10 things you need to know today: May 19, 2021
India reports a single-day record 4,529 COVID-19 deaths, prosecutor says Andrew Brown Jr. shooting was "justified," and more
India reports 4,529 COVID-19 deaths in one day, a global record
India on Wednesday confirmed 4,529 COVID-19 deaths in the previous 24 hours, the highest single-day death toll reported by any country in the pandemic. The previous record was set in the United States in January, when 4,468 people died in one day. India's new coronavirus cases have been falling. The country reported 267,000 new cases on Tuesday, down from a peak above 400,000. Many public health experts say it is likely that the true pandemic toll is higher in the country of 1.4 billion people. Infections have slowed in New Delhi, Mumbai, and other urban centers, thanks partly to lockdowns, but the virus has been spreading unchecked in the countryside, where testing is limited and underfunded medical facilities are already overwhelmed.
N.C. prosecutor says Andrew Brown Jr. shooting 'justified'
The North Carolina sheriff's deputies who fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr., an unarmed Black man, as he tried to flee in his car won't be charged because they had reason to believe they were in danger, Pasquotank County District Attorney Andrew Womble said Tuesday. "Mr. Brown's death, while tragic, was justified," Womble said. The State Bureau of Investigation determined that Brown "drove recklessly and endangered the officers," and "used his vehicle as a deadly weapon." Heavily armed deputies went to Brown's Elizabeth City, North Carolina, house on April 21 to serve him with an arrest warrant. They opened fire when Brown, 42, tried to drive away, forcing one deputy to jump out of the way. Brown family lawyers said newly released body-camera video proved the shooting was "unequivocally unjustified."
Trump Organization probe now a criminal investigation
The New York Attorney General's office has informed the Trump Organization that its investigation into the company is "no longer purely civil in nature," spokesman Fabien Levy told CNN on Tuesday night. "We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA," Levy said, adding that the attorney general's office would have no further comment. The news was later confirmed by MSNBC, Politico, and other outlets. The inquiry began in 2019, with investigators looking into whether the Trump Organization inflated the value of its properties to get better loans and insurance, and undervalued them to reduce taxes. Most recently, prosecutors with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office have been trying to get longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg to cooperate.
Israel-Hamas fighting continues despite mounting calls for ceasefire
Deadly clashes between Palestinian militants and Israel continued early Wednesday, despite mounting calls for a ceasefire. A rocket fired from Gaza killed two people, both Thai workers, in southern Israel on Tuesday, hours after Israel knocked down a six-story Gaza building with airstrikes. Protests erupted in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where hundreds of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli soldiers. Troops responded by firing tear gas. Thousands of Palestinians participated in a national strike in a show of unity. President Biden, facing calls from Democrats to push harder for a ceasefire, has been privately encouraging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start slowing down the airstrikes, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing a person with knowledge of the talks.
McCarthy opposes commission to investigate Capitol attack
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he opposed creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. McCarthy said there were several other investigations already underway, and he didn't think a new commission should examine the riot without also considering other politically charged violence. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would move forward with plans for a Wednesday vote on a compromise proposal worked out by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), the top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee. The deal calls for modeling the panel on the 9/11 Commission. "We can't wait to try and make this [place] safer," Katko said during last week's negotiations. A handful of Republicans in the House and the Senate support forming the commission.
House approves bill responding to anti-Asian hate crimes
The House on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to strengthen the federal response to hate crimes against Asian-Americans. The 364-62 vote cleared the way for President Biden to sign the bill into law. The legislation marked Congress' first response to the recent rise in attacks against people of Asian descent during the coronavirus pandemic. "Asian-Americans are tired of living in fear," said Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). The bill was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate, with only Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) opposing it. It would establish a Justice Department position to expedite the review of hate crimes, encourage states to establish hate crime hotlines, and provide money to train law enforcement officers and educate the public on how to counter bias against Asian-Americans.
Andrew Giuliani to run for governor of N.Y.
Andrew Giuliani, the son of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, announced Tuesday that he was running for the Republican nomination for governor of New York in 2022. Incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is battling scandals over sexual harassment allegations and transparency about nursing home COVID-19 deaths, has not said whether he plans to seek a fourth term. The younger Giuliani will face an uphill battle in the heavily Democratic state. He has never served in elected office, but his website touts his work in former President Donald Trump's White House's Office of Public Liaison. That proximity — and his father's work as Trump's lawyer — could prove a liability in New York, where Trump is unpopular. "The president said to me, he said, you know 'Holy smokes Giuliani-Cuomo, that's like Ali-Frazier,'" Giuliani said.
Russian hackers got $90 million in bitcoin from victims
The Russian hacking group DarkSide, which was behind the cyberattack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline, collected more than $90 million in bitcoin ransom payments from 47 victims, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic said in a report released Tuesday. "To our knowledge, this analysis includes all payments made to DarkSide, however further transactions may yet be uncovered, and the figures here should be considered a lower bound," said Tom Robinson, Elliptic's co-founder and chief scientist. The average payment to get DarkSide to undo the effects of its malware was about $1.9 million. The hacking operation was on track to have its most lucrative month ever when it lost access to its servers and abruptly closed after the attack on Colonial forced the company to shut down a pipeline that supplies about 45 percent of the East Coast's gasoline. Colonial reportedly paid DarkSide about $5 million in ransom.
Report: Rep. Val Demings to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio
Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) plans to run against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next year, Politico reported on Tuesday. Demings is expected to formally announce her Senate candidacy within weeks, The Orlando Sentinel reported, citing an adviser to Demings. The Politico report said there was a "98.6 percent" chance Demings would challenge Rubio, who will be seeking a third term. Demings stopped short of confirming the news, but tweeted that she was "humbled at the encouraging messages I'm seeing today." She added: "I know the stakes are too high for Republicans to stand in the way of getting things done for Floridians, which is why I'm seriously considering a run for the Senate." Demings, who also has been considered a possible candidate for governor, was the first Black woman police chief in Orlando before she entered politics.
Washington governor signs wide-ranging police reform measures
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) on Tuesday signed into law a dozen police reform measures, saying they will "work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation." Police chokeholds, neck restraints, and no-knock warrants are now banned in the state, and officers are required to step in if they witness colleagues using excessive force. The bills also restrict the use of tear gas, create an independent office to evaluate the use of deadly force, and make it easier to sue officers who cause injury. Now, Inslee said, Washington has "the best, most comprehensive, most transparent, most effective police accountability laws in the United States."