First up, coronavirus updates.
In the U.S., COVID-19 vaccination rates send a message of hope to the public, but in other parts of the world the situation is much more dire.
- COVID-19 vaccines are now authorized for anyone over the age of 16 in the U.S. Currently, more than three million Americans get vaccinated every day. However, President Biden warns that COVID-19 is still very dangerous and Americans should continue taking necessary measures.
- Despite the availability of vaccines, many currently unvaccinated adults are not planning on becoming vaccinated. According to an Axios-Ipsos poll, 2 out of 3 unvaccinated adults reported that they were “not likely at all” or “not very likely” to receive the vaccine.
In India, COVID-19 cases have drastically increased, recording more than 15 million cases a day. Officials say the surge was caused by a multitude of factors:
- A new “double mutant,” in which there are two spike proteins, is one of the driving forces.
- There is also a shortage of hospital beds and medical supplies. Many citizens have turned to social media to find adequate care for their loved ones.
- Lockdown restrictions were also lifted too quickly, and vaccine supply is too little for the government’s mass vaccination program.
Next, the Derek Chauvin trial's unusual result.
Cross-Examination: When a witness called by one side is finished testifying, the other side is allowed to question the witness on their testimony. The lawyer doing the cross-examination may ask leading questions and tries to instill questions in the credibility of the witness or evidence.
Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter after killing George Floyd by pinning him to the ground with his knee last May. Here’s what happened in the last week of the trial:
- The defense, led by Eric J. Nelson, called two important witnesses -- a medical examiner and a use-of-force-expert who unequivocally disagreed with the prosecution’s witnesses. The defense’s witnesses were forced to concede on several key points during cross-examination by the defense, including the medical examiner admitting that Floyd’s cardiac arrest could have been reversible given medical attention. The use-of-force expert had to say in cross-examination that Chauvin’s restraint qualified as a use of force and that use of force should be proportional to suspect resistance. He had previously said that the restraint did not qualify under use of force per Minneapolis policies.
- Derek Chauvin invoked his Ffth Amendment right and did not testify.
- In closing arguments, the prosecution told the jury to “believe their eyes” about the videos of the arrest and reinforced Floyd’s personhood.
- Nelson, the defense attorney, tried to portray Chauvin as a reasonable officer in the course of duty, emphasizing possible disruptions from the crowd that gathered and asked the jury to consider the possible health problems contributing to Floyd’s death. The prosecution concluded by saying, “The truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart is too small.”
- Nelson asked for a mistrial twice, first because of “prosecutorial misconduct” in the characterization of the defense in closing arguments and then because of Rep. Maxine Waters’s comments that protestors should “get more confrontational” if Chauvin was aquitted. The judge denied both motions, though the comments could mean the conviction might be overturned on appeal.
- The jury deliberated for 10 hours before finding Chauvin guilty of all three charges.
- The judge has revoked Chauvin’s bail and is expected to begin a sentencing hearing in eight weeks. For defendants with no criminal history like Mr. Chauvin, the sentencing guidelines for his murder charges would be 12.5 years each. The maximum sentencing for second-degree murder, the most severe of the charges, is 40 years.
- After the judge announced the verdict, there were celebrations in the streets of Minneapolis and many other cities.
- President Biden said the verdict was “a giant step in the march towards justice in America,” and said that this was “much too rare,” while Vice President Harris said “[racial injustice] is not just a Black America problem or a people of color problem. It is a problem for every American. It is keeping us from fulfilling the promise of liberty and justice for all. And it is holding our nation back from realizing our full potential.”
Now, Cuba's change in leadership.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canal replaced Raul Castro as President in 2018 and will once against succeed him as first Secretary, the most powerful position in the Communist-run party.
- Diaz-Canal has held a mantra of “Unity and Continuity,” and hopes to open the country while maintaining the one-party rule.
- Born in 1960, a year after Cuba’s Revolution, Diaz-Canal is the first Cuban First Secretary who is not a Castro since 1959. Supported by a generation of young loyalists, Diaz-Canal’s policies are conservative, but he has taken on the role as a younger, more dynamic leader.
- 89-year-old Raul Castro’s resignation as Communist Chief comes during a time of economic difficulty, as the coronavirus pushed the Trump administration to impose restrictions and financial reforms on Cuba.
Finally, a devastating fire in Cape Town.
A fire in Cape Town, South Africa started on Sunday morning and continued to blaze for days until deemed 90% contained on Tuesday morning.
- The fire started at Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, but then reached the University of Cape Town, causing a forced student evacuation as well as burning four university buildings. Among these was the university’s library, which was home to many important artifacts documenting African history.
- Residents of nearby suburbs evacuated as well, with about 250 firefighters,some helicopters and South African army choppers attempting to quell the flames in the face of an intense wind that spread the fire.
- A male suspect in his 30s was detained Sunday night as a result of his possible connection to the fire. Authorities are investigating whether or not arson played a role.
Smoothies: three ways
Smoothies are the perfect quick and easy healthy breakfast, and here are three interesting recipes. Just combine the listed ingredients and blend until smooth, and then enjoy either as a drink in a cup, or topped with fruit and granola in a bowl.
- 2 cups frozen strawberries
- 1 banana(fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1 cup milk of choice
- Optional: 1 teaspoon chia seeds or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries (raspberries,blueberries, blackberries)
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1 cup milk of choice
- ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt
- 1 kiwi peeled
- 1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
- 1 cup orange juice
- ½ cup spinach
- juice of 1 lemon
- ½ banana