Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 15, 2022

Gunman kills 10 in racially motivated attack on Buffalo supermarket, Finland formally announces intent to join NATO, and more

1

Gunman kills 10 in racially motivated attack on Buffalo supermarket

Ten people were killed and three others wounded when a gunman opened fire with an AR-15 at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday. The shooter, an 18-year-old man named Payton Gendron, drove to Buffalo from Conklin, New York, around 200 miles away. Gendron, who described himself in a 180-page manifesto as a white supremacist, was apprehended alive after police persuaded him not to shoot himself and has been charged with first-degree murder. 11 of the 13 victims were Black. President Biden issued a statement late Saturday describing the attack as an example of "hate-fueled domestic terrorism."

2

Finland formally announces intent to join NATO

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin formally announced on Sunday that Finland is seeking to join NATO. Parliament will vote to ratify the membership proposal on Monday and could submit a formal application the following day. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, support for NATO membership in Finland has tripled to around 75 percent. Sweden's governing Social Democrats are likely to drop their longstanding opposition to joining NATO at a meeting Sunday, with an application to follow soon after.

3

Dr. Oz condemns 'Islamophobic' comments from surging Kathy Barnette

Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat as a Republican and would be the country's first Muslim senator if elected, slammed primary opponent Kathy Barnette on Saturday for her history of posting Islamophobic tweets. "We must stop interacting with them as if they r rational human beings. There is nothing rational about Islam," Barnette tweeted in 2015. She also shared an article with the headline "Pedophilia is a Cornerstone of Islam." Oz said he considers Barnette's "Islamophobic" remarks to be "disqualifying." Despite her huge disadvantage in funding, Barnette is polling neck-and-neck with Oz ahead of Tuesday's primary.

4

Top Democrats lend support to abortion rights protests

Thousands of people attended hundreds of demonstrations across the United States on Saturday to express their outrage at a Supreme Court draft decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) both attended the march in New York City, as did Mayor Eric Adams, who told reporters he believes there should be no limits on abortion. Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama both tweeted support for the protests. Barack wrote that he was "proud of everyone making their voices heard," while Michelle shared an infographic warning that state lawmakers could "strip womxn of the right to make decisions about their bodies."

5

North Korea reports 42 COVID deaths and over 800,000 cases

North Korean state media reported Saturday that the country's death toll from COVID-19 had reached 42 in what leader Kim Jong-Un described as the "greatest turmoil" to befall the country since its founding. North Korea said Thursday that it had recorded its first ever COVID case. Since then, authorities have reported over 800,000 "fever cases." Around 500,000 of those infected have reportedly recovered, but the cases cannot be positively identified as COVID due to limited testing capacity. Public health experts say that North Korea has not vaccinated its population and that its health-care system is not equipped to handle a major outbreak.  

6

Russia has lost a third of its invasion force, U.K. intelligence says

United Kingdom military intelligence said Sunday that Russia has lost around one-third of the ground forces it deployed when the invasion began in February and that its offensive in the Donbas had "lost momentum and fallen significantly behind schedule." After driving Russian troops back from Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, Ukrainian forces launched another counteroffensive on Sunday near Russian-held Izium, around 75 miles southeast of Kharkiv. Russian forces, meanwhile, made some advances in the Donbas but continue to suffer from "low morale and reduced combat effectiveness," according to U.K. intelligence.

7

Musk says Twitter accused him of violating a non-disclosure agreement

Elon Musk said Saturday that Twitter had accused him of violating a non-disclosure agreement after he revealed the process Twitter uses to calculate the percentage of bot accounts on the platform. "Twitter legal just called to complain that I violated their NDA by revealing the bot check sample size is 100! This actually happened," Musk tweeted. On Friday, Musk announced that his planned purchase of Twitter was "temporarily on hold pending details supporting" Twitter's claim that bot accounts represent less than five percent of users on the platform. Musk suggested Sunday that the number could be as high as 90 percent of daily active users.

8

Ukrainian rap-folk group wins Eurovision Song Contest

Ukrainian rap-folk group Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. Frontman Oleh Psiuk wrote the winning song, "Stefania," as a tribute to his mother before the war broke out. "Please help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal right now," Kalush Orchestra implored at the end of their performance. Psiuk and his bandmates were given special permission to travel to Turin, Italy, to compete, as military-age males have been banned from leaving Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. United Kingdom competitor Sam Ryder came in second, his country's best finish since 1998.  

9

Saudi Aramco profits jump more than 80 percent thanks to soaring gas prices

The Saudi Arabian Oil Company, known as Saudi Aramco, posted a record quarterly profit of $39.5 billion on Sunday, up 82 percent in the first three months of 2022. This spike is the result of high oil prices, which have risen more than 45 percent since the beginning of the year and have stayed consistently above $100 per barrel. "Against the backdrop of increased volatility in global markets, we remain focused on helping meet the world's demand for energy that is reliable, affordable and increasingly sustainable," Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser said Sunday. On Wednesday, Aramco surpassed Apple to become the world's most valuable company, with a market value of over $2.4 trillion.

10

Depp-Heard trial 'is for fun,' says 'judge' in new SNL cold open

The most recent Saturday Night Live cold open took on the guilty pleasures of the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial. The skit began with MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace (Kate McKinnon) introducing the network's coverage of Johnny Depp's defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard, which McKinnon-as-Wallace described as "a news story we can all collectively watch and say, 'Ooh! Glad it ain't me.'" Footage of the trial showed Johnny Depp's lawyer (Aidy Bryant) claiming to have video proving Heard had left feces in Depp's bed. The judge (Cecily Strong) admitted the evidence "because it sounds fun, and this trial is for fun." Depp (Kyle Mooney), smirking to himself, agreed that he found the trial "a little" amusing.

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