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HeadlinesMay 05, 2020

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Dire Forecasts Warn U.S. Death Toll Could Surge in Coming Weeks as States Move to Relax Restrictions

May 05, 2020

The official coronavirus death toll worldwide has topped a quarter of a million, with over 3.6 million confirmed cases. The official U.S. death toll is expected to top 70,000 today, but that is widely believed to be an undercount.

A pair of studies predict the COVID-19 outbreak is set to become far deadlier in the United States. A draft Federal Emergency Management Agency report forecasts that daily coronavirus deaths in the United States would rise to 3,000 people a day by June 1 — that’s a 70% increase over the current figure. Separately, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates the U.S. death toll will reach around 135,000 by August in the United States — more than double the institute’s previous forecast.

Despite the worsening outbreak, many states are continuing to lift restrictions this week, including Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis gave the green light for state parks, nonessential businesses, and restaurants to reopen across most of the state at reduced capacity. On Monday, Miami Beach had to close a popular park — just five days after reopening it — after thousands failed to adhere to new rules requiring social distancing and wearing a face mask.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday some manufacturing and retail businesses — including bookstores, clothing and sporting goods stores, and florists — would be allowed to reopen Friday. Businesses will have to abide by certain rules, including social distancing and offering curbside pickup.

Gov. Gavin Newsom: “The data says it can happen, but we recognize, as we begin to modify, behavior is modified, and possible community spread may occur. If that’s the case and we do not have the capacity to control that spread, to trace that spread, to track that spread, to isolate individuals that may have been in contact with COVID-19, we will have to make modifications anew.”

China Rebukes Trump Admin Claim That Coronavirus Was Man-Made

May 05, 2020

China is fighting back on unsubstantiated claims by the Trump administration that the coronavirus was man-made and originated in a lab in Wuhan. Chinese state media has accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of outright lying, calling on him to present evidence of his claims. The World Health Organization, U.S. intelligence agencies and most scientists — including Trump’s top coronavirus expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci — have said they believe the outbreak started in nature, most likely through animal-to-human transmission. Reports emerged Monday that further intelligence shared with the Five Eyes alliance — the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — indicates it is “highly unlikely” that COVID-19 started inside a laboratory.

Report Says Brooklyn Jail Destroying Medical Records to Hide Toll of COVID-19

May 05, 2020

In New York, a report alleges the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn is destroying prisoners’ medical records in an attempt to obscure the real number of people testing positive for the coronavirus and to avoid providing them medical care. The report was written by the former medical director of New York City’s jails as part of a class-action lawsuit led by prisoners at MDC. This comes as attorneys with the Federal Defenders of New York say MDC staff is blocking quarantined prisoners from speaking to their lawyers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

J. Crew Files for Bankruptcy

May 05, 2020

The clothing retailer J. Crew has filed for bankruptcy after the coronavirus pandemic forced the company to close stores across the country. The company expects to stay in business.

Betsy DeVos Sued for Garnishing Wages of Student Loan Holders During Pandemic

May 05, 2020

Student loan holders are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Education Department is being accused of continuing to garnish the wages of federal student loan borrowers who fall behind on payments despite a new law prohibiting this during the pandemic.

EU, World Leaders Pledge Billions to Fund Coronavirus Vaccine; U.S. Sits Out

May 05, 2020

World leaders, wealthy individuals, and organizations joined an effort spearheaded by the European Union Monday to raise $8 billion for the development of a vaccine and treatments for the coronavirus. The European Union and Norway each pledged $1 billion. Canada pledged $850 million. The United States pledged nothing and refused to take part in the fundraising effort. This is European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ursula von der Leyen: “At a time when we are sitting further apart than usual, the world has shown it is standing closer together than ever before. And in the space of just a few hours, we have collectively pledged 7.4 billion euros for vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. And all this money will help kickstart unprecedented global cooperation.”

The United Nations said the success of the initiative would be measured by the equal distribution of any treatment.

Questions Raised After 3 Doctors in Russia Fall from Hospital Windows

May 05, 2020

In Russia, questions abound after three healthcare workers have mysteriously fallen from hospital windows over the past two weeks. Two of them have died, while one is hospitalized. The hospitalized doctor previously posted a video on social media calling out the lack of medical equipment and the fact he had to keep working despite testing positive for COVID-19. Russian authorities say they are investigating all three cases. Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Russia, with over 155,000 confirmed infections and over 1,400 reported deaths.

U.K. May Have Second-Highest Coronavirus Death Toll; France Identifies COVID-19 Case from December

May 05, 2020

In Britain, the Office for National Statistics said the nation’s death toll has topped 32,000 to become the highest in Europe and second in the world only to the United States, according to that figure. Meanwhile, a French hospital says they treated a COVID-19 patient as early as December — a month before the government confirmed its first cases.

