- Colorado Police have filed 10 counts of first-degree murder against the 21-year-old man suspected of shooting and killing 10 people at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday.
- The suspect allegedly used an AR-15-style weapon to carry out the attack just days after a judge struck down a ban on assault rifles in Boulder aimed at preventing exactly this kind of mass shooting.
- Many have condemned the shooting and pushed for gun reform, including President Joe Biden, who called for a ban on assault rifles as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines and demanded that Congress not “wait another minute” to act.
Boulder Grocery Store Shooting
The suspect accused of murdering 10 people at a Sooper King grocery store in Boulder, Colorado on Monday has now officially been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder.
Law enforcement officials announced the charges in a press conference Tuesday morning where they named the suspect, who opened fire on customers and responding officers, as well as the victims of the attack. The incident comes less than a week after a mass shooting in Atlanta left eight dead, including six Asian women.
According to the Boulder police, the suspect is a 21-year-old man who lived in Arvada, a suburb of Denver about 65 miles from Boulder. He has reportedly “lived most of his life in the United States.”
The police in Arvada have now said they had two encounters in 2018 with the suspect: one on a report of third-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor, and one of criminal mischief, though it is unclear if he was convicted of a crime.
Additionally, FBI officials already knew the suspect’s identity because he was linked to another person under investigation by the bureau. Federal law enforcement officials have also separately confirmed that the suspect used an AR-15 type of assault rifle.
That fact is significant because the attack comes just 10 days after a judge blocked the city’s ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines. That ban was implemented in 2018 following the Parkland shooting to prevent mass shootings exactly.
According to a police affidavit made public Tuesday, the suspect purchased a semiautomatic pistol less than a week before the attack. It is unclear if he used that gun in the shooting, because the affidavit also said he had both that pistol and an automatic rifle.
Renewed Calls for Gun Reform
Many people took to social media to call for gun reform, including prominent politicians like Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct), who has lobbied extensively for common-sense gun control since the Sandy Hook shooting in his state.
“This is the moment to make our stand. NOW,” he wrote on Twitter. “Today, our movement is stronger than the gun lobby. They are weak. We are potent. Finally, a President and a Congress that supports gun reform. No more Newtowns. No more Parklands. No more Boulders. Now – we make our stand.”
Murphy also noted that, before the Boulder shooting, the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on gun violence Tuesday, and urged Senators to come up with a legislative solution.
Those calls were also made in the Tuesday hearing by Murphy’s counterpart, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), who condemned Republicans for shutting down numerous Democrat-led efforts on common sense gun reform while failing to propose an alternative.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) shot back in remarks that were later widely circulated on social media.
“Every time there’s a shooting, we play this ridiculous theater where this committee gets together and proposes a bunch of laws that would do nothing to stop these murders,” Cruz said. “What happens in this committee after every mass shooting is Democrats propose taking away guns from law-abiding citizens because that’s their political objective.”
Backlash Against Republicans and the NRA
Social media users slammed Cruz, and some accused him of being complicit in allowing gun violence.
Others also made similar arguments about Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.), a freshman representative who ran on a pro-gun platform and owned and restaurant in Colorado called Shooters Grill, where she encouraged people to open carry.
Many criticized her for not issuing a public statement about the shooting in her state on Monday, but instead sending a fundraising email capitalizing on the attack to push against gun reform in her ask for campaign donations. That backlash grew even stronger when she finally did release a statement the next day, where she accused others of using the attack for political gain and appeared ambivalent to her own efforts to do so.
“While some elected officials have already started using this shooting to advance a political agenda, I refuse to do so,” she said.
In addition to the direct criticisms on Boebert and Cruz, there were also a lot of people who took aim at Republicans at large.
“Most Republicans today believe a mail-in ballot should be regulated more heavily than an AR-15. They are trying to ban ballot drop boxes and early voting, not weapons of war. The Senate must protect the right to vote and we must defeat them with that vote in the states,” tweeted David Plouffe, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama.
Obama himself issued a statement, decrying “coward politicians” and the “gun lobby that opposes any limit on the availability of anyone to assemble and arsenal.”
The condemnation of the National Rifle Association was echoed by many others, some of whom circulated a tweet where the organization applauded the judge who struck down the Boulder assault rifle ban, calling it “something to celebrate.”
