February 23, 2021

A grand jury has decided Rochester, New York police officers will not be charged in the death of Daniel Prude, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.

In March 2020, Prude's family called police after he ran out of their home and into freezing weather amid what seemed to be a mental health crisis. Video of the incident made public months later showed police putting a spit hood over Prude's head and holding him down for several minutes. Prude's death was later ruled a homicide by asphyxiation.

James expressed disappointment with the decision when revealing it at a Rochester church, saying she and her team had "sought a different outcome" when presenting Prude's case to a grand jury. Her team had taken over prosecution of the case after it appeared the RPD had tried to downplay Prude's killing to avoid "violent blowback," and seemingly modified documents to make Prude, a Black man, seem more threatening.

The September release of the video of Prude's death sparked protests in Rochester, continuing the wave of racial justice protests that had started earlier that summer. Rochester's police chief and other top leaders stepped down at the time, and the officers involved in the case were suspended and have yet to be reinstated. Earlier this month, Rochester police also came under fire for pepper spraying a 9-year-old Black girl who wouldn't get into their car. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:54 p.m.

U.S. Capitol Police will maintain "enhanced and robust" security, as militia groups tied to the deadly Jan. 6 riot reportedly discussed a desire to "blow up the Capitol."

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman revealed these reported threats during a congressional hearing Thursday about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building, in which she was asked about heightened security in the nation's capitol, including fencing and National Guard presence, per Politico.

"We know that members of the militia groups that were present on Jan. 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union," Pittman said.

Based on this, Pittman told lawmakers officials believe it's "prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture" until "vulnerabilities" are addressed. She said, however, that "we have no intention of keeping the National Guard soldiers or that fencing any longer" than needed. Pittman also noted that the "insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol" on Jan. 6, when Congress was meeting to certify the election results, hoped to "send a symbolic message to the nation as to who was in charge of that legislative process."

Politico reports that "while authorities are aware of future attacks being discussed by the militia groups that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, it's unclear how developed or serious the intelligence around those plans may be." No date for President Biden's first address to a joint session of Congress has been set.

Pittman previously apologized in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot for "our failings," and on Thursday, she told lawmakers that officials knew there was a "likelihood for violence by extremists," though she also said that "no credible threat indicated that tens of thousands would attack the U.S. Capitol." Brendan Morrow

1:23 p.m.

Please call them Potato Head — Mr. Potato Head was their father.

On Thursday, the toymaker Hasbro announced that their classic Mr. Potato Head toy will no longer use the male honorific, and instead go by the gender-neutral "Potato Head." The new name is set to appear on boxes as soon as this year. As Fast Company explains, Hasbro's decision is intended to "break away from traditional gender norms, particularly when it comes to creating Potato Head families," and allow for young kids to have "a blank slate to create same-sex families or single-parent families."

The classic Mr. Potato Head toy famously appeared in the Toy Story films — in which he comically insisted on the "mister" — and was voiced by Don Rickles, who died in 2017. "I busted my bird for 60 years in the business," the comedian once joked to Maxim, "but my grandkids only know me as Mr. Potato Head." Jeva Lange

12:35 p.m.

The U.S. is reportedly preparing to publicly pin the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khashoggi, a Saudi columnist who criticized the crown while writing for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered in 2018 after entering Turkey's Saudi consulate. The crown prince had been suspected of ordering the killing, and U.S. intelligence will affirm that in a declassified report released Thursday, sources tell Reuters.

The report is not new, and is largely based on CIA intelligence gathered in 2018, U.S. officials tell NBC News. But its release is sure to be controversial as Biden prepares to have his first talks with Saudi rulers.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was recently asked if President Biden would soon talk to bin Salman, but she said he would only speak with King Salman soon, as he was Biden's counterpart. Psaki also confirmed Wednesday the report on Khashoggi's killing was being prepared for public release, while Biden later said he had read it. Other U.S. officials have been in contact with Saudi officials since the beginning of Biden's term, Psaki said.

Saudi Arabia at first denied having a part in Khashoggi's murder, but later said a rogue team accidentally killed Khashoggi as they tried to extradite him. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:52 a.m.

