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Verdict Reached in George Floyd Murder Trial

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of all charges in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man whose restraint and death while in police custody were caught on camera and quickly went viral, inspiring a summer of protests and riots across the nation.

Chauvin appeared stunned as the verdict was announced, with the jury finding him guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin’s bail was revoked and he was remanded to custody until sentencing occurrs, which Judge Peter Cahill said would be about eight weeks.

The verdict on Chauvin, 45, was delivered just shy of one year after Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, and comes amid another increase in racial tension nationally – but especially locally; members of a National Guard and Minneapolis police team were the apparent targets in a drive-by shooting Sunday morning that injured two Guard members.

Jury selection, which began as news broke of a $27 million settlement between the city of Minneapolis and Floyd’s family, included several prospective jurors asking not to be selected due to fear of reprisals regardless of the verdict.

After testimony began in March, the prosecution sought to portray Chauvin’s actions in restraining Floyd as cruelly indifferent at best, with prosecutor Steve Schleicher saying during his closing that the infamous video of the arrest showed Chauvin “grind his knees, twist his knees into the handcuffs that bound [Floyd.].”

Schleicher branded the nearly 10-minute period during which Chauvin had Floyd handcuffed and restrained on the ground an “assault.”

Prosecutors also tried to set Chauvin apart from other police officers, likely hoping to convince any fence-sitting jurors that a vote to convict the former officer wasn’t a symbolic admonishment of all cops.

“This case is called the state of Minnesota vs. Derek Chauvin, not the state of Minnesota vs. the Police,” Schleicher said.

He added, “There is nothing worse for police than bad police.”

By contrast, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said his client acted as a “reasonable police officer,” using the term dozens of times during his closing on Monday. He argued that Floyd died as the result of a heart attack caused by an ingestion of fatal levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine and chronic coronary disease.

“Human behavior is unpredictable, and no one knows it better than a police officer. Someone could be compliant one second and fighting the next,” Nelson said. “A reasonable police officer continues to assess.”

Two prosecution witnesses appeared to give conflicting testimony about the cause of death. Chicago pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin said that a low level of oxygen damaged his brain which caused his heart to stop, yet under cross-examination Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker said Chauvin’s method of restraint with his knee on or near Floyd’s neck would not have restricted his airway.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, both of which statutorily require some level of intent – whether it be intent to harm, as in the case of the murder charge, or a conscious taking of risk resulting in severe injury or death, as is needed for manslaughter. Nelson stressed the number of cameras recording Chauvin’s every action – from the cameras worn by Chauvin himself and the three other officers at the scene to the numerous cellphone videos shot by onlookers – to hammer home that Chauvin was aware he was being watched and wouldn’t have taken any actions inconsistent with how he was trained.

“All the evidence shows that Mr. Chauvin thought that he was following his training,” Nelson said. “It all demonstrates a lack of intent.”

Chauvin was also charged with third-degree murder, which only requires the jury find Chauvin’s actions were “eminently dangerous” and were undertaken with indifference to human life.

Nelson, however, sought to convince the jury that Chauvin’s restraint wasn’t the cause of Floyd’s death, either due to Floyd’s proximity to the exhaust from a nearby car’s tailpipe or Chauvin’s knee cutting off Floyd’s airway.

“We know this wasn’t asphyxiation because George Floyd had a 98% oxygen level,” Nelson said.

A Minneapolis convenience store called the cops on Floyd on May 25 after he was suspected of using a counterfeit bill to pay for a purchase in the store.

Footage shot by a bystander showing Floyd’s restraint and eventual death quickly went viral and ignited outrage from Black Lives Matter supporters, who immediately called for the four officers seen in the video to be arrested.

The four officers present when Floyd died – Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Kiernan Lane and Chauvin – were fired the day after the incident. Thao, Kueng and Lane were not initially charged, but after the investigation was taken over by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former Democratic National Committee deputy chair, the trio was arrested on charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. Their trial is slated to begin in August.

But the immediate and widespread fury over Floyd’s death soon splintered as additional facts – the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system, video footage from alternate angles that painted a more complete picture of the arrest – emerged and Black Lives Matter protests swiftly grew violent and destructive.

Minneapolis was looted over several nights and the chaos spread nationwide throughout the summer, when nearly any mention of police use of force against a minority – clearly justified or otherwise – became pretext for protests and, inevitably, riots.

After a relative reprieve for the past several months, Minnesota has again been recently embroiled in protests and destruction after the April 11 death of Daunte Wright, a black man shot dead by a Brooklyn Center cop who said she meant to fire her Taser instead of her service weapon. Wright’s death occurred about 10 miles from where Floyd died.

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This Anti-Trump Republican is About to Go Down

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Members of the G.O.P. are scheduled to vote tomorrow to expel Conference Chair Liz Cheney from the No. 3 leadership post. The Wyoming Republican, daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney, is a vocal critic of Donald Trump even though they belong to the same party. This move to get her out of her position is a huge sign that Trump still has a powerful grip on the Republican Party. 

