Polaris Week of 4/12/2021

I’m Ellen, your newsletter writer, here to provide you with a weekly line to The North Star and the news. Here, we’ll break down big events worldwide and keep you updated on what’s going on right here in Naperville.

First up, coronavirus updates.

  • Administration of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine was halted on Tuesday after federal health agencies asked for time to examine a rare blood-clotting disorder found in six women who received the vaccine. All six women were between ages 18-48, and one has died while a second has been hospitalized.
  • As of Tuesday, 7.2 million people had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which only requires one dose. The women reported symptoms six to 13 days after receiving the vaccine, and both the CDC and FDA say there is not enough information to determine if a specific group is more vulnerable to the clots. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met for an emergency session on Wednesday but declined to vote on "updated recommendations for use" for the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, instead asking for more time to make their decision.
  • The national average of positive COVID-19 cases rose to 71,215 cases per day, which is up 8% from two weeks prior. On Tuesday, 77,312 new cases were reported, and Michigan is currently experiencing the largest number of new cases in the country.
  • On Monday, Illinois expanded vaccine eligibility to all residents 16 and older. Chicago is not included in this expansion, but the city will make all adults eligible on April 19.

Next, the Derek Chauvin trial so far.

Officer Derek Chauvin is being tried for manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder over the death of George Floyd. Floyd’s death, which occurred after Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, caused protests in Minneapolis and across the nation last summer.

  • In the first 11 days of the trial, the prosecution has tried to prove that Chauvin’s actions violated police policies on use of force leading to Floyd’s death, were negligent in trying to revive Floyd after he lost consciousness, and appeared out of line to witnesses on the scene. The prosecution also has tried to prove that Floyd died as a direct result of Chauvin’s knee, not from cardiac issues or overdose.The defense will try to prove that Floyd died from an overdose or heart issues, not from the restraint and that Chauvin’s use of force was within police guidelines.
  • The prosecution rested its case on Tuesday morning, after 11 days and testimony from 38 witnesses.
  • On the first day, the prosecution’s opening statement centered attention on the nine minute and 29-second video of George Floyd’s death that was taken by a bystander. The defense’s opening statement stated its intention to prove that Floyd died of a drug overdose and heart attack.
  • On day two, there was emotional testimony from witnesses who were deeply traumatized by the encounter, including testimony by the person who took the viral video of the arrest and believed that Chauvin was responsible for Floyd’s death. An EMT said she urged the police officers to take Floyd’s pulse, something echoed in testimony from other medical professionals. She had also called the police on Derek Chauvin on the scene and was the third to do so.
  • Day three featured testimony from the cashier at Cup Foods who had alerted the manager after Floyd paid for cigarettes using what appeared to be a fake $20. Police body camera video showed that Floyd was scared and claustrophobic when police tried to force him into their car. It also showed that the police did not try to help Floyd’s medical condition when he became unresponsive.
  • On day four, two paramedics testified that Floyd appeared dead when they arrived and tried to defibrillate unsuccessfully. Additionally, a retired sergeant with the Minneapolis police testified that officers should remove their knees from a suspect’s neck when the suspect stops resisting.
  • On day five, the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide unit said that Chauvin’s actions were “totally unnecessary” and “uncalled for” and that Chauvin should have stopped when Floyd lost consciousness. He also testified that officers were never trained to kneel on people’s necks and were instructed to only use the prone position for handcuffing suspects.
  • On day six, a senior resident at the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said he believed Floyd died from lack of oxygen. The chief of the Minneapolis Police Department testified that Chauvin had violated department policies in his actions. The Minneapolis Police department chief testifying is notable because it breaks the “blue wall of silence” often seen in cases like these of fellow police officers closing ranks and refusing to testify against their own. The police chief, in addition to litany of other police personnel testifying, shows that the wall has broken in this case, a rare occurrence.
  • On day seven, the defense was able to obtain assertions from the witnesses testifying about use of force policies that a crowd, such as the one that gathered around the scene, could raise alarm and make decision making difficult among police officers. The defense is likely to focus on this testimony and expand it with their witnesses.
  • On day eight, a witness for the LA Police Department’s Inspector General office testified that Chauvin’s position put Floyd at risk of deprivation of oxygen and that “no force should have been used” after Floyd was in the prone position.
  • On day nine, a lung doctor testified that Floyd died because of Chauvin’s knee, the handcuffs and being pressed against the pavement. The doctor insisted that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck caused his death and that Floyd’s respiration was previously normal. The doctor said that a healthy person subjected to the same use of force would have died. A surgeon with the Louisville police department concurred, saying Floyd’s actions were not consistent with overdosing.
  • On day 10, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on George Floyd said that police restraint was the main cause of Floyd’s death, though drug use and heart disease were contributing factors. He said that if Chauvin had not used force on George Floyd, Floyd wouldn’t have died, and concurred that Floyd had died from deprivation of oxygen.
  • On day 11, George Floyd’s brother provided more of a picture of him growing up and as a brother and son, “spark of life” testimony, which is not commonly admissible.

