Facing more questions about Joe Biden’s immigration policies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated that now is not the time to come to the United States.
“We are still digging our way out of a dismantled and immoral and ineffective immigration policy that was being implemented by the last administration,” Psaki said. “It’s going to take us some time.”
According to multiple reports, more than 3,000 migrant children are currently being detained by the US along the southern border, as the number of unaccompanied minors trying to enter the country has surged.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki is now holding her daily briefing, and she is joined by Bharat Ramamurti, the deputy director of the National Economic Council.
Ramamurti highlighted Joe Biden’s visit to a local Washington business earlier today, noting that the business received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which was established by the first coronavirus relief bill.
Ramamurti said the Biden administration has worked diligently to ensure that PPP loans go to the small businesses that need them most.
According to Ramamurti, the administration has already approved more than 300,000 loans for businesses with fewer than five employees.
Jury selection got underway this morning in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of murdering George Floyd last May.
The process was delayed yesterday for legal machinations over the ruling by the court of appeals last Friday that the judge in the case, Peter Cahill, must reinstate an earlier charge from the case of third degree murder, alongside second degree murder and second degree manslaughter.
The start of proceedings this morning in downtown Minneapolis illustrates why the unusually long time of three weeks has been provided to sit a jury.
The Associated Press reports:
Jury selection began with the first potential juror excused after she revealed during questioning that she thought the way the officer acted was “not fair.”
The woman, a mother of three from Mexico, said she saw bystander video showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, but she didn’t understand why the officer didn’t get up when Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
“That’s not fair because we are humans, you know?” she said.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson noted that the woman said on her questionnaire that she wanted to be on the jury “to give my opinion of the unjust death of George Floyd.”
Potential jurors must show they can set aside their opinions on the case and view the evidence fairly.
The woman said she would be willing to change her mind if she saw evidence from a different perspective, but Nelson used one of his 15 peremptory challenges to dismiss her without providing a reason.
Cahill ruled on several pretrial motions, setting parameters for trial testimony. Jurors will hear when Chauvin stopped working for the police department, but they will not be told that he was fired or that the city made a “substantial offer” to settle a lawsuit from Floyd’s family. Those details will not be allowed because they could imply guilt, Cahill said.
The city had no immediate comment when asked about the settlement offer. A message left with an attorney for the Floyd family was not immediately returned.
The House will hold its final vote on the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill tomorrow morning, House majority leader Steny Hoyer’s office said. The Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass the bill, and Joe Biden has said he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.
A coalition of American environmental groups has urged the US to cut 50% of emissions by 2030, in order to address the climate crisis and inspire similar action from America’s allies.
Biden’s promise of a more humane US immigration system is facing its first big test. Congressional Republicans have criticized the Democratic president as the number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the US-Mexican border has surged.
Joe Biden paid a visit toWS Jenks and Sons hardware store in Washington, DC, to highlight the work of the Paycheck Protection Program.
The PPP is a small business loan program that was approved by the first coronavirus relief bill, and the Biden administration has been working to ensure the money from the program goes to actual small businesses rather than larger companies.
WS Jenks and Son, which opened in 1866 and is the oldest hardware store in Washington, received a PPP loan.
During the visit, reporters tried to ask the president about the situation at the US-Mexican border, but Biden did not respond.
Senator Tom Cotton has repeatedly attacked Democrats who voted for the Covid-19 relief bill for giving money to “murderers and rapists” in prison, citing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted in the Boston Marathon bombing.
The Arkansas Republican has neglected to mention, however, that during Donald Trump’s presidency he twice voted for Covid bills that provided payments for prisoners.
Prisoners’ advocates say payments are warranted, as many will be released into a situation where the pandemic has ravaged the US economy, leading to high unemployment and many families struggling to pay for basic necessities.
Payments also decrease the burden on prisoners’ families, who often have to provide for them after they are released.
“Providing stimulus funds to incarcerated people helps protect the health and wellbeing of those behind bars and provides relief to their loved ones at home,” the Prison Policy Initiative said last year.
Progressive congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she will vote for the coronavirus relief bill, despite serious concerns about the changes made by the Senate.
“While I will continue to pressure my party to live up to its banner as the party of the people, I cannot ignore the immediate need for relief,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.
On Friday, Watson Coleman raised the possibility of opposing the bill because of the “outrageous” changes made by the Senate, including limiting eligibility for the $1,400 direct payments and scrapping the minimum wage increase.
“What are we doing here? I’m frankly disgusted with some of my colleagues and question whether I can support this bill,” Watson Coleman said on Friday.
The House is scheduled to hold its final vote on the bill tomorrow morning.
Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver his first primetime address as president on Thursday, the White House announced yesterday.
