MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A judge said Friday he won’t delay or move the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death over concerns that a $27 million settlement for Floyd’s family could taint the jury pool, but he’ll allow limited evidence from a 2019 arrest.
Meanwhile, a 13th juror was seated Friday — a woman who said she has only seen clips of the video of Floyd’s arrest and needs to learn more about what happened beforehand. The jury will include 12 jurors and two alternates.
Jury selection was halfway complete last week when the Minneapolis City Council announced it had unanimously approved the massive payout to settle a civil rights lawsuit over Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, subsequently sought to halt or move the trial, calling the timing of the settlement deeply disturbing and saying it jeopardized Chauvin’s chance for a fair trial. Chauvin is charged with murder and manslaughter.
But Cahill, who has called the timing “unfortunate,” said he thought a delay would do nothing to stem the problem of pretrial publicity. As for moving the trial, he said there’s no place in Minnesota that hasn’t been touched by that publicity.
The judge handed the defense a victory by ruling that the jury can hear evidence from Floyd’s 2019 arrest, but only that possibly pertaining to the cause of his death in 2020. He acknowledged there are several similarities between the two encounters, including that Floyd swallowed drugs after police confronted him.
CDC changes school guidance, allowing desks to be closer
NEW YORK (AP) — Students can safely sit just 3 feet apart in the classroom as long as they wear masks but should be kept the usual 6 feet away from one another at sporting events, assemblies, lunch or chorus practice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in relaxing its COVID-19 guidelines.
The revised recommendations represent a turn away from the 6-foot standard that has sharply limited how many students some schools can accommodate. Some places have had to remove desks, stagger schedules and take other steps to keep children apart.
Three feet “gives school districts greater flexibility to have more students in for a prolonged period of time,” said Kevin Quinn, director of maintenance and facilities at Mundelein High School in suburban Chicago.
In recent months, schools in some states have been disregarding the CDC guidelines, using 3 feet as their standard. Studies of what happened in some of them helped sway the agency, said Greta Massetti, who leads the CDC’s community interventions task force.
“We don’t really have the evidence that 6 feet is required in order to maintain low spread,” she said. Also, younger children are less likely to get seriously ill from the coronavirus and don’t seem to spread it as much as adults do, and “that allows us that confidence that that 3 feet of physical distance is safe.”
Slain spa worker toiled tirelessly to support her family
ATLANTA (AP) — Hyun Jung Grant loved disco and club music, often strutting or moonwalking while doing household chores and jamming with her sons to tunes blasting over the car stereo.
The single mother found ways to enjoy herself despite working “almost every day” to support two sons, said the older son, 22-year-old Randy Park.
“I learned how to moonwalk because, like, I saw her moonwalking while vacuuming when I was a kid,” Park said.
On Tuesday night, Park was at home playing video games when he heard a gunman had opened fire at the Atlanta massage business where his mother worked. He rushed to the scene and then to a police station to find out more information. But it was through word of mouth that he learned his mother was dead.
Grant, 51, was among eight people killed by gunfire at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. The Fulton County medical examiner released her identity Friday along with those of three other victims: Soon C. Park 74; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong A. Yue, 63.
US, China wrap up testy 1st face-to-face talks under Biden
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Top U.S. and Chinese officials wrapped up two days of contentious talks in Alaska on Friday after having traded traded sharp and unusually public barbs over vastly different views of each other and the world in their first face-to-face meeting since President Joe Biden took office.
The two sides finished the meetings after an opening session on Thursday in which they attacked each other. The U.S. accused the Chinese delegation of “grandstanding” and Beijing fired back, saying there was a “strong smell of gunpowder and drama” that was entirely the fault of the Americans.
“We got a defensive response,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after the meetings concluded. “We wanted to share with them the significant concerns that we have about a number of the actions that China has taken, and behaviors exhibiting concerns, shared by our allies and partners. And we did that. We also wanted to lay out very clearly, our own policies, priorities, and worldview. And we did that too.”
“There are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds,” he said. .“It’s no surprise that when we raised issues we got a defensive response, but also we had a very candid conversation and a expansive agenda.”
There was no immediate response from the Chinese side, although the acrimonious tone of Thursday’s comments suggested the private discussions would be rocky.
Kremlin: Putin’s offer of a call with Biden was to save ties
MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin said Friday that President Vladimir Putin’s offer to speak by phone with U.S. President Joe Biden was intended to prevent bilateral ties from completely falling apart over the American’s remark that the Russian leader was a killer.
Putin made it clear that “it makes sense to have a talk to maintain Russia-U.S. relations instead of trading barbs,” and he wanted to make it public to help defuse tensions over Biden’s “very bad remarks,” said his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov.
Asked by reporters Friday if he’ll take Putin up on his offer to have a call, Biden said, “I’m sure we’ll talk at some point.”
In an interview broadcast Wednesday, Biden replied “I do” when asked if he thought Putin was a “killer.” Russia responded by recalling its ambassador in Washington for consultations and Putin on Thursday pointed at the U.S. history of slavery, slaughtering Native Americans and the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II in an “it-takes-one-to-know-one” response.
At the same time, Putin noted that Russia would still cooperate with the United States where and when it supports Moscow’s interests, adding that “a lot of honest and decent people in the U.S. want to have peace and friendship with Russia.”
‘An all-hands moment’: GOP rallies behind voting limits
On an invitation-only call last week, Sen. Ted Cruz huddled with Republican state lawmakers to call them to battle on the issue of voting rights.
