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.
Five fertility clinic patients awarded $15m after failure of freezing tank
Five patients of a California fertility center have been awarded a total of $15m after a freezing tank failed, rendering some of more than 3,500 frozen human embryos and eggs unviable.
While the extent of the damage from the accidental thaw is unclear, jurors awarded the sum to clients of the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco after finding that the storage tank maker, Chart Industries, knew about a defect that prevented accurate temperature monitoring and had not warned the center about the problem.
The case could have significant consequences for a fertility industry estimated to be worth $37bn by 2030 and comes amid declining fertility rates and a drop in childbirth, recently described as a Covid baby-bust.
Jurors in the case found that Chart was 90% and Pacific Fertility 10% responsible for the failure to adequately safeguard the material. It marks the first time a jury has awarded damages in a case involving the destruction of eggs and embryos.
“This verdict should be a wake-up call for fertility centers. The jury’s award shows that when clinics make mistakes they can be devastating,” Adam Wolf, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the Guardian.
At the trial, the freezer manufacturer argued that the error was caused by fertility clinic lab employees unplugging the tank’s malfunctioning controller and then keeping eggs and embryos in a container with no temperature-alert system in operation for 17 days.
But lawyers for the plaintiffs presented evidence that Chart knew about a problem with the tank from a 2012 internal study and had received complaints about a malfunctioning controller since 2015.
Laura and Kevin Parsell, a couple who had four frozen embryos that were lost, were awarded $7.2m. Rosalynn Enfield, a 43-year-old mother of two who lost 18 eggs, was awarded $2.6m; Adrienne Sletten, a 43-year-old woman who lost two eggs, was awarded $2.075m. Chloe Poynton, a 39-year-old woman who lost nine eggs, was awarded $3.1m.
“It’s really painful to be at a baby shower celebrating someone else’s family being built and knowing inside you’ll never get that,” Poynton told the court.
In closing arguments last week, attorney Dena Sharp had asked for up to $30m in damages. “Nothing can bring these eggs and embryos back,” Sharp said. “Nothing can turn back that biological clock. Nothing can truly restore what these plaintiffs had taken from them.”
Wolf, meanwhile, said many of those who had lost eggs and embryos, were still struggling with their loss.
The claim was the first to come to trial out of 140 federal lawsuits filed against the tank manufacturer over the accident. A second trial involving about five other plaintiffs is scheduled to begin later this year.
But Pacific Fertility is not the sole fertility clinic to have reported problems with Chart’s freezer. More than 4,000 eggs and embryos were lost at the University Hospitals Fertility Clinic in Cleveland. About 150 families have settled claims with the clinic. Other related lawsuits are ongoing.
Wolf said his firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, had represented hundreds of people over eight years in claims against the fertility industry, which is largely unregulated except in terms of the way in which clinics can advertise their pregnancy success rates.
Groups such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine set industry standards for facilities that opt in, but the recommendations are voluntary. In some cases, clinics have used the wrong sperm and there is no oversight in terms of registering recipients of third-party sperm.
“Tragically we see very serious errors on a daily basis. These are the wild west days of the American fertility industry. It operates behind closed doors, and under a veil of secrecy. It can do, basically, whatever it likes, and that’s no way for an industry that is so important to operate,” Wolf said.
“Storage tank breakdowns are one example of problems in this industry. The lack of oversight, ranging from not knowing the if tanks are being appropriately regulated to manufacturing defects to not knowing how many other people may have used the same donor eggs or sperm, is worrying.”
As its stands, fertility clinics are required only to report success rates when they use reproductive technology involving eggs, but not when only sperm is used. “But reporting success rates does not regulate how the eggs are stored or other types of negligence,” Cahn said.
While the ASRM has a strong role in providing guidance, greater oversight is required to protect future families, Cahn says. If she were to issue a call to lawmakers, she added, it would be to “establish one single government entity to oversee the fertility industry and ensure that entity issues appropriate regulations including certification of all aspects of the technology”.
“We don’t want to interfere with the patient-physician relationship, we just want to make sure that when you trust your egg, sperm and embryos to a tank, that tank will not malfunction and there are appropriate procedures in the clinic if it does.”
