News Headlines 3/26/21

BOULDER MASS SHOOTING SUSPECT’S ATTORNEY ASKED FOR MENTAL HEALTH EVALUATION: An attorney for the 21-year-old suspect in Monday’s mass shooting at a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket that left 10 people dead asked during Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa‘s first court appearance yesterday (March 25th) that he be given a mental health evaluation. His family has reportedly told investigators they believe he was suffering from some kind of mental illness, including delusions. Alissa, who’s being held without bail, only spoke to say “yes” when asked a question by the judge, who advised him of the 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder against him. Meanwhile, some 2,000 people gathered last night at Fairview High School, a half-mile from the supermarket where the shooting took place, for a vigil honoring the 10 victims. It included reading the names of those killed out loud, as well as the names of the eight people killed in the mass shooting in Atlanta days earlier.

BIDEN SETS NEW COVID VACCINATION GOAL, SUGGESTS MAY BE OPEN TO FILIBUSTER CHANGE IN FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE: President Biden announced a new goal yesterday (March 25th) for getting Americans vaccinated against the coronavirus, suggested he may be open to changing the Senate filibuster, and answered questions about the situation at the border, among other topics, in his first press conference as president. In his opening remarks, Biden doubled his original goal for his first 100 days in office of 100 million vaccinations — a mark already passed — pledging to administer 200 million vaccinations by the end of his first 100 days. Addressing the filibuster issue, something a growing number of Senate Democrats have been open to changing to get legislation passed without having to get 60 votes because of Republican filibusters, Biden suggested he’s open to it, saying, “If there’s complete lockdown and chaos, as a consequence of the filibuster, then we’re going to have to go beyond what I’m talking about.” Asked about the situation at the border with Mexico, where a surge of unaccompanied minors is overwhelming the government’s facilities to hold them, Biden promised to improve the immigration system and to held deal with conditions in the migrant’s home countries that drive them to try to come to the U.S.

AT LEAST FIVE KILLED BY ALABAMA TORNADOES: At least five people were killed yesterday (March 25th) by a string of tornadoes that hit Alabama, which also injured an unknown number of others and knocked out power to more than 35,000. Meteorologist John De Block of the National Weather Service in Birmingham said as many as eight tornadoes may have hit the state. The five people confirmed killed were in Calhoun County, and large areas of Shelby County were badly damaged.

GEORGIA GOVERNOR SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION OVERHAUL LEGISLATION: Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed controversial legislation yesterday (March 25th) that overhauls the state’s elections, putting new restrictions on voting by mail and giving state lawmakers greater control over how Georgia elections are run. It requires a photo ID to vote absentee by mail, reduces the time people have to request an absentee ballot, and limits the use of ballot drop boxes. Kemp said, “After the November election last year, I knew, like so many of you, that significant reforms to our state elections were needed.” Georgia’s new law is part of a wave of Republican efforts in states across the country to change election processes since the November election, with Democrats and voting rights groups saying they will disproportionately make it harder for people of color to vote. President Biden criticized the efforts during his press conference yesterday, calling them “un-American” and “sick.” A lawsuit was filed yesterday by voter mobilization groups challenging Georgia’s new law.

CONTAINER SHIP STILL STUCK IN THE SUEZ CANAL: The ongoing efforts to free a massive container ship that’s stuck sideways in the Suez Canal were unsuccessful Thursday (March 25th), with canal authorities saying up to 706,000 cubic feet of sand may need to be removed from the waterway to free the ship, CNN reported. The Ever Given container ship has been stuck since Tuesday, blocking the busy canal and preventing more than 160 container ships carrying cargo and fuel from going through. Some ships are deciding to go around the Cape of Good Hope, the southern tip of Africa, to avoid the canal between continental Africa and the Sinai Peninsula, adding 12 extra days of sailing time, according to the International Chamber of Shipping. Experts are worried about the damage to the global supply chain, including the oil market, if the ship isn’t freed soon.