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Your Tuesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Ten months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off protests across the U.S. and then the world, the first day of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing him, attracted global interest. Here’s what happened:

  • The prosecuting attorney aimed to focus the jurors’ attention on the famous bystander video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest and death. “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder,” the prosecutor, Jerry Blackwell, said, adding that the trial was “about Derek Chauvin,” not the police in general.

  • The defense for Mr. Chauvin said it would ask jurors to consider more than 50,000 items in evidence outside of the video itself. Eric Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, told jurors that the case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

  • Mr. Floyd’s exact cause of death will prove to be one of the most crucial points of this trial.

  • Outside the courthouse, protesters gathered and a helicopter whirled overhead.


President Biden is preparing the details of a new, vastly larger economic stimulus plan that would use trillions in government spending to unite the goals of fighting climate change and restoring the economy, with an emphasis on renewable power, energy efficiency and electric car production.

But experts note that throwing money at climate change is not a particularly effective way to lower emissions of planet-warming pollution, and it may present a significant risk to taxpayers.

Still, if the stimulus “sets up the energy economy in a way that it’s eventually cheaper to reduce emissions, it could create more political support for doing that down the road” by making legislation or regulations less painful, said David Popp, the lead author of a National Bureau of Economics study on the green stimulus money.

Related: The Biden administration announced a plan to vastly expand the use of offshore wind power along the East Coast, aiming to tap a potentially huge new source of renewable energy that has struggled to gain a foothold in the U.S.

The 124-page report of a joint inquiry by the World Health Organization and China says that China still does not have the data or research to indicate how or when the coronavirus that has killed nearly 2.8 million people worldwide began spreading. The report is also not clear on whether China will permit outside experts to keep digging.

The report, compiled after investigators spent 27 days in Wuhan, China, contains a glut of new detail but no profound new insights. It does little to allay Western concerns about the role of the Chinese Communist Party, which is notoriously resistant to outside scrutiny and has at times sought to hinder any investigation by the W.H.O.

The expert team also described the possibility that the virus emerged accidentally from a Chinese laboratory as “extremely unlikely,” even though some scientists say that is an important question to explore. The prevailing theory remains that the virus originated in bats, jumped to another animal and then mutated in a way that enabled it to transmit to humans, and from human to human.

Analysis: “The investigation runs the risk of going nowhere, and we may never find the true origins of the virus,” said Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In the Indian state of Assam, a group of women known as the Hargila Army is leading a conservation effort to rescue the endangered greater adjutant stork, an outlandish-looking animal with piercing blue eyes and an elongated electric-yellow neck.

The group is trying to change perceptions of the birds as pests, by, for instance, weaving motifs of the storks into traditional textiles. The work is helping the women, too. Many receive tools and training enabling them to earn extra income.

Barcelona on Saturday played host to Europe’s biggest indoor rock concert since the start of the pandemic, with 5,000 tickets sold.

A hospital team had helped test the concertgoers for Covid-19 before the event, using as their model a smaller concert last December in another Barcelona venue, the Sala Apolo. (Six people tested positive ahead of Saturday’s concert.)

The concert was “a small but important step toward normality,” said Ventura Barba, one of the organizers. But within the Palau de Sant Jordi, which ordinarily holds 17,000 people, some coronavirus restrictions remained in place: Ticket holders were not allowed into the stands and instead were kept divided within three areas of the dance floor, while having to wear FFP2 masks (the European standard) provided by the organizers.

Organized by a group of Spanish music promoters as part of an initiative called Festivals for Safe Culture, the concert was presented as Europe’s boldest effort to get thousands into an indoor site, without seating or mandatory social distancing. The sole act was Love of Lesbian, a Spanish indie rock band.

“For me, this isn’t about whether I really like their music, but about being able to feel and live their music, right next to so many other people,” one attendee said.

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Brussels Police Disperse April Fool’s Music Festival Crowd

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The police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in a park for a hoax April Fool’s Day music festival on Thursday, defying Covid-19 restrictions.

