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Victims of the Covenant School shooting in Nashville include young children, head of school, custodian


Another American community is reeling after a shooter killed three 9-year-olds and three adults at a private Christian elementary school in Nashville.

Monday’s attack was the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a year and the 19th shooting at a school or university so far in 2023 that left at least one person wounded, a CNN count shows.

“Our community is heartbroken,” The Covenant School, a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, said in a statement, expressing thanks to first responders for their quick response and those showing support for the school.

“We are grieving tremendous loss and are in shock coming out of the terror that shattered our school and church. We are focused on loving our students, our families, our faculty and staff and beginning the process of healing,” the school said.

“All of Tennessee was hurt yesterday,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a video statement released Tuesday night.

Here’s what we know so far about the victims:

Evelyn was 9, police said. While her family appreciates all the love and support they’ve received, they’re asking for space as they grieve, according to a family statement obtained by CNN affiliate KMOV.

“Our hearts are completely broken. We cannot believe this has happened,” the statement said. “Evelyn was a shining light in this world.”

Mike Hill

Hill, 61, was a beloved custodian at the school, police said, and a father of seven children.

Known as “Big Mike” to students, Hill was a member of the facilities/kitchen staff, according to the school website.

The staff member loved to cook and spend time with his family, according to a family statement obtained by CNN affiliate WSMV. He had 14 grandchildren.

“We would like to thank the Nashville community for all the continued thoughts and prayers. As we grieve and try to grasp any sense of understanding of why this happened, we continue to ask for support,” the statement said.

“We pray for the Covenant School and are so grateful that Michael was beloved by the faculty and students who filled him with joy for 14 years,” it added.

Nashville parents set up a GoFundMe page to help support Hill’s family with funeral expenses.

“Per his family, he took great pleasure and found tremendous joy in his job and through those students,” the GoFundMe added.

His daughter, Brittany Hill, said in a Facebook post on Monday that her dad “absolutely loved” his job.

“I have watched school shootings happen over the years and never thought I would lose a loved one over a person trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution,” she said. “I am so sorry for the loss of those children,” she added.

“Please keep my family in your prayers tonight. Hug your parents and children a little tighter.”

Katherine Koonce

Koonce was 60, police said, and head of the school.

She attended Vanderbilt University and Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville and got her master’s degree from Georgia State University, the school said.

Jim and Monica Lee, friends and former co-workers of Koonce, spoke Tuesday with reporters about her dedication.

“She gave her life because she was trying to protect students, protect faculty,” said Jim Lee.

They said the educator had a great sense of humor and was confident. Koonce exhibited humility and made each person she interacted with feel important, Jim Lee said.

“She could be on her knees talking to a preschool student, than she could turn around and be talking to a board member and then turn around and meet with an angry parent and then turn around and meet with the teacher that is having a bad day,” he added.

Cynthia Peak

Peak, 61, was a substitute teacher at the school, according to police and officials.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee talked about the close relationship his wife Maria had with Peak.

The teacher was supposed to come over to the Lee home Monday evening for dinner.

“Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends,” said Lee.

“Cindy and Maria and Katherine Koonce were all teachers at the same school and have been family friends for decades,” Lee said.

“There will be a time to talk about the legislation and budget proposals we’ve brought forward this year. And clearly, there’s more work to do,” he said Tuesday night.

“There is hope in the midst of great tragedy because God is a redeemer. What is meant for evil can be turned for good. May we grieve in the days ahead, but not without hope. May we also act with wisdom, discernment, and grace. And may we love, especially those who have lost,” Lee said in his video message.

Louisiana state Rep. Charles Anthony Owen told CNN he’s known Peak his whole life. Her hometown of Leesville, Louisiana, is grieving, Owen said.

“She and my sister were the closest of friends growing up and it seems like Cindy was around for all of my childhood,” he said Tuesday in a Facebook post. “She and Mae Ann had birthdays one day apart and her family lived across the street from us for a period of time. Cindy and Mae were always together.”

Owen wrote that when Mae passed, Peak was one of the first faces he recalled seeing. “She was right here to grieve her old friend,” he said.

Hallie Scruggs

Hallie, 9, had a “love for life” that bounded through her, from her smile to her “always on the go” spirit, her aunt said.

