Today is Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Let's get caught up.
These headlines are in the news this morning: The U.S. military is concerned about China's aggressiveness toward Taiwan; Minneapolis police rejected the actions of former officer Derek Chauvin at his trial; Joe Biden's agenda may have found new life in the Senate.
Read on for these stories, other top headlines, celebrity birthdays and more.
US military cites rising risk of Chinese move against Taiwan
The American military is warning that China is probably accelerating its timetable for capturing control of Taiwan, the island democracy that has been the chief source of tension between Washington and Beijing for decades and is widely seen as the most likely trigger for a potentially catastrophic U.S.-China war.
The worry about Taiwan comes as China wields new strength from years of military buildup. It has become more aggressive with Taiwan and more assertive in sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea. Beijing also has become more confrontational with Washington; senior Chinese officials traded sharp and unusually public barbs with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in talks in Alaska last month.
A military move against Taiwan, however, would be a test of U.S. support for the island that Beijing views as a breakaway province. For the Biden administration, it could present the choice of abandoning a friendly, democratic entity or risking what could become an all-out war over a cause that is not on the radar of most Americans. The United States has long pledged to help Taiwan defend itself, but it has deliberately left unclear how far it would go in response to a Chinese attack.
China warns U.S. not to boycott Winter Olympics
China's government warned Washington on Wednesday not to boycott next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after the Biden administration said it was talking with allies about a joint approach to complaints of human rights abuses.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson rejected accusations of abuses against ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. He warned of an unspecified “robust Chinese response” to a potential Olympics boycott.
Human rights groups are protesting China’s hosting of the games, due to start in February 2022. They have urged a boycott or other measures to call attention to accusations of Chinese abuses against Uyghurs, Tibetans and residents of Hong Kong.
Minneapolis officers line up at trial to reject Chauvin's actions
The parade of Minneapolis police officers rejecting a former officer’s actions in restraining George Floyd continued at his murder trial, including a use-of-force instructor who said officers were coached to “stay away from the neck when possible.”
Lt. Johnny Mercil on Tuesday became the latest member of the Minneapolis force to take the stand as part of an effort by prosecutors to dismantle the argument that Derek Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do when he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck last May.
Several experienced officers, including the police chief himself, have testified that Floyd should not have been kept pinned to the pavement for close to 9 1/2 minutes by prosecutors’ reckoning as the Black man lay face-down, his hands cuffed behind his back.
According to testimony and records submitted Tuesday, Chauvin took a 40-hour course in 2016 on how to recognize people in crisis — including those suffering mental problems or the effects of drug use — and how to use de-escalation techniques to calm them down.
Senate gives Biden a big tool to work around GOP filibuster
With a powerful new tool, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has fresh options for potentially advancing President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package and other priorities past Republican obstruction in the 50-50 split Senate.
Republicans still pledge to do all they can to halt Biden, but an official parliamentarian’s opinion this week is a potential game-changer. It unleashes multiple options for Democrats to advance parts of Biden’s agenda — including immigration and Medicare legislation — with 51 votes in the 100-member Senate rather than the 60 typically needed to move major legislation past filibuster threats.
There has been talk of trying to change the filibuster rules, but that would be a very heavy political lift in the divided and tradition-devoted Senate.
The White House was heartened by the parliamentarian’s ruling but isn't giving up on support from some Republicans, despite their strong opposition to paying for much of the infrastructure plan with a corporate tax increase. The president, said press secretary Jen Psaki, “continues to believe ... that there is a bipartisan path forward.”
In other news today ...
- After school shootings that left dozens dead in recent years, National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre said the resulting outrage put him in such danger that he sought shelter aboard a friend’s 108-foot yacht.
- Justice Stephen Breyer on Tuesday said liberal advocates of big changes at the Supreme Court, including expanding the number of justices, should think “long and hard” about what they’re proposing.
- St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who has been outspoken in her criticism of the criminal justice system’s “arrest and incarcerate” model, won election Tuesday and will take over as the first Black female mayor in a city beset by yet another wave of violent crime.
- The death toll from mudslides in eastern Indonesia has risen to 126 with scores still missing, officials said Wednesday, as rain continued to pound the region and hamper the search.
- In northern Ethiopia, Tigrayans bring proof of an official attempt at what is being called ethnic cleansing in the form of a new identity card that eliminates all traces of Tigray, as confirmed to The Associated Press by nine refugees from different communities.
- A Buddhist monk who was trapped by floodwaters inside a cave in northern Thailand for four days has been rescued by divers, a provincial official said.
- Workers in Taiwan have removed the last remaining train car in the island's worst rail accident in seven decades.
Click on the links below for full versions of these stories and scroll further for a look at today in history and celebrity birthdays.
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ON THIS DATE
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