A new report finds U.S. health workers filed more than 4,100 complaints about a lack of personal protective equipment during the pandemic — even as hundreds died of COVID-19. The report from Kaiser Health News and The Guardian found officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration rapidly closed many complaints without issuing citations. Researchers found just a single instance when OSHA issued a fine: a $3,900 penalty for a Georgia nursing home that failed to report worker hospitalizations on time.
Voters went to the polls Tuesday in Colorado, Utah and Oklahoma. In Colorado’s Senate Democratic primary, former governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper defeated Andrew Romanoff, Colorado’s former House speaker. Hickenlooper won almost 60% of the vote and will now face Republican Senator Cory Gardner in November. Colorado saw a major upset in one of its Republican congressional primaries. Gun rights activist Lauren Boebert defeated five-time Republican Congressmember Scott Tipton, who had been endorsed by President Trump. Boebert owns a restaurant called Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colorado, where she encourages her staff to openly carry their guns while working. In Utah, the Republican primary for governor remains too close to call. Spencer Cox has a narrow lead over former Governor Jon Huntsman. And in Oklahoma, voters narrowly approved a measure to extend Medicaid to 200,000 low-income adults, making Oklahoma the fifth state to approve such a ballot measure.
In Kentucky, former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath has been declared the winner over progressive state Representative Charles Booker in last week’s closely watched Democratic Senate primary. McGrath received 45.4% of the vote; Booker received 42.6%. McGrath outspent Booker by a margin of nearly 10 to 1. Booker’s popularity soared in recent weeks as he took part in Black Lives Matter protests and spoke against police violence. McGrath will now face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November.
In South Dakota, the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe has ordered President Trump to cancel a planned visit to Mount Rushmore on July 3 for his Independence Day celebration. Julian Bear Runner told The Guardian, “The lands on which that mountain is carved and the lands he’s about to visit belong to the Great Sioux nation under a treaty signed in 1851 and the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and I have to tell him he doesn’t have permission from its original sovereign owners to enter the territory at this time.”
A New York judge has ordered a preliminary injunction against the publication of a tell-all book by Donald Trump’s niece. In a statement, a lawyer for Mary Trump called the injunction a First Amendment violation and prior restraint on core political speech. The book, titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” reportedly describes a “nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse” in the Trump family.
New York’s City Council on Tuesday approved an $88 billion austerity budget that purports to cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department. But critics say the move fails to meet a core demand of protesters for a reinvestment of NYPD funds into social programs. In a statement, New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math. It does not mean moving school police officers from the NYPD budget to the Department of Education’s budget so that the exact same police remain in schools.” Early this morning, dozens of police officers in riot gear surrounded a peaceful encampment of protesters who’ve remained camped outside City Hall for over a week. This is Charles Khan, one of the protesters.
Charles Khan: “We know that when we look at safe communities, they don’t have some magic key or magic code for safety. What they have are resources. They have like the best — some of the best public schools in the country. And they don’t have police roaming around their neighborhoods.”
In North Carolina, the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office has mobilized an around-the-clock police presence at a Confederate monument in the city of Graham, as city officials say they’ve indefinitely suspended permits for demonstrations and will order the arrest of anyone who engages in protest. The Intercept reports police have aggressively questioned people they think might be protesters, telling them they’re not allowed to carry signs; meanwhile, armed neo-Confederate supporters have repeatedly gathered near the monument.
In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves has signed a bill ordering the removal of the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag. At a signing ceremony, Governor Reeves said he will continue to oppose the removal of Confederate monuments.
Gov. Tate Reeves: “I reject the mobs tearing down statues of our history, North and South, Union and Confederate, Founding Fathers and veterans. I reject the chaos and lawlessness, and I am proud it has not happened in our state. I also understand the need to commit the 1894 flag to history and find a banner that is a better emblem for all Mississippi.”
Under Mississippi’s newly signed law, a design for a new flag must contain the motto “In God We Trust.”
