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Minneapolis & Chauvin trial: stakes are high as Chauvin’s trial opens over killing of George Floyd
Americas

Minneapolis & Chauvin trial: stakes are high as Chauvin’s trial opens over killing of George Floyd

United States of America and state of Minnesota brace themselves as Monday morning marks the beginning of Derek Chauvin’s trial with opening arguments. Chauvin is charged with killing of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis, a killing in custody that triggered the nation-wide “Black Lives Matter” movement against racial discrimination and violence by police authorities. BLM protest spurred into biggest civil rights movement in the US since 1960s.

A video circulating of incident showing Chauvin, a white cop, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for none minutes during arrest as he screamed “I cant breathe” angered Americans as thousands took to the streets in protest.  

Derek Chauvin has been consistently denying the charges of manslaughter and murder of George Floyd. From Monday, March 29, the prosecutors are presenting their case in a heavily guarded court in Minneapolis downtown. This is being labelled as one of the most significant case against police brutality in the country. It hasn’t been cleared by Eric Nelson, the attorney of Chauvin, if the former police officer would be testifying.

The key argumentative points that defense team would focus on include presence of opioid Fentanyl and Methamphetamine in Floyd’s system, and that he had underlying health conditions. However, Floyd’s autopsy had concluded homicide to be the reason of his death.

One of the witness to be called would be Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she recorded the key video that formed the basis of BLM movement and case against Chauvin.

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A junction in southern Minneapolis, now known as George Floyd Square, where Floyd was killed will have a vigil and protest Sunday night. Mileesha Smith, one of the many whop look after the square that is covered with murals, tributes and barricades said, “George Floyd wasn’t the first person to be killed by police on this block, but [in the past] media wasn’t the way that it is and a lot of it got swept under the rug.”

Due to ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the court room would have restrictions. But people across the state and country would be able to watch complete live streaming of the trial, which would be first ever in state of Minnesota. This trial would lay down the groundwork of real justice in country for people of colour, something that people would be seeking for – can police and a white man be held accountable for injustice against a black and brought to justice by American judicial system.

Ban on assault weapons sale in the US, president Biden asks after Boulder massacre
Americas

Ban on assault weapons sale in the US, president Biden asks after Boulder massacre

The arrest of a 21-year-old boy who had bought a weapon six days earlier, ten families devastated by the tragedy and the United States again in shock, less than a week after the massacre in Atlanta, Georgia, in which eight people were killed. And after the carnage, the debate on the ease with which weapons are bought in the US restarts.

The President Joe Biden, in relaunching an issue dear to the Democratic Party, asked Congress to pass a law that includes a stricter limit on the sale of weapons and a stricter background check for buyers.

This time the horror has touched Boulder, a city in Colorado. Since yesterday this place has entered the list of places injured by a massacre, twenty-two years after the one at Columbine High School, just sixty kilometers from Boulder, where fifteen people died, including the killer. Also nine years after Aurora’s, when a man shot people who came out of the cinema: the dead were 12, the wounded seventy. The toll this time is ten people killed, including a policeman, Eric Talley, 51, father of seven children, the first officer to arrive when the alarm went off.

The victims are between 20 and 65 years old. Denny Strong, 20 years old; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51, Kevin Mahoney, 61, Lynn Murray, 62 and Jody Waters, 65. The full list was only made public after the last family was informed at 4 am.

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The arrested man is originally from Syria and his name is Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. He is the young man appearing in the video shirtless and bloodied right leg, while the police have taken him away. He lived on the outskirts of Denver, about fifty miles away: six days earlier he had bought a Ruger Ar-556, a military weapon. Investigators gave just a single indication of his history: “he lived much of his life in the United States”. The terror began around 2.30 pm at the King Soopers supermarket, south of Boulder, a residential area frequented by families and students from the nearby university campus. Alissa starts shooting. Employees and customers tried to escape through the side exits, while those who couldn’t make it hid behind the shelves. Ryan Borowski, a therapist, had stopped for a fizzy drink and chips. “I had just finished thinking, no, I’m not going to take an ice cream”, the man who escaped the massacre said. The first to arrive on the scene was the agent Talley, shot down by the killer in the supermarket parking. What happened next was documented by some videos that ended up on social media. In one, you can see three people lying on the ground, one inside the store, while a few shots are heard in rapid succession.