Currently, it is unclear what policy actions will come from the tragedies that have occurred in the last week. While speaking to reporters Tuesday, President Joe Biden called for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and demanded that the Senate not “wait another minute” to take up background check bills that have already been passed by the House.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
California Plans Unprecedented $5.2 Billion Rent Forgiveness Program
State lawmakers are also debating on whether to extend the eviction moratorium, which is set to end next week, to ensure that Californians are not evicted before their debts can be paid off by the state.
Rent Relief in the Works
The California State Legislature is in the final stages of negotiating an unprecedented $5.2 billion rent forgiveness program to pay off unpaid rent accumulated during the pandemic.
It is not entirely clear yet who would receive the money, which comes from an unexpected budget surplus and federal stimulus funds. After speaking to a top aide for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), the Associated Press reported that the $5.2 billion figure would cover all rent.
However, the same aide told The New York Times that the state had federal funds “to help pay the rent of low-income people.”
The outlet also explicitly reported that the program “would be available to residents who earn no more than 80 percent of the median income in their area and who can show pandemic-related financial hardship.”
Newsom offered little clarity, retweeting multiple stories and posts on the matter, including The Times article as well as others that said “all” rent would be paid.
Regardless, the program would be the most generous rent forgiveness plan in American. Still, there remains an unresolved question of extending the statewide eviction moratorium that ends June 30.
Eviction Ban Complications
Starting the new program and distributing all the money will take some time, and California has been struggling to keep up with demand for more modest rent relief programs.
According to a report from the California Department Housing and Community Development, just $32 million of $490 million in requests for rental assistance through the end of May had been paid.
State legislators are debating extending the protections and are reportedly close to a deal, but nothing is set in stone yet.
Tenants rights groups say the move is necessary to ensure struggling Californians are not evicted before their debts can be paid off by the state, and some housing advocates want to keep the moratorium in place until employment has reached pre-pandemic levels.
Landlords, however, have said it is time to end the ban, pointing to the state’s rapid economic recovery, which added 495,000 new jobs since February, as well as Newsom lifting all restrictions on businesses last week.
But according to Opportunity Insights, an economic tracker based at Harvard, while it is true that employment for middle- and high-wage jobs has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, the rates for low-income workers are down nearly 40% since January of last year.
As a result, many of the people who have months or even a year of unpaid rent have barely been able to chip away at what they owe.
State Recovery Spurred by Revenue Surplus
Newsom’s new program comes as the governor has proposed a $100 billion recovery package — also drawing from the budget surplus and unspent federal funds — that would pour funds into numerous sectors including education, homelessness, and much more.
California is not the only state that has newfound reserves. According to The Times, at least 22 states have surplus revenue after pinching pennies during the pandemic. Some are still deciding what to do with the funding, but others have already begun to invest it into education, construction, the arts, and more.
While many economists have said these funds will be incredibly helpful tools to get economic recovery back on track and aid those hurt most by the pandemic, Republicans in Congress have argued to those surpluses should go towards paying for President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan.
The Biden Administration and most Congressional Democrats have remained adamant that the states keep their extra funding to implement recovery-centered programs. White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons reiterated that belief Monday, telling reporters that state surpluses will not alter America’s infrastructure needs and emphasizing that many states are still struggling economically.
“This crisis has adversely impacted state and local governments, and that is not fully captured by one economic indicator,” she said.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Associated Press) (The Hill)
Manhattan City Council Candidate Says He’s “Not Ashamed” After BDSM Video Leaks Online
While many applauded the candidate’s response, others suspect the entire ordeal may have been manufactured for publicity.
BDSM Video Leaks
Zack Weiner, a 26-year-old candidate for Manhattan’s City Council, has caught a flood of attention in recent days after responding to a BDSM video of himself that leaked online.
According to the New York Post, which first reported on the leak Saturday, the video was published by an anonymous Twitter account earlier this month.
“My magnificent domme friend played with Upper West Side city council candidate Zack Weiner and I’m the only one who has the footage,” the tweet reportedly read.
The video was flagged to the Post by Weiner’s campaign manager, Joe Gallagher, the news outlet said. The tabloid also claimed it showed Weiner gagged while “subjecting himself to various abuses by a leather-bound woman who pours wax on him and clips his nipples with clothespins.”
