Outside the Purple Bubble

Former Navy reservist kills 12, wounds others at military facility 

Aaron Alexis, a former naval reservist in Fort Worth, shot and killed 12 people at the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters at Washington Navy Yard in the nation’s capital last Monday. All of the victims are believed to be civilians or military contractors. Federal authorities believe Alexis worked alone despite the appearance of two other armed men in the security footage.

Officials say Alexis entered the facility around 8 a.m. using his information technology contractor clearance code. He shot an officer and another person outside Building 197, the Sea Systems Command headquarters. Alexis aimed at employees eating in the cafeteria from the upper atrium after entering the building. Though police officers found an AR-15 assault rifle, a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol on Alexis, officials do not know whether he brought all of the guns or took one or more from his victims.

Eight people were injured. Three suffered gunshot wounds, while others experienced falls or complained of chest pains. The names of the 12 victims were released over last Monday and last Tuesday: Kathy Gaarde, 62; Gerald L. Read, 58; Sylvia Fraser, 53; John Roger Johnson, 73; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 45; Martin Bodrog, 54; Arthur Daniels, 51; Michael Arnold, 59; Mary Francis Knight, 51; Frank Kohler, 50; Vishnu Schalchendia Pandit, 61; and Richard Michael Ridgell, 52.

Brazilian president delays visit to U.S. over spying controversy

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff announced yesterday that she would postpone her scheduled state visit to the U.S. in response to the revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on her, her top aides and Brazilian oil giant Petrobras. Rousseff’s decision – based in part on her reaction to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s exposé of the agency’s intelligence collection – could undo years of diplomatic efforts to bolster Brazilian-American relations.

News reports in recent weeks about NSA spying on Brazil irked Rousseff, and her government demanded a full explanation from the American executive branch. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Brazil in mid-August did not address the nation’s concerns and officials in Brasilía publicly criticized his explanations, calling them inadequate. Vice President Joseph Biden called the Brazilian president to ease tensions, but was also unsuccessful. President Barack Obama spoke with Rousseff for 20 minutes last Monday night, but was unable to persuade her to make the trip to the U.S., which was scheduled for late October.

Median income and poverty rate remain steady

Last year, rates of poverty and median income in the U.S. held steady, according to the Census Bureau’s major annual report on earnings, insurance and poverty released yesterday. The report shows an economy with about 46.5 million people living in poverty during 2012.

Adjusted for inflation, median household income stayed at $51,017 during 2011 and 2012. Though down about 9 percent from an inflation-adjusted peak of $56,080 in 1999, the economy has grown approximately 28 percent in the years since. In addition, income is down about 8.3 percent since 2007, when the economy started to contract.

The national poverty rate remained at 15 percent throughout 2012, about 2.5 percentage points higher than before the economic downturn of 2008. Neither the number nor the proportion of American citizens living in poverty changed between 2011 and 2012, with no racial or ethnic group experiencing significant changes from a statistical point of view.

The census data also shows that the top 5 percent of earners, defined in the report as those accruing more than $191,000 per year, have recuperated a good portion of their losses and took in nearly as much in 2012 as they did before the recession hit. In contrast, the bottom 80 percent of the income distribution defined by the Census Bureau are, on average, making considerably less than before the recession hit in 2008.

Coronation of Miss America sparks racial backlash

Nina Davuluri, an Indian-American woman from New York was named Miss America last Sunday. As the first Indian-American woman to win the famed prize, she is recieving blowback on social media sites and in person in the form of racialized hatred. While often these women incur daily messages of sexist proclamation, Davuluri also must endure how “un-American it is that a Muslim Indian was crowed Miss America.” Despite the fact that she is not a Muslim, this kind of racial and anti-Islamic language continues to follow her due to her Indian-American heritage.

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