We're pleased to bring you "While You Were Out"—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Shooter kills seven people, injuring more at Independence Day parade
A July 4 parade in Highland Park, Illinois, turned deadly when a shooter opened fire on attendees, killing seven and wounding dozens more. The suspect, a 21-year-old white male, was apprehended eight hours later.
Minutes after the parade began, the shooter opened fire on the crowd from a rooftop. The suspect initially evaded arrest by dressing up as a woman and blending in with the crowd.
Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said there was no indication that anyone else was involved or that the attack was "racially motivated, motivated by religion or any other protected status."
The suspect's motive may be unknown, but he had shown signs of mental disturbance. The suspect's father is being investigated for helping his son obtain a gun license two years ago, even though authorities had already labeled him a "clear and present danger" and had confiscated his extensive knife collection after he threatened to "kill everyone."
Victims of the Highland Park shooting range in age from 8 to 85. "Already," NPR reported, "the deaths from the shooting have left a two-year-old boy without parents, families mourning the loss of beloved grandparents and a synagogue grieving the death of a congregant who for decades had also worked on the staff." —Madeline Fry Schultz
Biden signs executive order to expand abortion access
President Joe Biden signed an executive order meant to expand abortion access on Friday. The order, among other things, addresses access to abortion-inducing medication and contraception and aims to provide mobile clinics and pro-bono lawyers to help women obtain abortions outside of states where it is outlawed. Biden called on the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to contraception and abortifacients.
The order directs Homeland Security to “address potential heightened safety and security risks related to the provision of reproductive healthcare services,” with no mention of the recent violent attacks on pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. Biden also called on the Federal Trade Commission to “to protect consumers’ privacy when seeking information about and provision of reproductive healthcare services.”
“I'm asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights,” Biden said in his announcement. Biden does not have the power to alter any of the recently enacted anti-abortion laws—abortion is now banned in almost all cases in nine states, with more abortion restrictions set to take place in others—and called on Congress to enact pro-abortion legislation. —MFS
Boris Johnson resigns as UK prime minister
After just shy of three years in leadership, a scandal-ridden Boris Johnson has resigned as prime minister of the United Kingdom. The resignation, which he announced on Thursday, came after a vote of no confidence last month and recent mass cabinet resignations.
"It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister," he said in his announcement.
"What did in Johnson was his constant bobbing, weaving and ducking," the Washington Post notes. "His dissembling. His prevarications over a series of scandals—coronavirus lockdown parties, the refurbishment of his official apartment and the appointment of an ally accused of sexual misconduct."
During the coronavirus pandemic, Johnson was fined for flouting the government's rules by attending his surprise birthday party at a time when millions of British citizens were barred from visiting their friends and family.
His legacy will be marked not only by his scandals but also "Brexit," his controversial decision to withdraw the UK from the European Union in 2020.
Johnson will remain at his post until the Conservative Party can vote on a new leader, which will likely take several weeks. However, even some members of his own party have called on Johnson to resign immediately. —MFS
Derek Chauvin is sentenced to 21 years in prison
Derek Chauvin was sentenced Thursday to 245 months—or just over 20 years—in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights on the day of his murder in 2020, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
The U.S. federal judge told the former Minneapolis police officer that his actions toward Floyd were "simply wrong" and "offensive."
As a result of his plea agreement, Chauvin will serve his new sentence in federal prison and will serve his state sentence there as well.
Eric Nelson, an attorney for Floyd, argued Floyd was killed when Chauvin pressed his knee against him while he lay on the ground, asking Chauvin for an opportunity to breathe.
Chauvin said he "wishes all the best" for Floyd's children. In December, Chauvin pled guilty to violating Floyd's civil rights and admitted that he kept his knee on Floyd's neck even after Floyd became unresponsive.
Chauvin was convicted on state charges of murder and manslaughter in a separate case and is already serving time in prison. —Melanie Wilcox
Simone Biles is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
On July 7, U.S. gymnast Simone Biles made history again, only this time it wasn't due to her gymnastic abilities; Biles became the youngest to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. During a ceremony at the White House, along with 16 other honorees, President Joe Biden bestowed the medal on Biles.
"Today, [Biles] adds to her medal count of 32—I don't know if you're going to find room," President Biden joked. Biden praised Biles for her ability "to turn personal pain into a greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves."
Biles is the most decorated gymnast in world championship history, but her impact in the sports world extends beyond her record-breaking performances. Biles has emphasized the importance of athletes prioritizing mental health after opting to sit out of the US Women's Gymnastic Team's team competition during the 2021 Olympics. Biles spoke publicly about the stresses that athletes face.
"I feel like it's hard, but it's harder being a female athlete because everybody prays for your downfall and wants you to mess up and all of that stuff," Biles said. "I don't think they take into consideration our mental health because what we do isn't easy or else everybody could do it. But also, at the end of the day, we're not just athletes or entertainment. We're human too and we have emotions and feelings and things that we're working through behind the scenes that we don't tell you guys about."
