Texas school shooting: 19 children and 2 teachers dead. Congressional hearings on baby formula shortage today. 1.1 million Afghan children face severe malnutrition this year.
Texas school shooting: 19 children and 2 teachers dead
The story of Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, TX, has moved on somewhat since the first reports emerged yesterday evening. The official death toll now stands at 19 children and two adults. There are also an unknown number of wounded still hospitalized locally and in San Antonio, some 85 miles east of Uvalde. It’s therefore possible that more could die.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified the shooter as Salvador Ramos, 18, who attended the local high school. Authorities have not offered a motive for Ramos’ actions, but say it appears he acted alone. He carried out his attack with a handgun and an AR-15 style rifle. Ramos was killed at the scene, reportedly by a Border Patrol agent who happened to be nearby and rushed in to help.
There are also reports that Ramos shot his grandmother before going to the school. She reportedly survived but her condition is unknown.
More information is also coming to light about the victims at the school. We know that the school houses grades 2-4 and that Ramos targeted children in all three grades. Relatives of some of the victims have confirmed their loved one’s deaths to reporters or on social media (click here for their names and photos) .
Teachers Eva Mireles, 44, and Irma Garcia, 46, died trying to protect their pupils. Mireles’ had been teaching for 17 years and was married with one child. Garcia taught for 23 years and was married with four children.
Uvalde is a town of about 16,000 people, about three-quarters of whom are Hispanic. Its most famous son is actor Matthew McConaughey.
The National Rifle Association will be holding its annual convention in Houston, TX, in a few days’ time.
Two Congressional hearings on baby formula shortage today
The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will be holding a hearing today about the causes of the nationwide infant formula shortage. Appearing will be representatives from the FDA, as well as executives of Abbott Laboratories, makers of Similac. The shortage got its start in February when Abbott shut down its Michigan factory. This came after four infants who consumed their formula became sick with Cronobacter sakazakii, which can cause meningitis. Two of the infants died.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies will hold a separate but related hearing.
The goal of the two hearings is to understand how the crisis happened and to prevent a similar one in future.
The House and Senate last week passed a bill to allow beneficiaries of the Women Infants and Children (WIC) supplemental program to purchase different brands of formula. The measure now awaits President Biden’s signature. Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to speed deliveries of raw materials to baby formula manufacturers. Shipments of baby formula are also being flown in from Europe to help make up for the shortfall.
1.1 million Afghan children face severe malnutrition this year
Rising poverty, drought, supply issues, and inflation have conspired worsen the problem of child hunger in Afghanistan. UN groups have mobilized to deliver emergency aid and set up temporary facilities to help needy families. But aid groups are fighting an uphill battle with insufficient resources. According to IPC, a partnership between the UN and other aid agencies, $4.4 billion is needed to meaningfully address the current crisis. So far, the international community has pledged just $2 billion and delivered only $601 million.
Following the Taliban takeover in August, aid groups pulled out for safety reasons and international sanctions blocked billions in Afghan government funds held abroad from entering the country. The US initially withheld some $7 billion belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank. In February, President Biden decided to split it in half, pledging $3.5 billion to Afghanistan and $3.5 billion to 9/11 families’ legal funds. But even the $3.5 billion destined for Afghanistan has not been delivered.
By December last year, about half the country had plunged below the poverty line. That could rise to 97% by mid-2022.
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