Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 19, 2021

Two mass shootings leave six dead in Texas and Wisconsin, Derek Chauvin's trial over George Floyd's death nears close, and more

1

2 mass shootings leave 6 dead in Texas and Wisconsin

Mass shootings in Austin, Texas, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, left at least six people dead on Sunday. Police, including SWAT teams, swarmed the parking lot of an apartment complex in Austin after gunfire left two women and a man dead shortly before noon. Authorities launched a manhunt for the suspect, identified by police as ex-sheriff's deputy Stephen Nicholas Broderick, 41, who spent 16 days in jail last June before posting $50,000 bail after being charged with sexual assault of a child. In Kenosha, the suspect reportedly was asked to leave a bar and returned with a gun, firing shots inside and outside the tavern, killing three people. Peter Ploskee, who lives near the bar, said he heard gunfire and looked out the window to see "people running from the bar in every direction."

2

Chauvin trial heads into closing arguments

The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd nears its conclusion on Monday with closing arguments by prosecutors and Chauvin's defense. Forty-five witnesses testified in the two-week trial over whether Chauvin caused Floyd's death by pressing his knee into the unarmed Black man's neck for nine minutes. Chauvin's lawyers argued that Floyd, who was detained last year on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store, died from underlying health problems and drug use. Carolyn Grose, a Mitchell Hamline School of Law professor, said the closing arguments in the case, which triggered widespread protests against police brutality, are "where you tell the whole story without interruption."

3

Russia expels 20 Czech diplomats

Russia expelled 20 Czech diplomats on Sunday in an escalating diplomatic clash with the Czech Republic. Moscow was retaliating for Czech allegations that two Russian spies suspected of the nerve-agent poisoning of a former Russian agent in the United Kingdom were behind an earlier explosion that killed two people at a Czech ammunition depot. On Saturday, Prague gave 18 Russian diplomats 72 hours to leave the country. Moscow gave the Czech diplomats 24 hours to go home. The poisoning case in the English city of Salisbury prompted intense criticism against Moscow. Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were sickened by exposure to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. They survived, but a member of the public died.

4

CDC: Half of U.S. adults have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Half of U.S. adults have been injected with at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday. In all, 50.4 percent of the adult population has received one shot, and 32.5 percent have been fully vaccinated. The latest milestone in the federal government's vaccination campaign now includes a mounting push to win over skeptical people who are reluctant to get a vaccine. The U.S. vaccination rate of 61.6 doses administered per 100 people falls behind world leader Israel, as well as the United Arab Emirates, Chile, and the United Kingdom, the online research site Our World in Data reported.

5

Russian opposition protests as Navalny's health deteriorates

Russian opposition groups on Sunday called for large-scale protests after people close to leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny say he is near death after a nearly three-week hunger strike. The United States has warned Russia "will be held accountable" if the jailed Navalny dies. Navalny's deteriorating health has intensified the standoff between the opposition and Russian President Vladimir Putin. A day earlier, a medical trade union linked to Navalny, who nearly died after a poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin last August, said tests provided by Navalny's lawyer showed him to be at risk of imminent kidney failure. The Kremlin didn't immediately comment on Navalny's health, the planned protests, or the Biden administration's warning of consequences if Navalny doesn't recover.

6

George W. Bush calls for end to 'harsh' immigration rhetoric

Former President George W. Bush on Sunday urged Congress to drop "harsh rhetoric" on immigration and "set a tone that is more respectful." "Please put aside trying to score political points on either side," Bush told Norah O'Donnell on CBS Sunday Morning. "I hope I can help set a tone that is more respectful about the immigrant, which may lead to reform of the system." Bush's plea came as President Biden and Republicans in Congress clash over immigration reform and a new wave of migrants trying to enter the United States over the southern border. Bush, a former Texas governor, said he was lobbying his fellow Republicans to help create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented migrants already living in the U.S. He added that he was disappointed he could not pass meaningful immigration reform when he was in the White House.

7

Top Republican says $800 billion infrastructure bill could pass

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a top Republican, said during an appearance on Fox News Sunday that an infrastructure bill with an $800 billion price tag "could pass" with Republican support. President Biden has proposed a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan that would upgrade roads and bridges; invest in manufacturing and workforce development; and fund care for senior citizens and disabled Americans. On Monday, Biden will meet with lawmakers to discuss his proposal. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) was also on Fox News Sunday, and said he hopes members of both parties will "roll up our sleeves and sit down and find ways that we can support to make these critically needed investments." Some Republicans have criticized Biden's plan, saying it includes things they don't consider infrastructure, and a corporate tax hike they oppose.

8

Train derails in Egypt, killing 11

A train derailed in Egypt on Sunday while traveling from Cairo to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, killing 11 people and injuring 98 more, the country's health ministry said in a statement. Egyptian National Railways said the cause of the accident was under investigation. It took 50 ambulances to get victims to the three nearest provincial hospitals. The accident was the latest in a series of railway disasters in Egypt, including a collision of two trains in March that left at least 20 people dead and nearly 200 injured. Another partial derailment earlier this month left 15 people injured. Egyptian transportation minister Kamel El-Wazir, a former army general, has resisted calls to resign.

9

Bitcoin prices plunge after last week's record

Bitcoin prices plunged over the weekend, falling as much as 19.5 percent from last week's record high above $64,800. Bitcoin dropped as low as $52,148.98 early Sunday before climbing back above $55,700, according to CoinDesk. Other cryptocurrencies, including ether and dogecoin, also fell sharply. Ether, the second biggest digital currency by market value, fell by as much as 18 percent on Sunday after it, too, reached record highs last week. Last week's gains came after the success of cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase's market debut, which marked a milestone in the mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies as an investment and form of payment. The weekend's slump followed an unverified report via Twitter that the Treasury Department was preparing to crack down on money laundering using cryptocurrency.

10

Whitmer says she won't order new COVID-19 lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said Sunday that she would not implement new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in response to spiking infections because Republicans sued her last year, calling such moves unconstitutional. Public health experts, including top government infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, have called for a new shutdown in Michigan to fight the latest surge. "I have been sued by my legislature. I have lost in a Republican-controlled Supreme Court," Whitmer said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press. "I don't have all of the exact same tools [that I had 15 months ago]." Whitmer said the state's fate now depends on whether everyone will do their part to help curb infections. "We're imploring people to take this seriously, mask up, get tested," she said.

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