Bicoastal gunfire: Gun violence shattered summer celebrations on both coasts over the weekend, renewing cries that the nation faces a public health emergency. Nearly two dozen people were shot and four were killed – including two children – in shooting rampages in Gilroy, Calif., and Brooklyn. In Northern California, a 19-year-old gunman opened fire Sunday evening, July 28, on crowds attending the third and final day of the popular Gilroy Garlic Festival, about 40 miles northeast of Monterey, The Sacramento Bee reported. Among the dead were a 6-year-old boy and 13-year old girl. The 19-year-old shooter, killed by police, had legally purchased an “assault-type” rifle in Nevada three weeks earlier. The day before the Gilroy shootings, gunmen opened fire at a block party in Brooklyn that was sponsored by several local officials. As detailed in The New York Times, thousands had gathered for the 56th annual Old Timers Day in the Brownsville neighborhood and were singing “Family Reunion” when gunshots rang out, prompting thousands to flee. A 38-year-old man was killed and 11 were injured at the celebration, where more than 100 police officers had been on duty. Police were searching for suspects.
- Also: After the shootings, Democratic presidential candidates weighed in with outrage, disgust, sadness and calls for more gun control, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. — Visiting Gilroy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom blamed President Donald Trump and Republicans for a “culture of gun violence.” — President Trump offered condolences to Gilroy victims but made no reference to the nation’s gun laws, as described in The Hill. — Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt in 2011, delivered a message with a grim tally: “We’re 210 days into 2019 and there have already been 246 mass shootings… This must stop – we must stop this.”
Rolling back Trump’s rollback: Four of the world’s largest automakers have struck a deal with California to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, skirting efforts by the Trump administration to strip the state of its authority to set vehicle emissions rules, The New York Times reports. The Trump administration has been hammering away on an aggressive plan to roll back mileage requirements for cars and light trucks, freezing them at about 37 mph. The rollback would upend an Obama-era regulation to reduce emissions and have vehicles reach an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. After “secretive talks” with California regulators, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America –which represent about 30 percent of the U.S. market – recently reached a compromise to have their cars, trucks and SUVS get about 51 miles per gallon by 2026. According to The Washington Post, the automakers said they were driven by the need for predictability and to reduce compliance costs, keep vehicles affordable and do the right thing for the environment.
- Also: The Trump administration did not take kindly to the snub. White House spokesman Judd Deere said the “federal government, not a single state, should set this standard.” And EPA spokesman Michael Abboud called the agreement a “PR stunt.” – The Consumer Federation of America is elated, calling it a “major win for consumers, automotive workers, the environment and the automakers themselves.”
Icy hot: Massive swaths of the Arctic are in flames as wildfires rage across huge swaths of Russia, Alaska and Greenland, according to images published on Business Insider. The news website attributed the images to Pierre Markuse, a satellite photography expert, who also posted images online showing plumes of smoke visible from space. A report from the World Meteorological Organization described the situation in the Arctic as “unprecedented,” and warned: “In addition to the direct threat from burning, wildfires also release harmful pollutants including particulate matter and toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and non-methane organic compounds into the atmosphere.”
- Also: Business Insider brings more unsettling climate news from outside the U.S. At least 20 have died from Europe’s extreme heat. — Paris reported its hottest day in recorded history on July 25, when the temperature reached 108.6 degrees. — Belgium also reported record-breaking heat.
Her mind “just wouldn’t stop”: At age 23, Kelly Catlin seemed to have life firmly in her grasp. A Stanford graduate student, she had been a silver medalist in cycling in the 2016 Olympics. She spoke Chinese fluently. She played the violin. Then, in March, Kelly Catlin killed herself – an act that devastated family and friends, according to a detailed account in The Washington Post. Catlin’s life and sudden death also point to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others consider to be a national crisis: the rise in suicide rates, suicide attempts and major depressive episodes among young women. Washington Post reporter Kent Babb describes Catlin’s driven existence – the perfect SAT score, the first-chair violinist in her high school orchestra. She planned her own death in meticulous detail. “This was a young woman who had become convinced, like so many of her high-achieving peers, that pedaling to the peak of one mountain only meant a better view of the other, taller ones in the distance,” Babb writes. After one failed suicide attempt, she tried again in the bedroom of her Stanford apartment. “This time,” Babb writes, “Kelly had done what she’d set out to. She always did.”
Home-schooling unvaccinated kids: The growing home-schooling movement may be getting a boost from California parents, trying to sidestep one of the strictest immunization laws in the country. The Los Angeles Times reports that the number of kindergartners who were home-schooled – and have not had their shots – quadrupled over the last three years. Times reporter Soumya Karlamangla is careful to note that the cause of this surge is unclear: Are parents signing up for home-schooling just to avoid their kids’ shots? Or are they going this route for other reasons, but also happen to oppose vaccination? The Times hears out the various sides in the contentious debate over California’s tough law requiring that children be up to date on vaccinations to attend school – or come armed with a doctor’s note that cites a medical reason for refusal. California’s law doesn’t apply to kids schooled at home, even though many may have contact with vaccinated students through programs and events. Meanwhile, California lawmakers are looking to further toughen vaccination requirements.
Deadly elevators: The Washington Post explores a devastating safety issue known for years by industry and government regulators, but with no apparent remedy in site: The deaths and injuries of children in home elevators. As previously reported by FairWarning, the elevator industry has long operated with little government oversight, and efforts to improve safety have stalled for years.
- Also: Tennessee and Texas share a grim statistic as the No. 1 and No. 2 states so far this year for unintentional shootings involving children and unsecured firearms, two gun safety groups report. — A Wisconsin lumber mill, Pukall Lumber Co. Inc., faces proposed penalties of $348,467 for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards after a worker died when caught in an outdoor bark conveyor belt earlier this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which cited the company for two willful and 13 serious violations. — It’s sizzling hot out there and, with the safety of many sunscreen ingredients in doubt, NewScientist asks the question: Should we worry?