Friday, April 16, 2021

Wake-Up Call: 8 Killed At Indy Fedex Facility

Indy Star Website Screenshot

Eight people were killed in a shooting at an Indianapolis Fedex facility late yesterday, and at least four others were hospitalized, including one person with critical injuries. Police said in a early Friday morning news briefing that the suspected gunman killed himself. A man who works at the Fedex facility named Jeremiah Miller told local station WISH-TV, "I saw a man with a submachine gun of some sort, an automatic rifle, and he was firing in the open."

➤U.S. IMPOSING SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA, EXPELLING DIPLOMATS OVER HACKING, ELECTION INTERFERENCE: The administration announced yesterday that the U.S. is imposing sanctions on several dozen Russian people and companies and is expelling 10 Russian diplomats in response to the massive SolarWinds hacking of federal agencies and to efforts to interfere in last year's presidential election. President Biden said at the White House, "We cannot allow a foreign power to interfere in our democratic process with impunity." He also said they could have taken even stronger measures, but chose not to in the interest of maintaining stability. Russia promised a response.

One of the people targeted was Russian and Ukrainian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik, who worked with former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and was indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The Treasury Department said yesterday that Kilimnik had given, quote, "sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy" to Russian intelligence services after getting it from the Trump campaign in 2016. Mueller’s report had been unable to determine what Kilimnik had done with the polling data.

No sanctions were imposed for reports that Russia encouraged the Taliban to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with the White House saying Biden was using diplomatic, military and intelligence channels to respond. Officials said they had only low to moderate confidence in intelligence from last year that Russia had put out "bounties" for attacks on U.S. troops.

➤BODYCAM VIDEO RELEASED OF 13-YEAR-OLD BOY KILLED BY CHICAGO POLICE: Bodycam video was released yesterday of the fatal police shooting by Chicago police of a 13-year-old boy, after a public outcry over the boy's March 29th death. The video shows Adam Toledo appearing to drop a gun and begin raising his hands less than second before Officer Eric Stillman shot him once in the chest. Police had responded to reports of shots fired in the area and say Toledo had a gun before he was shot. Stillman is heard yelling at the boy to stop as he ran after Toledo, and yells, "Hands! Hands! Show me your (expletive) hands!" Toledo then turns toward the camera, Stillman yells "Drop it!" and between repeating that command, he opens fire and hits Toledo. Stillman’s attorney said Toledo left the officer no choice but to shoot. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot asked the public to remain calm, but condemned the city’s history of police violence and misconduct.

➤DEFENSE RESTS IN CHAUVIN TRIAL, HE DOESN'T TESTIFY: The defense rested in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder and manslaughter trial in the death of George Floyd yesterday after Chauvin chose not to testify. He told the judge, with the jury not in the room, that he was invoking his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. The defense rested its case soon after. In the case's final testimony, the prosecution briefly recalled a lung and critical care expert to reject a defense witness' speculation that inhaling carbon monoxide from a car's exhaust might have contributed to Floyd's death. The expert said that tests showed Floyd’s carbon monoxide level was in the normal range. Closing arguments are set to begin Monday.

➤13 SUPREME COURT JUSTICES: Should the Supreme Court have 13 justices instead of the current nine? That's what a group of congressional Democrats is arguing, and they introduced legislation yesterday that would make it happen. Supporters of expansion charge Republicans got an unfair advantage on the high court when then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked President Barack Obama from filling Justice Antonin Scalia's seat after he died in February 2016, claiming the person who won the presidential race in November should fill the seat since it was an election year, but then when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died last September, went ahead and got Judge Amy Coney Barrett confirmed for the seat in a matter of weeks before the presidential election. 

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said, "Some people say we’re packing the court. We’re not packing it. We’re unpacking it." But Republicans call it a power grab, and it's a long-shot effort, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying yesterday she might not bring it up for a vote if it's advanced out of committee. This comes, meanwhile, after President Biden created a commission last week to examine the issue of expanding the court and also the possibility of having term limits for the justices.

➤SPENDING TIME ON HOUSEHOLD CHORES MAY IMPROVE BRAIN HEALTH:  Most people don’t exactly like doing household chores, but doing them could be good for your brain. Rotman Research Institute researchers looked at people ages 66 and up and found those who reported spending more time doing household chores such as tidying, dusting, meal preparation and clean up, shopping, heavy housework, home repairs and caregiving had greater brain volume, regardless of how much exercise they did. The scientists say this could be because household chores have a similar effect on the heart and blood vessels as low-intensity aerobic exercise, or because planning and organizing involving household chores may promote the formation of new neural connections over time, or even because those who engaged in more household chores spent less time being sedentary, which has been associated with negative health outcomes, including poor brain health.

Men’s shorts are getting shorter, and social media users have noticed. After a few male celebrities shared photos of themselves wearing high-cut activewear earlier this week, Men’s Health magazine wrote an article that predicts short shorts for men will gain popularity this summer, especially among fitness enthusiasts. Director of the Avant-Guide Institute, Daniel Levine, says that shorter shorts for men have been trending in 2021, according to global consumer trend research conducted by the firm. It’s not the first time in fashion history this has happened. Men’s athletic shorts were noticeably short between the 1940s and 1980s before trends shifted towards above- or at-the-knee shorts or longer.