Additionally, Biles has publicly stood up for victims of sexual assault. Biles, along with several fellow teammates, testified about sexual abuse suffered at the hand of U.S. gymnastic trainer Larry Nassar, who is currently serving time in prison after being sentenced to up 175 years in prison for sexually assaulting hundreds of girls and women.
"Everybody asks, 'If you could go back, would you?'" Biles previously said of her life experiences. "No. I wouldn't change anything because everything happens for a reason. And I learned a lot about myself—courage, resilience, how to say no and speak up for yourself." —Gabriella Patti
Explosion damages Georgia monument that inspired conspiracy theories
A Georgia monument that has been the subject of many conspiracy theories was damaged after an explosion went off early Wednesday morning. Police have not revealed if they have any suspects, and the remainder of the monument was removed later in the day "for safety reasons."
The Georgia Guidestones was erected in 1980 thanks to an unknown donor. The Stone-Henge-like monument was made up of several large slabs of granite with instructions for "the conservation of mankind."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, "The inscriptions urge humanity to live harmoniously, rule fairly and protect the environment. But further instructions to limit the world population to 500 million and establish a world court have attracted criticism from fringe groups who fear the rise of a one world government or other baseless conspiracies."
Kandiss Taylor, a longshot Republican gubernatorial candidate, had made railing against the Guidestones a part of her campaign. After the explosion, she tweeted triumphantly, "God is God all by Himself. He can do ANYTHING He wants to do. That includes striking down Satanic Guidestones."
Elberton Mayor Daniel Graves said the destruction of the Guidestones was a blow to the community. "It is the stones themselves and the men and women who crafted them from the raw earth that tell the story," he said. "There is only one community in the world that could build such a monument." —MFS
World hunger spikes after Ukraine invasion
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has contributed to a surge in the global number of people who face hunger and famine. David Beasley, head of the UN World Food Program, said a Russia-induced spike in food, fuel, and fertilizer prices threatens to bring "global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale."
According to the UN's latest analysis, "a record 345 million acutely hungry people are marching to the brink of starvation," Beasley said. That's a 25 percent increase from the beginning of 2022, when the number was 276 million. Two years earlier, before the coronavirus pandemic, the number was 135 million.
This year's number may seem like a massive increase, but that doesn't mean it's done growing. "There's a real danger it will climb even higher in the months ahead," Beasley said. "Even more worrying is that when this group is broken down, a staggering 50 million people in 45 countries are just one step away from famine."
UN officials are working to ensure that Ukraine and Russia can globally export much-need resources. "Before the war, Ukraine and Russia together accounted for almost a third of the world's wheat and barley exports and half of its sunflower oil," NPR notes. "Russia and its ally Belarus, meanwhile, are the world's No. 2 and 3 producers of potash, a key ingredient of fertilizer."
UN officials also noted that the Ukraine war combined with the lingering pandemic and climate change have all contributed to the growing crisis. —MFS
Elon Musk fathers twins to his associate
Court documents show Elon Musk secretly fathered twins to Neuralink executive Shivon Zilis in November 2021, Business Insider reported Wednesday. Neuralink makes computer chips that can be implanted in the brain.
Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, Tesla, and Neuralink, has five children with his first wife, Justine, and two with his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Grimes. He tweeted Thursday he's trying to help the "underpopulation crisis."
Zilis was born in Ontario, Canada and worked at IBM, early-stage venture capital fund Bloomberg Beta, and Tesla, before joining Neuralink. —MW
"Gentleminions" TikTok trend disrupts showings of Minions: The Rise of Gru
As part of a new TikTok trend, movie theaters worldwide have been surprised by the appearance of young men in suits showing up to watch Minions: the Rise of Gru. The groups of mostly teenage boys, all dressed to the nines in suits and ties, are posting videos of themselves filing into theaters, surprising families as part of the #Gentleminions trend.
While mostly a harmless and wholesome prank, some theaters have begun to ban the gentleminions trend as some groups have let their enthusiasm escalate into activity that damaged theater property or disrupted fellow moviegoers.
The movie, which premiered over the July 4 weekend, for its part became a record-breaking hit, bringing in over $125 million in the United States and Canada. —GP
Good News of the Week
Actor Paul Rudd sent a sweet letter to a 12-year-old boy whose classmates would not sign his yearbook.
After Brody Riddler's mom shared a story about how his classmates would not sign his yearbook, the Ant-Man star sent a package with a letter and a signed Ant-Man helmet that reads: "To my good friend Brody for when he takes on the world!" Brody attends the Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado.
Brody's mom posted his letter on Facebook. Rudd wrote it's "important to remember that even when life is tough that things get better." He also said, "There are so many people that love you and think you're the coolest kid there is―me being one of them! I can't wait to see all the amazing things you're going to accomplish."
Rudd and Brody are on texting terms now, according to Brody's mom. A screenshot of a text exchange shows Brody telling Rudd he is his favorite superhero.
"You're mine," Rudd replied. —MW
Watch of the Week
On the occasion of Simone Biles' Presidential Medal of Freedom this week, let's take a moment to revisit some of the routines that made her the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time—and let's never forget the lesson she taught on not letting outside pressure keep us from taking care of ourselves.