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10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2021

1.

The suspect who allegedly shot and killed eight people at an Indianapolis FedEx facility last week legally purchased two semiautomatic rifles he used in the attack, even though police had earlier seized a shotgun from him, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Randal Taylor said Saturday night. In March 2020, 19-year-old Brandon Hole’s mother raised concerns about her son’s mental state, fearing he would attempt “suicide by cop,” The Washington Post reports. Subsequently, authorities questioned Hole, temporarily detained him for mental health reasons, and seized his handgun, which wasn’t returned. Still, he was able to make the more recent gun purchases, which Taylor said indicates the authorities hadn’t deemed him subject to an Indiana law that bars people from buying a firearm if they’re found by a judge to present a dangerous risk. Taylor could not say why Hole, who police said killed himself after the attack, was not flagged. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

2.

In a joint statement on Sunday, the United States and China announced they have agreed to cooperate with each other and other countries to “tackle the climate crisis.” The two powers, often at odds, will keep discussing “concrete actions in the 2020s to reduce emissions aimed at keeping the Paris Agreement-aligned temperature limits within reach.” Prior to the release of the statement, John Kerry, the Biden administration’s climate envoy, traveled to Shanghai last week to meet with his Beijing counterpart, Xie Zhenhua. Kerry said Sunday that his discussions were productive, noting that “this is the first time China has joined in” calling climate change a “crisis.” President Biden will host a virtual climate change summit this week, with many world leaders expected to attend. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not formally confirmed his participation, but people familiar with the matter said he’ll be there, The Wall Street Journal reports. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]

3.

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny could die “in a matter of days,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh wrote on Facebook on Saturday. Navalny, who nearly died after a poisoning he has blamed on the Kremlin last August, is currently being held in a notorious penal colony outside of Moscow, where he is three weeks into a hunger strike. His physician Yaroslav Ashikhmin said test results Navalny’s family shared with him showed he was at increased risk of cardiac arrest because of elevated potassium levels, and that his kidneys were deteriorating. “Our patient could die at any moment,” Ashikhmin said in a translated Facebook post, per NPR. The Kremlin has prevented Navalny’s personal doctors from seeing him and insists he’s receiving adequate care. Andrei Kelin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, told BBC that Navalny “will not be allowed to die in prison.” [NPR, BBC]

4.

A group of House Republicans has dropped plans to establish an “America First” caucus highlighting respect for Anglo-Saxon political traditions after the idea swiftly received widespread backlash from Democrats and Republicans alike, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). The effort, considered by many to contain nativist language, was reportedly led by controversial Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who has since tried to distance herself from the proposal. A spokesman for Greene said the congresswoman “didn’t approve that language and has no plans to launch anything.” Greene, meanwhile, lashed out at the “scum and liars in the media” for, as she sees it, unfairly portraying her as a “racist by taking something out of context.” She claimed the caucus idea was included in “a staff level draft proposal from an outside group that I hadn’t read.” [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]

5.

Prince Philip was laid to rest Saturday following an intimate funeral at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which only 30 people attended because of coronavirus restrictions. The attendees, including Queen Elizabeth II, wore masks and were seated by household to maintain social distance. The dean of Windsor, the spiritual head of St. George’s, paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh during the funeral, remembering his “unwavering loyalty” to the queen and his “kindness, humor, and humanity.” Prince Philip’s coffin was carried to the chapel from Windsor Castle by a Land Rover, surrounded by pallbearers representing the principle organizations of the United Kingdom’s armed forces. [The Guardian, The Week]

6.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, said Sunday that he does not believe the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson will be taken out of circulation altogether. The one-shot vaccine was granted an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year, but the agency last week recommended a temporary pause on administering the vaccine because of a possible causal link to a handful of rare, potentially fatal, blood clots. Fauci told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday’s edition of Meet the Press, that he doubts “very seriously” that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine advisory committee will recommend canceling the vaccine, but he did say “there will likely be some sort of warning or restriction or risk assessment.” [NBC News]

7.

President Biden’s decision to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by or before Sept. 11, 2021 was not in line with recommendations from top U.S. military commanders, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times report. Among those advising Biden to retain the current force of 2,500 troops while working to cement a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban were: Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired general, also cautioned against a full withdrawal, U.S. officials told the Journal. Their shared concerns are over the possibility that a U.S. departure would undermine security, which is already very fragile, in the country. Biden reportedly carefully weighed the generals’ input, but opted to move forward with the full-scale strategy. [The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal]

8.

Czech police are seeking two Russian men under the names Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov in connection with a 2014 blast at an arms depot in the Czech Republic that killed two people. The men allegedly hold the same passports used by the suspects in the attempted 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, a former GRU officer living in the United Kingdom. With evidence linking the GRU to the 2014 explosion, Czech authorities say they’re planning to expel 18 Russian diplomats believed to be intelligence operatives in retaliation for the attack. The Czech Republic will inform NATO and the European Union about its suspicions on Monday, Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek said. The Russian foreign ministry said it will, in turn, take “retaliatory measures,” so the Czech Republic understands its “responsibility for destroying the foundation of normal ties between our countries.” [The Guardian, BBC]

9.

Charles Geschke, the co-founder of software company Adobe Inc., died Friday, the company announced Saturday. He was 81. Geschke helped develop Portable Document Format technology, commonly referred to as PDFs. In an email to company employees, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen called Geschke a “guide and a hero” for both the Adobe community and the technology industry at large. Along with his co-founder, John Warnock, Geschke “developed groundbreaking software that has revolutionized how people create and communicate,” Narayen continued, adding that Geschke “instilled a relentless drive for innovation in the company, resulting in some of the most transformative software inventions, including the ubiquitous PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and Photoshop.” [The Associated Press]

10.

Consumers should stop using Peloton’s Tread+ treadmill if small children or pets are around, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Saturday. Last month, Peloton disclosed an accident involving the treadmill that resulted in the death of a child, and the regulatory agency said it knew about 39 similarly dangerous incidents, as well as reports of pets and objects getting sucked underneath the treadmill. The agency clarified that people can still safely use the treadmill, but if they do, it should remain in a locked room and even then it should be separate from other objects. People should also unplug their treadmill while it’s not in use. Per CNBC, the warning could hinder Peloton’s efforts to expand its exercise equipment business. The company has pushed back against the CPSC, calling its claims inaccurate. [CNBC]

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