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10 things you need to know today: April 9, 2021

Biden unveils executive actions to address gun violence "epidemic," doctor says George Floyd died of lack of oxygen, and more

1

Biden announces actions to address gun violence 'epidemic'

President Biden on Thursday unveiled several executive actions intended to address gun violence, which he called a "blemish on the nation." Biden had promised to take "common-sense" steps to curb gun violence, and pressure has mounted on him to do something in the wake of several recent deadly mass shootings. "Gun violence in this country is an epidemic," Biden said in the Rose Garden to an audience of lawmakers and Americans touched by gun violence. "And it's an international embarrassment." Biden's executive actions call for restricting "ghost guns" made with parts and instructions available online. He said nothing he was proposing threatened the Second Amendment right to own firearms, and he called on Congress to take bigger steps, such as banning assault weapons or increasing requirements for background checks.

2

Doctor: Floyd died from 'low level of oxygen'

A pulmonologist testified at former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen caused by spending minutes pinned to the ground with Chauvin's knee on his neck. "Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen," said Dr. Martin Tobin, who specializes in critical care and the mechanics of breathing. Chauvin's defense attorneys argue that Floyd likely died of a drug overdose, but Tobin said any "healthy person" would have died handcuffed and restrained as Floyd was. Witness video of the arrest that went viral showed Chauvin, who is white, pinning Floyd, who was Black, to the ground with his knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes as Floyd begged for his life and said, "I can't breathe."

3

Wave of migrant teens, children reaches record level

A record 18,890 teens and children without parents arrived at the Mexican border trying to get into the United States in March, according to enforcement statistics released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Thursday. Authorities took a total of 172,331 migrants into custody during the month, the busiest at the southern border in nearly two decades. President Biden last month said the rising numbers followed normal seasonal trends, but CBP records show that the soaring traffic since Biden took office is not comparable to similar periods in recent years. The Biden administration appears to be spending $60 million per week or more to house more than 16,000 migrant teenagers and children in Department of Health and Human Services shelters, and the costs are expected to rise, The Washington Post reported, citing government data.

4

Gaetz associate reportedly working on sex-trafficking plea deal

An associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) — former Seminole County, Florida, tax collector Joel Greenberg — is likely to reach a plea deal with prosecutors in an expanding sex-trafficking case, Greenberg's defense attorney, Fritz Scheller, said after a Thursday hearing. "I am sure Matt Gaetz is not feeling very comfortable today," Scheller said. Greenberg has been charged with sex trafficking of a minor, stalking, bribery, and defrauding the pandemic-related Paycheck Protection Program. A Justice Department investigation into whether Gaetz had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paid for her travel developed from the Greenberg case. Gaetz, an outspoken ally of former President Donald Trump, has denied he ever had sex with a 17-year-old or paid for sex.

5

Nearly 20 percent fully vaccinated in U.S.

As of Thursday, nearly 20 percent of people in the United States had received full coronavirus vaccinations. About 80 percent of K-12 teachers have received a vaccine dose. The latest figures showed that the U.S., like several other relatively wealthy nations including Britain, Chile, and Israel, is making rapid progress toward protecting people from a pandemic that has killed more than 2.9 million people worldwide and 560,000 in the U.S. The success of vaccine rollouts in these countries contrasts sharply with the situation in poorer countries. Covax — a World Health Organization-backed push for equitable vaccine distribution — hopes to get enough doses to cover up to 20 percent of the populations in participating countries by the end of 2021, but it might fall short. "It's unconscionable," said Zain Rizvi of the watchdog group Public Citizen. "Many countries will be lucky if by the end of the year they are close to where the U.S. is now."

6

Florida sues CDC to reopen cruise industry

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Thursday that his state would sue the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to demand it let cruise ships that are vital to the tourist economy start operating again. The CDC recommends against cruise voyages due to what it says is a high risk of coronavirus infection on board. Royal Caribbean and Disney announced this week they would extend suspensions until June. DeSantis said the industry should be allowed to start sailing again immediately. "On behalf of the tens of thousands of Floridians whose livelihoods depends on the viability of an open cruise industry, today Florida's fighting back," he said. "We don't believe the federal government has the right to mothball a major industry for over a year, based on very little evidence and very little data."

7

Kim Jong Un likens North Korea crisis to 1990s famine

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday compared his country's economic struggles to the devastating 1990s famine that left hundreds of thousands of people dead. The Korean Central News Agency reports that while speaking to lower-level Workers' Party of Korea members, Kim said there are "many obstacles and difficulties ahead of us," and it's up to everyone in the WPK to "wage another ... arduous march in order to relieve our people of the difficulty, even a little." Earlier in the week, he told party members the country is facing its "worst-ever situation." China is North Korea's biggest trading partner, but with the border closed because of the pandemic, that partnership has been crippled.

8

Chip shortage forces GM to halt production at several plants

General Motors and Ford said Thursday they would halt production or extend shutdowns already in place at several North American automobile plants due to an ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips. GM said that three plants that had not yet been affected by the chip shortage would pause or reduce production for up to two weeks. Those factories include one in Tennessee and another in Michigan that make popular midsize sport-utility vehicles, including the Chevrolet Traverse and the Cadillac XT5 and XT6. The automaker also will extend shutdowns at plants in Kansas City and Ontario. The company has been trying to soften the blow from the shortage by diverting chips from less-popular models to its most profitable vehicles, including large pickup trucks and SUVs. Ford is pausing work at three plants for a week.

9

Myanmar junta clamps down on internet access as protests continue

Myanmar's military junta tightened its restrictions on the flow of information on Thursday as protests continued against its February coup. Authorities in some areas began confiscating satellite dishes offering access to international news broadcasts, and fiber broadband service that provides the last legal access to the internet has started to be unavailable at times on several networks. It was not immediately clear how long the internet outages for at least two service providers, MBT and Infinite Networks, would continue. MBT blamed a line break between Yangon and Mandalay. Protesters continued taking to the streets to demand the return of the ousted elected government after security forces killed 11 people a day earlier. At least 598 protesters and bystanders have been killed since the coup.

10

Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams allegedly kills 5, commits suicide

Former NFL player Phillip Adams allegedly shot two air-conditioning workers who were working outside the Rock Hill, South Carolina, home of a prominent doctor, Dr. Robert Lesslie, then forced his way inside and killed Lesslie, his wife Barbara, and two of their grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5, the York County sheriff said Thursday. One of the air-conditioning workers died; the other was hospitalized in critical condition. After an eight-hour manhunt, Adams died by suicide in his family's home as police surrounded it. Investigators could not immediately determine a motive for the killings. Lesslie reportedly once treated Adams. The former football player's sister said his mental health recently "degraded fast and terribly bad."

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