Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress Tuesday that parts of the United States are facing a “disturbing surge” in coronavirus infections, warning the virus is not yet under control. Dr. Fauci was testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surgings that we’re seeing in Florida, in Texas, in Arizona and in other states. They’re not the only ones that are having a difficulty. Bottom line, Mr Chairman: It’s a mixed bag — some good and some now we have a problem with.”
Voters went to the polls Tuesday in New York, Kentucky, Virginia and other states for primary elections marred by long lines and fears over the coronavirus. In Kentucky, officials slashed the number of polling places from 3,700 to just 170 — a 95% reduction. In Louisville, which has Kentucky’s largest African American population, just one polling place was open: the Kentucky Exposition Center. At 6 p.m., officials locked the building, even as up to 200 voters were stuck in traffic waiting to find parking spots. In a dramatic scene, scores of people banged on doors and windows demanding the right to vote. They were allowed inside just before 6:30, after a judge ordered a half-hour reprieve.
Mother: “We need justice. We need peace. We all need to come together. We should love one another. We shouldn’t have to go through all this. I got a daughter right here. She’s 18 years old.”
Mother: “She’s a first-time voter.”
Daughter: “In my very first.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell easily won the Republican Party’s nomination in Kentucky. His Democratic challenger will be either progressive state Representative Charles Booker or former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath. McGrath has an eight-point lead over Booker with about half of precincts reporting, though a large number of absentee ballots remain to be counted, and final results aren’t expected until at least June 30.
Here in New York, former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman has taken a large lead for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 16th Congressional District in Westchester County and the Bronx over 16-term Congressmember Eliot Engel, the powerful chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Bowman is running on a Green New Deal, Medicare for All platform, and recently joined protests demanding an end to racism and police brutality. In New York’s 14th Congressional District, democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fended off a challenge by former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, winning the Democratic Party’s nomination in a landslide.
On Tuesday, President Trump traveled to Arizona, where he toured a section of newly built border wall, claiming the concrete and metal structure had “stopped COVID.” Trump’s claim came as Arizona confirmed 3,600 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday — a daily record. Hospitalizations topped 2,000 — also a record — with intensive care units now at 85% capacity. Trump later held his second campaign event since the start of the pandemic, speaking to 3,000 students in a packed megachurch in Phoenix. Few of the students wore masks, and none of them practiced social distancing, raising fears the Trump rally could be another coronavirus “superspreader” event. During his remarks, President Trump drew cheers when he mocked COVID-19 and repeated a racist nickname for the disease.
President Donald Trump: “Kung flu, yeah. Kung flu.”
On Tuesday, Twitter flagged another Trump tweet for violating its policy prohibiting abusive or violent language, after Trump wrote, “There will never be an 'Autonomous Zone' in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!”
Protests against police brutality and racism are continuing across the country. In Washington, D.C., police in riot gear violently cleared a small protest encampment near the White House on Tuesday. In Richmond, Virginia, 12 people were arrested as they attempted to set up a protest encampment outside Richmond City Hall. Officers used tear gas, pepper spray and flashbangs to break up the protest. Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, dozens of students rallied on Tuesday to push the school district to remove police officers from the city’s schools. This is Jessica Black, director of the Black Organizing Project.
Jessica Black: “Children don’t need to be criminalized for being children. Schools were supposed to be places where children can learn social skills — schools and community. So what we’re really pushing is we’re pushing the institution of policing out, and we’re saying bring community in.”
In Kentucky, the Louisville Metro Police Department said Tuesday it has fired Brett Hankison, more than three months after he shot Breonna Taylor to death inside her own apartment. Officer Brett Hankison will have 10 days to appeal his termination. None of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s killing have been charged with a crime.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and a coalition of other civil rights organizations are calling on federal prosecutors to release on bail two New York attorneys who are accused of throwing Molotov cocktails into an empty New York police car during protests in Brooklyn on May 30. The lawyers — Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman — are facing a minimum of 45 years in prison if convicted on the federal charges. The two were initially released on bail, but then the federal government challenged the bail conditions, sending them back to pretrial detention — a move that shocked many in the legal community since neither Mattis nor Rahman have a criminal history. A group of over 50 former federal prosecutors have also signed a letter opposing the government’s handling of the case.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli officers shot and killed a Palestinian man Tuesday at a checkpoint east of Jerusalem as he was on his way to pick up his sister, who was set to be married that same day. Disturbing video from the scene shows 27-year-old Ahmed Erekat bleeding but still alive on the street where he was shot. He is the nephew of senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat, who says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was responsible for the death. Later in the broadcast, we’ll speak with Palestinian human rights attorney and legal scholar Noura Erakat, who is Ahmed Erekat’s cousin.
In news from Egypt, plainclothes security forces abducted 26-year-old activist Sanaa Seif on Tuesday. The abduction occurred outside the public prosecutor’s office in Cairo. Seif was attempting to file a complaint about being violently assaulted along with her sister and mother on Monday outside the Tora prison complex where her brother, the political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah, is jailed.
In Mexico, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the southern state of Oaxaca Tuesday, killing at least five people and triggering a tsunami warning in several Pacific coastal areas across Mexico and Central America. At least two hospitals in Oaxaca treating COVID-19 patients were among those reporting damages. The powerful earthquake was felt in several other states, including in Mexico City, where residents were forced onto the streets as buildings and power lines rattled and seismic alarms went off. Smaller tremors were felt in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
In health news, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $2.1 billion to a group of women who developed ovarian cancer after using talcum products contaminated with asbestos. In its ruling, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals said Johnson & Johnson had “engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference.” But the appeals court did reduce the verdict amount, which had been $4.7 billion. Johnson & Johnson recently stopped selling its brand of talcum powder in the United States and Canada, but it is continuing to sell the products overseas.
In Charleston, South Carolina, the city has begun removing a statue of former Vice President John Calhoun, who was a staunch advocate of slavery and a slaveholder himself. The Charleston City Council voted unanimously to remove the monument on Tuesday night after the 115-foot-high statue was repeatedly targeted by protesters. The monument is located in Marion Square, a block from the Mother Emanuel AME Church where nine African American worshipers were gunned down in 2015 by white supremacist Dylann Roof.
In Mississippi, college football star running back Kylin Hill said Monday he’ll refuse to play next season unless Mississippi abandons its state flag, which features the Confederate battle flag as part of its design. Hill tweeted, “Either change the flag or I won’t be representing this State anymore & I meant that .. I’m tired.”
In Atlanta, Rayshard Brooks was laid to rest Tuesday, 11 days after he was shot twice in the back and killed by an Atlanta police officer outside a Wendy’s restaurant. His killing sparked an uprising against racism and police brutality that culminated in the arrest of officer Garrett Rolfe on felony murder charges. Brooks was honored by friends and family who gathered at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church for his funeral. Reverend Bernice King delivered the eulogy.
Rev. Bernice King: “My daddy, Martin Luther King Jr., who taught us that true peace is not merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice, therefore there can be no peace in Atlanta, nor anywhere in our nation, where there is no justice. No justice, no peace.”
Immediately after the funeral wrapped up, Atlanta police announced the arrest of Natalie White, a 29-year-old who was reportedly close to Rayshard Brooks. She faces charges of first-degree arson for allegedly helping to set a fire that consumed the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot dead by police on June 12.