Tag Archive for: Daunte Wright



Russian invasion of Ukraine could drive up U.S. gas prices. Ex-cop who killed black driver gets 24-month sentence. Shelling in eastern Ukraine ramps fears of invasion.




Russian invasion of Ukraine could drive up U.S. gas prices

While the escalating tensions in Ukraine may feel very far away, the Biden administration is looking to mitigate a potential consequence for Americans at home- rising gas prices. Gas prices in the U.S. and all over the world have been steadily rising for the last year. If Russia does indeed invade Ukraine, Americans could see prices rise still further.

Russia is an important global supplier of fossil fuels, and its economy is heavily dependent on these exports. That makes sanctions on fossil fuel exports an important pressure point and deterrent. But that pressure goes both ways.

On Tuesday, Biden himself warned Americans of the potential fallout. “I will not pretend this will be painless”, Biden said, “There could be impact on our energy prices. If Russia decides to invade, that would also have consequences here at home. But, the American people understand that defending democracy and liberty is never without cost”.

To offset the costs of fuel and alleviate energy shortages, Congress and the White House are weighing various options. These include a possible gas tax holiday, sourcing more imports from other suppliers, and a push to encourage production and use of renewable energy.

The administration has some limited lead time before potential price hikes in the U.S. But experts have said it’s possible that gas could be “well above” $4 a gallon by the summer.

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Ex-cop who killed black driver gets 24-month sentence

Former Minneapolis-area police officer Kim Potter received a 24-month sentence today for the manslaughter of Daunte Wright.

Last April, Potter pulled over Wright, 20, to cite him for expired tags and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. She attempted to arrest Wright for an outstanding warrant on a misdemeanor weapons charge. Wright attempted to flee, and Potter attempted to taze him. But instead of her Taser, she pulled her gun and shot him point blank in the abdomen. Wright later died after crashing into an oncoming car. She was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in December.

Potter will serve just 16 months in prison and the rest on supervised release. Judge Regina Chu said she recognized that her sentencing decision would be “unpopular” but that it “does not in any way diminish Daunte Wright’s life”.

Wright’s family and their attorney Benjamin Crump strongly disagreed. 

During his impact statement prior to the sentencing, Wright’s father, Arbuey Wright highlighted Potter’s reckless disregard for his son’s life. “She was a police office longer than my son was alive,” he said. 

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, reacted tearfully to the lenient sentence, saying “the justice system murdered him all over again”.

Benjamin Crump angrily compared the “slap on the wrist” sentence for Potter, a white woman, to a 57-month sentence for a black Minneapolis officer, Mohammed Noor, who also accidentally fatally shot someone.

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Shelling in eastern Ukraine ramps fears of invasion

For the past day, Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have been lobbing shells at Ukrainian military and civilian targets in violation of a 2-year-old ceasefire agreement. Ukrainian officials are accusing the separatists of trying to provoke a military escalation between the two sides. The separatists have also announced a civilian evacuation of the region.

Meanwhile, Biden and other U.S. officials fear that Russia has staged this as a pretext for an invasion. Russian state media has been broadcasting images purporting to be the aftermath of a Ukrainian high-explosive attack in Donetsk, in the same region. In response, the State Department has reiterated its warning that Russia might employ a false-flag tactic to justify escalation. 

U.S. sources say there may be as many as 190,000 Russian military personnel amassed around Ukraine’s borders. The White House and State Department are once again repeating their belief that a full-blown invasion could come at any time. While previous U.S. warnings of an imminent invasions have ultimately proved unfounded, it’s clear that the shelling does mark a concrete escalation.

Earlier today, Vladimir Putin announced military drills to take place tomorrow, which may include ballistic and cruise missile launches. As a BBC commentator put it, “It feels, increasingly, as if the Kremlin is trolling the West”.

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Ex-cop who confused Taser and gun guilty of manslaughter. Canceled flights, extreme weather promise wild holiday weekend. U.S., Japanese militaries plan for “Taiwan emergency”.




Ex-cop who confused Taser and gun guilty of manslaughter

Kim Potter, a former Brooklyn Center, MN, police officer, has been found guilty of first- and second-degree manslaughter in the death of a black motorist Daunte Wright, 20. The incident happened earlier this year in the Minneapolis suburb, just days before ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.

