10 things you need to know today: June 5, 2020

Sharpton says in eulogy that Floyd "changed the world," Republicans split over Mattis' criticism of Trump, and more

Memorial service for George Floyd
(Image credit: KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Sharpton says in eulogy that George Floyd 'changed the world'

Hundreds of people, including politicians and civil rights leaders, joined family members to mourn George Floyd on Thursday, more than a week after he died in Minneapolis police custody. Civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton eulogized Floyd, saying, "Get your rest, George. You changed the world." Sharpton closed by telling mourners to stand in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a white officer pinned his knee on the unarmed, handcuffed black man's neck. Sharpton also called for social change, supporting protests around the nation against systemic racism and excessive police force against African Americans. "Get your knee off our necks," he said. "We don't need no favors, just get off of us and we can do and be whatever we can be." Protesters around the nation also honored Floyd as they held a 10th night of demonstrations.

Star Tribune

2. GOP lawmakers divided over Mattis' criticism of Trump

Republican lawmakers were split Thursday in their reactions to former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump. Mattis, who resigned in 2018 over differences on Syria policy, on Wednesday denounced Trump's response to peaceful protests, saying Trump "tries to divide us." Mattis said watching protesters get tear-gassed in Lafayette Square and hearing Trump threaten to use the military to crush demonstrations left him "angry and appalled." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) dismissed Mattis' comments, saying, "It's just politically fashionable to blame Trump for everything — and I'm not buying it." Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), however, said "Mattis' words were true and honest and necessary." She added that she's now "struggling" over whether to continue to support Trump.

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CNN Business Insider

3. 2 scientific journals retract COVID-19 studies

Scientific journals on Thursday retracted two studies on COVID-19 that had shifted research efforts on the pandemic. One of the studies, published in The Lancet, found that treating coronavirus patients with hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug pushed by President Trump, increased rates of heart arrhythmias and deaths, but three of the four co-authors retracted the article after the fourth author blocked their efforts to verify the quality of the database they used. The New England Journal of Medicine retracted a heart study the same authors published in May based on the same data. That study concluded that cardiovascular disease increased death rates of COVID-19 patients.

The New York Times

4. Virginia governor says Robert E. Lee statue to be moved

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Thursday that he planned to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's Monument Avenue. The decision followed several days of protests in Richmond and across the United States in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody. "It's time to acknowledge the reality of institutional racism even if you can't see it," Northam said. Civil rights activists said the removal of the statue was overdue. "The Lee statue was a constant reminder to black Virginians of racism, dehumanization, and hate that exists and was prevalent throughout our history," said Del. Lamont Bagby (D), chair of the 23-member Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

The Virginian-Pilot

5. 1.9 million filed jobless claims last week

Nearly 1.9 million Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. It was the first time since mid-March that the weekly jobless claims fell below 2 million, suggesting to economists that the worst of the crisis could be over as states lift coronavirus lockdowns and businesses reopen. The worst week came in late March, when 6.9 million people applied for jobless benefits. Still, with jobless claims in the millions, the economic pain from the coronavirus crisis is far from over. The Labor Department releases its May nonfarm employment report on Friday morning. Economists expect a loss of 8.3 million jobs in May, with an unemployment rate of 20.5 percent, more than twice the highest rate recorded between the Great Depression and the coronavirus crisis.

NBC News

6. Hong Kong protesters mark Tiananmen anniversary with vigil

Thousands of people gathered in Hong Kong on Thursday to mark the 31st anniversary of China's crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Human rights groups said thousands of protesters died in the 1989 clash, although the Chinese government said the death toll was a few hundred. Thursday's vigil, in which participants held candles, defied an official ban on gatherings in Hong Kong due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event followed days of efforts by authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong to tighten China's control over the semi-autonomous former British colony. Last week, Hong Kong legislators approved a law making it a crime to insult China's national anthem.

NBC News The New York Times

7. Judge sets bail of up to $1 million for 3 officers in Floyd killing

A Minnesota judge on Thursday set bail at up to $1 million for three ex-Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting in the alleged murder of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, by a white officer. The hearing came a day after Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison charged the three men, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thou. Ellison also elevated the charge against another officer, Derek Chauvin, from third-degree murder to second-degree murder. If Kueng, Lane, and Thao meet certain conditions, they could be released on $750,000 bonds, Judge Paul Scoggin said. The conditions include surrendering any guns, voiding their firearm permits, not working in law enforcement, and avoiding contact with Floyd's family.


8. McMichael allegedly used racial epithet after shooting Arbery

William Bryan, one of the men charged in connection with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, said he heard Travis McMichael use a racial slur after fatally shooting the African-American man, who had been jogging, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified Thursday in a preliminary hearing. Bryan, who recorded cellphone video of the shooting, said Travis McMichael said "f***ing n***er" after firing three blasts from his shotgun, leaving Arbery dead in the street, GBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Richard Dial said. He added that McMichael had used the slur "numerous times" on social media. The judge ruled that all three defendants — McMichael; his father, Gregory McMichael; and Bryan — would stand trial.


9. Google: Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting political campaigns

Google said Thursday that Chinese hackers have targeted the personal email accounts of staffers on former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign. Google also confirmed reports that Iran has tried to access accounts of President Trump's campaign workers. Google's chief of threat analysis, Shane Huntley, said that so far there were no signs any of the accounts had been compromised. The hackers appeared to be using conventional spear-phishing attacks like those Russian hackers used in 2016 to access the personal emails of John Podesta, then Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. Biden's campaign said it was "aware of reports from Google that a foreign actor has made unsuccessful attempts to access the personal email accounts of campaign staff."

The New York Times

10. NBA unveils plan for finishing season

The NBA announced Thursday that its board of governors had approved a 22-team, one-location playoff to finish its 2019-20 season. The top nine teams from the NBA's eastern conference and top 13 from the western conference, based on standings from when the season was suspended in March, will play an additional eight regular-season games to determine seeding and to tune up. They'll then move to a standard 16-team playoff bracket with a seven-game series determining each round's winner. All the teams will live and play in a "bubble-like environment at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World," The Washington Post reports, with no fans allowed and visitors strictly limited. Games begin July 31 and the tournament is slated to end in October.

ESPN The Washington Post

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.