‘My God, I’m in a whale’s mouth’: lobster diver on brush with hungry humpback
A New England lobsterman has described the moment he realised he was trapped in the mouth of a humpback whale off the coast of Cape Cod.
“Oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me. I thought to myself, ‘hey, this is it. I’m finally going to die. There’s no getting out of here,’’’ Michael Packard told a local news station in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Packard, 56, was 45ft down off Race Point in search of lobsters when the feeding whale, presumed to be a juvenile, took him. He said he “felt this huge bump and everything went dark”.
At first the fisherman assumed he had been attacked by a great white [shark] buthe could find no teeth. “It was happening so fast,” Packard said. “My only thought was how to get out of that mouth.”
Partially ingested in the leviathan’s maw, and surrounded by a curtain of filtering baleen, Packard said he kept breathing into the regulator of his scuba tank.
“I realised there was no overcoming a beast of that size. He was going to do with me what he wanted to do. He was going to spit me out or swallow me.”
Later, during the half-minute ordeal, Packard said he began to consider his situation more clearly: “Here I am, I’m breathing air. Am I going to be breathing air in this whale’s mouth until it runs out? Crazy stuff.”
The whale thought better.
“All of a sudden he went up to the surface and just erupted and started shaking his head. I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water,” Packard recalled. “I was free and I just floated there. I couldn’t believe … I’m here to tell it.”
Boat captain Joe Francis, who had been following Packard’s bubbles, told CBS Boston: “I saw Mike come flying out of the water feet first with his flippers on and land back in the water. I jumped aboard the boat. We got him up, got his tank off. Got him on the deck and calmed him down and he goes, ‘Joe, I was in the mouth of a whale.’ He goes ‘I can’t believe it, I was in the mouth of a whale, Joe!’”
Packard was taken to hospital and discharged later that day. “He’s damn lucky to be alive,” Francis added.
Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan and Albert and the Whale: Albrecht Dürer and How Art Imagines Our World, and a friend of Packard and his fishing partner Josiah Mayo, says the humpback was almost certainly as surprised as the diver.
Hoare says Herring Cove beach, adjacent to Race Point and where the incident took place, is shallow and known for gatherings of juvenile humpbacks feeding on sand eels at this time of year.
Whales have poor forward vision, he noted. “Mike would have been down there collecting lobsters, and the whale, trying to swallow sand eels, would have suddenly found he had a diver in his mouth while he or she was dragging in a huge volume of water.”
But before the whale could push the water out through the baleen filter – and lick the sand eels off with the tongue – the individual would have found Packard. Since a humpback’s esophagus wont accept anything larger than a melon, the whale would probably have panicked. “This young humpback is hanging out, it really hasn’t learned how to feed properly and doing stupid things, and suddenly he’s in trouble.
“He’s gulped Michael and now has this huge thing in mouth. That would be totally freaky for a whale, so it’s gone up to the surface, and in a human way, vomited him out. The last thing a whale wants in its mouth is something so big it would choke it.
“Michael is inside the whale, and God knows what he’s thinking, but anyone on the Cape knows the problem with great whites. “They are there, and they’re huge, and three people have been attacked – one fatally – in the past year,” says Hoare.
Hoare says Packard will be transformed in to mythic figure in Provincetown – “the Jonah who came back. He’ll never have pay for another drink for the rest of his life.” The film-maker John Waters, a seasonal resident of Provincetown, had been in touch. “Are you jealous, and do you believe it?” Waters wrote.
Talks in Washington deadlocked as Biden meets UK PM Johnson – live
Joe Biden met with Boris Johnson in Cornwall while Jill Biden wore a “love” blazer.
Meanwhile, talks deadlocked on, well, a lot of things – but mostly the bipartisan negotiations around the infrastructure plan. Lawmakers on both side were expressing frustration Thursday with the concept of bipartisanship, but Senator Mitt Romney hinted at a possible agreement.
Representative Ilhan Omar received death threats as members of her own party condemned her for saying that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.”
