Mon. May 10th, 2021


The Real News Network

Your Wednesday Briefing

7 min read

Chauvin found guilty of the murder of George Floyd

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty yesterday on all three charges he faced in the death last year of George Floyd, capping one of the most-watched trials in the U.S. in recent memory. Follow live reactions.

Just one day after lawyers had made their closing arguments, the jury unanimously found Mr. Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming weeks, but is likely to receive far less time.

Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25 after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground under the knee of Mr. Chauvin, who is white, for more than nine minutes. His death set off worldwide protests against police brutality and racism.

On the ground: Minneapolis residents greeted the verdict with joy and relief. “We matter,” one woman said on the street where Mr. Floyd was killed outside a convenience store.

By the numbers: There have been only seven murder convictions since 2005 of police officers in fatal shootings while on duty, according to Philip Stinson of Bowling Green State University. That suggests that the chances that a killing by the police will lead to a murder conviction are about one in 2,000.

Johnson & Johnson to resume Europe vaccine rollout

Johnson & Johnson will resume the rollout of its single-shot coronavirus vaccine in Europe after the E.U.’s drug regulators said that the shot’s benefits outweighed the risks of side effects. The agency also said a warning should be added to the product indicating a possible link to rare blood clots.

The agency noted that regulators in individual E.U. member states should decide how to proceed, taking into account their countries’ particular case loads and vaccine availability.

In the U.S., the vaccine had already been given to nearly eight million people before regulators called for a pause. An advisory committee at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to make a recommendation on Friday on how to proceed.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

Researchers in China are testing the safety and efficacy of mixing two different Covid-19 shots. Early data shows that Chinese-made vaccines are less effective than others.

France is introducing one of Europe’s first vaccine passports, which it will use for domestic travel.

Israel’s repeated strikes on Iran

A string of Israeli strikes over the past year has exposed Iran’s vulnerability to espionage and sabotage, casting a cloud of paranoia over a country that now sees foreign plots in every mishap.

The attacks have exposed embarrassing security lapses in Iran, including an effective network of Israeli collaborators inside the country, and have left Iran’s leaders looking over their shoulders as they pursue negotiations with the Biden administration that are aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear agreement.

In less than nine months, a commander of Al Qaeda who had been given refuge in Tehran was killed; Iran’s chief nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was machine-gunned on a country road; and two explosions rocked a nuclear facility, all of which intelligence officials said had been carried out by Israel.

Analysis: Any overt retaliation risks an overwhelming Israeli response. “They are not in a hurry to start a war,” said Talal Atrissi, a political science professor at the Lebanese University in Beirut. “Retaliation means war.”


Other Big Stories

President Idriss Déby, above, of Chad, considered by the West to be crucial in the fight against Islamic extremist groups, was killed in clashes between insurgents and government soldiers. He was 68.

Pakistan’s Parliament began debates on whether to expel the French ambassador, a move widely seen as a capitulation by the government to a militant Islamist party that has led large protests against caricatures in France depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

News From Europe

President Vladimir Putin, above, of Russia, will deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address today, a speech that could shed light on just how far he is prepared to escalate tensions with the West.

Looking ahead to next year’s election, and a potential challenge from the right, President Emmanuel Macron of France has initiated a wide-ranging public debate on an issue important to conservatives: the country’s “laïcité” model of secularism.

Germany’s election in September will be pivotal for Europe, as the continent’s most powerful economy picks its new leader.

Though analysts suggest such an invasion is unlikely, a large-scale Russian troop buildup on Ukraine’s doorstep is sowing tension among officials and the Ukrainian public, who fear that Moscow is signaling that it is prepared to openly enter the conflict between the Ukrainian government and separatists.

What Else Is Happening

Multibillion-dollar plans for a European Super League of top soccer clubs collapsed after the six English clubs, half of the league’s members, withdrew from the project. The Italian club Inter Milan pulled out as well, and a top official of the league later confirmed that the entire project had been suspended.

When the police in Italy were called in to investigate a luncheon for a potential violation of coronavirus rules, they found a feast of about 65 fried protected migratory songbirds hidden beneath the table.

Finland, for a fourth consecutive year, topped a list of countries evaluated on the happiness of their inhabitants — to the surprise of some more melancholic Finns.

Lives Lived

Jim Steinman, who wrote all of the songs on “Bat Out of Hell” — Meat Loaf’s operatic, teenage-angst-filled 1977 debut album, which remains one of the most successful records of all time — died on Monday at 73.

A Morning Read

Big Tech is facing a global tipping point. Never before have so many countries moved with such vigor at the same time to limit the power of a single industry, potentially reshaping how the global internet works.

“As the power of digital platforms has grown, it’s become increasingly clear that we need something more to keep that power in check,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission executive vice president overseeing digital policy, said in a recent speech.


Why it feels so good to worry

In the most recent episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” podcast, my colleague Ezra spoke to Judson Brewer, an associate professor of psychiatry at Brown University and the author of “Unwinding Anxiety.” In this lightly edited excerpt, Dr. Brewer explains why worrying can be such a hard habit to break. Listen to the full podcast here.

A feeling of anxiety can trigger the mental behavior of worrying. As we start worrying, that actually gets reinforced in our brain because it makes us feel like we’re in control or at least it makes it feel like we’re doing something.

There are two elements here that can be happening, in terms of how worry gets formed as a habit. So one is, it feels better to worry than not to worry.

Think of maybe a parent of a teenager who just gets their driver’s license. The kid goes out to party with their friends on a Friday night, the parent stays up worrying, “Oh, is my kid going to be OK,” until they hear the doorknob or the garage door and they know, “OK, my child is home safely.”

That worrying did not keep their child safe, yet it feels better than not doing anything. So our brain says, “Ooh, this is bad, do something, do something.” And the worrying is “doing” and it feels better than “not doing.”

The other piece is, if it’s a problem that we’re worrying about, occasionally we’ll come up with a solution and then we’ll ascribe the worrying with coming up with a solution — which is likely not the case because worrying makes it harder to think, as it makes it harder for us to be in our growth mind-set, where we can really see lots of possibilities.

But just the fact that the two happen at the same time: Our brains love to make causal connections where they say, “Oh, I was worrying” — true — “and I came up with a solution” — true — “so therefore, the worrying must have helped me come up with the solution.”


What to Cook

This simple Chinese method for steaming fish fillets on a plate yields remarkable results.

What to Read

Despite the recent release of an exhaustive Philip Roth biography, you’ll never really understand the writer until you read his books. Here’s where to start.

Reasons to Nap

A large new study, tracking thousands of people from age 50 on, suggests those who sleep six hours or less a night are more likely to develop dementia in their late 70s.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Quintessentially boring color (five letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Queen Elizabeth II turns 95 today. Back in 1926, The Times’s article about her birth called her “a possible, though improbable, successor to the throne of England.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a wave of anti-transgender legislation in the U.S.

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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