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HeadlinesApril 27, 2021

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Andrew Brown Had Hands on Steering Wheel, Was Shot by Officers in Back of Head, Lawyer Says 

Apr 27, 2021

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Monday for a fifth day to protest last week’s police killing of Andrew Brown Jr., a 42-year-old Black father. On Monday, authorities allowed Brown’s family and attorney to watch a 20-second video clip of the shooting. The family says it shows Andrew Brown was shot in the back of the head while his hands were on the steering wheel of a car. This is Brown family attorney Chantel Cherry-Lassiter.

Chantel Cherry-Lassiter: “Andrew had his hands on his steering wheel. He was not reaching for anything. He wasn’t touching anything. He wasn’t throwing anything around. He had his hands firmly on the steering wheel. They run up to his vehicle shooting. He still stood there — sat there in his vehicle with his hands on the steering wheel while being shot at. Now, keep in mind, this is 20 seconds. I have three pages of notes for 20 seconds. We watched this over and over and over to make sure we were clear at what was being — going on and what was transpiring.”

Justice Department to Investigate Louisville Police, 13 Months After Breonna Taylor’s Killing

Apr 27, 2021

The Justice Department has launched a probe into the Louisville, Kentucky, Metropolitan Police Department over whether officers have a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force — including against peaceful protesters. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the civil investigation Monday.

Attorney General Merrick Garland: “It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.”

The probe will also investigate the Louisville/Jefferson County Metropolitan Government. It comes 13 months after plainclothes officers serving a no-knock warrant busted through the door of Breonna Taylor’s home in the middle of the night and shot her dead. Breonna Taylor was a Black 26-year-old emergency medical technician and aspiring nurse. Former officer Brett Hankison was indicted on charges of “wanton endangerment” for shooting into the apartment of a neighbor, but no one has been criminally charged over Breonna Taylor’s killing.

Coronavirus Infections Hit New Global High, Fueled by India’s “Heartbreaking” Outbreak

Apr 27, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached a new record high, with the number of daily global infections now averaging more than 820,000, led by a massive outbreak in India. The World Health Organization says the pandemic is still in its acute phase, with a ninth straight week of rising infections. Almost 5.7 million cases were reported last week alone, which the WHO says is certain to be an underestimate. This is WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Many countries are still experiencing intense transmission, and the situation in India is beyond heartbreaking.”

On Monday, President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, promising to send aid, including vaccination supplies, therapeutic drugs and desperately needed oxygen. This comes after India’s government ordered Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to censor about 100 social media posts criticizing Prime Minister Modi’s disastrous handling of the pandemic. 

U.S. to Ship Up to 60 Million Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine Abroad

Apr 27, 2021

The Biden administration said Monday it would share up to 60 million doses of the U.S.-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine with other nations. That’s enough for 30 million people, about 0.4% of the world’s population. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved for use in the U.S. 

Biden Orders $15/Hour Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors, Proposes Capital Gains Tax Hike

Apr 27, 2021

President Biden is signing an executive order today establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage for federal contractors. Biden will also eliminate a lower “tipped” minimum wage for certain federal contractors who receive tips.

Meanwhile, the White House is preparing to propose an increase in the capital gains tax to help pay for Biden’s upcoming American Families Plan. The proposal calls for increased federal spending on child care, pre-K, paid family leave and tuition-free community college. Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said the capital gains tax increase will target only the very wealthiest Americans. 

Brian Deese: “This change will only apply to three-tenths of a percent of taxpayers, which is not the top 1%. It’s not even the top one-half of 1%. We’re talking about three-tenths of a percent. That’s about 500,000 households in the country that we’re talking about.”

On Wednesday, President Biden will speak to a joint session of Congress — a ceremony that was delayed from February due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Supreme Court to Hear Torture Survivor’s State Secrets Case & NRA-Backed Challenge to NY Gun Law

Apr 27, 2021

The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a case on whether New York’s restrictions on concealed-carry firearms licenses violate the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association backed the challenge. Justices will hear oral arguments this fall, with a decision expected sometime next year.

The Supreme Court has also agreed to hear a case brought by a Guantánamo Bay prisoner who was tortured in U.S. custody. Abu Zubaydah and his lawyer want to subpoena former CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen about their role in developing torture tactics employed at a secret CIA “black site” in Poland where Zubaydah was imprisoned.

2020 Census Results Alter Balance of Power in House of Representatives

Apr 27, 2021

The Census Bureau has released the results of its 2020 census, showing the U.S. population grew at its slowest pace since the 1930s. The results will reshape political power in the House of Representatives, where Texas will gain two seats. Meanwhile, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, Oregon and Montana will each gain one congressional seat. New York’s congressional delegation will shrink by one member, after coming up short by a mere 89 people. Also losing a House seat are Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and California. 

Florida Senate Passes Sweeping Voter Suppression Law

Apr 27, 2021

Florida voting rights advocates are sounding the alarm over new legislation that would make it harder to vote by mail, among other restrictions critics are condemning as “Jim Crow 2.0.” The bill, approved by Florida’s state Senate Monday, would also limit ballot drop boxes, impose more identification requirements for absentee ballots and criminalize giving food and water to voters waiting in line. The legislation is similar to a recent sweeping voter suppression law enacted in Georgia.

