We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were In”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
George Floyd’s Killing Spurs Protests and FBI Investigation
A video circulating social media reveals the despicably cruel treatment of a Minneapolis police officer toward an African-American man who died from the abuse. The video, recorded by a bystander on Monday evening, shows 46-year-old George Floyd, a former sports star whose coach referred to him as a “gentle giant” being slowly crushed to death by the knee of a police officer who pinned him to the ground for more than five minutes. Hauntingly, the video portrays Mr. Floyd pleading for his life amid dying moans and heart-wrenching cries for his mother.
By the time the paramedics arrived, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and was declared dead shortly after. The Minneapolis Police Department’s official report states that he had resisted arrest after a store employee called the police for suspicion of fraud. The unforgettable footage, however, is painting another story, one of unbearable cruelty by a member of law enforcement. As a result, the local community broke out in protests on Tuesday and Wednesday night, with the latter turning violent as officers used tear gas and rubber pellets on looters and vandals. On Thursday night, amid growing upheaval, the Minnesota governor activated the state’s National Guard.
President Trump addressed the tragedy via Twitter, stating that he had called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to look into the case and had additionally requested it be expedited. “Justice will be served,” he promised. In addition, Mr. Floyd’s own cousin spoke up in regard to what he expects from the case, telling reporters that he “would like to see the officers charged with murder and convicted…In my mind, they executed him.”
Legal policy analyst Amy Swearer wrote for the Daily Signal: “Law enforcement officers have incredibly difficult jobs and generally deserve the benefit of the doubt. . . But sometimes, an officer’s actions are so grotesque, cruel, or mind-boggling that the benefit of the doubt no longer can be extended. . . . The death of George Floyd was simply injustice.” —Mariel Lindsay
At Least 100 Babies Born Under Surrogacy Contracts Have Been Left Stranded in Ukraine
A video released by a Ukrainian surrogacy company has sparked outrage after it showed scores of babies lined up in rows of cribs, all of them left without parents after the coronavirus closed international borders, making it impossible for commissioning clients to come and retrieve them.
The shocking imagery comes from inside BioTexCom. The company released the video as a plea to authorities to reopen borders to allow clients to enter Ukraine and leave with their intended children. German media reports that some clients managed to get across the Ukrainian border just before it closed, only to be stuck for months in a BioTexCom “hotel” featuring concrete walls and barbed wire, as they await permission to leave. Other newborns have not had any contact with parents except through video screens.
“That breaks my heart. The first weeks are so important for forming a bond between a mother and a child,” one customer was quoted as saying. To prevent just such a bond from forming, the surrogate mothers usually aren’t permitted to care for their newborns born under surrogacy, even when the alternative is institutionalized care like the Ukrainian babies are receiving. The best interests of the child are of a lesser consideration compared to making sure the contract will be fulfilled.
Surrogacy is banned in many European countries on ethical grounds, but in Eastern Europe, a chaotic financial and legal environment has allowed the practice to become a lucrative, and mostly unregulated, business. The average monthly salary in Ukraine is about $382, while a mother who agrees to bear children for surrogacy clients can be paid more than $16,000 per baby. —Margaret Brady
New Sources Claim Bill Clinton Had Close Ties to Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell
President Bill Clinton has long denied any knowledge of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s involvement with underage girls, but two new sources reveal that his ties to Epstein’s inner world run deeper than he claims.
The new Netflix docuseries titled Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich reveals, among much else, a witness who claims to have seen Bill Clinton with Epstein on the billionaire’s infamous ‘orgy island’. The witness, a tech worker at Epstein’s island estate, is the second (after sexual assault survivor Virginia Guiffre) to claim to have seen Clinton, who, denies that he ever visited the Caribbean island where Epstein maintained rings of sex slaves.
Meanwhile, a new book by investigative journalist Alana Goodman sheds further light on the nature of Clinton’s connection to Epstein. According to A Convenient Death: The Mysterious Demise of Jeffrey Epstein, Clinton stayed within the orbit of the pedophile billionaire in order to maintain an ongoing sexual affair with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’ occasional girlfriend and notorious madam who has allegedly trafficked girls and participated in the sexual abuse.
