“I just learned, with pain and consternation, the death of 11 newborn babies,” Sall said in a tweet.
“I express my profound compassion to their mothers and their families,” he added. 
CNN has contacted the hospital, but has not yet heard back. 
In a statement later Thursday, the country’s health ministry said an emergency response plan had been put in place and “arrangements are being made for the assistance of the families of the victims.”
The ministry’s statement added that Health Minister Abdoulaye Diouf Sarr, who is attending the World Health Assembly in Geneva had cut short his trip and would return to Senegal today.
Senegalese Minister of Regional Planning and Local Government, Cheikh Bamba Dièye, described the fatal incident as “horrific and unacceptable” while urging a probe of the country’s health systems.
“I am appalled by the horrific and unacceptable death of 11 newborn babies in Tivaoune. The recurrence of tragedies in our hospitals reminds us of the obligation to thoroughly review the quality of service in our hospitals. My deepest condolences to the families,” he said in a Twitter post.
The draft proposal sent by China to potential partners in the South Pacific calls for greater cooperation in security, policing and cybersecurity, and in economic development, among other areas.
The draft proposal, provided to CNN by a person with direct knowledge of the matter and first reported by Reuters, is expected to be discussed at the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Fiji next week — part of a 10-day regional diplomatic tour by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Why Australia and the US care so much about China's security pact with a tiny Pacific island nation
Wang’s tour began Thursday in the Solomon Islands and will bring the minister to Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
The draft proposal, outlined in a draft “Common Development Vision” and “Five-Year Action Plan,” echos a bilateral security pact signed last month between China and the Solomon Islands and could mark a significant advance in Beijing’s influence in the region — but it remains unclear if it can win regional acceptance.
Already at least one country to which the agreement was directed has raised concerns, and there has been broader backlash from other regional powers who are wary of China’s intentions.
In a letter to 22 other Pacific leaders seen by CNN, the President of the Federated States of Micronesia, David Panuelo, said the draft proposal was intended to shift Pacific nations with diplomatic ties to China “very close into Beijing’s orbit.”
Panuelo argued that in addition to impacting the sovereignty of Pacific nations, signing such an agreement could bring about a new “Cold War” amid tensions between China and the West.
The draft proposal also sparked outcry in Australia, with new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese — who had been critical of his predecessor’s failure to avert China’s deal with the Solomon Islands — saying Thursday his country “cannot afford” to “drop the ball” in its response.
“This is China seeking to increase its influence in that region of the world where Australia has been the security partner of choice since the Second World War,” he said, adding that Canberra would need to offer more support.
Last month, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare made assurances Honiara’s deal with Beijing would “complement” an existing security agreement with Australia and would “not adversely impact or undermine the peace and harmony of our region.” The Solomons is around 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from Australia’s northeastern coast.
Nevertheless, in a mark of the Albanese government’s concern about Chinese expansion in the region, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong traveled to Fiji on Thursday, where — in a speech that didn’t name China directly — she pitched Australia as “a partner that doesn’t come with strings attached, nor imposing unsustainable financial burdens.”
“We are a partner that won’t erode Pacific priorities or Pacific institutions. We believe in transparency. We believe in true partnerships,” Wong said.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday she was “very strongly of the view that we have within the Pacific the means and ability to respond to any security challenges that exist.”
Beijing has not confirmed it is seeking a multilateral agreement in the region.
Wang’s visit was meant to “further strengthen high-level exchange, consolidate political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, and deepen people-to-people bond so as to build an even closer community with a shared future for China and Pacific Island countries,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday.
The spokesman also pushed back when asked about fears that a Pacific Islands security agreement could spark a Cold War — calling this “sensational remarks.”
In Washington on Wednesday, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said the US was “aware that China seeks to negotiate a range of arrangements during the foreign minister’s visit to the region.”
“We are concerned that these reported agreements may be negotiated in a rushed, non-transparent process,” he said, pointing to what he described as a pattern of Beijing offering “shadowy, vague deals,” while adding the US respects countries’ ability to make their own sovereign decisions.
The proposed draft security deal and Wang’s tour come amid heightened concern from other regional powers over Beijing’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific.
China claims almost all of the vast South China Sea as its sovereign territory. It has been building up and militarizing its facilities there, turning islands into military bases and airstrips, and allegedly creating a maritime militia that could number hundreds of vessels.
And in the East China Sea, China claims sovereignty over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands. In recent years, the US has reiterated its promise to defend the islands in the event of foreign aggression.
In a joint statement Monday, US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “voiced concern” over China’s security agreement with the Solomon Islands and its lack of “addressing regional voices of concern.”
Yet these conditions, known as perinatal mood disorders, remain largely misunderstood by the public and healthcare providers alike, said experts at a roundtable discussion hosted by CNN’s gender reporting team As Equals.
Following CNN’s story about one family’s tragic experience with PPD, which resonated widely with audiences, As Equals brought together an international group of people with both experience of and expertise in maternal mental health to discuss the true prevalence of these disorders, their root causes, the challenges in diagnosing and treating them, and finally, potential solutions.

A ‘lack of appreciation’ for mental health in motherhood

The conversation started with panelists saying that the number of women affected by perinatal mood disorders is likely to be much higher than one in 10, and they unanimously agreed that the issue remains neglected by health services worldwide.
“There is still this pervasive concept that mental health considerations are a luxury,” said Simone Honikman, founder and director of the Perinatal Mental Health Project in Cape Town, South Africa.
She went on to explain that a woman’s mental health not only impacts her physical health but also that of her child whether directly or indirectly because when suffering with a mental health condition, she may not seek other health services that are crucial for her or the wellbeing of her child.
“There’s a lack of appreciation of the fact that these mental health conditions do in fact impact physical health conditions directly and are very closely associated with a range of physical health considerations, whether it’s service uptake, health seeking behavior, preterm birth, low birth weight, babies stunting in infants, use of attendance to antiretroviral therapies or other forms of treatment,” Honikman said.
An International panel of experts discussed the gaps in mental health care services worldwide during a roundtable hosted by CNN As Equals.
Kazione Kulisewa, a consultant psychiatrist at Kamuzu University of Health Sciences in Malawi agreed that mental health takes a backseat compared to the other physical conditions, but explained that in countries such as Malawi, where there are multiple competing health priorities and very limited resources, it is even harder to push for investment in maternal mental health care when there are such high rates of HIV and maternal mortality. (In Malawi, 10% of women aged 15-49 years were estimated to be living with HIV in 2020 and the southern African country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates globally, with 439 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In the US this figure is 23.8 per 100,000.)
Despite these challenges, Kulisewa was emphatic: “Mental health conditions, when untreated, cause a bigger burden than some of the infectious diseases,” he said.
The repercussions of this neglect of perinatal mood disorders are vast. A World Health Organization (WHO) study found that women with postpartum depression were twice as likely to suffer from depression four years later and were significantly more likely to experience chronic diseases. Studies have also shown links between the mental health of mothers and the health of their children.

