Jack is going to be covering for the next couple of weeks while I'm away traveling and offline. Now I need to actually get around to packing! - Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
DOJ Says Her Name at Last: Charges in Breonna Taylor Killing
Four Louisville, Kentucky cops -- current and former, all white -- yesterday caught federal civil rights charges related to the March 2020 shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black medical worker. The case helped spark nationwide protests.
"Breonna Taylor should be alive today," Attorney General Merrick Garland said when he announced the officers' arrest and the charges, after having spoken personally with Taylor's family. "We share, but cannot fully imagine, the grief felt by Breonna Taylor's loved ones."
The officers charged are Louisville Metro Police Department detectives Joshua Jaynes and Kelly Goodlett, who allegedly met in a garage after Taylor's killing and concocted a false cover story; as well as their supervisor, sergeant Kyle Meany, who Garland says lied to the FBI; and officer Brett Hankison, who was previously acquitted on state charges of wanton endangerment for firing blindly into people's apartments during the illegal raid. Goodlett and Meany still have jobs with the department, at least for now.
Long story short, the Justice Department says the officers lied in an affidavit seeking a search warrant that targeted Taylor's former boyfriend. The cops claimed Taylor's ex was smuggling drugs and that she was receiving his packages at her apartment, but they had no evidence of any such thing. The very basis of the trigger-happy raid that led to Taylor's death was a fabrication; "this act violated federal civil rights laws," Garland said, and "those violations resulted in Ms. Taylor's death." It's good to hear someone in authority finally say this.
Taylor family lawyer Benjamin Crump said in response to the news that "this is a day when Black women saw equal justice in America." Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, said the American public was "learning today that we're not crazy."
The only thing crazy about all this is the expectation that anyone, let alone sworn police officers, can fire 32 shots into an apartment building, kill an innocent woman, and expect to go about their business like nothing happened. The DOJ's "patterns and practices" investigation of civil rights violations by Louisville police remains ongoing. It's hard to believe this all came down to four bad apples.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
Russia Orders Brittney Griner to Prison for "Honest Mistake"
A court in Moscow sentenced WNBA star Brittney Griner to 9 1/2 years in a penal colony for bringing 0.702 grams of cannabis oil -- what prosecutors called a "significant amount" -- into Russia in her luggage on a trip to play off-season games with a Russian team. For good measure, the court also assessed a fine of 1 million rubles, or $16,590. In a statement after the verdict, President Joe Biden called the sentence "one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney." Before the sentence came down, Griner, who had pleaded guilty in a bid for leniency, told the judge "I made an honest mistake, and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn't end my life here." Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about a possible prisoner swap last week, but the specifics of any deal, which would need the approval of Aspiring Tsar Vladimir Putin, remain unclear. Side note: This would be a good time to grant clemency to Americans imprisoned on pot charges!
Teacher Shortage Sends School Districts Scrambling
The precise national numbers are unclear, but thousands of vacancies across school districts in each state are adding up to the worst teacher shortage in living memory, the Washington Post reports. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten calls it a "contrived" shortage, blaming "the political situation in the United States" -- specifically, the anti-education policies of Republicans -- "combined with legitimate aftereffects of Covid." Some districts will be switching to four-day weeks in the fall, or bringing in college students and military veterans without college degrees to teach, or relaxing certification requirements, or dramatically increasing class sizes so students aren't left in unsupervised classrooms. Some districts are even raising teacher pay, as crazy as that might sound. Get ready for the conservatives who created this crisis to blame the teachers for it once classes start and the scope of the problem becomes clear.
- Alex Jones Must Pay Sandy Hook Families $4.1 Million They had sought $150 million. via the Associated Press.
- Viktor Orban Tells CPAC "We Should Unite Our Forces" Fresh off his "pure Nazi" speech, the Hungarian prime minister headlined the conservative conference in Dallas, Texas. via the Washington Post.
- Ukraine Rejects Critical Human Rights Report on Civilian Protection Amnesty International criticized Ukraine's military for basing soldiers in residential areas; the defense minister called the report a "perversion." via the Guardian.
- Former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Charged with Bribery After her 2019 swearing-in, she said fighting corruption was a priority. via NBC News.
- Police Change Story on Crash That Killed GOP Congresswoman, Staff, Other Driver They now say it was the SUV carrying Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski's car that crossed the centerline and caused a deadly head-on collision. via the Associated Press.
- South Korean President Snubs Nancy Pelosi, Citing His Staycation Yoon Suk-yeol was unavailable to meet the U.S. House Speaker after spending a night at the theater, then dining and drinking with the actors. via the Post.
That's how much 30-year-old cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried has dropped on political campaigns so far this year, with most of it going to Democrats, according to Politico. The party's newest megadonor's motivations are less than transparent and critics say he's obviously trying to prevent the passage of meaningful crypto regulation to protect people from scams.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
Don't Miss MR Clips
You don't need to be a body language expert to decipher his mood in this moment.
This used to be a "third rail" sort of proposal, even for Republicans.
"We can only assume that she's been motivated by the money they're donating to her campaigns. ... But throwing away campaign promises you made and snubbing your nose at the people who got you elected, that makes you the opposite of a maverick. It makes you a corporate shill."
-- A former staffer for obstructionist Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, speaking to HuffPost about her successful behind-the-scenes efforts to preserve a tax break for hedge fund managers and private equity executives that would be closed by the Biden administration's latest legislative package on climate, taxes, and healthcare.
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