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Members of the Bad Asian and Civic Walls groups paint a mural near Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta in remembrance of the eight lives lost at the three spa shootings last week. Photo: Megan Varner via Getty Images

The 21-year-old white man who confessed to opening fire at three Atlanta-area spas and killing eight people, including six Asian women, has been charged with "malice murder" and aggravated assault, a county sheriff said Monday.

Why it matters: The killings spurred nationwide outrage over anti-Asian violence in the U.S. Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders and public officials have called for police to rule the shootings a hate crime, arguing that law enforcement are unable to recognize a case of anti-Asian hate.

Details: Robert Aaron Long already faced eight charges of murder. The Cherokee Sheriff's Office also earlier charged him with one count of assault.

  • Malice murder is an offense in Georgia alleging implied or express malice. It's unclear whether a racial motive has been ruled out.

What they're saying: "In an effort to preserve the case for prosecution, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office will not be making any additional comments about this case at this time," the sheriff's office said in a statement to news outlets.

The big picture: Anti-Asian racism has been on the rise since the pandemic started, with Asian women more than twice as likely to report hate incidents than Asian men, per Stop AAPI Hate.

  • Over 183 national organizations led by AAPI groups are calling on President Biden to set aside $300 million for addressing anti-Asian hate.
  • Last week, the president urged passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would improve hate crime tracking and tap a Justice Department official for reviewing COVID-related hate crimes, among other things.

Go deeper: Why attacks against the AAPI community are difficult to prosecute as hate crimes

Go deeper

Scoop: Ukraine gives U.S. senators specific asks on Russia sanctions, military aid

Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

The chairman of Ukraine's parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian government is leaning on Congress — and a bipartisan group of senators negotiating compromise language on sanctions that could pass the Senate — in an effort to push the U.S. posture beyond the Biden administration's approach.

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.