‘We’re not preparing women’

For Jen Schwartz, CEO of Motherhood Understood, a US-based organization that connects and educates women on perinatal mental illness, the biggest concern is stigma and a lack of awareness.
Schwartz herself suffered from severe postpartum depression and anxiety following the birth her son nine years ago and remembers feeling uninformed, isolated and ashamed. She believes that by not educating and supporting women more openly about mental health conditions during pregnancy and motherhood, “we’re not preparing women to know what to look for and to know that something’s wrong.”
“The fallout from that, I think, is tremendous.” said Schwartz, explaining that the resulting isolation leaves women feeling unable to speak out about how they’re feeling. “You don’t speak out and you suffer in silence,” she said.

A lack of informed professionals — at every level

The experts also acknowledged a lack of professionals working in the sector, such as perinatal psychologists and therapists who specialize in maternal mental health, but also midwives and antenatal care providers with knowledge in this area, so they know what to look out for. As an example, Kulisewa pointed out that there were just three perinatal psychiatrists in Malawi, which has a population of 19 million. CNN was unable to reach the Ministry of Health in Malawi to confirm this.
However, there was also unanimous agreement on the panel that community-based organizations are also crucial.
Dr Prabha Chandra’s team at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India worked with women and communities in the state of Karnatika to test various interventions with mothers, as well as talk to husbands and mother-in-laws about what depression and anxiety look like — as these relations play a big role in the wellbeing of new mums in India.
Chandra stressed the need for culturally appropriate ways of raising awareness of maternal mental health such as simplified methods of diagnosis and locally produced films and materials that take into account local sensitivities and communicate in ways people understand.

The need for systemic change

Having established the numerous challenges: limited resources, a lack of qualified staff, consistent data collection the world over, competing public health needs, enduring stigma and shame, inadequate understanding of the scale and impact of the problem both among policymakers and the wider population, the discussion moved to consider solutions — and ones that would be bring about systemic change.
A key part of the solution is to better integrate maternal mental health services into the existing health infrastructure of a country, such as antenatal services or child development programs. Many on the panel said this integration was essential so that funding or support for maternal mental health services were not dependent on political support and could survive changes in leadership, which the world over results in shifts in public health priorities.
This integration has been achieved in many high-income countries, said Jane Fisher, global health professor at Monash University. “There is public recognition, but it has taken substantial investment in public education, health care, professional education and the building of tiered services,” she said.
But it will be some time before this will be achieved in low and middle-income settings.
Pranaiya was a happy mom - then she started talking about wanting to disappearPranaiya was a happy mom - then she started talking about wanting to disappear
Another important solution proposed was the need to adapt the standard tool used globally to screen for mental health concerns in the perinatal period, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, was created more than 30 years ago. The WHO states the scale should be used as a starting point and not a means of diagnosis, and the roundtable experts agreed, but they said that a universal test like this does not work well in practice.
“There’s a great need for tools to be developed out of country specific context using local idioms,” explained Honikman. She described the Edinburgh scale as being too long and complicated for use by busy midwives who see thousands of women and thought the idioms used were inappropriate for the communities her team works with. As a result, they have created their own shorter screening tool in three local languages.
In terms of other solutions, others spoke of the need for increased awareness and mental health literacy among the public, politicians and healthcare providers to have a real impact, and finally, more funding and financial support.

Missed opportunities for prevention

A final point raised by Chandra and others was the opportunity for prevention. If risk factors for maternal mental health conditions are addressed by health systems early on, you may be able to prevent the onset of the disorder. These risk factors include poverty, domestic violence, and childhood trauma and are likely to be higher in countries which rank lower on the gender equity index, like India, explained Chandra.
It’s estimated that women who experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy are three times more likely to develop postpartum depression and studies show the condition is two to four times more likely to occur for women living in poverty.
“If you reduce domestic violence … and reduce poverty in families, you can achieve far more in terms of reducing mental health problems than a million psychiatrists will ever do,” said Alain Gregoire, co-founder of the Global Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
Over the course of 1.5 hours, the various experts spoke passionately about the needs of new mothers and expressed their frustration that more isn’t being done to address maternal mental health already given what is known about its prevalence and the necessary, often simply steps, required to reduce it.
In concluding, Schwartz reiterated a connection that had been made earlier in the discussion; pointing out simply for those leaders who cared about the wellbeing of children but perhaps saw the wellbeing of the mother as less of a priority: “Taking care of mom and taking care of mom’s mental health [is] the best way to take care of her baby.”
If you or someone you know might be at risk of a perinatal mood disorder, here are ways to help.
If you are in the US, you can call the PSI HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773 or text “Help” to 800-944-4773. To find support in other countries, see a list of providers here. To join an online support group, click here.

Story of the week

A woman shouts as she attends the Womens March on New York City in 2018.A woman shouts as she attends the Womens March on New York City in 2018.
Grassroots feminist organizations, especially those led by women of color, Indigenous women and other marginalized communities, need to be listened to and supported.