Head of Firm Hired by Arizona GOP to Audit Election Results Promoted Pro-Trump Conspiracy Theories

Apr 27, 2021

In Arizona, Republican officials are continuing to challenge the result of the presidential election and have hired Florida-based company Cyber Ninjas to assist in the audit of millions of ballots in Maricopa County, Arizona’s most populous region. Cyber Ninja is run by a man who has widely shared conspiracy theories that claim the 2020 election was illegitimate. The audit was approved by the Arizona state Senate, which used its subpoena power to take possession of 2.1 million ballots, ballot-counting machines and computer hard drives. Former President Trump praised Arizona Republicans in a statement and said, “I predict the results will be startling!” Arizona’s Democratic secretary of state called the efforts a “farce” as election officials warn the move will severely damage people’s faith in the democratic process.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Face Recall Election 

Apr 27, 2021

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom could face a special recall election, after a Republican-led effort gained enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. If the recall petition is certified, voters will decide by the end of the year whether to remove Newsom from office. Newsom’s advisers predicted he would beat back the recall, calling it the work of pro-Trump, anti-mask and anti-vaccine extremists. 

Oklahoma Governor Signs Bills Outlawing Nearly All Abortions

Apr 27, 2021

Oklahoma’s Republican Governor Kevin Stitt has signed several bills that would make abortions almost completely illegal statewide. One bill would revoke the medical license of any Oklahoma doctor who performs an abortion, except in very rare circumstances; another bill bans abortions around six weeks of pregnancy; and a third requires doctors who perform abortions be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology. The legislation will face immediate legal challenges.

Human Rights Watch Says Israeli Authorities Committed Crimes of Persecution and Apartheid

Apr 27, 2021

Israel’s Security Cabinet has approved a major military escalation in the Gaza Strip if Palestinian fighters don’t stop firing rockets into southern Israel. Israel also moved Monday to completely cut off Palestinians’ access to a fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip.

This comes as Human Rights Watch said for the first time that Israel is committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In a report and accompanying video released today, Human Rights Watch said Israeli authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity.

Human Rights Watch video: “Israeli authorities maintain a two-tier system which privileges Jewish Israelis over Palestinians. The means used by Israeli authorities in the occupied territory amount to the systematic oppression needed to establish the crime of apartheid. Israeli authorities have committed a range of abuses against Palestinians. In the occupied territory, those abuses include mass land confiscation, the denial of residency rights and the suspension of civil rights, and rise to the threshold of inhumane acts and severe abuses of the fundamental rights of Palestinians.”

U.S. Homeland Security Department to Train Guatemalan Border Agents

Apr 27, 2021

The U.S. government has agreed to train Guatemalan border agents as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to further militarize Central American borders and make it more difficult for asylum seekers to reach the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S. will reportedly send over a dozen Homeland Security agents to Guatemala. This isn’t the first time U.S. authorities have been deployed to Guatemala to train local law enforcement. The offer came during a virtual meeting between Vice President Kamala Harris and Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

Vice President Kamala Harris: “And we want to work with you to address both the acute causes as well as the root causes, in a way that will bring hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay at home.”

Central American and immigrant justice advocates have widely condemned more U.S. intervention in the region, saying U.S. foreign policies have exacerbated poverty, violence and other root causes of why people have to flee in the first place. 

Refugees Stuck at U.S.-Mexico Border Demand Entry to Pursue Asylum Claims

Apr 27, 2021

In Tijuana, Mexico, asylum seekers led a protest over the weekend demanding they be allowed to enter the United States and seek refuge. Dozens of people peacefully marched to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, while U.S. authorities responded by shutting down the border for hours and unleashing police in riot gear. Hundreds of asylum seekers have been stuck in Tijuana, living in a makeshift border camp since February. This is an asylum seeker from Honduras addressing President Biden.

Asylum seeker: “We want them to answer us, to listen to us for five minutes, have compassion. There are children here. And he, Joe Biden, was also a child. Let them see that we suffer. He has not suffered, but we have. We were not born rich. We were born in poverty. We are poor, hard-working and honest. We want them to listen to us and open the door for us.”

Texas Fisherwoman Diane Wilson Holds Hunger Strike to Stop Dredging for Oil Exports

Apr 27, 2021

In Lavaca Bay, Texas, 72-year-old environmental activist and author Diane Wilson is entering her 21st day on hunger strike today, demanding the Biden administration stop the dredging of the Matagorda Ship Channel and the construction of a new crude oil export terminal proposed by oil company Max Midstream. Wilson says she fears the dredging could release mercury contamination, devastating fisheries and local communities. Last weekend, over a dozen activists in kayaks joined Wilson for a protest against the proposed oil project. Wilson is a fourth-generation fisherwoman from the Texas Gulf Coast. In 2019, she won a $50 million lawsuit against plastics giant Formosa — the largest settlement of its type in U.S. history. Nearly half the funds have already been used to create a sustainable fishery cooperative and cleanup efforts in the region.

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