“To watch her these past 9 years has been a gift and a privilege,” Kara Arnold wrote in a Facebook post. “I have often longed for a daughter and Hallie embodied all of those things I’d want in my own little girl.”

She said Hallie and her son Chip were almost the same age and were very close.

“When they were together no one else existed and we would rarely know where they were or what they were up to,” she wrote, adding that they were usually involved in some sort of mischief.

“She was incredibly smart, feisty enough to keep up with her 3 brothers and my 4 boys, a love for life that kept her smiling and running and jumping and playing and always on the go,” she wrote.

Arnold told CNN that she is on her way to Nashville to be with her brother and sister-in-law.

“I don’t have the words to address this tragedy. I’m in shock and my boys and Adam and I can’t even comprehend that she’s gone,” she wrote.

“We are grieving so deeply. And for my brother and sister in law and my nephews who are living the most unspeakable nightmare. We hurt with you and wish we could take your hurt away,” she wrote.

Hallie was the daughter of Covenant Presbyterian Church Lead Pastor Chad Scruggs, according to a statement by Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas, a sister church Scruggs formerly served.

“We love the Scruggs family and mourn with them over their precious daughter Hallie,” the Texas congregation’s Senior Pastor Mark Davis said. “Together, we trust in the power of Christ to draw near and give us the comfort and hope we desperately need.”

Will, 9, had an “unflappable spirit,” friends of the Kinney family shared on a GoFundMe page.

“He was unfailingly kind, gentle when the situation called for it, quick to laugh, and always inclusive of others,” the page said. “He loved his sisters, adored his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and was always excited to host friends of every age. Sweet Will knew no strangers.”

“Our hearts are broken for his family as they try to find their way forward,” it added.

The GoFundMe page had raised more than $133,000 by Wednesday afternoon.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Jim Lee’s first name.

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Rand Paul blocks Josh Hawley’s attempt to fast-track TikTok ban, exposing GOP split


Washington — Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s effort to fast-track a ban of TikTok’s app in the United States hit a snag from within his own party after Sen. Rand Paul objected. 

Hawley, who introduced the “No TikTok on United States Devices Act” in January, tried to pass the bill by unanimous consent on Wednesday, but Paul opposed. 

“It’s time to act now,” Hawley argued. “The intent of China in all of this is quite clear. They want to build a profile on every single American.” 

Paul has said in recent days that a ban would violate the First Amendment, but Hawley argued Wednesday that the “First Amendment does not protect the right to spy on American citizens.” 

“I’m unlikely to take First Amendment advice from someone who believes that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the Communist Party,” Paul said Wednesday. “If someone doesn’t understand that communism actually is included under the First Amendment — that terrible speech we object to is included under that — this is something we should be very wary of.” 

Paul said the accusations against TikTok involving data collection and algorithms could also be leveled against American companies and called it a bad political move for Republicans. 

“If Republicans want to continuously lose elections for a generation, they should pass this bill to ban TikTok,” he said. “Many Democrats have joined Republicans in calling for this ban, but like most issues, the blame will stick to the Republicans more.” 

Hawley’s effort comes a week after TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew was grilled by lawmakers about the company’s ties to China and handling of user data. The hearing held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce was a bipartisan rebuke of TikTok as momentum grows on Capitol Hill to ban the app used by 150 million Americans.  

Federal lawmakers have introduced several bills that would empower the Biden administration to ban it nationwide, with a bipartisan Senate bill from Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican Sen. John Thune garnering bipartisan support. Warner told “Face the Nation” on Sunday he thinks the White House “is very in favor of this bill.” 

Hawley’s bill differs from the Warner-Thune measure in that it specifically targets TikTok, while the other proposal would apply to technology tied to China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela that poses a national security risk. 

The app is already prohibited on federal government devices, including military devices, and a growing number of states have implemented it on state government devices.

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Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman expected to return to Senate in mid-April


Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman is expected to return to the Senate the week of April 17, according to a source close to him. The Democrat’s return will follow the Senate’s two-week recess in early April. 

Fetterman has been undergoing treatment for clinical depression at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland since mid-February. He checked himself into Walter Reed for inpatient care at the recommendation of the attending physician of the U.S. Congress. 