Women Behaving Badly: Corazon Aquino (1933 – 2009)

Former Philippines President, Corazon Aquino.Former Philippines President, Corazon Aquino.
Corazon Aquino was the first female president of the Philippines (1986–1992) and in this role she brought democracy back to the country, following a long dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos.
Aquino was born into a wealthy and politically prominent family. In 1954, she graduated from Mount St. Vincent College in New York City  and marriedBenigno Simeon Aquino, Jr. a journalist and budding politician who would later be jailed by Marcos and assassinated in 1983 after returning from exile in America.
When Marcos unexpectedly called for elections in 1986, Aquino was the unified opposition’s presidential candidate. While Marcos was named as the elected president, Aquino and her supporters challenged the results and both parties held rival inauguration ceremonies on February 25, 1986. Marcos soon lost support and fled the country, resulting in Aquino taking office. That year, she was also named TIME magazine’s Woman of the Year.
One of the first things Aquino did was appoint a commission to write a new constitution, as Marcos had abolished the previous one in 1973 in order to stay in power. The constitution was ratified in February 1987 and elections were held to appoint a new Congress. During her presidency, Aquino also broke up the economic monopolies enjoyed by Marcos’s cronies.
But Aquino was criticized for not making basic economic and social reforms, as well as political corruption, while the country faced widespread poverty. This led to a decline in her popularity, and hostilities between the communist insurgency and her military are thought to have worsened these problems .
After Aquino left office in 1992, she continued to use her voice and spoke out against homelessness and violence in the Philippines. She started a foundation supporting vulnerable Filipinos to start small businesses and supported social projects in poor communities, including rescue centers for street children.

Other stories worth your time

Someone holds up a flag during a rally to protest the Trump administration's transgender proposal at City Hall, New York.Someone holds up a flag during a rally to protest the Trump administration's transgender proposal at City Hall, New York.
.cnnix-golf__pullquote {
position: relative;
color: #262626;
margin: 25px auto;
padding: 10px 0 14px 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 660px;
border-left: 0;
text-align: center;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote:before, .cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote:after {
position: absolute;
content: ”;
width: 50px;
height: 2px;
left: 50%;
transform: translateX(-50%);
-webkit-transform: translateX(-50%);
background-color: #262626;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote:before {
top: 0;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote:after {
bottom: -2px;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote {
position: relative;
margin: 0;
text-align: center;
font-size: 35px;
font-weight: 700;
word-spacing: -1px;
line-height: 1.15;
padding: 24px 10px 22px 10px;
margin-bottom: 24px;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-cite {
margin: 0;
text-align: center;
font-size: 12px;
font-weight: 200;
color: #262626;
line-height: 1.15;
padding: 0 10px;
display: inline-block;
@media only screen and (min-width: 768px) {
.cnnix-golf__pullquote {
margin: 50px auto;
.cnnix-golf__pullquote-quote {
font-size: 35px;

“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.” All of us, women and men, must do better.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian writer

The panelists at the CNN As Equals maternal mental health roundtable discussion:
Dr Prabha Chandra, head of perinatal mental health at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India
Alain Gregoire, Co-Founder and Honorary President of the Global Maternal Mental Health Alliance, United Kingdom
Katayune Kaeni, incoming Board President at Postpartum Support International and a Clinical Psychologist in the United States
Silvia Herrero Rodríguez, Support Coordinator for Postpartum Support International, Ecuador
Simone Honikman, founder and director of the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) in South Africa
Jane Fisher, Director of Global and Women’s Health at Monash University in Southeast Asia
Jen Schwartz, mental health advocate and CEO of Motherhood Understood, United States
Dr Jessica Heron, CEO, Action on Postpartum Psychosis, United Kingdom
Kazione Kulisewa, Consultant Psychiatrist, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences, Malawi
Adrienne Griffin, Executive Director, Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance (MMHLA), United States
Moderator: Melissa Mahtani, CNN
The bodies of nine victims were released to funeral homes Wednesday evening, Judge Lalo Diaz told CNN. The remaining 12 bodies would be released either late Wednesday or Thursday, he said.
The 18-year-old shooter, identified as Salvador Ramos, remained inside Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, for up to an hour Tuesday after he entered the building with an AR-15-style rifle, barricaded himself inside a classroom and opened fire on the students and teachers inside, officials say. He was later shot and killed by law enforcement.
One parent who was a first responder on the scene, found out his daughter, Amerie Jo Garza, had been killed while he was giving medical aid to a student who had just emerged from the school.
The student, who was hysterical and covered in blood, told Angel Garza she had seen her best friend be killed. Then, she said her friend’s name was Amerie, he told CNN, fighting back tears as he held a framed photo of the 10-year-old receiving an honor roll award.
Amerie had just gotten a cell phone for her birthday two weeks ago. As the shooting unfolded, Garza said, his daughter was trying to call 911 for help.
“She just died trying to save her classmates. She just wanted to save everyone,” Garza said.
The Uvalde community joins a growing list of Americans devastated by gun violence, particularly school shootings. The massacre at Robb Elementary is at least the 30th school shooting at a K-12 school this year, according to a CNN tally. It is also the deadliest school shooting since 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
Support for the families of Robb Elementary and the surrounding community has flooded in as they work through the dizzying shock of Tuesday’s tragedy.
At a vigil for the 21 victims Wednesday night, community members wept and hugged as “Amazing Grace” filled the room.
People from Uvalde, Del Río and other nearby towns waited at least three hours to donate blood Wednesday to replenish the supply at local hospitals, said Mohammed Sayed, director of donor recruitment for South Texas Blood & Tissue.
Catherine Alvarez, 20, stood in line with her mother for hours even though she is unable to donate blood due to health reasons.
“This is something that we don’t take lightly,” Alvarez told CNN. “In this community we are all family and if one is grieving, we are all grieving,” she said.
The tragedy in Uvalde has elicited outrage from families of gun violence victims and officials who say a lack of intervention will only lead to more attacks.
“There’s people there sitting in a same spot, in a different community, that I was. Today, tomorrow, they’ll be at a funeral home, sadly, planning a burial,” Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse died in the Sandy Hook shooting, told CNN.

