Good morning. We’re covering the start of the trial of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd and China’s plans for a new world order.
The trial over the murder of George Floyd begins
Derek Chauvin, a former police officer, faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd. Mr. Chauvin held his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck on a Minneapolis street corner in May before he died.
The case is being litigated in a criminal court in Minneapolis. Follow our live updates.
Mr. Floyd’s death spurred protests across the U.S. and around the world against police brutality and a reckoning over racial justice that touched on everything from public monuments to sports team names.
The case will focus on the cause of death: In opening remarks, the defense argued that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his underlying heart disease, drug use and “the adrenaline flowing through his body.” Prosecutors played video footage captured by a bystander of Mr. Chauvin holding his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. The prosecution is arguing to jurors that Mr. Chauvin had used more force than was reasonable.
The jury: The racial makeup of the 12 jurors has been closely watched. The group includes two white men, four white women, three Black men, one Black women and two women who identify as mixed race, according to information provided by the court.
Quotable: “America is on trial to see if we have gotten to the place where we can hold police accountable if they break the law,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, a longtime civil rights activist, outside the courthouse.
New report shows Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are very effective
The Covid-19 vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech are proving highly effective at preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic infections under real-world conditions, federal health researchers reported.
There has been debate about whether vaccinated people can still get asymptomatic infections and transmit the virus to others. The results suggest transmission may be extremely unlikely.
Troubling variants were circulating during the time of the study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet the vaccines still provided powerful protection.
Details: Consistent with clinical trial data, a two-dose regimen prevented 90 percent of infections by two weeks after the second shot. One dose prevented 80 percent of infections by two weeks after vaccination.
In other developments:
The origins of the coronavirus remain unclear in a new report by the World Health Organization and China, and experts recommend further studies and tracing. It’s unclear whether Beijing will let experts dig further. Western officials have voiced concern that the Chinese government had too much influence in the process of drafting the report.
Nepal received a donation of 800,000 doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from China after shipments from India were delayed. China and India have been jockeying for influence in Nepal.
Johnson & Johnson said that it would supply its one-shot vaccine to African Union member states, as the continent experiences a slow vaccine rollout, an uptick in cases and worries about new mutations.
China seeks to lead anti-U.S. alliance
President Biden wants to forge an “alliance of democracies.” China wants to make clear that it has alliances of its own.
China hopes to position itself as the main challenger to an international order led by the U.S. The world is increasingly dividing into distinct, if not purely, ideological camps, with both China and the U.S. hoping to lure supporters, our Beijing bureau chief writes.
Quotable: “They’re actually trying to build an argument like, ‘We’re the more responsible power. We’re not the spoilers or an axis of evil,’” John Delury, a professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul, said of China’s strategy.
Related: The Communist Party’s youth wing and official news outlets used grabby memes and hashtags to start a tsunami of nationalist fury over Xinjiang cotton. Here’s how it came together.
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In the Indian state of Assam, a group of women known as the Hargila Army is leading a conservation effort to rescue the endangered greater adjutant stork. The group is trying to change perceptions of the birds as pests, by, for instance, weaving motifs of the storks into traditional textiles. The work is helping the women, too. Many receive tools and training enabling them to earn extra income.
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Navalny vs. Putin
Anton Troianovski, The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, spoke to our colleagues from The Morning about Aleksei Navalny, the loudest critic of President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Mr. Navalny is serving a sentence in a Russian prison camp. Here’s an excerpt.
What’s the current situation?
Navalny is in prison, and his lawyers are saying his health is in decline. This past year also saw the advent of a new phase: The arrests and repression surrounding the Navalny protests were the most severe that Russia had seen under Putin. He has tried to stifle dissent, but young people are opposing him in extraordinary numbers — only 31 percent want to see Putin remain president, according to one recent poll.
This month, the Russian government said it was slowing access to Twitter. Why does that matter?
Putin built his image and his power by controlling TV — that has always been his biggest weapon — but the internet remains essentially free in Russia. This is an experiment to see what Putin can do to squash those remaining freedoms that Russians have.
Navalny’s team has promised to organize another nationwide protest once 500,000 people sign up for it; they haven’t given a date. After that, the next big moment could be around the parliamentary elections in September. That’s when Putin opponents of all stripes will really try to organize opposition to the Kremlin. The opposition is going to find ways to keep the pressure on, and the Kremlin will find means of fighting back even harder.
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