What was the motive that prompted Alissa to make the extreme gesture is not yet clear. But when he broke into the supermarket he wanted to make a massacre. He had an Ar-15, a war weapon considered among the most loved by American enthusiasts and by the authors of massacres. The same weapon was used at the Sandy Hook elementary school in 2012, in San Bernardino in 2015, and Las Vegas in 2017 when a retiree shot from a hotel room in a parking, killing sixty people. As after every massacre, everyone sent prayers for the victims. The young Republican elected in Colorado did so too, Lauren Boebert, a supporter of the full right to buy weapons, one who gets interviewed with assault rifles hanging on the wall. The Democrats have promptly re-launched the request to ban weapons of war and make it more difficult to purchase.

“This must not be a question of one side, but an American question. I do not need to wait another minute or just an hour, to take the necessary steps to save lives in the future.  I ask my colleagues in the House and Senate for action. We must ban assault weapons in this country. It will save lives, it will save the Americans, and we must act.” President Joe Biden urged. Former President Barack Obama also stressed that the American people said enough. A sentence pronounced many times, in recent years, in a country that last year alone recorded the purchase of 50 million weapons. Five days ago, the Boulder judge rejected a request for a ban on war weapons.

Team Biden announces rescue plan to tackle child poverty
Americas

Team Biden announces rescue plan to tackle child poverty

An unlikely coalition of the Democrats has made up an American Rescue Plan for President Biden to go on tackling child poverty, Washington Post reported on Monday. 

This under-the-radar success has created a $1.9 trillion package that, if made permanent, can have an impact like the program established by President Lyndon B. Johnson named ‘War on Poverty.

The unexpected and sudden creation of a $120 billion social program has twisted up the political landscape with some Democrats fearing being labeled as big-government spenders in the midterm elections. 

On the other hand, some conservatives are embracing the idea and are terming it ‘a family-friendly measure’.

The program expands the federal child-rearing subsidy by a whopping 50 percent — and toddlers’ parents will get even more. As per details, a family with two young children and no income at all will now get $600 each month. 

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This means that parents of 90 percent of the country’s children will get benefitted, and 27 million children see a rise from poverty, according to analysts.

Crucially, the new money will not be in the form tax cuts, but cash payments, so people who don’t earn enough to pay taxes will benefit too.

That approach makes the United States far more closely aligned with European-style wealth redistribution.

Biden’s foremost challenge now is to make the concept permanent; Democrats turned down to do so this year to escape making the relief bill costlier.

This anti-poverty measure first got the attention of the president’s team during the transition, as staffers were thinking what should be in a stimulus package. They first considered child aid as an answer to the pandemic and a way to a long-term Democratic goal.

In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, locals claim that this is something extremely beneficial for those who have been hit the hardest by the crisis.

US House of Rep. all set to give a final vote to Biden’s $1.9tn Covid stimulus package
Americas

US House of Rep. all set to give a final vote to Biden’s $1.9tn Covid stimulus package

The U.S. Representatives are awaiting give a final vote on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which is intended to provide a monetary boost to a large number of American families and companies. 

Senator Joe Manchin was the main holdout and in the middle of negotiations that achieved in curbing all of those initiatives. The Senate passed the historic bill on a partisan division 50-49 vote on Saturday. 

The House is awaited to give a final vote on the stimulus package early Wednesday, passing the legislation for Biden’s signature. This would provide him a major legislative success less than two months into his administration.

The House of Representatives vote on the bill, which incorporates checks for most Americans comes after the Senate cleared a revised version of the stimulus package on Saturday.

An important aspect of the bill is making it one of the greatest government advances in the years to help all families. Adding expanded tax credits over the course of the following year for family, child care, and people’s utility bills.

The stimulus includes $1,400 checks for adults in the nation and $3,000 or $3,600 for children as per their age. The unemployed will continue to receive $300 a week. State and city authorities will receive $350 billion to assist them to recover from the pandemic. Adding billions for coronavirus vaccinations, testing and medicines, state, schools, and weak enterprises from aviation, tourism, and entertainment business. 