Families identify loved ones they lost

As funeral arrangements begin, a grief-stricken nation is learning the identities of several victims, including teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, who had been co-teaching together for five years.
What we know about the victims at Robb Elementary School
Garcia, a wife and mother to four children, was “sweet, kind, loving,” according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds for funeral expenses and family needs.
“She sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom. She was a hero. She was loved by many and will truly be missed,” the campaign said.
Mireles had been teaching for 17 years and “was a vivacious soul” who “spread laughter and joy everywhere she went,” relative Amber Ybarra told CNN.
“She made you feel like she was only teaching your child,” said Erica Torres, whose son Stanley was in her third and fourth grade classes. “Like there’s no other students but him. She made you feel so good.”
José Flores Jr., 10, was also killed in the shooting, his father José Flores Sr. told CNN. His mother said he was her “little shadow.” José Jr. was bursting with energy and loved to play baseball and video games, his father said.
People attend a vigil Wednesday for those killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.People attend a vigil Wednesday for those killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Lexi Rubio, 10, had made the All-A honor roll and received a good citizen award just hours before she was shot and killed, her parents Felix and Kimberly Rubio told CNN.
“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye,” Kimberly Rubio wrote in a post on Facebook.
Nine-year-old Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, was among those killed, family members confirmed to CNN affiliate KHOU. Her grandparents, Rogelio Lugo and Nelda Lugo, told the LA Times that she loved the movie “Encanto”, cheerleading and basketball. She dreamed of becoming a teacher, they said.
Third-grader Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, and her cousin both died in the same classroom Tuesday, her family members confirmed to CNN affiliate KHOU. The cousin’s name has not been released.

Shooter sent messages about his intentions before the attack

Before he began his rampage, Ramos allegedly messaged a girl who lives in Germany about his intentions.
He complained that his grandmother was “on the phone with AT&T abojt (sic) my phone,” according to screenshots reviewed by CNN and an interview with the 15-year-old girl, whose mother gave permission for her to be interviewed.
“It’s annoying,” he texted her.
Ominous texts. An earlier shooting. What we know about the Texas elementary school massacre that killed 21 peopleOminous texts. An earlier shooting. What we know about the Texas elementary school massacre that killed 21 people
Minutes later, he texted: “I just shot my grandma in her head,” immediately followed by the message, “Ima go shoot up a(n) elementary school rn (right now).”
The girl told CNN she began chatting with Ramos on a social media app on May 9. Ramos sent her selfie videos and talked about a plan to go visit her in Europe, videos and text messages show.
The shooter shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before driving to the Robb Elementary School, where he crashed his car in a nearby ditch, authorities say.
His grandmother was in serious condition as of Wednesday, officials said.
Once the shooter arrived at the school, he encountered a school district police officer, dropped a bag of ammunition, and entered the school, Sgt. Erick Estrada of the Texas Department of Public Safety said. Ramos then barricaded himself inside two adjoining classrooms and opened fire, DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez said.
The gunman was in the school between 40 to 60 minutes before law enforcement forcibly entered and killed him, Texas DPS director Steven McCraw said at a news conference Wednesday.
How to offer support when a mass shooting occursHow to offer support when a mass shooting occurs
Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN he was briefed that Ramos was in a standoff with law enforcement for about 30 minutes after firing on students and teachers.
“And then it stops, and he barricades himself in. That’s where there’s kind of a lull in the action,” Gonzales said. “All of it, I understand, lasted about an hour, but this is where there’s kind of a 30-minute lull. They feel as if they’ve got him barricaded in. The rest of the students in the school are now leaving.”
Ramos was a local high school dropout with no criminal history and no known mental health history, officials said. He had just turned 18 and legally bought two AR-15-style rifles and ammunition for his birthday. His grandfather said Wednesday he didn’t know Ramos had guns.
“If I had known I would have reported him,” Rolando Reyes said.

Impact of Uvalde shooting felt nationwide

As the toll of America’s mass shootings grows, many survivors and victims’ families have formed a network to help others deal with the trauma.
“We hold their hands and their broken hearts as long as we can and continue the road with them for the rest of their lives if they want us there,” said Sandy Phillips, who lost her daughter nearly 10 years ago during a mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Gun legislation is stalled in Congress. Here's why that won't change anytime soon.Gun legislation is stalled in Congress. Here's why that won't change anytime soon.
“We always recommend that initially they get the trauma therapy that they’re going to need to treat the PTSD symptoms that they will have from this,” she told CNN. Her son was one of the first responders who went to Uvalde to help. He was also there the day his sister died.
As Uvalde families are overwhelmed with grief, city officials in Houston are facing calls to cancel the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting, which is being hosted in the city this weekend. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city cannot cancel its agreement with the NRA, citing contractual obligations.
However, the mayor urged legislators and officials not to participate in the event and said the NRA should postpone it.
“Certainly they don’t have to come and I think it would be respectful for the families who are planning funerals for their children for them not to come,” said Turner. “You should not come.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is scheduled to speak at the NRA conference, argued during a news conference Wednesday that tougher gun laws aren’t a “real solution” and said state officials are discussing how to keep schools safe and address people with mental health challenges.
At the news conference, the governor and other officials were confronted by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Beto O’Rourke.
“This is on you, until you choose to do something different,” O’Rourke said to Abbott, calling the shooting in Uvalde predictable. “This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed, just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday,” he added.
Why the President, Congress and the Supreme Court can't -- or won't -- stop mass shootingsWhy the President, Congress and the Supreme Court can't -- or won't -- stop mass shootings
National officials have also spoken out about Tuesday’s shooting, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who said in a statement that the tragedy is “a reminder that gun violence is a serious public health threat that must be addressed.”
State officials beyond Texas are vowing to act in the wake of the Robb Elementary attack. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that state lawmakers plan to fast-track several new gun control bills. Once signed into law, the bills would go into effect at the end of next month, he said, instead of waiting until the new year.
In New York, which was shaken by a mass shooting in Buffalo less than two weeks ago, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she wants to raise the minimum age to purchase a gun in the state from 18 to 21.
“Am I supposed to just leave all the flags at half-mast? They’re still at half-mast from Buffalo. No, I don’t want to,” Hochul said during a news conference Wednesday. “So, we harness this anger, we talk about what we can do. We work with our legislators.”

Written by Heather Chen, CNN

Chinese Canadian actor Simu Liu, who last year starred as Marvel’s first Asian superhero, Shang-Chi, inadvertently sparked uproar online by revealing that he lost out on roles in another bankable movie: “Crazy Rich Asians”.

Though Liu had only expressed his disappointment at not getting a part, social media users were soon using his comments to resurface questions over the casting of British Malaysian actor Henry Golding as the lead character — and to debate whether Liu had been considered “too Asian” looking for the movie.

