Police chief to testify against Chauvin in Floyd murder trial – National & International News – FRI 2Apr2021

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo may testify today in the George Floyd murder trial. Arradondo is expected to testify against the accused, former police officer Derek Chauvin.

Police chief to testify against Chauvin. US water tainted with “forever chemicals”. Allies try to save Iran nuclear deal. Suu Kyi charged with violating secrets law


Police chief to testify against Chauvin in Floyd murder trial

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell says that Minneapolis Chief Medaria Arradondo will testify against former police officer Derek Chauvin in his trial for the murder of George Floyd last year. It’s not yet certain, but it’s likely Arradondo will take the stand today. 

In his opening statement, Blackwell told jurors that Arradondo “is going to tell you that Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was not consistent with Minneapolis police department training. He will not mince any words. He’s very clear. He will be very decisive, that this was excessive force”. 

Experts say it may be unprecedented for a police chief to testify against one of his own former officers in a use of force trial. Arradondo became Minneapolis’s first black police chief in 2017. Following Floyd’s death last year, he immediately fired Chauvin and three other officers involved. This earned him vehement criticism from the local police union.  

The jury already heard scathing testimony yesterday from Chauvin’s supervisor, Sgt. David Pleoger. Pleoger arrived at the scene shortly after Floyd’s body had been taken away by ambulance. He told the jury, “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers they could have ended their restraint”. By saying this, Ploeger implied that it was his opinion that Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes after he stopped resisting, used excessive force.

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US towns’ water have high levels of “forever chemicals”

In a 9-month survey, Consumer Reports and The Guardian asked 120 volunteers from around the US to sample their local drinking water. The investigation found high levels of lead, arsenic, and “forever chemical” contamination in drinking water across the US.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “forever chemicals”, are a group of roughly 5,000 manmade compounds found in everything from food packaging to nonstick cookware to firefighting foam. Exposure to the chemicals has been linked to various cancers, liver disease, decreased fertility, asthma and thyroid disease.

Of the 120 samples, 118 contained concerning levels of PFAS or arsenic, or detectable amounts of lead. Testing of the samples showed:

  • More than 35% of the samples had high PFAS levels
  • About 8% of samples had higher than recommended levels of arsenic.
  • 118 out of 120 had detectable levels of lead.

One of the testing sites, a church in Pittsboro, NC, contained PFAS concentrations of 80 parts per trillion (ppt), well above the EPA’s advisory limit of 70 ppt. Some groups say even 70 ppt is too high. The Environmental Working group argues that the limit should be no more than 1 ppt.

The tester from Pittsboro, Jim Vaughn, says the high contamination is probably linked to a nearby chemical factory. In the 1970s, the DuPont chemical company opened a facility that dumped PFAS into the nearby Cape Fear River. The facility is still in operation under a DuPont offshoot, The Chemours Company. According to a suit filed by the state last year, Chemours continues to dump the chemicals into the local waterways.

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Find out how you can test your water.



Allies try to save Iran nuclear deal

A group of major signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal met in Brussels to try to salvage the agreement. In attendance were representatives from the EU, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran. It doesn’t appear there was any US representation at the meeting, but the White House had previously dubbed the meeting “a welcome step”.

Following the meeting, the participants said they were hopeful that the US would rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the agreement’s formal name. 

But it may not be so simple. After the Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions, Iran began violating the terms of the deal. Over the last three years, Iran has built up its stores of uranium to pressure the other signatories to offset the effects of the crippling US sanctions. Since Biden took office, both sides have voiced willingness to restore the agreement. However, Washington has insisted that Iran must return to compliance before the US lifts sanctions, and Iran has steadfastly refused.

Carefully-worded statements from today’s meeting indicate that the partners believe the onus is on the US to make the first move. The participants hinted that they are willing to work with the US and Iran to “identify sanctions lifting and nuclear implementation measures”.

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Myanmar: Suu Kyi charged with violating secrets law

Myanmar’s military junta has charged Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s deposed elected leader, with violating a colonial-era official secrets law. Of the charges so far leveled at Suu Kyi, this one is the most serious and carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

Three of Suu Kyi’s cabinet and a detained Australian economic advisor, Sean Turnell, face a similar charge. Suu Kyi’s lawyer says a Yangon court heard the charges last week, but he only learned of the charges two days ago. 

So far, no details about the supposed violations of this law have been forthcoming.

The junta has previously charged Suu Kyi with accepting bribes and violating a natural disaster law. No further details have emerged on these charges either. The military initially charged Suu Kyi with violating another colonial-era law for possession of “illegally imported” walkie-talkies.

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