Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2021

 

Now that the Biden administration has settled into Washington, D.C., my daily chronicle (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021) of news about the Trump administration, Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence is winding down. I will continue to post a few important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration.  I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!

 

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Thursday, 1 April 2021:

 

Biden Convenes Cabinet for First Meeting, Tapping 5 Secretaries With Selling His Infrastructure Plan. The secretaries would “engage the public in selling the plan and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward,” President Biden said. A watchdog report found problems with a global aid program championed by Ivanka Trump. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 April 2021:

  • Biden holds his first cabinet meeting — but not in the usual spot.

  • Texas lawmakers advance a bill that would make voting more difficult, drawing comparisons to Georgia.

  • A global aid program championed by Ivanka Trump has serious problems, a report finds.

  • The Interior Department’s chief of staff shifts jobs after ignoring coronavirus guidance and planning an indoor party.

  • Biden is seeking to use his infrastructure plan to address racial inequities.

  • Biden joins calls for M.L.B. to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta.

  • Billions in new Obamacare benefits are now available on Healthcare.gov.

  • Delta and Coca-Cola face backlash from Republicans after opposing Georgia voting law.

At first Cabinet meeting, Biden gives five secretaries a ‘special responsibility’ on jobs plan, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “President Biden convened his first full Cabinet meeting Thursday, bringing together 25 top administration officials for a socially distanced gathering in the East Room of the White House that lasted about two hours. He announced he was giving five secretaries a ‘special responsibility’ in promoting his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan to the public. Earlier, Vice President Harris addressed a virtual gathering of the Covid-19 Community Corps, a coalition launched by the Biden administration to encourage coronavirus vaccinations.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain suggested Thursday that the administration is willing to advance its $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan with no Republican support.
  • The Biden administration is unveiling its first television advertisements to encourage Americans to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
  • Democrat Rita Hart dropped her challenge in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District election, asking the House to no longer consider an investigation into the outcome of her race against Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) after intense Republican pushback.
  • Hunter Biden says in a memoir that he should not have joined the board of the Ukrainian gas company that President Donald Trump targeted in his effort to tarnish Joe Biden in 2019.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: ‘I Thought He Was Dead,’ Says a Paramedic Who Treated George Floyd. The paramedics who tried to revive Mr. Floyd described their futile attempts to jurors, and a police supervisor provided insight about Mr. Chauvin’s actions and response after the confrontation. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 April 2021:

  • ‘He seemed like a regular guy, like us. Longtime residents reflect on George Floyd’s death.
  • Officers should have stopped restraining George Floyd sooner, a former supervisor of Derek Chauvin testified.
  • Takeaways from Day 4 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Scenes from Minneapolis on Day 4 of the Chauvin trial.
  • Here’s how the local news media is covering the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • George Floyd was dead by the time medical help arrived, a paramedic testified.
  • Lawyers for George Floyd’s family say jurors should look past his drug use after hearing testimony about his addiction.
  • With several lawyers rotating before the court, here’s a guide to who is prosecuting the case against Derek Chauvin.
  • George Floyd’s girlfriend described their relationship: A shared struggle with addiction, their first kiss, a ‘dad selfie.’
  • What we know about Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s former girlfriend.
  • Hennepin County’s courthouse is experiencing a high-profile case like few other courthouses do.
  • Jurors are gaining new understanding of the day George Floyd died.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2021:

Derek Chauvin’s former sargeant says Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd after he stopped resisting, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Kim Bellware, Timothy Bella, and Meryl Kornfield, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting, a former supervisor told jurors on the fourth day of testimony in Chauvin’s murder trial, as more details emerged about the aftermath of Floyd’s arrest. The supervisor, now-retired sergeant David Pleoger, said Thursday that Chauvin never mentioned holding his knee to Floyd’s neck in their first call after the incident. Body camera footage captured Chauvin telling Pleoger that officers ‘had’ to hold Floyd down and that ‘he was going crazy.’ First responders helped reconstruct the immediate aftermath of the arrest — confusion from first responders dispatched to the scene, Floyd’s eventual transport to the hospital and officers’ statements as Floyd’s dire condition became increasingly clear.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Jurors heard for the first time Thursday from a witness close to Floyd, his girlfriend Courteney Ross, who described his loving personality, struggles with drug addiction and the final weeks of his life.
  • Morries Hall, a man who was with Floyd the day he died, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is asked to testify in court, according to a court notice.
  • A paramedic dispatched to the scene of Floyd’s arrest testified that Floyd flatlined in the ambulance about three blocks away as first responders tried to revive him.
  • As testimony shifted to address Floyd’s struggle with addiction, attorneys for his family released a public statement to dispel attacks on his character that they anticipate from Chauvin’s defense team.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and some of his associates exchanged 19 calls from the start of the January 6th riot through the breach of the Capitol, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, his deputy and three members who guarded Roger Stone exchanged nearly 20 phone calls over three hours on Jan. 6, coinciding with the first assault on police barricades protecting the U.S. Capitol and spanning the time the three members breached the building, prosecutors charged Thursday. In a new indictment adding previously charged Stone guards Joshua James, 33, of Arab, Ala., and Roberto Minuta, 36, of Prosper, Tex., to an Oath Keepers conspiracy case that now has 12 defendants, prosecutors bluntly laid a path to Rhodes and a person they said he put in charge of his group’s operations that day.”

Justice Department Inquiry Into Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz Is Said to Be Focused on Cash Paid to Women, The New York Times, Katie Benner and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “A Justice Department investigation into Representative Matt Gaetz and an indicted Florida politician is focusing on their involvement with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments, according to people close to the investigation and text messages and payment receipts reviewed by The New York Times. Investigators believe Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who was indicted last year on a federal sex trafficking charge and other crimes, initially met the women through websites that connect people who go on dates in exchange for gifts, fine dining, travel and allowances, according to three people with knowledge of the encounters. Mr. Greenberg introduced the women to Mr. Gaetz, who also had sex with them, the people said…. The Justice Department inquiry is also examining whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl and whether she received anything of material value, according to four people familiar with the investigation. The sex trafficking count against Mr. Greenberg involved the same girl, according to two people briefed on the investigation. The authorities have also investigated whether other men connected to Mr. Gaetz and Mr. Greenberg had sex with the 17-year-old, two of the people said.”

Voting Laws Roundup: March 2021, Brennan Center for Justice, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “In a backlash to 2020’s historic voter turnout, and under the pretense of responding to baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, state lawmakers have introduced a startling number of bills to curb the vote. As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills tallied as of February 19, 2021 — a 43 percent increase in little more than a month. These measures have begun to be enacted. Five restrictive bills have already been signed into law. In addition, at least 55 restrictive bills in 24 states are moving through legislatures: 29 have passed at least one chamber, while another 26 have had some sort of committee action (e.g., a hearing, an amendment, or a committee vote). Most restrictive bills take aim at absentee voting, while nearly a quarter seek stricter voter ID requirements. State lawmakers also aim to make voter registration harder, expand voter roll purges or adopt flawed practices that would risk improper purges, and cut back on early voting. The states that have seen the largest number of restrictive bills introduced are Texas (49 bills), Georgia (25 bills), and Arizona (23 bills). Bills are actively moving in the Texas and Arizona statehouses, and Georgia enacted an omnibus voter suppression bill last week.”

Texas Senate advances bill limiting how and when voters can cast ballots and receive mail-in voting applications, The Texas Tribune, Alexa Ura, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “Senate Republicans cleared the way Thursday for new, sweeping restrictions to voting in Texas that take particular aim at forbidding local efforts meant to widen access. In an overnight vote after more than seven hours of debate, the Texas Senate signed off on Senate Bill 7, which would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify. The legislation is at the forefront of Texas Republicans’ crusade to further restrict voting in the state after last year’s election. Although Republicans remain in full control of state government, Texas saw the highest turnout in decades in 2020, with Democrats continuing to drive up their vote counts in the state’s urban centers and diversifying suburban communities.” See also, Corporate giants come out against Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting in Texas. American Airlines and Dell Technologies on Thursday publicly declared their opposition to Republican legislative proposals that would impose new restrictions on voting. The Texas Tribune, Alexa Ura, Thursday, 1 April 2021: “Multiple major corporations based in Texas spoke out Thursday in opposition to Republicans’ legislative proposals to further restrict voting in Texas. Corporate giants American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, and Dell Technologies, headquartered in Round Rock, were among the first to take a position. American Airlines took specific aim at Senate Bill 7, which would impose sweeping restrictions that take particular aim at local efforts meant to make it easier to vote — like extended early voting hours. Senate Republicans advanced that measure in a 2 a.m. vote Thursday.”

 

Friday, 2 April 2021:

 

Vehicle Attack at U.S. Capitol kills 1 Capitol Police officer and injures another. Suspect is killed by Police. The New York Times, Friday, 2 April 2021:

  • A Capitol Police officer is killed and another is injured in a vehicle attack; suspect is shot and killed.

  • Here’s what we know and don’t know about the attack outside the Capitol.

  • Billy Evans, the officer who died in the Capitol attack, is an 18-year veteran of the force.

  • Suspect in Capitol attack appears to have been a follower of Louis Farrakhan.

  • National Guard deploys ‘immediate reaction force’ in response to Capitol attack.

  • Biden touts the big March jobs report and says ‘inaction is not an option’ on his infrastructure bill.
  • Major League Baseball pulls this year’s All-Star Game from Georgia in response to the state’s new voting law.
  • Arrivals at the southern border surpassed a 15-year high in March and included many unaccompanied minors.
  • A spokesman for Matt Gaetz quits, as the Justice Department investigates whether his boss violated sex trafficking laws.
  • Alone among former Confederate states, Virginia is becoming a voting rights bastion.

Biden and congressional leaders mourn U.S. Capitol Police officer killed in the line of duty, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Donna Cassata, Friday, 2 April 2021: “President Biden and congressional leaders mourned U.S. Capitol Police officer William ‘Billy’ Evans after he was killed in the line of duty Friday. A vehicle rammed into Evans and another officer at the Capitol in Washington, the second deadly incident for Capitol Police in nearly three months. The other officer was injured; the suspect was killed by police. On Jan. 6, a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, leaving five dead, including an officer. Major League Baseball announced that it will move July’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta, a decision that comes amid backlash to Georgia’s new sweeping and restrictive voting law.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • President Biden welcomed the latest labor report showing the United States added back 916,000 jobs in March while pressing for Congress to pass his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan. ‘Inaction is not an option,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House, in which he pushed back on Republican criticism of his plan to raise corporate taxes to finance the proposal.
  • Acting U.S. Capitol police chief Yogananda Pittman said that in the fatal incident at the Capitol, a person left their vehicle with a knife and started lunging. She said police opened fire, killing the suspect.
  • The economy showed signs of strength as it added 916,000 jobs in March, the highest level in months, and the unemployment rate edged down to 6 percent from 6.2 percent in February.
  • Biden’s infrastructure plan calls for $80 billion for rail service, a significant boost in federal aid that could transform passenger service. Amtrak signaled that it could provide new intercity rail service to 160 communities and expand service in corridors with heightened demand for rail transportation.
  • The New York attorney general has gathered personal financial records of the Trump Organization’s longtime chief financial officer and his family, another sign of legal pressure on one of former president Donald Trump’s closest aides.

The longest-serving police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department says that what Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd was a violation of policy and ‘totally unnecessary,’ The New York Times, Friday, 2 April 2021:

  • The scene outside the courthouse as the first week of the trial comes to a close.
  • Takeaways from Day 5 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • The Minneapolis Police Department has a history of conflict with the Black community.
  • ‘Totally unnecessary’: the longest-serving Minneapolis Police officer Richard Zimmerman says Chauvin violated police policy.
  • What we know about Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the day’s second witness.
  • The officer who secured the crime scene after George Floyd’s death is the first witness on Day 5.
  • Witness testimony will end early on Friday because the trial is ahead of schedule, the judge said.
  • When reporters try to speak with Floyd’s family outside the courtroom, sheriff’s deputies step in.
  • An exploration of George Floyd’s drug use takes the trial in a new direction.

Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, rejects Chauvin’s ‘totally unnecessary’ use of force against George Floyd, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella and Abigail Hauslohner, Friday, 2 April 2021: “An emotional week of testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin concluded Friday with Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, rejecting the former officer’s use of force against George Floyd, calling it ‘uncalled for’ and ‘totally unnecessary.’ Zimmerman testified that once someone is handcuffed, ‘they are not a threat to you at that point’ and the amount of force should be immediately reduced. ‘If your knee is on a person’s neck, that could kill him,’ he testified. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, argued Friday that police can use ‘improvisation’ for ‘whatever force is reasonable and necessary.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jon Edwards testified Friday that he responded to Cup Foods, described as a ‘critical incident’ scene, not knowing that Chauvin was involved in the fatal encounter.
  • In an interview Friday with ‘Good Morning America,’ Chris Martin, a 19-year-old Cup Foods clerk, said through tears that he felt like a ‘contributing factor’ in Floyd’s death outside the store.
  • Zimmerman’s testimony came after former police supervisor David Pleoger said that Chauvin should have stopped kneeling on Floyd’s neck when he stopped resisting.
  • When Chauvin first called Pleoger after the deadly arrest of Floyd, the former supervisor testified that Chauvin did not mention that he held his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck.

What Georgia’s Voting Law Really Does. The New York Times analyzed the state’s new 98-page voting law and identified 16 key provisions that will limit ballot access, potentially confuse voters and give more power to Republican lawmakers. The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Reid J. Epstein, Friday, 2 April 2021: “Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats. The New York Times has examined and annotated the law, identifying 16 provisions that hamper the right to vote for some Georgians or strip power from state and local elections officials and give it to legislators.”

Major League Baseball Pulls All-Star Game From Georgia in Response to Voting Law, The New York Times, Kevin Draper, James Wagner, Reid J. Epstein, and Nick Corasaniti, Friday, 2 April 2021: “Major League Baseball sent a warning shot on Friday to Republicans considering new laws to restrict voting, pulling its summer All-Star game out of suburban Atlanta in a rebuke to Georgia’s new election rules that will make it harder to vote in the state’s urban areas. The announcement by the baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, came after days of lobbying from civil rights groups and discussions with stakeholders like the Major League Baseball Players Association. The action is likely to put additional pressure on other organizations and corporations to consider pulling business out of Georgia, a move that both Republicans and Democrats in the state oppose despite fiercely disagreeing about the new voting law.”

Nearly 200 companies are speaking out against voting law changes in Texas and other states, The Washington Post, Hannah Denham and Jena McGregor, Friday, 2 April 2021: “Nearly 200 companies on Friday joined in a strong statement against proposals that threaten to restrict voting access in dozens of states, in a further sign of corporate willingness to speak out on social justice issues. As Major League Baseball announced that it will be moving this summer’s All-Star Game out of Atlanta in response to the passage of Georgia’s restrictive voting law, executives from at least 193 companies — including Dow, HP, Twitter and Estée Lauder — urged the protection of voting rights across the country.”

The Matt Gaetz Investigation: What We Know, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 2 April 2021: “The Justice Department is investigating whether Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida and a close ally of former President Donald J. Trump, broke federal sex trafficking laws, focusing on his relationships with women recruited online for sex and whether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl, The New York Times reported this week. Investigators appear to be focused on at least two key questions, according to people briefed on their work. The first is whether Mr. Gaetz, 38, had sex with the 17-year-old and whether she received anything of material value. More broadly, federal authorities are scrutinizing involvement by the congressman and an indicted Florida associate with the women, who also received cash payments.” See also, Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz is said to have boasted of his ‘access to women’ provided by friend charged in sex-trafficking case, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 2 April 2021: “Rep. Matt Gaetz repeatedly boasted to people involved in Florida politics about women he met through a county tax collector who has since been charged by federal authorities with sex trafficking of a minor, according to two people who heard his comments directly. They said the Republican congressman, first elected in 2016, also showed them videos on his phone of naked or topless women on multiple occasions, including at parties with Joel Greenberg, the former tax collector for Seminole County. The women appeared to be adults, and could be seen dancing, hanging out by a pool and, in one case, using a hula hoop without clothing, the people said. ‘Matt was never shy about talking about his relationship to Joel and the access to women that Joel provided him,’ said one of these people who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. ‘What these videos implied was that there was something of a sexual nature going on with everyone.'”

Reversing Trump, Biden Revokes Trump’s Executive Order Authorizing Sanctions on Top Officials at the International Criminal Court, The New York Times, Pranshu Verma and Marlise Simons, Friday, 2 April 2021: “President Biden on Friday revoked President Donald J. Trump’s executive order authorizing sanctions on top officials at the International Criminal Court, reversing a decision that put the United States at odds with many of its European allies. The move comes after the Trump administration decided last year to sanction the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and a senior official, Phakiso Mochochoko, after the court opened an investigation into potential war crimes committed by American troops in Afghanistan. It also precedes, by days, a deadline for the Biden administration to respond to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s executive action. The reversal of the executive order means sanctions on Ms. Bensouda and Mr. Mochochoko will be lifted, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a statement announcing the administration’s decision. Additionally, travel restrictions the Trump administration placed on the court’s personnel in 2019 will be reversed, he said. ‘These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective,’ Mr. Blinken added.”

 

Saturday, 3 April 2021:

 

How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations. Online donors were guided into weekly recurring contributions. Demands for refunds spiked. Complaints to banks and credit card companies soared. But the money helped keep Donald Trump’s struggling campaign afloat. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Saturday, 3 April 2021: “Stacy Blatt was in hospice care last September listening to Rush Limbaugh’s dire warnings about how badly Donald J. Trump’s campaign needed money when he went online and chipped in everything he could: $500. It was a big sum for a 63-year-old battling cancer and living in Kansas City on less than $1,000 per month. But that single contribution — federal records show it was his first ever — quickly multiplied. Another $500 was withdrawn the next day, then $500 the next week and every week through mid-October, without his knowledge — until Mr. Blatt’s bank account had been depleted and frozen. When his utility and rent payments bounced, he called his brother, Russell, for help. What the Blatts soon discovered was $3,000 in withdrawals by the Trump campaign in less than 30 days. They called their bank and said they thought they were victims of fraud. ‘It felt,’ Russell said, ‘like it was a scam.’ But what the Blatts believed was duplicity was actually an intentional scheme to boost revenues by the Trump campaign and the for-profit company that processed its online donations, WinRed. Facing a cash crunch and getting badly outspent by the Democrats, the campaign had begun last September to set up recurring donations by default for online donors, for every week until the election. Contributors had to wade through a fine-print disclaimer and manually uncheck a box to opt out. As the election neared, the Trump team made that disclaimer increasingly opaque, an investigation by The New York Times showed. It introduced a second prechecked box, known internally as a ‘money bomb,’ that doubled a person’s contribution. Eventually its solicitations featured lines of text in bold and capital letters that overwhelmed the opt-out language. The tactic ensnared scores of unsuspecting Trump loyalists — retirees, military veterans, nurses and even experienced political operatives. Soon, banks and credit card companies were inundated with fraud complaints from the president’s own supporters about donations they had not intended to make, sometimes for thousands of dollars…. The investigation by The New York Times found that Trump supporters who thought they were donating just once were charged over and over by his campaign. Late last year, $64 million in contributions was refunded.”

Trump calls for Republicans to boycott companies amid voting law controversy, The Hill, Jordan Williams, Saturday, 3 April 2021: “Former President Trump on Saturday called for Republicans and conservatives to boycott a sweeping number of companies amid controversy surrounding new voting laws. In a statement released late Saturday evening, the former president took aim at Democrats for playing ‘dirty’ and boycotting companies that ‘in any way’ offend them. ‘For years the Radical Left Democrats have played dirty by boycotting products when anything from that company is done or stated in any way that offends them. Now they are going big time with the WOKE CANCEL CULTURE and our sacred elections,’ Trump said in a statement on Saturday released by Save America PAC. He then called for Republicans to ‘fight back,’ alleging that ‘we have more people than they do,’ and urged conservatives to boycott specific companies including Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and Citigroup. ‘It is finally time for Republicans and Conservatives to fight back— we have more people than they do— by far! Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS and Merck. Don’t go back to their products until they relent. We can play a better game than them,’ he said. ” See also, Trump calls for boycott of more companies over Georgia voting law, Axios, Rebecca Falconer, published on Sunday, 4 April 2021: “Former President Trump on Saturday added to a list of organizations he’s calling on supporters to boycott for opposing Georgia’s voting restrictions. Trump on Friday urged a boycott of ‘woke companies’ that have taken a stand and Major League Baseball for moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia, adding: ‘Are you listening Coke, Delta.’ In his new statement, he said: ‘Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck.'”

 

Sunday, 4 April 2021:

 

Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp Lashes Major League Baseball as Republicans Defend Georgia’s Voting Law, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Sunday, 3 April 2021: “Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia on Saturday issued a blistering critique of Major League Baseball’s decision to pull its All-Star Game out of the state over the new law there restricting voting, arguing that the move would deliver an economic hit to Georgians. Mr. Kemp, a Republican, framed the battle over voting rights in Georgia as a wholly partisan one concocted by Democrats, rather than a civil rights effort to protect access to the ballot as Republicans try to place new limits on voting across the country.”

Biden Steps Up Federal Efforts to Combat Domestic Extremism, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Nicole Hong, Sunday, 4 April 2021: “The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat domestic extremism, increasing funding to prevent attacks, weighing strategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups and more openly warning the public about the threat. The attempts to more assertively grapple with the potential for violence from white supremacists and militias are a shift from President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on federal agencies to divert resources to target the antifa movement and leftist groups despite the conclusion by law enforcement authorities that far-right and militia violence was a more serious threat. President Biden’s approach also continues a slow acknowledgment that especially after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, the federal government needs to put more attention and money into tracking and heading off threats from inside the United States, after two decades in which it made foreign terrorism the security priority. In an intelligence report delivered to Congress last month, the administration labeled white supremacists and militia groups as top national security threats. The White House is also discussing with members of Congress the possibility of new domestic terrorism legislation and executive orders to update the criteria of terrorism watch lists to potentially include more homegrown extremists.”

Biden Effort to Combat Hunger Marks ‘a Profound Change. As millions of Americans lack enough to eat, the administration is rapidly increasing aid — with an eye toward a permanent safety net expansion. The New York Times, Jason DeParle, Sunday, 4 April 2021: “With more than one in 10 households reporting that they lack enough to eat, the Biden administration is accelerating a vast campaign of hunger relief that will temporarily increase assistance by tens of billions of dollars and set the stage for what officials envision as lasting expansions of aid. The effort to rush more food assistance to more people is notable both for the scale of its ambition and the variety of its legislative and administrative actions. The campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month, provided needy children a dollar a day for snacks, expanded a produce allowance for pregnant women and children, and authorized the largest children’s summer feeding program in history.”

 

Monday, 5 April 2021:

 

Senate Official Allows Expanded Use of Reconciliation, Smoothing Path for Infrastructure Plan. The ruling by the Senate parliamentarian means that Democrats can essentially reopen the budget plan they passed in February and add directives to enact the infrastructure package or other initiatives. The New York Times, Monday, 5 April 2021:

  • Democrats win crucial tool to speed infrastructure plan through Congress over Republican opposition.

  • Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, vetoed an anti-transgender bill.

  • Senate Democrats roll out a plan to raise taxes on multinational corporations.

  • Biden’s cabinet will fan out to push his infrastructure plan as G.O.P. opposition solidifies.

  • Biden thanks immigrants for ‘choosing us’ as he struggles with a surge at the border.

  • Trump argues that his fund-raising was ‘done legally,’ in response to a Times investigation.

  • Capitol Police formally identify the man who rammed officers last week.

  • A former aide of Matt Gaetz said the F.B.I. questioned him in its inquiry of the Florida lawmaker.
  • More than half of Republicans blame the January 6th Capitol attack on “left-wing” rioters, a new poll finds.
  • Corporations become ensnared in the debate over Georgia’s new voting law.
  • The Biden administration is vastly expanding food assistance programs.
  • Gayle Smith, who helped lead the U.S. response to Ebola, will run Biden’s vaccine diplomacy.
  • Democratic senators warn that ‘dark money’ could spread after an upcoming Supreme Court case.

Biden defends infrastructure proposal against Republican attacks that it goes beyond traditional projects, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Paulina Firozi, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 5 April 2021: “President Biden on Monday defended his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal against Republican attacks that it goes beyond traditional infrastructure projects. Speaking to reporters at the White House as he returned from Camp David, he said that items related to clean water, school conditions and high-speed rail, among others, should all be considered infrastructure.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • In a video posted to Biden’s Twitter account Sunday, he and the first lady delivered an Easter message that included a plea to get vaccinated.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called for speeding up the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine in poorer nations, saying that the U.S. and global economies are threatened by the impact of covid-19 on the developing world.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said Monday that he does not support Biden’s plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent to help pay for his jobs and infrastructure plan, and reiterated that he would support an increase to only 25 percent.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that corporations responding to the new voting law in Georgia and similar legislation in other states are not only being bullied but have decided to ‘join in the bullying themselves.’
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, pushed back on criticism from several high-profile Republicans.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: ‘That Should Have Stopped,’ Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo Says of Chauvin’s Actions, The New York Times, Monday, 5 April 2021:

  • Police chief’s testimony draws mixed response from local activists.
  • The scenes from around the courthouse.
  • Here are the takeaways from Day 6 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Derek Chauvin received training on medical aid and use of force his former training supervisor says.
  • A professor tunes into the trial, with an eye on history.
  • Here’s why the Minneapolis police chief detailed standards and training.
  • Months after violence in Minneapolis, a business owner is trying to start anew.
  • Derek Chauvin ‘absolutely’ violated policy, the Minneapolis police chief says.
  • The Minneapolis police chief walks jurors through the rules on use of force and other policies.
  • What are we looking at when we’re looking at the Great Seal of the State of Minnesota?
  • Bystander recordings are within First Amendment rights, Minneapolis police chief says.
  • What is excited delirium?
  • The doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead says a lack of oxygen was the likely cause.
  • What we know about Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief.
  • The judge questioned jurors in the Chauvin trial about a social media post.
  • George Floyd’s heart condition continues to be a focal point of the trial.
  • The lawyer for Derek Chauvin is trying to limit evidence on police training.
  • The trial enters its second week with more examination of Chauvin’s actions.