“In 2017 or early 2016, there were rumblings in the community that there was going to be a ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ movie, and I, being Asian, was very, very excited,” Liu said during an interview last week on the Apple podcast series “How To Fail With Elizabeth Day.”

But the actor — who was born in Harbin, in northeast China, and migrated to Canada as a child — ultimately lost out on parts in the Jon M. Chu-directed romantic drama, which featured an all-Asian cast and served as a ground-breaking moment for Asian representation in Hollywood.

“I remember distinctly asking my agent… what I could have done,” he continued, adding: “And through some sort of broken telephone, whether it had gone through a studio exec or a casting director before it got to our side, we got, ‘Well Simu doesn’t have the X-factor, the ‘it’ factor.’ And that was just such a crushing blow for me.

“I felt like I already worked so hard and come so far as an actor… It just felt like someone was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t likable. I didn’t have that thing that made people want to watch it,” he added. “At the time it was very difficult for me. I was trying to figure out whether I could be the lead character or whether I could only be a supporting character for my entire career.”

The actor revealed that he auditioned for two parts in the 2018 movie: Colin, the best friend of Golding’s character, and Michael, the husband of Gemma Chan’s character. And while Liu said Golding had, at that time, already been selected to play history professor Nick Young, the son of an extremely wealthy but fiercely traditional Singaporean family, social media users quickly took to Twitter to speculate about why he was overlooked.

The cast of "Crazy Rich Asians" attend the movie's premiere on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California.

The cast of “Crazy Rich Asians” attend the movie’s premiere on August 7, 2018 in Hollywood, California. Credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Some online commentators suggested that Liu had been rejected for appearing “too Asian” when compared to biracial actors like Golding, whose father is White. Others suggested that lead roles were more likely to go to “White-passing” actors, a term used to describe people of color who are perceived as — or can “pass” as — White.

The ensuing debate online explored the notions of what it means to be and look Asian, with social media users chiming in with perspectives from across the world.

“I’m not surprised the studio went with the dude who’s only half-Asian to star as the main love interest for marketing purposes,” said one Twitter user. Others speculated that Liu was rejected for not meeting “Western beauty standards.”

Simu Liu’s, Henry Golding’s, Jon M. Chu’s representatives and Warner Bros. have not responded to CNN requests for comment. (Warner Bros., like CNN, is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.)

This wasn’t the first online debate Liu has found himself dragged into. After the actor was revealed as the title character in blockbuster “Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings,” some in China claimed he wasn’t attractive enough to play a Marvel superhero, saying that while he may be considered good looking in the West, he didn’t fit Chinese beauty standards. “I have days where I really feel sexy and on top of the world, and I have days where I don’t,” Liu said in response to the trolling in a 2021 Men’s Health interview. “But more than everything I can be at peace with who I am as a whole — my charisma, my humor, my soul.”
Nor is this the first time that Golding’s casting in “Crazy Rich Asians” has been called into question, with Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times suggesting that the movie’s choice of Eurasian actors was an example of “colorism” in a 2017 article.

Asian representation in Hollywood has been extremely limited for decades. But while Chinese, Korean and Japanese actors have experienced some degree of increased visibility in TV series and movies in recent years, actors of southeast Asian descent — like Malaysian-born Golding — are rarely seen on the big screen.

Southeast Asia, one of the world’s most diverse regions, is home to hundreds of ethnic groups spread across 11 countries and speaking thousands of languages and dialects.

Born to an English father and Malaysian mother of indigenous Iban Dayak descent, Golding commands strong support in his birth country. The actor, who moved to Surrey, England when he was 8, returned to Malaysia to pursue acting when he was 21. Speaking about his indigenous heritage in a 2017 interview with Tatler Asia, Golding said that living with tribes in Malaysia had “humbled” him.

“Irrespective of where I am, be it in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles or Toronto, I always find myself reliving those moments in my head and they have definitely etched their way into the kind of person I am now,” he told the magazine.

Henry Golding attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.

Henry Golding attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. Credit: Arturo Holmes/FilmMagic Inc/Getty Images

Golding’s cultural heritage, including the origins of his hand-tapped tribal tattoos, is a matter of national pride among many Malaysians. So when his “Asian-ness” was questioned amid the debate sparked by Liu’s comments, fans in Malaysia rallied to his defense, arguing that his looks were representative of many multi-ethnic people in Southeast Asia. “Henry Golding was born and raised in Betong, Sarawak,” read one tweet. “Who are you to erase that part of him?”

Others remarked that Golding resembled men in places like Brunei and Indonesia, or said that the argument should not pit one Asian actor against another.

Liu has since taken to Twitter to say that he thought “Crazy Rich Asians” was “perfectly cast just the way it was,” including screenshots to the post from his recently released memoir, where he addressed his experience auditioning.

He shared in the book’s passage that he was now friends with the movie’s director Chu and said that he “just wasn’t right” for any of the roles. Liu wrote that Chu remembers the feedback “very differently,” but the way the message was construed would eventually motivate him to “perfect my craft and become a better actor.”

“(The movie) was a resounding victory for Asian American representation, featuring an ensemble of actors who were perfectly cast, from the painfully handsome Henry Golding and the intensely vulnerable Constance Wu… and so many more,” he added.

Top image caption: Simu Liu attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

