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10 things you need to know today: March 13, 2021

1.

The family of George Floyd will receive a $27 million settlement from the city of Minneapolis following a wrongful death lawsuit. Floyd was killed in police custody last May; former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial has just begun with jury selection this week. The payout to Floyd’s family was approved in a unanimous vote by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday morning, and is the largest-ever settlement by the city. The Washington Post reports “the settlement could have implications” for Chauvin’s criminal trial. “No amount of money can ever address the intense pain or trauma caused by this death to George Floyd’s family or to the people of our city,” said city council president Lisa Bender. [The Washington Post]

2.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said Friday he will not resign after a majority of House Democrats called on him to do so amid a growing sexual misconduct scandal. “I did not do what has been alleged, period,” Cuomo said. He also criticized politicians who “form a conclusion” without a “single fact” as “reckless and dangerous,” and he questioned the motives of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment, saying a “lot of people allege a lot of things for a lot of reasons.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) joined the group of House Democrats in calling for Cuomo’s resignation later in the day. In a joint statement, the senators said it has become clear Cuomo has “lost the confidence of his governing partners and the people of New York.” [Axios, The Week]

3.

As of Friday, the United States has administered more than 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal report. The uplifting milestone comes after a year’s worth of grim ones. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one shot, and more than 10 percent is fully inoculated. Currently, an average of 2.3 million doses are being administered across the country per day, a rate that is likely to increase in the coming weeks. President Biden initially aimed to cross the 100-million-dose-threshold by his 100th day in office, so Friday’s news exceeded early expectations. Now, Biden said the goal is to make the general population vaccine eligible by May 1. That doesn’t mean everyone will get their shot immediately, but the hope is that appointments will be available to all by then. [Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal]

4.

The Internal Revenue Service said late Friday that the $1,400 stimulus checks included in the American Rescue Plan will make their way to individuals’ bank accounts “as early as this weekend,” with more coming this week. Indeed, some people had already received their payments by Friday evening, just a day after President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law. Starting Monday, those eligible for direct payments can begin tracking the status of their check via the “Get My Payment” tool on the IRS’s website. Eligibility is determined by an individual’s 2019 or 2020 tax return, whichever is the most recently processed. Anyone earning $75,000 per year or less qualifies. For couples, the cap is a yearly income of $150,000. [Insider, USA Today]

5.

At least six people were reportedly killed by security forces in Myanmar on Saturday as protests against the ruling military junta continued. Saturday’s demonstrations marked the anniversary of the death of Phone Maw, a student who was killed by security forces in 1988. His death sparked a protest movement against military rule, which saw the emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi as a resistance leader. Now, 33 years later, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the elected party that was overthrown in the February coup, remains in detention. The United States has been trying to contact her for weeks, the State Department said Friday, but the military continues to block access. The U.S., along with several other countries, including Australia, Japan, and India, has vowed to help Myanmar restore democracy. [Reuters, CNBC]

6.

An ongoing probe into the Capitol riot is expected to be “one of the largest in American history,” prosecutors have said as they reveal plans to charge about 100 more suspects. U.S. attorneys in Capitol riot cases on Friday sought 60-day delays due to the large amount of evidence and defendants, and prosecutors write that “the investigation and prosecution of the Capitol attack will likely be one of the largest in American history, both in terms of the number of defendants prosecuted and the nature and volume of the evidence.” The evidence prosecutors pointed to includes over 15,000 hours of surveillance and body cam footage, while authorities are also in the process of reviewing 210,000 tips and 80,000 interviews with witnesses. Prosecutors called this “likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice.” More than 300 people have so far faced charges in connection with the riot. [Politico, NPR]

7.

Several regions in Italy will enter lockdown once again Monday as part of an effort to curb a recent surge in COVID-19 infections. The measures will be effective through April 6, which means it will include Easter weekend, a decree passed by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s Cabinet on Friday said. In the most affected regions, people will not able to leave their homes save for work or health reasons, and all non-essential shops will be closed. Additionally, any region that reports more than 250 weekly cases per 100,000 residents will automatically go into lockdown. Italy reported more than 25,000 cases on both Thursday and Friday, the highest marks in the country since November. A more transmissible coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom has reportedly become prevalent in the country. Italy was one of the first countries to be hit hard by the virus during the early stages of the pandemic last year. [EuroNews, CNN]

8.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday provided a glimpse at how talks next week in Alaska between Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese government officials Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi may unfold. Sullivan appeared to suggest the conversation would be quite general. “This is our effort to communicate clearly to the Chinese government how the United States intends to proceed at a strategic level, what we believe our fundamental interests and values are, and what our concerns with their activities are,” he said during a press conference at the White House. He clarified that he does not expect more specific topics, like tariffs and “the phase one trade deal,” to get much airtime. [The Hill]

9.

Russian police detained around 200 people who were attending a forum of independent and opposition politicians in Moscow on Saturday, the interior ministry announced, adding that an investigation was underway. The group was scheduled to meet over a two-day stretch, but police reportedly entered the building just as the forum got going. Police said those who were detained were violating coronavirus restrictions, though the Kremlin has been cracking down on anti-government sentiment in recent weeks, following the arrest and imprisonment of Alexey Navalny, an opposition leader and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top rivals. Navalny’s arrest earlier this year sparked massive demonstrations, which were quelled fairly quickly by law enforcement. [Reuters]

10.

Director James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar has become the highest-grossing film of all time again, reclaiming the title from Avengers: Endgame in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic following a re-release in China, Deadline reports. Avatar held the title of highest-grossing movie ever for nearly 10 years until July 2019, when Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame finally surpassed it. Endgame‘s global box office total stands at $2,797,501,328, but according to Deadline, a re-release of Avatar has grossed $8.9 million in China as of Saturday, taking Cameron’s movie back over the top with $2,798,579,794. China has been “experiencing unprecedented box office demand,” Variety notes, even as U.S. box office totals have remained low with major blockbusters delayed. [Deadline]

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