Potter and an officer she was training stopped Wright for expired license plates and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. They then learned Wright had a warrant for failing to appear in court on a weapons charge. Wright was initially cooperating until the trainee officer attempted to cuff him, at which point he got back into his car and went to drive off. Potter then yelled, “I’ll Tase you” twice, and “Taser! Taser! Taser!”, before pulling the trigger. But instead of her Taser, Potter had pulled her 9mm pistol. She shot Wright point blank in the abdomen.

A dazed Wright then sped off before crashing into another car head on. His girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat, was injured but survived.

Mishap or menace?

Even if Potter had pulled her Taser instead of her pistol, she still would have been in violation of her own department’s regulations. Brooklyn City’s policing protocols specifically prohibit Tasing anyone who is behind the wheel of a vehicle. Prosecutors argued that Potter’s actions not only cost Wright his life, but needlessly endangered other members of the public, when Wright could easily have been apprehended later.

At no point after the shooting Wright did Potter attempt to render aid. She did bemoan her own plight, saying “I’m going to prison”.

The prosecution also contended that Potter’s failure to immediately inform her superiors about the shooting ultimately delayed other officers in helping Wright when he eventually crashed. The officers who responded to the crash had only been informed that Wright might have had a weapon (he didn’t). For that reason, they hung back for 8.5 minutes before finally approaching Wright’s vehicle and pulling out his lifeless body.

The typical sentence for 1st degree manslaughter is 7 years. But, due to these aggravating factors (known as “Blakely factors”), prosecutors are pushing for the maximum sentence for Potter’s convictions- 15 years in prison. Sentencing will take place in February.

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Canceled flights, extreme weather promise wild holiday weekend

Anyone planning to travel anywhere in the U.S. for the next few days may be in for some unwelcome surprises. Due to staffing shortages, airlines have canceled more than 2000 upcoming flights globally. These include at least 454 flights within, into or out of the U.S. While some airlines have not confirmed the reasons for the staffing shortages, some say they’ve experienced a sudden uptick in call-outs from employees sick with the COVID-19 omicron variant.

On top of that, several states are experiencing extreme or unseasonable weather. An “atmospheric river” is dumping snow in parts of the western U.S. including Oregon and Washington State. The entire region from western Washington State to Southern California are under flash flood warnings. Two have already died south of San Francisco after their car became trapped in flood waters due to heavy rains. There’s also a risk of mudslides, especially in areas that were heavily affected by wildfires over the summer.

In the central and southern states, forecasters say to expect “spring-like” temperatures in the 70s and 80s.



U.S., Japanese militaries plan for “Taiwan emergency”

A Japanese news agency says that the military leadership in the U.S. and Japan have drawn up a joint plan of action in the event of a “Taiwan emergency”. The “emergency”, presumably, would be a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

Diplomatic tensions over the self-governing island have been rising steadily in recent years. China considers Taiwan to be a renegade province. Although the U.S. provides Taiwan with the means to defend itself, diplomatic policy with regard to the dispute has long been “hands off”. That started to change during the Trump administration. Biden has largely carried this policy forward as Beijing has assumed a much more militaristic posture towards reunification.

In what was considered an unguarded moment, Biden recently said that the U.S. would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion. The agreement with Japan seems to be one leg of this “defense”. Additionally, Australia’s defense minister said last month that it was “inconceivable” that Australia would not join the U.S. in defending Taiwan militarily, should it come to that. Biden officials have been making frequent trips to various Asian countries to shore up its influence in the region, seemingly in preparation for a broader regional conflict. 

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Officer in Wright shooting due in court. 100 firms oppose vote restrictions. US sanctions Russia, expels diplomats. What’s up with N Korea’s Kim?


Officer in Wright shooting due in court

Kim Potter, the 26-year police veteran who fatally shot Daunte Wright, 20, during a traffic stop, is due to make her first court appearance today. Potter has been charged with 2nd degree manslaughter in Wright’s death. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Potter is free pending trial after posting $100,000 bail.

Earlier this week, Potter and Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon both resigned their positions following the outcry over Wright’s death. Before resigning, Gannon stated his opinion that Potter had mistaken her gun for her Tazer, calling Wright’s death a tragic accident. Such mix-ups are rare, with 16 such incidents having been recorded nationwide in the last 10 years.

