Biden arrives in Glasgow for COP26 with U.S. climate credibility in question
President Joe Biden will arrive in Scotland for the COP26 climate summit Monday, hoping to convince world leaders the U.S. is taking bold action on global warming. He also arrives without any major climate legislation firmly in hand to match his promise. Most recently, Democratic divisions in Congress scuttled plans to pass the White House’s $1.75 trillion spending package that featured $555 billion in climate provisions. That would have enabled Biden to show some progress on his pledge to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels. Though Biden has made climate change a focus of his administration, experts say he is expected to face questions about his ability to deliver meaningful climate policy in one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters.
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Global COVID-19 death toll surpasses 5 million
The devastating human toll from the coronavirus reached another major milestone Monday when the worldwide death tally surpassed 5 million, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Nowhere else in the globe has the cost in lives been higher than in the United States, despite the country’s abundance of vaccines. Even through a decline in infections in recent weeks, the U.S. continues to experience about 1,400 daily deaths because of COVID-19, which has killed 746,000 Americans. Brazil, India, Mexico and Russia are next on the somber list, although the numbers are unofficial. Because of underreporting in several nations, the worldwide tally is believed to be much higher than 5 million fatalities. The U.S. death count has surpassed the estimated 675,000 Americans who died in the 1918 flu pandemic, and the emergence of vaccines toward the end of 2020 only slowed the pandemic’s pace.
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse begins amid controversy over judge
The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people, two fatally, during a protest against police brutality last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, begins Monday. The shootings occurred during chaotic demonstrations on Aug. 25, 2020, two days after a white police officer in that city shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back while responding to a domestic disturbance. Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, was among a number of people who responded to calls on social media to take up arms and come to Kenosha to respond to the protests. Last week, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said the people shot by Rittenhouse could not be called “victims” — a term he routinely bans in his trials unless someone has been convicted of a crime against the person. But after Schroeder also didn’t ban defense lawyers from calling the men “looters, rioters, arsonists or any other pejorative term,” national scrutiny followed.
Supreme Court to hear cases challenging Texas abortion ban
The Supreme Court on Monday will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging Texas’ highly restrictive abortion law. Rather than criminalizing abortion, Texas incentivizes private citizens to sue anyone who helps a person get an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The law has discouraged clinics from performing the procedure and made it harder for abortion rights groups to persuade courts to block enforcement of the law. The Biden administration and a group of clinics have separately challenged the law as unconstitutional. Instead of invalidating the law or upholding it, however, the justices will decide only whether to block its enforcement. Advocates will be looking for any sign about the court’s commitment to its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide.
Judge to reveal names of the jurors in Derek Chauvin trial
The judge in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Monday will release the names of the 15 jurors and alternates, months after the former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty in the murder of George Floyd. After Chauvin’s conviction in April, Judge Peter Cahill initially said he would keep the names sealed for 180 days, citing the high-profile nature of the case. A media coalition including USA TODAY had asked Cahill to release the jurors’ identities, saying the media and public have a right to the information and there was no known threat to juror safety that would warrant keeping the names sealed. Seven of the jurors spoke publicly for the first time Thursday night, sharing their experiences in the courtroom and how the trial impacted their lives.