10 things you need to know today: April 12, 2021
Protests erupt after Minnesota police fatally shoot Black man, Iran calls nuclear site blackout "terrorism," and more
Protests erupt near Minneapolis after police fatally shoot Black motorist
Hundreds of people protested in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Sunday night after police fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop, inflaming tensions during former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial over George Floyd's death. The motorist was identified as 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Outside of the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters, people chanted Wright's name, and some covered the building's sign with graffiti. Officers in riot gear fired a chemical irritant and rubber bullets at the crowd, hitting at least two people and leaving one bleeding from the head, a witness told Reuters. National Guard troops — already in nearby Minneapolis for the Chauvin trial — were deployed to work with police to restore calm.
Iran calls blackout 'nuclear terrorism'
Iran on Sunday called the mysterious blackout at its underground Natanz atomic facility "nuclear terrorism." The power failure appeared to have resulted from an explosion that destroyed the facility's internal power system. Iranian officials called the outage an act of sabotage, and indicated they suspected Israel. The incident occurred hours after Iran started up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium more quickly. World powers are trying to bring Iran back in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, and get the United States to rejoin the accord, which former President Donald Trump abandoned. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he will do what he can to block the revival of the Iran nuclear deal.
Officer fired over treatment of Black Army officer in traffic stop
Windsor, Virginia, officials announced Sunday that police officer Joe Gutierrez had been fired after an investigation into a traffic stop in which Gutierrez and another officer, Daniel Crocker, held an Army second lieutenant at gunpoint and pepper-sprayed him. The Army officer, Caron Nazario, is Black and Latino, and last month he filed a lawsuit accusing the police officers of using excessive force due to racial profiling. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said Sunday he was directing Virginia State Police to investigate the "disturbing" case. "Our Commonwealth has done important work on police reform, but we must keep working to ensure Virginians are safe during interactions with police, the enforcement of laws is fair and equitable, and people are held accountable," Northam said in a statement.
Cheney stops short of calling for Gaetz to resign over 'sickening' allegations
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), chair of the House Republican Conference, called the allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) "sickening," but stopped short of calling for the resignation of her colleague and leading critic. The Justice Department is investigating whether Gaetz violated sex trafficking laws. The House Ethics Committee is looking into allegations of illegal drug use and sharing nude photos of young women with House colleagues. Some lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), have called for Gaetz to resign, but Cheney said Sunday on CBS News' Face the Nation that she wouldn't comment further until the investigations were completed. Gaetz was among Republican lawmakers who pushed to oust Cheney from her GOP leadership role after she voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.
Corporate leaders hold call to discuss fighting voting bills
More than 100 corporate leaders met online over the weekend to discuss ways to fight controversial voter-restriction bills under consideration in numerous states, including Georgia's recently signed law, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing four people who participated in the call. One of the proposals discussed by the executives from major airlines, retailers, and manufacturers — along with at least one NFL owner — was suspending donations to politicians who support the bills. Some of the participants also proposed holding off on new investments in states that adopt new voting restrictions. Former President Donald Trump recently called for boycotts of Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball, Delta Air Lines, and other companies that condemned the Georgia law, which critics say will make it harder for people of color to vote.
More colleges requiring coronavirus vaccines for students next fall
An increasing number of U.S. colleges are announcing they will require students to have a COVID-19 vaccination before returning to campus next fall, NPR reported Sunday. Rutgers University in New Jersey was the first to decide on a mandatory vaccine policy. More than a dozen residential colleges have since made similar announcements, including Notre Dame, Duke, Brown, Cornell, and Northeastern universities. "Vaccinations are an important tool for making the fall semester safe," says Antonio Calcado, who leads Rutgers' COVID-19 task force. "We felt that just simply encouraging would not have the same effect as a requirement." Vaccine requirements are not new. A survey of 100 four-year schools in 50 states found that nearly all required at least one vaccine.
Microsoft in talks to buy AI company Nuance Communications
Microsoft is near a deal to buy artificial intelligence and speech technology company Nuance Communications at a price that could value Nuance at $16 billion, Bloomberg reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter. Nuance's voice recognition technology helped in the development of Apple's personal assistant Siri. The Massachusetts-based company also makes software for the health-care and automotive industries. If the deal, which could be announced as soon as Monday, goes through, it would be Microsoft's second largest acquisition, after its $26.2 billion 2016 deal to buy LinkedIn. "This can really help Microsoft accelerate the digitization of the health-care industry, which has lagged other sectors such as retail and banking," said Anurag Rana, a Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst.
Travel surge continues as more Americans vaccinated
A travel surge that started on Easter weekend continued this week as students and families made spring break trips, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing data from the Transportation Security Administration. The United States averaged more than 1.5 million travelers per day on Thursday and Friday, and 1.4 million on Saturday. The numbers were similar to those posted on Easter weekend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this month that it was safe for people who were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to travel domestically or internationally, provided they continue to wear masks and take other precautions. "It's a risk to fly, but it's a small risk," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the federal government's leading infectious disease expert, told CNN last week.
Nomadland director Chloé Zhao makes history with BAFTA win
Nomadland director Chloé Zhao on Sunday continued her award sweep when she became the first woman of color to win the best director prize at the annual British Academy Film and Television Arts awards. Zhao, who took the top prize at the Directors Guild of America Awards on Saturday, is just the second woman to take the BAFTA for directing, after Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker. Nomadland won four BAFTAs in all, including best picture and best cinematography. Frances McDormand took the BAFTA for best actress. Nomadland follows McDormand's character, a woman named Fern, as she travels and takes various temporary jobs to survive. Other BAFTA winners were Emerald Fennell's revenge comedy Promising Young Woman for best British film, and Anthony Hopkins (The Father) for best actor.
Matsuyama holds on to win Masters
Japan's Hideki Matsuyama held on to win the 2021 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday. Things were a bit shakier Sunday for Matsuyama than they were Saturday when he shot a brilliant 65 to take the lead into the home stretch, but his 1-over performance was good enough for the green jacket. American Will Zalatoris finished in second, just one back of the champ. This is the first major championship for the 29-year-old Matsuyama, whose previous top finish was second place at the 2017 U.S. Open. Matsuyama's Masters win also marks the first time a male golfer from Japan has won a major, ESPN noted.