This explanation has not satisfied many in Minneapolis. Many, including Wright’s family, dismiss this explanation entirely. Others see even Tazing a person during a routine traffic stop as a manifestation of racial bias by police. Traffic stops can be surprisingly stressful for police, as many officers have been killed over the years during routine stops. Nevertheless, experts say this does not excuse Potter’s actions.

Law enforcement experts offer several explanations for the deadly mishap, including poor training practices. For example, police officers typically spend many more hours training with their lethal weapons than with their non-lethal weapons. As a consequence, muscle memory makes it more likely they will reach for their guns in stressful situations rather than any of the numerous non-lethal tools at their disposal.

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More than 100 companies sign pledge to oppose voting restrictions

This week, hundreds of CEOs, investors and other leaders in various industries took part in a Zoom call to discuss a united response to restrictive voting laws. During the call, participants stated their belief that the laws under consideration in several states were designed to disenfranchise voters of color and other marginalized groups. Proponents of the bills say they are necessary to preserve their states’ electoral integrity, citing largely debunked claims made by Donald Trump.

Following the meeting, 100 business leaders from major companies such as Apple, Amazon, Ford and General Motors took out a two-page ad in the New York Times. The ad states the companies’ opposition to voter restrictions but is fairly non-specific as to how they intend to oppose the laws. However, if any or all of these companies choose to act, they have plenty of leverage. For example, they could suspend campaign contributions to politicians or parties they hold responsible. The firms could also delay investment in any states that sign such bills into law.

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US sanctions Russia, expels diplomats

The White House has announced new sanctions against Russia, as well as the expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats. The sanctions relate to accusations of Kremlin interference in last year’s elections as well as the SolarWinds hack. This is the first time Washington has explicitly blamed the SolarWinds hack on Russian intelligence.

The announcement of the sanctions coincide with a build-up of Russian troops near Crimea in Ukraine. At least one Ukrainian soldier has been killed in recent skirmishes there. The US and NATO have pledged to support the Ukraine in the event of all-out hostilities.

US-Russian tensions have steadily increased in recent months, with Biden calling Russian President Putin “a killer” and that the days of the US “rolling over” to Putin were over. However, the two leaders have spoken on the phone in an attempt at de-escalation, and there has even been talk of a summit for that purpose.

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What’s up with N Korea’s Kim?

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a dire warning to his people of hard times ahead. The Hermit Kingdom has suffered several crises in the past year, including disastrous flooding. The country has also cut ties with China, its only economic lifeline, due to panic over the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim’s statement was alarming, not only for his home audience but for the international community. He said the country faced its “worst-ever situation”. He further compared the troubles ahead to the “Arduous March” of the 1990s. During that crisis, an estimated 3 million North Koreans died of famine.

Compare this to an unusual speech by Kim in January at a rare national National Worker’s Party conference. In the speech, an emotional Kim admitted to political and personal failings, expressing that he and his advisers had let his people down. Add to this a similar display at a military parade in October. These speeches have raised eyebrows globally. In North Korea, Kim and his predecessors enjoy god-like status, with a propaganda machine perpetually churning out evidence of their infallibility.

But wait, there’s more…

Just to add another wrinkle, Alexander Matsegora, Russian envoy to North Korea, said this week that he saw no evidence of famine in North Korea. Matsegora said he was unsure why Kim had evoked the “Arduous March”, but said that the current situation in North Korea was in no way comparable to that period. Matsegora acknowledged that the situation in the country was difficult, citing in particular shortages of medical supplies. But, Matsegora said, “The most important thing is that there is no famine in the country today”. “Thank god,” Matsegora continued, “it is a long shot from the Arduous March, and I hope it would never come to that. I remember well what happened here in the late 1990s and I can compare”.

Matsegora said that while imports had disappeared from shops, domestic products were still widely available and that prices had only risen modestly. For example, while there’s no coffee to be had, practically anyone can get “a mug of very decent local tea”.

It’s difficult at the best of times for the outside world to get a grip on what’s happening in North Korea, and with Kim in particular. Has he lost the plot, or is this part of a careful political play? Kim’s recent doom-and-gloom statements are certainly food for thought, especially given Matsegora’s comments.

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