Friday morning news – March 5, 2021

White House defends president’s “neanderthal” remark » The White House on Thursday defended remarks President Biden made a day earlier that angered some governors. The president said we’re close to having vaccines for all Americans and…

BIDEN: The last thing, the last thing we need is neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything’s fine. Take off your mask. 

With COVID-19 case numbers plummeting, some states are lifting their mask mandates. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters…

PSAKI: Look, I think the president, what everybody saw yesterday was a reflection of his frustration and exasperation. 

Top health officials in the Biden administration, including CDC Dir. Rochelle Walensky, have warned against relaxing safety measures right now. 

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves is among those lifting statewide mandates. And Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker said that doesn’t mean all mask mandates are going away. 

WICKER: He’s left it up to local governments and that’s a conservative principle. Take it away from the folks at the capital city and leave it up to individual cities and locations. 

Unaccompanied minors surging to U.S.-Mexico border » Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick hit back harder after reports that more than 100 people who entered the country illegally and tested positive for COVID-19 were released into the state of Texas. 

PATRICK: I call neanderthal thinking allowing people to cross the border illegally with COVID, tested positive and put them on a bus!

Traffic on the border continues to rise. Particularly concerning is the number of unaccompanied children.  

An official with the Department of Health and Human Services told the news site Axios—quote—“We’re seeing the highest February numbers … we’ve ever seen in the history of the [Unaccompanied Alien Child] program.”

And border officials are reportedly bracing for a surge that could peak in a couple of months with up to 13,000 unaccompanied minors in May. That could exceed the 2019 surge that led to a humanitarian crisis at the border. 

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar said he’d like to see the Biden administration moderate its immigration and border strategy. 

CUELLAR: They can not only listen to the immigration activists advocates. They also need to listen to the communities on the border that I represent, the mayors, the judges, the NGOs down there. And with that they can come up with a balanced approach. 

Court raises bar for some immigrants to avoid deportation » Meantime, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling on Thursday that will make it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid being deported. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In a 5-to-3 decision, the justices ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the country illegally and has lived here for 25 years.

Authorities in Nebraska had charged Clemente Avelino Pereida with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job. He was convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation.

Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime.” He said Pereida had not done that. 

The court’s three liberal justices dissented. 

Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

House cancels Thursday session due to threats » The House of Representatives cancelled its Thursday session over threats to the U.S. Capitol.

Police disclosed a possible plot by an unidentified militia group to attack the seat of government on Thursday. Some online conspiracy theory groups have discussed the possibility of former President Trump returning to power on March 4. That as the day the Constitution set for the presidential inauguration until the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said playing it safe was the right call.

PELOSI: If in fact there’s any trouble makers around, it made sense. 

The Senate met on Thursday as planned, but the House decided to conclude its weekly business Wednesday evening as a precaution.

Capitol law enforcement has greatly stepped up security since the Jan. 6th Capitol riot. 

Video footage of Myanmar crackdown shocks world » Video footage of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Myanmar sparked global outrage on Thursday—one day after security forces killed 38 people. 

Videos showed police shooting a person at point-blank range and chasing down and savagely beating demonstrators in the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1st coup.

The United States called the images appalling, the U.N. human rights chief said it was time to “end the military’s stranglehold over democracy in Myanmar.” 

The U.N. Security Council will meet today to discuss the crisis.

Despite the shocking violence the day before, protesters returned to the streets Thursday to denounce the military’s Feb. 1 takeover.

AUDIO: [Protest]

The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which for five decades had languished under strict military rule.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) President Joe Biden congratulates NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars 2020 Perseverance team for successfully landing on Mars during a virtual call in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Thursday, March 4, 2021. 

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