President Trump just took a pass at addressing policing.
Yesterday – after weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality – he signed an executive order calling for police reform. The order directs the DOJ to create a national database of police officers with a history of using excessive force (think: those who have been terminated, decertified, or criminally charged). It also incentivizes police departments across the country to "adopt the highest professional standards" in their communities.
Under the order, law enforcement agencies will have access to federal grants. But only if they do things like ban chokeholds (unless an officer's life is at risk) and offer deescalation training. Departments will also be encouraged to work with social workers and mental health professionals through "co-responder programs," to help officers better deal with situations involving mental illness, addiction, and homelessness.
Mixed reviews. Trump called it a "historic" effort, but made it clear he's against larger reforms like defunding or disbanding the police. He said the percentage of bad officers is "tiny" and that "without police, there is chaos." The president of the country's largest police union backed him up – and said the order struck a "great balance" between public and officer safety. But critics pointed out that a key word was missing: racism. And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Congress to "quickly" pass its own legislation.
It's still a work in progress. Democrats laid out their sweeping police reform bill last week, which aims to lower the standards for qualified immunity. And Republicans are expected to introduce their legislation today, calling for a limit on chokeholds and a ban on no-knock warrants. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is expected to announce today whether the Senate will consider the bill before its July 4th recess. But with the parties divided on how to enact reform, it's unclear if or when a bill would pass.
The nation's been waiting for the president to lay out his plan to address policing. Now he has. But some say his executive order falls short of the aggressive steps needed to change a police system that's repeatedly crossed boundaries and has claimed the lives of Black Americans.
The University of Oxford. For the first time ever, researchers say they have a drug that could improve chances for surviving COVID-19. Reminder: a study earlier this year showed remdesivir can shorten the time people are sick by an average of four days. But there's no clear proof the antiviral drug can save people from dying. Then there was hydroxychloroquine, which the president was excited about...until the FDA said 'nope.' This latest drug is a steroid: dexamethasone. It's pretty common, and has been used to help people with issues ranging from asthma to arthritis. Yesterday, Oxford researchers said 'good news' – a study on more than 6,000 COVID-19 patients shows the drug saved about a third of people on ventilators. But heads up that it doesn't seem to help people with mild symptoms. Next up: US hospitals are waiting for the study to get peer reviewed before making changes.
India and China. Yesterday, India said 20 of its soldiers were killed in a clash earlier this week with Chinese troops. The two have been in a border dispute in the Himalayas since the late '50s. But things have stayed relatively peaceful in recent decades. Good thing, since the two neighbors (and the world's most populous countries) happen to be nuclear-armed. But in recent weeks, tensions have been back up. The two nationalist leaders have been riling up their bases and building up troop activity. There have been multiple clashes. And despite an agreement this month to calm things down, the violence turned deadly on Monday...for the first time in more than 40 years. Both sides blamed the other for provoking the violence. But they say they're working to deescalate.
Iowa. Yesterday, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said she plans to sign an executive order restoring voting rights to felons. Under state law, people who've completed their prison sentences can't vote unless they appeal directly to the governor. This restricts nearly 10% of the state's Black population from voting. If the executive order is signed, it could go into effect before the November election. And allow thousands of people to vote in the swing state where incumbent President Trump seems to be leading.
PG&E. Yesterday, the gas and electric company pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of unlawfully causing the deadly 2018 Camp Fire. The decision was expected, and the company acknowledged that its equipment (read: a faulty hook connected to a power line) started California's deadliest wildfire in history. It's now reportedly one of the few US corporations to have ever been convicted of homicide-related charges.
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May 3 | Things in India are going from bad to worse.
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May 13 | Israel and Gaza are under fire.