The New York Times reports the Food and Drug Administration is planning to issue stricter guidelines on any emergency use authorization of a coronavirus vaccine — even as President Trump promises a vaccine will be available as early as next month. The FDA’s emerging guidelines would affirm the warnings of researchers, who say they can’t guarantee the safety or efficacy of any of the vaccines currently in clinical trials in such a short period of time.
Utah Republican senator Mitt Romney said Tuesday he will support a floor vote for President Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at the age of 87.
Sen. Mitt Romney: “My liberal friends have, over many decades, gotten very used to the idea of having a liberal court. And that’s not written in the stars.”
Romney’s announcement means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the support of 51 Republican senators — enough to rapidly push forward with a vote on Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
There are just 41 days remaining before the November election. In 2016, McConnell refused to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died nearly nine months before the election. At the time, McConnell said, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”
Louisville, Kentucky, remains in a state of emergency as the city prepares for a grand jury decision in the police killing of Breonna Taylor. Police fatally shot the 26-year-old Black emergency room technician in her own home on March 13. Ahead of the announcement, the Louisville Police Department announced it is conducting an internal review of six officers involved in the shooting and raid.
One of the officers being investigated, Sergeant Jon Mattingly, has defended his actions. In an email to 1,000 other officers, Mattingly wrote, “Regardless of the outcome today or Wednesday, I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night.” In the email, he also called protesters “thugs,” saying, “This is not an us against society, but it is good versus evil.”
The Nation magazine is reporting federal officials with the Justice Department and Homeland Security have intercepted the phone communications of protesters in Portland. The Nation reports the surveillance involved cellphone cloning, where the government steals a phone’s unique identifiers and copies them to another device in order to intercept the communications received by the original device. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has called for a full investigation. He wrote on Twitter, “The Trump admin has treated the people of Portland like enemy combatants. These tactics—like cell phone cloning to spy on protestors—are unacceptable in America.”
In Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko was abruptly sworn in at a secret ceremony today amid ongoing anti-government protests demanding that the longtime authoritarian leader resign. The opposition denounced the ceremony as illegitimate, following Lukashenko’s landslide win in last month’s election, which critics say was rigged.
In Cleveland, Ohio, a 28-year-old transgender woman, who died in her cell at Cuyahoga County Jail last month, left a hidden letter denouncing the jail’s horrid conditions. The letter was found by her mother after picking up her daughter’s belongings. In the letter, Lea Daye wrote prisoners were served food that was cold, smelled bad and tasted like cleaning chemicals. Daye said the jail also failed to provide cleaning supplies and that the conditions had only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports her mother says Daye was being held in an area of the jail reserved for men. Questions remain on what caused her death.
In immigration news, women imprisoned at Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia are no longer being sent to the physician accused of administering hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures without consent. An attorney working on the investigation said Tuesday Dr. Mahendra Amin saw at least 60 women imprisoned at Irwin, which is privately run. Whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a former nurse at Irwin, labeled Amin “the uterus collector.”
Mexico’s government is demanding U.S. authorities address allegations of forced sterilizations at Irwin, where at least six Mexican women may have had unwanted hysterectomies. This is Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard speaking Tuesday.
Marcelo Ebrard: “It is something that is unacceptable, and we reject it beforehand. Even in the United States there is a reaction from important groups which we have been in contact with. This has to be cleared up. If it is confirmed, it will be a major issue and not only punished, but also other measures would be taken.”
In California, immigration rights advocates continue to denounce Governor Gavin Newsom’s orders to transfer people from state prisons to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This comes as The Guardian reports 41-year-old Kao Saelee, who fought wildfires as an incarcerated firefighter in 2018 and 2019, was transferred to ICE custody last month, the day of his prison release. After 22 years behind bars for a robbery he committed as a teen, Saelee was sent to an immigration prison in Louisiana and is now facing deportation to Laos, the country his family fled when he was just 2 years old.
New questions are being raised over why the Census Bureau cut short its data collection for the census by a month. A new report by the Commerce Department’s internal watchdog reveals the decision did not come from the director of the Census Bureau. In a report, the watchdog stated, “The schedule change was not the Bureau’s decision … Senior officials at the Bureau, including the Director, did not know who ultimately made the decision to accelerate the Census schedule.” The watchdog report also reveals there is a consensus within the bureau that shortening the length of the data collection will “negatively impact the accuracy” of the census.
In Terre Haute, Indiana, federal prison officials strapped condemned prisoner William LeCroy to a gurney Tuesday evening and injected him with a single dose of the drug pentobarbital. Witnesses to the execution report LeCroy’s eyelids grew heavy and his midsection heaved uncontrollably for several minutes before his lips turned blue and he fell still. LeCroy was pronounced dead just after 9 p.m. local time. It was the sixth federal execution since the Trump administration ended a 17-year hiatus on federal death sentences. On Thursday, Christopher Vialva is scheduled to become the seventh federal prisoner to die by lethal injection this year.
A new audit reveals the University of California admitted at least 64 wealthy, mostly white students as “favors to donors, family and friends” over the past six academic years. The audit looked into admissions policies starting in 2013 at four UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, where 42 applicants who were children of staff and major donors were admitted over other more qualified students. At other campuses, applicants were falsely designated as student-athlete recruits even as they had “little or no athletic skill.” The California state auditor says the admission of at least 400 other students was also “questionable.”