Friday morning news – March 12, 2021

Biden signs relief bill ahead of prime time address » President Biden took to the airwaves last night for his first primetime address in the White House… 

BIDEN: As we mark one year since everything stopped because of this pandemic.

It was one year ago when the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. 

Biden said he is asking all states and territories to make all adults eligible for vaccines no later than May 1st. And he said he is deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to help administer vaccines across the country. 

And the president again urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

BIDEN: If we do our part, if we do this together, by July the 4th, there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in the backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. 

Hours earlier, Biden signed the near $2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law. 

BIDEN: An historic piece of legislation that delivers immediate relief to millions of people. 

The bill provides another round of direct stimulus payments—$1,400 for most Americans. It also extends a federal boost to unemployment benefits, and provides expanded child tax credits among other things. 

But Republicans say beyond the headline provisions of the bill, it’s loaded with wasteful and reckless spending.

Earlier in the day, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say… 

MCCONNELL: This wasn’t a bill to finish off the pandemic. It was a multi-trillion-dollar Trojan horse full of bad old liberal ideas. President Biden’s own staff keep calling this legislation—quote—‘the most progressive bill in American history.’ 

President Biden again said he and key members of his administration plan to tour the country to sell the American public on the merits of the bill.  

Chauvin faces additional murder charge » Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is now facing an additional charge in the death of George Floyd. 

Chauvin already faced second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. And Judge Peter Cahill Thursday granted prosecutors’ request to add a third-degree murder count.

Cahill had earlier rejected the charge as not warranted by the circumstances of Floyd’s death, but an appellate court ruling in an unrelated case established new grounds.

Legal experts say the additional charge helps prosecutors by giving jurors another option, making Chauvin’s conviction more likely. 

Miss. Gov. signs bill restricting transgender athletes from girl’s/women’s sports » Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Thursday barring male athletes who identify as female from competing in girls’ or women’s sports. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Mississippi is the first state this year to enact such a law, after a federal court blocked a similar law in Idaho last year. It’s set to take effect on July 1st, though a legal challenge is possible.

Lawmakers in numerous states are working on legislation to respond to an executive order by President Biden. The president’s order bans what he calls discrimination based on gender identity in school sports and elsewhere. 

Reeves said on his Twitter account that he has three daughters who play sports and that Mississippi’s bill would “protect young girls from being forced to compete with biological males for athletic opportunities.”

South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem also said this week that she plans to sign similar legislation into law in her state. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Gov. Hutchinson signs tough pro-life law » Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed tough new pro-life legislation into law this week and would ban nearly all abortions in the state. 

Hutchinson said he signed the bill because of its “overwhelming legislative support” and his “sincere and long-held pro-life convictions.”

The Republican governor had expressed reservations about the bill, which does not make exceptions in cases of rape or incest. 

Opponents have vowed to block it before it takes effect later this year. But many Republican lawmakers in the state say they’re counting on that legal pushback. They’re hoping to push the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.

TX Rangers plan full capacity crowds » The Texas Rangers are on track to become the first major U.S. sports team to have a full-capacity crowd in attendance for their April 5th home opener. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown has that story. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The Rangers this week announced that as of now, the team is planning to fill 40,000 seats at their home ballpark in Arlington. 

Fans will have to wear masks unless they are actively eating and drinking at their seats. Rangers CEO Neil Leibman said “We’ll be extremely responsible,” and added he’s confident it will not be a spreader event.

Ironically, for their first home game, the Rangers will host the Toronto Blue Jays, who can’t even play on their home field with or without fans. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in Canada, they’ll open their season at their spring training facility in Florida. 

The Rangers’ announcement came just after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order took effect reopening the state 100 percent. But their plans are subject to change. Local officials can still limit capacity at public events if hospitalizations reach certain benchmarks. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

Evangelist Luis Palau has died » Evangelist Luis Palau has died after a three-year battle with lung cancer at the age of 86. 

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Palau interned with Billy Graham, served as a translator for him, and modeled his ministry after Graham’s. For five decades, Palau conducted large outreach events in both English and Spanish. 

Two decades ago, Palau began using less traditional methods to reach a younger audience. Some of his outdoor festivals featured corporate sponsors, Christian hip-hop and country music, skateboarders, and motocross riders. The festivals, which drew hundreds of thousands to each two-day event, also unified the local churches that put them together. 

Palau’s wife, Patricia, and four children survive him.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 pandemic during a prime-time address from the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 11, 2021, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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