‘People are dying who don’t have to die’: Biden urges states to offer $100 vaccine incentive as Delta variant fuels infections surge
President Joe Biden has called on states and local authorities in the US to offer residents $100 (£71) to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
State and local governments will be able to access a $350bn (£250bn) coronavirus aid fund to pay for the incentives, the US Treasury has promised.
Federal workers and onsite contractors will also have to prove they are vaccinated, or else wear face masks, be socially distanced, and do regular testing.
Military personnel will have the COVID-19 vaccination added to the jabs they are already required to have.
Mr Biden said he wanted America’s four million federal employees to set an example to private employers and other citizens.
COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly in the US, fuelled by the highly-transmissible Delta variant, which is particularly dangerous for those who have not been vaccinated.
Mr Biden aimed to have 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated by 4 July, but the latest figure shows 69.3% are partially vaccinated and about 60% are fully vaccinated.
“It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Mr Biden said in a White House address on Thursday.
“People are dying who don’t have to die.”
Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law at Georgetown University Law School, was optimistic that Mr Biden’s plan could work.
“People would much rather roll up their sleeves and get a jab, than undergo weekly testing and universal masking,” he said.
“In many ways, this is really not a mandate, it’s giving workers a choice.”
Mr Biden wants private businesses to follow his lead by imposing burdens for those who are not vaccinated.
Some larger businesses are already there: Facebook and Google have announced employees will have to prove they have been vaccinated before returning to work.
Airlines Delta and United are requiring new employees to show proof of vaccination, and finance firms Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley want workers to disclose their vaccination status but have stopped short of requiring them to be inoculated.
Jeff Hyman, a Chicago-based business author and recruiter for start-up companies, said: “I think we’ve reached this tipping point, and Mr Biden’s announcement will provide a lot of air cover for companies and boards of directors who have difficult decisions facing them.”
The White House is no longer gently encouraging vaccinations – analysis by Martha Kelner, US correspondent
We are at a pivotal point in the pandemic in the US with the Delta variant taking a firm grip and sending hospitalisations soaring in certain areas, prompting this urgent intervention from President Biden.
This was an address to the nation from the president, but aimed specifically at the unvaccinated, to whom he implored: “You don’t have to die”.
The take-up of the vaccine is divided along political and geographical lines, with just 34% of people in Alabama fully vaccinated, compared with 68% of people in Vermont.
Until now, the Biden administration had been content to allow corporate America to take the lead on mandatory vaccination and many Silicon Valley companies, like Facebook and Google, have banned employees from the office unless they get vaccinated.
Other companies have said employees can either get the vaccine or they will get fired.
But the dramatic rise in hospitalisations in the last few weeks has led to a shift in policy from the White House, which is no longer gently encouraging vaccinations but taking a significant step towards a firm order.
But the plan will not go through without opposition.
More than 100 bills have been introduced at state level banning employers from requiring vaccination and at least six states have approved these bills.
Some unions are also against the idea.
Brian Rothenberg, spokesman for United Auto Workers, said the union supported the vaccine but was against requiring people to have it.
Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, had a similar view, saying: “Forcing people to undertake a medical procedure is not the American way and is a clear civil rights violation no matter how proponents may seek to justify it.”
The Justice Department has said federal laws take precedence and none of those forbid employers from requiring vaccinations.
Moment of hammer attack on Paul Pelosi shown in new police bodycam video
Police bodycam video has been released showing the moment a man attacked Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer in his San Francisco home.
Officers knock repeatedly on the front door – when it opens Mr Pelosi is holding the head of the hammer while the intruder is gripping the handle and trying to prise the 82-year-old’s hand away.
Mr Pelosi refuses to let go, before the suspect suddenly seizes control and lunges at him with the weapon.
It’s at this point Sky News has decided to stop the footage.
Police rush in, jump on the attacker and push him face down on the ground as Mr Pelosi lies motionless next to him.
The 28 October attack knocked Mr Pelosi unconscious and he had surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his arm and hands.
Former US House speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most senior politicians in the US, was David DePape’s intended target but was in Washington at the time.
She said on Friday that she wasn’t going to watch the video.
“I have not heard the 911 call. I have not heard the confession. I have not seen the break-in. And I have absolutely no intention of seeing the deadly assault on my husband,” she said.
Mrs Pelosi said her husband was “making progress” but it will “take more time”.