Venezuela Detains Ex-U.S. Special Forces After Failed Coup

May 05, 2020

Venezuela has announced it has detained two former U.S. Special Forces soldiers who took part in a failed armed incursion aimed at toppling the government. On Monday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro showed U.S. passports for the two men, identified as Airan Berry and Luke Denman. A former Green Beret named Jordan Goudreau has acknowledged the men were working with him in an attempt to detain Maduro. On Monday, Maduro accused the U.S. of being behind the plot.

President Nicolás Maduro: “Mike Pompeo was betting on this attack and believed that this attack would end the revolution, end the constitution, overthrow the government and kill me. God save us and protect us.”

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Report: Colombia Spied and Collected Data on Journalists, Union Leaders, Politicians

May 05, 2020

In Colombia, an investigative report alleges Colombian military intelligence officials carried out a massive surveillance operation targeting over 130 individuals, including politicians, union leaders and more than two dozen Colombian and international journalists, including reporters working at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The military reportedly has a database with personal data, including home addresses, phone numbers and information on family members and colleagues. Press freedom groups are demanding right-wing Colombian President Iván Duque investigate the allegations. Reuters reports the Colombian Defense Ministry on Friday announced the ouster of 11 unnamed military officials, and the resignation of a military general, linked to the scandal.

Sudan Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation

May 05, 2020

Sudan has outlawed female genital mutilation. The U.N. estimates nearly nine out of 10 women and girls in Sudan have undergone the practice. A recent report estimates female genital mutilation is being regularly practiced in over 90 countries. Women’s and children’s rights advocates celebrated the move but warned much work would be needed to ensure the law would be properly implemented.

Senate Rejects Request to Search Records for Tara Reade Complaints Against Joe Biden

May 05, 2020

Back in the United States, the secretary of the U.S. Senate rejected a request from Joe Biden to search for and release any possible records of a complaint by Tara Reade following an alleged sexual assault in 1993. Tara Reade recently publicly accused Joe Biden of the assault, which she says happened when she worked in then-Senator Biden’s office. Joe Biden has denied the allegation. Reade said she made complaints about Biden’s inappropriate behavior but did not bring up the sexual assault. Reporters have called for Biden’s senatorial records at the University of Delaware to be searched, but Biden has refused to make such a request, and the papers are sealed to the public.

Amazon VP Quits over Retaliatory Firings of Protesting Workers

May 05, 2020

A top engineer and vice president at Amazon has resigned to protest the company’s recent firing of whistleblowers and warehouse workers who demonstrated against unsafe working conditions during the pandemic. Tim Bray described in a blog post what he called a “vein of toxicity running through the company culture.” He went on to write, “I choose neither to serve nor drink that poison.”

King County, WA, Apologizes, Reaches Settlement for 2017 Police Killing of Black Teen

May 05, 2020

In Washington state, King County reached a $2.25 million settlement and apologized Monday for the fatal shooting of a Black teenage boy by sheriff’s deputies in 2017. Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens was 17 years old when he was killed during a failed sting operation that falsely targeted one of his friends.

José Soler, Puerto Rican Independence Activist and Labor Journalist, Dies at 75

May 05, 2020

Labor scholar and Puerto Rican independence activist José Soler has died. For over 20 years, Soler was director of the UMass Dartmouth Labor Education Center, and most recently co-head of the New Bedford Coalition to Save Our Schools, which fought charter school expansion. Soler emerged in the social justice world as a leader in the Chicano rights organization the Brown Berets. He advocated for human rights and the independence of Puerto Rico since the 1970s. Throughout his life, Soler continued to work in the labor rights movement. He was a union organizer with UAW District 65 and a labor journalist. José Soler was 75 years old.

2020 Pulitzer Prizes Recognize Work on Immigration, Sex Crimes, Labor and Slavery

May 05, 2020

The 2020 Pulitzer winners were announced Monday. Among the recipients, Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times for her essay as part of the 1619 Project, which reexamines the legacy of slavery. Staff of The Baltimore Sun won for local reporting, and the Anchorage Daily News was awarded the public service prize for its series with ProPublica about law enforcement and sexual crimes in Alaska. Brian Rosenthal won for his New York Times exposé of New York’s taxi industry crisis and the predatory lending that led to it. Yale professor Greg Grandin won the Pulitzer for nonfiction for his book “The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America.” The book “Solitary” by Albert Woodfox, with Leslie George, was a finalist in the same category of “general nonfiction.” “Solitary” is a memoir by Woodfox, who served the longest time in solitary confinement of any prisoner in the United States. “Ear Hustle,” a podcast out of San Quentin State Prison, was a finalist for the first Pulitzer Prize in Audio Reporting. And Ida B. Wells received a posthumous special citation for “her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.”

You can see our interviews with many of the winners and finalists of this year’s Pulitzer Prize, including Greg Grandin, Albert Woodfox and Brian Rosenthal, at democracynow.org.

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