Hey there! It’s Monday. And when the news gets too heavy, I look at beautiful animal pics. This week: whales! Here’s what you need to know today.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin “had to know” he was killing George Floyd when he cried he couldn’t breathe and fell silent, prosecutor Steve Schleicher said today during closing arguments.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson countered that Chauvin did what any “reasonable” police officer would have done in a “fluid” situation with a large man who was struggling with three cops.
The prosecution took nearly two hours to make its final case to the jury, with Schleicher concluding that “this wasn’t policing. This was murder.” Later, Nelson focused on the 17 minutes before Chauvin pinned Floyd to the pavement with a knee to the neck.
Chauvin, 45, is facing counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. All the charges require the jury to find that Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death and the use of force was unreasonable. [AP]
Here’s a recap of key events leading up to the trial. [AP]
Meanwhile, The New York Times reviewed dozens of similar instances of police killings and found few resulted in charges or convictions. [New York Times]
Outside the courthouse, businesses in Minneapolis are boarding up in anticipation of the verdict and potential unrest. [New York Times]
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today that half of all Chicaogans have now received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine. That puts the city in line with the rest of the U.S., which reached the same milestone over the weekend. [NBC Chicago]
More good news: Starting today, anyone in the city age 16 or older is now eligible to get vaccinated. However, Chicagoans must be at least 18 to get the shot at a city-run site, and officials are warning there won’t be enough vaccines right away for everybody who wants one. [WBEZ]
In Illinois, nearly 42% of eligible residents have gotten one dose and about 25% of the eligible population is now fully vaccinated. [NYT]
Despite the progress in vaccinations, the virus is still spreading in Illinois. State officials today reported 1,959 new COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths. [Chicago Tribune]
A birthday party, a vigil and a bar were the latest sites of mass shootings in the United States.
Six people were injured when a gunman opened fire Saturday night during a 12-year-old’s birthday party in suburban New Orleans. Around the same time, one person was killed and five others were wounded during a shooting in Columbus, Ohio. The victims had gathered in the parking lot of a Dollar General to remember a man killed there a year earlier.Hours later, three people were killed and three others wounded when gunfire erupted early Sunday at the Somers House tavern in Kenosha, Wis.Since March 16, when eight people were killed and one wounded during a shooting spree at spas near Atlanta, CNN has tracked at least 50 mass shootings in the U.S. The TV station defines mass shooting as at least four victims, not including the gunman. [CNN]
Meanwhile, the assault rifles used to kill eight people at a FedEx facility Thursday in Indianapolis were purchased legally, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said. [NPR]
President Joe Biden is expected to promise to sharply reduce American greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries combat climate change. The announcement, scheduled to come this week at a virtual summit with 40 world leaders, is the president’s first opportunity to reestablish the country as a trustworthy partner after the U.S. left the Paris agreement during the Trump administration. [NPR]
America’s pledge, nonbinding and largely symbolic, signals how aggressively Biden wants to move on climate change — a divisive issue where the president has drawn criticism from Republicans and his own party.
When the Paris agreement was signed in 2015, the Obama administration promised to significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Some scientists and business leaders are now calling on the Biden administration to double those cuts by 2030. [AP]
Thousands of Chicago public high school students returned to classrooms today to complete their last two months of the school year after a last-minute agreement between the district and the teachers union.
Overall, about a third of all high schoolers, or 26,000 students, are expected to return to in-person classes, most for two days a week. [WBEZ]
Selective-enrollment high schools are expected to see the largest turnout. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Here’s what else is happening
An attorney for Adam Toledo’s family told NPR that “Adam died because he complied” with police orders. [NPR]
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a prison hospital and could die “at any minute.” [NPR]
Despite promises, Chicago has made no progress on lead pipe removals. [WBEZ]
It could snow tomorrow in Chicago. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Oh, and one more thing …
A helicopter has been flown on another planet — an intergalactic first that’s being compared to the Wright Brothers’ historic flight on Earth 117 years ago.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter, which weighs just four pounds, rose 10 feet in the air, hovered briefly and returned to the surface of Mars, according to images beamed to Earth this morning.
The grainy, Star Wars: Episode IV-like images show the first-ever powered flight on another planet.
As NPR reports, the unmanned helicopter is different from a drone in that it stays afloat by making fine adjustments in the pitch of the rotor blades. To fly in the thin Martian air, which is only about 1% as dense as Earth’s, the blades must make 2,537 revolutions per minute. [NPR]
Tell me something good …
I asked this question exactly a year ago this week and got such great responses I’d like to ask again: What’s something that made you smile this week?
After moving into a house with no bath, my husband found this solution for me: The Tubble, an inflatable bathtub that promises to ensure “100% relaxation time.” Unfortunately, donuts are not included, but it did help me de-stress this weekend.
What’s made you smile this week? Feel free to email or tweet us, and we might share your responses here.