News from Ohio, via the Associated Press:
The Ohio supreme court has announced it will not consider an appeal over the firing of a white police officer who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice outside a Cleveland recreation center in 2014.
The appeal was filed in April by the Cleveland Police Patrolment’s Association on behalf of former officer Timothy Loehmann. Cleveland fired Loehmann in 2017 not for killing Tamir, who was Black, but for providing false information on his job application. An arbitrator and a county judge upheld his firing.
A state appellate court earlier this year dismissed Loehmann’s appeal, citing the union’s failure to serve notice on outside attorneys hired by the city.
Loehmann, a rookie, shot Tamir within seconds of a cruiser skidding to a stop near a gazebo where the child had been sitting. Officers responded to a call from a man who said someone was waving a gun around. The man also told a dispatcher the gun could be a fake and the person might be a juvenile.
A state grand jury declined to indict Loehmann in Tamir’s shooting and, in December, federal authorities announced they would not bring federal criminal charges.
“I am glad that Loehmann will never have a badge and gun in Cleveland again,” Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, said in a statement.
More on Tamir Rice and other similar cases, here:
at 4.49pm EDT
In case you missed it earlier today: the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group in Congress, came out in favor of the bipartisan infrastructure framework.
“In light of the bipartisan, bicameral genesis of the framework, we encourage an expeditious, stand-alone vote in the House and thank our bipartisan Senate partners and the Biden Administration for working so closely with us to demonstrate that cooperation is still possible in Washington,” the caucus said in a statement.
The caucus’ support means that Democrats can likely afford to lose the votes of some progressives, who have voiced reservations about the framework, and still pass the plan. Those progressives have argued the framework does not adequately address the climate crisis.
Joe Biden has already indicated his support for the framework, and he is traveling to Illinois tomorrow to promote the proposal, as lawmakers scramble to translate the framework into an actual bill.
Congressional leaders have signaled they want to pass the bill by the end of the month, but much work remains to be done to meet that goal.
Democrats are also working to quickly craft a reconciliation package, which would enact elements of Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan that did not make it into the bipartisan proposal.
More than 90% of US withdrawal from Afghanistan is complete, Pentagon says
The Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul and Peter Beaumont report:
US forces plunged their main operating base in Afghanistan into darkness and abandoned it to looters when they slipped away in the middle of the night after two decades at the site without notifying their Afghan allies.
The furtive departure from Bagram airbase, which is vital to the security of Kabul and holds about 5,000 mostly Taliban prisoners, infuriated the Afghans. Many saw it as emblematic of a withdrawal they say is being carried out entirely to fit an American political schedule, with no heed for the collapsing security situation on the ground.
“People are saying: ‘The Americans didn’t ask Afghans about coming here, and they didn’t consult Afghans about leaving’,” said one senior official.
Much of northern Afghanistan, once an anti-Taliban stronghold, has fallen to the group in the last two weeks, and the militants have made substantial advances across the rest of the country. Afghanistan has just over 400 districts, and the Taliban now hold nearly half, and are fighting for many more.
With Bagram and its two runways no longer in American hands, the main US mission in Afghanistan is in effect over already. The Pentagon said in a statement on Tuesday that the withdrawal was more than 90% completed.
As part of the Biden administration’s new efforts to reach unvaccinated Americans, the White House is partnering with 42,000 local pharmacies, as well as family doctors and pediatricians, to convince people to get their shot.
The administration has also encouraged employers to give their workers paid time off to get vaccinated, and it is expanding mobile clinic efforts to make the vaccines more accessible than ever.
Speaking at the White House moments ago, Joe Biden said, “Think about where you were last year, where you are today. What you were able to do last year at this time and do today. It’s a year of hard-fought progress. We can’t get complacent now.”
Joe Biden took one question from reporters after finishing his prepared remarks on his administration’s renewed outreach efforts to get more Americans vaccinated against coronavirus.
Asked about the latest ransomware attack that affected hundreds of businesses around the world, Biden said he was briefed on the incident this morning and was told it caused “minimal damage to US businesses”.
Biden added that his administration is still gathering information on the incident, noting he would have more to say on the matter “in the next several days”. With that, Biden walked away from the podium.
Joe Biden emphasized that getting vaccinated is the “best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family,” as the delta variant of coronavirus spreads across the US.
The president celebrated the progress his administration has made in getting people vaccinated, but he warned that millions of eligible Americans have not yet gotten their shot.
“Let’s finish the job — finish it together,” Biden said as he wrapped up his prepared remarks.
Joe Biden lamented that younger Americans seem particularly reluctant to get vaccinated, putting them more at risk of contracting the delta variant of coronavirus.
The president noted that the delta variant is now responsible for almost half of new coronavirus cases in many parts of the US.
“Seems to me, it should cause everyone to think twice,” Biden said of the delta variant.
Encouraging all eligible Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible, the president said, “Do it now, for yourself and for the people you care about.”
at 3.20pm EDT
Biden outlines new steps to reach unvaccinated Americans: ‘Our fight against this virus is not over’
Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on his administration’s plans to launch targeted outreach efforts in communities with lower rates of vaccination against coronavirus.
Celebrating his administration’s vaccination efforts so far, Biden said at the White House, “We’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from this deadly virus.”
Biden makes remarks on Covid-19 vaccination programme – watch live
The president noted that more than 160 million Americans will be vaccinated by the end of this week, just a few days after the July 4 deadline that Biden set for that milestone.
New coronavirus cases and deaths are also down 90% since January, allowing Americans to start “living their lives as they did before,” Biden said.
“The bottom line is: the virus is on the run, and America is coming back, and we’re coming back together,” Biden said. “But our fight against this virus is not over.”
The White House said earlier today that it would expand door-to-door outreach efforts in communities with lower vaccination efforts. The administration is also working to deliver more vaccine doses to primary care doctors and pediatricians, so Americans can get their shot from their own physicians.
at 3.33pm EDT
Joe Biden will soon deliver remarks on his administration’s ongoing efforts to vaccinate more Americans against coronavirus.
The Biden administration has already said it will launch more targeted outreach efforts in communities with lower vaccination rates, amid concerns about the spread of the delta variant of the virus.
The president also just received a briefing from members of his coronavirus response team, including chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
The Hillbilly Elegy author turned Republican Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance has apologised for a former political position: critic of Donald Trump.
“Like a lot of people, I criticised Trump back in 2016,” Vance told Fox News. “And I ask folks not to judge me based on what I said in 2016, because I’ve been very open that I did say those critical things and I regret them, and I regret being wrong about the guy.”
Vance’s need to address the subject came out of good digging by CNN, which unearthed deleted tweets. However, Vance’s dislike of Trump and intent to vote for the independent conservative Evan McMullin was widely known in 2016.
As Hillbilly Elegy surged up the charts, for example, Vance spoke to the journalist Matt Lewis.
“The reason, ultimately, that I am not” a Trump voter, he said, “is because I think that [Trump] is the most-raw expression of a massive finger pointed at other people.”
Of course, back then Trump did not have a stranglehold on the Republican party of the kind which meant anyone running for office as a Republican anywhere had to kiss the ring to stand any chance of winning a nomination.