Derek Chauvin trial: Minneapolis police chief says officer ‘absolutely’ violated policy while restraining George Floyd, The Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner, Mark Berman, Holly Bailey, Meryl Kornfield, Keith McMillan, and Lateshia Beachum, Monday, 5 April 2021: “During one of the most anticipated moments in the trial, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo unequivocally told the court Monday afternoon that Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck before he died, violated the department’s policy in his use of force to restrain Floyd. He followed two other senior Minneapolis police officials who took the stand. It is remarkably rare for top officials to testify against one of their own officers, experts say. In the second week of witness testimony, Bradford Langenfeld, the emergency physician who tried to revive Floyd at a hospital and later pronounced him dead, said Floyd probably died because he was deprived of oxygen. Defense attorneys have been trying to establish that drugs or other causes might have been responsible.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • ‘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 set by policy, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or values,’ the Minneapolis police chief said.
  • Arradondo said that he first viewed the Floyd ‘bystander video’ after receiving a call from a Minneapolis resident, asking, ‘Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 30th and Chicago?’
  • While cross-examining the chief, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, subtly alluded to the threats police face, noting that they could confront dangers during even commonplace moments like traffic stops.
  • Shown a photo of Chauvin’s position with his knee on Floyd by the prosecution, Inspector Katie Blackwell, who previously led the training program for Minneapolis Police Department, said the posture did not comply with training.
  • The morning began with the prosecution and defense in a dispute over whether police officers will be allowed to give their opinion on what they would have done and which types of training Chauvin received.
  • Prosecutors face a steep legal challenge in winning a conviction against a police officer. Despite nationwide protests, police are rarely charged when they kill someone on duty. And even when they are, convictions are often difficult.
  • The first week of the Chauvin trial came down to this, again and again, writes Monica Hesse: Who gets to be scared in America.

Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson vetoes bill banning medical treatments for transgender youths, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Monday, 5 April 2021: “Arkansas’ governor on Monday vetoed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths, calling the legislation a ‘vast government overreach’ and a ‘product of the cultural war in America.’ Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that if signed into law, the bill would interfere with physicians and parents ‘as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.’ The bill, which is part of a wave of similar legislation across the country, would have banned doctors from providing transgender minors with gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgeries, and from referring them for such treatments. Republican lawmakers in at least 17 other states have introduced similar bans on medical treatments for transgender minors, despite opposition from major pediatric and psychiatric organizations. Because it takes a simple majority to override a governor’s veto in Arkansas, Hutchinson acknowledged that the General Assembly is likely to override the veto, given the overwhelming support for the bill in the state legislature.” See also, Asa Hutchinson, Republican Governor of Arkansas, Vetoes Anti-Transgender Bill. The bill, which could still be enacted if state legislators override the governor’s veto, would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Monday, 5 April 2021: “Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas vetoed a bill on Monday that would make it illegal for transgender minors to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery — a rare Republican rejection amid the growing conservative effort to restrict transgender people’s health care and participation in society. The Arkansas State Legislature could override Mr. Hutchinson’s veto of the bill, known as H.B. 1570. Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers and passed the bill last month with mostly party-line votes: 70 to 22 in the House and 28 to 7 in the Senate.”

Republicans ramp up attacks on corporations over Georgia voting law and threaten ‘consequences,’ The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor and Todd C. Frankel, Monday, 5 April 2021: “Republicans are attacking corporations over their decision to condemn the controversial Georgia voting law, part of the party’s embrace of the populism espoused by President Donald Trump even as it creates tensions with traditional allies in the business community. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday accused corporations of siding with Democrats’ portrayal of the law as the new Jim Crow, which he called an attempt to ‘mislead and bully the American people.’ He argued that it would expand, not restrict, voter access to the polls, and his statement included a threat of unspecified ‘serious consequences’ if companies continued to stand opposite Republicans on a variety of issues. ‘From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep behaving like a woke parallel government,’ McConnell said in his statement. ‘Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order.'” See also, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell says big business is acting like a ‘woke parallel government’, Politico, Burgess Everett, Monday, 5 April 2021: “Mitch McConnell is putting Big Business on notice: There will be ‘serious consequences’ if corporate America continues acting like ‘a woke parallel government.’ The broadside from the Senate minority leader, who has aligned himself with the business community for decades, is just the latest sign of a fraying alliance between big companies and the Republican Party. In the wake of the cancellation of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Georgia over new election laws there, McConnell (R-Ky.) flashed frustration that companies appear to be taking direction from Democratic complaints about the law.” See also, Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law, The New York Times, David Gelles, Monday, 5 April 2021: “At first, Delta, Georgia’s largest employer, tried to stay out of the fight on voting rights. But after the Georgia law was passed, a group of powerful Black executives publicly called on big companies to oppose the voting legislation. Hours later, Delta and Coca-Cola abruptly reversed course and disavowed the Georgia law. On Friday, Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta in protest, and more than 100 other companies spoke out in defense of voting rights.”

Department of Justice tells agencies that gay and transgender students are protected by anti-discrimination laws, The Hill, Harper Neidig, Monday, 5 April 2021: “The Department of Justice (DOJ) has told federal agencies that gay and transgender students are protected from discrimination under civil rights laws, reversing Trump administration guidance that limited the impact of a landmark Supreme Court decision last year extending employment discrimination protections to LGBT workers. In an undated memo to federal agencies, Pamela Karlan, the head of the DOJ’s civil rights division, said that based on the Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, the 1972 education civil rights law known as Title IX should be read as covering gay and transgender students. ‘After considering the text of Title IX, Supreme Court caselaw, and developing jurisprudence in this area, the Division has determined that the best reading of Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination “on the basis of sex” is that it includes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation,’ Karlan wrote in the memo. A Justice Department spokeswoman said the memo was issued March 26. Title IX prohibits discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ in educational institutions that receive federal funding.”

Supreme Court vacates ruling barring Trump from blocking Twitter critics, saying the case is moot, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 5 April 2021: “The Supreme Court on Monday vacated a lower court opinion that said President Donald Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed, which since has been suspended by the company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York had ruled that because the president had used the forum to regularly communicate with the public, he could not block critical individual users. The case held First Amendment implications for how elected officials nationwide interact with constituents on social media. But Trump lost reelection, and Twitter canceled his account, leading the Supreme Court to tell the lower court to vacate the judgment and dismiss the case as moot.”

Carbon dioxide spikes to critical record, halfway to doubling preindustrial levels. The concentration of the heat-trapping gas topped 420 parts per million, while the planet has warmed more than two degrees. The Washington Post, Matthew Cappucci and Jason Samenow, Monday, 5 April 2021: “For the first time in recorded history, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, or CO2, was measured at more than 420 parts per million at the Mauna Loa Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s a disconcerting milestone in the human-induced warming of the planet, around the halfway point on our path toward doubling preindustrial CO2 levels…. When the station began collecting CO2 measurements in the late 1950s, atmospheric CO2 concentration sat at around 315 parts per million. On Saturday, the daily average was pegged at 421.21 parts per million — the first time in human history that number has been so high. Previously, it had never exceeded 420 parts per million.”

 

Tuesday, 6 April 2021:

 

Democrats May Be Able to Sidestep Filibusters for Some Legislation, The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 April 2021:

  • A ruling by a top Senate official gives Democrats a way around filibusters.

  • Matt Gaetz is said to have sought a blanket pardon from Trump.

  • Arkansas legislators enact an anti-transgender law over the governor’s veto.

  • Biden moves up eligibility deadline to April 19 for all American adults.

  • McConnell, long a defender of corporate speech, now suggests executives ‘stay out of politics.’

  • Alcee Hastings, who represented Florida in the House, dies at 84.

  • Kamala Harris will move into the vice president’s residence this evening.

  • Capitol Rioters Face the Consequences of Their Selfie Sabotage.

  • Biden will keep Trump’s policy on land mines, for now.

  • The U.S. and Iran agree on initial steps toward reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • The Biden administration will seek the public’s input on a Title IX overhaul.
  • A former H.U.D. official is punished for duping tenants into filming a pro-Trump video.
  • The corporate protest of restrictive voting laws draws rebuke from Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas.

‘We’re still in a life and death race against the virus’: Biden cautions pandemic is not over yet, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Reis Thebault, Tuesday, 6 April 2021: “President Biden said Tuesday that the United States is still in a ‘life and death race against this virus,’ cautioning that the coronavirus pandemic is not over yet and urging Americans to get vaccinated. He spoke of vigilance in remarks at the White House and as he visited a pop-up vaccination site in Alexandria, Va. Biden also moved up a deadline for states to make all U.S. adults eligible to receive a vaccine, from May 1 to April 19.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, a Democrat who represented South Florida in Congress for nearly 30 years, died Tuesday, according to his chief of staff, Lale Morrison.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki batted down the suggestion that the Biden administration was eying a national vaccine verification card, saying unequivocally that the president would not support that.
  • U.S. Capitol Police Officer William ‘Billy’ F. Evans, who was killed Friday when a man crashed his vehicle into him and another officer, will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week.
  • House Democrats released a list of 22 seats they plan to target in the 2022 midterm elections, largely in the suburbs where the party gained ground during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Expert Witness in Derek Chauvin Trial Says His ‘Force Was Excessive.’ Prosecution witnesses testified that Mr. Chauvin’s restraint of George Floyd did not follow his training or standard police tactics; the defense’s questioning spotlighted the difficulty of real-time decisions. The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 April 2021:

  • Takeaways from Day 7 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Scenes from outside the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Nielsen data shows strong viewer interest in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Called by prosecutors to testify, a medical training officer provides an opening for the defense.
  • Training vs. experience on the streets becomes a focal point of the Chauvin trial.
  • An expert witness calls Derek Chauvin’s use of force ‘excessive.’
  • Al Sharpton and the Floyd family pray for ‘justice’ outside of the courthouse.
  • A police use-of-force instructor faced questions about Derek Chauvin’s use of neck restraints.
  • What we know about use of force and policing.
  • A Minneapolis police sergeant and crisis intervention trainer testifies that officers often have time to ‘slow things down.’
  • Morries Hall, a friend of George Floyd’s who was with him when he was arrested, is trying to avoid testifying.
  • The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial was dramatic. The new phase may be more critical.
  • Rare criticism from a police chief propels Derek Chauvin trial.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Experts testify that Derek Chauvin failed to follow training and used ‘excessive’ force during George Floyd arrest, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware, and Meryl Kornfield, Tuesday, 6 April 2021: “The trial of Derek Chauvin continued Tuesday with an array of police experts who testified that Chauvin failed to follow his training, from use of force to CPR, during his arrest of George Floyd. The defense continued to underscore the role the crowd of bystanders had during the incident, arguing that they adversely impacted Chauvin’s decision process and responses during a fluid situation. Several experts said with certainty that Chauvin’s neck restraint of Floyd was against guidance. ‘We tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible,’ said Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, the use-of-force coordinator for the department. He called the restraint unauthorized and described it as ‘active aggression.’ Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for MPD, testified that officers like Chauvin who are trained in CPR learn that a subject’s ability to talk does not always mean they’re breathing properly. She also acknowledged under a line of questioning by defense lawyer Eric J. Nelson that distractions, like those from a surrounding crowd, can make it difficult to focus on lifesaving measures. The defense signaled it would bring her back to the stand when it starts its portion of the case.

Here are some of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Mercil testified that suspects should be put in recovery position ‘as soon as possible’ once they are prone to allow them to breathe.
  • Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jody Stiger, the prosecution’s use-of-force expert, testified that the force Chauvin exerted on Floyd was ‘excessive.’
  • Nelson argued that Chauvin did not administer a traditional chokehold on Floyd. He added that the officer had his knee on Floyd’s shoulder when paramedics arrived.
  • In cross-examination, Chauvin’s defense team repeatedly brought up the medical training for police surrounding excited delirium, which was previously cited by Nelson as one reason for Floyd’s death.
  • During the cross-examination of Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang, the department’s crisis training coordinator, Nelson said that the bystanders who yelled at the officers while they detained Floyd could have affected their crisis training.
  • In a motion hearing Tuesday, attorneys for Morries Hall argued that any testimony from the man with George Floyd inside his car before his death could potentially self-incriminate him on a murder charge in a possible, separate trial. Judge Peter Cahill offered a ‘narrow’ option for Hall to provide testimony that will be reexamined later this week.

Senate Ruling Gives Democrats a Back Door Around the Filibuster. A surprise decision by a top Senate official gives Democrats multiple chances to skirt Republican opposition, but it could sap momentum for weakening the filibuster. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Tuesday, 6 April 2021: “Democrats might not have the votes to gut the filibuster, but they were just handed the procedural keys to a backdoor assault on the Senate’s famous obstruction tactic. With a ruling on Monday that Democrats can reuse this year’s budget blueprint at least once to employ the fast-track reconciliation process, Democrats can now conceivably advance multiple spending and tax packages this year alone without a single Republican vote as long as they hold their 50 members together. It is a means of weakening the filibuster without having to take the politically charged vote to do so.”

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott bans state agencies and state-funded organizations from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Texas Tribune, Reese Oxner, Tuesday, 6 April 2021: “Gov. Greg Abbott said Tuesday that he banned state agencies, political subdivisions and organizations receiving public funds from creating ‘vaccine passports’ or otherwise requiring someone to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive services. This comes as vaccine credentials, often referred to as vaccine passports, are being developed around the world as a way to quickly prove someone’s vaccination status. It has become a fierce debate, with Republicans largely opposing the move, saying it is an infringement on individual freedoms and privacy. Supporters, including a number of private companies, point to the passports as a way to confidently return to activities and ensure safety at workplaces. A handful of GOP-backed bills have been introduced in states across the U.S. aiming to restrict entities from requiring vaccines for their employees, including in Texas. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also prohibited state agencies from using vaccine passports but went a step further and said no business can require their customers to display them.”

 

Wednesday, 7 April 2021:

 

Biden Prepares to Take on Gun Violence in Wake of Back-to-Back Shootings, The New York Times, Wednesday, 7 April 2021:

  • Facing pressure after shootings, Biden is expected to announce executive actions to fight gun violence.

  • Biden will nominate David Chipman, an adviser to a top gun control group, as Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms director.

  • Biden restores aid to Palestinians in a move that reverses a Trump-era policy.

  • A G.O.P. group is warning donors who decline to donate monthly that it will ‘tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.’

  • Biden says he’s willing to compromise on his infrastructure plan, but will not tolerate ‘doing nothing.’

  • After the Capitol riot, House Democrats are torn over working with their Republican colleagues.

  • A court filing says parents of 445 separated migrant children still have not been found.

  • Joe Manchin says there is ‘no circumstance’ in which he would back weakening the filibuster.
  • The Biden administration seeks to raise $2.5 trillion through corporate tax increases.
  • Watchdog group claims Texas Senator Ted Cruz improperly spent campaign funds to promote his book.
  • ‘Vaccine passports’ emerge as the next divisive issue in the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Democratic lawmakers join a lawsuit that accuses Trump and Giuliani of conspiring to incite the January 6th riot.
  • Mike Pence unveils a new advocacy group and a two-book deal.

Biden open to compromise on jobs and infrastructure but says ‘inaction simply is not an option,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 7 April 2021: “President Biden said Wednesday that he is open to compromise on his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan but that ‘inaction simply is not an option’ as he delivered remarks from the White House complex on his sweeping proposal. Facing criticism from Republicans, Biden also defended his expansive definition of infrastructure, saying, ‘The idea of infrastructure has always evolved to meet the aspirations of an American people and their needs.’ He encouraged Republicans to come forward if they have alternatives to his proposal to pay for the plan, which includes a corporate tax increase.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: George Floyd’s Drug Use Returns as Focus in the Derek Chauvin Trial. A debate over what Mr. Floyd said as he was held on the ground, and what it might indicate about his drug use on the day he died, erupted Wednesday during expert testimony. The New York Times, Wednesday, 7 April 2021:

  • Artistic sidewalk scenes and other memorials in Minneapolis.
  • Takeaways from Day 8 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • In the Chauvin trial, an argument emerges over whether George Floyd said he ‘ate too many drugs’ or ‘ain’t do no drugs.’
  • Defense focuses on George Floyd’s prior arrest and drug use.
  • A central claim of Derek Chauvin’s defense: Bystanders who witnessed the arrest influenced his actions.
  • What is happening when the judge and the lawyers put on their headphones?
  • When will there be a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial?
  • What is the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency that investigated George Floyd’s death?
  • A police force expert says Derek Chauvin used ‘deadly force’ on George Floyd when he should have used none.
  • What is proportional force?
  • An expert witness who called Derek Chauvin’s use of force’ excessive’ returns to the stand.
  • Minneapolis’s Native American community is closely watching the trial.
  • The use-of-force policy is an important component of Derek Chauvin’s trial.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Chauvin’s attorney argues George Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’ was a form of resisting arrest, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware, and Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 7 April 2021: “Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin continued Wednesday with the former officer’s defense team arguing that George Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’ while police attempted to load him into the squad car was a form of resisting arrest. Later in the day, Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson played indiscernible body-cam audio and claimed Wednesday that Floyd said, ‘I ate too many drugs.’ Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jody Stiger, a paid witness for the state, said he could not make out what Floyd said, while James Reyerson, a special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said the clip sounded more like, ‘I ain’t do no drugs.’ Stiger’s testimony came as prosecutors began to shift from police testimony into the larger investigation of Floyd’s death. The county medical examiner is expected to testify later this week.Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Stiger said that ‘no force should have been used’ on Floyd when he was on the ground last May. Stiger added that Chauvin did not follow pain compliance with Floyd when the officer was on top of the 46-year-old man, saying Chauvin failed to ease up on the pressure applied to Floyd. ‘At that point, it’s just pain,’ he said.
  • Stiger said again that Floyd posed no threat to officers at the time he was detained.
  • Chauvin’s defense team requested that investigators search the police car Floyd was forced into because of a white pill found on the floor in the back seat, a forensic scientist testified.
  • Nelson continued to underscore the role the crowd of bystanders had during the incident, arguing that they adversely impacted the officer’s decision process and responses.
  • In testimony this week, police and law enforcement officials have cast Chauvin outside of the blue wall, writes Robin Givhan.

Opinion: Senator Joe Manchin: I will not vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster, The Washington Post, Joe Manchin III, Wednesday, 7 April 2021: “There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster. The time has come to end these political games, and to usher a new era of bipartisanship where we find common ground on the major policy debates facing our nation.”

Reversing Trump, Biden Restores Aid to Palestinians. The move will once again make the United States a leading donor to the United Nations agency that assists about 5.7 million Palestinians in the Middle East. The New York Times, Pranshu Verma and Rick Gladstone, Wednesday, 7 April 2021: “The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it would restore hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to Palestinians, its strongest move yet to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s policy on the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The package, which gives at least $235 million in assistance to Palestinians, will go to humanitarian, economic, development and security efforts in the region, and is part of the administration’s attempt to rehabilitate U.S. relations with Palestinians, which effectively stopped when Mr. Trump was in office.”

National Republican Congressional Commitee (NRCC) warns donors Trump will find out if they opt out of monthly donations, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 7 April 2021: “The National Republican Congressional Committee threatened donors that it will tell former president Donald Trump that they are defectors if they opt out of giving recurring monthly funds to the campaign arm for the House GOP. After donating to the NRCC, a donor is shown a yellow box with a small prechecked box and warned: ‘If you UNCHECK this box, we will have to tell Trump you’re a DEFECTOR.’ Left checked and the supporter will be agreeing to contribute every month. The tactic, roundly criticized by campaign finance experts as deceptive, was employed by the Trump campaign in the final months ahead of the 2020 election to shore up its dwindling coffers. Many supporters who intended to donate just once were unwittingly enrolled to give weekly because they didn’t read the fine print requiring them to uncheck a box, a New York Times investigation found, resulting in credit card complaints, overdrafts and the Trump campaign refunding tens of millions of dollars to its supporters.”

 

Thursday, 8 April 2021:

 

Second Aide to Republican Representative Matt Gaetz Is Said to Have Quit Amid Widening Investigation, The New York Times, Thursday, 8 April 2021:

  • Another aide to Matt Gaetz is said to have quit amid an intensifying Justice Department investigation.

  • With gun control measures stalled in Congress, Biden announces actions against gun violence.
  • A fact-check of Biden’s guns speech reveals some inaccuracies.

  • ‘I regret it.’ Boehner says Clinton impeachment was a political attack he wishes he’d fought.

  • Blinken highlights failures of the State Department during the Holocaust.

  • A bill further restricting voting rights passes a key committee in the Texas Legislature.

  • A former Florida official tied to Matt Gaetz is expected to plead guilty to federal charges.

  • Some asylum seekers, turned away by U.S., are finding sanctuary in Mexico.

  • With a warning to Democrats, Senator Joe Manchin points the way for Biden’s agenda.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell walks back his rebuke of companies that have come out publicly against Georgia’s new voting law.
  • Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is banking on Georgia’s divisive new voting law to win back Trump and his conservative base.
  • Lee Zeldin, an avid Trump supporter, says he will challenge Cuomo in the 2022 governor’s race.

Biden calls U.S. gun violence an ‘international embarrassment’ as he outlines executive actions, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “President Biden on Thursday called gun violence in the United States an ‘international embarrassment’ as he outlined several executive actions, including an attempt to rein in ‘ghost guns,’ devices without serial numbers that are sold in kits and assembled at home. The announcements in the White House Rose Garden marked Biden’s first major presidential actions on guns. He pushed back on arguments that he is threatening the Second Amendment and lamented a mass shooting Wednesday in South Carolina that left at least five people dead, including two children.

Here are some of the significant developments included in this article.

  • An associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) is in plea negotiations to resolve the sex trafficking allegations against him, a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz if Joel Greenberg cooperates with prosecutors in a bid for leniency.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) said that under no circumstances would he vote to eliminate or weaken the legislative filibuster in his most definitive statement on the topic.
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) became the first Republican to formally announce a New York gubernatorial bid, taking aim at embattled Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D).
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is heading into one of the most challenging stretches of her career as her party attempts to enact what Biden is touting as a transformative agenda.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Expert Says George Floyd Showed Signs of Brain Injury 4 Minutes Before Officer Chauvin Relented. Thursday’s testimony included medical witnesses who helped underscore prosecution claims that Mr. Floyd died from being held down by Derek Chauvin. The New York Times, Thursday, 8 April 2021:

  • Security is tight around the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial is taking place.
  • Takeaways from Day 9 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Dr. Bill Smock, an emergency medicine physician who trains police officers: ‘That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.’
  • A toxicologist’s testimony challenged claims by Derek Chauvin’s lawyer that George Floyd overdosed on fentanyl.
  • Kentucky police surgeon testifies about how police are trained to use force.
  • In his cross-examination, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer contested a lung doctor’s testimony and focused on fentanyl.
  • Dr. Daniel Isenschmid, who performed the toxicology tests for an autopsy of George Floyd, takes the stand.
  • Does it matter whether Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck versus his shoulder?
  • The deaths of Philando Castile and George Floyd have left deep wounds in the Twin Cities.
  • A doctor testifies that George Floyd showed signs of a brain injury 4 minutes before Derek Chauvin lifted his knee, a doctor testifies.
  • In their own words: Pulmonologist says George Floyd had to ‘breathe with his fingers and knuckles.’
  • Experts break down the key medical terminology surrounding George Floyd’s autopsies.
  • Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, says shallow breathing led to George Floyd’s death.
  • The trial of Derek Chauvin is a difficult learning opportunity for Minneapolis students.
  • Witnesses focus on Chauvin’s use of force and George Floyd’s drug use.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Experts in Chauvin’s trial challenge defense’s case for what killed George Floyd, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware, Meryl Kornfield, and Jared Goyette, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “A breathing expert said that George Floyd died of low oxygen, struggling for air under an officer’s knee. A police surgeon emphatically discounted that Floyd suffered a heart attack or had ‘excited delirium,’ and a forensic toxicologist said Floyd’s blood contained only a small amount of methamphetamine. Thursday’s testimony in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin spoke to what could be the heart of the case, challenging the defense’s central argument that Floyd died of a combination of heart disease, drugs and high blood pressure. Chauvin’s attorney has suggested Floyd’s already-compromised heart grew overwhelmed by his struggle with Minneapolis police. Andrew Baker, the chief medical examiner in Minnesota’s Hennepin County, is expected to testify Friday.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Asked when authorities should have performed CPR on Floyd, police surgeon Bill Smock responded: ‘Way before it was. As soon as Mr. Floyd is unconscious, he should have been rolled over.’
  • Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist and breathing expert, said a person in good health would have died as a result of the restraint administered by Chauvin. He estimated that Chauvin placed more than 91 pounds on Floyd’s neck.
  • Floyd’s airways were 85 percent restricted, Tobin said, thus making breathing ‘at some stage unsustainable.’
  • Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson again focused on the traces of fentanyl and methamphetamine that were found in Floyd’s body, in an effort to show they were a contributing factor to his restricted breathing.

