It’s Thursday June 15, 2017



Seven people were killed and 59 injured in an explosion Thursday at the front gate of a kindergarten in eastern China as relatives were picking up their children at the end of the school day. Chinese officials said the blast at the Chuangxin Kindergarten in Fengxian, which struck at 4:50 p.m., was under investigation. It's located near Shanghai. The official newspaper Global Times reported on its website that the incident was caused by the explosion of a gas cylinder at a roadside food stall, citing a witness. However it remains unclear whether the explosion was deliberately set or the result of an accident. Kindergartens in China have been targeted before in apparent revenge attacks carried out by mentally ill people or those bearing grudges against their neighbors and society. The local government said two people died at the scene and five others died at a hospital. At least four others were seriously injured.



The United States is condemning the overnight attack on a popular restaurant in Somalia's capital that police say left at least 31 people dead. A statement Thursday by the U.S. mission to Somalia says many of the victims had been breaking their daily Ramadan fast when the attack began Wednesday night. The statement says the Muslim holy month of Ramadan "is a time of spiritual reflection and increased piety, which makes the timing of this attack all the more atrocious." The statement calls the attack by extremist group al-Shabab "barbaric."



A United Parcel Service driver opened fire on a meeting of his co-workers and killed three other drivers at a UPS facility in San Francisco on Wednesday. Witnesses said the alleged attacker, identified as Jimmy Lam, walked up and shot one driver, Benson Louie, then shot another colleague, Wayne Chan, as he and other employees tried to flee. The third victim, Mike Lefiti, was shot in the street. Two other workers were wounded. Lam, 38, reportedly then fatally shot himself in front of police. Lam had filed a complaint in March that the package delivery company was assigning him excessive overtime and requesting that he be relieved of extra hours in the future, according to Joseph Cilia, an official with a Teamsters Union that represents UPS workers in San Francisco.



House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana remained in critical condition overnight after he and four others were wounded Wednesday, by a gunman who opened fire on lawmakers and staffers practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, for a charity baseball game. Police said the shooter - James T. Hodgkinson - was a 66-year-old unemployed home inspector from southern Illinois who was angry about the election of President Trump. Hodgkinson was killed in a shootout with members of a Capitol Police detail assigned to protect Scalise because of his leadership position. Two members of Scalise's security detail, officers David Bailey and Crystal Griner, were injured, as were congressional aide Zachary Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika. Hodgkinson had made anti-Trump posts to his Facebook page and accused Republicans of supporting policies that favored the wealthy over the poor. He had been living in his van near Washington, D.C., for several months. Vice President Mike Pence paid a visit to Scalise Thursday morning at MedStar Washington Hospital Center on Thursday morning a day after President Trump and the First Lady made a similar visit. After the hospital visit, Pence headed to Miami for a conference on Central America and meetings with the leaders of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. The congressional baseball game that Scalise and others were practicing for, pits Republicans against Democrats. The popular annual face-off, which raises money for charity, is scheduled to go forward as planned Thursday evening at Nationals Park in Washington.



Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public inquiry into the high-rise fire in West London. The British leader made the decision Thursday shortly after making a private visit to the site where at least 17 people were killed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but experts have said that it was highly unusual because of the speed with which the tower was engulfed in flame. Authorities said the death toll could still rise, because they don't expect to find any more survivors. Entire families remained missing a day after the blaze engulfed every floor of the 24-story building, and 74 people were injured, 18 of them critically. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told Sky News, "The severity and the heat of the fire will mean that it will be an absolute miracle for anyone to be left alive." More than 200 firefighters who responded to the fire have finally finished extinguishing the last of the flames as of early Thursday, but parts of the building located in west London's North Kensington district remained unsafe.



An Ohio hospital spokeswoman says the American college student who was released by North Korea in a coma suffered a "severe neurological injury." Kelly Martin of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Thursday that Otto Warmbier is in stable condition after arriving at the hospital two days ago. Doctors plan a news conference on campus later Thursday. His father said Thursday he does not believe North Korea's explanation that the coma resulted from botulism and a sleeping pill. Fred Warmbier said there's relief to have their son home in the arms of those who love him and anger that he was so brutally treated for so long.