His chief of staff said in early March that Fetterman would be back “soon,” adding that he was “well on his way to recovery.” 

Fetterman was sidelined for two months during the 2022 campaign after suffering a stroke and had surgery to implant a pacemaker. Before he was admitted for inpatient care, he was hospitalized after feeling light-headed while at a Senate Democratic retreat in Washington. He was discharged two days later after tests ruled out a new stroke and he showed no evidence of seizures, according to his office.  

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OpenMandriva Lx 23.03 Rolling Release is Now Av… » Linux Magazine


OpenMandriva Lx 23.03 comes just three months after the release of the .01 version of the open source operating system and brings with it some important updates. This also marks the first time OpenMandriva has offered a rolling release version of the operating system.

According to the OpenMandriva team, “OpenMandriva Lx is a unique and independent, not based on any other, Linux distribution. A direct descendant of Mandriva Linux and the first Linux distribution utilizing the LLVM compiler. This release keeps using the entire LLVM toolchain which completes the work that began in 2015, even before Android switched its compilers.”

“ROME” ships with kernel 6.2, KDE Plasma 5.27, KDE Frameworks 5.104, KDE Gear 22.12.3, built-in support for Flatpak, Mesa 23, Wayland 1.21.0, XOg 21.1.7, LLVM/Clang 15.0.7, GNU Binutils 2.40, GCC 12.2, GNU C Library 2.37, systemd 235, and the latest version of the Calamares GUI installer (version 3.2.61).

As far as bundled software, you’ll find LibreOffice 7.5.1, Firefox 111, Chromium 110, GIMP 2.10.34, Calligra Suite 3.2.1, SMPlayer 22.7.0, VLC 3.0.18, VirtualBox 7.0.6, and plenty of other applications to keep you productive, connected, and entertained.

You can find the download link for the ISO of “ROME” on the OpenMandriva website and read the full release announcement on the OpenMandriva ROME page.


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A reconstruction of prehistoric temperatures for some of the oldest archaeological sites in North America


Jennifer Kielhofer sampling for charcoal and biomarkers (GDGTs) at Keystone Dune in Alaska, one of the study sites as well as one of the older archaeological sites in the area (dating back ~13,000 years). Credit: Jennifer Kielhofer

Scientists often look to the past for clues about how Earth’s landscapes might shift under a changing climate, and for insight into the migrations of human communities through time. A new study offers both by providing, for the first time, a reconstruction of prehistoric temperatures for some of the first known North American settlements.

The study, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, uses new techniques to examine the past climate of Alaska’s Tanana Valley. With a that reaches back 14,000 years, researchers now have a glimpse into the environment that supported humans living at some of the continent’s oldest archaeological sites, where mammoth bones are preserved alongside evidence of human occupation. Reconstructing the past environment can help scientists understand the importance of the region for human migration into the Americas.

“When you think about what was happening in the Last Glacial Maximum, all these regions on Earth were super cold, with massive ice sheets, but this area was never fully glaciated,” says Jennifer Kielhofer, Ph.D., a paleoclimatologist at DRI and lead author of the study. “We’re hypothesizing that if this area was comparatively warm, maybe that would have been an attractive reason to come there and settle.”

Kielhofer conducted the research during her doctoral studies at the University of Arizona, and was attracted to the Alaska location because of the wealth of research expertise being focused on the area. She also saw an opportunity to contribute to scientific understanding of a part of the world that is particularly sensitive to .

“We have to look to the past to try to better constrain how these areas have responded previously,” she said, “and how they might respond in the future under climate scenarios that we predict.”

Earlier research had relied on coarse temperature records by examining changes in vegetation and pollen. However, this information can only provide a general sense of whether a region was warming or cooling over time. To obtain a more precise history of temperatures, Kielhofer examined soil samples from the archeological sites. Using a technique known as brGDGT paleothermometry, she examined temperature records stored in bacteria to obtain a record of mean annual air temperature above freezing with a precision within about 2.8 degrees Celsius.

“Bacteria are everywhere,” she said. “That’s great because in areas where you might not have other means of recording or assessing past temperature, you have bacteria. They can preserve for millions of years, so it’s a great opportunity to look at pretty much anywhere on Earth.”