Biden Takes Initial Steps to Address Gun Violence. With legislation in Congress stalled by Republican opposition, the president ordered a crackdown on ‘ghost guns’ and said the epidemic of shootings was “an international embarrassment.” The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “President Biden, calling gun violence in the United States ‘an international embarrassment,’ took a set of initial steps on Thursday to address the problem, starting with a crackdown on the proliferation of so-called ghost guns, or firearms assembled from kits. Acknowledging that more aggressive actions like banning assault weapons, closing background check loopholes and stripping gun manufacturers of their immunity from liability lawsuits would have to wait for action from Congress, he said it was nonetheless vital to do what he could on his own to confront what he called an epidemic of shootings that are killing roughly 100 Americans a day.” See also, Biden acts on gun control after pressure from impatient activists, The Washington Post, Annie Linskey, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “President Biden on Thursday announced a series of executive actions to curb gun violence, and he pledged to push for sweeping change to the country’s firearms laws — his first substantive response to a pair of mass shootings last month that left 18 dead. ‘Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment,’ Biden said in the White House Rose Garden. ‘The idea that we have so many people dying every single day from gun violence in America is a blemish on our character as nation.’ The president unveiled new rules on ‘ghost guns’ — firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track — among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons.”

Lawyers Say Indicted Associate of Republican Representative Matt Gaetz Is Expected to Plead Guilty. The indication of a potential cooperation deal came as investigators were also examining a trip by Mr. Gaetz to the Bahamas and whether he discussed running a so-called ghost candidate in a local race. The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei, Katie Benner, and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “A former local official in Florida facing an array of federal charges in an inquiry that is also focused on Representative Matt Gaetz was expected to plead guilty, lawyers said in court on Thursday, an indication that the defendant is likely to cooperate as a key witness against Mr. Gaetz. A cooperation agreement by Joel Greenberg, a former county tax collector north of Orlando, is almost certain to create legal difficulties for Mr. Gaetz, a prominent ally of former President Donald J. Trump. Investigators are said to be examining their involvement with women who were recruited online for sex and given cash payments, as well as whether Mr. Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old. Mr. Greenberg, who already faces one count of sex trafficking involving the girl, would be able to give prosecutors a firsthand account of their actions. Mr. Greenberg faces other charges, including stalking a political rival and trying to bribe a federal official; he has pleaded not guilty. Investigators suspect he met the women through a website that connects people willing to go on dates in exchange for gifts and allowances, then arranged for liaisons with himself and associates including Mr. Gaetz.”

Manhattan District Attorney seizes evidence from Trump executive Barry Weisselberg’s former daughter-in-law, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, acting on a grand jury subpoena, took possession of financial records Thursday morning from the apartment of Jennifer Weisselberg, the former daughter-in-law of a top Trump Organization officer. Jennifer Weisselberg was married to Barry Weisselberg — the son of Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg — from 2004 to 2018. She has previously said that she had seven boxes of financial records from both her ex-husband and his father, some of which were obtained through divorce litigation. On Thursday, she loaded three boxes and a laptop computer onto a valet cart and wheeled them from her building to a black Jeep with dark-tinted windows that was waiting outside.” See also, Former Daughter-In-Law of Trump Executive Allen Weisselberg Gives Manhattan Prosecutors Boxes of Documents, The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 8 April 2021: “The former daughter-in-law of a Trump Organization executive on Thursday turned over boxes filled with financial documents to Manhattan prosecutors who are investigating former President Donald J. Trump and his business, according to her representatives. Investigators for the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., acting on a grand jury subpoena, collected several boxes of documents and a laptop from the Upper West Side apartment of the woman, Jennifer Weisselberg, who was married to a son of the longtime Trump executive Allen H. Weisselberg. The handover of the documents offered the latest suggestion that prosecutors looking into possible fraud by Mr. Trump and his company are stepping up pressure on Mr. Weisselberg, the company’s chief financial officer, who has for decades looked after the Trump Organization’s finances and could provide essential insider knowledge to investigators.”

 

Friday, 9 April 2021:

 

Biden’s Budget Includes $1.52 Trillion in Federal Spending. The proposed money would significantly bolster education, health research and fighting climate change. In the House, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida faces an ethics panel inquiry into sexual misconduct allegations. The New York Times, Friday, 9 April 2021:

  • Biden proposes $1.52 trillion in spending as the White House releases fragments of his first budget.

  • The House ethics panel has opened an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Matt Gaetz.

  • Biden is creating a commission to study adding seats to the Supreme Court, term limits or other changes.

  • What does it mean to expand the Supreme Court?
  • The Anti-Defamation League calls for Tucker Carlson to be fired over ‘replacement theory’ remarks.

  • The Pentagon announces new efforts to weed out extremism among troops after the Capitol riot.
  • The State Department relaxes limits on contacts with Taiwan.

  • Pentagon funding is kept flat in Biden’s budget proposal, ruffling doves and hawks alike.

  • The budget plan boosts funding to prevent future pandemics and stabilize Central American countries.
  • The C.D.C. would get a significant increase in funding under Biden’s spending plan.

  • Biden proposes a massive expansion of housing programs for the poor, signaling a big shift in poverty policy.
  • Talks in Vienna on reviving the Iran nuclear deal will continue next week.

House Ethics panel opens investigation into Republican Representative Matt Gaetz as he faces sex-trafficking allegation, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 9 April 2021: “The House Ethics committee on Friday said it would launch an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who has been accused of sexual misconduct, among a litany of other things. The Justice Department is investigating Gaetz for an alleged relationship with a 17-year-old girl. In a statement Friday, the committee chairman said they were aware of allegations that Gaetz ‘may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct.’ Gaetz has not been charged with any crimes and has denied the allegations, claiming he and his family are the victims of an extortion plot. President Biden’s first budget request to Congress, unveiled Friday, reflects far different priorities than his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden’s blueprint seeks $1.5 trillion in federal spending, with major increases for education, health and the environment, while keeping defense spending essentially flat. Meanwhile, Biden announced a bipartisan commission Friday to study possible changes to the Supreme Court, fulfilling a campaign promise prompted by pressure from liberal groups to expand the number of justices.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden will meet Monday at the White House with congressional Republicans and Democrats as he makes the case for his ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.
  • The House Ethics Committee has opened an investigation into Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) who has been accused of sexual misconduct by a former lobbyist.
  • Former House speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) in a new memoir derides today’s Republican Party as unrecognizable to traditional conservatives like himself.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), on Friday announced its support for the reelection of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), whom Trump has vowed to defeat.
  • A Florida politician at the center of an investigation into Gaetz is negotiating with prosecutors to resolve his own sex-trafficking charges, a potentially ominous sign for Gaetz.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Medical Examiner Says Drugs and Heart Disease Were ‘Not Direct Causes’ of George Floyd’s Death. Dr. Andrew Baker said the efforts by Derek Chauvin and other officers to restrain Mr. Floyd were more than he could take. The New York Times, Friday, 9 April 2021:

  • The scene around Minneapolis as the second week of the trial comes to a close.
  • Takeaways from Day 10 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • The police caused George Floyd’s death, but drugs and heart disease played a role, the medical examiner says.
  • Medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker: The interaction with police ‘was just more than Mr. Floyd could take.’
  • How the medical examiner’s previous statements may help the defense.
  • Dr. Andrew Baker, Hennepin County’s chief medical examiner, takes the stand.
  • A pathologist testifies that police officers, not drugs, caused George Floyd’s death.
  • Here’s what we know about the key medical terminology used in the trial.
  • Forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas: ‘This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working.’
  • How the prosecution tried to pre-empt potential problems for them in the medical examiner’s testimony.
  • A pulmonologist testifies: ‘One second he’s alive, and one second he’s no longer alive.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker testifies that the law enforcement restraint and the neck compression were ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take,’ The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Abigail Hauslohner, Holly Bailey, Mark Berman, and Paulina Villegas, Friday, 9 April 2021: “The second week of Derek Chauvin’s trial came to a close with one of its most-anticipated witnesses on the stand — the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on George Floyd last year, ruling his death a homicide. Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker testified Friday that he thinks the stress of Floyd’s arrest overwhelmed his already-overburdened heart and ‘tipped him over the edge.’ ‘The law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,’ Baker said. The medical examiner did not point to asphyxia, however, in a contrast to other medical experts who spoke this week. Baker said that in his opinion, Chauvin’s knee would not ‘anatomically cut off Mr. Floyd’s airway.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Emails show Trump health advisers cheered attempts to alter scientific reports, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Friday, 9 April 2021: “Political appointees in the Trump administration’s health and human services department celebrated their efforts last year to alter reports written by career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to new emails released by the House’s select committee investigating the federal government’s pandemic response. Paul Alexander, a science adviser in the department’s communications office who regularly clashed with the C.D.C., wrote to the agency’s acting chief of staff, Nina Witkofsky, in August claiming that attempts to influence the agency’s closely-guarded guidance on disease outbreaks, known as the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, had been a success.” See also, Emails show Trump officials celebrated efforts to change CDC reports on scientific findings about coronavirus, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Friday, 9 April 2021: “Trump appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services last year privately touted their efforts to block or alter scientists’ reports on the coronavirus to more closely align with then-President Donald Trump’s more optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to newly released documents from congressional investigators. The documents provide further insight into how senior Trump officials approached last year’s explosion of coronavirus cases in the United States. Even as career government scientists worked to combat the virus, a cadre of Trump appointees was attempting to blunt the scientists’ messages, edit their findings and equip the president with an alternate set of talking points.” See also, House Select Committee says Trump appointee ‘bragged’ about influencing CDC scientific reports on Covid-19, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Friday, 9 April 2021: “A former Trump administration appointee privately boasted last year about influencing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s scientific reports about Covid-19 and attacked the agency’s guidance while advocating for a herd immunity strategy, according to a House select committee investigating the federal government’s Covid-19 response. The new documents show the extent that Trump appointees went to push to change language of weekly science reports so as not to undermine then-President Donald Trump’s political message. Last year, former Health and Human Services senior adviser Paul Alexander wrote an email describing two examples of the CDC adjusting its writing based on his input, according to new documents obtained by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.”

Biden Is Creating a Commission to Study Expanding the Supreme Court. The commission will also examine other potential changes such as term limits for justices. Progressives are pushing President Biden to add seats to balance the court’s conservative majority. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Carl Hulse, Friday, 9 April 2021: “President Biden on Friday will order a 180-day study of adding seats to the Supreme Court, making good on a campaign-year promise to establish a bipartisan commission to examine the potentially explosive subjects of expanding the court or setting term limits for justices, White House officials said. The president acted under pressure from activists pushing for more seats to alter the ideological balance of the court after President Donald J. Trump appointed three justices, including one to a seat that Republicans had blocked his predecessor, Barack Obama, from filling for almost a year.” See also, Biden unveils commission to study possible expansion of Supreme Court, The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Friday, 9 April 2021: “President Biden created a bipartisan commission Friday to study structural changes to the Supreme Court, giving the group 180 days to produce a report on a range of thorny topics including court expansion and term limits. The commission, composed of 36 legal scholars, former federal judges and practicing lawyers, fulfills Biden’s campaign promise to establish such a group after activists pushed him to back expanding the court following Republicans’ rush to confirm Justice Amy Coney Barrett shortly before last year’s election. Biden has said he is ‘not a fan’ of adding seats to the Supreme Court, but he has declined to say whether he supports any other changes to its structure. The commission, however, is likely to disappoint liberals who are looking for quick action to blunt the court’s conservative majority, while giving the president cover to avoid wading into the contentious debate. The members are not tasked with giving Biden specific recommendations but rather providing an analysis of a range of proposed changes to the court. The executive order establishing the commission mandates that the group hold public meetings and take input from a range of stakeholders, with the report expected in October.”

Biden seeks huge funding increases for education, health care, and environmental protection in first budget request to Congress, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Friday, 9 April 2021: “President Biden on Friday asked Congress to authorize a massive $1.5 trillion federal spending plan in 2022, seeking to invest heavily in government agencies to boost education, expand public housing, combat the coronavirus and confront climate change. The request marks Biden’s first proposal for discretionary spending, a precursor to a full annual budget slated for later in the spring that will also address programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The president’s early blueprint calls for a nearly 16 percent increase in funding across nondefense domestic programs, reflecting the White House’s guiding belief that bigger government — and spending — can close the country’s persistent economic gaps. Many of the agencies Biden seeks to fund at higher levels in 2022 are programs that President Donald Trump had unsuccessfully sought to slash while in the White House. In a further break with Trump, Biden’s new plan also calls for keeping military spending relatively flat in the upcoming fiscal year. The approach sparked early opposition from congressional Republicans, who faulted the Biden administration for shortchanging the Pentagon.” See also, What President Biden Proposed in His Fiscal 2022 Spending Plan, The New York Times, Thomas Kaplan, Friday, 9 April 2021: “President Biden’s $1.52 trillion spending proposal released on Friday calls for a vast infusion of funds across federal agencies, with proposals for billions of dollars in additional spending in areas like education, public health, climate change and housing. The plan, which does not include Mr. Biden’s sprawling infrastructure proposals, is for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. It represents a sharp break from the budget priorities of President Donald J. Trump, who sought to cut funding for domestic programs.”

Out of Trump’s Shadow, World Bank President David Malpass Embraces Climate Fight, The New York Times, Alan Rappeport, Friday, 9 April 2021: “At a panel discussion this past week, David Malpass, the World Bank president, described climate change as an ‘immense’ issue for the globe and talked about the need for nations to transition away from coal. ‘A lot of countries have coal miners that are dependent on coal, and yet the world knows that there needs to be a way to a better future on that,’ Mr. Malpass said during a conversation with Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen and Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the International Monetary Fund, at the annual spring meetings of the I.M.F. and the World Bank. Such a comment from Mr. Malpass, who was selected for the job by former President Donald J. Trump, would have been startling just a year or two ago. These days, with the Biden administration seeing climate change as an existential threat, Mr. Malpass has refashioned himself as an environmentalist, giving speeches about ‘green growth’ and a net-zero carbon future. The transformation reflects the changing political winds in Washington — one that could have important consequences if the World Bank can resume its central role in the fight against climate change, which stalled during the Trump years.”

 

Saturday, 10 April 2021:

 

Maryland Passes Sweeping Police Reform Legislation. The measures, enacted over the objections of Gov. Larry Hogan, placed the state at the forefront of a national debate over police brutality and officers’ excessive use of force. The New York Times, Michael Levenson and Bryan Pietsch, Saturday, 10 April 2021: “Maryland lawmakers voted on Saturday to limit police officers’ use of force, restrict the use of no-knock warrants and repeal the nation’s first Bill of Rights for law enforcement, taking sweeping action to address police violence after nationwide demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. The Democratic-led legislature enacted the changes by overriding Gov. Larry Hogan’s vetoes during a session in which some Black lawmakers read aloud the names of people they said had been killed by police officers in the state. The changes placed Maryland at the forefront of a national debate over police brutality and the use of excessive force, a discussion that has gained intensity since Mr. Floyd was killed in police custody last year, setting off protests across the country. The legislation was passed in the middle of the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is accused of the murder of Mr. Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.”

Trump Lashes His Enemies Anew as Republicans Dance Around His Presence, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Martin, Saturday, 10 April 2021: “The first spring donor retreat after a defeat for a political party is typically a moment of reflection and renewal as officials chart a new direction forward. But with former President Donald J. Trump determined to keep his grip on the Republican Party and the party’s base as adhered to him as ever, the coming together of the Republican National Committee’s top donors in South Florida this weekend is less a moment of reset and more a reminder of the continuing tensions and schisms roiling the G.O.P…. Mr. Trump praised loyalists like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Mark Meadows, his former chief of staff, while lashing his enemies — among them Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker; former President Barack Obama, whom he called “Barack Hussein Obama”; Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical adviser; and Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, whom he berated anew for not helping overturn Mr. Biden’s win in the state. He saved much of his vitriol for Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, calling him a ‘dumb son of a bitch’ and a ‘stone cold loser,’’ according to the attendee. A ‘real leader,’ he said, would never have accepted the results of that election. Late in his remarks, Mr. Trump praised the crowd that attended his rally on Jan. 6, admiring how large it was, the attendee said. Mr. Trump added that he wasn’t ‘talking about the people that went to the Capitol,’ though hundreds of the rally attendees left the rally at the Ellipse to go to the Capitol.” See also, Trump slashes at McConnell as he reiterates election falsehoods at Republican National Committee event, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, published on Sunday, 11 April 2021: “Former president Donald Trump called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a ‘dumb son of a bitch’ as he used a Saturday night speech to Republicans to blame the senator for not helping overturn the 2020 election and reiterated false assertions that he won the November contest. Trump, speaking at a Republican National Committee gathering at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., excoriated a number of Republicans even as he publicly called for party unity — focusing on those who voted to convict him in impeachment proceedings. But he saved his sharpest vitriol for the Kentucky Republican. ‘If that were Schumer instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it,’ he said of the election certification on Jan. 6, the day his supporters led an insurrection on the Capitol to block President Biden’s formal victory.”

 

Sunday, 11 April 2021:

 

Protesters Clash With Police After Minnesota Officer Kills a Black Man. A man died after an officer shot him during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, near where Derek Chauvin is on trial in the death of George Floyd. The New York Times, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Azi Paybarah, Sunday, 11 April 2021: “A 20-year-old Black man died after a police officer shot him during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday, sending hundreds of people into the streets where they clashed with police officers into Monday morning. The protests in Brooklyn Center came hours before the 11th day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with murdering George Floyd, began in a courtroom less than 10 miles away. Outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday night, smoke billowed into the air as a line of police officers fired rubber bullets and chemical agents at protesters, some of whom lobbed rocks, bags of garbage and water bottles at the police. Mayor Mike Elliott of Brooklyn Center ordered a curfew until 6 a.m., and the local school superintendent said the district would move to remote learning on Monday ‘out of an abundance of caution.’ Mr. Elliott identified the victim early on Monday as Daunte Wright, 20.”

More than 100 corporate executives hold call to discuss halting donations and investments to fight controversial voting bills, The Washington Post, Todd C. Frankel, Sunday, 11 April 2021: “More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online Saturday to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia. Executives from major airlines, retailers and manufacturers — plus at least one NFL owner — talked about potential ways to show they opposed the legislation, including by halting donations to politicians who support the bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive measures, according to four people who were on the call, including one of the organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor.”

 

Monday, 12 April 2021:

 

Republicans Remain Skeptical of Infrastructure Negotiations as Biden Holds Meeting. The president met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, saying he was willing to negotiate the “extent of the infrastructure project, as well as how we pay for it.” He also named an outspoken critic of Trump’s immigration policies to lead Customs and Border Protection. The New York Times, Monday, 12 April 2021:

  • Biden meets with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, saying he’s ‘prepared to negotiate’ on infrastructure.

  • Chris Magnus, the police chief of Tucson who criticized Trump, is chosen by Biden to lead Customs and Border Protection.

  • Biden picks Christine E. Wormuth to be the first woman to serve as Army secretary.

  • Former Pentagon official Christine S. Abizaid is chosen to run the National Counterterrorism Center.

  • U.S. reaches agreements with Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to increase enforcement against migration.

  • Blinken appoints a diversity chief to school the State Dept. on fostering a more inclusive workplace.

  • Major, one of Biden’s German shepherds, will be sent away for training after biting incidents.

  • Biden nominates former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration.
  • Ron DeSantis elbows his way to the front of the line of 2024 Republican hopefuls.
  • Representative Matt Gaetz’s associate, Joel Greenberg, has been accused of a litany of crimes.

Biden signals willingness to negotiate on scope and financing of infrastructure and jobs proposal, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Paulina Firozi, Monday, 12 April 2021: “President Biden said that he was willing to negotiate the scope and financing of his $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal as he held an Oval Office meeting Monday with a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the House and Senate. The next several weeks will be crucial to the fate of the package, which Biden proposes paying for in part by raising corporate income taxes. With the Senate’s return, several more senior administration officials are expected to win confirmation this week.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The federal government spent $660 billion more than it collected in tax revenue this March, the Treasury Department said, as the Biden administration’s stimulus package pushed the U.S. monthly deficit near record highs.
  • Biden is preparing to nominate Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, a Trump administration critic, to be commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He also tapped Christine E. Wormuth, who served as a top policy official in the Defense Department during the Obama administration, to be the first female Army secretary.
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said a Biden media strategy that includes few television interviews and largely scripted tweets raises the question of whether Biden is ‘really in charge.’
  • Biden said he watched the ‘fairly graphic’ body camera footage of a Minnesota police officer fatally shooting 20-year-old Duane Wright, an unarmed Black man who was stopped for a traffic violation, but the president said he would reserve judgment until an investigation is done.

Defense is expected to begin presentation on Tuesday as prosecution appears to near conclusion, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Abigail Hauslohner, and Keith McMillan, Monday, 12 April 2021: “As the Twin Cities area reels from the latest killing of a Black resident by a police officer, the prosecution appeared near the conclusion of its presentation in the murder trial of ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin on Monday. Witnesses for the prosecution included a cardiology expert who discounted a sudden heart attack or a drug overdose in George Floyd’s death, an expert on use-of-force who said Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck was unreasonable and excessive, and Floyd’s younger brother, who described how devastated his eldest brother was when his mother died in 2018. At the end of Monday’s testimony, Judge Peter Cahill told the jurors that the defense will probably start Tuesday and wrap up by the end of the week, with both sides expected to present their closing arguments Monday. ‘So pack a bag,’ he said.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • After police in suburban Brooklyn Center, Minn., fatally shot a 20-year-old man after a traffic stop on Sunday, hundreds of protesters and officers clashed in an area where tensions are already high. On Monday, the police chief said that the officer meant to fire her Taser and accidentally discharged the gun.
  • Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend, said she knew Daunte Wright, who was fatally shot by police Sunday.
  • ‘After reviewing all of the facts and evidence of the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose,’ Cardiologist Jonathan Rich told the court.
  • ‘Both the knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck and the prone restraint were unreasonable, excessive and contrary to generally accepted police practices,’ Seth Stoughton, a nationally recognized use-of-force expert, testified.
  • The so-called Blue Wall of Silence might be shattering, as police and experts testify that Chauvin’s actions in detaining Floyd were beyond the pale.
  • Cahill will not allow Chauvin’s defense team to use video of a police interview with Floyd’s passenger, Morries Lester Hall, who has attempted to invoke his right to avoid self-incrimination.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin and the Shooting of Daunte Wright: A Second Night of Protest Over the Killing of Daunte Wright. The police killing in a Minneapolis suburb adds to tensions around the trial of Derek Chauvin. Protesters there defied a 7 p.m. curfew. Police officers fired tear gas and made arrests. The New York Times, Monday, 12 April 2021:

  • The officer who shot Daunte Wright is identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department.
  • Defying curfew, protesters surround a police station in Brooklyn Center.
  • While not common, officers have mistaken pistols for Tasers, sometimes with deadly outcomes.
  • Protests are expected in the Twin Cities after the police shooting of Daunte Wright.
  • Scenes from outside the courthouse and Cup Foods in Minneapolis.
  • Here are the takeaways from Day 11 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Expert says ‘no reasonable officer would have used force against George Floyd, who did not present a risk to arresting officers.
  • Police shooting in a Minneapolis suburb casts a new shadow on the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • ‘He showed us how to treat our mom,’ George Floyd’s brother breaks down during his testimony.
  • Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, testified on Monday that his brother was deeply affected by their mother’s death in 2018: ‘He loved her so dearly.’
  • Seth Stoughton, a law professor, testifies in Derek Chauvin trial that George Floyd did not present a risk to arresting officers.
  • What is the ‘Spark of Life’ doctrine?
  • Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, takes the stand.
  • Police chief Tim Gannon says officer accidentally fired gun during a traffic stop on Sunday, killing Daunte Wright.
  • A cardiologist testifies that George Floyd’s death ‘was absolutely preventable.’
  • Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, testified: ‘George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose.’
  • Judge denies defense request to sequester jury in Derek Chauvin trial after a police shooting on Sunday night.
  • Protesters clashed with the police near Minneapolis after a police officer killed a Black man in a Minneapolis suburb.
  • The third week of testimony follows insight from policing and medical experts.

 

Tuesday, 13 April 2021:

 

Lawmakers Divided Over Biden’s Plan to Withdraw All Troops from Afghanistan by 11 September. The Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, according to a scathing new report. The New York Times, Tuesday, 13 April 2021:

  • Washington is divided over Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan.

  • The Capitol Police were told to hold back in their response to the Jan. 6 riot, according to a new report.

  • Indicted Matt Gaetz associate is said to be cooperating with the Justice Department.

  • Officer William F. Evans is the second Capitol Police officer to lie in honor this year after dying in the line of duty.

  • Pelosi invites Biden to address a joint session of Congress on April 28.

  • Biden plans to name Robert Santos to lead the Census Bureau, which is racing to complete its 2020 count.

  • The U.S. and NATO signal strong concern about a Russian troop buildup at the Ukrainian border.

  • Federal agencies call for a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine use after rare blood clot issues.

  • Republicans in two rural Georgia counties censure Gov. Brian Kemp and others.

  • Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) moves to restore a fair housing rule that Trump used as a racial rallying cry.
  • The White House issues its first-ever proclamation on Black maternal health.

Biden laments strain on Capitol Police as he speaks in personal terms at slain officer’s service, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Paulina Firozi, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “President Biden lamented that there has “never been more strain” on the U.S. Capitol Police and recalled in deeply personal terms his own loss of family as he spoke Tuesday at a service in the Capitol Rotunda for William ‘Billy’ F. Evans, the second officer to lie in honor there in recent months. Biden also met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office at the White House as part of continuing outreach to key constituencies in Congress. The White House said topics included voting rights and racial equality.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden proposed meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in a third country during a phone call. The White House said Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity at a time when Russia has built up forces on its Ukrainian border.
  • Biden will withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
  • Housing Secretary Marcia L. Fudge moved to reinstate fair housing regulations that had been gutted under President Donald Trump.
  • Jeff Zients, the White House’s covid-19 response coordinator, said that the Biden administration’s call for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will not have a significant impact on the White House’s vaccination efforts.