Russian President Vladimir Putin says former FBI Director James Comey's acknowledgement that he had given memos of his conversations with President Donald Trump to a friend who leaked them to the media is "weird." Speaking Thursday in live call-in show, Putin compared Comey's move to that of NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of secret documents from the National Security Agency. Putin added on a sarcastic note that Russia could grant Comey political asylum. Snowden has been living in Russia since 2013 when it gave him asylum, resisting U.S. pressure to extradite him. Comey told Congress last week that he leaked his memos of his conversations with Trump to a friend, after a tweet by the president suggested he may have taped the conversations.



Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will testify in open session before the House intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russian interference in last year's election campaign. The panel announced Thursday that Johnson will testify June 21. Last week, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said the committee would ask Johnson to testify about interactions former President Barack Obama's administration had with secretaries of state and local election officials about the dangers the Russian hacking posed to election systems. The Senate intelligence committee has also interviewed Johnson in connection with its investigation of Russian activities during last year's election campaign.



President Trump made new revisions to his travel ban, which has been frozen by courts, to keep it from expiring Wednesday as the Supreme Court considers whether to revive the policy. Trump, arguing his administration needed time to tighten vetting to keep out terrorists, had proposed banning travel from six mostly Muslim nations "for 90 days from the effective date of this order." Groups led by the International Refugee Assistance Project challenged the ban, telling the Supreme Court this week that it would expire June 14 as written. The change starts the 90-day ban when court orders blocking the order are lifted. Two federal trial judges have blocked the ban, saying it unconstitutionally targeted Muslims, but neither ruling addressed the matter of when Trump's order would expire. The administration turned to the Supreme Court after two appeals courts upheld the core of both rulings.



Polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured after being on the run for nearly a year. FBI spokeswoman Sandra Barker said Thursday morning that Jeffs was arrested in South Dakota Wednesday evening. Authorities had been looking for Jeffs since June 18, 2016, when he escaped from home confinement in Salt Lake City pending trial on charges in an alleged multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme. Jeffs is the brother of the sect's highest leader, the imprisoned Warren Jeffs. Prosecutors said Lyle Jeffs was a flight risk, but U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart let him out in early June 2016, citing the fact that 10 other defendants in the food stamp fraud case already out had complied with the court's conditions.



A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the government to conduct a new environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, saying the original review was inadequate. The ruling marked a limited victory for tribal opponents of the 1,170-mile pipeline project, although U.S. District Judge James Boasberg did not order the pipeline's operators to stop pumping oil through the now-completed pipeline. Boasberg wrote that the Army Corps of Engineers, which permitted the project, "did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial." Boasberg said opponents' request to halt the flow of oil was a "separate question" he will consider later.



The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised its benchmark short-term interest rate for the third straight quarter in a sign of confidence in the economy. At the end of a two-day meeting, Fed policy makers lifted the interest rate by a quarter percentage point to a range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent, and said they were sticking to their forecast of one more interest rate increase this year. They also announced a plan to reduce the $4.5 trillion portfolio in Treasury and mortgage-backed securities the central bank accumulated as part of its effort to stimulate the economy after the 2008 financial crisis. Fed leaders said that with inflation nearing their 2 percent target and the employment market improving, they believe the economy can continue gaining strength on its own. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said, "We continue to feel the economy is doing well."



The aerialist wife of daredevil Nik Wallenda has successfully hung by her teeth from a helicopter over Niagara Falls. Erendira Wallenda was tethered to a hoop suspended from a helicopter 300 feet above the water Thursday. After performing a few acrobatic maneuvers, she briefly hung twice by her teeth with the use of a tethered mouth guard in between hanging upside-down by her toes for a few seconds. The Wallendas say the stunt broke a height record Nik Wallenda set in 2011 when he hung by his teeth 250 feet above Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. The 36-year-old mother of three spent about eight minutes of the 10-minute stunt hovering over the falls. Thursday's performance came on the fifth anniversary of Nik Wallenda's televised high-wire walk over Niagara Falls.