Cheney’s problems with her party sprouted from the January 6 Capitol riots, wherein a throng of Trump supporters mobbed the Congress. A few days after that chaotic event, Liz Cheney was among the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for incitement of insurrection. The impeachment was unsurprisingly supported by the Democrats but the Republican-dominated Senate acquitted then-president Donald Trump.

House Republicans tried to unseat Cheney from her post as party conference chair but the Republican’s main guy in the lower chamber, Kevin McCarthy, advised members to keep her in that position. Ms Cheney would eventually stay due to a unanimous vote and since then her lambasting of Donald Trump continued for months.

Last week however, Cheney published an anti-Trump article on Washington Post which seemed to annoy McCarthy himself. He thought that the party would be able to move forward after helping to retain Cheney, but because of her continued divisive actions, McCarthy lost his confidence in her, eventually prompting him to take the necessary steps to try to remove her from power. 

This development will thrust Liz Cheney into the Never Trump spotlight further and will make her the face of that leaderless movement. The divided faction has already lost Arizona Senator John McCain when he died in 2018. Meanwhile, centrist Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney of Utah, with all their waning popularity, don’t seem all-in in the fight against Donald Trump.

Even though the voting is yet to take place, it is most likely that Liz Cheney will be unseated from her post. In fact, the party has already been considering a replacement. Only 36 years young, rising star Elisa Stefanik used to be a staunch Trump critic but went on to become an ally and even defended the former president in his 2019 impeachment trial. She also heavily endorsed Donald Trump during the 2020 campaign, stating that Trump is the “only candidate who is capable of protecting the American Dream”. Upon replacement of Liz Cheney, Elise Stefanik is expected to bring in a much-needed new voice in the House of Representatives.

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The White House Condemns Hamas Attacks On Tel Aviv

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Palestinian militants have launched thousands of rocket attacks on Israel since 2001 and the victims are mostly innocent civilians. These assaults were labelled as terrorism by the United Nations, European Union and Israel. On the other hand, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch classify the violent acts as war crimes. 

Recently, Palestinian militant nationalist organization Hamas attacked Tel Aviv with rockets, causing renewed conflict within the already-chaotic region. The U.S. government has condemned the attacks and called for a halt to the unnecessary mayhem that has left nothing but destruction and has already claimed many lives from both sides.

In an interview with the press, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that President Biden is being briefed regularly on the situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. The president’s team is communicating consistently with Israeli and Palestinian officials, along with other leaders in the Middle East, to try to de-escalate the ongoing attacks. 

“The president’s support for Israel’s security, for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, is fundamental and will never waiver. We condemn ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem. We also stand against extremism that has inflicted violence on both communities,” Psaki said.

During a briefing with reporters last Tuesday, State Department spokesman Ned Price stated “The loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians, innocent Israelis, is something we deeply regret. It is precisely why we are doing everything we can, we are doing everything we can in coordination with our international partners to put an end to a cycle of escalation and a cycle of violence.”

The fighting has been brewing for many days until it escalated into a full blown attack by Hamas, which led to retaliatory strikes from Israel. There would’ve been more destruction in Tel Aviv, but fortunately they have intercepted some of the rockets in the sky, before they reach their targets.

National Security adviser Jake Sullivan has kept in touch with some allies in the Egyptian government and his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne informed the media that Sullivan sent a message that expressed support and encouraged peace. 

“He conveyed the President’s unwavering support for Israel’s security and for its legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians. He also conveyed the United States’ encouragement of steps toward restoring a sustainable calm. They agreed to continue to stay in close touch,” Horne told reporters.

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Pentagon Advances Probe Into UFO Sightings

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he theory that other life forms exist across the universe is nothing new to American society, modern or otherwise. However, throughout decades of pursuit by scientists and fanatics, there has been very little evidence that they exist. Thankfully, the military has the means to observe alien phenomena. They have the technology to fly in the sky on any given day and provide the surveillance needed.

Recently the Pentagon is investigating the military on their policies regarding the way they handle UFO sightings. This conduct evaluation was deemed necessary especially when the Pentagon recently confirmed the veracity of three leaked video footages, including one that featured a flying triangular object that was captured by a Navy pilot back in 2019. 

The leaked videos prompted the Department of Defense to establish the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force (UAPTF) back in August 2020. The Pentagon stated “The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”

“The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing,” the Pentagon added.

The 2021 Intelligence Authorization Act that was passed back in December 2020, commands intelligence agencies and the Defense Department to craft a report on what they know about unidentified aerial phenomena. This piece of information will then be submitted to the lawmakers for further scrutiny.

Science fiction fans must be really excited for the past few years for these revelations. The fact that UAPs are already being taken seriously by the Pentagon and other agencies is a huge development. However, we must remember that this is not proof that we have visitors from other planets. In fact, we are nowhere close to uncovering alien activity. 

With the technology that we have today, there are possibilities that those flying objects were just manmade. Regular citizens like you and I can afford to buy drones and capture footage of our world. So it is not surprising to know that what we have seen could just be some type of unmanned aircraft. The bigger concern of the government and the military right now, is that these UAPs might be deployed by rival superpowers to spy on American offensive and defensive capabilities.

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