According to the sources in the tell-all, Clinton boarded Epstein’s private jet commonly nicknamed ‘Lolita Express’ multiple times in order to engage in sexual intercourse with Maxwell. What’s more, the two were spotted on various occasions looking cozy and intimate in different haunts around New York City. With the coinciding release of the docuseries and the investigative book, Clinton’s assertion of obliviousness to Epstein’s crimes appears less and less credible. Still, his spokesperson maintains that he was unaware. —ML
4 Million Americans Are Getting Stimulus Payments as Prepaid Debit Cards, Not Checks
Before you toss that plain white envelope your postal carrier brought, double check that it’s not your stimulus money.
Almost 4 million Americans still awaiting $2.2 trillion of stimulus money from the United States Treasury Department and the International Revenue Service can expect their payment in the form of a prepaid VISA card issued by MetaBank and delivered in plain envelopes from Money Network Cardholder Services.
Both of these being unfamiliar names, many individuals mistake these for one of many scams or credit card pre-approvals that have been landing in American junk mail piles with increasing frequency. In many cases, individuals have been throwing out their payment altogether, with some asserting skepticism of the card itself because it bears no federal insignia.
Many public officials including district attorneys and local Better Business Bureau offices have taken to social media encouraging people to look closely at their mail and ensuring that these prepaid EIP cards are not scams. The IRS has even tweeted a reminder and issued a press release advising Americans to look closely at their mail.
Individuals who receive EIP funds in debit card form may withdraw cash from an ATM or transfer the funds to an online account. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
14 Million People In Latin America, Caribbean At Risk Of Hunger, UN Report Says
A Wednesday report from the UN’s World Food Programme said that nearly 14 million people in the Caribbean and Latin America are at risk of missing meals,
Latin America has surpassed both the United States and Europe in its daily confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, as health officials have warned of a potential humanitarian crisis in Haiti and Brazil now reports the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world. The pandemic has brought significant financial difficulties with it as well; it is projected that severe food insecurity in Latin America will increase from 3.4 million to 13.7 million over the course of the year.
Nearly 70% of Latin American residents report having lost income due to the pandemic with similar numbers expressing concern over having enough food. In certain regions, hunger concerns are expected to double, with numbers in Haiti projected to climb from 700,000 to nearly 1.6 million, all as hurricane season steadily approaches. —MSB
John Krasinski Explains Why He Sold 'Some Good News'
John Krasinski has sold “Some Good News” to ViacomCBS. The actor says he only planned on sharing eight episodes of SGN during the quarantine, stating that he’ll have other things on his plate very soon, including his title role in the Amazon Prime series Jack Ryan.
Krasinski told The Office costar Rainn Wilson that he knew it “wouldn’t be sustainable” and he felt his options were to either end the series, or pass it along to someone else who could continue the good work. Though he will not be hosting, Krasinski will still be involved in SGN production.
“We have a lot of really fun stuff planned, and I can't wait to dig in,” Krasinski said. “I'm going to be a part of it whenever I can, and I'm going to host a couple [episodes] and bring on a different community of people.”
Krasinski also reflected on all the positive comments and “amazingly kind notes” he received from viewers, sharing that it’s “probably the most emotionally fulfilled [he’s] ever felt in [his] entire life." —MSB
Good News of the Week
A physician assistant in Burlington, Vermont started a charity that gives recent graduates a chance to make a difference immediately upon graduating. Nathanial Moore started Grads 4 Good, a group directing graduates to donate their gowns to hospital workers. According to the website Gowns4Good.net, more than 89,000 gowns have been requested by facilities in need, and more than 11,500 have donated gowns as of Thursday night.
Moore told Reuters that when he saw his front-line colleagues wearing trash bags and other homemade hospital gowns, he thought of a timely solution to the need for personal protection equipment. “Wear the cap, donate the gown,” the tagline reads.
Moore’s nonprofit accepts even old gowns from year’s past, so if you have an old one gathering dust in your closet, now may be its moment. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Watch of the Week
Musicians around the world have been sharing music from their homes for audiences since the global pandemic. In this montage from Classic FM, we get a delightful glimpse of their home life, including some little musicians as well.
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