Parents of Michigan high school shooter charged. Congress averts shutdown. Biden reinstates Remain in Mexico. Cuba updates vaccines for omicron.
Parents of Michigan high school shooter charged
Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald has charged James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of 15-year-old school shooter Ethan Crumbley, with involuntary manslaughter. The charges leveled against the Crumbleys stem from their actions in the days leading up to the shooting and the day of the shooting itself.
Firstly, Ethan’s father James purchased the 9mm Sig Sauer pistol that Ethan used to kill 4 classmates and wound seven others on Black Friday, days before the shootings. McDonald alleges that the Crumbleys were negligent both in bringing the gun home and in allowing Ethan unfettered access to it. Ethan had uploaded a picture of the gun on his social media.
McDonald also wants to hold the Crumbleys accountable for their failure to intervene on the day of the shootings. At 10am Tuesday morning, school administrators summoned the Crumbleys to discuss a disturbing drawing that a teacher found at Ethan’s desk. The picture showed a gun, a person bleeding and the words “help me”. The Crumbleys, along with their son, did meet to discuss the situation. It’s not yet clear what course of action administrators proposed to the Crumbleys or what action they failed to take. Ethan apparently had the pistol in his bag during the meeting. He was allowed to return to class and went on his shooting spree hours later.
It’s rare for family members of school shooters to face charges, even though most school shooters use weapons belonging to parents or relatives. McDonald says, “These charges are intended to hold the individuals who contributed to this tragedy accountable and also send the message that gun owners have a responsibility. When they fail to uphold that responsibility, there are serious and criminal consequences”.
Congress averts government shutdown after vaccine mandate showdown
With hours to spare, the Senate has delivered a bill to avert a government shutdown for President Biden to sign. The bill funds the federal government through mid-February, setting up another standoff. It also includes $7 billion in funding to aid Afghan refugees resettling in the U.S. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support in a 69-28 vote. This was despite efforts from a faction of Republicans to scuttle the bill in protest of federal vaccine mandates.
Biden restores Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy
The Biden administration has reinstated the Trump-era immigration policy that requires migrants to await U.S. asylum hearings in Mexico. The misleadingly-named Migrant Protection Protocols, generally known as Remain in Mexico, have left thousands of migrants vulnerable to violence and extortion in lawless areas of the border. Before taking office, Biden campaigned on repealing the policy, calling it “inhumane”.
Immigrant rights advocates see the administration’s decision to restore the policy as a betrayal. The White House argues its hands were tied by a court decision ordering the policy’s reinstatement. But advocates say the court decision left the White House with considerable leeway that it declined to exploit. For example, the order was contingent on an agreement with Mexico, which the administration fought aggressively for. The Biden administration has also expanded the policy to apply to Haitian migrants, who were exempt before.
Cuba to modify its homegrown vaccine to combat omicron
Cuba currently has two domestically-developed COVID-19 vaccines which are awaiting approval from the WHO. These are the Abdala vaccine and Soberana-2. Both vaccines have already been used extensively in Cuba, which now boasts an 81% vaccination rate. Vietnam and Venezuela have also ordered millions of doses of Abdala to combat shortages of vaccines in their countries. Unlike Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, Cuba has vowed to make its vaccines openly licensable for production in other developing nations.
Cuban scientists are currently working on updating its Soberana-2 vaccine to combat the emerging omicron variant. Cuba’s vaccines are more along the lines of conventional vaccines and do not use mRNA technology like Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
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