In March, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to charge Watson over allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct after determining there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime. The incidents were described as “stemming from massage therapy sessions,” according to a statement on the NFL website.
Meanwhile, a second grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, in March declined to indict Watson after considering evidence in a criminal complaint alleging sexual misconduct, also during a massage therapy session.
However, Watson still faces 22 civil complaints from his accusers, many of them alleging sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions.
Watson has repeatedly denied the accusations of sexual assault and misconduct made against him, and Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement “I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.”
NFL officials were scheduled to meet with Watson last week, as the fallout from his trade continues, according to NFL.com, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. A decision on his potential suspension is looming, but timelines for this remain unclear.
Hardin told CNN that Watson met with the NFL for three days. The league has also requested one more day, though the date and location have not yet been determined, added Hardin.
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans calls a play at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas.
Journalist Melissa Jacobs, founder and managing editor of ‘The Football Girl,’ told CNN that after Watson’s signing with the Browns, she felt “disgust, disappointment, I guess, ickiness, but also not surprised at all because we saw the makings of this happening.”
Watson’s five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract from the Browns would be the highest guaranteed money given to an NFL player, according to ESPN. If a player is fully guaranteed, money in a player contract is protected for skill, cap and injury. Cleveland is set to begin organized team activities on May 24.
At an introductory news conference with the Browns in March, when asked about his off-the-field situation, Watson answered: “I don’t have any regrets. Like I said before, the things that are off the field right now that came up caught me by surprise because I never did anything that these people are alleging.”
Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin told CNN he couldn’t predict the outcome of the civil cases but added: “We really strongly believe that he didn’t do what he’s accused of doing.”
“I’m struck by the way people have just moved on without recognizing the significance of the law enforcement decision that there was no crime committed,” he said.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski in March defended the decision to trade for Watson, saying, “I think Deshaun’s ready to make a positive impact on this community and I can tell you, just with my time spent with Deshaun in the past few days — getting to know him and getting to know this person — I’m looking forward to this community getting to know this person.”
However, some say the trade is hard to stomach given Watson still faces numerous civil suits regarding allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
One of the civil suits filed called Watson a “serial predator,” and others also filed in April allege he “assaulted and harassed” the women by “exposing himself” or “touching (them) with his penis.” Another additionally alleges Watson tried to make one woman perform oral sex on him.
“It’s not to say that Deshaun Watson should never be allowed to play in the NFL,” added Jacobs. “It’s just that there’s still civil cases ongoing and the NFL investigation is ongoing.
“So why not let the legal process play out? It’s just one of the most in-your-face examples of ‘talent trumps trouble’ that I feel like the NFL has ever had.”

Testing the personal conduct policy

Watson remains under investigation by the NFL — though Commissioner Roger Goodell said there was “no time frame” on a decision by a joint disciplinary officer.
“Obviously, these are serious charges. We’re looking at this seriously,” Goodell told reporters in March.
“We now have obviously at least resolution from the criminal side of it. Obviously there are still civil charges that are going on. So our investigators hopefully will have access to more information, and that will be helpful obviously in getting to the conclusion of what are the facts and was there a violation of the personal-conduct policy,” he said.
Under that policy, Goodell could choose to place a player on the exempt list “when a player is formally charged with a crime of violence” or when an NFL investigation “leads the commissioner to believe that a player may have violated” the policy.
The exempt list is a device the NFL can use to place players on paid leave while they are under investigation if it is thought they might have violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
Players can also be temporarily placed on the list if a “violation relating to a crime of violence is suspected but further investigation is required” to allow the league to conduct its own investigation.
Running back Kareem Hunt was placed on the exempt list in 2018 after he was seen on video pushing and kicking a woman in a Cleveland hotel. He was released by the Kansas City Chiefs shortly after.
The Browns signed Hunt just months later, despite a league suspension hanging over his head. Weeks later, Hunt was suspended for eight games for violating the NFL personal-conduct policy, stemming from physical altercations at his Cleveland residence in February 2018 and at a resort in Ohio in June.
At the time of writing, a decision on Watson’s playing status has not been made. He would, in theory, be able to play when the season begins in September, though a decision on a potential punishment or suspension is expected soon.
A few weeks after Watson was traded to the Browns, another major US sports league showed its commitment to punishing players found to have violated its domestic violence and sexual assault policy. Major League Baseball announced in April it suspended Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer for two years (324 championship season games) without pay, for violation of the league’s domestic violence and sexual assault policy following an extensive investigation. Bauer has consistently denied the allegations.
In February, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Bauer would not face criminal charges for the sexual assault accusations.
As far as the NFL, commentators say the league’s and teams’ treatment of other players accused of wrongdoing works as a blueprint for how it regards a player’s personal conduct.
“As far as actions off the field and what priorities are, I think that line was drawn a long time ago with any number of people you could point to that were brought back to help teams win games after various levels of transgression,” Tim Benz, a sports columnist for the Tribune-Review, told CNN Sports.
“Whether it was Kareem Hunt or Michael Vick, or when Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual misconduct twice and was never actually charged with any crimes, he still got suspended for six games and was brought back and went on to have a career that they just honored him for for an entire year in Pittsburgh.
“Josh Gordon’s another example with their own drug policy, which he violated numerous times over, and every time you turn around, he gets a new job with someone,” Benz added.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told CNN that when “players or personnel violate the policies they are held responsible and disciplined. If a player earns his way back to playing by serving a suspension and undergoing mandatory training and evaluations we will consider it,” adding that that’s what happened with Hunt, Vick and Roethlisberger, who had “no further discipline issues.”

