In Minneapolis, opening statements begin today in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last May by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes. Floyd’s death set off a worldwide protest movement. Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter. National Guard troops have been deployed to the courthouse, which is also surrounded by concrete barriers, fencing, barbed and razor wire in anticipation of peaceful protests. George Floyd’s family and friends came together yesterday for a vigil at a Minneapolis church. This is one of Floyd’s brothers, Terrence Floyd.
Terrence Floyd: “We’re asking the system for the justice. But this gathering we’re doing right now is what’s needed. We’re going to take not one knee, but both knees. Get down. And we’re going to ask God for the justice, because our justice can’t compare to his.”
In Burma, human rights groups say at least 114 people, including children, were killed Saturday as soldiers opened fire on civilians protesting against military rule in dozens of cities and towns across the country. It was the deadliest crackdown yet on protests demanding a reversal to the February 1 coup, which toppled Burma’s democratically elected civilian government. On Sunday, Burmese troops fired on a funeral service for a 20-year-old student protester killed a day earlier near the commercial capital Rangoon. The attacks drew condemnation from the European Union, United States, U.K. and Germany, with the U.N. special rapporteur for Burma accusing the military regime of “mass murder.” Meanwhile, an estimated 3,000 people have fled southeastern Burma into Thailand after the Burmese military bombed areas controlled by the Karen ethnic minority group. At least 459 people, including at least 35 children, have been killed since the start of protests, according to rights groups.
Six more states are opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to anyone 16 or over today: Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. At least three other states will do the same this week. Over 36% of U.S. adults have now received at least one dose of a vaccine. Officials are rushing to get shots in as many arms as possible as over two dozen states report an increase of at least 10% in new cases compared to the previous week. New York and New Jersey, once the epicenter of the virus, are again leading in new infections.
Dr. Deborah Birx, former President Trump’s coronavirus coordinator, told CNN hundreds of thousands of U.S. COVID deaths may have been preventable.
Dr. Deborah Birx: “There were about 100,000 deaths that came from that original surge. All of the rest of them, in my mind, could have been mitigated or decreased substantially.”
Nearly 550,000 deaths have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest death toll in the world.
Mexico published revised figures showing its coronavirus death toll to be 60% higher than previously reported. The new numbers would put Mexico’s deaths at over 321,000, placing it second in overall fatalities, ahead of Brazil and behind the U.S.
Chile has imposed strict new lockdowns affecting 80% of the population amid a major wave of cases, despite Chile having one the world’s highest rates of vaccination. Health experts say the surge can be attributed to a lack of adherence to mitigation efforts, and the spread of new variants.
In Brazil, some researchers say the entire health system could collapse as infections and deaths continue to surge. Brazil recorded around a quarter of all COVID-19 deaths worldwide over the past two weeks.
In Indonesia, a pair of suicide bombers attacked a Catholic church Sunday in the city of Makassar, injuring 20 people at a Palm Sunday Mass marking the start of the Holy Week leading up to Easter. No group has claimed responsibility, but a senior police official blamed a group that’s pledged allegiance to ISIS and was implicated in a string of deadly suicide bombings on Indonesian churches in 2018.
In northern Mozambique, dozens of people are dead and thousands more displaced after an armed group converged on the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province. The fighters assaulted a military barracks, opened fire on civilians, set fire to buildings and hunted down government officials. Mozambique’s military blamed an ISIS-aligned group for the attacks. Since 2017, fighting in northern Mozambique has left thousands dead and some 700,000 people displaced.
Iran and China have signed an economic and security cooperation deal that will see China invest $400 billion in Iran over the next quarter-century in exchange for regular deliveries of oil. The two nations will also set up an Iranian-Chinese bank that will help Iran circumvent U.S. sanctions that have largely cut it off from global banking systems. The U.S. sanctions were imposed after President Trump unilaterally pulled out of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Federal officials revealed a 9-year-old girl from Mexico drowned earlier this month as she attempted to cross the Rio Grande river into the U.S. The girl’s mother, who is Guatemalan, and her 3-year-old brother were also found unresponsive but were able to be resuscitated.
This comes as more than 18,000 unaccompanied migrant children are now in U.S. custody, according to the latest figures. Over 5,000 of those are in Customs and Border Protection facilities, which are not equipped to care for children.
Today is the deadline for mail-in ballots as nearly 6,000 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, decide whether to form the company’s first union. A “yes” vote could be a watershed moment for the U.S. labor movement. On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders traveled to Bessemer.
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “Your message to people all over this country is stand up and fight back. You’re going to do it here. We could do it all over this country.”
In healthcare news, Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is pushing to lower Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55 years, as well as expand the program to cover dental work, vision and hearing aids. The move would be included as part of Democrats’ upcoming economic recovery plan.
Tennessee has become the third state this month to impose new laws attacking transgender student athletes, alongside Mississippi and Arkansas. Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the legislation Friday, which forces trans students to show legal documents revealing the sex they were assigned at birth in order to participate in middle and high school sports. Twenty-eight states across the country are voting on anti-trans bills this year.
Trans advocates have launched a transgender week of action ahead of International Trans Day of Visibility this Wednesday.
The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously overturned a man’s rape conviction, ruling he cannot be found guilty because the woman who accused him had voluntarily consumed alcohol before the rape. At the center of the ruling is a Minnesota law that states a person is only considered “mentally incapacitated” and unable to consent to sex if they’ve been given alcohol or other substances against their will. Sexual assault survivors and advocates say the ruling demonstrates the urgent need to update state laws.
Renowned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee is suing Yale University after they terminated her employment, following a complaint by Trump attorney Alan Dershowitz over one of her tweets from last year. The tweet said Trump supporters suffered from a “shared psychosis,” and suggested Dershowitz had “wholly taken on Trump’s symptoms by contagion.” Yale University said Dr. Lee violated the American Psychiatric Association’s Goldwater Rule, which says it’s unethical to comment on a public figure’s mental faculties without medical examination. Many psychiatrists, including Lee, have likened the rule to a gag order. Dr. Lee has frequently spoken out against Donald Trump’s mental health, citing her civic duty to warn the public of potential dangers. She spoke to Democracy Now! about her lawsuit against Yale.
Dr. Bandy Lee: “Yale dismissed me after 17 years. I filed a lawsuit with a heavy heart against my alma mater, because this is a matter of academic freedom and freedom of speech, which is our protection against authoritarianism and dangerous leadership.”
House Democrats introduced the DEJOY Act Friday in a bid to block part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan to restructure the U.S. Postal Service. The legislation would prohibit the USPS from delaying mail delivery service from its current standard. DeJoy is also planning to raise postage costs. Prominent Democrats, including Senator Bernie Sanders, are calling for the postal board to fire DeJoy, a Trump and Republican megadonor with no prior Postal Service experience. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth said, “[DeJoy] is a clear and present threat to the future of the Postal Service and the well-being of millions of Americans.”
Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, accusing the network and its hosts of promoting false claims that the voting company rigged the 2020 election against Donald Trump. Dominion has also sued Trump ally MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, who frequently promoted false conspiracy theories on Fox News.
In New York, a group of activists and workers excluded from pandemic relief have been on hunger strike for 14 days. Excluded workers include undocumented people — many of them in essential services — and people recently released from prison. They’re calling on New York lawmakers to approve $3.5 billion in funding for financial relief and healthcare for those shut out of the current system. This is one of the hunger strikers.
Rubiela: “I want the world to know that we need help. We’re human beings. We have so much debt because of the pandemic. We can’t even enter our homes in comfort because they’re waiting for us at the door to evict us.”