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First Thing: US awaits verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial over George Floyd’s death

Molly Blackall
·5 min read
<span>Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters

Good morning.

Jurors in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd will start their first full day of deliberations this morning, after closing arguments were made yesterday.

Floyd died after Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.

  • The prosecution argued that Chauvin’s force was unnecessary, defied his training, and caused Floyd’s death. They argued it was ludicrous to suggest that Floyd’s heart disease had killed him at the exact moment he was pinned down by Chauvin.

  • Chauvin’s defence team argued that his force was reasonable because Floyd had refused to get into the car, and that the jury should not dismiss Floyd’s heart condition and drug use as a cause of death. Chauvin denies all charges.

Giving instructions to the jury, Judge Peter Cahill said Chauvin was culpable for Floyd’s death if he took an action that caused it, even if other factors contributed. You can read more about what was said in the the closing arguments and the possible trial outcomes here.

  • Tensions are high in Minneapolis, where hundreds of soldiers from the national guard have been deployed amid protests against police violence and racial inequality. Hundreds of teenagers walked out of school yesterday in protest against the police killings of Floyd and, more recently, Daunte Wright.

  • The judge expressed frustrations with recent comments by the Democratic representative Maxine Waters, who expressed support for protesters against police brutality. Cahill warned the comments could lead to a verdict being subject to an appeal and possibly overturned.

Former vice-president Walter Mondale has died

Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale was vice-president under Jimmy Carter. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images

The former vice-president Walter F Mondale has died aged 93. A former senator, ambassador and Minnesota attorney general, Mondale made his own bid for the presidency in 1984, losing dramatically to Ronald Reagan.

A towering figure in the Democratic party who resolutely put humility and honesty before the glitz of mass communication, Mondale’s death marked something of an end of an era in US politics. He was described by a biographer as the last major American politician to resist the allure of television,” writes Ed Pilkington.

Violence has erupted in Mexico before large-scale elections

Vigilantes prepare to take part in a training demonstration in the village of Ayahualtempa, Guerrero state, Mexico, on 10 April.
Vigilantes prepare to take part in a training demonstration in the village of Ayahualtempa, Guerrero state, Mexico, on 10 April. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Violence is escalating in Mexico as the country gears up for mid-term elections in June, triggering political assassinations and displacing thousands of people. State and federal forces have apparently colluded with the warring factions among Mexico’s criminal groups, even allegedly fighting alongside them.

With more than 21,000 positions in different levels of government up for grabs across the country, including 15 state governorships, the June elections are the largest in Mexico’s history – and for criminal groups, a massive opportunity to advance their interests.

In other news…

Proud Boys members Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean walk toward the US. Capitol in Washington on 6 January 2021.
Proud Boys members Joseph Biggs, left, and Ethan Nordean walk toward the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January 2021. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP
  • Two leaders of the Proud Boys far-right group will be detained in jail before the trial over their involvement in the 6 January Capitol attack, a federal judge has ruled.

  • Alexei Nalvany has been moved to hospital amid concerns he could die “at any minute”. The leading Kremlin critic has been on hunger strike for nearly three weeks.

  • There are high hopes that Joe Biden will nominate the first black woman to the supreme court, with supporters saying the move would elevate a judge “that that really understands racism”. The court doesn’t have any vacant seats, but calls are growing for Stephen Breyer, a liberal who will soon turn 83, to retire.

Stat of the day: 2021 is expected to see the second largest rise in carbon emissions ever

Carbon dioxide emissions are forecast to soar this year by the second biggest annual rise in history, as countries pump funds into fossil fuels in an attempt to recover from the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The increase will be second only to the aftermath of the financial crisis, a decade ago.

Don’t miss this: what is whiteness, and where did it come from?

Prior to the 17th century, people did not think of themselves as a part of “the white race”. But now, it has becoming a driving political force, linked to mass shootings, Brexit and the Capitol attack. So what is whiteness, where does it come from and what does it mean today?

Last thing: Cher attempts to save the world’s loneliest elephant

Cher with Kaavan at a sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey in Cambodia in December.
Cher with Kaavan at a sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey in Cambodia in December. Photograph: Reuters

In a new documentary, Cher visits a lonely elephant to sing it a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Way, before it is rehomed in the wild. Cher discovered the plight of Kaavan on social media, when he was chained up in Islamabad zoo, and made it her mission to save him. Even if you don’t sit down to watch this on Thursday night, Stuart Heritage’s report on the documentary is worth your time in itself.

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