10 things you need to know today: April 15, 2021
Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright is charged with manslaughter, Biden sets Sept. 11 deadline for Afghanistan withdrawal, and more
Officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright charged with manslaughter
Minnesota authorities on Wednesday arrested former police officer Kim Potter and charged her with second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop. Potter, who resigned Tuesday from the Brooklyn Center Police Department, was later released on $100,000 bond. The charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence. Potter's lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The city's police chief, who also submitted his resignation, said Potter accidentally shot Potter with her pistol when she meant to use her Taser. The killing prompted ongoing protests. Ben Crump, who is representing Wright's family, said a 27-year police veteran like Potter knows the difference between a gun and a Taser. "This was no accident," he said.
Biden: 'Time for American troops to come home' from Afghanistan
President Biden announced on Wednesday that all American troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year. "We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result," said Biden, who argued unsuccessfully to cut back to a small counterterrorism presence during the Obama administration. "It is time for American troops to come home," and end the nation's longest war, Biden said. He did not declare a military victory but said staying would no longer be productive. The U.S. will reportedly initiate a phased withdrawal that "is not conditions-based," said an anonymous senior administration official. Biden warned that the U.S. would "defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal" if the Taliban sought to attack troops on their way out of Afghanistan.
Defense expert says Chauvin's actions didn't kill George Floyd
Retired Maryland chief medical examiner Dr. David Fowler testified Wednesday that he believed that George Floyd died from a combination of factors other than pressure on his neck by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Fowler said that according to medical, police, and ambulance records, Floyd suffered from numerous underlying health conditions, including heart disease and drug use. He also was exposed to exhaust pipe fumes while he was pinned to the ground by police. "All of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd's death," he said. Fowler testified as an expert witness for the defense, which argues that Chauvin's actions did not kill Floyd. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland said Fowler has a history of complicity "in creating false narratives about what kills Black people in police encounters."
CDC panel wants more data before decision on J&J vaccine
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel decided during an emergency meeting on Wednesday that members need more data before voting on whether to resume use of Johnson & Johnson's one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. On Tuesday, the CDC and Federal Drug Administration recommended a pause in using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women developed rare brain blood clots. The panel is seeking more information on the clots, including the risk factors and frequency, and will reconvene in the next seven to 10 days. Dr. Lynn Batha, an epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health, is a member of the CDC advisory panel, and said she supported extending the pause because "by having more robust information, I think we can be more confident about how we talk about the safety of this vaccine."
Iranian leader says nuclear talks 'not worth looking at'
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday that proposed talks on reviving the country's landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was "not worth looking at." Khamenei's comments came a day after Tehran announced that it was increasing its level of uranium enrichment to 60 percent — the closest it has come to weapons-grade levels of 90 percent — following a Sunday attack on its main Natanz nuclear enrichment site. European nations are leading the push to get the United States to rejoin the deal after former President Donald Trump's withdrawal, and Iran to start respecting its terms again. Germany, France, and Britain criticized Iran's decision to step up its uranium enrichment, and rejected "all escalatory measures by any actor," an apparent reference to Israel, which Iran blames for the Natanz sabotage.
DOJ: No charges against officer who fatally shot woman in Capitol riot
The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it would not file charges against the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt as she participated in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was one of five people who died in the riot, was shot as she tried to climb through a barricaded door near the House chamber wearing a Trump flag as a cape. The Justice Department offered condolences to Babbitt's family but said "the investigation revealed no evidence to establish that, at the time the officer fired a single shot at Ms. Babbitt, the officer did not reasonably believe that it was necessary to do so in self-defense or in defense of the Members of Congress and others evacuating the House Chamber."
Corporate leaders sign statement against laws making voting harder
Hundreds of leaders from Amazon, Google, BlackRock, Starbucks, and other high-profile companies signed a statement expressing opposition to legislation proposed or adopted in several states seeking to make voting harder. The statement, printed Wednesday in an advertisement in The New York Times, said "we must ensure the right to vote for all of us." The message was organized by two prominent Black corporate leaders, Ken Chenault and Ken Frazier. The statement described the message as "bipartisan," and didn't directly mention specific legislation, such as measures in Georgia, Texas, and other states where Republican lawmakers are pushing tougher voting restrictions. "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote," the statement said.
House panel advances bill on creating a commission to study reparations
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday voted to advance legislation seeking for the first time to create a commission to study whether to provide Black Americans with reparations for slavery. The bill also calls for a "national apology" for generations of discrimination. The vote represents a milestone for advocates of reparations, who struggled in vain for decades to win over mainstream support for taking action to mitigate the ongoing effects of slavery. The bill is called H.R. 40, a reference to the unkept Civil War promise to give freed slaves "40 acres and a mule." It has solid support from most Democrats, but some Democrats and all Republicans oppose it, calling it a handout for crimes committed generations ago.
U.S. to expand sanctions on Russia over corporate hacking and other actions
The Biden administration plans to impose sanctions on Russia on Thursday in response to Moscow's hacking campaign against U.S. government and corporate computer systems, its election meddling, and other actions, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. An executive order reportedly will expand existing measures barring U.S. banks from trading in Russian government debt, according to one of the Journal's sources. U.S. banks will be barred from buying new bonds directly from Russian government institutions or its huge sovereign-wealth fund. The previous prohibitions rattled Russia's markets. The U.S. also will expel 10 Russian diplomats, some over allegations that Moscow offered bounties to militants for killing U.S. service members in Afghanistan.
Bernie Madoff, infamous Ponzi scheme mastermind, dies in prison
Notorious Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff has died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Wednesday. He was 82. Authorities did not immediately announce the cause of death. Madoff served 12 years of a 150-year sentence for bilking an estimated $65 billion from thousands of investors in the largest Ponzi scheme in history. His victims included small-time investors and the rich and famous, including movie director Steven Spielberg, actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, New York Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, and L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. "Because of how long this lasted, it was completely devastating to so many victims," said Matthew L. Schwartz, the former New York prosecutor who led the investigation.