Democrats are trying to expand voting rights to “illegal aliens” and “child molesters,” he claimed, and Republicans must do all they can to stop them. If they push through far-reaching election legislation now before the Senate, the GOP won’t win elections again for generations, he said.
Asked if there was room to compromise, Cruz was blunt: “No.”
“H.R. 1′s only objective is to ensure that Democrats can never again lose another election, that they will win and maintain control of the House of Representatives and the Senate and of the state legislatures for the next century,” Cruz said told the group organized by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed, conservative group that provides model legislation to state legislators.
Cruz’s statements, recorded by a person on the call and obtained by The Associated Press, capture the building intensity behind Republicans’ nationwide campaign to restrict access to the ballot. From statehouses to Washington, the fight over who can vote and how — often cast as “voting integrity” — has galvanized a Republican Party in search of unifying mission in the post-Trump era. For a powerful network of conservatives, voting restrictions are now viewed as a political life-or-death debate, and the fight has all-but eclipsed traditional Republican issues like abortion, gun rights and tax cuts as an organizing tool.
Amid border surge, confusion reigns over Biden policies
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — It took less than a month for 200 tents to fill every spot in a Mexican plaza at the busiest border crossing with the United States.
At the camp in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, some 1,500 migrants line up for hot meals under a canopy-covered kitchen, children play soccer and volunteers in orange jackets rotate on security patrol. People pay to use the bathroom at a pharmacy or travel agency across the street and to shower at a hotel on the corner.
Badly misinformed, the migrants harbor false hope that President Joe Biden will open entry to the United States briefly and without notice. Or they think he may announce a plan that will put them first in line to claim asylum, though he hasn’t said anything to support that theory.
Biden ended some hardline border policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, proposed a pathway to citizenship for people in the U.S. illegally and promised in an executive order to “create a humane asylum system.” But neither he nor his aides have outlined the new approach to asylum or said when it will be unveiled, creating an information void and giving rise to rumors that migrants would be allowed in. Amid sharply higher migration flows, confusion and skepticism surround Biden’s insistence that it’s not the time to come to the border.
“The camp is a center for disinformation,” said Edgar Benjamin Paz, a Honduran man whose family’s tent is one of the first in an unsanctioned line to seek asylum. “No one knows what’s going on.”
Oral Roberts shocks Ohio State, first big upset of NCAAs
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Oral Roberts welcomed the madness back to March.
The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles pulled off the first major upset of the first NCAA Tournament in two years, holding off second-seeded Big Ten power Ohio State 75-72 in overtime on Friday.
Oral Roberts got poised, impeccable performances from its two star players, guard Max Abmas and forward Kevin Obanor, to become the ninth 15 seed to win a first-round game and the first since Middle Tennessee shocked Michigan State in 2016. Last year’s tournament was called off because of the pandemic.
Obanor scored seven of Oral Roberts’ 11 points in overtime, including two free throws with 13 seconds left, and finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds. Abmas, the nation’s leading scorer, had 29 points.
Ohio State could have tied it in the closing seconds of overtime, but Duane Washington Jr.’s open 3-pointer from straight away bounced off the side of the rim, and Oral Roberts celebrated its first tournament win since 1974.
4 men linked to Proud Boys charged in plot to attack Capitol
Four men described as leaders of the far-right Proud Boys have been charged in the U.S. Capitol riots, as an indictment ordered unsealed on Friday presents fresh evidence of how federal officials believe group members planned and carried out a coordinated attack to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
So far, at least 19 leaders, members or associates of the neo-fascist Proud Boys have been charged in federal court with offenses related to the Jan. 6 riots. The latest indictment suggests the Proud Boys deployed a much larger contingent in Washington, with over 60 users “participating in” an encrypted messaging channel for group members that was created a day before the riots.
The Proud Boys abandoned an earlier channel and created the new “Boots on the Ground” channel after police arrested the group’s top leader, Enrique Tarrio, in Washington. Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 and charged with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic Black church during a protest in December. He was ordered to stay out of the District of Columbia.
Tarrio hasn’t been charged in connection with the riots, but the latest indictment refers to him by his title as Proud Boys’ chairman.
Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs, two of the four defendants charged in the latest indictment, were arrested several weeks ago on separate but related charges. The new indictment also charges Zachary Rehl and Charles Donohoe.
AstraZeneca vaccinations resume in Europe after clot scare
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Countries across Europe resumed vaccinations with the AstraZeneca shot on Friday, as leaders sought to reassure their populations it is safe following brief suspensions that cast doubt on a vaccine that is critical to ending the coronavirus pandemic.
The British and French prime ministers rolled up their sleeves, as did a handful of other senior politicians across the continent where inoculation drives have repeatedly stumbled and several countries are now re-imposing lockdowns as infections rise in many places.
Britain is a notable exception: The outbreak there has receded, and the country has been widely praised for its vaccination campaign, though this week it announced that it, too, would be hit by supply shortages. The U.K. also never stopped using AstraZeneca. European Union countries, by contrast, have struggled to quickly roll out vaccines, and the pause of the vaccine by many this week only added to those troubles.
The suspensions came after reports of blood clots in some recipients of the vaccine, even though international health agencies urged governments to press ahead with the shot, saying the benefits outweighed the risks. On Thursday, the European Medicines Agency said that the vaccine doesn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots, though it could not rule out a link to a small number of rare clots.
The move paved the way for a slew of European countries including Italy, France and Germany to begin using the vaccine again.