A gunman opened fire at a Northern California rail yard on Wednesday, killing nine people and injuring several others. Police said the gunman worked in the rail yard, as did some of the victims. "The whole crew is gone," a worker said. "The whole shift is gone. It's horrible." Authorities said the gunman, identified by several sources as a maintenance worker, killed himself as police arrived. The shooting occurred at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light-rail hub in San Jose. Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman ordered flags lowered to half-mast. "These folks were heroes during COVID-19," he said. "The buses never stopped running." The tragedy was the latest in a series of mass shootings across the country, including a dozen that left 11 dead and 69 injured last weekend. [The Mercury News, CNN]
The jihadist group Boko Haram said Tuesday that it had abducted more than 300 students from an all-boys boarding school in Katsina, in northwest Nigeria, as punishment for their "un-Islamic practices." Local officials said 333 of the school's 800 students were missing. The mass kidnapping came six years after Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls, traumatizing the country and sparking the global #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Nigerian surveillance aircraft and American drones were dispatched to search for the kidnapped boys. One 17-year-old, Usama Male, managed to escape. "They said they would kill whoever tried to flee, but I positioned myself near the back and waited for a chance to run," he said. "Hundreds of my fellow pupils are still in captivity somewhere in the forest." [The Wall Street Journal]
During their first joint fundraiser of 2020, former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden brought in more than $11 million for Biden's campaign. Obama, in his first campaign appearance with Biden since endorsing him in April, warned Democrats not to be "complacent or smug" heading into the November election. Donors were told they could give any amount in order to participate in the virtual event on Tuesday, and the Biden campaign said more than 175,000 grassroots contributors gave a total of $7.6 million. There was a separate online event for donors who gave large amounts of money, The Guardian reports, and that brought in more than $3.4 million. This was the most money Biden has raised during a single event since he launched his campaign. [The Guardian]
A key indicator of U.S. manufacturing rose slightly in May, climbing above an 11-year low in the latest sign that the economy is starting to recover from the coronavirus downturn as businesses gradually reopen. The Institute for Supply Management reported Monday that its index of U.S. factory activity rose to a reading of 43.1 in May, up from 41.5 in April. Anything under 50 indicates a contraction in manufacturing. "Today's report on the manufacturing sector represents good news that hints the economy is turning the corner as the states reopened in May," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG in New York. "It will not be a quick recovery for sure, but at least the worst is over." [Reuters]
Chinese authorities officially lifted the ban on travel in the city of Wuhan, where the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak was first reported. The city's 11 million residents spent 11 weeks on lockdown under the government's effort to contain the virus. Wuhan residents still can only leave the city if they have official authorization confirming that they are healthy and have had no recent contact with an infected person. The government uses a mandatory smartphone application to track people's status. Restrictions have been gradually relaxed in Wuhan over the last few weeks, including the reopening of public transportation and businesses after weeks under a strict stay-at-home policy. [The Washington Post]
Former Harlem Globetrotters legend Fred "Curly" Neal died Thursday in Houston. He was 77. Neal, who played in more than 6,000 exhibition games from 1963 to 1985, was easy to spot on the court due to his shaved head and playful banter, but what really made him the face of the clowning basketball team was his ball handling ability. Neal dribbled circles around opponents, often sliding on his knees without losing control. "Oh my gosh, he revolutionized ball handling," said Nancy Lieberman, who played for the hapless Washington Generals against the Globetrotters in 1988. "Everything you see Kyrie Irving doing and Steph Curry doing now, all of it started with the Trotters. The Trotters made dribbling a show." [ESPN, The New York Times]
Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed new applications for jobless benefits last week as businesses nationwide shut down or limited their operations to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. The figure smashed the old record for weekly initial jobless claims of 695,000, which was set in 1982. Two weeks ago, only 282,000 Americans filed for their first week of unemployment benefits. In an interview Thursday morning shortly before the release of the Labor Department's report, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the United States "may well be in a recession" already but argued that "there's nothing fundamentally wrong with our economy," so there could be a "good rebound" when the COVID-19 coronavirus' spread is under control. [CNN, The Associated Press]
Senators unanimously approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill late Wednesday, despite a last-minute delay after Republicans made objections to jobless aid they said could encourage layoffs, or give workers incentives to collect unemployment benefits instead of returning to work. The House plans to vote on the legislation Friday, and President Trump has vowed to sign it. Under the bill, Americans earning up to $75,000 would get $1,200 in the form of checks or direct deposits to their banks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said families should receive the money "within the next three weeks." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the aid for his state would be a "drop in the bucket" given the cost of confronting the outbreak in the hard-hit state. [The New York Times, CNBC]
A local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Saturday night at a crowded wedding party in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blast killed at least 63 people, including women and children, and another 182 were injured. The Taliban, which is negotiating an end to an 18-year conflict with the United States, condemned the violence and denied any involvement, though Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani did not absolve them of blame. The attack occurred in a neighborhood in the western part of the city that is home to many of the country's Shiite Hazara community. ISIS, whose members follow Sunni doctrine, have frequently claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Shiites. The militant group's statement said a Pakistani ISIS fighter seeking martyrdom targeted the gathering.
Source: The Associated Press, The Washington Post
New Orleans music legend Dr. John, born Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., died of a heart attack Thursday. He was 77. The six-time Grammy winner's eclectic music brought together the varied cultural influences of his home town. He grew up playing piano, switched to guitar, then returned to piano after he was shot in the finger in 1960. After serving prison time on drug charges, he moved to Los Angeles and became a studio musician, adopting the Dr. John persona in solo work in the late 1960s. His albums Gris-Gris and Dr. John's Gumbo appear on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best albums. Rebennack, whose best-known single was "Right Place Wrong Time," was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.
Source: The Times-Picayune
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Certain numerology has a strong connection with occultism. Various numbers from time-to-time appear in news articles, and one has to wonder if there isn't some occult significance behind this story.