👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ The Justice Department will investigate whether the Minneapolis Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” including the use of excessive force, discriminatory conduct, or the abuse of those with mental health illness or physical disabilities. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the investigation one day after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd. The investigation is separate from the previously announced federal criminal inquiry into whether Chauvin violated Floyd’s civil rights during his arrest and death last May. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)
A 16-year-old Black girl was shot and killed by a police officer outside her home after she called 911 for help in Columbus, Ohio. The shooting happened about 20 minutes before Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict was announced. (Columbus Dispatch / NPR)
poll/ 71% of Americans agree that Derek Chauvin was guilty, while 13% disagreed and 15% had no opinion. (USA Today)
2/ Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills – more than twice as many proposals as in any other year. Republican legislators in Oklahoma and Iowa have granted immunity to drivers who strike and injure protesters with their car in public streets; Indiana would bar anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from state employment, including elected office; Minnesota would prohibit those convicted of unlawful protesting from receiving student loans and unemployment benefits; Kentucky would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer; and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed sweeping legislation he’s called “the strongest anti-looting, anti-rioting, pro-law-enforcement piece of legislation in the country.” (New York Times)
3/ The U.S. has administered 200 million coronavirus vaccines since Biden took office. Biden said that more than half of all U.S. adults had received at least one shot and that more than 80% of Americans 65 and older have been partially or fully vaccinated. “Today, we did it, today we hit 200 million shots in the 92nd day in office,” Biden said. “This is an American achievement, a powerful demonstration of unity and revolve – what unity will do for us, and a reminder of what we can accomplish when we pull together, as one people, to a common goal.” About 13 million doses were administered during the Trump administration. (Politico / NPR / CNN / ABC News)
- New coronavirus cases globally were reported last week than in any seven-day period since the beginning of the pandemic. Last week’s 5.24 million new cases broke the previous record of 5.04 million, which was set in the week ended Jan. 4. (New York Times)
4/ The Trump administration awarded nearly $1.3 billion to a company to supply more than 100 million prefilled Covid-19 vaccine syringes in 2020, which have never been delivered. The ApiJect syringe never received the needed FDA approvals and the plant to manufacture the needles was never built. Pfizer said that even if ApiJect got all the needed approvals, it would “not have any impact on our output or process.”(NBC News)
5/ The U.S. Postal Service is running a covert internet surveillance program that tracks and collects Americans’ social media posts, looking for what a government bulletin described as “inflammatory” postings. The Internet Covert Operations Program has not previously been made public. According to a March 16 government bulletin, which was marked as “law enforcement sensitive” and distributed through the Department of Homeland Security, the iCOP program “monitored significant activity regarding planned protests occurring internationally and domestically […] Locations and times have been identified for these protests, which are being distributed online across multiple social media platforms, to include right-wing leaning Parler and Telegram accounts.” Why the post office, which handles mail deliveries, would a run social media surveillance program is unclear. (Yahoo News)
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