Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 24, 2021

Biden calls for tougher gun laws after Boulder shooting, North Korea challenges Biden administration with missile launches, and more

1

Biden calls for gun reform in wake of Boulder shooting

President Biden on Tuesday said Congress should tighten gun laws in the wake of the mass shooting at a Colorado supermarket that left 10 people dead, including a police officer who responded to reports of gunfire. "I don't need to wait another minute, let alone an hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future," Biden said. He called for closing background check loopholes, and banning high-capacity magazines and semi-automatic military-style guns like the one reportedly used in the Monday shooting. Boulder's city council had banned assault-style rifles, but a judge ruled six days before the shooting that it lacked the authority. The Boulder attack came less than a week after a gunman killed eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area.

2

North Korea launches missiles in its 1st test of Biden administration

North Korea launched a flurry of short-range missiles last weekend after denouncing the United States over joint military exercises with South Korea, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the situation. The missile tests marked Pyongyang's first direct challenge toward President Biden, increasing pressure on his administration to finalize a strategy to contain the nuclear threat from North Korea. State Department spokesman Ned Price has said Biden favors a "new approach." Details remain to be finalized, but U.S. diplomats have told allies in Asia recently that Biden's policy will be different from the strategies of former President Donald Trump, who met directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and former President Barack Obama, who refused to engage until Pyongyang changed its threatening behavior.

3

Fed chair says new stimulus package unlikely to cause inflation problem

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in a Tuesday congressional hearing that he didn't expected the new $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package to increase inflation enough to create problems. "Our best view is that the effect on inflation will be neither particularly large or persistent," Powell said, adding that the central bank has ways to fight rising prices if it needs to. The Fed has kept its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero and made monthly bond purchases to boost the economy after the devastation caused by lockdowns imposed to fight the pandemic last year. Most Fed policy makers don't think they will raise rates through 2023. They also expect to continue buying $120 billion in Treasury debt monthly.

4

Boulder shooting suspect was seen as violent, short-tempered in high school

The 21-year-old suspect in the Boulder supermarket shooting that left 10 people dead was considered by friends to be violent and short-tempered in high school, The Denver Post reported Tuesday, citing former classmates. The alleged gunman, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg, and charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. Alissa graduated from Arvada West High School in 2018 and was on the wrestling team his junior and senior years, and allegedly once threatened to kill people after losing a match. "He was kind of scary to be around," said Dayton Marvel, a teammate. Alissa bought an assault weapon six days before the shooting, according to court records.

5

Jury selection completed in Derek Chauvin's murder trial

Jury selection was completed Tuesday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in custody after Chauvin pressed a knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes. The selection of a full slate of jurors after 11 days of questioning by defense attorneys and prosecutors cleared the way for the trial to begin in earnest with opening arguments on Monday. The jury includes three Black men, one Black woman, two mixed-race women, and nine White jurors. Defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to delay and move the trial after the city agreed to pay a record $27 million to Floyd's family to settle their wrongful death lawsuit. Floyd's death sparked widespread protests over racism and police brutality.

6

Israeli exit polls project Netanyahu falling short in latest election

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party appeared to have won the most seats in tight parliamentary elections on Tuesday, but fell far short of a majority, according to exit polls. With neither Netanyahu and his nationalist allies, nor anti-Netanyahu parties appearing to have won a mandate to form a government, the country could face a fifth vote in two years later in 2021. By early Wednesday, about 64 percent of the vote had been counted. "All three options are on the table: a Netanyahu-led government, a change coalition that will leave Netanyahu in the opposition, and an interim government leading to a fifth election," said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute. This election was seen as a referendum on Netanyahu's leadership as he faces a corruption trial.

7

OSU accepts President F. King Alexander's resignation

Oregon State University on Tuesday accepted President F. King Alexander's resignation after he faced harsh criticism for his handling of sexual misconduct charges at Louisiana State University. Under the deal, he'll get $670,000 and a year's medical benefits. The OSU board last week put Alexander on probation until June despite emotional pleas from sexual violence victims, students, and faculty to fire him over his weak reaction to sexual assault cases at LSU. The meeting came after the release of an independent review commissioned by LSU that concluded that while Alexander was LSU president, the school's administration repeatedly ignored complaints against abusers and denied victims' requests for protection. After the OSU board suspended Alexander last week, the school's Faculty Senate voted 108-4 to call for his resignation.

8

Biden administration extends Affordable Care Act enrollment period

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it's extending a special Affordable Care Act open enrollment period to Aug. 15. This period, during which Americans can sign up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov, began on Feb. 15 and was previously scheduled to end on May 15. It was put into place to "give Americans that need health-care coverage during this global pandemic the opportunity to sign up," the White House said. This extension was reportedly intended to ensure Americans would have additional time to sign up or to re-evaluate coverage in light of increased subsidies in Congress' recent COVID-19 relief legislation. Over 206,000 people signed up for coverage during the enrollment period's first two weeks, CNN reports.

9

Actor George Segal dies at 87

Oscar-nominated actor George Segal died Tuesday from complications following bypass surgery, his wife, Sonia Segal, announced. He was 87. Segal's career included Ships of Fools, Where's Poppa?, The Owl and the Pussycat, and The Hot Rock. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Mike Nichols' 1966 Edward Albee adaptation of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? alongside co-stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Later he was best known for his TV sitcom role as magazine publisher Jack Gallo on NBC's Just Shoot Me!, and as family patriarch Albert "Pops" Solomon on The Goldbergs. "Today we lost a legend," tweeted The Goldbergs creator Adam Goldberg. "George was a kid at heart with a magical spark."

10

Disney to debut Black Widow on streaming and in theaters simultaneously

Disney announced Tuesday that Marvel's highly-anticipated film Black Widow will be released both on Disney+ and in theaters simultaneously on July 9. The movie was previously scheduled to debut only in theaters on May 7 after being delayed from May 2020 due to the pandemic. Black Widow will cost $30 to watch on Disney+, and Disney's Cruella de Vil film Cruella will also hit streaming for that price the day of its theatrical release in May. Disney additionally said the next Pixar film Luca will no longer be released in U.S. theaters and will stream on Disney+ for no additional charge. The announcements came as a major blow to reopened theaters, seeming to signal that Disney doesn't expect movie-going to return to a pre-pandemic normal just yet.

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