HeadlinesApril 06, 2021

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Minneapolis Police Chief Condemns Derek Chauvin’s Use of Force on George Floyd

Apr 06, 2021

In Minnesota, the doctor who tried to save George Floyd’s life at a Minneapolis emergency room last May testified Monday that asphyxia was the likely cause of Floyd’s death — with no evidence Floyd was killed by a heart attack or drug overdose. Dr. Bradford Langenfeld’s testimony came as the second week of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial got underway. Also testifying was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who told prosecutors Chauvin violated department policies and showed a “disregard for life” when he kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. It was a rare instance of a police chief testifying against a former officer.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo: “But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that, in no way, shape or form, is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

Police Chief Arredondo is among several high-ranking law enforcement officials who’ve condemned Derek Chauvin’s actions during the trial. Yet Chauvin racked up 18 complaints over his 19-year career as a police officer, raising questions about why he remained on active duty at the time of George Floyd’s killing.

Montana Governor Who Ended Mask Mandate in February Tests Positive for Coronavirus

Apr 06, 2021

The United States reported over 79,000 new coronavirus infections on Monday as cases continue to rise nationwide, led by soaring rates of infection in Michigan. In Montana, Republican Governor Greg Gianforte — who ended a statewide mask mandate in February and pushed local governments to drop COVID-19 restrictions — has tested positive for coronavirus. Governor Gianforte received his first dose of Pfizer vaccine four days before his positive test result, which came a day after he attended Easter Sunday services at Grace Bible Church in Bozeman.

38,000 Texas Rangers Fans Pack Home Opener, Widely Flouting Mask Requirement

Apr 06, 2021

In Waco, Texas, thousands of college students who’d gathered in Baylor University’s football stadium to watch the NCAA basketball finals rushed the field Monday night after their team won the national championship. The students packed together for celebrations, few of them wearing masks.

Meanwhile, in Arlington, Texas, over 38,000 fans packed the home opener of the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team Monday. The Rangers said masks were required, but the rule was widely flouted. It was the first time in over a year that any professional sports team in the U.S. has allowed its stadium to fill to capacity. As of Monday, just 16% of Texas residents had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Florida Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility to 16+ as Racial Disparities in Vaccinations Persist

Apr 06, 2021

Florida has become the latest state to open vaccinations to everyone 16 and older. The move follows accusations that Repubilcan Governor Ron DeSantis prioritized wealthy communities that were connected to political donors for vaccination “pop-up” sites. The Biden administration has set up its own federally run vaccination sites in Florida’s biggest cities to combat what it says are racial disparities in vaccine distribution. This is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki: “Seventeen percent of Florida’s population is African American, but less than 7% of vaccinations have gone to African Americans in the state. That’s one of the reasons that we opened four FEMA sites, in Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and Orlando. And these sites just proportionately serve communities of color.”

Saudi Arabia to Reopen Mecca Holy Site to “Immunized” Pilgrims

Apr 06, 2021

Ukraine has tightened public health measures as a surge of COVID-19 cases is threatening to overwhelm hospitals. It’s part of a massive wave of coronavirus infections sweeping Europe and Latin America.

Saudi Arabia says it will open Islam’s holiest site in Mecca to pilgrims throughout the month of Ramadan — but only to those who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19 or who’ve recovered from the disease.

Haiti Has Yet to Receive a Single Vaccine Dose for Its 11 Million People

Apr 06, 2021

Public health agencies are warning Haiti has yet to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine for its 11 million people, with further delays now likely to postpone a scheduled first shipment of vaccines due to arrive in May. The Pan American Health Organization says Haiti’s government failed to apply for a pilot program that would have sped up deliveries of doses under the U.N.'s COVAX initiative. Haiti remains in deep political turmoil after U.S.-backed President Jovenel Moïse refused to leave office after his term expired. In February, the Biden administration sided with Moïse's claim that he can serve for another year.

