10 things you need to know today: April 7, 2021
Biden moves up deadline for making all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, Arkansas lawmakers override veto of anti-trans law, and more
Biden moves up deadline for making all adults eligible for vaccination
The White House announced Tuesday that President Biden is moving up the deadline for states to open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults to April 19, earlier than his previous deadline of May 1. Biden announced his original May 1 deadline in March. Since then, all 50 states have either made COVID-19 vaccines available to all adults or announced when they will. Hawaii and Oregon are the only states that will face pressure to alter their timetable after Biden's announcement, as they were scheduled to open vaccine eligibility to all adults by May 1. Biden also announced that 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in his first 75 days in office, but he urged people to continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, saying the U.S. isn't "at the finish line yet."
Arkansas lawmakers override veto of anti-trans law
Arkansas' Republican-controlled state legislature on Tuesday voted to override Gov. Asa Hutchinson's veto of a bill barring physicians from providing gender-affirming procedures for transgender people under age 18. The vote came shortly after Hutchinson, a Republican, tried to block the legislation, calling it "vast government overreach." The state House voted 71-24 to override the veto, and the Senate promptly followed with a 25-8 vote. Arkansas now will be the first state in the United States to prohibit doctors from providing such care as so-called cross-hormone therapy, a gender-affirming therapy that lets trans people make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity. LGBTQ advocates condemned the action by lawmakers, calling it harmful and vowing to challenge the law in court.
U.S., Iran take step toward restoring nuclear deal
The United States and Iran agreed during indirect talks on Tuesday to try to work toward returning both countries to the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The nations that have remained in the deal since former President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 agreed to establish a working group tasked with finding a way to get the U.S. involved again by lifting economic sanctions Trump imposed or restored when he pulled out. Another working group will try to get Iran to begin complying with the terms of the agreement again. Tehran has repeatedly violated rules on uranium enrichment since the U.S. sanctions were put into place.
Police instructor testifies that Chauvin didn't follow training
A Minneapolis police training instructor who specializes in the use of force testified Tuesday that when former officer Derek Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes, he was not using a restraint method taught to officers. "We don't train leg-neck restraints with officers in service, and as far as I know, we never have," Lt. Johnny Mercil said during Chauvin's murder trial. Neck restraints can help with a resisting suspect, but they don't involve the officer's knee and are not authorized on someone who is handcuffed and subdued. "You want to use the least amount of force necessary to meet your goals," Mercil said. Several police sources, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, have contradicted defense lawyers' assertions that Chauvin was following his training during the arrest that left Floyd, an unarmed Black man, dead.
Oxford pauses trial of COVID-19 vaccine in children, teens
Researchers at Oxford University have paused a trial aiming to determine whether it is safe to administer the coronavirus vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca to children and teens, pending a safety review by British regulators. Several countries have limited or paused the use of the vaccine to await further information on whether it is linked to rare blood-clotting issues in a small number of adults who have received the vaccine. The trial involving more than 200 people aged 6 to 17 was started in mid-February. It has not uncovered any safety problems, an Oxford spokesman said, but researchers decided on the pause due to the broader concerns and ongoing reviews by regulators in the U.K. and European Union.
California aims to fully reopen economy in June
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced Tuesday that his state aimed to fully reopen its economy on June 15, saying it was time to start "planning for our lives post-pandemic." The state government plans to lift most of its COVID-19 restrictions and stop using a system dividing counties into tiers based on factors like the number of new cases. Two criteria will have to be met by June 15 for this to happen, officials said: the state must have enough vaccine for all adults, and its COVID-19 hospitalization rates must be stable and low. California's mask mandate is expected to remain in place, but business will be permitted to "return to usual operations" with "common-sense public health policies in place," officials said.
Navy medic killed after allegedly shooting, wounding 2
A Navy hospital corpsman allegedly opened fire at a Maryland office park on Tuesday before being fatally shot. The two victims, both Navy sailors, were hospitalized. One was released and the other was in critical condition. The shootings occurred several miles from Fort Detrick, home of the Army's biological defense program center. The suspect, identified as 38-year-old Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet, reportedly went to Fort Detrick after the attack, where he was shot by military police after breaching a gate. "Our number one priority is the safety of our people," said U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Dexter Nunnally. "Our emergency responders are well-trained for these types of situations and the fast response of our military police enabled us to contain this threat quickly."
Ex-Trump administration official barred from federal jobs for 4 years
Former Trump administration official Lynne Patton, who served in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, has been fined $1,000 and barred from federal employment for four years over a violation of the Hatch Act. The Office of Special Counsel said Patton was disciplined for violating the Hatch Act, which limits federal employees from engaging in political activity on the job, by "using her official position to produce a video about housing conditions for the Republican National Convention." The OSC said Patton "improperly harnessed the authority of her federal position to assist the Trump campaign," recruiting participants to film an RNC video in which New York City Housing Authority residents would "explain how their standard of living had improved under the Trump administration," the agency said.
Rivlin gives Netanyahu chance to form Israeli governing coalition
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday authorized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to try to form a coalition government after parliamentary elections left no bloc with clear control. Netanyahu's Likud party and its right-wing and ultra-Orthodox partners hold 52 seats, more than any other faction but still short of the 61 seats needed for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset. Netanyahu has vowed to form a "full-on right-wing government," but he faces a difficult task, because March elections left the parliament deeply divided. Netanyahu also faces a corruption trial. If he fails to cobble together a governing coalition within 28 days, Rivlin can give someone else a chance. If nobody can pull together a coalition, Israel could be forced into an unprecedented fifth snap election in two years.
Report: Gaetz sought preemptive pardon from Trump
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who faces an investigation into whether he violated sex-trafficking laws, privately sought a blanket preemptive pardon from former President Donald Trump before Trump left office in January, The New York Times reported Tuesday, citing two people with knowledge of the discussions. Gaetz also reportedly asked for pardons for unidentified congressional allies to cover any crimes they may have committed. White House lawyers shut down the request, believing it would set a bad precedent, according to the Times. Last week, the Times reported that the Justice Department was investigating whether Gaetz had sex with a 17-year-old girl, paid to have her travel with him, and paid women he recruited to have sex. Gaetz denies the allegations, and his spokesman said he never requested a pardon.