The footage was filmed at Parthenon studio in Midtown, which the Post described as known for its high-quality BDSM dungeons, and Weiner actually confirmed the video’s authenticity to the outlet, saying it was filmed at that location in 2019 with a former girlfriend that he met during a Halloween party.
Weiner Says He’s “Not Ashamed”
Weiner took to Twitter on Saturday to address the private video head on.
“Whoops. I didn’t want anyone to see that, but here we are,” he wrote.
“I am not ashamed of the private video circulating of me on Twitter. This was a recreational activity that I did with my friend at the time, for fun. Like many young people, I have grown into a world where some of our most private moments have been documented online.”
“While a few loud voices on Twitter might chastise me for the video, most people see the video for what it is: a distraction. I trust that voters will choose a city council representative based on their policies and their ability to best serve the community,” he continued.
In his comments to the Post, he added, “I am a proud BDSMer. I like BDSM activity.” He also said he had no idea how the footage surfaced, saying “It’s definitely a violation of trust.”
Praise and Suspicions
Many people online have applauded Weiner for refusing to apologize for private consensual acts. One, for example, tweeted, “Yeah – as long as this was between 2 (or more) consenting adults – I don’t care one bit. If this info ALONE would cause you to vote for somebody else, then I am FAR MORE worried about YOUR participation in Government than his!”
In fact, many have said they would vote for him after learning of the video and slammed critics, as well as the tabloid, for “kink-shaming.”
It’s worth noting that the Post’s article described Weiner as someone who “has mostly been a nonentity in the race for the Upper West Side’s 6th District.” It pointed to the fact that he has no endorsements and that his campaign barely raised $10,000 — most of which allegedly came from himself and his campaign manager.
Because of this, along with Gallagher’s contact with the Post, some have speculated that the entire ordeal may have been some kind of stunt manufactured for publicity.
See what others are saying: (New York Post) (Insider) (HITC)
Supreme Court Rejects Third Challenge to Affordable Care Act
In the 7-2 decision, the justices argued the Republican-led states that brought the challenge forth failed to show how the law caused injury and thus had no legal standing.
SCOTUS Issues Opinion on Individual Mandate
The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down the third Republican-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act to ever reach the high court.
The issue at hand was the provision of the law, commonly known as Obamacare, that requires people to either purchase health insurance or pay a tax penalty: the so-called individual mandate.
The individual mandate has been one of the most controversial parts of Obamacare and it has already been before SCOTUS, which upheld the provision in 2012 on the grounds that it amounted to a tax and thus fell under Congress’ taxing power.
However, as part of the sweeping 2017 tax bill, the Republican-held Congress set the penalty for not having health care to $0. As a result, a group of Republican-led states headed by Texas sued, arguing that because their GOP colleagues made the mandate zero dollars, it no longer raised revenues and could not be considered a tax, thus making it unconstitutional.
The states also argued that the individual mandate is such a key part of Obamacare that it could not be separated without getting rid of the entire law.
The Supreme Court, however, rejected that argument in a 7-2 decision, with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.
Majority Opinion Finds No Injury
In the majority decision, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the Republican states had no grounds to sue because they could not show how they were harmed by their own colleagues zeroing out the penalty.
“There is no possible government action that is causally connected to the plaintiffs’ injury — the costs of purchasing health insurance,” he wrote, adding that the states “have not demonstrated that an unenforceable mandate will cause their residents to enroll in valuable benefits programs that they would otherwise forgo.”
Breyer also argued that because of this, the court did not need to decide on the broader issue of whether the 2017 tax bill rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional and if that provision could be separated from the ACA.
The highly anticipated decision will officially keep Obamacare as the law of the land, ensuring that the roughly 20 million people enrolled still have health insurance. While there may be other challenges to the law hard-fought by conservatives, this latest ruling sends a key signal about the limits of the Republican efforts to achieve their agenda through the high court, even with the strong conservative majority.
While the court has now struck down challenges to Obamacare three times, Thursday’s decision marked the largest margin of victory of all three challenges to the ACA.
For now, the ACA appears to be fairly insulated from legal challenges, though it will still likely face more. In a tweet following the SCOTUS decision, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) vowed to keep fighting Obamacare, adding that the individual mandate “was unconstitutional when it was enacted and it is still unconstitutional.”