Holy month of Ramadan begins amid pandemic
The holy month of Ramadan begins Monday and will span through May 12 when it culminates with Eid al-Fitr, which will break the sunrise-to-sunset fasts for Muslims. Because Ramadan is tied to the lunar calendar, its exact date varies from year to year. Community, tradition and celebration are all part of the sacred month, with families gathering for the early morning meal, known as suhoor, and the post-sunset meal, known as iftar, to break their fasts together. After closing its doors for Ramadan last year due to COVID-19, Masjid Al-Salaam in Dearborn, Michigan, will be hosting in-person service, but food will be served in drive-thru style. “It’s going to be difficult like last year,” said Nabeel Bahalwan, a volunteer at the mosque.
Week 3 of the Derek Chauvin trial to begin with more medical testimony
Jurors are expected to return Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd to hear more medical testimony by the prosecution. Here’s what has happened so far:
- Last week, the state called experts and police officials to testify about proper use of force as well as medical professionals to testify about how Floyd died. Prosecutors have also asked experts to testify about the role of drugs found in Floyd’s system, trying to head off the defense’s argument that they played a key role in his death.
- The defense has highlighted the effect meth and fentanyl may have on the heart and lungs. The defense has also argued the crowd of bystanders gathered near the scene distracted and threatened the officers, preventing them from giving care to Floyd and meriting additional force.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Biden to meet with lawmakers on infrastructure plan
President Joe Biden will meet with a bipartisan group of U.S. House and Senate lawmakers Monday to discuss his proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. It aims to rebuild the nation’s aging infrastructure, support electric vehicles and clean energy and boost access to caregivers and their pay. But the comprehensive bill will likely face an uphill battle, chugging its way through both chambers of Congress by the summer, which is when the administration aims to approve the package.
Application opens for FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance program
With more than 560,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering up to $9,000 per funeral to ease the financial burden on those left behind. FEMA will accept applications starting Monday. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people,” acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said. “Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”
UK to loosen COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
Hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, nonessential shops and bar and restaurant patios will reopen Monday in Britain as its steady march out of a three-month lockdown remains on track. A ban on overnight stays away from home in England will also be lifted, and outdoor venues such as zoos and drive-in cinemas can operate again. “We set out our road map and we’re sticking to it,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He added: “We can’t be complacent. We can see the waves of sickness afflicting other countries, and we’ve seen how this story goes.” Britain has recorded almost 127,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. The government aims to give all adults at least one shot of vaccine by July, and hopes that a combination of vaccination and mass testing will allow indoor socializing and large-scale events to return.