Now, Prince Philip's death.

To lie in State: lying in state is when a coffin is placed to allow the public to pay their respects before a funeral.

  • Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died on Friday, April 9 at Windsor Palace. He was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years.
  • He was born in 1921 in Greece and was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, who was the younger brother of Greece’s King, and Princess Alice of Battenberg, later Mountbatten.
  • His family moved to France in 1922, and he moved to England in 1928.
  • He served in the royal navy starting in 1939 and left to take care of royal duties in 1952.
  • Before marrying Queen Elizabeth II, he renounced his Greek titles.
  • He married Queen Elizabeth II, then Crown Princess Elizabeth, in 1947, when he was bestowed the title of Duke of Edinburgh.
  • His funeral will occur on April 17 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle and will be televised.
  • Prince Philip will not lie in state -- per his wishes and COVID-19 limits -- and his funeral will not be public. He will be interred at the royal vault in St. George’s chapel.

Finally, the problems and complications of waste collection ponds.

Aerobic process: A process that requires the presence of oxygen

The potential collapse of a wastewater pond south of Tampa last week has brought the existence of such structures under major public scrutiny for the first time. But why do these ponds exist in the first place, and what can or needs to be done about them, if anything?

  • Waste stabilization ponds (WSPs) are pond networks used for processing wastewater, which most commonly comes from commercial mining, agriculture and sewage. The pond in Florida is at the site of a former phosphate mining plant, containing over 400 million gallons of wastewater composed of the leftover material from the ore extraction process.
  • What isn’t made obvious by the name is that these ponds typically have some sort of bioactive component that breaks down and purifies their contents over time, rather than being an intermediary holding unit for byproducts pending further processing.
  • The ponds are designed to cycle waste through various aerobic and anaerobic processes, and use gravity as the primary force to drive movement.
  • Meant to be cost-efficient, laissez-faire alternatives to other chemical processing, WSPs function well under ideal conditions but often fail due to site-specific problems and negligence. Sites across Florida and elsewhere in the South have been especially compromised by increases in rainfall and flooding, which leads to the ponds filling faster than they process waste.
  • These failings cause toxic material to seep or spill into groundwater and waterways, posing a risk to the environment and those living in the surrounding area.
  • The problem is that their low costs of operation and management make them ideal for smaller communities and developing countries, and at present there is no safer alternative at a comparable price point.

Take a look at the North Star's latest Heads Up Huskies, also found on our Instagram.

This week, Polaris Recipes presents some tips for cheese boards.

Cheese Boards: The Basics

This step by step guide to making a simple, delicious cheese board is exactly what you need if you have been seeing the cheese board trend take the world by storm but are unsure of where to start. Cheese boards are the perfect customizable meal for any get together (post covid), and we categorized cheese board ingredients into five basic categories to help you get the hang of it.

  • Crunch: Arguably the second most important part of a cheese board is the crunch. This includes whatever crackers your heart desires and any assortment nuts. It's never a bad idea to combine a fun, flavorful cracker like these fig olive crisps with a more neutral cracker like a water cracker.
  • Fruits and vegetables: These are a must for a cheeseboard, especially to add a pop of color. This board is brightened by tri-colored carrots, cucumbers, heart shaped strawberries, dried apricots, green grapes and apples. Olives are also a great addition to this section.
  • Sweets: Every good cheese board needs something sweet. Good go-to's include dark chocolate almonds, chocolate covered pretzels or even chocolate covered fruit.
  • Dips: Dips are the perfect way to add a little something special to a good cracker and cheese combo. Hummus is great to dip veggies in or spread on a cracker for a savory bite. While jams or honey work to add a slight touch of sweetness to complement the crackers and cheese.
  • Cheese: A cheese board is not complete without the main ingredient. You can opt for a wide variety of cheeses, such as Swiss, Brie, Pepper Jack and Gouda, or go for a classic Cheddar.

This week in Naperville North news....

For movie reviews, sports news, and all the latest updates, take a closer look at The North Star website.

This week's news was written by Nora, Jeanine, Randy and Ellen

And after all that news...

There's no crossword this newsletter, but it'll be back next week!

Want to know more?

Check out the North Star website for more in-depth stories, and Heads Up Huskies on Instagram for your Naperville North updates.

Thank you for joining us here at Polaris, and I look forward to bringing you more news after spring break!

- Ellen