10 things you need to know today: April 14, 2021
Biden plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the officer who shot Daunte Wright resigns, and more
Biden to announce withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11
President Biden will withdraw the last U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan by or before Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that triggered America's longest war, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the timetable. Biden is expected to announce Wednesday that he will leave thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond the May 1 deadline set in negotiations last year between the Trump administration and the Taliban, which has vowed to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO soldiers if they stay longer. Setting a "clear plan to exit" is necessary to avoid renewed war after the deadline passes, one official said. The Taliban did not immediately release a response to the reports of Biden's plans. U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan fluctuates, and is currently about 1,000 above the official target level of 2,500, the Post reported.
Officer who shot Daunte Wright resigns as protests continue
Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police officer Kim Potter resigned on Tuesday as pressure mounted on city officials to fire her for fatally shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop. Police Chief Tim Gannon also submitted his resignation, Mayor Mike Elliott announced. Elliott said he hoped that Potter's departure, after 26 years on the force, would help restore calm after protests that began Sunday. "We have to make sure justice is served ... Daunte Wright deserves that," Elliott said. Gannon said body camera video suggested Potter mistakenly shot Wright thinking she was firing her Taser. Protests continued over Wright's death for a third night on Tuesday. Some protesters threw bottles and other objects at police who used tear gas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.
White House says J&J pause won't hamper vaccine campaign
The White House coronavirus coordinator, Jeff Zients, said Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration's recommendation to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine would not hinder the Biden administration's distribution strategy. Zients said in a statement that disruption would be limited because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up only a small percentage of the recorded shots in the U.S. "Over the last few weeks, we have made available more than 25 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna [vaccines] each week ... This is more than enough supply to continue the current pace of 3 million shots per day, and meet [President Biden's] goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office," the statement said. Johnson & Johnson appointments scheduled for the next several days have been canceled but authorities are working to reschedule those for a dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
Iran says it will increase uranium enrichment to highest level yet
Iran plans to increase the level it is enriching uranium to 60 percent, up from 20 percent and its highest level yet, following a sabotage attack that cut power at its Natanz nuclear facility, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Tuesday on the state-run Press TV. Araghchi said Tehran had told the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency about the plan. The change will put Iran farther out of compliance with the terms of its landmark 2015 nuclear deal, which limits its uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent. Iran on Monday blamed Israel for the Natanz attack, which damaged centrifuges used to enrich uranium. The rising tensions come as other world powers try to negotiate the United States' return to the deal, after former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in 2018.
Biden proposes summit with Putin as Ukraine tensions rise
President Biden on Tuesday proposed a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to soothe tensions over a Russian military build-up on Ukraine's border. Biden phoned Putin to offer to meet in a third country and stress America's commitment to supporting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia's actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference," the White House said. The Kremlin responded to calls to end its military buildup by saying its "adversary" should keep U.S. warships out of the Crimea region. Russia took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and it has supported separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Chauvin's lawyers start their defense
The prosecution rested Tuesday in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial for the death of George Floyd, and the defense began presenting its case. The defense says Floyd died of a drug overdose or underlying heart problems, countering the prosecution's argument that Chauvin caused Floyd's death by pressing his knee into Floyd's neck for nine minutes. Defense attorney Eric Nelson started his case with testimony from a retired Minneapolis police officer who pulled over a car Floyd was in two years ago, and pulled his weapon when Floyd wouldn't show his hands. A paramedic testified that Floyd told her he had been taking opioids, and she recommended he go to the hospital for high blood pressure. Another witness, a former police trainer, said Chauvin's restraint of Floyd was justified.
Egypt seizes ship that blocked Suez Canal
Egypt has seized the Ever Given, the container ship that got wedged in the Suez Canal and forced a weeklong shutdown of the vital waterway, the vessel's owner said Tuesday. Egyptian authorities are demanding that the ship's Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., pay at least $900 million to cover the damage to the canal, the rescue operation, and lost business. Tuesday's seizure came after the manager of the waterway obtained an order from an Egyptian court saying the company had failed to pay $900 million. "They don't want to pay anything," Osama Rabie, chair of the Suez Canal Authority, said. A spokesman for the ship's owner said authorities were "still talking to us. So we will continue negotiations on compensation."
Watchdog report: Capitol Police held back on Jan. 6 despite warning
The Capitol Police had clear warnings of possible violence against "Congress itself" on Jan. 6 several days before supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol building, but leaders told officers not to use aggressive tactics to stop the mob, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a scathing new report by the agency's inspector general. "Stop the Steal's propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement" and the public, the threat assessment said, according to the Capitol Police's internal watchdog. The Jan. 6 attack left five people dead, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. The report, viewed by the Times, will be discussed in a Thursday hearing on Capitol Hill.
Appeals court upholds Ohio ban on Down syndrome abortions
A federal appeals court on Tuesday upheld a 2017 Ohio law banning abortions when the fetus has Down syndrome. In the 9-7 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati found that the law did not create an unconstitutional obstacle to abortions. The decision reversed an October 2019 ruling by a divided three-judge 6th Circuit panel that said the law unlawfully blocked some women from getting abortions before the fetus was viable. Another appeals court ruled in January that a similar law in Arkansas was unconstitutional. The conflicting decisions could send the issue to the Supreme Court, where conservatives now hold a 6-3 majority. Arkansas' Republican Attorney General Leslie Rutledge on Tuesday called for the Supreme Court to review the ruling in its case.
Selena Gomez to host concert pushing equitable vaccine distribution
Anti-poverty group Global Citizen announced on Tuesday that Selena Gomez will host "Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World," which will air next month. The group said the event will include calls for "world leaders to prioritize the equitable distribution" of COVID-19 vaccines. The concert will be pre-taped, featuring performances from Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and H.E.R. The concert will be supporting the vaccine-sharing program COVAX to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries. It's also calling for donations from philanthropists and corporations to help vaccinate 27 million health-care workers in poor countries.