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Republicans point finger at blue states' voting laws, Chauvin case latest and Holocaust survivors' new campaign

The so-called "blue wall of silence" that traditionally protects police officers appears to be crumbling in the Derek Chauvin case.
US President Joe Biden departure
President Biden is expected to announce executive actions on gun control in a White House Rose Garden event Thursday. Demetrius Freeman / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Republicans doubling down on voting restrictions say some blue states have stricter laws. This morning we take a closer look at those claims. Plus, why the Derek Chauvin case could prove to be a tipping point and elderly Holocaust survivors' new campaign to remind young people of the dangers of hate speech.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

Republicans, defending voting restrictions, lean in on blue state whatabout-ism

Matt Slocum / AP file

Republicans, under fire from Democrats and major corporations for their nationwide push for new limits on voting, are defending their proposals by pointing fingers at blue states with laws they say are worse.

Republican leaders have pointed to what they say is a double standard from Democrats and activists who say the bills — and Georgia's newly enacted restrictions, in particular — are attempts to suppress the votes of the multiracial coalition that powered President Joe Biden's victory last year.

Some of the criticism is valid: Many Democratic states do have old laws that limit ballot access.

The difference is that many of the blue states have been moving to liberalize access to the ballot, while states like Georgia and Texas are actively moving in the other direction, writes NBC News' political reporter Jane C. Timm.

Thursday's top stories

Image: Gun Store, Texas
Gilles Mingasson / Getty Images file

Biden to announce executive actions on gun control, name ATF nominee

Responding to pressure from Democrats and gun control activists, the president is expected to announce a series of executive actions on gun control and to nominate a prominent gun control advocate to lead the ATF in a Rose Garden event Thursday. By Lauren Egan and Sally Bronston | Read more

The 'blue wall of silence' is crumbling in the Derek Chauvin trial. Why this case could be a tipping point.

The Minneapolis police chief's scathing rebuke earlier this week of the former officer who is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd was rare. But the fact that his searing testimony was joined by a string of other law enforcement officers is remarkable, legal experts say. By Janelle Griffith | Read more

It started with words': Sensing the world needs a reminder, survivors urge awareness of how Holocaust began

Fearing rising intolerance and ignorance of the atrocities of World War II among young people, Holocaust survivors, the youngest of whom are now in their late 70s, are launching a new campaign of awareness. "Sadly enough, 75 years after the Holocaust, this is a time to remind people what words can do," one survivor said. Many turned to virtual events to continue sharing their stories during the pandemic year, saying a year of silence was "unimaginable." By Rachel Elbaum | Read more

INTO AMERICA PODCAST: The weight of bearing witness

As testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin continues, a Minneapolis psychologist breaks down the long-term impacts of racial trauma and the steps witnesses can take to heal. By Trymaine Lee | Listen here

Buried but not forgotten: Unmarked mass graves a silent symbol of Northern Ireland’s dark past

As Northern Ireland grapples with its history, a forensic archaeologist has made it her mission to research unmarked mass graves where thousands of children are buried. "All people really want to do is find their family," Toni Maguire said. "It’s like having a lost child. You can’t settle until you know where they are." By Matthew Symington | Read more

BETTER: How to turn your daily walk into a workout — or a meditation

Want to burn more calories or reduce the stress of life under lockdown? Get more from your daily walk around the block with these tips. By Tiffany Ayuda | Read more

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One fun thing

Members of the world-renowned New York Philharmonic performed their first concert in over a year on Wednesday for some of the city's vaccinated health workers.

The socially distanced audience gathered outside at Lincoln Center to hear their dulcet tones. But you can enjoy it, too. Watch the video here.

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Thanks, Petra