A “continuous assault” on women, rights groups warn

Some women’s rights organizations see the Watson case as a continuation of policies and an attitude that are damaging to women.
Rosa Beltré, executive director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, told CNN that Watson’s trade was “disheartening, but it was not a surprise.”
“This is a continuous assault, as well as revictimization, and it’s been the position of many businesses and organizations,” Beltré said.
Football teams’ and leagues’ behaviors often don’t match their public messaging around violence against women, she said.
“While they can have campaigns, or they could go ahead and have their players give their time, talent, supposedly for a cause, the decisions that they make normally do not walk alongside their talk.”
She said that “over and over again,” clubs and leagues have shown it is more important to win a championship and sell tickets than to punish players in order to demonstrate the importance of the team’s values.
“So the message that they clearly sent is that once again: money, status, wins are more important than believing, supporting, seeing and recognizing the harm that is done against women by their athletes, by their boards, by their executives.”
Laura Palumbo, communications director for the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, said in a statement to CNN: “The survivors in this case have been vocal about how damaging it has been to witness the person who they reported for assault and abuse go without consequences and move on to achieve success and celebrated status in their personal and professional lives.
“What can be very powerful in honoring the experiences of these survivors is when we as a society recognize that people who commit acts of sexual violence sometimes abuse celebrity or authority status — and the illusion of trust that comes with it — to act in abusive ways and evade responsibility.”
Meanwhile, Tony Buzbee, the lawyer for the women pursuing civil suits against Watson told CNN: “The NFL is a joke, when it comes to this particular issue,” and said he believes the NFL didn’t take its internal investigation regarding Watson seriously.
“It didn’t take me very long to figure out just in that process that the NFL wasn’t serious about it. They’re just not serious. They’re serious about how many people you can put in the stands, how much merchandise you can sell, and how far you can throw the football. They’re not concerned and are not serious about, you know, codes of conduct, things that are said, done, off the field,” Buzbee said.
He said that in interviews between the NFL investigators and Watson’s accusers: “One of the very first questions asked is, ‘What were you wearing?’ That speaks volumes to me.
“As if, as if the women somehow were in the wrong because of something they wore at what was supposed to be a professional massage session.”
McCarthy, the NFL spokesperson, told CNN “the question related to what the women were wearing was to help get a full understanding of the incidents,” and said the legal team for the women did not object to the question at the time.
“It was in no way intended to… make the women feel uncomfortable or assign blame,” he added.
But some experts say the NFL’s handling of cases like Watson’s get in the way of breaking the cycle of violence against women.
“All too often our society, criminal legal system, and private institutions fail to hold those who commit sexual harassment, assault, and abuse accountable,” Palumbo said. “Whenever sexual harassment and abuse are not taken seriously and handled with impunity, this contributes to the cycle of future harm.”
Beltré agrees. “You cannot talk about restorative justice or giving a person a second opportunity when they never claim or admit their wrongdoing, and they move on in life as if nothing has happened, which gives them more power and opportunity to continue hurting others.
“What the NFL and other organizations have seen is that talent is more valuable than the harm that he’s causing with his behavior,” she said.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns speaks during his press conference introducing him to the Cleveland Browns  at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on March 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. Quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns speaks during his press conference introducing him to the Cleveland Browns  at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on March 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.
McCarthy told CNN the league has mandatory domestic violence and sexual assault training for everyone in the NFL, including players, coaches and staff, which were developed in conjunction with domestic violence and sexual assault experts.
Watson’s attorney Hardin said that the NFL had been “totally responsible” in the way they had handled things so far.
“What they tried to avoid is any suggestion by law enforcement, that by talking to potential witnesses and potential complainants or making accusations or so they might very well get in the way of and hinder the official criminal investigation.
“Law enforcement has always preferred that private agencies who are looking into the conduct of their employees wait to conduct their investigations until the official investigation is complete,” he added.
He added that the NFL has now been “very aggressively” pursuing the investigation.

Mixed reactions among fans

Some fans are angry about Watson’s transfer. “I think they care,” Benz told CNN. “I also think that they know if they win, (the anger will) go away.”
He points to the past as evidence of this.
“There were a lot of people saying that they’d never root for the Steelers again after they brought Michael Vick in for a few weeks. I don’t think that deadened the fan base in Pittsburgh by any stretch of the imagination.”
Nationally, there has been a “resurgence in TV ratings and streaming numbers in the NFL this year, after two or three years of many football fans saying: ‘I’ll never watch the National Football League again because of the national anthem controversy,” said Benz, referring to player protests that began with Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand as the national anthem played before NFL games.
“That’s disappeared,” he added.
“As far as the Browns case in particular, there’s a franchise that is starved, perhaps more than any of the National Football League, for a Super Bowl and a football-rabid community.
“And if Deshaun Watson ends up getting them there and winning them one, I don’t think any concerns that the Browns might have about the reaction of the fan base will be a whisper in their ear by the time the Vince Lombardi Trophy is hoisted in Cleveland, should it come to that,” he said.
Jacobs said the NFL’s handling of similar situations points to a reactive, not proactive, strategy.
“I think the NFL is very interested in problems going away, and they’re very reactive to issues like diversity, and back when the Ray Rice tape came out and there was so much anger out there, and that’s when they instituted their policy,” she said, referring to the former running back for the Baltimore Ravens, who viciously knocked out his fiancée Janay in a casino elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 2014 after a night of heavy drinking. The incident was captured on surveillance video.
Rice was indefinitely suspended by the NFL for violating its domestic violence policy — a decision he successfully appealed, though no teams went on to sign him during his free agency.
“They’re never on top of these things, like ever. Those parts of their history need to be written,” added Jacobs.
Once a player has been punished, she said, some TV broadcasters rarely repeat why a sanctioned player has missed games, simply telling audiences, “Oh, he was suspended for four games. Now he’s back.”
In the aftermath of a scandal and when a player is back on the field, “it’s more of the same,” Jacobs said.
“They just sort of gloss over things to make it seem as if everybody is this wonderful, altruistic person,” she said.
McCarthy told CNN that the league’s official website (nfl.com) and TV network (NFL Network) report on every incident and suspension.
“After Ray Rice, there were PSAs out there,” Jacobs said.
Los Angeles-based filmmakers Made by Women Media created a public service announcement “NO HITS” calling on the NFL to “stop tolerating abuse.”
In 2014, following the furor over Rice’s behavior, the union for professional football players, the NFL Players Association, put together a commission on domestic violence to give recommendations on how to tackle domestic violence and other issues facing the league. The NFLPA is an organization separate to the NFL.
“They had brought on an advisory committee and they went to educate players and especially men to stand up when they see something. And then that just went away,” Jacobs said, adding that members of the commission quit because their recommendations weren’t taken seriously.
Deborah Epstein, one of the commissioners who resigned, said that she did so because of a failure by the union to act on recommendations.
“My NFLPA contacts would initially greet these ideas with a burst of enthusiasm and an indication of likely implementation, but efforts to follow up would yield nothing in the way of specific plans, and eventually communication would fade into radio silence,” she wrote in an opinion piece for the Washington Post in June of 2018.
Jacobs made clear she isn’t implying Watson is guilty.
“However, if you’re going to allow the Deshaun Watsons of the world and people maybe in that ‘probable, not definite but maybe’ [category] then I do think, you as a league, have a responsibility to be open about violence against women, sexual assault, all those things like as a regular part of your programming.
“Again, talk about why these people were suspended, and offer programs to players. There just needs to be more invested into this [sports] world if you’re going to allow potential perpetrators to exist in your league,” she said.

© 2022 Cable News Network.A Warner Media Company.All Rights Reserved.CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network.

(CNN) — A collection of treasures from Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctica voyage has been sold at auction in London this week.

