The U.S. recorded 62,000 new coronavirus infections and over 1,500 deaths Thursday as governors continue to roll back public health measures.
In Europe, Demark, Norway and Iceland have suspended use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of severe cases of blood clots — and one death — in vaccinated people. It’s not known if the vaccine caused the clots, and European Union regulators say the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks.
Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that Biden administration officials have denied requests to ship millions of stockpiled doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from Ohio and Maryland to countries desperate to use them — even though the vaccine is not approved for use in the United States.
The U.N. says over 88 million people around the world were facing acute hunger by the end of 2020, and some 34 million are now on the brink of famine. This is The World Food Programme’s David Beasley.
David Beasley: ”WFP estimates that at least 34 million people are knocking on the door of famine. These looming famines have two things in common: They are primarily driven by conflict, and they are entirely preventable.”
Beasley said Yemen is heading toward “the biggest famine in modern history” and many parts of the country feel like “hell on Earth” after years of food shortages and destruction brought on by the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led war. We’ll have more on Yemen later in the show with CNN correspondent Nima Elbagir.
Humanitarian groups are also raising the alarm for millions in Ethiopia’s Tigray region amid the ongoing conflict, which has prevented the delivery of food and other aid.
President Biden is meeting virtually today with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia for the first-ever Quad summit. Participating nations said ahead of the meeting they will be discussing trade, the climate crisis and vaccines, but the informal group is largely seen as a strategic bloc against China. Beijing has accused the Quad of perpetuating a Cold War mentality.
In Texas, Austin police officer Christopher Taylor has been arrested on murder charges in connection to the killing of Michael Ramos, a 42-year-old Black Latinx man who was shot to death by police last April after a 911 caller falsely reported he had a gun. It’s the first known case of an Austin police officer being charged with murder. Video of Ramos’s final moments showed him holding his hands up and shouting that he was unarmed, when an officer shot him with a bean bag round. After Ramos retreated to his car and tried to drive away, officer Taylor opened fire with a rifle, hitting Ramos three times. He was pronounced dead later that evening.
In Minnesota, a judge has reinstated third-degree murder charges against Derek Chauvin, the white former police officer who killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes last May. Jurors will also have the option to convict Chauvin on second-degree murder or manslaughter charges. Of the six jurors selected in Chauvin’s trial so far, three are white men, and one is Black. Civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong said in response, “We need people who have a history of understanding … the context of what’s happening in this country, and how what happened to George Floyd is a perpetuation of the lynchings Black people experienced, time and time again.” Click here to see our full interview with Nekima Levy Armstrong.
Meanwhile, Judge Peter Cahill has also said he won’t allow “character evidence” of George Floyd during the trial, such as describing Floyd as a peaceful person or referring to him as a “gentle giant” — as he was known to friends and family.
In California, a new report is denouncing the Los Angeles Police Department’s violent mishandling of racial justice protests last summer, sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. The report, commissioned by the City Council, cites LAPD’s illegal detention of peaceful protesters and the officers’ excessive use of force, including assaulting protesters with rubber bullets, bean bags and batons.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s state Senate passed a bill Thursday that would make it a crime to taunt a police officer. The legislation follows huge protests for Black lives in the wake of the police killing of Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old African American EMT shot in her Louisville home. Saturday marks the first anniversary of her killing.
The Trump administration’s former acting Pentagon chief is blaming Donald Trump’s January 6 speech for inciting the mob that attacked Congress. Chris Miller made the remark in an interview with Vice on Showtime.
Chris Miller: “The questions is: Would anybody have marched on the Capitol and overrun the Capitol without the president’s speech? I think it’s pretty much definitive that wouldn’t have happened.”
Washington Democratic Congressmember Pramila Jayapal is calling for a congressional investigation into whether three Republicans — Congressmembers Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona — took “active roles” in promoting the deadly assault. Jayapal was one of about a dozen lawmakers trapped in the House gallery that afternoon as violent pro-Trump insurrectionists pounded at the doors. She tweeted Thursday, “I didn’t know if I would make it out alive … GOP members who aided insurrectionists or stoked the flames that day must be held fully accountable.”
The British royal family is facing increasing criticism after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey. The couple revealed shocking details about life as royals, including the racism suffered by Markle, who is biracial. On Thursday, Prince William was approached by reporters.
Sky News reporter: “Sir, have you spoken to your brother since the interview?”
Prince William: “No, I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I will do.”
Sky News reporter: “And can you just let me know: Is the royal family a racist family, sir?”
Prince William: “No, we’re very much not a racist family.”
The New York Assembly has opened an impeachment inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations against Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as his cover-up of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes. It could lead to New York’s first impeachment effort in over a century. Meanwhile, the sixth and most recent public accusation against Cuomo — that he groped an aide last year at the Executive Mansion — has been reported to the Albany Police Department for possible criminal prosecution.
In Brooklyn, New York, community members joined healthcare workers outside of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center Thursday, demanding a reversal to Governor Cuomo’s plans to close inpatient services at the hospital. Some 80% of Kingsbrook patients are Black, and community leaders warn its closure would exacerbate unequal health outcomes and disease burden in a neighborhood that’s already one of the hardest hit by the pandemic. This is community organizer and city council candidate Anthony Beckford.
Anthony Beckford: “The more that they take away our housing, the more that they take away our food sources — and now they’re taking away our healthcare — this shows you that there’s a war on the community that must be addressed. It can no longer be ignored, because, at the end of the day, at a blink of an eye, this will all be gone. But we must make sure we fight, so that way it stays. But we must also hold their feet to the fire, because while they’re getting richer, they’re siphoning the money and the resources out of our communities as we struggle more and more. This is a working-class community that has gone through so much suffering over the years, and it must stop.”