The Derek Chauvin Trial: Police Disperse Crowd in Third Night of Daunte Wright Protest. Miles away from the Derek Chauvin trial, there were again protests in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, where an officer fatally shot Mr. Wright this weekend. The New York Times, Tuesday, 13 April 2021:

  • A protest in Brooklyn Center ended after being declared unlawful.
  • Twin Cities set overnight curfew for Tuesday as more protests are expected.
  • Takeaways from Day 12 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert, says Derek Chauvin’s actions were ‘justified.’
  • The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright just resigned, as did the chief of police.
  • New body camera footage shows George Floyd handcuffed on the street.
  • Derek Chauvin’s defense was funded by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.
  • Police killing of Daunte Wright stokes fresh anger as the Chauvin trial resumes.

Trial of Derek Chauvin: Defense’s expert says Derek Chauvin was ‘justified’ but admits he kept knee in place while George Floyd was compliant, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Marisa Iati, and Meryl Kornfield, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “Derek Chauvin’s defense called its first witnesses Tuesday, pitting its own use-of-force expert against a parade of officials and experts called by the prosecution who have said Chauvin acted unreasonably when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck. Barry Brodd, of Bozeman, Mont., testified that the ex-Minneapolis police officer was ‘justified’ in his use of force last May and acted ‘with objective reasonableness.’ But he acknowledged under cross-examination that the former officer kept his knee in place while Floyd was complying. Tuesday capped nearly two weeks of testimony presented by the prosecution. Judge Peter Cahill has said that the defense will probably wrap up this week, with both sides expected to give their closing arguments Monday. Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The trial continued as a Minnesota officer and police chief resigned after fresh outrage over the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.
  • Minneapolis Park Police officer Peter Chang, whose body-cam footage was showed for the first time Tuesday, said he did not hear police call Floyd’s detainment a life-threatening situation.
  • Shawanda Hill, the woman who was with Floyd in his car moments before his death in May, said the 46-year-old was ‘very’ startled when police initially held him at gunpoint.
  • The jury watched a short video clip from a 2019 traffic stop in which Floyd asked a Minneapolis police officer not to shoot him.

Inspector General Michael A. Bolton’s Report Finds That the Capitol Police Were Told to Hold Back on Response to the Mob Violence by Pro-Trump Supporters on January 6th, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “The Capitol Police had clearer advance warnings about the Jan. 6 attack than were previously known, including the potential for violence in which ‘Congress itself is the target.’ But officers were instructed by their leaders not to use their most aggressive tactics to hold off the mob, according to a scathing new report by the agency’s internal investigator. In a 104-page document, the inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, criticized the way the Capitol Police prepared for and responded to the mob violence on Jan. 6. The report was reviewed by The New York Times and will be the subject of a Capitol Hill hearing on Thursday. Mr. Bolton found that the agency’s leaders failed to adequately prepare despite explicit warnings that pro-Trump extremists posed a threat to law enforcement and civilians and that the police used defective protective equipment. He also found that the leaders ordered their Civil Disturbance Unit to refrain from using its most powerful crowd-control tools — like stun grenades — to put down the onslaught. The report offers the most devastating account to date of the lapses and miscalculations around the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries.” See also, Key Findings of the Inspector General’s Report on the Capitol Riot, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 13 April 2021. See also, Inspector General Report Finds Capitol Police Overlooked Threats Before January 6th Riot. The department’s internal watchdog found Capitol Police had been warned of potential for violence and that lawmakers were targets. The Wall Street Journal, Eliza Collins and Rachael Levy, published on Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “A new report by the Capitol Police’s inspector general found the police agency had been warned of the potential for violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and that lawmakers were targets, but that department leaders overlooked the threats. The internal report, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, found multiple intelligence failures by the police department leading up to the riot. The findings echo similar failures, reported by the Journal, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security to identify threats. The House Administration Committee will hold a hearing with Inspector General Michael Bolton on Thursday.”

More Than 300 Corporate Leaders Call for Deep Emission Cuts to Combat Climate Change. They will ask the Biden administration to nearly double the emission reduction targets set by the Obama administration. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “More than 300 businesses, including Google, McDonalds and Walmart, are pushing the Biden administration to nearly double the United States’ target for cuts to planet-warming emissions ahead of an April 22 global summit on climate change. In a letter to President Biden released on Tuesday morning, chief executive officers from some of the nation’s largest companies will call on the administration to set a new Paris Agreement goal of slashing the nation’s carbon dioxide, methane and other planet-warming emissions at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. That is roughly what most major environmental groups want, and the corporate executives called the target ‘ambitious and attainable.’ Former President Donald J. Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement, eradicating emissions reduction targets set by the Obama administration that many environmentalists had seen as too weak. President Obama had pledged to cut national emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.”

Biden will withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 11 September 2021, The Washington Post, Missy Ryan and Karen DeYoung, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, U.S. officials said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war. The decision, which Biden is expected to announce Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.” See also, Biden to announce withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by 11 September, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Jeremy Herb, Barbara Starr, and Kylie Atwood, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “President Joe Biden, having concluded there is no military solution to the security and political problems plaguing Afghanistan and determined to focus on more pressing national security challenges, will formally announce Wednesday that US troops will withdraw from the country before the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, a senior administration official said. The withdrawal extends the US troop presence past a May 1 deadline set by the Trump administration in an agreement with the Taliban, but only by a matter of months. Biden has been weighing the decision for months with his advisers and signaled he did not believe US troops should remain in the country long past the deadline.” See also, Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by 11 September, The New York Times, Helene Cooper, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, and Eric Schmitt, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “President Biden will withdraw American combat troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, declaring an end to the nation’s longest war and overruling warnings from his military advisers that the departure could prompt a resurgence of the same terrorist threats that sent hundreds of thousands of troops into combat over the past 20 years. In rejecting the Pentagon’s push to remain until Afghan security forces can assert themselves against the Taliban, Mr. Biden forcibly stamped his views on a policy he has long debated but never controlled. Now, after years of arguing against an extended American military presence in Afghanistan, the president is doing things his way, with the deadline set for the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. A senior Biden administration official said the president had come to believe that a ‘conditions-based approach’ would mean that American troops would never leave the country. The announcement is expected on Wednesday.”

Joel Greenberg, Indicted Associate of Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, Is Said to Be Cooperating With the Justice Department. Joel Greenberg, a former elected official in Florida, has been talking to federal investigators since last year about the conduct of Representative Matt Gaetz and others. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Katie Benner, Tuesday, 13 April 2021: “A former local official in Florida indicted in the Justice Department investigation that is also focused on Representative Matt Gaetz has been providing investigators with information since last year about an array of topics, including Mr. Gaetz’s activities, according to two people briefed on the matter. Joel Greenberg, a onetime county tax collector, disclosed to investigators that he and Mr. Gaetz had encounters with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex, the people said. The Justice Department is investigating the involvement of the men with multiple women who were recruited online for sex and received cash payments and whether the men had sex with a 17-year-old in violation of sex trafficking statutes, people familiar with the inquiry have said.” See also, Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg has been cooperating with the Justice Department since last year, CNN Politics, Paula Reid and Paul LeBlanc, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “Joel Greenberg, a central figure in the ongoing investigation into Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, has been providing investigators with information since last year, including information about encounters he and the Florida Republican had with women who were given cash or gifts in exchange for sex, a source familiar with the case confirms to CNN…. Greenberg’s cooperation with the Justice Department, which was first reported by The New York Times, could put additional legal pressure on Gaetz as investigators work to determine whether he broke sex-trafficking or prostitution laws himself.”

 

Wednesday, 14 April 2021:

 

Biden Says It Is ‘Time for America’s Troops to Come Home’ From Afghanistan. NATO allies are looking to follow the president’s lead. The Biden administration is set to announce on Thursday a string of long-awaited measures against Russia. The New York Times, Wednesday, 14 April 2021:

  • Biden, saying it is ‘time to end America’s longest war,’ declares troops will be out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

  • The Biden administration is set to impose tough sanctions on Russia.

  • In a historic vote, a House panel advances a bill to form a reparations commission.

  • As the Senate advances a bill addressing hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans, Biden names a liaison to the community.

  • The Senate confirms Brenda Mallory to lead a White House environmental agency.

  • The U.S. is expected to approve some arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

  • Garland urges the Senate to confirm key Justice Department nominees.

  • Kamala Harris will visit Mexico and Guatemala ‘as soon as possible.’

  • Analysis: Republicans hope Trump will fade away, but for now, they avoid confrontation.
  • Here’s how some Capitol riot suspects are defending themselves.
  • New York Representative Carolyn Maloney faces a challenger backed by the same group that helped engineer Ocasio-Cortez’s victory.

Biden visits Arlington National Cemetery after announcing troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “President Biden said Wednesday that ‘diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way’ as he defended his decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Biden said the United States needs to ‘fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last 20’ as he delivered a speech from the White House. He later visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, the resting place for service members who died in recent conflicts, including in Afghanistan, pausing at some of the tombstones.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • A House committee is expected to vote to advance legislation that would create a commission to study whether to pay reparations to descendants of enslaved people.
  • Rep. Kevin Brady (Tex.), an influential player in the House Republican conference, announced that he will not seek reelection.
  • The Senate moved ahead on a rare bipartisan effort aimed at investigating and halting hate crimes against Asian Americans amid the pandemic.
  • A Florida politician at the center of an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has provided federal law enforcement with information about Gaetz’s activities as he seeks a plea deal to resolve his own legal woes.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: After Ex-Officer Kim Potter Is Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter in the Killing of Daunte Wright, Demonstrators Gather, The New York Times, Wednesday, 14 April 2021:

  • For a fourth night, protesters confront the police over a fatal shooting.
  • Takeaways from Day 13 of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner, classified George Floyd’s death as ‘undetermined.’
  • Why the legal concept of ‘the defendant finds the victim as they are’ could be important to the trial.
  • ‘We have already boarded’: Businesses in Minneapolis brace for protests, like the ones last year.
  • As the Derek Chauvin trial continues, a debate over racial bias is raging in the medical examiner community.
  • David Fowler, former chief medical examiner of Maryland, says he believes George Floyd died from cardiac arrhythmia.
  • Morries Hall, who was with George Floyd before his arrest, will not be compelled to take the stand.
  • Scenes from a third night of protests in Brooklyn Center.
  • A use-of-force expert for the defense defended Derek Chauvin’s actions.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Defense expert David Fowler says Derek Chauvin did not cause George Floyd’s death as cross-examination grows tense, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Marisa Iati, and Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “The trial of Derek Chauvin continued Wednesday with the defense’s medical expert testifying that the former officer did not play a critical role in George Floyd’s death by kneeling on his neck — but said that the 46-year-old might have survived if he got emergency help. David Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner, said that Floyd’s heart condition and drug use played a ‘significant’ role in his death last May, clashing with other experts called by the prosecution who blamed police. Cross-examination grew tense at times as the prosecution pressed Fowler on the many contributing factors he suggested and on the delay in emergency care after Floyd went into cardiac arrest. With closing arguments expected next week, it remains unclear whether Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, will take the stand in his own defense.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Fowler testified that other contributing factors to Floyd’s death included the traces of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his blood system, as well as possible ‘carbon monoxide poisoning’ from the exhaust fumes of the police vehicle outside Cup Foods.
  • Fowler is being sued over a ‘chillingly similar’ case in Maryland, where video footage showed officers struggling with Anton Black before pinning him down. Black died, Fowler deemed Black’s death an accident, and no officers were charged in his death.
  • Fowler’s testimony came after a motion for Chauvin’s acquittal was denied by Judge Peter Cahill, who heard attorney Eric J. Nelson’s argument that the prosecution has ‘failed to provide sufficient evidence.’

House Judiciary Committee Advances Bill to Study Reparations in Historic Vote. The legislation, which would create a panel to consider reparations for slavery, is being considered as President Biden works to address racial inequity. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend for the first time the creation of a commission to consider providing Black Americans with reparations for slavery in the United States and a ‘national apology’ for centuries of discrimination. The vote by the House Judiciary Committee was a major milestone for proponents of reparations, who have labored for decades to build mainstream support for redressing the lingering effects of slavery. Democrats on the panel advanced the legislation establishing the commission over Republican objections, 25 to 17. The bill — labeled H.R. 40 after the unfulfilled Civil War-era promise to give former slaves 40 acres and a mule — still faces steep odds of becoming law. With opposition from some Democrats and unified Republicans, who argue that Black Americans do not need a government handout for long-ago crimes, neither chamber of Congress has committed to a floor vote.” See also, House Lawmakers Advance Historic Bill to Form a Reparations Commission to Develop Proposals to Help Repair the Lasting Effects of Slavery, NPR, Juana Summers, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “A House committee has voted to move forward with a bill that would establish a commission to develop proposals to help repair the lasting effects of slavery. The vote came over three decades after the bill was was first introduced. Fresh debate over the issue of reparations for the descendants of enslaved people comes amid a national reckoning over race and justice. The House Judiciary Committee took up the bill on Wednesday evening. The vote was the first time the committee has acted on the legislation since former Democratic Rep. John Conyers initially introduced it in 1989. This year, the legislation has the support of more than 170 Democratic co-sponsors and key congressional leaders. The bill now moves to a full House vote. Should it pass, it would then face a vote with the evenly divided Senate. Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the lead sponsor of the bill, H.R. 40, has said that bringing it to a vote on the House floor would be ‘cleansing’ for the country, and she challenged Republicans who argued that such a commission was unnecessary.” See also, House Judiciary Committee approves bill to create commission on slavery reparations, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “A House committee on Wednesday approved legislation to create a commission to make recommendations on paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved people, the furthest the bill has advanced since it was first introduced more than 30 years ago. As expected, the vote broke on party lines, 25 to 17. Advocates of reparations pushed it to the forefront last year as racial justice protests were held across the country following more police killings of Black Americans, including George Floyd in Minneapolis, and it became an issue during the Democratic presidential primary contest. On Wednesday, the legislation’s supporters hailed the vote as a historic step forward. ‘Here we are today, marking up for the first time in the history of the United States of America any legislation that deals directly with the years and centuries of slavery of African American people who are now the descendants of those Africans,’ said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.), who has introduced the legislation in every Congress since its original sponsor Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) retired in 2017. She added that the bill would serve as a necessary first step on a ‘path to restorative justice.'”

Biden announces a withdrawal from Afghanistan after two decades of frustration in the ‘Forever War,’ The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Steven Erlanger, and Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “President Biden, frustrated in his efforts to end America’s “Forever War” a decade ago, announced on Wednesday a Sept. 11 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 20 years, a move that immediately triggered similar action among the country’s NATO allies. While a complete withdrawal has long been seen as inevitable, it is likely to lead to an expansion of the Taliban that could overwhelm the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, despite assurances by intelligence agencies that the withdrawal can be done without precipitating the kind of violent, entropic instability that led to the 2001 attacks on America. ‘We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,’ Mr. Biden said.”

Hundreds of Companies Unite to Oppose Voting Limits, but Others Abstain, The New York Times, David Gelles and Andrew Ross Sorkin, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “Amazon, BlackRock, Google, Warren Buffett and hundreds of other companies and executives signed on to a new statement released on Wednesday opposing ‘any discriminatory legislation’ that would make it harder for people to vote. It was the biggest show of solidarity so far by the business community as companies around the country try to navigate the partisan uproar over Republican efforts to enact new election rules in almost every state. Senior Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, have called for companies to stay out of politics. The statement was organized in recent days by Kenneth Chenault, a former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive of Merck. A copy appeared on Wednesday in advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Last month, with only a few big companies voicing opposition to a restrictive new voting law in Georgia, Mr. Chenault and Mr. Frazier led a group of Black executives in calling on companies to get more involved in opposing similar legislation around the country. Since then, many other companies have voiced support for voting rights. But the new statement, which was also signed by General Motors, Netflix and Starbucks, represented the broadest coalition yet to weigh in on the issue. ‘It should be clear that there is overwhelming support in corporate America for the principle of voting rights,’ Mr. Chenault said.” See also, Hundreds of CEOs, celebrities, and corporations join forces to oppose ‘discriminatory’ voting legislation. In addition to big companies and their leaders, the statement’s signatories include major law firms and nonprofits. NBC News, Jane C. Timm, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “Dozens of companies, including Amazon, Google, Starbucks and Netflix, joined hundreds of business leaders, celebrities, law firms, and nonprofits to sign a new statement opposing ‘any discriminatory legislation’ that would restrict ballot access. The statement, appearing Wednesday as advertisements in The New York Times and The Washington Post, is the latest and largest mobilization by corporate America against restrictive voting legislation advanced by Republicans around the country.”

House Committee on Oversight and Reform approves D.C. statehood, setting up likely passage in the full chamber, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “Legislation to make D.C. the 51st state advanced from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday, paving the way for approval by the full House for the second consecutive year — possibly as soon as next week. The Democratic-majority committee voted along party lines to pass the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, quashing every Republican amendment during Wednesday’s markup session. Though largely expected, the vote injects another shot of momentum in Democrats’ favor as they seek to capitalize on their majorities in both chambers of Congress and control of the White House to push D.C. statehood further than it has gone before. Once a fringe issue, granting statehood to the city has become a central part of the party’s voting rights platform.”

The Justice Department says  armed supporters of Trump, a ‘quick reaction force,’ was waiting for order to storm the Capitol on January 6th, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “As the Capitol was overrun on Jan. 6, armed supporters of President Donald Trump were waiting across the Potomac in Virginia for orders to bring guns into the fray, a prosecutor said Wednesday in federal court. The Justice Department has repeatedly highlighted comments from some alleged riot participants who discussed being part of a ‘quick reaction force’ with stashes of weapons. Defendants have dismissed those conversations as bluster. But in a detention hearing for Kenneth Harrelson, accused of conspiring with other members of the Oath Keepers militia group to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election win, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Nestler said the government has evidence indicating otherwise.”

Nearly half of Republicans say they don’t want a Covid vaccine, a big public health challenge, The New York Times, Giovanni Russonello, Wednesday, 14 April 2021: “With Covid-19 vaccines now widely available, just over half of American adults have now received at least one shot, according to a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday. But more than two in five Republicans said they would avoid getting vaccinated if possible, suggesting that President Biden has not succeeded in his effort to depoliticize the vaccines — and leaving open the question of whether the country will be able to achieve herd immunity without a stronger push from Republican leaders to bring their voters on board. The results of the Monmouth poll lined up with those of a separate survey by Quinnipiac University, also released on Wednesday, that found 45 percent of Republicans saying they did not plan to get vaccinated. Among Democrats, two-thirds have already received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Monmouth poll. Just over half that share of Republicans have done so (36 percent).”

 

Thursday, 15 April 2021:

 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken Visits Afghanistan as U.S. Plans How to Fight Insurgents From Afar. The U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russia and blames Moscow’s top spy agency for the SolarWinds cyberattack, while also warning Russia over suspected bounties on U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan. The New York Times, Thursday, 15 April 2021:

  • Blinken visits Afghanistan as the U.S. prepares to fight insurgents from afar.

  • House Republicans question U.S. spy agencies’ work on domestic extremism.

  • President Biden delivers remarks on the new U.S. sanctions on Russia over hacking and election interference.

  • The Biden administration says Russian intelligence obtained Trump campaign data from a Manafort associate.

  • The White House warns Russia over suspected bounties on U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.

  • Pence, suffering from a sluggish heartbeat, undergoes surgery for a pacemaker implant.

  • As protests against police violence surge, Florida passes a bill to combat ‘public disorder.’

  • Japan’s prime minister visits Washington this week and will face questions about confronting China.

  • Alabama and North Dakota pass bills barring transgender girls and women from playing on female teams.
  • Vernon Jones, a supporter of Trump’s election fraud claims, will challenge Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia.
  • An executive order on the financial risks of climate change is said to be in the works.
  • Democrats propose a bill to expand the Supreme Court, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has ‘no plans to bring it to the floor.’
  • The U.S. Capitol Police’s independent watchdog tells Congress that officers were told not to use their most powerful crowd-control weapons on January 6th because they had little training with the equipment.
  • U.S. trade representative Katherine Tai uses her first speech to make a case for using trade policies to fight climate change.

Biden calls the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia for interference in the 2020 election ‘measured,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “President Biden on Thursday announced sanctions on Russia for interference in the 2020 election, calling them ‘measured’ and proportionate, while setting the stage for a summer summit in Europe with Russian President Vladimir Putin. ‘The United States is not looking to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House. Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) voiced opposition Thursday to consideration of legislation by fellow Democrats to expand the size of the Supreme Court, saying the issue should be studied first by a commission recently announced by Biden. The issue is being pressed by liberal Democrats.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Americans filed 576,000 initial jobless claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, with such claims falling to their lowest level since March 2020.
  • Biden will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next month at the White House.
  • The U.S. intelligence community has ‘low to moderate’ confidence in reports of Russia encouraging Taliban attacks on U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan, the White House said.
  • The Senate voted 49 to 34 on Thursday to advance the nomination of Vanita Gupta to be associate attorney general, with a confirmation vote likely next week.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin and Protests Over the Killing of Duante Wright and Adam Toledo: Subdued Protests Over Police Shootings in Brooklyn Center and Chicago. In tribute to Daunte Wright, air fresheners were attached to an extra layer of fences outside the Brooklyn Center police station. There were small vigils in Chicago after video footage of 13-year-old Adam Toledo’s death was released. The New York Times, Thursday, 15 April 2021:

  • Protests in Minnesota were calmer on their fifth night, with the police not firing projectiles.
  • Scenes of protests and memorials from Chicago.
  • As Minnesota protests continue, residents contend with tear gas and noise.
  • For some Hispanic residents, the shooting of Adam Toledo is a catalyst for change.
  • Protests and memorials to Daunte Wright.
  • Scenes of protests and memorials in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
  • In Minnesota, protesters say they are also motivated by Chicago.
  • In the Chicago alley where Adam Toledo was fatally shot, a vigil evokes pain and anger.
  • In Minnesota, air fresheners mark a grim reminder of Daunte Wright’s death.
  • Video of a fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago heightens tensions as cities prepare for unrest.
  • Jury deliberations begin Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Minneapolis steps up security for the Chauvin verdict.
  • Takeaways from Derek Chauvin’s defense case.
  • ‘I constantly get emotional.’ After a year of protests, Minneapolis activists await justice.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Derek Chauvin declines to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right as defense rests its case, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella and Kim Bellware, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said Thursday that he has declined to testify in his own trial for the death of George Floyd, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Chauvin’s defense team announced it rested its case. After the testimony portion of the trial concluded, Judge Peter Cahill said the jury would enter deliberations following Monday’s closing arguments from both sides.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Cahill ruled Thursday that new evidence brought to light by the prosecution on the carbon monoxide levels in Floyd’s blood would not be admissible to the court. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed Floyd’s autopsy, had called them to dispute the testimony of David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland, suggesting Floyd’s possible exposure to carbon monoxide from the exhaust fumes of a police squad car may have contributed to his death.
  • Martin Tobin, an Illinois pulmonologist who was recalled to the stand by the prosecution Thursday, also disputed Fowler’s claim, saying Floyd’s maximum exposure to carbon monoxide would have been 2 percent — a normal, healthy range for people.
  • Fowler, who testified that heart disease and drug use were to blame for Floyd’s death, said during cross-examination Wednesday that the 46-year-old should have received immediate medical attention to reverse his cardiac arrest.
  • Fowler testified to defense attorney Eric J. Nelson that it appeared Chauvin’s knee did not injure Floyd’s neck.

Derek Chauvin’s defense rests after he declines to testify in his murder trial in the death of George Floyd, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “Derek Chauvin spoke publicly for the first time since his arrest in May, telling a judge Thursday that he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination and not testify in his own defense in his murder trial in the death of George Floyd. The defense rested its case minutes later, after just two days of testimony, paving the way for closing arguments and jury deliberations in the landmark trial to begin Monday…. ‘I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,’ Chauvin told the court, the first sentence he has spoken publicly since his arrest in Floyd’s killing nearly one year ago. His voice, deep with a clear Upper Midwestern dialect, has only been heard briefly in the litany of police body camera and bystander footage of the night Floyd died that has been repeatedly played in the courtroom.” See also, Derek Chauvin Declines to Testify as His Defense Ends After 2 Days. The jury is expected to hear closing arguments on Monday and could deliver a verdict in Mr. Chauvin’s trial next week. The New York Times, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “As his lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, asked a series of questions, Mr. Chauvin dipped his body toward the microphone and uttered the first words the public has heard from him in the more than 10 months since the death of George Floyd on May 25. ‘Have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege?’ Mr. Nelson asked. ‘I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,’ Mr. Chauvin said. With that, the defense rested its case in the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin, a former police officer. After 13 days of testimony, the jury was offered no glimpse behind the impassive expression maintained by Mr. Chauvin, hands in his pockets and sunglasses on his head, as he knelt on the neck of Mr. Floyd on a South Minneapolis street for more than nine minutes…. Convictions of police officers for on-duty killings are exceedingly rare. But Mr. Nelson faced a daunting task given the harrowing video that showed Mr. Floyd, who was Black, pleading for his life, then losing consciousness under the knee of Mr. Chauvin, a white officer, as bystanders shouted out that he was dying…. The defense had two main arguments: that the true cause of death was not Mr. Chauvin’s actions but Mr. Floyd’s underlying health conditions and his use of illicit drugs, and that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were reasonable in the face of Mr. Floyd’s resistance and what it framed as an angry, threatening crowd of onlookers. It is common for the defense portion of a trial to be much shorter because the burden of proof is on the prosecution, and that proved to be the case here. Mr. Nelson presented seven witnesses in two days, compared with 38 for the prosecution over 11 days.”

