointee, said in his ruling.
“Regardless of how well intentioned, HHS’s attempt here to shoehorn the vaccine mandate into statutory language authorizing modification of Head Start’s administrative, financial, and facility-management standards goes too far. Equally fatal to the rule is the agency’s decision to implement it without the necessary public notice and comment, consultation with stakeholders, and reasonable explanation,” he added.
The ruling strikes down the mandate, which Biden’s administration had refused to rescind. The mandate had already been struck down in 24 states, per a 2022 ruling by a different judge.
HHS and the U.S. Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment.
“I’m proud to announce that the Biden Administration’s attempt to use the Head Start program to mask toddlers and force the vaccine on staff and volunteers has now been permanently defeated,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican and one of the plaintiffs, said in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times.
In court filings, defendants had urged the judge not to block the mandate.
The COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission or infection, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though observational data have indicated they have a small effect on both that might turn negative over time.
The National Head Start Association, a nonprofit, welcomed the judge’s ruling.
Head Start previously rescinded its mask mandate after months of lobbying from the nonprofit and others. It had mandated masks for children, workers, and volunteers.
DOJ agrees to $144M settlement in Sutherland Springs shooting civil cases alleging background check negligence
The Justice Department announced Wednesday it has reached a $144 million agreement in principle to settle civil cases stemming from a 2017 mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 dead.
Officials said the settlements will resolve claims from more than 75 plaintiffs, who alleged “the Air Force was negligent when it failed to transmit to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System information about the shooter that would have prevented him from purchasing guns from a federally licensed firearms dealer.”
The gunman in the November 2017 attack, Devin Patrick Kelly, served in the Air Force. He died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“No words or amount of money can diminish the immense tragedy of the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Today’s announcement brings the litigation to a close, ending a painful chapter for the victims of this unthinkable crime.”
The Justice Department said Wednesday that a “federal district court in Texas concluded that the United States was liable for damages caused by the shooting.”
“The agreement in principle would settle all claims for a total of $144.5 million. The settlement agreement has been approved, subject to the plaintiffs’ securing the required court approvals,” it added. “Under applicable law, a court must approve some aspects of the settlements.”
The Justice Department also said the “NICS plays a critical role in combatting gun violence, and the federal government is always striving to improve the functioning of that system.”
Kelley had served nearly five years in the Air Force before being discharged in 2014 for bad conduct, after he was convicted of assaulting a former wife and stepson, cracking the child’s skull. The Air Force has publicly acknowledged that the felony conviction for domestic violence, had it been put into the FBI database, could have prevented Kelley from buying guns from licensed firearms dealers, and also from possessing body armor.
U.S. District Judge Xavier Rodriguez said in 2021 that had the government done its job and entered Kelley’s history into the database, “it is more likely than not that Kelley would have been deterred from carrying out the Church shooting.”
Kelley was shot at by two churchgoers who later pursued him.
Officials said an autopsy determined Kelley was shot by Willeford twice.
City Council Considering Sale of Biblical, Roman Art for ‘Lack of Diversity’
Acouncil in the English city of Oxford has announced that it will consider selling some of its Biblical art that decorates the town hall in an effort to “better reflect the gender and ethnic diversity of [the] city”.
On Monday, March 20th, a Liberal Democratic councillor, Katherine Miles, submitted a motion to the council to have the artworks either removed or sold. The two paintings she demands be removed or sold are the Rape of the Sabine Women and Salome and Head of John the Baptist. The former depicts Roman mythology, whereas the latter is a biblical tale.
Ms. Miles has been working on an initiative to increase the diversity and representation of the artwork in Oxford City Council since June 2021. She claims that the paintings depict “animal cruelty and gender-based violence”, as well as a lack of diversity. More specifically, she argues the artwork contains fox hunting, representations of death, and depictions of rape.
In an interview with Oxford Mail, the newspaper that first reported the story, Ms. Miles reflected on the “lack of diversity,” stating, “[with] only three portraits in the town hall of women, it is high time the council redresses the existing lack of diversity within the town hall portraits to better reflect the gender and ethnic diversity of our city.
Therefore, in her words, the collection has “no practical value to the city” nor a “clear link to Oxford”.
Another Liberal Democrat councillor, Lawrence Fouweather, announced his support of the motion. He argues that the artwork could be sold to assist local residents in financial difficulties. “The Council,” he argues, “is running short of cash, and at the same time the cost of living crisis is thrusting many of our residents into tremendous hardship and poverty…this proposed one-off sale of select artworks from the city’s collection would help alleviate the dire plight of some of our most deprived residents”.
Ms. Miles, on the other hand, has stated that “[s]elling any existing artwork not on display, and not becoming of a public institution, may be [sic] one way to fund the costs of any initiative to improve the decorations in the town hall”.
One critic, Peter Whittle of the New Culture Forum in London, criticized the move, stating, “our culture continues to be dismantled by nobodies, morons and philistines”.
No verdict has been made on the sale. A spokesman for Oxford City Council has publicly stated that, as for now, “there is no council position on this matter”.
According to the Telegraph, “[d]iscussions about the diversity of public art in Oxford come after the city council created an “Anti-Racism Charter” in 2021, after pledging to tackle discrimination following Black Lives Matter protests the previous year.”
Cash App founder Bob Lee fatally stabbed in San Francisco
Tech executive Bob Lee, founder of Cash App and the former chief technology officer of Square, was stabbed to death in San Francisco, California, according to reports.
A 43-year-old man was attacked Tuesday at around 2:35 a.m., San Francisco Police said in a statement. Officers arrived at the scene on the 300 block of Main Street in response to the stabbing.
The San Francisco medical examiner has not yet identified the victim, but Lee was later identified by his friends as the person stabbed, according to KPIX.
Lee was rushed to the hospital to receive treatment for his life-threatening wounds, but he later succumbed to his injuries.
No arrests have been made in connection with the stabbing as of Wednesday morning. The incident remains under investigation.
Lee was the chief product officer of San Francisco-based cryptocurrency company MobileCoin.
He previously worked at Google, where he led Android’s core library team and launched “the world’s most used operating system,” his profile on MobileCoin’s official website reads.
The tech mogul also founded the social network Present, and invested in and advised other companies, including Figma, Clubhouse, Beeper and Faire.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Lee helped the World Health Organization with their mobile app and led development for an at-home testing company.