The results were surprising, she said, because many scientists had previously believed that the region experienced large swings in temperature, which may have contributed to the movement of early humans. But Kielhofer’s data showed that temperatures in the Tanana Valley remained fairly stable over time.

“The region wasn’t really responding to these global scale climate changes as we might expect,” she said. “Because temperatures are really stable through this , we can’t necessarily use as a way to explain changes in human occupation or adaptation through time, as scientists have previously tried to do.”

Kielhofer’s now turning her attention to other , like changes in aridity, that could help explain how conditions in this influenced early human communities.

Jennifer Kielhofer (DRI/University of Arizona), Jessica Tierney (Univ. of Arizona), Joshua Reuther (Museum of the North, Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks), Ben Potter and Charles Holmes (Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks), François Lanoë (Univ. of Arizona), Julie Esdale (Colorado State), Matthew Wooller and Nancy Bigelow (Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks).

More information:
Jennifer R. Kielhofer et al, BrGDGT temperature reconstruction from interior Alaska: Assessing 14,000 years of deglacial to Holocene temperature variability and potential effects on early human settlement, Quaternary Science Reviews (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2023.107979

A reconstruction of prehistoric temperatures for some of the oldest archaeological sites in North America (2023, March 29)
retrieved 29 March 2023
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‘Taffy Galaxies’ collide, leave behind bridge of star-forming material


The Gemini North telescope, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, captured this dazzling image of the so-called Taffy Galaxies—UGC 12914 and UGC 12915. Their twisted appearance is the result of a head-on collision that occurred about 25 million years prior to their appearance in this image. A bridge of highly turbulent gas devoid of significant star formation spans the gap between the two galaxies. Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA Image Processing: M. Rodriguez (NSF’s NOIRLab), T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), J. Miller (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Rodriguez (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF’s NOIRLab) & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab) Acknowledgment: PI: A. S. Castelli (Universidad Nacional de la Plata)

Galaxy collisions are transformative events, largely responsible for driving the evolution of the universe. The mixing and mingling of stellar material is an incredibly dynamic process that can lead to the formation of molecular clouds populated with newly forming stars. But, a head-on collision between the two galaxies UGC 12914 (left) and UGC 12915 (right) 25–30 million years ago appears to have resulted in a different kind of structure—a bridge of highly turbulent material spanning the two galaxies. Though this intergalactic bridge is teeming with star-forming material, its turbulent nature is suppressing star formation.

This pair of , nicknamed the Taffy Galaxies, is located about 180 million light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Pegasus.

This new image, captured with the Gemini North, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, showcases the fascinating feature that gave them their name. A tenuous bridge composed of narrow molecular filaments, shown in brown, and clumps of hydrogen gas, shown in red, can be seen between the two galaxies. Its complex web structure resembles taffy being stretched as the pair slowly separates.

Galaxy collisions can happen out of a variety of different scenarios, often involving a larger galaxy and a smaller satellite galaxy. As they drift near one another, the satellite galaxy can attract one of the larger galaxy’s primary spiral arms, pulling it out of its orbit. Or the satellite galaxy can actually intersect with the larger galaxy, causing significant distortions to its own structure. In other cases, a collision can lead to a merger if neither member has enough momentum to continue on after colliding. In all these scenarios, stellar material from both galaxies mixes through a gradual combining and redistribution of gas, like two puddles of liquid that are slowly bleeding into each other. The resulting collecting and compression of the gas can then trigger .

The Gemini North telescope, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, captured this dazzling image of the so-called Taffy Galaxies—UGC 12914 and UGC 12915. Their twisted appearance is the result of a head-on collision that occurred about 25 million years prior to their appearance in this image. A bridge of highly turbulent gas devoid of significant star formation spans the gap between the two galaxies. Credit: Images and Videos: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA, T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF’s NOIRLab), J. Miller (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Rodriguez (Gemini Observatory/NSF’s NOIRLab), M. Zamani & D. de Martin (NSF’s NOIRLab), ESA/Hubble/L. Calcada, D. Munizaga, N. Bartmann Music: Stellardrone—In Time

A head-on collision, however, would be more like pouring liquid from two separate cups into a shared bowl. When the Taffy Galaxies collided, their galactic disks and gaseous components smashed right into each other. This resulted in a massive injection of energy into the gas, causing it to become highly turbulent. As the pair emerged from their collision, high-velocity gas was pulled from each galaxy, creating a massive gas bridge between them. The turbulence of the stellar material throughout the bridge is now prohibiting the collection and compression of gas that are required to form new stars.

