Chauvin seeks new trial – National & International News – WED 5May2021

Former police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted of murdering George Floyd, is requesting a new trial.

Chauvin asks for retrial. US birth rate at 100-year low. Netanyahu loses coalition mandate. Cuba develops homegrown vaccines.


Chauvin asks for new trial

The attorney for former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last month of the murder of George Floyd, has filed a motion calling for a new trial. The brief alleges that misconduct by the prosecution and jury and missteps by the judge denied Chauvin a fair trial.

Attorney Eric Nelson also claims that the pre-trial publicity was “so pervasive and so prejudicial” before and throughout the trial, that it amounted to a “structural defect in the proceedings”. Nelson’s court filing also allege prosecutorial misconduct, including witness intimidation.

Juror controversy

During the jury selection process, the jury were asked if they or anyone they knew had “participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality”. One of the jurors, Brandon Mitchell answered “no” to that question. Recently, footage surfaced of Mitchell attending the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” in DC last August.

Mitchell defended his answer indicating that he hadn’t attended a police brutality protest. He says he saw the DC event, whose speakers included Martin Luther King’s son, as a commemoration of the civil rights movement.

Despite Nelson’s many objections, experts have said that the strength of the evidence against Chauvin makes it unlikely that the jury’s decision would be overturned.

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2020 birth rate hit 100-year low

Births across the US fell by 4% in 2020 from their 2019 rates. According to a government report, this is the largest single-year decrease in 50 years. The birth rate fell to 56 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. This is about half the birth rate of the early 1960s and the lowest recorded since the government began tracking birth rates a century ago.

In 2020, birth rates fell among mothers of every major race and ethnicity in nearly all age groups. The climate of fear and economic strife brought on by the pandemic certainly played a role. But many of the 2020 births (up to August or September) would have been conceived before the pandemic hit the US. Experts are looking at the data in detail to determine what factors led to the decline.

Births among younger women have been declining in recent decades overall. Many younger women are choosing to delay pregnancy, have smaller families or foregoing motherhood altogether. Births among older mothers had been on the rise, but this was not the case last year.

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Israel: Netanyahu’s future in doubt after missing coalition deadline

As many predicted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has failed to form a ruling coalition ahead of a deadline that passed last night. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin will now pass the coalition mandate to one of Netanyahu’s rivals. The most likely candidate is centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid.

Following Israeli’s recent inconclusive elections, Rivlin predicted that none of the part leaders would be likely to form a government. If Lapid and other candidates fail, the country would go for its 5th round of parliamentary elections in just over two years.

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Cuba makes strides with homegrown vaccines

At the beginning of the pandemic last year, Cuba dispatched 1500 doctors to virus-hit countries all over the world. This continued a longstanding policy of medical diplomacy. In recent years, Cuba invested heavily in medical research, even developing a lung cancer vaccine. Now, the island country has two domestically-developed COVID vaccines in the final stages of testing. 

Venezuela plans to begin large-scale third phase trials of one of Cuba’s vaccine candidates this month. Venezuela’s government also hopes to produce enough of these vaccines domestically to vaccinate around 4 million people.

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