Today in San Francisco, Rob Bonta, California’s attorney general, said that his office has filed an appeal of the recent federal court decision that struck down the state’s assault weapon restrictions.
Standing alongside Governor Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and representatives from Brady United and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Bonta said that while the opinion was of “great concern”, “we are not deterred by this ruling.”
This appeal comes after a 4 June ruling from Judge Roger Benitez that ruled that California’s 32 year-old restrictions were unconstitutional. The decision drew immediate criticism for Benitez’s comparison of assault weapons to “Swiss army knives” and false claim that more Californians have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings.
Bonta is also extending the 30-day-stay, so that the current laws stay in effect throughout the appeal process.
Learn more about what Judge Benitez’s ruling mean for the state here:
Florida public schools ban teaching of critical-race theory
The Florida Board of Education has approved tougher guidelines for teaching US history in public schools that prohibits teachers from discussing critical-race theory or the 1619 Project.
The reactive push against the movement to teaching non-whitewashed versions of American history that don’t downplay the role of slavery and racism in the founding of the country has long been a conservative rallying point. Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, tweeted that critical-race theory was “state-sanctioned racism and has no place in Florida schools”.
Something may have happened. Or not. But that’s pretty much the state of it this week, isn’t it?
We’re back on the infrastructure plan, and the hopes of a bipartisan agreement. Joe Biden ended negotiations with Republicans before he left on his first overseas trip, but said he planned to stay in touch. People on both sides are saying the time for bipartisanship is done, whether related to the infrastructure plan or otherwise.
But! Possibly an agreement, per Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney. Except someone forgot to tell Montana Senator Jon Tester.
So could there be an agreement? Unclear. We’ll see.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio set Twitter ablaze today when he decided to preview a commercial for ranked-choice voting with a giant ballot of pizza toppings.
Ranked-choice voting is when you rank a number of candidates for each race. If none wins an outright majority in the first round of counting, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and then the second-place votes are counted, and this keeps going until someone earns at least 50% of the votes plus one.
It wasn’t the type of voting that stirred controversy, but de Blasio’s ranking: 1. Green peppers 2. Green olives 3. Sausage 4. Mushrooms 5. Pepperoni
And also, there’s also the fact that pizza is not quite the right analogy for an election.
The FBI director, Christopher Wray, is testifying before the House judiciary committee on oversight of the FBI. Hate violence and white supremacist ideology were large focuses, and Wray received a number of questions about the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is apparently pretty done with bipartisanship too.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who thinks “the era of bipartisanship is over”, doesn’t seem particularly phased.
More Democrats are joining together to condemn Minnesota Ilhan Omar for saying that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the US, Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan and the Taliban.” Meanwhile, more of her allies are rallying behind her in support as well.
Here’s our first look at the meeting between Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and First Lady Jill Biden and Carrie Johnson.
A lot has been hyped about bipartisanship this week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “the era of bipartisanship is over”, with every bill the Democrats have introduced in June including something he said Republicans could not support. Democratic West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin gave it as the reason why he wasn’t voting for the For The People bill that would voting rights, because he believed such legislation needed to be bipartisan.
Then there was the bipartisan negotiations between Joe Biden and Republicans over an infrastructure plan. On Tuesday, Biden ended negotiations. Despite his willingness to reduce his plan by more than $1 trillion, Republicans had increased their proposed new investments by only $150bn. And then there was the issue of tax increases.
Though Biden said he would stay in touch with Republicans during his trip, things aren’t looking great.
About 90 advocacy groups have since called on Biden and the Democrats to use the partisan reconciliation process instead of relying on negotiations.
Reconciliation is a rule that allows Congress to pass new budget resolutions with new spending priorities with a simple 51-vote majority in the Senate without having to worry about a filibuster.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are already working on a plan to pass an infrastructure measure via the reconciliation process.
Omar receives death threats as lawmakers condemn her comments
Democratic Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar is once again receiving death threats as 12 members of her own party condemn her for appearing to liken Hamas and the Taliban to Israel and the United States.
“We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity,” she tweeted in a question to Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Foreign Affairs Committee hearing about the International Criminal Court on Monday. “We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.”