Why domestic terrorism is hard to fight
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, federal officials were given broad powers to disrupt foreign terrorist plots, but the mass shooting in El Paso over the weekend underscores how few options the authorities have at home.
The massacre in Texas was the largest domestic terrorist attack against Hispanics in modern history, and President Trump promised on Monday to give the authorities “whatever they need.” The motive for the weekend’s second attack, in Dayton, Ohio, remains unknown.
The challenges include a federal statute that defines domestic terrorism but carries no penalties, and that the First Amendment makes stopping terrorist acts before they happen more difficult. Focusing on white-supremacist violence would also test whether Americans are as accepting of aggressive law enforcement tactics when the suspects aren’t Muslims.
Yesterday: Mr. Trump called on the country to “condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy” but did not endorse gun control measures. He connected the attacks, which killed a total of 31 people, to mental illness, video games and “the perils of the internet and social media.”
Related: Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University, said the evidence was clear that violent video games are not a risk factor for serious acts of aggression. “The data on bananas causing suicide is about as conclusive,” he said.
News analysis: Mr. Trump and his allies are adamant that he bears no blame for extremist violence, but the echoes of his rhetoric in the El Paso gunman’s anti-immigrant manifesto are clear, our correspondent writes.
The lives that were lost
The death toll in the shooting at an El Paso Walmart rose to 22 on Monday, after two victims died at a hospital. Among those killed were Jordan and Andre Anchondo, who were shopping with their 2-month-old. The baby was grazed by a bullet.
In Dayton, the police were trying to determine a motive after nine people were killed. Those who knew the 24-year-old gunman said that as a high school student he had compiled a list of names annotated with threats of violence, mostly against girls.
Closer look: Here’s what we know about the victims in Ohio, who included the gunman’s sister.
Markets stabilize after threat from China
Global stocks were largely calm today after signs that Beijing would not immediately deploy the value of its currency as a weapon in its trade war with the U.S.
Futures markets indicated that Wall Street would open modestly lower, a day after China let its currency weaken and the S&P 500 fell nearly 3 percent, its worst day of the year.
The Treasury Department responded to that fall by labeling China a currency manipulator. It’s mostly a symbolic action, but the Trump administration will work with the International Monetary Fund to neutralize the effects of the currency drop.
Explainer: A weaker Chinese currency could blunt the effects of President Trump’s tariffs. But it may hurt China in other ways.
A quarter of humanity is running out of water
Seventeen countries, home to one-fourth of the world’s population, use almost all the water they have, according to a report published today.
Many are arid, while some squander supplies. Climate change makes the risks increasingly urgent. Although a drought in Southern California ended this year, the water supply in Los Angeles isn’t keeping pace with demand.
What’s next: The report by the World Resources Institute noted that a lot can be done to improve water management, including plugging leaks in distribution systems. Wastewater can be recycled, and farmers can switch to less thirsty crops — from rice to millet, for instance.
Another angle: European researchers said on Monday that July was the hottest month ever recorded. The global average temperature was about 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit (0.04 Celsius) hotter than the previous record-holder, July 2016.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
Woodstock’s contradictions, 50 years later
The music festival in 1969 was an epiphany and an indulgence, and, with five decades of hindsight, it still poses questions about utopian ideals and our relationship to them today.
A Times music critic, Jon Pareles, was there and writes, “I have been to dozens of festivals since then, and none have been so makeshift, so precarious or so revelatory.”
Here’s what else is happening
China warns protesters: An official in Beijing said today that protesters in Hong Kong had “exceeded the scope of free assembly” and warned them not to “take restraint as weakness.”
Clampdown in Kashmir: India’s Hindu-led government revoked the autonomy of the predominantly Muslim region. We explained the 70-year history of conflict there.
New Venezuela sanctions: President Trump escalated his campaign to remove President Nicolás Maduro from office, signing an order that freezes his government’s property and assets.
Sentence in pipe bomb case: Cesar Sayoc Jr., who pleaded guilty to mailing 16 bombs last fall to people he considered enemies of President Trump, was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Additional charges for R. Kelly: The singer, who has already been charged with sexual assault, child pornography and obstruction of justice, was charged in Minneapolis with two counts of engaging in prostitution with a minor.
Newspaper merger: GateHouse Media agreed to buy Gannett, which owns USA Today, for about $1.4 billion. The new company would control more than 260 daily newspapers in the U.S.
Snapshot: Above, Tzuchi Lin and Yingtung Huang during their pre-wedding photo shoot. Such pictures have become a multi-billion-dollar business in the Instagram age — particularly for Asian couples — and the Greek island of Santorini is a favored setting.
Late-night comedy: The hosts all addressed the weekend’s shootings and criticized the lack of action in Washington. “We’re not going to solve America’s gun problems in half an hour, but we’ll probably do more than Congress,” Trevor Noah said.
What we’re reading: This article in The Christian Science Monitor. “This colorful story challenges the stereotype of rural America as a place of exodus,” says our Colorado-based national correspondent, Jack Healy, “by portraying young farmers moving back to start small farms and small businesses.”
Now, a break from the news
Read: Sarah Elaine Smith’s debut novel, “Marilou Is Everywhere,” is a coming-of-age mystery about what it’s like to be an outsider.
Smarter Living: People have lots of questions about Social Security, which is expected to pay $1.1 trillion to 69 million recipients of retirement and disability benefits this year. The Times answered some of those questions, including the big one: Can it last? (Yes, but …)
And if you’re investing in the stock market, beware of self-serving bias.
And now for the Back Story on …
Panning for gold
Twenty years after the California Gold Rush of the 1850s, Finland had its own gold-inspired migration. Only fitting, then, that the Finnish village of Tankavaara is hosting this year’s World Gold Panning Championships, which run through Saturday.
Using a pan to hunt for nuggets isn’t especially efficient, and it’s rarely done commercially. But it has become an inexpensive outdoor hobby around the world.
The incentive? Gold prices are surging. On Monday, trade-war fears pushed the per-ounce price to as much as $1,468.31, not terribly far from the all-time high of $1,917.90.
Panning works just like it does in old Westerns: You scoop alluvial deposits into an angled pan and gently agitate it in the water. The gold sinks.
Pros say that because of its density, gold is usually found behind a rock where water eddies in a stream.
Before you jump in, find out where panning is legal or get the landowner’s permission. And keep in mind that you’re most likely to turn up flakes, not nuggets.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Melina Delkic helped compile this briefing. Mark Josephson and Eleanor Stanford provided the break from the news. Victoria Shannon, on the briefings team, wrote today’s Back Story. You can reach the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about 8chan, the online message board linked to several mass shootings.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Large horned mammal (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The reporter David McCabe of Axios is joining The Times to help cover tech policy in Washington.