Biden Administration Lifts Trump-Era Sanctions on International Criminal Court Officials

Apr 06, 2021

The Biden administration has lifted Trump-era sanctions imposed on International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another top ICC official for the court’s investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, reaffirmed U.S. opposition to the probe, as well as to the ICC’s investigation into Israeli war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Benjamin Netanyahu Gets First Shot at Forming New Israeli Government as Corruption Trial Opens

Apr 06, 2021

Israel’s president has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a chance to form a coalition government, after elections in March failed to produce a clear winner for the fourth consecutive round of voting.

This comes as Netanyahu’s corruption trial has opened at a district court in Jerusalem. Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. On Monday, the former CEO of an online news site testified he was ordered by the company’s owner to drop negative stories about Netanyahu and to trash his rivals. Prosecutors say that, in exchange, Netanyahu enacted regulatory decisions worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the owner. Netanyahu is also accused of trying to push tax breaks to benefit an Israeli billionaire movie producer after receiving gifts from him — including expensive cigars and champagne. Netanyahu has repeatedly lashed out at reports over corruption, calling them “fake news.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “This is how they try to overthrow a powerful prime minister from the right. This is what an attempt at a coup looks like.”

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Sen. Manchin Won’t Back White House Bid to Partially Roll Back Trump-Era Corporate Tax Breaks

Apr 06, 2021

Back in the U.S., Senate Democrats have unveiled a plan to overhaul U.S. taxes on corporations — more than three years after President Trump and Republican lawmakers cut the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. On Monday, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he opposes a White House plan to raise the corporate tax to 28%, saying he might be open to a partial rollback of Trump’s corporate tax cut to 25%. Manchin is a key swing vote in the evenly divided Senate.

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called Monday for a minimum global corporate income tax to help pay for President Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan.

This comes as a new study finds at least 55 of the wealthiest U.S. corporations — including FedEx, Duke Energy and Nike — paid zero dollars in taxes last year on tens of billions of dollars in profits.

Arkansas GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson Vetoes Ban on Gender-Affirming Care for Trans Youth

Apr 06, 2021

Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson has vetoed a bill that would have criminalized doctors providing gender-affirming treatment to transgender youths, following massive pressure from activists against the legislation. Governor Hutchinson spoke from Little Rock Monday.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson: “House Bill 1570 would put the state as the definitive oracle of medical care, overriding parents, patients and healthcare experts. While in some instances the state must act to protect life, the state should not presume to jump into the middle of every medical, human and ethical issue. This would be and is a vast government overreach.”

The bill could still become law if Arkansas’s Legislature votes to override the governor’s veto. Republican lawmakers in at least 17 other states are considering similar bills. This comes just a month after Governor Hutchinson signed a bill into law aimed at banning trans women and girls from participating in sports.

Virginia Bans So-Called Gay and Trans Panic Defense in Murder and Manslaughter Trials

Apr 06, 2021

Virginia has become the first state in the South to ban individuals charged with killing LGBTQ people from using so-called gay and trans panic as a defense for lesser charges or a reduced sentence. The legal defense has allowed individuals accused of murder or manslaughter to argue that the victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation was what provoked them to commit the crime. The legislation was introduced by Virginia House Delegate Danica Roem, who in 2017 became the first transgender lawmaker elected to a state legislature.

Prisoners in St. Louis Jail Hold Uprising to Demand End to Cash Bail, Court Dates

Apr 06, 2021

In Missouri, people incarcerated at a St. Louis jail led another uprising Sunday protesting the facility’s inhumane conditions during the pandemic and demanding an end to cash bail and for court hearings to be resumed. Videos posted on social media show prisoners standing in front of broken windows yelling and holding signs that read ”HELP US.” Others lit small fires and chanted their demands to people outside the jail. This is at least the fourth uprising at the St. Louis City Justice Center since December, according to the Associated Press.

Missouri state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge Jr. said in a statement, “The detainees are being held without trial and unable to pay their bail, causing a system that disproportionately puts poor and Black people behind bars. If we care about justice, these systems need to change.”

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