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Amber is a sports enthusiast who loves indulging in occasional football matches. She is a passionate journalist who flaunts a perfect hold over the English language. She currently caters his skills for the sports section of PoliticSay.

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Alabama to Open Vaccination to People 16 and Older

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“I ask, I plead with you, don’t give up the progress we have all fought so hard to achieve,” Mr. Biden said at the White House.

Alabama’s current set of restrictions, including a requirement to wear masks in public, expires on April 9, adding tension to a continuing battle between governors anxious to get their states open again, and the C.D.C. and Biden administration who continue to ask for patience. Several states have already dropped mask mandates.

“Please, this is not politics — reinstate the mandate,” Mr. Biden said Monday about the easing of restrictions nationwide, adding, “The failure to take this virus seriously is precisely what got us into this mess in the first place.”

Almost three million people are being vaccinated across the country per day, according to the seven-day average released by the C.D.C. on Friday. But only about 25 percent of Alabama’s total population has received one shot of a vaccine, below the national average of 31 percent, according to the agency.

Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are tied as the states with the smallest percentage of people who have received at least one shot.

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As U.S. Shots Near 3 Million Daily, Experts Warn of Complacency

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As President Biden enters the homestretch of his first 100 days in office, the general declines in new virus cases, deaths and hospitalizations since January offer signs of hope for a weary nation.

But the average number of new cases has risen 19 percent over the past two weeks, and federal health officials say that complacency about the coronavirus could bring on another severe wave of infections.

“We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are, and so much reason for hope,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an emotional plea to Americans this week. “But right now I’m scared.”

On the positive side, nearly a third of the people in the United States have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. As of early Saturday morning, nearly three million people on average were receiving a shot every day, up from about two million in early March.

The rising vaccination rate has prompted some state officials to accelerate their rollout schedules. This week, Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut expanded access to people 16 and older, several days ahead of schedule. And Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado opened universal eligibility about two weeks earlier than planned.

“No more having to sort out if you’re in or if you’re out,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, the deputy secretary of the Department of Health Services in Wisconsin, where anyone 16 or older will be eligible for a vaccine as of Monday. “It’s time to just move forward and get everybody with a shot in their arm.”

In another promising development, federal health officials said on Friday that Americans who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus can travel “at low risk to themselves” within the United States and abroad.

But these days, most signs of hope are offset by peril.

Over the past week, there has been an average of 64,730 cases per day, an increase of 19 percent from two weeks earlier, according to a New York Times database. New deaths on average have declined, but they are still hovering around 900 a day. More than 960 were reported on Friday alone.

The C.D.C. predicted this week that the number of new Covid-19 cases per week in the United States would “remain stable or have an uncertain trend” over the next four weeks, and that weekly case numbers could be as high as about 700,000 even in late April.

Cases are already increasing significantly in many states, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, as variants spread and some governors relax mask mandates and other restrictions. Dr. Walensky said this week that if states and cities continued to loosen public health restrictions, the nation could face a potential fourth wave.

Michigan, one of the worst-hit states, is reporting nearly 6,000 cases a day — up from about 1,000 a day in late February — even though half of its residents over 65 are now fully vaccinated.

And in Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine said that new variants were aggravating the state’s caseload, even as vaccinations picked up.

“We have to understand that we are in a battle,” he said.

As if to underscore how fragile the nation’s recovery is, a quintessential American ritual — the start of the baseball season — has already faced a virus-related delay.

Major League Baseball officials said on Friday that the league had found only five positive cases in more than 14,000 tests of league personnel. But because four of those people were Washington Nationals players, the team’s Opening Day game against the New York Mets was postponed, and then the team’s full three-game weekend series.

“It’s one of those things that brings it to light that we’re not through it yet,” Brian Snitker, the Atlanta Braves manager, told The Associated Press. “We’re still fighting this.”

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