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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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Joyce Carol Oates slams Brandeis over ban on ‘picnic,’ other words

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Even liberal novelists aren’t buying Brandeis University’s “Oppressive Language List,” which contains head scratchers like “picnic,” “rule of thumb” and “everything going on right now.”

Pulitzer Prize winner Joyce Carol Oates took to her popular Twitter account on Thursday to poke fun at the list, which was developed by the school’s Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.

“What is strange is that while the word ‘picnic’ is suggested for censorship, because it evokes, in some persons, lynchings of Black persons in the US, the word ‘lynching’ is not itself censored,” Oates said in one post.

“Picnic” disappeared from the online Oppressive Language List sometime last week as reports of its existence spread, according to reports.

The university-sponsored website previously said the word “has been associated with lynchings of Black people in the United States, during which white spectators were said to have watched while eating.”

But other ultra-woke corrections remain — including suggestions to say “friends” instead of “tribe,” “give it a go” instead of “take a shot at” and “content note” instead of “trigger warning” — the latter because “the word ‘trigger’ has connections to guns for many people.”

Oates, 84, is a prolific tweeter who often uses her account to promote liberal politics and her opposition to former President Donald Trump.

Brandeis University released at list of “potentially oppressive language” from its Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.
Brandeis University released at list of “potentially oppressive language” from its Prevention, Advocacy and Resource Center.
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In another post on Thursday, the “Black Water” author worried what would become of professors and educators who disavowed the list’s recommendations.

“What sort of punishment is doled out for a faculty member who utters the word ‘picnic’ at Brandeis?–or the phrase ‘trigger warning’?” she asked.

“Loss of tenure, public flogging, self-flagellation?”

The university in a prepare statement last week said the “was developed by students” and was “in no no way an accounting of terms that Brandeis students, faculty or staff are prohibited from using or must substitute instead.”

“It is simply a resource that can be accessed by anyone who wants to consider their own language in an effort to be respectful of others who may have different reactions to certain terms and phrases,” spokesperson Julie Jette said.

About dis year BET Award

“Di BET Awards na di ultimate celebration of Black culture, and we dey look forward to spotlighting and celebrating Black women during dis year show

“Recognizing dem for everything wey dem don accomplish and applaud dem for what to come.”

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Belgian artist’s ‘portable oasis’ offers COVID protection — and fresh air

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When governments around Europe told people to create a “bubble” to limit their social contacts during the COVID-19 pandemic, this was probably not what they had in mind.

Alain Verschueren, a Belgian artist and social worker, has been strolling through the capital Brussels wearing a “portable oasis” – a plexiglass mini-greenhouse which rests on his shoulders, cocooning him in a bubble of air purified by the aromatic plants inside.

Verschueren, 61, developed the idea 15 years ago, inspired by the lush oases in Tunisia where he had previously worked. In a city where face coverings are mandatory to curb the spread of COVID-19, his invention has gained a new lease of life.

“It was about creating a bubble in which I could lock myself in, to cut myself off a world that I found too dull, too noisy or smelly,” Verschueren said, adding that he has asthma and finds breathing within his contraption more comfortable than wearing a facemask.

Alain Verschueren grabs attention from bystanders while wearing his "Portable Oasis" in Brussels, Belgium.
Alain Verschueren grabs attention from bystanders while wearing his “Portable Oasis” in Brussels, Belgium.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

“As time went by, I noticed that people were coming up to me and talking to me. This isolation became much more a way of connecting,” he said.

Onlookers in Brussels appeared amused and confused by the man wandering between the shops – mostly closed due to COVID-19 restrictions – encased in a pod of thyme, rosemary and lavender plants.

Alain Verschueren claims he finds breathing within his "Portable Oasis"  more comfortable than wearing a facemask due to his asthma.
Alain Verschueren claims he finds breathing within his “Portable Oasis” more comfortable than wearing a facemask due to his asthma.
REUTERS/Yves Herman

“Is it a greenhouse? Is it for the bees? Is it for the plants? We don’t know, but it’s a good idea,” Charlie Elkiess, a retired jeweller, told Reuters.

Verschueren said he hoped to encourage people to take better care of the environment, to reduce the need to protect ourselves from air and noise pollution.

Belgian artist Alain Verschueren wears his "Portable Oasis" while walking in a street in Brussels, Belgium on April 16, 2021.
Belgian artist Alain Verschueren wears his “Portable Oasis” while walking in a street in Brussels, Belgium on April 16, 2021.

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Chad’s longtime president Idriss Déby dies after fight against rebels

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President Idriss Déby died from wounds suffered on the battlefield during a fight against rebels.

Chad President Idriss Déby — who ruled the central African country for over 30 years — died Tuesday of wounds suffered on the battlefield during a fight against rebels, the military announced.

The stunning announcement on national media came just hours after officials had declared the 68-year-old the winner of the April 11 election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

The military said Déby had taken “the heroic lead in combat operations against terrorists who had come from Libya.”

After being wounded in battle, he then was taken to the capital, Gen. Azem Bermandoa Agouma said.

“In the face of this worrying situation, the people of Chad must show their attachment to peace, to stability and to national cohesion,” Agouma said.

Chad President Idriss Deby
A supporter carries a picture of Chad President Idriss Deby during a Peace Process rally in Darfur.
REUTERS

An 18-month transitional council will be led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, the military said, as it imposed a nightly 6 p.m. curfew.

Déby, a former army commander-in-chief, first came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre, who was later convicted of human rights abuses.

Chadian President Idriss Deby inspects a seized rebel technical in Adre, Chad.
Chadian President Idriss Deby inspects a seized rebel technical in Adre, Chad.
AFP via Getty Images

He had survived several armed rebellions over the years and managed to stay in power until this latest insurgency led by a group calling itself the Front for Change and Concord in Chad.

The rebels are believed to have armed and trained in Libya before crossing into Chad on April 11.

President of Chad Idriss Deby
Deby first came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre.
EPA

Déby was a major French ally in the fight against Islamic extremism in Africa, hosting the base for the French military Operation Barkhane and providing forces to the peacekeeping effort in Mali.

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