The speech is meant to mark one year since the start of the country’s shutdowns linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
“He will discuss the many sacrifices the American people have made over the last year and the grave loss communities and families across the country have suffered,” press secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday.
Biden is also expected to tout the passage of his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, which he is expected to sign this week.
Police say officer who shot and killed unarmed Daunte Wright intended to fire Taser
Police in a Minneapolis suburb said an officer accidentally shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man on Sunday afternoon during a traffic stop, releasing graphic body-camera footage they say shows the officer intended to use a Taser not a handgun during the death of unarmed Daunte Wright.
The incident plunged the suburb of Brooklyn Center into a night of unrest as Minneapolis remains on edge during the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in riot gear who deployed teargas and flash bangs to disperse the crowds.
At a press conference inside Brooklyn Center police headquarters, surrounded by riot police and national guard troops, the police chief, Tim Gannon, described the shooting as “an accidental discharge” and confirmed no weapon had been recovered from Wright’s vehicle.
The mayor of Brooklyn Center, Mike Elliott, said he had spoken to Joe Biden, who offered assistance.
“I want to say that our hearts are aching right now,” Elliott told reporters. “We are in pain right now. And we recognise that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
“We will get to the bottom of this. We will do all that is in our power to make sure that justice is done for Daunte Wright.”
Elliott also said he supported firing the officer involved, who was later identified as Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center police department.
Protesters returned to the streets again on Monday evening, despite a 7pm curfew imposed by the governor of Minnesota. Hundreds of people gathered in the cold and rainy weather outside the Brooklyn Center police department, which was ringed by a metal fence, concrete barriers and police dressed in riot gear. Police later deployed flashbangs, teargas and smoke to disperse the crowd.
Earlier in the day,mourners and outraged community members had made their way to the site where Wright was killed. On a grey, damp morning, Ben Witz and his sister came to the site to lay balloons.
“This is more difficult because there was another, there was another unarmed shooting,” Witz said, explaining that family members lived in the area and that the community was still traumatized from Floyd’s killing and the unrest that followed.
“It seems like it’s a common occurrence now with the police,” Witz said. “It’s crazy what’s happening. It really is.”
The body-camera footage showed Wright being apprehended by two officers, when a third female officer approaches the scene. A struggle ensues and Wright gets back into his vehicle, at which point the female officer opens fire.
“Holy shit. I just shot him,” the officer is heard saying.
As the body-camera footage was released, a small group of activists in the police headquarters waiting area demanded the officer, who has not been identified, be fired immediately.
“Seeing the video just confirms what we already knew,” said Toshira Garraway, the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. “It’s just killing after killing after killing.”
She added: “They will always say, ‘I was afraid, or it was an accident.’ But the fact of the matter is: this was a murder. If she is not fired, this is only going to escalate.”
Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters she was on the phone with her son as the encounter occurred. According to her account, reported by local TV news, her son called as he was being pulled over and asked about insurance for the vehicle, which she had recently given him.
She said she heard officers instruct her son to get out of the car and then “scuffling” shortly before the phone hung up.
“A minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot and she put it on the driver’s side, and my son was laying there lifeless,” she said.
Police said officers determined the driver had an outstanding warrant.
Heavily armored national guard troops worked to barricade the police station on Monday morning, as fewer than a dozen protesters faced the building across a road.
Two national guard Humvees, guardsmen carrying long guns and dozens of officers in riot gear were outside the station as police installed concrete blocks. A couple of members of the Original Black Panthers of Minneapolis group chatted with state troopers.
Witz, 40, a liquor store employee, said he was concerned the business would be vandalized if protests over Wright’s killing led to major unrest.
“It was like a war zone,” Witz said of the unrest that followed Floyd’s death. “And now we’re seeing it here and, I mean, why do we have to vandalize, I mean, I, as a white person I don’t get it, but I want to be educated.”
On Sunday evening, hundreds of protesters marched to the police station and were met by officers in riot gear who discharged teargas, flash-bangs and other munitions. Crowds had largely dispersed by midnight.
The Minnesota department of public safety commissioner, John Harrington, said around 20 businesses at the Shingle Creek shopping center were broken into. The mayor, Elliott, urged protesters “to be peaceful and that peaceful protesters are not dealt with force”.
Brooklyn Center is a suburb in north-west Minneapolis with a population of about 30,000. Tensions are high as the murder trial of Chauvin entered its third week.
Amid drizzle and grey skies on Monday, protesters such as Bethany Hemrich came to pay her respects near the site where Wright had been shot dead less than 24 hours before.
“As a mother of a Black child, I couldn’t even fathom,” Hemrich, who is white, said. “My son is 10, and I brought him to [the] George Floyd memorial and had to explain racism to him.”