The highest priced item (£176,400, or $220,000) was a map of Antarctica Shackleton drew by hand detailing what he learned from his 1914-1916 expedition.

Shackleton, who was born in Ireland but lived most of his life in the United Kingdom, had a longtime fascination with Antarctica and visited the world’s southernmost continent four times.

“We were thrilled to offer this unique hand drawn map of Antarctica, created by one of the greatest polar explorers,” Richard Fattorini, Senior Specialist, Books & Topographical Photographs at Sotheby’s, said in a statement.

He added: “Shackleton’s outstanding leadership and exploits continue to fascinate and inspire people of all ages today.”

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship, HMS Endurance, was located by a team of scientists, historians and filmmakers more than a century after it sunk off the coast of Antarctica.

Other lots in the auction, which ended on May 25, included a bronze medallion that was awarded to Shackleton by the Chilean Historical and Geographical Society and a photograph of Shackleton and his dog on board the Endurance.

Arguably the most interesting piece was one of the first books ever printed and bound on Antarctica, which was produced by explorers Ernest Joyce and Frank Wild (both of whom had gotten training as printers in the UK) and edited by Shackleton.

The book contains coordinates of the 1907-1908 Antarctic expedition, Latitude 77°.. 32′ South Longitude 166°.. 12′ East.

Simply the fact that it exists is miraculous due to the challenging conditions of doing anything on the White Continent. The book was printed on fragments from wooden crates and leather bindings from horse harnesses. Joyce and Wild had to keep a constantly-moving candle underneath the “pages” in order to prevent the ink from freezing during the production process.

In the book, there are eleven lithographs from George Marston, including the one on the cover.

In the book, there are eleven lithographs from George Marston, including the one on the cover.


The volume sold for £100,800 ($127,000).

There were 100 of these books produced by Joyce and Wild, with 65 accounted for today. This one has an inscription from Frank Wild’s brother Laurence to his grandson Nicholas.

The sale also featured some other Antarctic items that weren’t connected to Shackleton.

One was a Norwegian flag brought along on expeditions by trailblazing explorer Roald Amundsen, which sold for £88,200 ($111,000). Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole and to navigate the Northwest Passage.

This flag, one of a dozen that Roald Amundsen had with him on his voyages, was given to the explorer's brother Gustav and passed through several owners after his death.

This flag, one of a dozen that Roald Amundsen had with him on his voyages, was given to the explorer’s brother Gustav and passed through several owners after his death.


Ernest Shackleton is best known for his HMS Endurance mission. The ship and its crew departed England in 1914, then reached the McMurdo Sound in 1915 before getting trapped in ice. The crew eventually reached Elephant Island, and several members — including Shackleton — volunteered to leave on a small boat and search for rescuers.

The daring plan worked. After a trek across the unforgiving landscape, Shackleton reached a Norwegian whaling station on South Georgia Island and from there coordinated the rescue of the remaining sailors.

Though the mission itself wasn’t successful, the fact that the team returned safely cemented Shackleton’s place in history.

Storage silos and shipping cranes at the Port of Odesa in Ukraine, on January 22. (Christopher Occhicone/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Russia is trying to “blackmail” the international community with an offer to unblock Ukrainian sea ports if sanctions against it are lessened, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

This is “clear blackmail,” Kuleba claimed. “You could not find a better example of blackmail in international relations.” 

He warned that if Russia does not lift its blockage of Ukrainian exports of crops, the entire agricultural cycle will be interrupted and could spur a “multi-year food crisis.”

Some background: Before the war, Ukraine was the world’s fourth-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat, according to the US State Department. Almost 30% of global trade in wheat came from Russia and Ukraine alone.

Speaking at a panel discussion, Kuleba said Russia and Ukraine are nowhere near the possibility of negotiated peace and that Moscow has no intention of taking part in discussions aimed at ending the war. 

“When you are conducting an operation like this, you basically say no to negotiations. If Russia had preferred talks to war, they would have behaved differently,” he said.

Making concessions to Russia has not worked since 2014 and won’t work now, Kuleba said. 

“This strategy has been used by the leading global forces from 2014 to Feb. 24, 2022. Make concessions here, make concessions here, it will help prevent war. It has failed. Eight years of this strategy has resulted in missiles hitting Kyiv and bloodshed in Donbas,” the foreign minister said.

Kuleba called again for further sanctions against Russia, namely stopping the purchase of Russian oil, which he said is keeping Moscow in a comfortable position.

“Ukraine is suffering more than Russia is with the sanctions against it. … After three months of war, my message is simple: kill Russian exports. Stop buying from Russia and allowing them to make money that they invest in the war machine to kill and destroy,” he said.   

While the Supreme Court has been working behind closed doors on its first major Second Amendment opinion in more than a decade, three mass shootings have broken the country, including Tuesday’s massacre of 19 schoolchildren in Texas.

Closed off from public view, the justices are penning opinions and dissents in a dispute that targets one concealed carry law in New York that is more than a century old. A narrow ruling could impact only a handful of states with similar laws, but a more expansive ruling could open a new chapter in constitutional challenges to gun safety laws across the country.

“As a formal matter, the Supreme Court’s ruling on New York’s gun law doesn’t call into question gun laws restricting types of weapons or sensitive places where individuals can carry guns,” said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke University School of Law.

“But a broader ruling that changes the way courts evaluate gun laws could call into question a wider array of gun regulations like assault weapons bans and other restrictions like high-capacity magazine bans,” Charles added.

The deliberations come as the country mourns another tragedy, victims of gun violence plea for more action, and the political branches seem forever divided on a path forward.

In 2008, the Supreme Court held for the first time, that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms at home for self-defense.

After the ruling, however, to the frustration of gun rights advocates, lower courts relied upon language in the opinion to uphold many gun regulations.

“Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings,” then-Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the majority in the Heller case.

Except for a follow-up decision two years later, the justices largely stayed away from the issue, infuriating gun rights advocates and even some of the justices themselves.

Justice Clarence Thomas declared at one point that the “Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this court.”

After Amy Coney Barrett took her seat, the court agreed to take up a new case, highlighting the impact of former President Donald Trump’s three nominees on the court.

Keep reading here.