Nearly nine minutes. That’s how long former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck in the video that shocked the world. Now America holds its collective breath as jury selection in Chauvin’s trial begins today. He’s been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, but the judge is considering adding a charge of third-degree murder. The trial, which will be livestreamed, will be seen by many as a test for racial justice. “If we don’t get the outcome we want, I’m going to chalk it up to being a Black man in America,” said Selwyn Jones, Floyd’s uncle.
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2. Myanmar Police Conduct Raids Ahead of Strike
Myanmar police arrested hundreds of protesters Sunday as tens of thousands of people demonstrated against last month’s military coup, apparently uncowed by the sometimes deadly force being used against peaceful protests, which the U.N. says has killed more than 50 people. Security forces have also occupied hospitals and universities amid the clampdown on dissent, while labor unions prepare for a nationwide strike today to shut down the economy and put pressure on the junta. Women’s groups have also called for a big turnout of female protesters at Monday’s rallies to mark International Women’s Day.
3. Yemen’s Houthis Launch Missiles Into Saudi Arabia
Houthi rebels fired missiles and launched drones at Saudi military sites and a major oil refinery Sunday. The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which reported no casualties, blamed the attacks on the rebels being newly emboldened by U.S. President Joe Biden removing them from a terror list. Meanwhile, at least eight people died in a fire at an immigration center in Saana. Tens of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa travel through Yemen every year trying to reach oil-rich Gulf states to find work, often getting stuck in the war-torn nation and left to languish in detention centers.
4. China Must End Reliance on US Tech to Be ‘Great Power’
Not there yet. That was a former top Chinese official’s assessment of the country’s manufacturing might, despite it being the world’s top manufacturer. Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology until last year, said it would be 30 years before the Asian giant became a manufacturing nation of “great power.” This is due to the fact that China still depends heavily on U.S. high-tech products such as semiconductors, Miao explained to Communist Party delegates in Beijing. China has drafted a five-year plan to accelerate advanced technologies like chips, quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
At least 20 people have died and 600 were injured in a series of explosions at a military weapons depot in the oil-rich Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea. COVID skeptics urged their children to burn masks on the steps of Idaho’s Capitol over the weekend. And Swiss voters narrowly approved a ban on burqas in public places in a controversial referendum.
Coronavirus Update: The U.S. is close to a surge in COVID-19 cases, with one epidemiologist warning it’s in the “eye of the hurricane.” Despite optimism after weeks of steep declines, new figures show the country is about to see a dangerous spike with some 60,000 daily cases being recorded over the past week.
1. Harry and Meghan Interview Sparks Royal Racism Row
Social media exploded Monday following the Duchess of Sussex’s allegations of racism in Britain’s royal family. Meghan and Harry revealed in a long-awaited Oprah interview that one of the Windsors expressed concern before their son’s birth about “how dark” his skin would be. The Suits actress also admitted she’d had suicidal thoughts amid the intense scrutiny of the British press. Serena Williams tweeted her support, saying Meghan’s “words illustrate the pain and cruelty” she’s experienced. Meanwhile, British TV personality Piers Morgan slammed the duchess, tweeting, “I wouldn’t believe Meghan Markle if she gave me a weather report.”
2. Virgin’s Branson Goes to Court Over US Train Venture
Richard Branson is suing a former partner that pulled out of a deal with Virgin because it claimed the pandemic had undermined the brand’s standing. Brightline, a private U.S. passenger rail system, reneged in July, arguing Virgin was “no longer of high-quality status,” after COVID-19 grounded its planes and Branson had to inject new capital. Brightline had previously agreed to rebrand its Florida service and a new route from Las Vegas to Southern California as Virgin Trains USA. In his suit, Branson called it “an opportunistic pretext” for Brightline to get out of the partnership.
Life may be suffering, as Buddhism’s first noble truth maintains, but that’s no reason to suffer from COVID-19. The Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s spiritual leader, was pleased to get his shot in the north Indian town of Dharmsala over the weekend, urging others to get the “very, very helpful” injection. The 85-year-old monk got the Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured by India’s Serum Institute, as did 10 others who live in his residence. India has recorded over 157,000 COVID-19 deaths and 11 million cases, the highest caseload in the world after the United States.
A ballerina from Russia’s famous Mariinsky Theatre wasn’t just swanning about when she performed Swan Lake on the frozen Gulf of Finland. Ilmira Bagrautinova’s performance of Tchaikovsky's masterpiece at 5 degrees Fahrenheit was a protest against the construction of a port in Batareinaya Bay, a popular beach about 60 miles west of St. Petersburg. The bay is home to real swans, and the dancer said she hoped to raise awareness of the environmental threat to the area. Bagrautinova braved the frigid temperatures wearing only a white tutu and leotard, her ballet slippers leaving marks in the snow.
Team LeBron James defeated Team Kevin Durant 170-150 in the NBA All-Star game in Atlanta Sunday, but the teams combined to score $3 million in donations for nonprofits supporting historically Black colleges and universities. “I'm so happy the NBA is celebrating our HBCUs,” said Vice President Kamala Harris, a Howard University alumna, ahead of the game. On the court, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who went 16-for-16 with 35 points, was named MVP, while Anfernee Simons dominated the slam dunk contest and Steph Curry claimed his second career win in the 3-point contest.
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