The video is part of evidence newly released after journalists challenged a decision to keep it out of public view.
It also includes some of Mr Pelosi’s 911 call, images from police surveillance cameras and video from DePape’s police interview.
The surveillance video shows the suspect using a hammer to smash the glass of a door to get into the house.
DePape, 42, denies all the charges against him. They include attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, elder abuse and burglary.
High profile politicians are likely to be concerned after seeing this footage
Both the prosecution and the defence teams in this case argued against the release of the footage of this attack, saying it would impact suspect David DePape’s right to a fair trial and fuel “distorted facts” around the case.
But a persistent campaign by news organisations convinced the judge that there was not a compelling reason to keep the footage, 911 call and a portion of a police interview with DePape under wraps.
It is, perhaps, no surprise that Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want to watch such a brutal attack on her husband of 59 years caught on police body-worn cameras. But the surveillance footage of DePape allegedly wandering around the perimeter of the couple’s San Francisco home before breaking in is also eye-opening.
Capitol police, charged with protecting the Pelosi family home, were apparently patrolling the property just metres away, seemingly unaware DePape was inside until a 911 call from Paul Pelosi. It has prompted a review of security procedures for high profile politicians.
Police said he told them there was “evil in Washington” and that he planned to hold Mrs Pelosi hostage for allegedly lying to the public.
He also believed the discredited theory that the US election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Court documents also reveal he told officers he was on a “suicide mission” while in interviews DePape named Tom Hanks as among other targets.
Immigration officials identified him as a Canadian citizen who was in the US illegally after entering as a visitor.
Daniel Harris: British teenager whose videos were linked to two mass murders in US is jailed
A British teenage extremist has been jailed after his far-right videos were linked to two mass murders in the US.
Daniel Harris used an online platform called World Truth Videos to disseminate a “call to arms” for his violent racist beliefs, a court heard.
The 19-year-old from Glossop in Derbyshire was convicted of five counts of encouraging terrorism and one of possessing a 3D printer for the purposes of terrorism after a trial at Manchester Crown Court.
He was sentenced to 11-and-a-half years in jail, and a further three years on licence.
Prosecutors said US mass killer Payton Gendron was “encouraged and, in part, motivated to do what he did” by Harris.
Gendron murdered 10 black people in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in May 2022 while livestreaming the attack. Within hours, Harris produced a video celebrating the killing spree.
Gendron, 19, had left a comment on one of Harris’s videos two months before the mass shooting, saying: “You are not alone my friend :)”.
The video included lessons to be learned from Brenton Tarrant, who livestreamed an attack in which he killed 51 people at mosques in New Zealand in March 2019.
Gendron had also taken an image from another of Harris’s videos and used it as the main image on his “manifesto”.
Prosecutor Joe Allman said Gendron was “inspired” by Harris’s material.
The British teenager also influenced Anderson Lee Aldrich, the only suspect in a shooting at a gay bar in Colorado, the court was told.
Aldrich, 22, allegedly killed five people during an indiscriminate firearms attack in Colorado Springs, in November last year – while Harris was on trial in the UK.
Aldrich – who is yet to enter pleas over the Colorado shooting – “accessed material” produced by Harris, Mr Allman said.
The prosecutor told the court one of Harris’s videos was posted on the “brother site” to a website with links to what appeared to be a livestream of Aldrich preparing to carry out the attacks.
Mr Allman said: “The Crown say it demonstrates that individuals of the greatest concern have accessed the material produced by Mr Harris.”
Harris was described in court as an “influential online propagandist for a violent and deeply racist ideology”.
His videos glorified mass killings and were “tantamount to a call to arms to those who shared, or who could be persuaded to share Mr Harris’s world view,” Mr Allman said.
Under the pseudonym “BookAnon”, Harris’s videos “encouraged and gave instructions for carrying out acts of terror against those deemed not to be part of the white European race,” the court heard.
One video showed how to make an assault rifle using a 3D printer and when police raided Harris’s grandfather’s house, they found that he had begun making the parts himself.
‘Toxic rhetoric with untold influence’
After the teenager’s conviction, Detective Inspector Chris Brett said attempts were initially made to engage with Harris through the Prevent programme, which aims to stop people becoming terrorists.
“It soon became clear he was pretending to be deradicalised whilst encouraging terrorism online,” Mr Brett added.
“The threat he caused meant we had to act in order to ensure the safety of the wider public.”
