10 things you need to know today: May 8, 2021
U.S. economy adds over 700,000 fewer jobs than expected, India records 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in a day for 1st time, and more
U.S. economy adds over 700,000 fewer jobs than expected
The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, whereas economists had been expecting around 1 million jobs would be added, CNBC reports. The Labor Department had previously said that 916,000 jobs were added in March, though this number was revised down to 770,000 on Friday. The unemployment rate also increased slightly from six percent to 6.1 percent. The report was significantly below expectations, and Axios described it as "the biggest miss, relative to expectations, in the history of the payrolls report." Economist Justin Wolfers wrote that 266,000 jobs being added "would be fabulous in normal times, but is utterly disappointing" compared to the forecasts, adding, "This is a big miss that changes how we think about the recovery."
India records 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in a day for 1st time
India recorded 4,187 new COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, the government said Saturday, marking the first time the country, which is in the midst of a record-breaking surge of infections, has tallied 4,000 fatalities in a day. India's death toll, which has been questioned by health experts, officially sits at 238,270, the third highest in the world after the United States and Brazil. India also added 401,078 cases on Saturday, a slight drop from the previous day, but the country's peak is not expected until the end of May. While cases appear to be stabilizing in large cities like Mumbai and New Delhi, the coronavirus is spreading in southern states and rural areas. Oxygen and critical care bed shortages remain a major concern.
Chauvin, other ex-Minneapolis officers charged with violating Floyd's civil rights
Four former Minneapolis police officers, including Derek Chauvin, were indicted on civil rights charges over the death of George Floyd. The Justice Department said Friday a grand jury indictment charged Chauvin, who was convicted on murder charges after kneeling on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes during an arrest, with depriving Floyd of his constitutional right "to be free from the use of unreasonable force by a police officer." Former Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane were also charged for their roles in Floyd's death. Prosecutors said Thao and Kueng were charged with having "willfully failed to intervene to stop Chauvin's use of unreasonable force," and the indictment said all four defendants "willfully failed to aid" Floyd despite seeing him in need of medical attention. Separately, Chauvin was also indicted on civil rights charges stemming from a 2017 incident, in which prosecutors said he held a Minneapolis teenager "by the throat and struck the teenager multiple times in the head with a flashlight."
Capitol Police: Threats against members of Congress up 107% from last year
The Capitol Police said on Friday that there has been a 107 percent increase in reported threats against members of Congress compared to last year. "The number of threats made against Congress has increased significantly. This year alone, there has been a 107% increase in threats against Members compared to 2020," said a U.S. Capitol Police press release. "Provided the unique threat environment we currently live in, the Department is confident the number of cases will continue to increase." In 2020, the USCP logged about 9,000 cases of threats against lawmakers, while the Secret Service handled another 8,000. The statement did not specify the nature of the threats or specify why it believes there has been such an increase.
More than 200 injured after Palestinians, Israeli police clash
More than 200 people were injured Friday night after a protest over the threat of evictions of Palestinians from their homes in east Jerusalem, Palestinian medics and Israeli police said. Tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers had gathered at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque — the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism (it's known as the Temple Mount in that faith) — for the final Friday of Ramadan, and many remained for the protest, which reportedly erupted when Israeli police in riot gear deployed. The police reportedly fired rubber bullets at the crowd, while video footage shows the demonstrators throwing chairs, rocks, and shoes at the officers. The United States and other foreign governments called for calm and expressed concern about the potential evictions, but Israelis and Palestinians are bracing for more unrest in the coming days.
CDC updates COVID-19 guidance to acknowledge airborne transmission
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday updated its public COVID-19 guidance to explicitly state that the coronavirus can be transmitted via aerosols — smaller respiratory particles that can float — inhaled at a distance greater than six feet from an infected person, particularly while indoors. The new language marks a change from the federal health agency's previous stance that transmission of the virus typically occurs through "close contact, not airborne transmission." Infectious disease experts have warned that the CDC and the World Health Organization were overlooking evidence of airborne transmission during the pandemic, The New York Times notes, and some have stressed the need for the CDC to strengthen its recommendations for preventing exposure to aerosolized virus, especially in indoor workplaces.
EU leaders question U.S. position on COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver
Multiple European leaders on Saturday criticized the United States for its support for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents to help other countries produce and distribute shots. European Union Council President Charles Michel said during an EU summit in Portugal that "we don't think, in the short term, that [a waiver is] the magic bullet." Michel and others, including French President Emmanuel Macron, are urging the U.S. to lift export restrictions, rather than intellectual property protections. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will argue in favor of a waiver in negotiations with the World Trade Organization, but she'll need to secure approval from all 164 member states to achieve that goal.
Trump DOJ obtained Washington Post reporters' phone records
The Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump obtained phone records of three Washington Post journalists, the Post reports. The department also reportedly unsuccessfully tried to obtain the reporters' email records. Three separate letters to Post reporters Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller and their former colleague Adam Entous explained the department "received toll records" associated with their phone numbers for the period between April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017, which is around when the trio reported a story about classified U.S. intelligence intercepts indicating that in 2016 then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had discussed the Trump campaign with Sergey Kislyak, who was then Russia's ambassador to the United States. The Justice Department defended the decision, describing it as "part of a criminal investigation into unauthorized disclosure of classified information," noting the reporters were not the targets of the probe.
Chinese rocket expected to re-enter atmosphere, crash into Earth soon
China's Long March 5B rocket booster, which is around 100 feet tall, weighs 22 tons, and is "tumbling out of control in orbit" following a launch into space, is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere on or around Saturday, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Mike Howard said. It's not clear where the rocket will end up because it's falling so fast that even a slight change in circumstance could significantly alter its trajectory, but the consensus appears to be that the debris does not pose a serious threat to humans, with some experts guessing it will wind up in the ocean or, as the U.S. Air Force Space Track Project predicted on Friday, a desert in Turkmenistan.
Cryptocurrency investors anticipate boost from Elon Musk's SNL appearance
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is hosting Saturday's episode of Saturday Night Live, and based on the chatter it's already sparked and Musk's reputation for moving markets with his often-unfiltered comments, investors are reportedly anticipating his appearance on the show will boost cryptocurrencies and Tesla stock. "Musk will undoubtedly have a sketch on cryptocurrencies that will probably go viral for days and further motivate his army of followers to try to send Dogecoin to the moon," wrote Ed Moya, a senior market analyst with online trading firm Oanda. Dogecoin, which CNN Business describes as "one of Musk's favorite market playthings," neared its all-time high on Friday, while Tesla stock was up 1.5 percent.