Biden says pain ‘palpable’ in Uvalde | First Thing

Gun Rights

First Thing: Biden says pain ‘palpable’ in Uvalde

First memorial services for victims begin as president says he will continue to push for gun control. Plus 20 years of Avril Lavigne

A man and a child pay their respects at a memorial outside Robb elementary school

Good morning.

The first memorial services for the 19 children and two teachers killed in a mass shooting at their elementary school in Uvalde began on Monday, a day after Joe Biden visited the small south Texas city and was urged by residents to take action on gun safety laws.

Returning to Washington on Monday morning, the US president, wearing a black suit, talked about the “palpable” pain in Uvalde.

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Asked by a reporter on the south lawn outside the White House whether he felt more motivated to act on guns now, Biden said: “I’ve been pretty motivated all along. The folks who were victimized, their families … the pain is palpable. I think a lot of it is unnecessary. I’m going to continue to push.”

Republicans in the US Senate have blocked meaningful federal legislation on gun control for many years. Biden said he had not been negotiating with Republicans in the current round of talks on Capitol Hill but added: “I think things have gotten so bad that everybody is getting more rational about it.”

  • What’s happening in Canada? The mass shooting in Texas has fed concern about gun violence worldwide and Canada’s government is to legislate for a national freeze on handgun ownership that would prevent people buying and selling them anywhere in the country.

  • Why has Andy Murray spoken up about gun law in the US? Britain’s two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has said the mass shooting in Uvalde made him “angry” and that a survivor’s account of the incident was similar to his own experience in the 1996 Dunblane massacre in Scotland.

  • What else do we know about what happened? Here’s a timeline of how the school shooting unfolded.

Progressives take aim at Democratic leadership over support for centrist candidates

Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) speaks as, Ilhan Omar (D-MN)(2L), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (R), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) look on.

Texas officials have still not declared a winner in the state’s 28th congressional district, where the incumbent Democratic congressman Henry Cuellar currently leads the progressive lawyer Jessica Cisneros by 175 votes out of roughly 45,000 ballots cast.

But as progressives wait to see who will win the runoff, they cannot help but think of what might have been if House Democratic leaders had not come to Cuellar’s assistance. Cuellar secured the endorsements of the top three House Democrats, and the congressman’s campaign was also propped up by millions of dollars in Super Pac spending aimed at attacking Cisneros.

Progressives complain that House leaders’ intervention in primaries like Cuellar’s is making it harder for their candidates to succeed and they worry about the repercussions of the party embracing centrist candidates with controversial stances on issues like abortion rights and gun control.

The potential victory of Cuellar last week, who has previously received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, is all the more painful for progressives given the recent mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

  • What has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said? “On the day of a mass shooting and weeks after news of Roe, Democratic party leadership rallied for a pro-NRA, anti-choice incumbent under investigation in a close primary. Robocalls, fundraisers, all of it,” she said. “Accountability isn’t partisan. This was an utter failure of leadership.”

Austin resolution aims to ‘decriminalize’ abortion if Roe v Wade is overturned

Protesters march near the supreme court to demand an end to gun violence and call for abortion rights protection on Saturday.

A group of Austin, Texas city council members is preparing a resolution to “decriminalize” abortion there in the event the US supreme court overturns Roe v Wade, a landmark case decided nearly five decades ago that protects the federal right to terminate a pregnancy.

An unprecedented leaked supreme court draft decision showed a conservative majority of the nine justices are open to reversing Roe v Wade entirely. If that happened, 26 states would be certain or likely to ban abortion, including Texas. The state has a “trigger” ban that would almost immediately ban abortion.

A final supreme court decision is expected in June.

The resolution seeks to protect patients and medical professionals from criminal prosecution and would also advise Austin police not to assist other law enforcement, such as state police, in such investigations.

  • What will the resolution do? “The resolution does two things – one, [it] restricts city funds from being used to essentially investigate any kind of alleged abortion crimes,” said José “Chito” Vela, an Austin councilman. “The other thing it does is to make the investigation of any abortion-related crime the lowest priority for our police department.”

In other news …

Bridget Brink
  • The new US ambassador to Ukraine has arrived in Kyiv, a symbolic move after the US withdrew all diplomats from the country before the Russian invasion in February. Meanwhile, Joe Biden has said the US will not supply Ukraine with rockets that can reach into Russia, in an attempt to ease tensions.

  • China has made the second-largest incursion into Taiwan’s air defence zone this year with Taipei reporting 30 jets entering the area, including more than 20 fighters. Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday it had scrambled its own aircraft and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the activity.

  • Johnny Depp has appeared on stage alongside Jeff Beck in the UK for the second night in a row, amid his ongoing US legal battle. Depp’s appearance in the UK has surprised many as he awaits a verdict in his multimillion-dollar defamation lawsuit with his ex-wife Amber Heard.

  • Women in Japan could be forced to seek their partner’s consent before being prescribed the abortion pill, which will reportedly be approved late this year. Under Japan’s 1948 Maternal Protection Law, consent is already required for surgical abortions – with very few exceptions

Don’t miss this: Avril Lavigne on the 20th anniversary of her debut album that wowed the world

Avril Lavigne presenting a Grammy award in April.

In an era when bubblegum pop and “sexy baby” personas reigned, 17-year-old Avril Lavigne emerged as its antithesis. Rarely seen without a baggy pair of jeans, heavy kohl eyeliner and a loose tie round her neck, she co-wrote her own songs, with lyrics about skateboarding and getting fired from a chicken shop. Her debut album, Let Go, on 4 June 2002 was not merely a new sound, it was enlightenment. Now, as the album hits its 20th anniversary, its pop-punk anthems are finding new life thanks to TikTok.

Climate check: did Joe Manchin block climate action to benefit his financial interests?

Joe Manchin

Recent revelations could come back to haunt Democratic West Virginian senator Joe Manchin as he considers a run for re-election. For years, Manchin has justified voting against curbs on the burning of fossil fuels on the grounds that they were bad for West Virginia, but following the news that he has been quietly making millions of dollars from his coal business, people are wondering: has the US climate policy just been held hostage to the senator’s financial interests?

Last Thing: man arrested after Mona Lisa smeared with cake

A security guard cleans the smeared cream from the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum

A 36-year-old man has been arrested and placed in psychiatric care after he smeared a glass screen encasing the Mona Lisa with cake in a purported protest against artists not focusing enough on “the planet”. Officials at the Louvre Museum in Paris, where the enigmatic portrait holds pride of place, declined to comment on the bizarre incident on Sunday, which was captured on several phones and circulated widely on social media.

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