Mr Brett said Harris “clearly demonstrated a disdain for law enforcement and public order, as well as an admiration for those who had committed atrocities in terrorist attacks overseas”.
“By posting these videos online, Harris’ toxic rhetoric could have had untold influence on countless people across the world – such actions will not be tolerated,” the senior officer said.
He added that officers made “the rather chilling discovery of attempts to make component parts of a firearm printed from his 3D printer” during a search, which “showed a clear intent to create a deadly weapon”.
Tyre Nichols killing: US braced for release of ‘sickening’ footage of officers ‘beating up driver’ who later died
Five former police officers have been charged with murder over the death of a black driver who was allegedly beaten up after a traffic stop.
Bodycam footage of the altercation is expected to be released on Friday evening.
A lawyer for the Nichols’ family who has seen the footage said he was used as “a human pinata”.
Joe Biden, the president, called for any protests to be peaceful after the charges on Thursday.
Nichols, a father of one, was arrested after he was stopped for reckless driving, police said, before he was allegedly beaten by the officers for three minutes.
The five black officers involved in the arrest were sacked after a police investigation found they used excessive force or failed to intervene and help him.
They are Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr and Justin Smith, who are between 24 and 32.
Cerelyn Davis, the Memphis police chief, has asked for calm when the video footage is made public.
“I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels,” she said. “I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights.”
David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said he was sickened by what he saw in the police body-worn camera videos.
“What happened here does not at all reflect proper policing,” he said. “This was wrong. This was criminal.”
Steve Mulroy, the district attorney, said the five officers have been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping and official misconduct at a news conference on Thursday.
He said that after Mr Nichols was stopped in his car, there was “an altercation” and officers used pepper spray on him.
Mr Nichols fled on foot.
“There was another altercation at a nearby location at which the serious injuries were experienced by Mr Nichols,” Mr Mulroy said.
The Memphis police department said in an initial statement that an ambulance was called because Mr Nichols “complained of having a shortness of breath” and that he was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Mr Mulroy said he would not comment on the legality of the initial traffic stop.
He said the investigation would continue and he would not rule out additional charges.
Second-degree murder will go a considerable distance in meeting public expectations
America has been here before.
A black man dead at the hands of police officers, with the brutality captured on camera.
Rodney King and George Floyd are just two names that define a deadly dysfunction in the institution that exists to protect and serve.
Now add Tyre Nichols – 29 years old, a father and family man who worked at FedEx and enjoyed skateboarding. “Nobody’s perfect,” said his mother RowVaugn, “But he was damn near”.
We are told the events leading up to his death are contained in a video lasting an hour, multiple angles of what has been trailed as a savage assault. A lawyer for the Nichols family spoke of him being beaten “like a human pinata”.
The Friday night release of the footage is shrouded by a sense of dread, given its potential to ignite violent street protest of the sort seen in the wake of the 2020 killing of George Floyd.
In Memphis, they are aware of the danger.
It explains why the build-up to the release of the footage has been choreographed around charges for the police officers involved.
In a place where the public demands accountability, laying charges of second-degree murder will go a considerable distance towards meeting expectations.
Charges of murder in the second degree accuse the officers of knowingly killing Mr Nichols.
Does it make a difference that the five men in uniform were black? Perhaps. Time will tell if, and how, that plays into the wider public response.
President Biden framed it thus: “Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all.
“We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted black and brown people.”
It is a matter of power and its abuse. The latest episode will soon be laid bare – and Memphis is braced.
President Biden said: “Outrage is understandable, but violence is never acceptable.
“Tyre’s death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment and dignity for all.”
The Nichols family watched the police footage on Monday with their lawyer, Ben Crump, who compared the beating to the 1991 assault by police on Rodney King in Los Angeles that was captured on video and prompted mass protests and police reforms.
“He was defenceless the entire time. He was a human pinata for those police officers,” Antonio Romanucci, Mr Crump’s co-counsel, told reporters.
Mr Crump said Nichols’ last words heard on the video were of him calling for his mother three times.
Each of the five sacked officers had served in the department for between two and a half and five years, and were dismissed from the force last Saturday.
The officers could not be reached for comment.
Blake Ballin, a lawyer representing Mills, said at a news conference that the former officer was “devastated to find himself charged with a crime”.
Ballin was joined by William Massey, representing Martin. Both former officers intended to plead not guilty, their lawyers said.
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