➤CAPITOL POLICE INSPECTOR GENERAL SAYS 'CULTURAL CHANGE' NEEDED: The U.S. Capitol Police Inspector General, Michael A. Bolton, said in testimony before the House Administration Committee yesterday that the Capitol Police force needs a, quote, "cultural change," after the failures related to the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Among his findings, Bolton said the Capitol Police needs to improve its intelligence gathering, training, and operational planning as well as the way it views its mission, saying as a protective agency it needs to be, quote, "proactive to prevent events such as January 6th." Among problems he's found are inadequate training and outdated weaponry, and in a report obtained by AP that hasn't been publicly released, he cited missed intelligence surrounding the January 6th attack.

➤PFIZER CEO: COVID-19 VACCINE BOOSTER SHOT LIKELY NEEDED WITHIN A YEAR: The CEO of Pfizer, which makes one of the two mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, said on CNBC yesterday that people will "likely" need a booster shot within one year of getting fully vaccinated. Albert Bourla also said that people may need annual shots after that. Pfizer is currently studying how long the vaccine's immunity lasts, and that will determine whether booster shots will be necessary. The CEO of Moderna, which makes the other mRNA vaccine, said on CNBC a day earlier that they are working on a shot that would combine protection against Covid-19 and the seasonal flu.

➤EX-VP PENCE GETS PACEMAKER: Former Vice President Mike Pence underwent surgery on Wednesday to have a pacemaker implanted. His office said yesterday that the 61-year-old had symptoms associated with a slow heart rate over the past two weeks, and had the procedure in response. Everything went well with the procedure and he's expected to fully recover in a few days. Pence had previously been diagnosed with a heart condition called asymptomatic left bundle branch block.

After weeks of trying to work things out, Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez have officially called off their engagement.

In a joint statement, they said, “We have realized we are better as friends and look forward to remaining so. We will continue to work together and support each other on our shared businesses and projects. We wish the best for each other and one another's children. Out of respect for them, the only other comment we have is to say is thank you to everyone who has sent kind words and support."

Trouble in their relationship became public when rumors swirled of him cheating on her earlier this year. At the time, both stars denied it. They were engaged for 2 years before their breakup.

➤TOKYO OLYMPICS COULD STILL BE CANCELED: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed one year from last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic, and their planned start is now just three months away. But an official in Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party said yesterday that the Games could still be canceled. Like many places around the world, Japan is currently having a coronavirus surge, and they've also had a slow rollout of their vaccination program. LDP secretary general Toshihiro Nikai told the Associated Press the Olympics could be canceled if the country's Covid-19 numbers don't improve. He said, "If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics." It's also been suggested that the Games could be held, but without any fans. As it stands now, no foreign fans will be allowed to attend. The Japanese people themselves don't seem to be very eager to move forward with the Olympics, with a Kyodo News poll earlier this week finding that 72 percent were in favor of postponing the Games again or canceling them altogether.

🏀NETS' ALDRIDGE RETIRES SUDDENLY DUE TO IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT: The Brooklyn Nets' LaMarcus Aldridge retired suddenly on Thursday (April 15th) after the 35-year-old experienced an irregular heartbeat during Brooklyn's game against the Los Angeles Lakers last Saturday, ending his 15-year NBA career. Aldridge said in a statement posted on social media that it was one of the, quote, "scariest things" he's ever experienced. Even though he feels better now, he said, "For 15 years I’ve put basketball first, and now, it is time to put my health and my family first." The seven-time All-Star was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome as a rookie in 2017, which can cause a rapid heartbeat. 

Aldridge had just signed with the Nets on March 28th and had become their starting center. He's previously been with the Portland Trail Blazers and the San Antonio Spurs.

🏀WINGS TAKE COLLIER, KUIER FIRST AND SECOND IN WNBA DRAFT: Charli Collier of Texas was the top pick in the WNBA draft last night, chosen by the Dallas Wings, who also had the second pick and took Awak Kuier, the first Finnish player to be drafted in the WNBA. She played professionally in Italy. Dallas had the first two picks in the draft, which was held virtually for a second year due to the pandemic, by acquiring the top pick in a trade after being awarded the second choice in the draft lottery. The Atlanta Dream chose Arizona guard Aari McDonald third and the Indiana Fever picked Kysre Gondrezick of West Virginia fourth. Dallas had the fifth pick as well, and took Chelsea Dungee of Arkansas.

🏒CANUCKS' RETURN TO PLAY DELAYED DUE TO ONGOING COVID ISSUES: The NHL announced yesterday (April 15th) that the Vancouver Canucks' return to play had be delayed as they continue to deal with a Covid-19 outbreak on the team. They had been scheduled to host the Edmonton Oilers yesterday after having not played a game since March 24th. At least 21 Vancouver players and four members of the coaching staff have tested positive for the coronavirus since March 30th.

🏈BROWNS, RAIDERS LATEST PLAYERS TO SAY WILL SKIP VOLUNTARY WORKOUTS: The Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders yesterday became the latest NFL players to say they won't take part in voluntary in-person workouts this offseason. The players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and New York Giants had previously said the same thing. The first four weeks of the workouts will be virtual, but will then transition to being in-person. The offseason workouts were all done virtually last year because of the pandemic, and the objecting players are saying it should be done entirely virtually this year too because of Covid-19.

🏀WISEMAN HAS SURGERY ON KNEE, OUT FOR REST OF SEASON: The Golden State Warriors said yesterday that center James Wiseman had undergone surgery for a meniscus injury in his right knee and will be out for the rest of the season. It's expected that the 20-year-old rookie will be back next season. Wiseman, who was the Number 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, was injured during the April 10th game against the Houston Rockets.

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