President Biden's scramble to undo former President Donald Trump's immigration promises isn't pleasing anyone.

Trump, of course, isn't happy that his successor has issued executive orders aimed at evaluating and dismantling the dozens of intricate actions his team took to curb immigration to the U.S. He sent allies to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby against Biden's newly debuted immigration reform bill, and is expected to attack Biden's plans in his Conservative Political Action Conference speech this weekend, The Washington Post reports.

But Trump's team also orchestrated its immigration overhaul in such a way that Biden can't simply undo its actions piece by piece. A massive reduction in the number of immigrants crossing America's borders whittled away at the U.S.'s immigration infrastructure, and Trump also left behind a massive backlog of migrants seeking asylum and awaiting court hearings. Conservative-packed courts also stand in the way of Biden's plans; A Texas judge on Wednesday indefinitely blocked his 100-day moratorium on deportations, for example.

Biden has had a few immigration successes so far. He allowed the first asylum seekers into the U.S. after they were forced to wait in Mexico, and on Wednesday allowed foreigners to once again seek green cards in the U.S. These measures have left Immigration and Customs Enforcement preparing for a surge at the border, a memo obtained by the Post revealed.

That increase, combined with Biden's end of a pandemic policy rapidly expelling migrants, has left the administration afraid of running out of shelter space for children. Biden already reopened a facility for migrant children, to the ire of the left, and is now authorizing shelters' purchases of plane tickets to quickly send children to relatives elsewhere in the U.S., the memo reveals. Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:45 a.m.

Lady Gaga is reportedly offering a reward of $500,000 for the return of her two French bulldogs after they were stolen and her dog walker was shot.

The pop star's dog walker was shot on Wednesday night while walking her three bulldogs in Hollywood, "and the gunman made off with two of the dogs," Koji and Gustav, TMZ reports.

Gaga's dog walker was reportedly taken to a hospital and is expected to make a full recovery, while the third dog has been recovered, the report says.

Police say that a "male suspect took the two bulldogs from the victim, used a semi-automatic handgun and fled the scene in a white sedan," CNN reports. Gaga, who TMZ says is in Rome working on a movie, is reportedly offering a reward of half a million dollars for the return of the dogs and asking anyone who might have them to email KojiandGustav@gmail.com. It reportedly isn't clear if the suspect specifically targeted Lady Gaga's dogs.

"French bulldogs are in demand and expensive," TMZ writes, "so our sources say it's possible the gunman did not know the dogs were owned by Lady Gaga." Brendan Morrow

9:45 a.m.

The number of Americans filing first-time jobless claims has sharply fallen, remaining historically high but coming in under expectations.

The Labor Department said Thursday that 730,000 Americans filed new jobless claims last week, a decline of 111,000 claims from the revised level of the week before. The previous week's number of claims was revised down by 20,000, the Labor Department said. Economists were expecting about 845,000 jobless claims to be filed last week, CNBC reports.

The drop in jobless claims came as welcome news after a spike last week, even as the latest number still remained higher than the pre-pandemic record of 695,000. At the same time, experts warned of a potential rebound to come, noting recent winter weather could be a factor in the decline.

"The sharp drop in jobless claims likely is due to people in states hit hardest by last week's huge storm, especially Texas, having better things to do than make jobless claims," Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said, per CNBC. "We expect a rebound next week. The trend seems to be about flat, but we remain of the view that claims will soon start to trend down, slowly at first but then more quickly as the reopening of the economy accelerates in April and May." Brendan Morrow

9:21 a.m.

Kenneth Branagh is headed to Downing Street in a new drama set to take on some very recent events.

The award-winning actor is starring as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the new Sky drama This Sceptred Isle, and he looked unrecognizable in the first image revealed Thursday as filming began.

From director Michael Winterbottom, this five-part drama series is set to "chart the events surrounding Johnson and his government in the face of the first wave of" the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Variety reports.

"Our series weaves together countless true stories — from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to front line workers around the country — chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policy makers to protect us from the virus," Winterbottom said.

This Sceptred Isle will debut in fall 2022, by which point one can only hope it will no longer be about an ongoing pandemic. See the first image — and try to convince yourself it's actually Branagh you're looking at here — below. Brendan Morrow

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