First Thing: Names of Virginia Walmart shooting victims released

<span>Photograph: Jay Paul/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Jay Paul/Reuters

Good morning.

The six people killed by a gunman at a Walmart store in southern Virginia late on Tuesday have been named, in the latest mass shooting to strike the US, this time shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday.

A witness, Jessie Wilczewski, told a local TV station that the gunman began shooting at a group of about 14 employees gathered in a meeting room at the start of their shift in the store, in the city of Chesapeake.

Wilczewski said the shooter was a manager who targeted other managers, firing from left to right. “It didn’t even look real,” Wilczewski said, describing “the pow, pow, pow” of the gun.

Briana Tyler, another employee, told ABC workers were gathered as part of their regular routine before their shifts. “I looked up, and my manager just opened the door and he just opened fire,” Tyler said. “He was just shooting all throughout the room. It didn’t matter who he hit. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at anybody in any specific type of way,” she said.

  • ‘It’s the guns’. Twenty-two people have been killed and 44 injured by guns in Thanksgiving week, as 2022 shapes up to be one of the worst years in recent memory. But the public response has fallen quickly and predictably into patterns all too familiar to observers of America’s gun crisis.

Justice department asks Pence to testify in Trump investigation

Former vice-president Mike Pence waves after speaking at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, last Friday, in Las Vegas.
Former vice-president Mike Pence waves after speaking at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, last Friday, in Las Vegas. Photograph: John Locher/AP

The US Department of Justice has asked Mike Pence to testify in its investigation of Donald Trump’s election subversion and the former vice-president was considering the request, sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Guardian.

Last week, Pence said he would not testify to the House January 6 committee, telling CBS: “Congress has no right to my testimony on separation of powers under the constitution of the United States. And I believe it will establish a terrible precedent for the Congress to summon a vice-president of the United States to speak about deliberations that took place at the White House.”

Pence also said the committee, made up of seven Democrats and two Republicans, was too partisan. The chair and vice-chair of the panel, Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, rejected that charge.

  • Did Trump commit a crime in connection with the events of January 6? Pence told NBC on Sunday: “I don’t know if it is criminal to listen to bad advice from lawyers.”

In other news …

Mary Peltola (second right) celebrates with her family and supporters Anchorage, Alaska as ranked-choice tabulations were announced on Wednesday.
Mary Peltola (second right) celebrates with her family and supporters in Anchorage, Alaska, as ranked-choice tabulations were announced on Wednesday. Photograph: Loren Holmes/AP
  • Mary Peltola, the first Alaska Native in Congress, retains her seat. Peltola beat former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in Alaska’s newly adopted ranked-choice voting system.

  • Oldest cooked leftovers ever found suggest Neanderthals were foodies. Charred remnants of what appears to be the world’s oldest cooked meal ever found – “a sort of pancake-cum-flatbread”, made with seeds – have been unearthed in a cave complex in northern Iraq.

  • A five-year-old boy has been rescued from the rubble left by an earthquake in Indonesia that killed 271 and left many others trapped with time running out to save them. Azka, who had been trapped for two days, appeared conscious and calm as he was lifted to safety.

  • Chinese police beat protesting iPhone factory workers complaining about pay and conditions. Apple warned of iPhone 14 delivery delays as videos online showed thousands of people in masks facing rows of police in white protective suits with plastic riot shields.

World Cup

Another day, another big shock at the World Cup. On Wednesday, it was the four-time champions Germany who suffered an upset as they lost to Japan 2-1. “The national team made a fool of themselves,” said German newspaper Bild under the headline “Debacle start for Germany!” It doesn’t get much easier for the Germans, who face 2010 champions Spain in their next match, on Sunday. It gets worse: Spain were excellent as they beat Costa Rica 7-0 in their opener.

Elsewhere, Canada returned to the World Cup for the first time since 1986 and outplayed the world’s No 2 side, Belgium. But a missed penalty cost the Canadians as they lost 1-0.

