Tuesday ReadsPosted: January 24, 2023
Good Day Sky Dancers!!
BREAKING . . . I’m interrupting this post with breaking news from CNN. Get ready for some schadenfreude:
A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence’s Indiana home last week, and he has turned those classified records over to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division have launched a review of the documents and how they ended up in Pence’s house in Indiana.
The classified documents were discovered at Pence’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, by a lawyer for Pence in the wake of the revelations about classified material discovered in President Joe Biden’s private office and residence, the sources said. The discovery comes after Pence has repeatedly said he did not have any classified documents in his possession.
It is not yet clear what the documents are related to or their level of sensitivity or classification. Pence’s team plans to notify Congress on Tuesday.
Pence asked his lawyer to conduct the search of his home out of an abundance of caution, and the attorney began going through four boxes stored at Pence’s house last week, finding a small number of documents with classified markings, the sources said.
Pence’s lawyer immediately alerted the National Archives, the sources said. In turn, the Archives informed the Justice Department.
A lawyer for Pence told CNN that the FBI requested to pick up the documents with classified markings that evening, and Pence agreed. Agents from the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis picked up the documents from Pence’s home, the lawyer said.
On Monday, Pence’s legal team drove the boxes back to Washington, DC, and handed them over to the Archives to review the rest of the material for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
Like President Biden, Pence acted responsibility–unlike the former “president.”
Now back to the post I began before this happened:
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with young and middle-aged white men working out their rage by using AR-15 assault rifles to murder large numbers of people in public gathering places, now we have to deal with elderly men going on killing sprees. Two old men did that in California this week. What the hell is going on?
As Californians grapple with three deadly mass shootings over three days, investigators near San Francisco are trying to figure out why a 66-year-old man may have killed seven people in a massacre that has devastated the Asian American community once again….
In California, at least 19 people were slaughtered in mass shootings over just 44 hours starting Saturday night, with:
— Seven people killed Monday in the Half Moon Bay area near San Francisco;
— One person killed and seven others wounded Monday evening in Oakland.
While the motives remain a mystery, the Half Moon Bay killings bear some similarities to the carnage in Monterey Park. That’s where 72-year-old Huu Can Tran gunned down 20 people – killing 11 – during Lunar New Year weekend celebrations, authorities said.
Both cases share ties to the Asian American community – already a target of attacks since the Covid-19 pandemic began. And the shooter or suspect in each is of Asian descent and far older than the 33-year-old average age of mass shooting perpetrators, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government.
At least several victims in both massacres also were of Asian descent.
“We do know is that some of the victims were Chinese, that the perpetrator was Chinese and that this was an agricultural community – they were agricultural workers,” Half Moon Bay Mayor Deborah Penrose told “CNN This Morning” on Tuesday.
In the Half Moon Bay incident, suspect Chunli Zhao was taken into in custody about two hours after the first call to police while he was parked at a sheriff’s substation with a semi-automatic handgun in his vehicle, the sheriff said.
Officers in San Mateo County had found four people dead and one person wounded at a mushroom farm. Moments later, three more people were found dead near a trucking facility about two miles away in Half Moon Bay, county officials said.
That same evening, yet more bloodshed unfolded – this time in the Bay Area city of Oakland. One person was killed and seven more wounded were in stable condition, police there said.
NPR on elderly mass murderers: The suspected Monterey Park attacker was 72. Here’s why older shooters are rare.
The suspected shooter, a man named Huu Can Tran,was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound after a manhunt on Sunday, authorities said….But one detail may jump out to those familiar with stories about mass shootings: Tran was 72 years old.
Identifying the average age of mass shooters in the U.S. is tricky given there’s no set definition of what a “mass shooting” entails and trackers vary in how far back their data reaches. But no matter which measure you look at, the age of shooters tends to skew lower.
The RAND corporation, a government-funded think tank, says that between 1976 and 2018, 82% of all mass shooters in the U.S. were under the age of 45.
The Violence Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center, puts the median age of mass shooters at 32.
But Jillian Peterson, one of the project’s co-founders, says there are really two distinct age clusters grouped around location.
“You see one cluster that’s young, often school shooters, aged 18 to 25,” she told NPR. “And then you see this second cluster in their mid-40s” who tend to open fire in workplaces, retail stores or restaurants.
According to the Violence Project, the Monterey Park shooter is two years older than the previous oldest person to commit their definition of a mass shooting (to shoot and kill four or more people in a public space).
That shooting happened at a Kentucky retail store in 1981.
In 2021, a 57-year-old man killed nine people at a rail yard in San Jose, Calif. The gunman behind the 2017 attack on a Las Vegas music festival was 64.
Cynthia Miller-Idriss, a director of the Polarization and Extremism Research & Innovation Lab, pointed out on Twitter that in the last three years, high-profile acts of violence have visibly involved older perpetrators.
They all have one thing in common though: they are men.
We’ve already had 39 mass shootings in 2023, according to CNN.
The scenes of agony and horror are increasingly all too familiar in America. In fact, 39 mass shootings have taken place across the country in just the first three weeks of 2023, per the Gun Violence Archive.