As her voice broke, she continued: “They didn’t have to kill him. I feel like if it was a white person, they wouldn’t have shot him.”
Quinn Redeemed, 46, spoke of the tension in the area around police-involved deaths of Black people.
Redeemed said: “This just added gasoline to the fire. We’re tired and fired up. The world needs to really see what’s going on. And now, the world is watching Minnesota.”
Police kill student who fired at them at Tennessee high school, authorities say
A student at a Tennessee high school has been shot and killed by police after opening fire on officers responding to reports of a gunman on campus, authorities said on Monday.
David B Rausch, the director of the Tennessee bureau of investigation, said at a news conference that police found the student in a bathroom at Austin-East magnet high school in Knoxville, a city about 180 miles (290km) east of Nashville. They ordered him out, but he wouldn’t comply, and that is when he reportedly opened fire, Rausch said. Police fired back.
The student died at the school, and an officer was wounded and taken into surgery, authorities said. No one else was hurt.
“It’s a sad day for Knoxville, and it’s tough for Austin-East,” Rausch said.
Asked about the overwhelming police response to a call that came in just before afternoon dismissal, the Knoxville police chief, Eve Thomas, said, “We have a student, a school incident. It’s our worst fear, an active shooter in a school.”
The shooting comes as more classrooms are reopening to students after months of remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic, which cut down the number of mass killings in the US. The nation has seen series of mass shootings in recent weeks, including eight people killed at three Atlanta-area massage businesses on 16 March and 10 people killed at Colorado supermarket on 22 March.
Speaking outside a hospital, Knoxville’s mayor, Indya Kincannon, told WATE-TV that she had spoken with the wounded officer and he was conscious and in good spirits.
Kincannon, a former Knox county schools board president, spoke at a February press conference about the gun violence that took the lives of three Austin-East students less than three weeks apart this year. Two of the victims were 15, and the other was 16. The shootings did not take place in the school.
“I know that school is a safe place,” Kincannon said at that time, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “It’s a place where people are learning … The issues with violence are happening in the community, and it’s affecting kids when they’re outside of the school. That’s why we are focusing our efforts to protect the innocent, protect the school, protect the children and students and staff.”
Bob Thomas, the superintendent of Knox county schools, tweeted on Monday that a shooting had occurred but the building had been secured.
“The school building has been secured and students who were not involved in the incident have been released to their families,” Thomas said.
He added in a separate tweet that authorities were gathering information and about “this tragic situation” and that additional information would be provided later.
Police urged people to avoid the area, adding that a reunification site had been set up on a baseball field behind the school for students to be reunited with family.
Last week, the Republican governor signed off on legislation that would make Tennessee the latest state to soon allow most adults 21 and older to carry handguns – openly or concealed – without first clearing a background check and training.
The state’s governor, Bill Lee, backed the legislation over objections from law enforcement groups, who argued that the state’s existing permit system provided an important safeguard for knowing who should or shouldn’t be carrying a gun.
The law, which does not apply to long guns, will take effect 1 July. The new measure also increases certain penalties relating to theft, and also makes exceptions for people with certain mental illnesses and criminal convictions.
Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore near deal for NBA’s Timberwolves
Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore appear to be close to owning the Minnesota Timberwolves, finalizing a deal with current owner Glen Taylor, according to reports.
The pair released a statement on Saturday:
“We look forward to entering this phase of the process with Glen Taylor. Our respect for him and the legacy he built lays an amazing foundation for what is to come. We are excited by the prospect of getting to know the Timberwolves organization, the talented team and their incredible fans.”
The letter of intent paves the way for a 30-day exclusive negotiating window. If a deal is finalized, they would first become minority owners, according to the Athletic, and in 2023, would gain full control.
The Athletic reported an agreement was reached on a $1.5bn price and that the team would remain in Minneapolis – a requirement from Taylor, who has owned the team for almost 30 years.
ESPN also reported the deal was being finalized.
Rodriguez attempted last year to buy the New York Mets alongside ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez, and Lore was among the other partners in that bid.
Lore, a billionaire New York native, stepped down as Walmart CEO in January. The former entrepreneur created Jet.com (sold to Walmart for $3bn) and Diapers.com (sold to Amazon for $545m), among other business ventures.
A three-time AL MVP, Rodriguez retired in August 2016 with 698 home runs, a .295 average and 2,086 RBIs in 22 years. He was suspended for the 2014 season for violations of Major League Baseball’s drug agreement and labor contract.
A-Rod, now 45 years old, earned about $448m as a player. The 14-time All-Star started his career with Seattle, signed a record contract with Texas in December 2000, and then moved from shortstop to third base when he was traded from the Rangers to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2004 season.