Chicago releases video of officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, The Washington Post, Mark Guarino, Meryl Kornfield, and Kim Bellware, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “More than two weeks after a Chicago police officer shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a police oversight agency on Thursday released a video of the March shooting that had set the city on edge. The graphic video, which the city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) posted to its website, shows the police officer chasing Adam through an alley, ordering him to stop and show his hands. Adam appears to stop at the opening in a fence, turn and raise his hands as the officer fires once, striking him in the chest. The 13-year-old crumples to the ground and the officer immediately calls for an ambulance as he rushes to Adam, turns him over while asking him if he is okay and where he has been shot, and begins chest compressions. The officer was identified as 34-year-old Eric Stillman in a police report included in the documents released by the oversight panel. At the point in the video where Adam stops at the fence, he appears to be holding something in his right hand. Police say it was a gun that was later recovered behind the fence. But a lawyer representing the Toledo family said it’s ‘not relevant’ if Adam dropped a gun because he followed police orders. ‘That child complied,’ [family attorney] Adeena J. Weiss-Ortiz said. ‘Adam complied with the officer’s request, dropped the gun, turned around. The officer saw his hands were up and pulled the trigger.'” See also, Video Shows 13-Year-Old Adam Toledo Had His Hands Up When a Police Officer Fatally Shot Him, BuzzFeed News, Stephanie K. Baer and Salvador Hernandez, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “A 13-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Chicago by a police officer had his hands up when the cop fired his weapon, new videos show. The city’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability posted the videos online Thursday along with other recordings and police reports related to the shooting of Adam Toledo, following weeks of protest over the boy’s killing and demands to release the body camera footage to the public. What the videos showed amounted to an ‘assassination,’ Adeena Weiss-Ortiz, the Toledo family’s attorney, said at a press conference Thursday evening. ‘If you’re shooting an unarmed child with his hands in the air, it is an assassination,’ she told reporters.”

Biden administration imposes significant economic sanctions on Russia over cyberspying and efforts to influence the 2020 presidential election, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “The Biden administration on Thursday imposed the first significant sanctions targeting the Russian economy in several years to punish the Kremlin for a cyberespionage campaign against the United States and efforts to influence the presidential election, according to senior U.S. officials. The administration also sanctioned six Russian companies that support Russian spy services’ cyberhacking operations and will expel 10 officials at the Russian Embassy in Washington, most of them identified as intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover, U.S. officials said. The administration formally named the Russian intelligence service SVR as responsible for the hacking operation commonly known as SolarWinds.” See also, Biden Sanctions Russia and expels diplomats over interference in the 2020 election, Politico, Nahal Toosi and Quint Forgey, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “President Joe Biden on Thursday declared that the U.S. faces a ‘national emergency’ over an array of malign actions from Russia, imposing new sanctions on the Russian government and expelling 10 Kremlin diplomats from the United States. The moves are part of an intensifying U.S. campaign to punish Moscow over its attempted interference in the 2020 U.S. election, its cyberespionage campaign that used a company called SolarWinds, its occupation of Crimea and other malign actions. They are sure to escalate already rising tensions between the two nations and are likely to be met with some Russian reprisal, including the expulsion of U.S. diplomats. The moves also come as Russia has amassed military forces near its border with Ukraine, alarming the international community.” See also, U.S. Imposes Stiff Sanctions on Russia, Blaming It for Major Hacking Operation. After years of wrist slaps under President Donald J. Trump, the new measures are intended to have a noticeable effect on the Russian economy. The New York Times, David E. Sanger and Andrew E. Kramer, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “President Biden on Thursday imposed extensive new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached American government agencies and the nation’s largest companies. The sanctions included measures intended to make it more difficult for Russia to take part in the global economy if it continued its campaign of disruptive actions, including in cyberspace and on the border of Ukraine. While the sanctions might not bite hard immediately, White House officials said they left themselves room to squeeze Moscow’s ability to borrow money on global markets if tensions escalate.”

US Treasury Provides Missing Link: Paul Manafort’s Partner Konstantin Kilimnik Gave Trump Campaign Polling Data to the Russian Intelligence Services in 2016, Just Security, Justin Hendrix, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “The U.S. Treasury Department said Thursday that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate and ex-employee of Paul Manafort, ‘provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,’ during the 2016 election, an apparently definitive statement that neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation made in their final reports. ‘This is new public information that connects the provision of internal Trump campaign data to Russian intelligence,’ Andrew Weissmann, who led the prosecution of Manafort for the Special Counsel, told Just Security on Thursday. The eye-catching statement was included in an announcement of new sanctions related to Russian interference in U.S. elections. The Biden administration took a number of steps Thursday to punish Russia, not only for election interference, but also the SolarWinds cyberattack, its ongoing occupation of Crimea, and human rights abuses. Kilimnik was one of 16 individuals the Treasury Department announced it was sanctioning for attempting to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election at the direction of the Kremlin. The Treasury Department is also imposing new sanctions on 16 entities, including several Russian disinformation outlets. Kilimnik is, according to the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, a Russian Intelligence Services officer who became central to investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election thanks to his close ties to Manafort, who served as Donald Trump’s campaign manager in 2016.” See also, The government finally connects the line from Trump’s campaign to Russian intelligence, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Thursday, 15 April 2021. See also, Biden Administration Says Russian Intelligence Obtained Trump 2016 Campaign Data From Konstantin Kilimnik, a Business Associate of Trump Campaign Officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “The Biden administration revealed on Thursday that a business associate of Trump campaign officials in 2016 provided campaign polling data to Russian intelligence services, the strongest evidence to date that Russian spies had penetrated the inner workings of the Trump campaign. The revelation, made public in a Treasury Department document announcing new sanctions against Russia, established for the first time that private meetings and communications between the campaign officials, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, and their business associate were a direct pipeline from the campaign to Russian spies at a time when the Kremlin was engaged in a covert effort to sabotage the 2016 presidential election. Previous government investigations have identified the Trump aides’ associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, as a Russian intelligence operative, and Mr. Manafort’s decision to provide him with internal polling data was one of the mysteries that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, sought to unravel during his two-year investigation into Russia’s election meddling. ‘During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy,’ the Treasury Department said in a news release. ‘Additionally, Kilimnik sought to promote the narrative that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.'”

Gallows or guillotines? The chilling debate on TheDonald.win before the Capitol siege. The Washington Post, Craig Timberg, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “In the weeks before supporters of then-President Donald Trump assaulted the U.S. Capitol, TheDonald.win forum commenters debated how best to build a gallows for hanging — or simply terrifying — members of Congress deemed disloyal. What kind of lumber? What kind of rope? And how many nooses? A user named ‘Camarokirk’ had a different suggestion: ‘I think you should build a guillotine,’ he wrote Dec. 30. ‘A guillotine is more scary.’ User AsaNisiMAGA countered with a practical concern: ‘It’s better symbolism in every way. But it might prove more difficult to get that big blade into town.’ Such conversations flowed freely and visibly on TheDonald.win for weeks, underscoring the openly violent intent of some of the thousands of Trump enthusiasts who thronged the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as the intelligence failures of the authorities charged with preparing for that day. The clashes left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.”

17 requests for backup in 78 minutes. A reconstruction shows how failures of planning and preparation left police at the Capitol severely disadvantaged on January 6th. The Washington Post, Dalton Bennett, Shawn Boburg, Sarah Cahlan, Peter Hermann, Meg Kelly, Joyce Sohyun Lee, Elyse Samuels, and Brian Monroe, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “At 1:13 p.m. on Jan. 6, a D.C. police commander facing a swelling crowd of protesters on the west side of the U.S. Capitol made an urgent call for more officers in riot gear. ‘Hard gear at the Capitol! Hard gear at the Capitol!’ Cmdr. Robert Glover shouted into his radio. ​​​​​Glover and a team of D.C. police officers had rushed to the besieged complex moments earlier at the behest of Capitol Police. By the time they arrived, the Capitol grounds were already being overrun by a mob intent on overturning President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat. Over the next 78 minutes, Glover requested backup at least 17 times, according to a Washington Post analysis of the events, and the mob on the west side eventually grew to at least 9,400 people, outnumbering officers by more than 58 to one.”

Army concludes the D.C. Guard misused helicopters in low-flying confrontation with George Floyd protesters on 1 June 2020, The Washington Post, Alex Horton, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “The D.C. National Guard’s deployment of helicopters to quell racial justice demonstrations in Washington last summer, a chilling scene in which two aircraft hovered extremely low over clusters of protesters, was a misuse of military medical aircraft and resulted in the disciplining of multiple soldiers, the Army said Wednesday. In an announcement, the Army said one helicopter ‘hovered under 100 feet’ over the heads of people in the nation’s capital on June 1 as D.C. police and federal agencies worked to disperse crowds protesting police brutality after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis days earlier. An Army official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to be candid, acknowledged that a UH-72 Lakota helicopter at one point hovered a mere 55 feet off the ground. A Washington Post investigation last year estimated the height was 45 feet.”

Democratic leaders throw cold water on proposal to expand Supreme Court, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “Democratic leaders on Thursday expressed opposition to a proposal from a group of liberal lawmakers that would expand the ­Supreme Court from nine to 13 justices, underscoring tensions within the party over how to address concerns that the nation’s highest court will remain reliably conservative for years to come. The goal of the legislation, which was introduced in both chambers, is to allow Democrats to appoint more liberal justices by expanding the court’s size rather than waiting for vacancies on the bench, a move Republicans derided as court-packing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she has ‘no plans’ to bring the bill to the floor and that she supports a commission created by President Biden that will produce a report this year on possible changes to the court, including expansion and term limits.” See also, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has ‘no plans’ to bring bill to expand the Supreme Court to the House floor, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Manu Raju, Lauren Fox, and Ali Zaslav, Thursday , 15 April 2021: “Democratic congressional leaders are rejecting a liberal push to expand the Supreme Court, dealing a blow to progressives in the latest sign that party leaders are attempting to tread cautiously on the highly controversial issue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made clear Thursday that she does not currently support a bill pushed by some Democrats to expand the court and does not intend to bring it to the House floor for a vote. ‘No,’ Pelosi said at her weekly press conference when asked if she supports the bill and if she would commit to bringing it to the floor, though she did say she believes ‘it’s an idea that should be considered,’ and said ‘it’s not out of the question.'” See also, Democrats’ Supreme Court Expansion Plan Draws Resistance. Lawmakers and activists say more justices are needed to rebalance the court, but a top Democrat said any action would have to await the work of a new presidential commission. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Thursday, 15 April 2021: “A group of House and Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court to 13 members from nine, working to build momentum for rebalancing the court after an aggressive Republican drive to move it to the right. The bill, which would change the makeup of the court for the first time in 150 years, is unlikely to move forward even with Democrats in control of Congress — at least not before a new commission named last week by President Biden completes a study exploring the subject. But its introduction opened a new front in the escalating partisan war over the judiciary, drawing outrage from Republicans, who called it a power grab. Democrats, who announced their plan on the steps of the Supreme Court, said the change was necessary to restore equilibrium on its bench after Senate Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016 and pushed through three of President Donald J. Trump’s conservative appointees, including one — Justice Amy Coney Barrett — just days before the election last year. ‘Republicans stole the court’s majority, with Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation completing their crime spree,’ Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement announcing it. ‘Senate Republicans have politicized the Supreme Court, undermined its legitimacy and threatened the rights of millions of Americans, especially people of color, women and our immigrant communities.'”

 

Friday, 16 April 2021:

 

Biden Reverses Course Again After Backlash and Will Increase Refugee Limit. President Biden said earlier on Friday that he would keep the 15,000 limit set by the Trump administration, but said later that he would increase it. The New York Times, Friday, 16 April 2021:

  • After backlash, Biden will increase the limit on refugee admissions.

  • President Biden and the Japanese prime minister pledge new partnership to advance ‘shared democratic norms.’

  • A member of the Oath Keepers pleads guilty and will cooperate with prosecutors in the Jan. 6 riot inquiry.

  • The White House rejects calls for a gun ‘czar’ after the massacre in Indianapolis.

  • Dog care, hair appointments and restaurant reservations: The odd jobs of State Dept. aides under Mike Pompeo.

  • Mother of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old killed by the police, asks D.O.J. to reopen its investigation.

  • Garland lifts Trump-era curb on use of consent decrees to overhaul police forces. Consent decrees are court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governmental agencies that create a road map for changes to the way they operate.

  • The Justice Department sues Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally, alleging tax evasion.
  • Interior Secretary Deb Haaland revoked a dozen Trump-era orders that promoted fossil fuel development on public lands and waters and imposed a new directive that prioritizes climate change in agency decisions.
  • The White House details a nearly $2 billion plan to enhance the tracking of variants.
  • Russia expels 10 American diplomats in retaliation for Biden’s ‘unfriendly’ sanctions.

Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Suga reaffirm U.S.-Japan alliance after afternoon of White House meetings, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 16 April 2021: “President Biden said Friday that he and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reaffirmed the U.S.-Japan alliance while agreeing to take on the challenges of China and other issues. Suga was the first foreign leader to visit the White House in person during Biden’s presidency. The visit is taking place as the nation grapples with yet another mass shooting. In a statement Friday, Biden said the shooting late Thursday at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis is further evidence that gun violence ‘stains our character and pierces the very soul of our nation.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

13 Key Moments That Shaped the Trial of Derek Chauvin. In testimony from 45 witnesses over three weeks, attorneys returned to the trial’s central questions: what caused George Floyd’s death, and were Mr. Chauvin’s actions justified and lawful. The New York Times, Will Wright, Friday, 16 April 2021: “In the three weeks of the trial of Derek Chauvin, dozens of witnesses have testified; hours of video of George Floyd’s arrest have been played, paused and replayed; and two sides of the courtroom have presented opposing narratives to a jury tasked with determining the guilt or innocence of a former police officer charged with murder in one of the most watched trials in decades. Through witness testimony, several distinct themes have emerged as the most crucial points of contention: whether Mr. Chauvin violated policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes; what role, if any, drugs played in Mr. Floyd’s death; and what kind of impact the arrest may have had on the people who witnessed it.”

Trump loyalists start ‘America First Caucus’ to promote U.S. as ‘uniquely Anglo-Saxon,’ The Washington Post, Amy B Wang and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 16 April 2021: “Far-right Republicans in Congress are forming an ‘America First Caucus’ that would promote nativist policies, according to materials outlining the group’s goals first obtained by Punchbowl News. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) are reportedly behind it, with Reps. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) signed on as early members. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who faces federal and House Ethics Committee investigations over allegations of sexual misconduct and illicit drug use, tweeted that he was joining Greene in the caucus…. A seven-page document that lays out policy positions for the caucus includes nativist language and perpetuates the falsehood that there was widespread fraud and corruption in the 2020 election. According to the document, the group says it seeks to advance former president Donald Trump’s legacy, which means stepping ‘on some toes’ and sacrificing ‘sacred cows for the good of the American nation.'” See also, Pro-Trump lawmakers form caucus promoting ‘Anglo-Saxon political traditions,’ The Hill, Cristina Marcos, Friday, 16 April 2021: “Several House Republicans, led by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.), are forming a caucus that calls for a ‘common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.’ A policy platform for the group, which calls itself the America First Caucus, declares that ‘a certain intellectual boldness is needed’ in order to ‘follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.’ The seven-page document, first obtained by Punchbowl News, is explicit in its nativist rhetoric and describes American culture as dominated by ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and European influences.” See also, America First Caucus Rejected by Right-Wing Freedom Caucus, Forbes, Andrew Solender, published on Saturday, 17 April 2021: “Members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus are among a wide array of House Republicans rejecting a nascent group being organized by Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) whose platform reportedly aims to preserve ‘anglo-saxon political traditions.’ The publication Friday by congressional newsletter Punchbowl News of a seven-page document appearing to be the America First Caucus’ platform was met with ‘fury’ by top members of the Freedom Caucus, a source with knowledge of the group’s internal discussions told Forbes.”

White House announces it’s keeping Trump-era refugee caps and then backtracks amid furor, The Washington Post, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim, and Tyler Pager, Friday, 16 April 2021: “President Biden on Friday all but abandoned a pledge to enable tens of thousands of refugees fleeing danger abroad to come to the United States this year, then abruptly backtracked after drawing a furious response from human rights advocates and fellow Democrats. In a directive issued early Friday, the administration announced that it would leave the cap on refugees at 15,000, the record-low ceiling set by President Donald Trump. But after hours of blistering criticism from allies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reversed the announcement, issuing an unusual statement saying that the order had been ‘the subject of some confusion.’ Psaki said that Biden would actually set the final cap — which sets the refugee allotment through the end of September — by May 15, and that while the White House expects it will be higher than Trump’s ceiling, it is ‘unlikely’ to rise to the 62,500 that Biden had put forward with some fanfare in February.”

Justice Department Restores Use of Consent Decrees for Police Abuses. Attorney General Merrick Garland rescinded a Trump administration policy curbing use of the decrees, which provide a way to force changes in police departments. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Friday, 16 April 2021: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Friday rescinded a Trump administration policy that curbed the use of consent decrees to address police misconduct, as the Justice Department prepared to step up its role in investigating allegations of racist and illegal behavior by police forces amid a nationwide outcry about the deaths of Black people at the hands of officers. Mr. Garland’s widely expected decision revives one of the department’s most effective tools in forcing law enforcement agencies to evaluate and change their practices. Consent decrees are court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governmental agencies that create a road map for changes to the way they operate.”

Oath Keeper Jon Ryan Schaffer Pleads Guilty and Will Cooperate in January 6th Riot Inquiry, The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 16 April 2021: “A member of the Oath Keepers militia who was charged in connection with the riot at the Capitol pleaded guilty on Friday and agreed to cooperate with the government — potentially against other members of the far-right extremist group. The guilty plea by the Oath Keeper, Jon Ryan Schaffer, 53, of Indiana, was the first to be entered publicly by any of the more than 400 people who have been charged so far in the Jan. 6 attack. News of the plea emerged last week after sealed documents in Mr. Schaffer’s case were briefly — and accidentally — made available on a federal court database. Mr. Schaffer’s cooperation with the government could prove instrumental in helping prosecutors pursue a separate and much broader conspiracy case against 12 other members of the Oath Keepers who stand accused of some of the most serious charges in the sprawling investigation into the storming of the Capitol. Though he was not charged as part of that case, Mr. Schaffer’s agreement to assist the government was apparently significant enough that prosecutors said at a court hearing on Friday that they would sponsor him for the witness protection program.” See also, Jon Ryan Schaffer, a founding member of Oath Keepers is set to enter the first guilty plea in January 6th Capitol breach, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Devlin Barrett, Friday, 16 April 2021: “A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate against others in the case — the first defendant to potentially flip in the sprawling domestic terrorism investigation that has led to charges against more than 400 people. The scheduled plea comes exactly 100 days after Jon Ryan Schaffer and hundreds of other supporters of former president Donald Trump allegedly stormed the Capitol hoping to prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the next president. Prosecutors hope Schaffer’s plea spurs others to provide additional evidence in hopes of avoiding long prison sentences. The plea marks a new stage in the historic investigation, as prosecutors seek to work up the chain of defendants to gather evidence and better understand the full scope of any planning and organizing of the violence — particularly among groups like the far-right Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys. Dozens of members from both groups appeared to act in concert to storm the building, prosecutors have alleged.”

Police Release Names of 8 Victims in Indianapolis Shooting at a FedEx Facility, The New York Times, Friday, 16 April 2021:

  • Names of the eight victims were released by the authorities.

  • What we know about the victims in the Indianapolis shooting.

  • The region’s Sikh community is devastated by the attack.

  • ‘I immediately ducked for cover’: Workers shared what they saw.

  • The employees inside didn’t have cellphones, creating anguish for loved ones.

  • The gunman’s mother warned officials he might attempt ‘suicide by cop.’

  • The attack is the latest in a recent series of mass shootings in the U.S.

Gunman at Indianapolis FedEx facility was former employee, police say; victims are identified, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, Marisa Iati, Timothy Bella, Mary Claire Molloy, Teo Armus, Mark Berman, and Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 16 April 2021: “Brandon Hole, 19, killed eight people and left several others wounded Thursday before shooting himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, police said Friday at a news conference. FedEx officials say Hole was a former employee at the facility who last worked there in 2020, according to authorities, who added that there were at least 100 people in the building at the time of the shooting. The FBI interviewed Hole last year after his mother contacted law enforcement. On Friday evening, police released the names of the victims. Gurpreet Singh, president of Sikh Satsang, a local temple for the city’s vibrant Sikh community, said that four Sikh people were among the dead.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Indianapolis officials identified the victims as Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jaswinder Kaur, 64; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.
  • Police said they recovered a rifle but did not specify the make and model. A gun was seized from Hole about a year ago, officials said, and he was ‘found in a couple police reports.’
  • Police responded just after 11 p.m. Thursday to reports of shots fired. Hole ‘took his life very shortly before officers actually entered the facility,’ police said.
  • Authorities are still trying to determine a motive, saying Hole ‘just appeared to randomly start shooting’ in the parking lot before moving inside the building.
  • It was the sixth public mass shooting in the United States in five weeks, including massacres at three Atlanta spas and a supermarket in Boulder.

Biden administration removes Trump-era restrictions on fetal tissue research, The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, Friday, 16 April 2021: “The National Institutes of Health on Friday removed restrictions that the Trump administration imposed on research using fetal tissue, allowing university researchers and government scientists freer rein to use material from elective abortions when studying diseases and possible treatments. A brief update for outside scientists from the NIH director’s office said the Department of Health and Human Services was reversing a 2019 decision that had required applicants for federal grants and contracts involving fetal tissue to undergo an extra layer of review by an ethics advisory board. In a separate notice emailed Friday, NIH told its internal scientific and clinical directors that it was lifting a Trump-era ban on using federal money to buy human fetal tissue for biomedical studies by government employees.” See also, Biden Administration Ends Limits on Use of Fetal Tissue for Research, The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, published on Saturday, 17 April 2021: “The Biden administration on Friday lifted restrictions on the use of fetal tissue for medical research, reversing rules imposed in 2019 by President Donald J. Trump. The new rules, disclosed by the National Institutes of Health, allow scientists to use tissue derived from elective abortions to study and develop treatments for diseases including diabetes, cancer, AIDS and Covid-19. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the N.I.H., essentially restored the guidelines in place during the Obama administration. The N.I.H. will ‘manage and oversee research using human fetal tissue according to policies and procedures that were in place’ before the June 2019 ban, the agency said in an emailed statement on Saturday. The development was first reported on Friday by The Washington Post.”

Biden officials rescind Trump’s okay for Texas’s $100 billion-plus Medicaid plan, The Washington Post, Dan Diamond, Friday, 16 April 2021: “The Biden administration on Friday rescinded approval for changes to Texas’s Medicaid program granted by the Trump administration, saying that federal Medicaid officials ‘materially erred’ by speeding approval for the state’s $100 billion-plus request in January. The decision was characterized as an effort to push state officials toward accepting the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, which would cover more low-income residents, said two federal health officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. Texas, which has more uninsured people than any other state, is one of 12 that have not expanded the program.”

Justice Department sues Trump ally Roger Stone, alleging millions in unpaid taxes. Stone, a well-known Republican political operative, served as a campaign adviser to Trump. NBC News, Pete Williams and Dennis Romero, Friday, 16 April 2021: “The Justice Department on Friday sued Roger Stone, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, accusing Stone and his wifeNydia, of owing nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says the couple underpaid their income taxes by $1,590,361 from 2007 to 2011. It further says Stone, 68, did not pay his full tax bill in 2018, coming up $407,036 short. The couple, the suit alleges, used a commercial entity to ‘shield their personal income from enforced collection and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties.'”

State Department inspector general’s office finds the Pompeos violated federal ethics rules on use of State Department resources. From booking salon appointments to buying gold nut bowls, Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, asked State employees to carry out personal tasks more than 100 times. Politico, Nahal Toosi, Friday, 16 April 2021: “Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times, a government watchdog has determined. POLITICO obtained a copy of the report on the Pompeos, which was put together by the State Department’s inspector general’s office…. By digging through emails and other documents and interviewing staff members, investigators uncovered scores of instances in which Mike or Susan Pompeo asked State Department staffers to handle tasks of a personal nature, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos’ political allies. Employees told investigators that they viewed the requests from Susan Pompeo, who was not on the federal payroll, as being backed by the secretary.”

 

Saturday, 17 April 2021:

 

Fund-Raising Surged for Republicans Who Sought to Overturn the Election. The lawmakers, who encouraged their followers to protest in Washington on Jan. 6, have capitalized on the riot to draw huge campaign donations. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Catie Edmondson, and Rachel Shorey, Saturday, 17 April 2021: “Republicans who were the most vocal in urging their followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to try to reverse President Donald J. Trump’s loss, pushing to overturn the election and stoking the grievances that prompted the deadly Capitol riot, have profited handsomely in its aftermath, according to new campaign data. Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, who led the challenges to President Biden’s victory in their chamber, each brought in more than $3 million in campaign donations in the three months that followed the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia who called the rampage a ‘1776 moment’ and was later stripped of committee assignments for espousing bigoted conspiracy theories and endorsing political violence, raised $3.2 million — more than the individual campaign of Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, and nearly every other member of House leadership. A New York Times analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission disclosures illustrates how the leaders of the effort to overturn Mr. Biden’s electoral victory have capitalized on the outrage of their supporters to collect huge sums of campaign cash. Far from being punished for encouraging the protest that turned lethal, they have thrived in a system that often rewards the loudest and most extreme voices, using the fury around the riot to build their political brands. The analysis examined the individual campaign accounts of lawmakers, not joint fund-raising committees or leadership political action committees.”

Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene scraps planned launch of controversial ‘America First’ caucus amid blowback from some Republicans, CNN Politics, Daniella Diaz, Saturday, 17 April 2021: “Conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is scrapping the planned launch of her “America First” caucus after receiving blowback from leaders in her own party, despite confirming through a spokesperson on Friday that the caucus would launch…. This is a reversal from Friday, when her office said she would launch the caucus ‘very soon.'”

Least Vaccinated U.S. Counties Have Something in Common: Trump Voters, The New York Times, Danielle Ivory, Lauren Leatherby, and Robert Gebeloff, Saturday, 17 April 2021: About 31 percent of adults in the United States have now been fully vaccinated. Scientists have estimated that 70 to 90 percent of the total population must acquire resistance to the virus to reach herd immunity. But in hundreds of counties around the country, vaccination rates are low, with some even languishing in the teens. The disparity in vaccination rates has so far mainly broken down along political lines. The New York Times examined survey and vaccine administration data for nearly every U.S. county and found that both willingness to receive a vaccine and actual vaccination rates to date were lower, on average, in counties where a majority of residents voted to re-elect former President Donald J. Trump in 2020. The phenomenon has left some places with a shortage of supply and others with a glut.”

 

Sunday, 18 April 2021:

 

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz Calls Alleged Assaults on Journalists ‘Chilling.’ He said he had told police officers to “make changes” that would allow reporters to do their jobs. New York Times, Kellen Browning, Sunday, 18 April 2021: “Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, on Sunday responded to reports that the state’s police officers had assaulted journalists covering the unrest in a Minneapolis suburb, saying, ‘Apologies are not enough; it just cannot happen.’ Protests have erupted in Brooklyn Center, Minn., in the wake of the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was killed by a veteran police officer during a traffic stop. Law enforcement officers have fired tear gas or pepper spray into crowds and have made dozens of arrests…. On Saturday, a lawyer representing more than 20 news media organizations sent a letter to Mr. Walz and leaders of Minnesota law enforcement organizations detailing a series of alleged assaults of journalists by police officers in the past week. Journalists have been sprayed with chemical irritants, arrested, thrown to the ground and beaten by police officers while covering protests, wrote the lawyer, Leita Walker. The letter provides details of some of the alleged incidents, including ones involving journalists working for CNN and The New York Times.”

 

Monday, 19 April 2021:

 

White House Defends Sticking With Refugee Cap Set by Trump Administration For Now, The New York Times, Monday, 19 April 2021:

  • The White House is defending an about-face on the number of refugees the U.S. admits.

  • Biden meets with lawmakers of both parties to discuss infrastructure.

  • One hurdle for Biden’s climate summit: Overcoming the international distrust stirred under Trump.

  • Merrick Garland vows to combat domestic extremism as he commemorates the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

  • Trump will headline a golf fund-raiser with Lindsey Graham for Senate Republicans (and himself).

  • The U.S. will start offering coronavirus vaccines to detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

  • The Supreme Court increasingly views the news media in a negative light, a study finds.

  • Adults in all U.S. states are now eligible for vaccination, hitting Biden’s target. Half have had at least one dose.
  • Campaign data shows fund-raising surged for Republicans who sought to overturn the election.
  • Lisa Monaco, Biden’s choice for Number 2 at the Justice Department, is seen as a consensus builder.
  • American Airlines’ chief executive Doug Parker explains his opposition to restrictive voting laws.

Biden tells bipartisan group of lawmakers he is ‘prepared to compromise’ on infrastructure, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Amy B Wang, Monday, 19 April 2021: “President Biden said Monday that he is ‘prepared to compromise’ on his $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure package at a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers, all of whom previously served as a mayor or governor. Vice President Harris was in North Carolina to visit a community college and a manufacturer of electric school buses as part of the White House’s efforts to promote the ambitious plan.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate hosted by Biden, the Kremlin announced.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the president ‘remains committed to the aspirational goal’ he set of lifting the cap on refugees to 125,000 for the next fiscal year.
  • Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), who was elected in the tea party wave in 2010, said he will resign from Congress next month to become president and chief executive of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
  • The Biden administration has ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using terms such as ‘alien’ and ‘illegal alien’ when referring to immigrants in the United States.
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) pushed back against Republicans who claimed her weekend comments about being ‘confrontational’ could incite violence, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended the Democratic congresswoman.

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Minnesota Awaits Derek Chauvin’s Fate as Jury Begins Deliberations, The New York Times, Monday, 19 April 2021:

  • Jurors spent 4 hours deliberating before adjourning for the night with no verdict.
  • Minnesota braces for unrest as the governor calls for more resources to prevent property destruction.
  • A lawyer and judge in the Chauvin trial suggest congresswoman Maxine Waters’ comments could be grounds for appeal.
  • Minnesota students walk out of schools in solidarity with the racial justice movement.
  • To an educator, Minneapolis has become ‘the epicenter of justice and change.’
  • Takeaways from the closing arguments of the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • The verdict is now in the hands of 12 jurors after the prosecution finishes its rebuttal.
  • Minneapolis law enforcement agencies and community groups call for peaceful protests after a verdict.
  • In his closing argument, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer urges jurors to ‘not let yourselves be misled.’
  • Eric Nelson, a lawyer for Derek Chauvin, said Chauvin was following Minneapolis police department policies; he was trained this way.
  • What the cameras can and cannot capture in the Derek Chauvin trial.
  • Little has been said about the $20 bill that brought officers to the scene.
  • The defense begins its closing argument. Here’s a look back at its case.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Jurors start deliberations, The Washington Post, Abigail Hauslohner, Lateshia Beachum, Keith McMillan, and Paulina Villegas, Monday, 19 April 2021: “Jurors began deliberations on Monday after closing arguments in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd last year. In their final arguments, both the prosecution and defense focused on reasonable doubt. Prosecutors argued that there is none, and that the jury can believe what it sees on video — Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes — and trust the expert testimony that has been given. ‘This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first,’ prosecutor Steve Schleicher said. ‘It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. … This wasn’t policing. This was murder.’ Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson suggested that a ‘reasonable police officer’ would find that the 17 minutes before Chauvin acted would be relevant, adding that witness perception of Floyd’s death might not fully capture what happened.”

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Biden administration ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using ‘alien,’ ‘illegal alien’ and ‘assimilation,’ when referring to immigrants in the U.S., The Washington Post, Maria Sacchetti, Monday, 19 April 2021: “The Biden administration has ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using terms such as ‘alien,’ ‘illegal alien’ and ‘assimilation’ when referring to immigrants in the United States, a rebuke of terms widely used under the Trump administration. The change was detailed in memos sent Monday to department heads at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s chief enforcers of federal immigration laws, according to copies obtained by The Washington Post. It is part of an ongoing effort to reverse President Donald Trump’s hard-line policies and advance President Biden’s efforts to build a more ‘humane’ immigration system.

Biden White House removes Trump-era scientist Betsy Weatherhead from overseeing climate report, CNN Politics, Kristen Holmes, Monday, 19 April 2021: “White House officials have transferred Trump-appointed scientist Betsy Weatherhead from her position overseeing the US government’s report on the effects of climate change, a senior administration official told CNN. The move is part of a larger effort by the Biden administration to clean house of President Donald Trump’s political appointees in scientific roles. The EPA recently wiped out the entire Scientific Advisory Board put in place by Trump administration.”

Supreme Court won’t hear Republican challenge to Pennsylvania ballot deadline. The justices have consistently declined to take up any of the post-election challenges from the state. NBC News, Pete Williams, Monday, 19 April 2021: “The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from Pennsylvania Republicans who said the secretary of state had no authority to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots in the 2020 general election. The court’s denial, issued with no explanation and no noted dissents, was no surprise. The justices have consistently declined to take up any of the post-election challenges from the state. Pennsylvania officials urged the court not to touch the case, declaring it ‘as moot as moot can be,’ given that the election is long since over and that the total number of ballots at issue was less than the margin of victory in each of the state’s federal races. In other words, even if the challengers had prevailed in their legal challenge, it would not have affected the outcome.”

Biden administration to provide $150 million to boost Covid response in underserved and vulnerable areas, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins and Kate Sullivan, Monday, 19 April 2021: “The Biden administration on Monday will allocate $150 million from the American Rescue Plan to community-based health care providers across the nation to help boost their coronavirus response for underserved communities and vulnerable populations, senior White House Covid-19 response adviser Andy Slavitt said Monday.”

Judge to revoke bail for Proud Boy leaders involved in Capitol riot. Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, Monday, 19 April 2021: “A federal judge has revoked bail for two leaders of the Proud Boys, a paramilitary right-wing extremist group, contending that newly revealed evidence of their role in the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol has shown them to be too dangerous to remain free while awaiting trial. Ethan Nordean of Washington state and Joseph Biggs of Florida are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election — and with organizing and leading dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol, many of whom were among the earliest to breach the building.”

Progressives Propose Tripling Housing Commitment in Infrastructure Plan. The proposal, called the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, is a marker for liberals as Democrats seek to influence President Biden’s $2.3 trillion public-works package. The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Monday, 19 April 2021: Top liberal lawmakers unveiled legislation on Monday that would pour more than $100 billion over a decade into modernizing the public housing system and starting a transition to renewable energy, as progressives seek to prod President Biden to expand his far-reaching infrastructure plan. The legislation, led by Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, is the first of multiple proposals from progressives who are trying to shape the president’s $2.3 trillion package, which Mr. Biden has said aims both to overhaul infrastructure and to address climate change and economic inequities. Its proponents estimate that it would invest at least triple the amount that Mr. Biden has proposed to tackle a large backlog of improvements to the nation’s aging public housing system.”

The Science of Climate Change Explained: Facts, Evidence, and Proof, The New York Times, Julia Rosen, Monday, 19 April 2021: ‘The science of climate change is more solid and widely agreed upon than you might think. But the scope of the topic, as well as rampant disinformation, can make it hard to separate fact from fiction. Here, we’ve done our best to present you with not only the most accurate scientific information, but also an explanation of how we know it.”

 

Tuesday, 20 April 2021:

 

Derek Chauvin Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd

 

The Trial of Derek Chauvin: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty of Murdering George Floyd. Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The death of Mr. Floyd spurred the largest civil rights protests in decades. The New York Times, Tuesday, 20 April 2021:

  • ‘This gave me a glimmer of hope,’ Eric Garner’s mother said of the verdict.
  • Minutes before the verdict, an Ohio teenager was shot by the police.
  • Scenes of celebration and emotion follow the announcement of the verdict.
  • How a teenager Darnella’ Frazier’s video upended the police department’s initial tale.
  • ‘Today the tears are pure joy.’ George Floyd’s family responds to the verdict.
  • ‘We’ve been carrying a lot’: For many Black people, the verdict is personal.
  • ‘It was a murder in full light of day,’ President Biden says of George Floyd’s death.
  • George Floyd’s death spurred calls for racial justice that touched on seemingly every aspect of American life.
  • ‘Justice was served,’ but ‘it’s not enough’: Americans greet the Chauvin verdict with mixed emotions.
  • ‘This is not the end,’ Minnesota’s attorney general Keith Ellison says after a guilty verdict.
  • Derek Chauvin received three guilty verdicts for one crime. Here’s why and what it means for his sentence.
  • On TV, a tense wait, and then an emotional response.
  • Lawmakers and activists react to the Derek Chauvin verdict.
  • Darnella Frazier captured George Floyd’s death on her cellphone. The teenager’s video shaped the Derek Chauvin trial.

Derek Chauvin Verdict Brings a Rare Rebuke of Police Conduct, The New York Times, John Eligon, Tim Arango, Shaila Dewan, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “A former police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck until well past Mr. Floyd’s final breath was found guilty of murder on Tuesday in a case that shook the nation’s conscience and drew millions into the streets for the largest racial justice protests in generations. The verdict, which could send the former officer, Derek Chauvin, to prison for decades, was a rare rebuke of police violence, following case after case of officers going without charges or convictions after killing Black men, women and children. At the center of it all was an excruciating video, taken by a teenage girl, that showed Mr. Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the neck of Mr. Floyd, who was Black, for nine minutes and 29 seconds as Mr. Floyd pleaded for his life and bystanders tried to intervene. Mr. Floyd repeated ‘I can’t breathe’ more than 20 times during the encounter…. President Biden praised the verdict in a nationwide address at the White House but called it a ‘too rare’ step to deliver ‘basic accountability’ for Black Americans. ‘It was a murder in full light of day, and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘For so many, it feels like it took all of that for the judicial system to deliver just basic accountability.’ Hours before the jury came back with a decision, Mr. Biden had taken the unusual step of weighing in, telling reporters that he was ‘praying’ for the ‘right verdict.’ ‘This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America,’ he said.”

13 Key Moments That Shaped the Trial of Derek Chauvin, The New York Times, Will Wright, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “In the three weeks of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, who a jury found guilty on Tuesday afternoon, dozens of witnesses testified; hours of video of George Floyd’s arrest were played, paused and replayed; and two sides of the courtroom presented opposing narratives to a jury tasked with determining the fate of a former police officer charged with murder in one of the most watched trials in decades. Through witness testimony, several distinct themes emerged as the most crucial points of contention: whether Mr. Chauvin violated policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes; what role, if any, drugs played in Mr. Floyd’s death; and what kind of impact the arrest may have had on the people who witnessed it. These themes became clear almost immediately, in tearful testimony from bystander witnesses and criticism of Mr. Chauvin from experts called by the prosecution. In the final days of the trial, the defense brought the opposite account to the stand, giving the former police officer some support after more than two weeks of almost entirely critical testimony. The trial, and its verdict, attracted more attention than almost any other criminal proceeding in decades, and as it moved into the final phase — closing arguments on Monday, followed by jury deliberations and the verdict on Tuesday — these key moments illustrate some of the most important themes jurors considered.” See also, Derek Chauvin received three guilty verdicts for one crime. Here’s why and what it means for his sentence. The New York Times, Emily Bazelon, Tuesday, 20 April 2021.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Biden calls for confronting systemic racism after Chauvin is convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death, The Washington Post, Teis Thebault, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Abigail Hauslohner, Paulina Villegas, Keith McMillan, Silvia Foster-Frau, and Meryl Kornfield, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday, the conclusion of a closely watched trial that came nearly a year after Floyd’s killing catalyzed an international protest movement for racial justice. After just over 10 hours of deliberation, a jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison and will await his sentencing, in eight weeks, from jail. ‘It’s not enough. We can’t stop here,’ President Biden said in remarks at the White House after the conviction, a rare example of punishment after a police killing.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “A jury on Tuesday convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, nearly a year after a viral video of the Black man gasping for breath pinned beneath the White officer’s knee sent millions into the streets demanding justice and forcing a national reckoning on race and policing. Jurors found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, sending a powerful message about police violence.” See also, Celebration is laced with warnings after Derek Chauvin convicted of murdering George Floyd. The former police officer may have been found guilty of all three charges, but Democrats and activists said more needs to be done about systemic policing problems. Politico, Quint Forgey and Nolan D. McCaskill, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “Democrats and activists celebrated Tuesday’s conviction of the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last May, but warned that more needs to be done to address systemic issues with policing and criminal justice. A diverse 12-member jury found Derek Chauvin, a 45-year-old white man, guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd died after a ‘medical episode,’ but bystanders had recorded Chauvin pinning his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, ignoring his pleas for oxygen and his late mother as a group of Chauvin’s colleagues stood by without intervening. It was an act of police violence so searing that it set off a nationwide racial reckoning nearly one year ago. The fact that it was captured on video that reverberated around the world led to the swift firing of all officers involved and likely played a significant role in the jury’s decision to convict Chauvin. Judge Peter Cahill, who read aloud the jury’s verdict, said Chauvin, who was handcuffed and remanded to the custody of the Hennepin County sheriff, would be sentenced in eight weeks.” See also, Derek Chauvin guilty of murder in George Floyd’s death, NBC News, Janelle Griffith and Corky Siemaszko, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all counts Tuesday for causing George Floyd’s death, a verdict that could send the disgraced former Minneapolis police officer to prison for the rest of his life. His eyes darted left and right over his light blue surgical mask as Judge Peter Cahill read the jury’s verdict, but he betrayed little else in the way of emotion. Chauvin, who was convicted of second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter, stood up quickly after the judge ordered his bail revoked and compliantly placed his hands to be handcuffed before he was led out of the courtroom. He faces up to 75 years in prison when he returns for sentencing in eight weeks. Defense attorney Eric Nelson followed Chauvin out of the courtroom without comment. Chauvin was booked into the Oak Park Heights state prison. He arrived at 4:55 p.m. Conviction on the top count of second-degree murder means the 12 jurors unanimously agreed that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death during the commission of a felony assault. The jury rejected the defense claim that there might have been other medical reasons Floyd died, saying Chauvin killed him, even if unintentionally, by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.” See also, Derek Chauvin is convicted of killing George Floyd in Minneapolis, cuffed and sent to prison, PBS in partnership with Minneapolis StarTribune, Chao Xiong and Paul Walsh, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “A sheriff’s deputy led former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin away in handcuffs Tuesday after jurors convicted him of murdering George Floyd, a dramatic ending to a case that captivated the world and became the latest flash point in a raging debate about police brutality against the Black community. The conviction, almost a year after a bystander video captured Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was the first time in Minnesota history that a white police officer was convicted of killing a Black civilian on the job. Jurors deliberated for about nine hours and 45 minutes over two days before finding Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin, dressed in a shirt and tie and gray suit, glanced around the courtroom as the verdicts were read, and was immediately handcuffed behind his back and escorted out of the courtroom by Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies when his bail was revoked. Chauvin, who also wore a blue surgical face mask as mandated by the court for COVID-19 safety, gave a nod to his attorney, Eric Nelson, as he was led out a back door. He was transferred to the Minnesota Department of Corrections and booked about 4:55 p.m. into the state prison at Oak Park Heights for his safety while he awaits sentencing. As news of the verdicts — guilty on all counts — spread, social media sites reposted the Minneapolis Police Department’s initial report that Floyd died of a medical incident at the scene, an assertion that might never have been contradicted so forcefully were it not for a teenage girl, Darnella Frazier, walking by and recording Floyd’s death last May 25 on her cellphone and posting it for the world to see.” See also, How bystanders changed the story of George Floyd’s death, The Washington Post, Paulina Villegas, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “As Americans celebrated the guilty verdict for former police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday, the jury’s decision also prompted poignant reflections on how different the story of Floyd’s death would have been had bystanders not intervened and filmed the interaction. On May 25, 2020, a police report titled ‘Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction,’ stated that the Minneapolis Police Department responded to a report of a forgery in progress. The roughly 200-word statement said a male suspect in his 40s who appeared ‘under the influence’ resisted orders to step from his car. ‘Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,’ the statement said. ‘Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.’ But it was only through videos filmed by concerned bystanders that the public first learned that Chauvin had pinned Floyd to the ground pressing his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes, despite his continuous cries for help, gasping for air and claiming that he could not breathe. The statement also omitted details of how those same witnesses desperately pleaded the police to relent. On Tuesday, some people took to social media to express outrage about how similar incidents of police brutality are often reported, and pointed at the crucial role those bystanders played on the entire case. ‘Can we all sing a praise song for Darnella Frazier who had the presence of mind to film that video that made such a difference in this case and now must live with the memories that will walk alongside her for the rest of her years,’ Michele Norris wrote on Twitter.”

Officials Say Teenage Girl Is Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio, The New York Times, Neil Vigdor and Bryan Pietsch, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “A teenage girl who the police say threatened two girls with a knife was fatally shot by an officer in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday afternoon, shortly before a jury reached a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in last year’s killing of George Floyd. The girl’s death cast an immediate pall over public expressions that justice had been served in Mr. Floyd’s case and touched off protests in Ohio’s capital city. At a news conference on Tuesday night, the Columbus Division of Police released body camera footage from the officer, who officials said had been responding to a 911 call about an attempted stabbing around 4:45 p.m. in the southeastern part of the city. Officials said the video showed the teenager lunging at two other females with a knife as the officer arrived at the driveway of a residence. The officer then fired several times — four shots could be heard in the video — at the girl. She collapsed to the ground next to a car that had been parked in the driveway, where the body camera footage showed a knife on the ground. The girl who was killed was identified as Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, by a spokeswoman for Franklin County Children’s Services, who said in an email on Tuesday night that Ma’Khia had been in foster care.” See also, Video Footage Shows a Police Officer in Columbus, Ohio, Fatally Shooting a Teen Girl Seconds After Arriving on the Scene, BuzzFeed News, Stephanie K. Baer, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “A teenage girl was fatally shot by police in Ohio Tuesday afternoon, minutes before a judge announced that a jury found former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin guilty of murder and manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd. The Columbus Division of Police dispatched officers at 4:36 p.m. after a 911 caller said someone was trying to stab and fight them. Officers arrived at 4:44 p.m., and a body-worn camera from the first officer at the scene shows a group of people, including several teen girls, standing outside a house.” See also, Ohio police fatally shoot Black teenage girl just before Derek Chauvin verdict, The Washington Post, Randy Ludlow, Hannah Knowles, Reis Thebault, and Teo Armus, published on Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “The fatal shooting of a Black teenager by Columbus police on Tuesday stoked grief and anger just as the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was being celebrated as a sign of long-elusive accountability for law enforcement. Police said at a late news conference on Tuesday that the girl had threatened two others with a knife before the shooting, playing segments of body camera video that showed the victim lunging toward someone in a driveway before an officer fired four shots. A knife is visible in the driveway next to the girl as police perform CPR on her.”

The White House Plans Ambitious New Targets for Cutting Greenhouse Gases. The new target is aimed at sending a global message after four years of climate denial under Trump. Addressing the nation after Derek Chauvin’s conviction, President Biden said the verdict was a ‘giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.’ The New York Times, Tuesday, 20 April 2021:

  • Biden will pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030.

  • Senators debate voting rights in a heated committee hearing featuring Stacey Abrams.

  • ‘It was a murder in full light of day,’ President Biden says of George Floyd’s death.

  • Lisa Monaco is confirmed as the No. 2 official at the Justice Department.

  • House Democrats squelch a G.O.P. effort to censure Maxine Waters for saying protesters should get more ‘confrontational.’

  • Congress is investigating the company whose factory ruined vaccine doses and received a $628 million contract.

  • George W. Bush calls the current G.O.P. ‘isolationist, protectionist’ and ‘nativist.’

  • A voting restrictions bill in Florida clears a hurdle in the Legislature.
  • As the U.S looks to expand solar power, China’s dominance in the supply chain raises concerns.
  • Walter Mondale, former vice president and liberal champion, dies at 93.
  • A new study quantifies the role of the super rich in U.S. politics. A dozen megadonors and their spouses contributed a combined $3.4 billion to federal candidates and political groups since 2009, accounting for nearly one out of every 13 dollars raised, according to a new report.

Biden calls the Floyd family after verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Meryl Kornfield, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “President Biden called the family of George Floyd on Tuesday after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death last year. Biden, Vice President Harris and first lady Jill Biden spoke with Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, from the Oval Office, the White House said.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The House rejected a Republican attempt to censure Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for calling on protesters to ‘get more active’ and ‘get more confrontational’ if a jury votes to acquit former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd.
  • White House officials are closing in on a large spending plan centered on child care, paid family leave and other domestic priorities.
  • Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for federal legalization of marijuana as his home state recently joined 16 others and D.C. in making recreational use of marijuana legal.
  • Biden this week will pledge to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by the end of the decade as part of an aggressive push to combat climate change.

Senators Debating Federal Voting Laws Scrutinize Georgia Statute, The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “Senate Democrats on Tuesday renewed their push for a national expansion of voting rights, summoning leaders from the battleground state of Georgia to help build a public case that Congress should intervene to lower state barriers to voting. At a heated hearing on Capitol Hill, senators quizzed elected officials, academics and advocates on the state’s new election law and dozens of others like it introduced in Republican statehouses since the 2020 election that would restrict ballot access. Their lead witness was Stacey Abrams, the Georgia voting rights activist who has arguably done more than any other Democrat to frame her party’s views of voting issues. Over four hours of testimony, Ms. Abrams argued that Republican-led states like hers across the country were witnessing ‘a resurgence of Jim Crow-style voter suppression measures’ targeting voters of color. She accused Republicans of acting with ‘racial animus’ to tilt the electorate in their favor after former President Donald J. Trump lost Georgia and baselessly claimed he had been the victim of election fraud. She warned that decades of gains could be rolled back if Congress did not step in.”

Biden administration says it ‘strongly supports’ making D.C. the 51st state, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “The Biden administration issued a policy position Tuesday in support of D.C. statehood, forcefully backing legislation to make the District the 51st state ahead of a House vote scheduled for Thursday. Noting Washington’s ‘robust economy, a rich culture, and a diverse population of Americans from all walks of life,’ the administration said the proposed State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth would ‘make our Union stronger and more just. For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress,’ the administration wrote. ‘This taxation without representation and denial of self-governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.'”

Department of Homeland Security watchdog declined to pursue investigations into Secret Service during Trump administration, documents show, The Washington Post, Carol D. Leonnig, Tuesday, 20 April 2021: “The chief federal watchdog for the Secret Service blocked investigations proposed by career staff last year to scrutinize the agency’s handling of the George Floyd protests in Lafayette Square and the spread of the coronavirus in its ranks, according to documents and people with knowledge of his decisions. Both matters involved decisions by then-President Donald Trump that may have affected actions by the agency. Joseph Cuffari, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, rejected his staff’s recommendation to investigate what role the Secret Service played in the forcible clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square on June 1, according to internal documents and two people familiar with his decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the discussions.”

 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021:

 

Biden Nominee Stacey Dixon Would Be Highest-Ranking Black Woman in Intelligence Position if Confirmed, The New York Times, Wednesday, 21 April 2021:

  • Biden picks technology expert and first Black woman to be the No. 2 U.S. intelligence official.