Progressives endured difficulties, particularly the Senate’s expulsion of a steady minimum pay increased to $15 hourly by 2025. However, the steps carry so many Democratic demands that the last passage was not in question, regardless of the party’s tight House majority.

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Biden announced that the $1,400 checks will not have his signatures attached to them. Contrasted to covid relief approved in 2020, Biden states that the current legislation aims to provide loans more narrowly to small enterprises.

Fresh blow to Trump: Supreme Court permits tax returns to release to NY Prosecutor
Americas

Fresh blow to Trump: Supreme Court permits tax returns to release to NY Prosecutor

In a fresh blow to former President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court has ordered the release of his tax returns to New York prosecutor, something that Trump and his legal team were hell-bent in safeguarding from the prosecutors, since the days of the 2016 election campaigning. However, the records won’t be made public under the grand jury secrecy rules. 

The ruling by the court is a huge loss to Trump as he has consistently maintained and argued that the subpoena for tax returns release issued by Cyrus Vance, District Attorney of Manhattan, was not in good faith. 

The crucial decision has paved clear the path of the grand jury that is investigating Trump’s hush money payments and other financial issues around the former President’s dealings, and now no amount of attempts can further keep these documents a secret. 

The ruling that was made on Monday was not met with any opposition, and is expected to make these papers accessible to the district attorney’s office in next few days. 

The subpoenas have ordered the release of tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019, and this includes Trump’s tax returns from Mazars. These documentations are related to the employment of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen in the Trump organization and the ‘hush money’ payment Cohen made to two women who had extra-marital affairs with Trump. 

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Trump said, “The Vance Investigation is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our country.” He added, “The Supreme Court never should have let this ‘fishing expedition’ happen, but they did.

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Mazars said that it is “committed to fulfilling all of our professional and legal obligations.” It added, “Due to our industry’s professional obligations Mazars cannot discuss any clients, or the nature of our services we provide for any client, in a public forum without client consent or as required by law.”

Merrick Garland Might Be America’s Next Attorney General
Americas

Merrick Garland Might Be America’s Next Attorney General

It looks like Judge Merrick Garland is going to be chosen to do the difficult job of manning the Attorney General’s role in Joe Biden’s administration. Earlier sidelined in the Obama administration, he was even then a prominent candidate for the role. Biden somehow has had his eye on the man who brings with him an incredible amount of experience to run the top seat in the American Justice Department. 

Unlike his predecessor, Garland has earned his position as a trial prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office. Indeed, if he takes the hot seat, he has three major issues facing him- accountability cases, the correctness of law, and politics of the government itself. All of this has been in the doldrums as Trump sabotaged the United States of America in every possible way. 

Among many other cases, Garland supervised the investigation of the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, which killed more than 160 people, and the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. In 1997, he became a federal appellate judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, widely regarded as the second most important court in the country, behind only the Supreme Court. Garland became chief judge of the circuit in 2013.

Garland is not a ‘yes man and madam’ guy, so he has made it clear that he is willing to take up the job only if there is no political interference in his working as the country’s top law enforcement officer. 

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It has become abundantly clear as Biden unfolds his leadership plans, that he is committed to the running of the nation, fair n square. In January, when Garland was approached for the role, Biden made it abundantly clear that “Your loyalty is not to me.” Unintentionally, but Biden did land up taking a dig at former President Donald Trump who demanded the loyalty of his Cabinet members.    

Opposition tanked Garland’s nomination under Obama in 2016 while his votes showed he was a preferred choice. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Garland clerked for two appointees of Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower: the liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. and Judge Henry J. Friendly, for whom Chief Justice John Roberts also clerked. Before becoming a judge himself, he was a prosecutor and supervised Justice Department investigations into the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

6 killed, many injured in a massive vehicle collision on the ice sheet in Fort Worth, Texas
Americas

6 killed, many injured in a massive vehicle collision on the ice sheet in Fort Worth, Texas

At least six people were dead and many got injured in a massive vehicle collision reported around 6 am in Fort Worth, Texas. 36 individuals were moved from the scene, including ones that were critically injured, police stated. Various patients were examined and treated on the scene, added police, while others left the accident site all alone however later went to emergency for a checkup. 

