Hello everyone! Marisa Bramwell here with tonight's evening editorial note from the ABC News desk:
HOLOCAUST MUSEUM SHOOTING: An elderly white supremacist opened fire in the U.S. Holocaust Museum Wednesday afternoon, killing one security guard and wounding two other people. Police say 88-year-old James Von Brunn walked inside the busy museum with a rifle shortly after 1pm and began shooting. He was subsequently injured by guards who returned fire and taken to the hospital, handcuffed to a gurney. Officials say it appears he acted alone. Pierre Thomas reports: “Von Brunn has written extensive anti-black, anti-Jewish invective on a white supremacist website. On the website HolyWesternEmpire, Von Brunn had this to say about Jews: ‘We are witnessing…the calculated destruction of the White Race.” Von Brunn was also an artist and author of the anti-Semitic and racist book “Kill the Best Gentiles” who claimed he served in the Navy and was a member of Mensa. An ex-wife of Von Brunn’s told ABC News he was “was eaten alive like a cancer with his hatred of Jews and Blacks." This is not the first time Von Brunn has stormed a Washington building with a firearm; in 1981 he entered the Federal Reserve, armed with a shotgun and a handgun, and asked to see board members. His plan: to put Federal Reserve members under “citizen’s arrest” for increasing interest rates. Von Brunn was sentenced to more than four years in prison for attempted armed kidnapping and other charges.
In a statement, President Obama said “I am shocked and saddened by today’s shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. This outrageous act reminds us that we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms. No American institution is more important to this effort than the Holocaust Museum, and no act of violence will diminish our determination to honor those who were lost by building a more peaceful and tolerant world.”
EXECUTIVE PAY COMPENSATION: Today Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration’s objectives for taming executive compensation for companies that received TARP assistance. “We had a financial crisis which, although it was caused by many things, there were clearly some aspects of compensation which contributed to the extent of risk-taking we saw across the financial sector… We are going to support giving the SEC legislative authority for say on pay legislation and to make sure compensation committees are fully independent.” Geithner said this afternoon following a meeting with leading experts on compensation issues. “[Geithner’s] team provided more details, separating companies into two different groups,” Jake Tapper reported on WORLD NEWS. “The first: the seven companies receiving the most taxpayer bailout money. The top 100 salaried executives in each will have their entire compensation supervised by Ken Feinberg, who chaired the compensation fund for the 9/11 victims families, serving as what the administration calls a ‘Special Master.’ But more controversially, the Obama administration is also pushing legislation to impact all publicly traded companies. Trying to channel populist outrage into executive shame, the administration wants companies to be required to give shareholders a non-binding vote on executive pay.” The administration also wants to require corporate compensation committees to be independent from company management.
CHRYSLER-FIAT: Italian automaker Fiat closed a deal to purchase ailing American automaker Chrysler today. The new company will be headed up by Fiat's CEO Sergio Marchionne, the “Italian Lee Iacocca,” who helped turn Fiat around when it was having problems. “The new company is smaller – and financially stronger – after getting $22 billion in taxpayer money. It has little debt and a new labor deal that makes it far more competitive,” Chris Bury reported on WORLD NEWS. “Dealerships will sell Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and eventually Fiat – under one roof. In Europe, Fiat compacts like the ‘500’ are selling well. But models approved for the U.S. market won’t arrive for nearly two years.” The new Chrysler will focus on manufacturing smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, and Marchionne said he plans to immediately reopen the Chrysler factories that were idle during the bankruptcy process.
RISING ENERGY PRICES: Energy prices are on the rise; oil soared to $71.33 today on the New York Mercantile Exchange today, the highest it has been for 2009, while average gas prices increase a dime this week (and 40 cents in the past month) to $2.62. So what’s driving the increase? Here’s Dan Harris: “OPEC countries have cut back on their oil production in order to increase prices. Meanwhile, investors are bidding up oil prices, betting that the economy will soon recover.” And prices are expected to continue increasing; the Energy Information Administration says motorists could be paying $2.70 a gallon by July. That’s still much lower than the more than $4 a gallon consumers were paying this time last year, but experts say the increases are not good for an economy that is trying to recover because consumer confidence remains low.
