Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 10, 2021

The House prepares for a final vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, Arkansas' governor signs a near-total abortion ban, and more


House poised for final vote on $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package

The House paved the way for a Wednesday vote to approve the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, after Democrats on Tuesday held together their narrow majority to pass a procedural motion 219-210. The approval of the American Rescue Plan, which the Senate passed over the weekend, would give an early legislative victory to President Biden. Democrats hailed the bill as a historic anti-poverty measure. The legislation includes a boosted child tax credit and $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans. It also extends $300 weekly extra unemployment benefits, and sends money to cities and states, as well as schools to help them reopen. Republicans said the bill's costs were inflated by spending unrelated to the pandemic, and that the legislation could have received bipartisan support if it had been more targeted.


Arkansas governor signs near-total abortion ban

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) on Tuesday signed a law banning nearly all abortions in the state, with exceptions only to save the woman's life. Hutchinson said that he "would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest," but he signed off because of "overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions." Supporters hope the ban will force the Supreme Court, with a strengthened conservative majority, to reconsider the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Abortion rights activists plan to challenge the measure in court before it can take effect this summer. Arkansas is one of at least 14 states where lawmakers have proposed abortion bans in recent months.


Another sexual harassment allegation emerges against Cuomo

A sixth woman has accused New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of sexual harassment or other inappropriate conduct. The latest accuser was the fourth former aide to come forward with harassment allegations against Cuomo. The Albany Times Union reported Tuesday that the unnamed aide told a supervisor that Cuomo had touched her inappropriately at the New York Executive Mansion, where the governor lives. She had been summoned there on a work matter. The allegation has been referred to the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is overseeing an investigation. Cuomo has resisted mounting calls to resign. He said he had not heard about a new claim but denied ever touching anyone inappropriately. He deflected questions Tuesday about whether he would seek re-election. "You know allegations," he said. "You don't know facts. Let's operate on facts."


3 jurors selected as Derek Chauvin trial starts

Jury selection started Tuesday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes before Floyd died. Three jurors were seated on Day 1. Six others were dismissed. A video showing Chauvin and other officers restraining Floyd, an unarmed Black man suspected of passing a counterfeit bill, went viral after Floyd's death, triggering widespread protests. All three of the jurors selected said that despite the widespread publicity about the case they would listen to the evidence with an open mind. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. Prosecutors have asked to add a third-degree murder charge, but courts are still considering that issue. The trial is expected to start in earnest late in March.


Stock futures mixed after Nasdaq's best day since November

Technology stocks bounced back Tuesday following Monday's plunge. The tech-heavy Nasdaq shot up by 3.7 percent, its biggest one-day percentage gain since early November. "It is this buy-the-dip mentality," said Daniel Morris, chief market strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management. "It's not like we've changed our long-term view on tech. Everyone expects it to do well — it was just really expensive." The index remained down by 7.2 percent since its Feb. 12 record high. The S&P 500 rose by 1.4 percent, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up by 0.1 percent. Futures for the three main U.S. indexes were mixed early Wednesday. Futures for the Dow and the S&P 500 were up slightly several hours before the opening bell, while those of the Nasdaq edged down.


2nd Myanmar official dies in detention

An official from Myanmar's former ruling National League for Democracy party died in the custody of security forces on Tuesday. The official, Zaw Myat Linn, died shortly after his arrest in the country's main city, Yangon. He had been "participating continuously in the protests" against the military's Feb. 1 coup and detention of numerous NLD members, including leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Zaw Myat Linn was the second party official to die in detention in two days. In a Facebook live broadcast shortly before his detention, Zaw Myat Linn urged protesters to continue fighting the military takeover "even if it costs our lives." The military did not immediately comment.


Schoolgirl admits lying about French teacher who was beheaded

An unidentified 13-year-old schoolgirl has admitted that she lied about the actions of French secondary school teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded by a radical Chechen teenager for showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the girl's lawyer said Tuesday. Paty was murdered last October after a social-media uproar over false allegations that Paty had asked Muslim children to leave his civics class before he showed the pictures during a lesson on free speech. The schoolgirl told her father, who posted incendiary videos on Facebook and has been charged in connection with Paty's killing. But it turned out that the girl wasn't even in class that day. Her lawyer said she made false claims after classmates pressured her to serve as a spokesperson.


Longtime broadcast journalist Roger Mudd dies at 93

Longtime TV news anchor Roger Mudd died at his Virginia home on Tuesday of kidney failure. He was 93. Mudd covered Congress and narrated documentaries from 1961 to 1980. He appeared to be destined to replace Walter Cronkite as CBS Evening News anchor. He left after Dan Rather got the job instead. He then became NBC's chief Washington correspondent and co-anchored the network's Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. Mudd was perhaps best known for an interview he did at CBS with Sen. Ted Kennedy, who was leading Jimmy Carter in the polls ahead of the 1980 Democratic presidential primaries. Mudd caught Kennedy off guard by asking, "Why do you want to be president?" Kennedy's momentum stalled. Mudd won a prestigious Peabody Award for the interview.


Queen Elizabeth 'saddened' by Harry and Meghan's allegations

Queen Elizabeth II said Tuesday that the British royal family was "saddened" to hear about the hardships that her grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, had faced over the last few years. The couple said in a blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey that they faced cold and disrespectful treatment before they decided to step down as senior royals, and Meghan described a racist remark made by an unnamed member of the family who raised concerns about how dark the skin of her son, Archie, would be. "The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning," Buckingham Palace said in a statement issued on behalf of the queen. "Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately."


Tokyo Olympics to go forward with no foreign spectators

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to go forward in the summer, but foreign spectators will be barred from attending due to COVID-19 concerns. Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Olympics committee, reportedly said that welcoming spectators from around the world "to come to a full stadium" could cause a "great deal of trouble." The Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled for July 2020, but were postponed until July 2021. Under COVID-19 rules for the games unveiled in February, "hugs, high fives, or handshakes are banned," and spectators "are being asked not to sing or chant, but to only clap instead," NBC News reported. Polls in January found about 80 percent of respondents in Japan were in favor of the Olympics either being rescheduled again or canceled entirely.


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