According to The Guardian, a video was taken by a passing driver around 6.20 am that showed how the vehicles were unable to stop and crashed into one another with a loud noise. 

Matt Zavadsky, a representative for MedStar told the Guardian, that all the vehicles got damaged at the scene; it will take a great deal to disentangle this pile as various tow trucks are on site.

Zavadsky added that the road was so tricky from the ice that many first responders were slipping and his team had brought sand and salt mix in the ambulances to help lessen the icy sheet on the road. 

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, freezing rain in bone-chilling temperatures created the icy sheet on the road which caused the accident.

The freezing precipitation was expected to continue on Wednesday night at some point after 6 p.m, as temperatures drift below freezing point. There ought to be “heavier precipitation rates” into Thursday morning in DFW, with freezing precipitation and potentially sleet, as per Sarah Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. She mentioned that it’s harder to predict where these sleets could occur. 

The weather services have announced a winter weather advisory for North Texas on Thursday, cautioning freezing precipitation could cause icy-sheets on bridges and highways. The residents are advised to stay cautious while driving and keep the speed slow. 

Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price tweeted after the mishap, “My heart is breaking for our community as the degree of the losses we are encountering from the Texas crash. I realize that so many of you are requesting to volunteer to help,” At present, Fort Worth needs prayers for the families, the injured, and for the first responders, she added.

The USA, no quarantine for vaccinated people who came into contact with a Covid-19 case
Americas

The USA, no quarantine for vaccinated people who came into contact with a Covid-19 case

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in more than 2.34 million deaths worldwide. The most affected country is the United States with just under 470,000 victims, ahead of Brazil (233,520), Mexico (168,432), India (155,252), and the United Kingdom (113,850). People who have been “fully vaccinated” against the coronavirus, who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, can skip the required quarantine in case of contact with a positive. The US center for disease control and prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday.

The center has explained that this does not mean that vaccinated people can stop taking established anti-coronavirus precautions. “Fully vaccinated people who meet the criteria will no longer be kept in quarantine following exposure to someone with Covid-19,” the CDC stressed in updates to its vaccination guide webpage. The criteria referred to are having had both doses with the booster carried out at least two weeks before, time considered adequate for the development of full immunity. 

However, as it is not yet clear how long the protection lasts, the CDC warns that if the vaccinated person received the booster more than three months earlier, as a precaution, he should put himself in quarantine in case of contacts at risk, or of suspicious symptoms. “This recommendation to give up quarantine for people with vaccine-derived immunity is in line with quarantine recommendations for those with natural immunity, which facilitates its implementation,” the CDC added, clarifying the importance of the new indications. Especially, for vaccinated health workers, who could thus continue to work even in case of contact with a positive case.

In the past 24 hours, the United States recorded 93,166 new coronavirus cases and an additional 3,219 deaths related to the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University tally. The new cases bring the overall toll of infections since the beginning of the pandemic to 27,285,621 and that of deaths to 471.42.

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California is now the US state with the highest number of deaths caused by the coronavirus: according to the counts of Johns Hopkins University, the total death toll from Covid-19 of the ‘Golden State’ has risen to 45,351, thus exceeding the State of New York (45,312), which until now held this sad record. California had seen a surge in infections last fall, from a total of one million before Thanksgiving (November 26) to over three million in mid-January. The third US state with the most deaths in Texas (40,148). 

From the United States to Russia, how the police turn into a Governments repression tool
Geopolitics

From the United States to Russia, how the police turn into a Governments repression tool

The world is in turmoil. 2021 was ushered in by protests on four continents. At the base of the protest movements, different reasons, but the images broadcast by the news are similar: the demonstrations that lead to violence and the police that become an instrument of repression of the powerful. From Washington DC to the killing of young demonstrators in Tunisia and Lebanon, the world cries out for change. Also, thanks to the coronavirus, democracy is seriously questioned.

