Monday Sunrise Briefs: Mass shootings and white nationalism

AP Photo/John Minchillo
A candlelight vigil was held at the scene of a mass shooting, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.

After two mass shootings in the U.S. this weekend, expect the national conversation to focus on protecting citizens from the rise of white supremacy as a domestic terrorist threat

On Saturday, 20 people were fatally shot and 26 wounded at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Early Sunday morning, nine people, including the suspected shooter’s sister, were killed outside a bar in Dayton, Ohio. That suspect was slain by police. 

In El Paso, a 21-year-old white male is in custody. A racist, anti-immigrant essay, apparently posted by the suspect, was found online. FBI Director Chris Ray told Congress last month that there have been 90 domestic terrorism arrests in the past nine months and that a “majority” of those cases “are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, sunrise briefing.

Here's what happened this weekend (while you were at a concert, watching a sunset, on a scavenger hunt, and enjoying an off-line life).

In addition to calls for gun control this week, we might expect calls for a 9/11-like federal focus on white nationalism threats and on what fosters a mentality of hate and division. Expect some of that conversation to focus on social media, especially 8chan

In tonight’s edition of the Daily, the Monitor delves into ways to address “white terrorism.”

Summer of discontent, a roundup: Once more, pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in Moscow and Hong Kong this weekend. In Russia, a local, low-key September vote for Moscow’s city council is now emerging as a global symbol of the division between the Kremlin and its critics. And it may be spreading to other Russian cities. In Hong Kong, protesters continue to confront police using clever “water” tactics: ebbing and flowing to keep authorities guessing. And once again, Iran seized an oil tanker, the third in as many weeks. 

An emerging peace deal? Negotiations to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan resumed this weekend (now in their eighth round). The AFP news agency reported that efforts were underway to organize the first direct meeting between U.S. envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar. The White House reportedly hopes to strike a peace deal with the Taliban by Sept. 1, ahead of Afghan elections later in the month. The Washington Post reported last week that the deal could result in a reduction in U.S. forces from about 14,000 to 8,000.

What’s the buzz?

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith
An artist's interpretation of what GJ 357 d may look like.

Our chubby cousin? An Earth-like planet was found just 31 light-years away, practically a cosmic neighbor. It has a mass of about 6 times that of Earth and circles its sun every 56 days. It gets about as much solar heat as Mars, so it could have liquid water and be habitable, reports VOA news.  About 20 Earth-sized planets that might support liquid water have been spotted already, according to a database maintained by the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo. But these planets are much farther away than this chubby cousin. 

Generosity watch

Shoe-a-palooza: Carrie Jernigan, an Arkansas lawyer and mother of three, bought about 1,500 pairs of shoes from a Payless ShoeSource during its going-out-of-business sale. What started as a joke has turned into a local giveaway. Ms. Jernigan was shopping for sandals for her children and they were going to buy a pair for one of their friends, too, but couldn’t figure out his size. Jernigan blurted, “‘Well, how much for the rest of the shoes in the store?’ Just joking so I could figure out his size. There weren’t many shoes left.” Her generosity has multiplied into a back-to-school charity event on Aug. 10 with local Alma, Arkansas, businesses donating backpacks, haircuts, books, etc. And, of course, plenty of shoes.

Look ahead

Monday, Aug. 5

Leadership test in Puerto Rico: Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as the U.S. territory’s new governor late Friday afternoon. But he now faces a Senate confirmation hearing on Monday. There are questions about whether his appointment last week, as secretary of state, which put him in the line of succession to ex-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, was legit.

Wednesday, Aug. 7

#FreeCyntoiaBrown: Cyntoia Brown is scheduled to be released from a Tennessee prison Wednesday. Ms. Brown, now 31, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Nashville man who solicited her as a teenager for sex. A social media campaign by celebrities Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West drew attention to her case. The past decade has seen a paradigm shift in the understanding of sex trafficking, reported the Monitor in January.

Lacy Atkins/The Tennessean/AP
Trafficking survivor Cyntoia Brown appeared in court during a clemency hearing at the Tennessee Prison for Women in Nashville in May. State Democratic lawmakers were among those urging Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to grant her clemency for killing the man who bought her for sex when she was 16; he did so in January 2019.

Friday, Aug. 9

A pilgrimage of purification: The Hajj is likely to begin as soon as Friday (assuming the moon rise is spotted). The journey to Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, is one of the key pillars of Islam and is required of every adult Muslim at least once in their life. 

Hidden gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor editors and readers:

No drink? No problem. The ‘sober curious’ movement may be here to stay.

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story on how “glamping” (glamorous camping) is transforming American views of nature.

Finally, the Monitor’s five best stories in Friday’s subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. Why America’s big cities have become president’s punching bag
  2. Who’s the boss? In worker-owned cooperatives, everyone.
  3. The improbable wonders of deep-sea coral
  4. Kibbutz in the city?
  5. How sweet it is: ‘Honeyland’ gets rare 5 stars

This is a beta test. This is an experiment with an early Monday morning news update. Please give us your feedback via the link below and let us know what you think. Thank you!

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