The Gemini North observations of this object were led by Analía Smith Castelli, an astronomer with the Instituto de Astrofísica de La Plata in Argentina. Argentina is one of the partners in the International Gemini Observatory.

‘Taffy Galaxies’ collide, leave behind bridge of star-forming material (2023, March 29)
retrieved 29 March 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-03-taffy-galaxies-collide-bridge-star-forming.html

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Senate votes to repeal Iraq War authorization

Senate votes to repeal Iraq War authorization

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Congress approves measure to reverse Biden’s water protections


Washington — Congress on Wednesday approved a resolution to overturn the Biden administration’s protections for the nation’s waterways that Republicans have criticized as a burden on business, advancing a measure that President Biden has promised to veto.

Republicans have targeted the Biden administration’s protections for thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, labeling it an environmental overreach that harms businesses, developers and farmers.

They used the Congressional Review Act that allows Congress to block recently enacted executive branch regulations. The Senate voted in favor 53 to 43 Wednesday to give final legislative approval to the measure. Four Democrats and independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined Republicans to vote in favor of the resolution.

“The overreach, basically, it’s unreal,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia and critic of some of the White House’s environmental policies.

The Senate vote was the latest development in a long-running fight over the definition of “waters of the United States,” which establishes the breadth of the Clean Water Act’s protections. Environmentalists and the Biden administration have pushed to broaden the definition and protect more waterways from pollution while right-leaning groups and the Trump administration have argued that protecting fewer waterways would benefit builders, farmers and business.

In early March, the Republican-controlled House approved the resolution 227-198. A Congressional Review Act resolution requires a simple majority in both chambers and can’t be filibustered.

Water protections are “very symbolic and polarized,” according to Julian Gonzalez, legislative counsel with Earthjustice. He said moderate Democrats may vote for the resolution to show their independence from the Biden administration’s environmental agenda.

“The perceived impact won’t be as significant because the president will veto it, so they can sort of achieve their goal without causing that much damage,” Gonzalez said, adding that supporting efforts to weaken the Clean Water Act are shortsighted.

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware said the Biden administration’s rule is protective and fair.

“The Biden rule requires us to be good neighbors, and stewards of our planet, while also providing flexibility for those who need it,” said Carper said.

In December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers repealed the Trump administration’s business-friendly rule that scaled back protections. Since the Biden administration enacted its broader rule, Republicans have targeted it in the courts and Congress.

This month, a federal judge paused the rule in Texas and Idaho in a win for Republican legal challenges. Right-leaning states have argued in court the rule is too vague and would create unacceptable economic hardships.

The Supreme Court is also considering a related case brought by an Idaho couple who are fighting a requirement that they receive a permit to build their home near a lake after the EPA determined that part of their property was a regulated wetland. The justices heard arguments in Sackett v. EPA in October and a decision is expected in the next few months.

“Expansion of federal authority and an encroachment on states’ rights and private lands is the precise reason we have seen overwhelming support for my (Congressional Review Act) resolution,” said Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Democrats hold a 51-49 Senate majority, but Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania is in the hospital being treated for depression and is unavailable for votes. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat of California, and GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are also absent.

The Biden administration’s rule is built on a pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” but is more streamlined and includes updates to reflect court opinions, scientific understanding and decades of experience, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox previously told The Associated Press. She added that the rule modestly increases protections for some streams, wetlands, lakes and ponds.

The new rule repeated the Trump-era rule that was finalized in 2020 and was broadly supported by farm bureaus and business that wanted less regulation on private property. Environmental groups said the Trump-era rules left too many waterways unprotected from pollutants.

Senate Democrats Manchin, Jon Tester of Montana, and both senators from Nevada, Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto, supported the resolution. Sinema also voted in favor.

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