Protests erupted in numerous Russian cities for the release of Putin’s number one rival, Alexey Navalny, sentenced yesterday to two years and 5 months in prison. The NGO Ovd-Info reports more than 4 thousand people already stopped by the police during the demonstrations. Almost 1,200 people were detained in Moscow and 862 in St. Petersburg. Armored center of Moscow, some underground stations closed. The participants in the marches advance shouting “Russia will be free!”. In St. Petersburg – the media reported – tear gas and batons against demonstrators, even reporters stopped, despite wearing vests that identify them. Tough US stance: ‘we condemn Moscow’s brutal tactics.’

On January 6, in the United States, Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol. 1,500 Capitol Police officers were unable to contain the more than 8,000 protesters determined to invade Congress. The security perimeter on the western side of Capitol Hill was shattered in 15 minutes. Scenes of violence, also condemned shortly after by the Tycoon, while the social network platforms closed his accounts after the death of a police officer, overwhelmed by the wave of demonstrators.

In North Africa, hundreds of people have been arrested by the Tunisian police during clashes with young people protesting against the government. According to the latest budget, the number of those arrested is over 830. The demonstrations were triggered by the difficult socio-economic situation on the tenth anniversary of the revolt that gave rise to the Arab Spring and which led to the dismissal of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

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Two hundred and twenty injured, including about thirty soldiers and police officers, are the toll of the clashes in Lebanon between the police and anti-government protesters in the city of Tripoli, north of Beirut. Tripoli, for days, has returned to the center of intense popular unrest caused by the deep economic crisis, aggravated by anti-Covid measures. Arrests also in Israel, where ultra-Orthodox have protested anti-coronavirus restrictions.

For many, what is happening has its roots in 2011. The attacks on America, Western military interventions in Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the overthrow of legitimate governments replaced by chaos and extremist groups, have cast doubt on the values of the western system. And today, we are dealing with a reality that does not belong to us. Democratic systems are losing on all sides while new dictatorships emerge.

COVID-19 vaccine: Angela Merkel rejects the idea of blocking export
Europe

COVID-19 vaccine: Angela Merkel rejects the idea of blocking export

The European Union must protect vaccine supply chains. Angela Merkel strongly rejects the idea of ​​blocking or shunting vaccine exports to solve the problem of scarce supplies. And after a long, tense videoconference with the governors, the top ten pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, BioNTech, Curevac, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson, and the two European commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Thierry Breton, Merkel renewed their promise to offer a vaccine appointment by 21 September to all Germans.

Even if the vaccines don’t get the green light from Curevac and Johnson & Johnson. “Of course, if I’m 50 and not at risk, I’ll probably have to wait until summer,” Merkel explained, stressing that every German will have a date. The German Chancellor has confirmed her commitment to guarantee the vaccine to all its citizens by the end of the summer.

Angela Merkel had to admit that the bottlenecks in the coming weeks continue to be pitch black. And she did not rule out problems in the future too: “the pharmaceutical companies,” she admitted, “cannot give weekly commitments.”  Production and supply problems may also exist in the future. However, even if Michael Mueller, mayor of Berlin, has specified that “in the first quarter the supplies will be scarce, then there will be enough supplies to proceed in big steps with the vaccinations.” Germany plans to make up for lost time starting in spring. Merkel announced that from the strategy, Germany will move on to a vaccination plan, which must be drawn up by 10 February.

The Chancellor defended in a press conference the length of the EU Commission’s negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, the agreement signed at the end of August, on which a storm has hit Brussels for days. But it is interesting a passage reported by a source present at the meeting. When Merkel asked pharmaceutical companies whether an order agreed earlier or at a higher price would change anything, the BioNTech rep replied that “with more money, you wouldn’t have gotten much, nor with previous orders.”

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However, the nervousness about European procedures is enormous. The governor of Bavaria, Markus Soeder (CSU), at one point, in the five-hour meeting, allegedly attacked the EU commissioners Kyriakides and Breton. The EU executive members have continued to defend the alleged transparency in supplies and have argued that “vaccinations are proceeding according to plan.” At that point, Soeder blurted out: “It is very difficult for me to consider what I have just heard from the EU as positive and satisfying.”

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