July 23, 2024

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Unmarked cars and a ‘wall of moms’

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Federal agents fuel tension in Portland, Oregon. There’s promising news in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. And more coronavirus relief checks could be coming.

It’s Ashley, here to kick off your week with the news everyone’s talking about. 

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Here’s what’s happening in Portland

Federal agents in unmarked cars. A “wall of moms” protecting demonstrators. Weeks of nightly unrest. Tensions amid a call for racial justice and changes to policing have thrust the Oregon city into the national spotlight. Here’s what to know about the situation: 

Why are people protesting?

Portland has seen nightly protests since the killing of George Floyd on May 25 (more than 50 days ago, for those keeping track). Activists call for policies to challenge systemic racism, including limiting use of force by officers and defunding the police. Amid the protests, law enforcement has fired tear gas and other munitions, and demonstrators have set a building ablaze and started dumpster fires. 

“Secret police force”

Heightening tensions during protests is the presence of federal law enforcement agents. Video shared on social media from last week showed what appear to be federal officers in unmarked cars arresting people without explanation, prompting outcry and lawsuits. 

  • President Donald Trump defended the use of agents and decried the protests. “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” Trump tweeted Sunday. The Trump administration has sent federal officers from multiple agencies to the city.

  • The heavy federal presence has drawn criticism from Democratic lawmakers, who call for an investigation into the use of force against protesters. 

  • Trump is weighing the expansion of federal officer deployments. Chicago may be next.

“Leave our kids alone”

A group of women formed a human shield dubbed the “wall of moms” at the front of a protest Sunday, and videos on social media showed them locking arms and peacefully chanting, “Moms are here, feds stay clear.” Later in the night, photos and video showed that officers used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Mothers stand arm-in-arm outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland, Ore., on July 18 during another night of protests. Activists and lawmakers expressed outrage over accusations that federal agents circulating in unmarked cars grabbed protesters off the streets.
Mothers stand arm-in-arm outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland, Ore., on July 18 during another night of protests. Activists and lawmakers expressed outrage over accusations that federal agents circulating in unmarked cars grabbed protesters off the streets.

What everyone’s talking about

A safe and effective vaccine candidate? Yes please

A coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed at the University of Oxford is safe and effective and has few side effects, early trial results show. The vaccine, AZD-1222, led to strong immune responses for nearly two months in a trial that continues to track more than 1,000 healthy adults, according to a paper published Monday in the Lancet. A second study published Monday showed 95% of volunteers who received a high dose of a Chinese vaccine candidate and 91% of those who received a low dose showed an immune response 28 days after the shot. So, more good news on the vaccine front. Seventeen candidate vaccines are being tested in people around the world.

Trump talks coronavirus relief 

President Trump met with Republican leaders today to discuss the next coronavirus relief package as expiration of the crucial $600 in weekly unemployment benefits boost draws near. Congressional Republicans may offer another round of checks and a payroll tax cut – a measure long sought by Trump – as part of their next coronavirus aid proposal, though details could shift as the measure is drafted.

Real quick 

Judge Esther Salas’ son shot and killed

The son of federal judge Judge Esther Salas is dead after a shooting at her home in New Jersey, according to police. Salas was not injured in the shooting, but her husband, Mark Anderl, a prominent defense attorney, was critically injured. The FBI is investigating Sunday’s attack and searching for a suspect, who is believed to be a lone gunman who posed as a FedEx delivery person, according to The Associated Press. Authorities are looking into the possibility that a New York City attorney who was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound is the suspect in the homicide.

Crime scene tape surrounds the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas on July 20 in North Brunswick, N.J.
Crime scene tape surrounds the home of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas on July 20 in North Brunswick, N.J.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Portland protests, COVID-19 vaccine, relief package, Nicki Minaj: Monday’s news

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