  • The House passes legislation to limit the president’s ability to impose travel bans.

  • Senate Democrats, joined by Lisa Murkowski, confirm Vanita Gupta for a top Justice Dept. job.

  • Biden will pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030.

  • Senate Republicans agree to keep a symbolic ban on earmarks, but may use them anyway.

  • As Biden calls for quick action, major obstacles remain to passing a policing overhaul through Congress.

  • Biden wants to change a Trump tax break that may not have helped poor areas as promised.

  • Biden is expected to declare that 20th-century killings of Armenians were genocide.
  • Senate Republicans agree to keep a symbolic ban on earmarks, but they may use them anyway.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland announces an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.
  • As Biden calls for quick action, major obstacles remain to passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Democrats’ expansive measure to address the use of excessive force and racial discrimination.
  • U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan gives Guantánamo prisoners hope for release.
  • John Kerry says U.S. efforts on global warming were set back by the Trump administration’s ‘lies.’
  • Big cat advocates are hopeful a ‘Tiger King’ bill makes it to Biden’s desk.
  • Putin warns the West not to cross a red line in his annual address to Parliament.

Biden casts vaccinations as a patriotic duty and urges Americans to protect themselves and others, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “President Biden cast getting vaccinated as a patriotic duty Wednesday, urging all Americans over 16 to protect themselves and help protect those in their community from getting the coronavirus and putting their lives at risk. His comments came at an event at which Biden announced that the nation was about to reach his goal of 200 million vaccinations and that the government would underwrite the costs of businesses giving their workers time off to get vaccinated.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Though Biden would like to see Congress move forward with the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, he isn’t setting a deadline for action, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
  • The Senate narrowly confirmed civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general on a vote of 51 to 49.
  • The late congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D) was remembered as a fierce champion for his Florida constituents, a persistent voice for the disadvantaged and a treasured friend to his fellow lawmakers during a memorial service on Capitol Hill.
  • Biden overruled his top foreign policy and national security aides when he kept in place the Trump administration’s record low cap on the number of refugees admitted to the United States.
  • NRA launches $2 million campaign to oppose Biden gun-safety agenda.

Derek Chauvin Is Being Held in Solitary Confinement. Public gatherings were largely celebratory after Mr. Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd, but activists said that systemic policing problems must be addressed. The New York Times, Wednesday, 21 April 2021:

  • Derek Chauvin is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland announces an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department.

  • What’s next for the other three officers at the scene of Mr. Floyd’s arrest?

  • Police reinforcements start to withdraw from Minneapolis after the verdict.
  • Although Chauvin was convicted, many well-known cases of police violence never went to trial.
  • Teachers explain how they’re dealing with the Chauvin verdict in their classrooms.
  • Jurors who were anonymous for weeks are now free to talk publicly.
  • As the Chauvin verdict was about to be read, the police killed a teenage girl in Ohio.
  • What’s next for the other three officers at the scene of Mr. Floyd’s arrest?

Attorney General Merrick Garland announces Justice Department investigation into Minneapolis police, The Washington Post, David Nakamura, Mark Berman, and Matt Zapotosky, Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday announced a sweeping Justice Department probe into the practices and culture of the Minneapolis Police Department, elevating the federal government’s role a day after former officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of killing George Floyd. Garland said the pattern-or-practice civil investigation would be conducted separately from an ongoing federal criminal probe opened during the Trump administration over whether the Black man’s civil rights were violated during his arrest and death last May. The new examination will go beyond Floyd’s case, Garland said, to determine whether the Minneapolis department has engaged in systemic misconduct that constituted ‘unconstitutional or unlawful policing. Nothing can fill the void the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death,’ Garland said during brief remarks at Justice Department headquarters. ‘My heart goes out to them and to all those who have experienced similar loss.'”

Fatal police shooting of Black teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio, sparks new outcry, The Washington Post, Randy Ludlow, Derek Hawkins, Paulina Firozi, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “Body camera footage from a Columbus police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black teenager sparked outcry and protests from local activists, national leaders and even the White House on Wednesday, as it became the latest in a string of deadly videos documenting the final moments of a person of color killed by law enforcement. The death of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was shot by Officer Nicholas Reardon on Tuesday during an altercation, comes as the nation is undergoing a broad reckoning over police brutality and racism. Her name joins a long and growing list of Black people killed by police officers in deadly interactions that have sparked protests and broad calls for justice. In a sign of how effective those protests have been in drawing public attention to the issue of police violence, the details of the shooting were swiftly briefed to President Biden, whose administration has pledged to address systemic racism and overhaul policing. ‘The killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant by the Columbus police is tragic,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Wednesday. ‘She was a child. We’re thinking of her friends and family in the communities that are hurting and grieving her loss.'”

The Postal Service is running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts, Yahoo! News, Jana Winter, Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “The law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service has been quietly running a program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, including those about planned protests, according to a document obtained by Yahoo News. The details of the surveillance effort, known as iCOP, or Internet Covert Operations Program, have not previously been made public. The work involves having analysts trawl through social media sites to look for what the document describes as ‘inflammatory’ postings and then sharing that information across government agencies.”

Republican Bills in Republican-Led States Target Protesters (and Absolve Motorists Who Hit Them), The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Patricia Mazzei, Wednesday, 21 April 2021: “Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets. A Republican proposal in Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, including elected office. A Minnesota bill would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans, unemployment benefits or housing assistance. And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation this week that toughened existing laws governing public disorder and created a harsh new level of infractions — a bill he’s called ‘the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.’ The measures are part of a wave of new anti-protest legislation, sponsored and supported by Republicans, in the 11 months since Black Lives Matter protests swept the country following the death of George Floyd. The Minneapolis police officer who killed Mr. Floyd, Derek Chauvin, was convicted on Tuesday on murder and manslaughter charges, a cathartic end to weeks of tension. But while Democrats seized on Mr. Floyd’s death last May to highlight racism in policing and other forms of social injustice, Republicans responded to a summer of protests by proposing a raft of punitive new measures governing the right to lawfully assemble. G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session — more than twice as many proposals as in any other year, according to Elly Page, a senior legal adviser at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, which tracks legislation limiting the right to protest.”

 

Thursday, 22 April 2021:

 

Avril Haines, Biden’s Director of National Intelligence, Vows to Put Climate at ‘Center’ of Foreign Policy. Haines struck a note of urgency in telling world leaders that climate change must be “fully integrated” with national security. President Biden committed the United States to cutting emissions by half by the end of the decade at a virtual Earth Day summit. The New York Times, Thursday, 22 April 2021:

  • Biden’s intelligence director tells world leaders climate is now ‘at the center’ of U.S. foreign policy.

  • Biden wants to slash emissions. Success would mean a very different America.

  • China’s leader, Xi Jinping, promises to ‘strictly limit’ coal.

  • Here’s what Canada, Russia and other countries have committed to so far today.

  • The virtual summit makes history, but proves even world leaders aren’t immune to tech issues.

  • Fossil fuel industries react carefully to Biden’s emissions pledge.

  • Biden nominated Rick Spinrad to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the country’s premier climate science agency. 

  • What’s on the agenda for Biden’s climate summit, and who’s attending?
  • Britain, Norway, and the United States join forces with businesses to protect tropical forests.
  • Brazil’s Bolsonaro promises to end deforestation despite overseeing a sharp increase. His promise was met with extreme skepticism by those in the environmental community who have seen the destruction of the Amazon skyrocket under his watch.
  • Demand for coal is forecast to soar, making new coal projects a big issue in climate diplomacy.
  • Senator Tim Scott will deliver Republicans’ rebuttal to Biden’s first address to Congress.
  • The House passed a D.C. statehood bill, but the measure faces obstacles in the Senate.
  • Biden administration withdraws Trump-era proposal restricting transgender people in homeless shelters.

Biden pledges international finance plan as he presides over virtual global climate summit, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Adam Taylor, Colby Itkowitz, Steven Mufson, Juliet Eilperin, and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “President Biden said Thursday that he would launch an international climate finance plan to help underwrite the transition to a decarbonized global economy as he presided over a virtual summit of world leaders and called combating climate change ‘a moral imperative.’ As Biden watched from the East Room of the White House, a parade of heads of government appeared virtually, many of them making new pledges to cut emissions and thanking him for taking a leadership role on the issue. Participants in the summit include Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among many others. The second and final day of the summit is Friday.

Here are some significant developments included in this article.

Biden, Calling for Action, Commits to Cutting U.S. Greenhouse Gases 50 Percent to 52 Percent Below 2005 by 2030, The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Somini Sengupta, and Coral Davenport, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “President Biden on Thursday moved to put four years of official climate denial behind the United States, declaring that America would cut its global warming emissions at least in half by the end of the decade. Addressing 40 world leaders at the start of a two-day summit about the U.S. return to the Paris climate agreement, Mr. Biden sought to galvanize other countries to take more aggressive steps. He cast the challenge of avoiding catastrophic warming as an economic opportunity for America and the world, a striking contrast to his predecessor who had abandoned the agreement. ‘This is a moral imperative, an economic imperative,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘A moment of peril, but also a moment of extraordinary possibilities.’ In rapid succession, Japan, Canada, Britain and the European Union committed to steeper cuts. But China, India and Russia made no new emissions promises, and even Mr. Biden’s commitment to cut U.S. greenhouse gases 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by the end of the decade will be extraordinarily difficult to meet, economically and politically. Energy experts said it would require a dramatic overhaul of American society, including the virtual elimination of coal for electricity and the replacement of millions of gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles.” See also, Biden Makes New Pledge for U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: A 50% Cut Based on 2005 Levels by 2030, The Washington Post, Scott Detrow, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “President Biden opened a global summit on climate change Thursday morning by announcing that the United States will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half, based on 2005 levels, by the end of the decade. That aggressive 2030 goal, which the White House is framing as a 50-52 percent reduction, will be formalized in a document called a ‘nationally determined contribution,’ or NDC. The NDC is a public commitment to address climate change made by each country that signed on to the 2015 Paris Agreement, which the U.S. formally left last year at the behest of then-President Donald Trump and reentered this year after Biden took office. The Paris Agreement seeks to keep the world from facing the worst-case scenarios that could occur if the Earth warms more than 2 degrees Celsius from the preindustrial era, with a goal of keeping the rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Already, average annual global temperatures are 1 degree Celsius higher than the mid-19th century, or almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit.”

House Democrats pass D.C. statehood, launching bill into uncharted territory, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “For the second time in history, the House passed legislation Thursday to make the District of Columbia the nation’s 51st state, bolstering momentum for a once-illusory goal that has become a pivotal tenet of the Democratic Party’s voting rights platform. Democrats unanimously approved Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Washington, D.C. Admission Act, describing it as a bid to restore equal citizenship to the residents of the nation’s capital and rectify a historic injustice. Norton (D-D.C.) told colleagues before the 216-to-208 party-line vote that they had a ‘moral obligation’ to pass the bill. ‘This Congress, with Democrats controlling the House, the Senate and the White House, D.C. statehood is within reach for the first time in history,’ she said.” See also, House Approves D.C. Statehood, but Senate Obstacles Remain, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The House voted along party lines on Thursday to grant statehood to Washington, D.C., as Democrats moved to use their congressional majority to accomplish a long-held goal that has become a central plank in the party’s push to expand voting rights and address racial inequity. The legislation would establish a 51st state called Washington, Douglass Commonwealth — in honor of Frederick Douglass, the Black emancipation and civil rights leader — while leaving the National Mall, Capitol Hill, the White House and some other federal property under congressional control. The new state would have a single voting representative in the House and two senators representing its more than 700,000 residents, most of whom are people of color. The House passed the statehood legislation last year over united G.O.P. opposition, but it died in the Senate, where Republicans who controlled the chamber at the time declined to consider it. On Thursday, House Republicans again uniformly opposed the legislation, calling it an unconstitutional power grab by Democrats. ‘Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51,’ said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s nonvoting House delegate, using the legislation’s symbolic designation to reflect the new state.” See also, House passes bill that would grant DC statehood, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to pass a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, DC, a Democratic priority that faces obstacles to final passage even with the party now in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. The party line vote was 216-208. The legislation now faces an uphill fight in the Senate, where it is unlikely to get enough Republican support to clear a 60-vote threshold for passage. It’s unclear whether even every Senate Democrat would support the measure. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated on Thursday that he is undecided on the DC statehood bill. ‘I got so many things on my plate that I haven’t even gotten to that yet,’ he told CNN when asked if he supports it.”

Investigation suppressed by Trump administration reveals obstacles to hurricane aid for Puerto Rico. A watchdog report uncovers bureaucratic hurdles the administration erected for the island to receive aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Washington Post, Tracy Jan and Lisa Rein, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The Trump administration put up bureaucratic obstacles that stalled approximately $20 billion in hurricane relief for Puerto Rico and then obstructed an investigation into the holdup, according to an inspector general report obtained by The Washington Post. Congress requested the investigation into the delays to recovery aid for Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 left residents of the U.S. territory without power and clean water for months. But, the report said, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson and another former HUD official declined to be interviewed by investigators during the course of the examination that began in 2019. Access to HUD information was delayed or denied on several occasions. Several former senior administration officials in the Office of Management and Budget refused to provide requested information about decision-making related to the Puerto Rico relief funds.”

Senate overwhelmingly passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill, CNN Politics, Alex Rogers, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The Senate passed with a wide bipartisan majority Thursday a bill denouncing discrimination against Asian communities in the United States, and creating a new position at the Justice Department to expedite reviews of potential Covid-19-related hate crimes. The vote was 94-1. The lone vote in opposition was from Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. The bill would also direct the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to issue guidance raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic, and work with agencies to establish online reporting of them. It now goes to the House before being signed into law by President Joe Biden. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the bill is ‘proof’ that ‘the Senate can work to solve important issues,’ and would tell bigots ‘we’re going after you.'” See also, Bill to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans passes Senate with bipartisan support, The Washington Post, Paul Kane, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday designed to more forcefully investigate hate crimes, particularly those against Asian Americans after the March 16 shootings at three Atlanta spas and a wave of violence following the spread of the coronavirus from China last year.” See also, Senate Resoundingly Passes Bill to Target Anti-Asian Hate Crimes, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation on Thursday aimed at strengthening federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans amid a sharp increase in discrimination and violence against Asian communities in the United States. The bipartisan vote, 94 to 1, was the first legislative action either chamber of Congress has taken to bolster law enforcement’s response to attacks on people of Asian descent, which have intensified during the coronavirus pandemic.”

US Capitol Police officer allegedly told units to only monitor for ‘anti-Trump’ protesters on January 6, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “A US Capitol Police officer directed ‘all outside units’ on the morning of January 6 to only monitor for anti-Trump agitators ‘who want to start a fight,’ not any ‘pro-Trump in the crowd,’ according to the findings of a newly revealed internal investigation. Rep. Zoe Lofgren described the radio broadcast, the existence of which was not previously known, during a House Administration Committee hearing on security failures around the January 6 attack. In that transmission, according to Lofgren’s telling, the officer said: ‘Attention all units on the field, we’re not looking for any pro-Trump in the crowd. We’re only looking for any anti pro-Trump who want to start a fight.'”

Facebook Knows It Was Used to Help Incite the Capitol Insurrection. An internal task force found that Facebook failed to take appropriate action against the Stop the Steal movement ahead of the January 6th Capitol insurrection, and hoped the company could ‘do better next time.’  BuzzFeed News, Craig Silverman, Ryan Mac, Jane Lytvynenko, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of a House of Representatives committee that his company had done its part ‘to secure the integrity of the election.’ While the social network did not catch everything, the billionaire chief executive said, Facebook had ‘made our services inhospitable to those who might do harm’ in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Less than a week after his appearance, however, an internal company report reached a far different conclusion: Facebook failed to stop a highly influential movement from using its platform to delegitimize the election, encourage violence, and help incite the Capitol riot. Shared on Facebook’s employee communication platform last month, the report is a blunt assessment of how people connected to ‘Stop the Steal,’ a far-right movement based on the conspiracy theory that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election, used the social network to foment an attempted coup. The document explicitly states that Facebook activity from people connected to Stop the Steal and other Trump loyalist groups including the Patriot Party played a role in the events of Jan. 6, and that the company’s emphasis on rooting out fake accounts and ‘inauthentic behavior’ held it back from taking preemptive action when real people were involved.” Update: Facebook Stopped Employees From Reading an Internal Report About its Role in the January 6th Insurrection. You can Read it Here. BuzzFeed News, Ryan Mac, Craig Silverman, Jane Lytvynenko, Monday, 26 April 2021: “Last Thursday, BuzzFeed News revealed that an internal Facebook report concluded that the company had failed to prevent the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement from using its platform to subvert the election, encourage violence, and help incite the Jan. 6 attempted coup on the US Capitol. Titled ‘Stop the Steal and Patriot Party: The Growth and Mitigation of an Adversarial Harmful Movement,’ the report is one of the most important analyses of how the insurrectionist effort to overturn a free and fair US presidential election spread across the world’s largest social network — and how Facebook missed critical warning signs. The report examines how the company was caught flat-footed as the Stop the Steal Facebook group supercharged a movement to undermine democracy, and concludes the company was unprepared to stop people from spreading hate and incitement to violence on its platform. The report’s authors, who were part of an internal task force studying harmful networks, published the document to Facebook’s internal message board last month, making it broadly available to company employees. But after BuzzFeed News revealed the report’s existence last week, many employees were restricted from accessing it.”

Oklahoma passes a law that can protect drivers who run over protesters, CNN, Keith Allen, Thursday, 22 April 2021: “Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill Wednesday granting immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while attempting to flee and which stiffens penalties for demonstrators who block public roadways, according to the Oklahoma State Legislature. The state Senate passed the Republican-sponsored legislation 38-10 last week. The bill makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine for anyone who obstructs a public street during the course of a protest, according to the legislation. House Bill 1674 also states that drivers cannot be held criminally or civilly liable for killing or injuring a protestor if they are ‘fleeing from a riot,’ and there is ‘reasonable belief’ that they are in danger.”

 

Friday, 23 April 2021:

 

Biden and World Leaders Focus on Innovation for ‘Clean Energy Future,’ The New York Times, Friday, 23 April 2021:

  • On Day 2 of the climate summit, Biden revives a venture to increase investment in renewable energy.

  • Biden will travel to Britain and Belgium in June, the first overseas trip of his presidency.

  • The White House warns that the U.S. lags behind China on developing clean technologies.

  • State Department authorizes U.S. embassies to fly the Pride Flag.

  • Trump is backing a new conservative group for donors aiming to compete with Democrats.

  • An Arizona judge temporarily halts a G.O.P. effort to recount 2020 ballots.

  • Caitlyn Jenner is running for governor of California against Gavin Newsom.

  • California’s governor seeks to ban new fracking and halt oil production, but not immediately.
  • The Biden administration’s spending plans could lead to less inequality.
  • Some Republicans, seeking relevance, pitch a much smaller infrastructure bill.
  • Biden wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for child care and education.

Biden touts new jobs that will be created from tackling climate change, including some ‘we haven’t even conceived of yet,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Steven Murson, and Adam Taylor, Friday, 23 April 2021: “President Biden expressed hope Friday that even geopolitical foes such as the United States and Russia can cooperate on climate change as he closed out a two-day virtual summit of world leaders that he hosted from the White House. In earlier remarks, Biden touted the new jobs that the effort could produce, including in ‘fields we haven’t even conceived of yet,’ and stressed the importance of ensuring that workers who ‘thrived in yesterday’s and today’s industries have as bright a tomorrow in the new industries.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • Biden will make his first overseas trip as president in June, traveling to the United Kingdom and Belgium, the White House announced Friday.
  • Biden will travel to Georgia, the state that delivered the Senate majority to Democrats, on Thursday, a day after he delivers a prime-time address to a joint session of Congress.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee will take its first look next week at Biden’s initial batch of judicial nominees in what could serve as a preview of the next battle over the Supreme Court.
  • Six in 10 Americans say the country should do more to hold police accountable for mistreatment of Black people, far outpacing concerns that such measures could interfere with how law enforcement officers do their job, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The Justice Department now expects to charge more than 500 in Capitol riot investigation. Department lawyers have described the sprawling investigation as one of the largest in U.S. history. NBC News, Pete Williams, Friday, 23 April 2021: “The Justice Department has notified federal judges in Washington that it expects to charge more than 500 people with taking part in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. ‘Over 400 individuals have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack,’ federal prosecutors said in court documents filed late Thursday. ‘The investigation continues and the government expects that at least one hundred additional individuals will be charged.’ The current number of people charged is 440, a law enforcement official said Friday.”

State Department Authorizes U.S. Embassies to Fly the Pride Flag, The New York Times, Pranshu Verma, Friday, 23 April 2021: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has authorized U.S. diplomatic missions across the world to fly the rainbow pride flag on the same pole as the American flag at embassies and consulates, according to a State Department cable reviewed by The New York Times. The action reversed a decision by the Trump administration, which rejected requests from embassies to raise it on their flag poles during the month of June, which in the United States and many other countries is Pride month. According to the cable and a State Department official, Mr. Blinken authorized diplomats to fly the pride flag before May 17, which is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and to continue their display at diplomatic outposts through the month of June. In the cable, Mr. Blinken noted that it was not a requirement and gave chiefs of mission the ability to ‘determine that such a display is appropriate in light of local conditions.'”

 

Saturday, 24 April 2021:

 

Breaking With Predecessors, Biden Declares Mass Killings of Armenians a Genocide. The Turkish government, as well as human rights activists and ethnic Armenians, had a muted response to the news, describing the move as largely symbolic. The New York Times, Katie Rogers and Carlotta Gall, Saturday, 24 April 2021: “President Biden on Saturday recognized the mass killings of Armenians more than a century ago as genocide, signaling a willingness to test an increasingly frayed relationship with Turkey, long a key regional ally and an important partner within NATO. ‘Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring,’ Mr. Biden said in a statement issued on the 106th anniversary of the beginning of a brutal campaign by the former Ottoman Empire that killed 1.5 million people. ‘And we remember so that we remain ever vigilant against the corrosive influence of hate in all its forms.'” See also, The Armenian Genocide, in History and Politics, The New York Times, Rick Gladstone, published on Friday, 23 April 2021.

 

Monday, 26 April 2021:

 

Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) Will Review How It Handles Extremism in Its Ranks. The Biden administration’s focus on domestic extremism comes after decades of prodding to address the threat as seriously as the problem of foreign terrorism. The Justice Department will investigate the Louisville police force. The New York Times, Monday, 26 April 2021:

  • D.H.S. will review how it identifies and addresses extremism and white supremacy in its ranks.

  • The Justice Department will investigate the Louisville police, Garland says.

  • The Census Bureau releases long-delayed population data, giving more power to states like Florida and Texas.

  • The Biden administration is expected to share AstraZeneca doses with other nations after a safety review.

  • The Supreme Court looks at ‘dark money’ and will weigh C.I.A. black sites as state secrets and a N.Y. gun law.

  • A newly declassified court ruling scolds the F.B.I. but re-approves its warrantless surveillance program.

  • Biden and Harris add late-week tour stops to promote themes from the president’s speech to Congress Wednesday.

  • Some Black lawmakers are wary that a major elections bill could reduce their power in Congress.

Biden to propose increase in capital gains tax; Harris meets with Guatemalan president, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, and Eugene Scott, Monday, 26 April 2021: “White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese confirmed Monday that President Biden will propose an increase in the capital gains tax rate to pay, in part, for his upcoming American Families Plan, which will call for boosting spending on child care, prekindergarten, paid family leave and tuition-free community college, among other domestic priorities. Vice President Harris held a virtual meeting Monday with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei as part of her charge from Biden to address the root causes of a surge in migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The United States will share up to 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine with other countries amid rising pressure to help vaccinate the global population as cases spike across the world.
  • Texas, Florida and North Carolina, three states that voted twice for Donald Trump, are set to gain a combined four additional seats in Congress in 2023 because of population growth while four northern states with Democratic governors that Biden won in 2020 — Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York — will each lose a single congressional seat as will Ohio.
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department will open a civil investigation into the Louisville Metro Police Department, 13 months after the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) launched his Senate bid, the first Democrat to enter the race to succeed the retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R) next year.
  • Biden announced a high-level task force that will look for ways to help workers organize and collectively bargain.

Biden’s climate plan doesn’t ban meat. But baseless claims left Republicans fuming: ‘Stay out of my kitchen.’ The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd, Monday, 26 April 2021: “This past weekend, a cadre of Republican critics raised the alarm that President Biden would take hamburgers and steaks off the menu as part of his new plan to combat climate change. ‘To meet the Biden Green New Deal targets, America has to, get this, America has to stop eating meat,’ Larry Kudlow, a former White House economic adviser to Donald Trump, said on Fox Business on Friday. ‘No burger on July 4. No steaks on the barbecue.’ But Biden’s plan doesn’t include any call to limit meat-eating. Instead, conservative ire was sparked by a Daily Mail article that baselessly speculated about measures that could accomplish Biden’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.” See also, Fact check: No, Biden is not trying to force Americans to eat less red meat, CNN Politics, Daniel Dale, Monday, 26 April 2021: “Biden has not proposed any limit on Americans’ red meat consumption. In fact, he has not proposed any limit on Americans’ consumption of any food. The false claim about Biden trying to restrict people to four pounds of red meat per year appears to have originated with a deceptive Thursday article by the British tabloid The Daily Mail. The article baselessly connected Biden’s climate proposals to an academic paper from 2020 that is not about Biden and says nothing about the government imposing dietary limits.”