Communities from Goshen, California, to Baltimore, Maryland, are reeling while others brace for the possibility of such violence in their own backyards.
“A time of a cultural celebration … and yet another community has been torn apart by senseless gun violence,” Vice President Kamala Harris told a crowd in Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday. “All of us in this room and in our country understand this violence must stop.”
But how that happens with a divided Congress, vastly different policy prescriptions, and a deeply entrenched gun culture remains to be seen….
Firearm injuries are now the leading cause of death among people younger than 24 in the United States, according to a study published in the December 2022 edition of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
From 2015 through 2020, there were at least 2,070 unintentional shootings by children under 18 in the US, according to a report from Everytown. Those shootings resulted in 765 deaths and 1,366 injuries.
Some analysis gun violence in the U.S.:
An unequal burden. A study published late fir last year in JAMA Network Open analyzed firearm deaths over the past three decades – a total of more than 1 million lives lost since 1990.
The researchers found that firearm mortality rates increased for most demographic groups in recent years – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic – but vast disparities persisted. The homicide rate among young Black men – 142 homicide deaths for every 100,000 Black men ages 20 to 24 – was nearly 10 times higher than the overall firearm death rate in the US in 2021.
Americans are armed like few others. There are about 393 million privately owned firearms in the US, according to an estimate by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey. That’s 120 guns for every 100 Americans.
While the exact number of civilian-owned firearms is difficult to calculate due to a variety of factors – including unregistered weapons, the illegal trade and global conflict – no other nation has more civilian guns than people.
About 45% of US adults say they live in a household with a gun, according to an October 2022 Gallup survey.
There’s much more information at the link.
One more on the Monterey Park shooter–it could have been a lot worse except for one courageous young man. The shooter intended to attack another dance hall, but was thwarted.
A video of a man disarming the suspected Monterey Park shooter shows himwrestling the gun away and potentially preventing more carnage at a second dance hall minutes after the gunman killed 11 people and wounded at least nine more at the first site.
Brandon Tsay, 26, has been hailed as a hero for disarming the Monterey Park shooter at a dance hall in Alhambra, California.
Harrowing video obtained exclusively by NBC News captured the men tussling in what appears to be an empty lobby in the dance hall.
An armed man, dressed in dark clothing and a hat, walks out of the picture and about 30 seconds later is seen struggling with Tsay as the two wrestle over the weapon. A shoving match ensues, and Tsay manages to take the gun away from the man.
The weapon has been described as a “semi-automatic assault pistol.”
The man then punches Tsay in his head while Tsay holds the weapon. The men continue to struggle before Tsay pushes the man off. The man continues to reach for the gun before he gives up and walks out of the room.
Tsay then points at the man and briefly moves out of the camera’s view before he returns, with the gun in his right hand and using a cellphone with the other.
The entire ordeal lasted about 4 minutes.
“There was a moment I actually froze up, because I was, I had the belief that I was gonna die, like my life was ending here, at that very moment,” Tsay told NBC News’ Lester Holt.
“But something amazing happened, a miracle actually. He started to try to prep his weapon so he could shoot everybody, but then it dawned on me that this was the moment to disarm him. I could do something here that could protect everybody and potentially save myself.”
Tsay said the gunman, who has since been identified as Huu Can Tran, 72 — came in and looked as if he were intent on further violence.
“When he came in, he said nothing,” he said. “His face was very stoic. His expressions were mostly in his eyes — looking around trying to find people, trying to scout the area for other people.”
Here’s the video:
One more big story, and then I’m going to post this and add more in the comment thread.
The Washington Post: Former senior FBI official accused of working for Russian he investigated.
The FBI’s former top spy hunter in New York was charged Monday with taking secret cash payments of more than $225,000 while overseeing highly sensitive cases, and breaking the law by trying to get Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska removed from a U.S. sanctions list — accusations that shocked the cloistered world of his fellow high-ranking intelligence officials.
Charles McGonigal, 54, who retired from the FBI in September 2018, was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on charges of money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions and other counts stemming from his alleged ties to Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his role at the FBI, McGonigal had been tasked with investigating Deripaska, whose own indictment on sanctions-violation charges was unsealed in September.
A second indictment, filed in Washington, accused McGonigal of hiding payments totaling $225,000 that he allegedly received from a New Jersey man employed decades ago by an Albanian intelligence agency. The indictment also accused him of acting to advance that person’s interests.
McGonigal’s alleged crimes may undercut Justice Department efforts to ramp up economic sanctions on wealthy Russians after last year’s invasion of Ukraine. The twin indictments are also a black eye for the FBI, alleging that one of its most senior and trusted intelligence officials accepted large sums of money and undermined the bureau’s overall intelligence-gathering mission.
McGonigal was arrested by agents from the bureau where he had worked for 22 years and where he rose to one of the most important counterespionage positions in the U.S. government. Given his former role, the investigation was run by FBI agents in Los Angeles and D.C. rather than in New York.
This is a huge story, and more evidence that Chris Wray needs to go. I imagine we’ll be learning more in the coming days.
Have a nice Tuesday, Sky Dancers!! See you in the comment thread.