NORTH KOREA: The United Nations is expected to vote later in the week on a draft resolution to expand sanctions against North Korea for its recent nuclear test. Kirit Radia at the State Department calls our attention to the following: “–this resolution calls North Korea's actions a "nuclear test" despite the fact that all tests for airborne residues that would indicate a nuclear explosion have come back inconclusive. — the resolution asks countries to interdict North Korean vessels that could be carrying sensitive material or arms, but note that the text says it "Calls upon" countries to do this… while the resolution is binding on all countries, this wording could be much stronger to prevent wiggle room in enforcement … it also widens the materials banned from sale to or export from North Korea. — it also calls for tougher financial restrictions on North Korea that would go towards funding the military and nuke programs… and asks for tougher enforcement through a new panel of experts.” The draft resolution was written by the United States and endorsed by the four other permanent Security Council members, plus Japan and South Korea. (Thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
GITMO DETAINEES: The nation of Palau says it’s ok for some Chinese Muslims held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay to come to their tropical island in the Pacific. Kirit Radia has the latest from Washington: “Senior State Department officials confirm to ABC that the US has agreed on a preliminary deal with Palau to send at least some of the remaining Uyghurs detained in Guantanamo to the tiny island nation of Palau, but said that details have yet to be worked out and could take a couple more weeks to finalize before we see a transfer. Specifically, one senior official said, the US and Palau are nailing down where and when they would be transferred, how they would be looked after, and how many of the 17 Uyghurs in Gitmo Palau would accept. Also to be worked out, how much money the US would pay Palau for each detainee they take in.” (Thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
AIR FRANCE SEARCH: The French nuclear submarine “Emeraude” arrived off the coast of Brazil earlier in the day and immediately began the hunt for the “black boxes” belonging to Air France Flight 447. The data and voice recorders could hold the key to what caused the Airbus A330 to crash into the sea with 228 on board. (Thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
WHO TO DECLARE SWINE FLU PANDEMIC: On Thursday the World Health Organization is expected to officially declare a swine flu pandemic. The pandemic level for swine flu is currently at “phase 5.” If increased to phase 6 – indicating a world-wide epidemic – it would be the first flu pandemic in 41 years. The disease is currently in 74 countries and has killed at least 141 people; in the US, it has been detected in all 50 states and killed 27 people. “With this new swine flu spreading through so many countries, it was only a matter of time before the World Health Organization made it official: declaring a pandemic. The real impact of the announcement is helping developing countries,” John McKenzie reported on WORLD NEWS. The declaration will allow for the movement of resources -such as antivirals, masks, and humanitarian assistance – into developing countries.
BRAZIL CUSTODY CASE: Brazil’s Supreme Court has ruled that 9-year old Sean Goldman can be returned his father in the U.S. But David Goldman of New Jersey won’t be able to regain custody of his son right away because an appeal has been filed by Sean's stepfamily." (Thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
SURPRISE!!!: Overheard in a west London pub: "We were all speechless when they walked in. But they were all very friendly. Smiling and laughing." That was waitress Cintia Pinto, referring to the table for 15 that included Michelle Obama and daughters Sashia and Malia. The First Lady’s office today confirmed that Michelle and the girls paid an unofficial visit to London this week (and are still there), taking in such things as a Harry Potter set, Westminster Abby and Big Ben. Theatergoers were equally surprised to see the Obamas exit an armored vehicle to see a show – the Lion King. Sunlen Miller also tells us: “First-grandmother, Marion Robinson, is along for the trip as well as several friends of the First Lady. Aides say that the First lady thought this would be a good time to take her daughters abroad, because they have just finished up their school year.” (Thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
- BEIGE BOOK REPORT: From retail to real estate and jobs, the Fed’s Beige Book reported bleak economic news today. Dan Arnall reports: “The Federal Reserve says the economy continues to languish in a report published this afternoon, saying, ‘…conditions remained weak or deteriorated further during the period from mid-April through May.’”
- RECORD DEFICIT: The Treasury Department said today the US deficit for the current fiscal year is at $991 billion. The administration has predicted the fiscal year deficit will reach a record $1.84 trillion, thanks to increased government spending to bailout banks, automakers and other companies.
- CANTOR/GOP MIDTERM ELEX: Eric Cantor (R-VA) told ABC News that he believes the GOP will take back control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections. “I really believe we’ve got a shot at taking back this house because you see what’s gone on here with the unfettered ability of this administration and Nancy Pelosi to run this Congress…The American people see that this agenda is way far out of the mainstream. They want a check and a balance on this power. And I think at the end of the day that’s what rules come November 2010.“
- VOLVO FOR SALE: The Associate Press reports Chinese Automaker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. is considering buying Ford’s Volvo unit. Executives from both companies are expected to meet at Volvo’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. At least three companies have expressed interest in buying Volvo, which Ford wants to sell so that it can focus on its three core brands Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.
- MISS CA NO MORE: Carrie Prejean has been let go from her duties as Miss California for failing to honor her contractual agreements. First runner-up Tami Farrell takes over.
- NY POST DIVERSITY: The NY Post has formed a “diversity council” after taking heat for a political cartoon that compared President Obama to a dead chimpanzee.