Republican Representative Liz Cheney calls for focused review of deadly Capitol riot on January 6th, Reuters, Monday, 26 April 2021: “A Republican critic of ex-President Donald Trump on Monday said a proposed congressional commission should focus solely on the attack on the U.S. Capitol by his supporters and not add widespread anti-racism protests to its scope, as some of her party’s leaders have urged. U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives, told reporters the Jan. 6 attempt by Trump supporters to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory was too serious a topic for the panel reviewing it to have a divided focus. ‘What happened on Jan. 6 is unprecedented in our history, and I think that it’s very important that the commission be able to focus on that,’ Cheney told reporters at a House Republican retreat in Orlando, Florida. ‘It’s very important that the Jan. 6 commission focus on what happened on Jan. 6 and what led to that.'”

 

Tuesday, 27 April 2021:

 

Biden to Toughen Tax Enforcement to Help Pay for His Economic Agenda. President Biden is seeking $80 billion to strengthen I.R.S. enforcement, which administration officials believe will raise at least $700 billion over a decade. New York Times, Tuesday, 27 April 2021:

  • Biden aims to recoup over $700 billion in unpaid taxes by beefing up the I.R.S.

  • The C.D.C. eases some guidelines on wearing a mask outdoors.

  • A top House Democrat proposes universal paid leave and expanded child care access.

  • Biden will visit Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter while in Georgia commemorating his 100th day in office.

  • Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway are among those whose book deals are raising questions in the publishing world.

  • Prosecutors are said to have sought an aggressive approach to the Capitol riot inquiry that was ultimately quashed.

  • Biden nominates Thomas Monheim, the acting inspector general over intelligence, to take on the role permanently.

  • Richard Neal, a top House Democrat, proposes universal paid family and medical leave, expanded access to child care, and a permanent increase of the child tax credit.
  • Interior Department streamlines process for Native American tribes to acquire off-reservation lands.
  • A push to change the way the military prosecutes sexual assault gains momentum.
  • The chairman of the Senate banking panel asks Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine whether a Swiss bank violated a deal to stop helping tax dodgers.
  • Biden will nominate Ed Gonzalez, a sheriff from Texas and critic of the Trump administration’s deportation policies, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Senate Democrats press Biden to admit more refugees, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, Hannah Knowles, and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 27 April 2021: “President Biden is facing renewed pressure from more than 30 Democratic senators to admit more refugees into the United States this year and next, after furious pushback from his party and advocates this month when the administration announced that it would allow in fewer such migrants. The White House is again considering setting the number of refugees who can enter the country through September at about 62,500.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Senate confirmed Colin Kahl as the Pentagon’s policy chief on Tuesday on a party-line vote, after a long and contentious dispute over his history of support for the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit former president Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter during their trip to Georgia on Thursday, a day after the president addresses Congress and the nation. This year’s State of the Union will look different: no guests, no designated survivor and less than half of the lawmakers allowed to attend in person.
  • A hundred days in, Vice President Harris is trying to move from history-maker to Biden’s heir apparent.
  • White House officials plan to make a massive increase in enforcement at the Internal Revenue Service a central component of the tax proposal they will unveil this week.
  • Biden nominated Harris County, Tex., Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, a law enforcement veteran and a critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, to run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Biden to Seek $80 Billion to Bolster IRS and Tax Enforcement, The Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, Tuesday, 27 April 2021: “President Biden plans to propose an $80 billion funding boost for the Internal Revenue Service over the next decade, a major expansion of the tax agency that would double its enforcement staffing and give it new tools to combat tax dodging by the wealthiest Americans. The administration projects that its plan would generate about $700 billion over 10 years in net revenue, according to people familiar with the plan, who described it ahead of the official announcement. They said that increase, which would yield money for Mr. Biden’s proposed expansion of social-spending programs, would still represent only about 10% of the taxes that are estimated to be owed but uncollected. The proposal would provide a steady funding source to the IRS, after years of flat or declining budgets forced steep cuts in the number of employees conducting audits and collecting money. Agency officials have said they need a multiyear commitment from Congress so they can hire and train enforcement staff and ramp up audits with less risk of lawmakers stopping such an initiative midway through. The money would let the IRS increase its enforcement staff by about 15% a year.”

Biden signs executive order raising federal contractors’ minimum wage to $15 an hour. The increase from $10.95 an hour will begin rolling out in January. NBC News, Dartunorro Clark, Tuesday, 27 April 2021: “President Joe Biden signed an executive order Tuesday that raises the minimum wage for federal contractors and tipped employees working on government contracts to $15 an hour. The raise from $10.95 an hour will begin in January, and agencies must implement the measure no later than March. Biden has signed a separate order to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for federal employees. The new order also directs federal agencies to raise the tipped minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2024 and to ensure that tipped employees working on federal contracts earn the same minimum wage as other employees on federal contracts. The new order raises the minimum wage to the same level for federal contract workers with disabilities, and it includes a cost-of-living increase every year beginning in 2022.”

After Failures to Curb Sexual Assault, a Move Toward a Major Shift in Military Law. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has fought for years to remove commanders from deciding assault cases. Now, more colleagues and a Pentagon panel agree. New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer, Tuesday, 27 April 2021: “After decades of failing to curb sexual assault in the armed forces, lawmakers and Pentagon leaders are poised to make major changes in military laws that many experts have long argued stand in the way of justice. A bill championed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, would remove military commanders from a role in prosecuting service members for sexual assault and has gained support from scores of key members of Congress. Among them is Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa and a retired National Guard lieutenant colonel, who said her own experience with assault and her daughter’s stories from West Point helped shift her views on the issue.”

Biden Has Reversed Trump’s War on Science in His First 100 Days. His administration has made great strides in repairing the damage, but there’s plenty left to do. Scientific American, Jacob Carter, Taryn MacKinney, Genna Reed, Gretchen Goldman, Anita Desikan, Casey Kalman, and Andrew Rosenberg, Tuesday, 27 April 2021: “Hours after he won the 2020 presidential race, then-President-elect Joe Biden delivered his victory speech to a crowd of masked supporters in Wilmington, Del. ‘What is the will of the people?’ he asked. ‘To marshal the forces of science and the forces of hope in the great battles of our time.’ Today, as we near Biden’s 100th day in office, the Union of Concerned Scientists reflects on his administration’s progress toward ‘[marshaling] the forces of science.’ This was and is no easy task, not least because of the previous administration’s assaults on federal science. During the Trump administration, UCS documented nearly 200 instances of political interference in science-based decisions—and as new investigations become public, this number keeps growing. These attacks have real consequences, none so clear as the 565,000 lives lost in the U.S. to the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis fueled by the Trump administration’s abandonment of science. But on the edge of 100 days, the Biden administration has already made great strides in building back and strengthening science. Even before inauguration, President Biden took the unprecedented step of elevating his science adviser to the Cabinet level, a move we’ve supported for more than a decade—and a sign that he intends not only to listen to scientists but to let them lead. And on January 27, the president issued a memorandum on scientific integrity, making clear that his administration would not tolerate political manipulation of scientific evidence. The memo also directed science agencies to strengthen evidence-based decision-making and appoint chief science officers and scientific integrity officers, experts who oversee and enforce scientific integrity policies and practices.”

 

Wednesday, 28 April 2021:

 

Biden’s First Address to Congress Will Outline a Bold Agenda as Republicans Balk at Spending, The New York Times, Wednesday, 28 April 2021:

  • In an address to Congress, Biden will describe efforts to vaccinate Americans and revive the economy.

  • On Biden’s agenda: unveiling plans for a vast expansion of the country’s child care system.

  • As Biden presents his expansive safety-net plan, Republicans are not offering a comprehensive alternative.

  • Here is a guide to Biden’s three big spending plans — worth about $6 trillion.

  • Analysis: Biden’s $6 trillion plan aims to woo G.O.P. voters while undermining party leaders.

  • A sparse audience in a locked-down Capitol will listen to Biden’s address.

  • Tim Scott, delivering the G.O.P. rebuttal, accuses Biden of abandoning bipartisanship.

  • Federal investigators execute search warrants at Giuliani’s home and office.
  • Senate Democrats are poised to reinstate Obama-era rules that sought to clamp down on the release of methane, a powerful climate-warming pollutant that will have to be controlled to meet Biden’s climate change promises.
  • The Republican-controlled Florida House passes an expansive bill of voting restrictions.
  • Three Georgia men were indicted on federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was shot to death while jogging through a South Georgia neighborhood last year, the Justice Department announced.

Biden pitches his ambitious investment and tax plans as he recasts the role of government, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Eugene Scott, Colby Itkowitz, Reis Thebault, Annie Linskey, Sean Sullivan, and Marianna Sotomayor, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “President Biden on Wednesday pitched his ambitious, trillion-dollar-plus investment and tax plans as he recast the role of government in American lives. He promoted his agenda in a prime-time address to the nation and a slimmed-down joint session of Congress as the pandemic imposed health restrictions in the House chamber with a smaller number of lawmakers. In the Republican response to the president’s speech, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) credited the Trump administration and the GOP for coronavirus vaccines and the economic rebound, insisting that Biden is reaping the benefits. ‘This administration inherited a tide that had already turned,’ Scott said.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The White House announced a $1.8 trillion spending and tax plan aimed at significantly expanding access to education and safety-net programs for families.
  • The Senate voted to restore Obama-era limits on methane gas emissions, the first major congressional rebuke of former president Donald Trump’s environmental policies.
  • Federal agents executed a search warrant at the Manhattan home of Rudolph W. Giuliani for the seizure of his electronic devices as part of a long-running investigation into whether he acted as an unregistered foreign agent while acting as Trump’s lawyer.

Biden, in speech to Congress, offers sweeping agenda and touts democracy, The Washington Post, Matt Viser and Tyler Pager, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “President Biden on Wednesday night used his first speech to a joint session of Congress to argue for a dramatic expansion of government services, making a plea for sweeping plans to provide universal preschool, free community college and expanded health care and new tax breaks for families — much of it funded by higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While he also renewed calls for an array of priorities — including immigration changes, gun control and police reform — Biden more broadly portrayed a country that is rapidly emerging from the depths of a global pandemic and has survived events that, in his view, tested American democracy as rarely before.” See also, Biden Makes Case to Vastly Expand Government’s Role, The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “President Biden laid out an ambitious agenda on Wednesday night to rewrite the American social compact by vastly expanding family leave, child care, health care, preschool and college education for millions of people to be financed with increased taxes on the wealthiest earners. Invoking the legacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mr. Biden unveiled a $1.8 trillion social spending plan to accompany previous proposals to build roads and bridges, expand other social programs and combat climate change, representing a fundamental reorientation of the role of government not seen since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and Roosevelt’s New Deal. ‘We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and we can deliver for our people,’ Mr. Biden said in his first nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress. Taken together, the collection of initiatives that Mr. Biden has introduced in his first 100 days in office suggest a breathtaking scope of change sought by a 78-year-old president who spent a lifetime as a more conventional lawmaker. After presenting himself during last year’s campaign as a ‘transition candidate’ to follow the volatile tenure of Donald J. Trump, Mr. Biden has since his inauguration positioned himself as a transformational president.” See also, 4 Takeaways From Biden’s Address to Congress, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 28 April 2021. See also, Biden Pushes Broad Economic Agenda in Speech to Congress. President’s proposals include an American Families Plan, which calls for $1.8 trillion for child care, education, and paid leave. The Wall Street Journal, Catherine Lucey and Sabrian Siddiqui, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “President Biden declared ‘America is ready for a takeoff’ as he pitched a sweeping vision for greater government investment to boost the economy, including a $1.8 trillion proposal for new spending on child care, education and paid leave. Addressing a joint session of Congress for the first time as president on Wednesday, Mr. Biden sought to strike a hopeful tone just ahead of his 100th day in office, stressing his efforts to combat the pandemic, expand Covid-19 vaccinations—which he urged all Americans to get—and spur economic growth. ‘America is moving. Moving forward. And we can’t stop now,’ he said, in remarks that ran just over an hour. ‘We’re in competition with China and other countries to win the 21st century.'” See also, Here’s what’s in Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, CNN Politics, Tami Luhby, Maegan Vazquez, and Katie Lobosco, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “A month after he laid out a roughly $2 trillion infrastructure plan aimed at helping the nation recover from the coronavirus pandemic, President Joe Biden is set to unveil an additional $1.8 trillion federal investment in education, child care and paid family leave during his first address to Congress on Wednesday. The massive package — which Biden is calling the American Families Plan — is the second half of his effort to revitalize the nation and ensure a more equitable recovery. The proposal would also extend or make permanent enhancements to several key tax credits that were contained in the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion rescue bill, which Biden signed into law last month.”

Trump supporter Brendan Hunt found guilty of threatening to kill members of Congress after the January 6th insurrection, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “Brendan Hunt, a Trump supporter who called for killing members of Congress days after the Jan. 6 insurrection, was found guilty Wednesday of making a death threat against elected officials. The jury, which took about three hours to reach its verdict, found that comments Hunt made in a disturbing video posted online two days after the U.S. Capitol riot amounted to a genuine threat to murder lawmakers in Washington. He faces up to 10 years in prison.”

3 men charged in plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer now face charge of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, CNN Politics, Sonia Moghe and Devan Cole, Wednesday, 28 April 2021: “Federal prosecutors unveiled new charges on Wednesday against three men who have been accused in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. Adam Fox, 40, Barry Croft, 45, and Daniel Joseph Harris, 23, were charged with knowingly conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, in addition to the federal kidnapping conspiracy charges that were announced in October, when officials thwarted an alleged plot by the men and several others to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat. The new charges come as part of a superseding indictment filed Wednesday by the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan that says Fox, Croft and Harris allegedly intended to use destructive devices to facilitate their plot to kidnap the governor by ‘harming and hindering the governor’s security detail and any responding law enforcement officers.'”

 

Thursday, 29 April 2021:

 

Biden Says Spending Program Will Give the U.S. a Leg Up on China. In his address to Congress, President Biden never uttered the words ‘cold war,’ but he spoke of the need to prove that “democracy still works” as the country competes with authoritarian adversaries. The New York Times, Thursday, 29 April 2021:

  • Analysis: Biden presents competition with China and Russia as a new cold war.

  • Republicans in Florida pass an extensive bill of voting restrictions.

  • Biden spent his 100th day in office visiting Jimmy Carter and speaking at a rally.

  • Pence, in his first speech since leaving office, speaks fondly of Trump.

  • The F.D.A. plans to ban menthol cigarettes.

  • The firing of a U.S. ambassador is at the center of the Giuliani investigation.

  • Biden says he was not told the F.B.I. planned to search Giuliani’s office and home.

  • Biden will meet with South Korea’s president on May 21.

  • Senate authorizes $35 billion to improve the nation’s water in a sweeping bipartisan vote.

Biden pitches his far-reaching spending plans as he marks 100th day in office, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and Amy B Wang, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “On his 100th day in office, President Biden pitched his far-reaching investment and tax plans at a post-speech, drive-in car rally in Georgia, where he credited the state’s voters for electing two Democrats to the Senate and helping him win the White House. Earlier, Biden met with former president Jimmy Carter in Plains, Ga. His trip Thursday is part of a blitz of travel by senior administration officials, including Vice President Harris, to continue the sales pitch for an ambitious agenda laid out by Biden on Wednesday in his first address to a joint session of Congress. Harris visited a vaccination site in Baltimore on Thursday.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The U.S. economic recovery picked up speed in early 2021, with the economy growing 1.6 percent in the first three months of the year amid a coronavirus vaccination campaign and massive stimulus spending from the federal government.
  • Biden said that he was not given advance notice of a search warrant executed at the Manhattan home and law offices of Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former attorney for former president Donald Trump.
  • Congressional Democrats are planning to pursue a massive expansion of Medicare as part of Biden’s new $1.8 trillion economic relief package, defying the White House after it opted against including a major health overhaul as part of its plan.

Florida Republicans Pass Voting Limits in Broad Elections Bill. The bill, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign, is the latest Republican effort to restrict voting after the 2020 election. The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei and Nick Corasaniti, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “Republicans in the Florida Legislature passed an election overhaul bill on Thursday that is set to usher in a host of voting restrictions in one of the most critical battleground states in the country, adding to the national push by G.O.P. state lawmakers to reduce voting access. The bill makes Florida the first major swing state won by former President Donald J. Trump to pass significant voting limits and reflects Republicans’ determination to reshape electoral systems even in states where they have been ascendant. Mr. Trump carried the state last year by more than three percentage points, other Republicans also performed strongly, and the party raised new hopes of its ability to appeal to Latino voters…. The new bill would limit the use of drop boxes; add more identification requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; require voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, rather than receive them automatically through an absentee voting list; limit who could collect and drop off ballots; and further empower partisan observers during the ballot-counting process. The legislation would also expand a current rule that prohibits outside groups from providing items ‘with the intent to influence’ voters within a 150-foot radius of a polling location.” See also, Florida legislature approves measure that curbs mail voting and use of drop boxes, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “Florida’s legislature on Thursday night became the latest to approve far-reaching legislation imposing new rules on voting and new penalties for those who do not follow them, passing a measure critics said would make it harder for millions of voters to cast ballots in the Sunshine State…. Like similar bills Republicans are pushing in dozens of state legislatures across the country, the Florida measure adds hurdles to voting by mail, restricts the use of drop boxes and prohibits any actions that could influence those standing in line to vote, which voting rights advocates said is likely to discourage nonpartisan groups from offering food or water to voters as they wait in the hot Florida sun.”

Defying the White House, Democrats seek to push Medicare expansion as part of Biden’s $1.8 Trillion families plan. Biden has sought to address the contentious issue separately, but his congressional allies see an opening. The Washington Post, Tony Romm and Seung Min Kim, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “Congressional Democrats are planning to pursue a massive expansion of Medicare as part of President Biden’s new $1.8 trillion economic relief package, defying the White House after it opted against including a major health overhaul as part of its plan. The early pledges from some party lawmakers, led by prominent members of its liberal wing, threaten to create even more political tension around a package that is already facing no shortage of it. The expansion push comes as Biden on Wednesday stressed in his first address to Congress that he is still committed to making health care more affordable. They specifically aim to lower the eligibility age for Medicare to either 55 or 60, expand the range of health services the entitlement covers and grant the government new powers to negotiate prescription drug prices. Party lawmakers say their approach could offer new, improved or cheaper coverage to millions of older Americans nationwide.”

The Daily Beast has obtained a confession letter that Joel Greenberg wrote after asking Roger Stone to help him obtain a pardon, The Daily Beast, Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “A confession letter written by Joel Greenberg in the final months of the Trump presidency claims that he and close associate Rep. Matt Gaetz paid for sex with multiple women—as well as a girl who was 17 at the time. ‘On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,’ Greenberg wrote in reference to the 17-year-old. ‘From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18. I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.’ The letter, which The Daily Beast recently obtained, was written after Greenberg—who was under federal indictment—asked Roger Stone to help him secure a pardon from then-President Donald Trump. A series of private messages starting in late 2020—also recently obtained by The Daily Beast—shows a number of exchanges between Greenberg and Stone conducted over the encrypted-messaging app Signal, with communications set to disappear. However, Greenberg appears to have taken screenshots of a number of their conversations. ‘If I get you $250k in Bitcoin would that help or is this not a financial matter,’ Greenberg wrote to Stone, one message shows.”

Firing of U.S. Ambassador Is at the Center of Giuliani Investigation. Prosecutors want to scrutinize Rudolph W. Giuliani’s communications with Ukrainian officials about the ouster of the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch. The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Kenneth P. Vogel, Thursday, 29 April 2021: “Two years ago, Rudolph W. Giuliani finally got one thing he had been seeking in Ukraine: The Trump administration removed the U.S. ambassador there, a woman Mr. Giuliani believed had been obstructing his efforts to dig up dirt on the Biden family. It was a Pyrrhic victory. Mr. Giuliani’s push to oust the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, not only became a focus of President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, but it has now landed Mr. Giuliani in the cross hairs of a federal criminal investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The long-running inquiry reached a turning point this week when F.B.I. agents seized telephones and computers from Mr. Giuliani’s home and office in Manhattan, the people said. At least one of the warrants was seeking evidence related to Ms. Yovanovitch and her role as ambassador, the people said.”

 

Friday, 30 April 2021:

 

Biden Promotes His $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Package and His Love of Train Travel, The New York Times, Friday, 30 April 2021:

  • ‘Amtrak became my family,’ Biden, a longtime commuter, says on the railroad’s 50th anniversary.

  • Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, says he won’t support a D.C. statehood bill.

  • The number of migrant children in Border Patrol custody is down significantly.

  • McConnell and other Republicans criticize as ‘divisive’ a Biden rule promoting teaching about systemic racism.

  • The U.S. will start restricting travel from India on Tuesday, the White House says.

  • A pro-Biden group is preparing to run ads promoting his agenda in swing states.

  • The White House plan to expand access to child care could transform the system.

  • Blinken will visit Kyiv next week, in show of support for Ukraine against Russia.

  • The Transportation Security Administration (T.S.A.) extends its mask mandate on U.S. transportation through mid-September.

Biden reminisces about his frequent rail travel in marking Amtrak anniversary, touting infrastructure plans, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Colby Itkowitz, Eugene Scott, and Amy B Wang, Friday, 30 April 2021: “President Biden reminisced about his frequent rail travel Friday as he celebrated Amtrak’s 50th anniversary and promoted his sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure package, which would spend $80 billion on improving rail service throughout the country. Standing near trains at the Philadelphia station, Biden said that on at least four occasions he fell asleep on a late-night train from Washington to Wilmington, Del., and woke up in Philadelphia. His trip is part of a ‘Getting America Back on Track Tour’ that the White House is holding to promote spending plans that Biden detailed in his address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. As part of the tour, Vice President Harris participated in a roundtable discussion on infrastructure during a trip to Cincinnati on Friday.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article.

  • The Biden administration will restrict travel from India because of spiking coronavirus caseloads and multiple variants circulating in the country, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
  • The Biden administration said it has canceled border wall projects paid for with funds diverted from Department of Defense accounts, a widely-expected move that follows Biden’s decision to suspend construction activity on former president Donald Trump’s signature project.
  • The Biden administration is charting a new course in an attempt to end North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program.
  • The FBI warned Rudolph W. Giuliani in late 2019 that he was the target of a Russian influence operation aimed at circulating falsehoods intended to damage Biden politically.

Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, says he doesn’t support D.C. statehood bill, The Washington Post, Meagan Flynn, Friday, 30 April 2021: “Sen. Joe Manchin III told reporters in his home state of West Virginia on Friday morning that he does not support the bill to make D.C. the nation’s 51st state, according to audio provided by the Democrat’s office and a report from WVNews. Manchin, a key swing vote in the closely divided Senate, said he believed a constitutional amendment, rather than legislation, would be required to admit D.C. as a state. His stance deals a major blow to statehood advocates who were hoping for his support after the bill passed the House last week.”

Biden cancels border wall projects Trump paid for with diverted military funds, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Friday, 30 April 2021: “The Biden administration said Friday it has canceled border wall projects paid for with funds diverted from Defense Department accounts, a widely expected move that follows Biden’s decision to suspend construction activity on President Donald Trump’s signature project. Trump diverted about $10 billion from military construction accounts and counternarcotics programs to pay for hundreds of miles of steel barriers along the Mexico border, an effort that Biden has denounced as wasteful and ineffective. ‘The Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account,’ Jamal Brown, deputy Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. ‘Today’s action reflects this Administration’s continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families.'”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell takes on the 1619 Project, Politico, Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, Eugene Daniels, and Tara Palmeri, Friday, 30 April 2021: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 37 GOP senators will call on the Education Department today to stop a proposed rule that invokes the 1619 Project — the latest turn in the culture wars. The Biden administration  citing the ongoing reckoning over race and the disproportionate effects of the pandemic on African Americans — has proposed updating American history curricula to more fully flesh out the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans. The lightning rod for Republicans? That the proposal specifically mentions the 1619 Project, which several prominent historians have criticized — particularly its suggestion that the American Revolution was fought to secure slavery. In a letter, McConnell and the other senators will blast the administration for putting ‘ill-informed advocacy ahead of historical accuracy.'” See also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Attacks Biden Administration’s Antiracism Focus, Calling It ‘Divisive.’ McConnell joined Republicans in protesting a proposal to promote teaching about systemic racism and the consequences of slavery, saying it would indoctrinate students with ‘a slanted story.’ The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Friday, 30 April 2021: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, led Republican senators on Friday in protesting a proposed Biden administration rule promoting education programs that address systemic racism and the legacy of American slavery, calling the guidance ‘divisive nonsense.’ In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, Mr. McConnell, of Kentucky, and three dozen other Republicans singled out a reference in the proposal to The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project, which was included as an example of a growing emphasis on teaching ‘the consequences of slavery, and the significant contributions of Black Americans to our society.'”

Newsmax Issues Retraction and Apology to Dominion Voting Systems Employee Eric Coomer Over False Election Stories, NPR, Bente Birkeland, Friday, 30 April 2021: “The far-right media outlet Newsmax, which amplified former President Donald Trump’s false allegations of election rigging and widespread voter fraud, said on Friday there is no evidence that Dominion Voting Systems and one of its top employees, Eric Coomer, manipulated election results in 2020. ‘Newsmax subsequently found no evidence that such allegations were true. Many of the states whose results were contested by the Trump campaign after the November 2020 election have conducted extensive recounts and audits, and each of these states certified the results as legal and final,’ the company said in a statement published online that will also be broadcast. Coomer filed a defamation lawsuit against Newsmax in Colorado state court on Dec. 22. He withdrew that suit earlier Friday, ahead of Newmax’s apology. Coomer’s attorneys said he has reached a financial settlement, but terms of the arrangement were not disclosed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that the Trump administration is no longer in power and the impeachment trial is over, I plan to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period of US history. I will try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the new Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post investigative/muckraking journalism going back to the 19th century, and I hope to return to this activity in the near future. Thanks for reading!