First Thing: police did not let bystanders help George Floyd, court hears

Molly Blackall
·6-min read
<span>Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Good morning.

The teenager who recorded the video of George Floyd’s death that prompted protests around the world has told a court said that Floyd was “begging for his life”. Darnella Frazier, who was 17 at the time, sobbed as she gave evidence at the second day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who is accused of murdering Floyd.

Frazier said she began filming because Floyd looked “terrified and scared, begging for his life”. Despite appeals from the crowd, Chauvin did not ease his hold on Floyd, she said, adding that she felt guilt at not being able to intervene to help him. Chauvin denies the charges against him.

  • A firefighter testified that police wouldn’t let her give first aid to Floyd, after she identified herself and pleaded with the officers to let her help.

  • A martial arts fighter said he pleaded with Chauvin to stop the dangerous “blood choke”, but was pushed away by another officer. As Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, Williams called the police to report what he believed to be a crime, describing them as “murderers” in a 911 call.

The world lost tropical forests the size of the Netherlands last year

The Amazon rainforest in Amapa State, Brazil.
The Amazon rainforest in Amapá state, Brazil. Photograph: PhotoAlto/Alamy

The rate of destruction of the world’s forests increased sharply last year, with at least 42,000 sq km of tree cover lost in important tropical areas. The loss put 2020 well above the average for the last 20 years, and makes it the third worst year for forest destruction since comparable monitoring began in 2002, according to a report from the University of Maryland and Global Forest Watch.

  • The tropics lost an area the size of the Netherlands, with 4.2m hectares of humid primary forests lost in 2020 alone. The Amazon, the Congo and south-east Asia were the worst hit. Forests there are vital as carbon sinks to regulate the climate and have unique ecosystems.

Journalists were finally allowed inside the main border detention facility

Migrant children rest inside a pod in the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the US Customs and Border Protection in Donna, Texas, 30 March 2021.
Migrant children rest inside a pod in the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by the US Customs and Border Protection. Photograph: Reuters

The White House for the first time allowed a small group of journalists inside its main detention facility for migrant children at the US border yesterday.

They reported that it was severely overcrowded; it has a capacity of 250 but more than 4,100 people are living there. Most were unaccompanied children processed in tents before being taken to government-run shelters, and then placed with a relative or sponsor.

  • Biden announced a “trailblazing” set of federal judicial nominees yesterday, including three Black women out of a group of 11. Ketanji Brown Jackson, a district judge, was nominated to replace the attorney general, Merrick Garland, on the influential appeals court for the District of Columbia circuit, and is tipped as a possible supreme court candidate. You can read more about the nominees here.

  • The Honduras president’s brother has been sentenced to life in prison by a US court, after being convicted of “state-sponsored drug trafficking”. Juan Antonio “Tony” Hernández, a former Honduran congressman was also ordered to forfeit $138m.

We investigated US water and found worrying levels of arsenic, lead and toxic chemicals

A placard posted above a water fountain warns against drinking the water at Flint Northwestern High School in Flint, Michigan, May 4, 2016.
A notice warns against drinking from a water fountain at Flint Northwestern high school in Flint, Michigan. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

A total of 118 out of 120 samples of US water examined by the Guardian and Consumer Reports contained levels of PFAS or arsenic above CR’s recommended maximum, or detectable amounts of lead. About 35% of the samples also contained potentially toxic “forever chemicals”.

A nine-month-long investigation selected 120 people to test their water out of 6,000 volunteers, and samples came from water systems that provide for more than 19 million people.

  • How to test your own water: this interactive tells you more about your water and how to test it.

In other news …

Then Vice President Joe Biden, left, and his son Hunter Biden appear at the Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game in Washington in 2010.
Joe Biden, then vice-president, and his son Hunter at a Duke Georgetown NCAA college basketball game in Washington in 2010. Photograph: Nick Wass/AP
  • Hunter Biden called Donald Trump “vile” in his new memoir, accusing Trump of plunging to “unprecedented depths” in last year’s presidential election. Biden, 51, has been the target of many of Trump’s attacks, including alleging he had corrupt links to Ukraine after joining a gas firm there. Biden denied any wrongdoing but said he would not do it again.

  • The US has ordered non-essential diplomats to leave Myanmar amid growing levels of violence following the military coup. A crackdown on daily protests has left more than 520 civilians dead.

  • Britney Spears said she “cried for two weeks” after seeing the hotly-anticipated documentary about her career, Framing Britney Spears. Spears said she didn’t watch the documentary in full but “was embarrassed by the light they put me in”.

Stat of the day: 46 million Americans would be unable to afford quality healthcare in an emergency

An estimated 46 million Americans said they would not be able to afford good quality healthcare if they needed it today, according to a survey. It also showed vast racial discrepancies; nearly twice as many Black Americans as white Americans said they would not be able to pay. One in eight Americans said they had reduced their spending on food to pay for healthcare.

Don’t miss this: America’s backroad beauty

This photo gallery is a chocolate box of rickety, quirky spots along the US’s backroads. From rundown churches to country stores, it’s well worth a look this morning. “The series of images we were making gradually came to feel like an examination of a parallel universe,” one photographer said.

Last thing: the Swiss army is trying to recruit women – by giving them the right underwear

&#x00201c;The old generation of uniforms was not geared enough to the specific needs of women,&#x00201d; an army spokesperson said.
‘The old generation of uniforms was not geared enough to the specific needs of women,’ an army spokesperson said. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

The Swiss army has just 1% of female recruits, and hopes to increase this tenfold within the next decade. The force’s solution to attract more women? Give them female underwear. At present, all recruits are given “loose-fitting men’s underwear, often in larger sizes”, but underwear and other pieces of clothing and accessories will be re-evaluated.

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