The Supreme Court has issued a major ruling backing the right of states to fund private religious education using taxpayer dollars. The 5-4 ruling came in a case focused on a tax credit program in Montana that helped students attend religious schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hailed the ruling as a turning point in the history of American education. The American Civil Liberties Union said the ruling is an attack on the very foundations of the separation of church and state.
In immigration news, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., has struck down a Trump administration asylum restriction that banned most asylum seekers from Central America, the Caribbean and Africa from applying for refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border, instead forcing them to first seek asylum in countries they pass through on their way to the U.S., particularly Mexico or Guatemala. The ruling Tuesday marked a legal victory for refugee advocates who challenged the near-total ban on asylum.
In Arizona, a letter signed by over 100 immigrant prisoners held at the La Palma Correctional Center near Phoenix details inhumane conditions at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement jail — and a negligent response to the coronavirus outbreak. Prisoners say they’re being coerced into cleaning the jail without protective gear, under the threat of solitary confinement.
A similar letter drafted by immigrant prisoners held at the nearby Eloy Detention Center says, “We are certain that staff are the ones getting everyone else sick. Days ago a sergeant was a new victim of COVID-19. He collapsed on the job here in Eloy.” Over 220 prisoners at Eloy have tested positive for COVID-19, one of the largest outbreaks of any ICE jail in the country.
In more immigration news, three asylum seekers at an encampment in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico, have tested positive for COVID-19. For months, advocates and public health experts have warned of a possible catastrophic outbreak in the crowded encampments housing thousands of asylum seekers stuck in northern Mexico.
A new trade deal meant to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement goes into effect today. Among its provisions, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement includes additional labor protections aimed at making it easier for Mexican workers to unionize.
This comes after prominent Mexican labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas was arrested in the northern border town of Matamoros over accusations of inciting riots for her ongoing support of striking maquiladora workers. This is a spokesperson and attorney for the Prieto family.
Alyn Alvidrez: “Fifteen thousand workers have expressed their will to join us, the union, in a petition. At the moment, they are defenseless after Prieto’s arrest. It’s a warning to the workers. But not only that, the more than 3,800 active court cases where Prieto is their trial attorney have a time limit, and Prieto’s clients are all left unprotected.”
CNN reports the White House was provided with intelligence in early 2019 indicating Russian actors were offering bounties to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. CNN cited an unnamed source, who said the warning over Russian bounties was also included in the President’s Daily Briefing sometime in the spring of this year. President Trump says he was never briefed on the claim because U.S. intelligence agencies “did not find this info credible.” The Wall Street Journal is reporting the National Security Agency has strongly dissented from the assessment of other intelligence agencies that Russia has paid bounties to kill U.S. soldiers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is vowing to proceed with his plan to annex occupied West Bank territory in the coming days despite international condemnation and growing opposition within Israel. Netanayahu had originally planned to begin the annexation today, July 1, but the country’s alternate prime minister, Benny Gantz, is now calling for a delay, in part due to the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, in Washington, Senator Bernie Sanders has signed on to a letter drafted by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling for cuts to U.S. military aid to Israel if the annexation plan proceeds.
In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Carrie Lam marked the 23rd anniversary of the formal handover of the former British colony to China with a flag-raising ceremony. Meanwhile, officials banned an annual pro-democracy march for the first time, arresting at least 200 unauthorized protesters under a controversial new security law giving China sweeping powers over Hong Kong.
In the United States, several women who accused convicted serial rapist and former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault and harassment have been awarded $19 million in restitution payments as part of two class-action lawsuits. The women were also released from nondisclosure agreements. Weinstein is currently serving a 23-year sentence after being convicted of rape in February. He still faces criminal charges in Los Angeles.
The author Rudolfo Anaya has died at the age of 82 in New Mexico. He was known as the “godfather of Chicano literature” in part for his landmark 1972 novel, “Bless Me, Ultima.” Despite being one of the most influential Chicano novels, the book has been repeatedly banned by school districts in Arizona and elsewhere. Anaya once asked, “What is it about literature that makes people fearful?” In 2015, President Obama awarded Rudolfo Anaya the National Humanities Medal.