Despite the Germans’ painful result, they won plaudits for their moral stand. After Fifa warned seven nations that they will face sporting sanctions if their captains wear OneLove armbands during matches, Germany responded with a protest. Six players wore boots with rainbow stitching against Japan, while the entire German squad sported tops with rainbow colours on their sleeves in the warm up.

Elsewhere at the World Cup:

  • Japan fans are renowned for handing out plastic bags and calmly clearing up their trash after matches. They did the same after the Germany match, although no doubt the result made them feel even more generous.

  • South Korea star Son Heung-min will be in action against Uruguay at 8am ET. On his day, he is one of the best players in the world but suffered a fractured eye socket just a few weeks ago and will play in a mask against Uruguay’s notoriously tough defenders.

  • Brazil make their 2022 tournament debut at 2pm ET today. They are a well-balanced team and stand a good chance of capturing their sixth World Cup title. They are up against Serbia, who boast two in-form strikers, Aleksandar Mitrović and Dušan Vlahović. Today’s other game matches up Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal with Ghana (11am ET).

Stat of the day: gene therapy at $3.5m a dose approved for US adults with hemophilia B

FDA sign
US health regulators on Tuesday approved the first gene therapy for hemophilia, a $3.5m treatment that paves the way for new options in treating the blood-clotting disorder. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

There is a new most expensive medicine in the world. US drug regulators have just approved a one-off gene-therapy treatment for adults with the genetic blood disorder hemophilia B for $3.5m a dose. A study found it can significantly improve the quality of life among people suffering with the disease.

But the cost of Hemgenix raises questions about whether it will be widely adopted. It follows the release of the first new Alzheimer’s treatment in almost two decades to gain approval in the US. It flopped in the marketplace after treatment was listed at $60,000 a year and insurers questioned its effectiveness.

Don’t miss this: ‘I used to go to great lengths for a drink before a football match’

Croatia fans hold alcohol-free Budweiser Zeros inside the stadium before their country’s opening group game against Morocco.
Croatia fans hold alcohol-free Budweiser Zeros inside the stadium before their country’s opening group game against Morocco. Photograph: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters

After Qatar’s last-minute U-turn on allowing the consumption of alcohol within World Cup football stadiums, Adrian Chiles sardonically invites us to consider the Saudi Arabian fans this week, “beside themselves with astonished joy as their team beat Argentina. Poor souls. If only they were allowed to drink alcohol, they’d have been able to enjoy it properly, thought no one.”

The broadcaster and columnist pays tribute to “the capacity to achieve intoxication without the benefit of alcohol” – a state of being he suggests he is ambling towards. “Whether I can achieve intoxication without the benefit of football is another matter.”

Climate check: could hemp be a key tool in fight against global heating?

Hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can grow 4 metres high in 100 days.
Hemp is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can grow 4 metres high in 100 days. Photograph: Andreas Hauslbetz/Alamy

Hemp could be twice as effective as trees at absorbing and locking up carbon, with 1 hectare of hemp thought to absorb 8 to 22 tonnes of CO2 a year, more than any woodland. But, as Jeremy Plester writes, in all the debates on how to curb global heating, hemp – better known as cannabis, though modern varieties of hemp are too weak to use as narcotics – is hardly mentioned.

“The CO2 is also permanently fixed in the hemp fibres, which can go on to be used for many commodities including textiles, medicines, insulation for buildings and concrete; BMW is even using it to replace plastics in various car parts.”

Last Thing: Ancient Apocalypse is the most dangerous show on Netflix

Ancient Apocalypse has been comfortably sitting in Netflix’s Top 10 list for several days. “This presents something of a mystery, because the show closely resembles the sort of half-baked filler documentary that one of the lesser Discovery channels would slap up at 3am between shows about plane crashes and fascist architecture,” writes Stuart Heritage.

The far out documentary series proposes that an advanced ice-age civilisation was wiped out in a giant flood about 12,000 years ago and survivors somehow travelled to less affected areas to teach other humans maths, architecture and agriculture. If host Graham Hancock is right, it would turn archaeology on its head.

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