HeadlinesJuly 15, 2020

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U.S. Sets Another Single-Day Record with 67,000+ Coronavirus Cases

Jul 15, 2020

The United States has set another grim record for coronavirus infections, with more than 67,000 new cases confirmed on Tuesday. At least 11 states are reporting record hospitalizations, with nearly 1,000 new deaths in just 24 hours. Officials in Texas and Arizona have put out calls for refrigerated trucks, as morgues overflow with the bodies of COVID-19 patients. At least 136,000 people in the U.S. have now died from the disease.

On Tuesday, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, made a dire prediction about the U.S. epidemic — which is already the worst in the world.

Dr. Robert Redfield: “I do think the fall and the winter of 2020 and 2021 are going to be probably one of the most difficult times that we’ve experienced in American public health.”

Trump Admin Orders Hospitals to Bypass CDC on Reporting COVID-19 Data

Jul 15, 2020

The CDC director’s warning came as the Trump administration ordered U.S. hospitals to reroute where they usually send data on COVID-19 patients. Starting today, instead of the usual process of sending the data to the CDC, which then releases it to the public, states have been told to send it directly to a Department of Health and Human Services system that The New York Times reports is “not open to the public, which could affect the work of scores of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and crucial decisions.”

Meanwhile, four former heads of the CDC blasted President Trump’s handling of the pandemic in a Washington Post op-ed, writing, “Willful disregard for public health guidelines is, unsurprisingly, leading to a sharp rise in infections and deaths. America now stands as a global outlier in the coronavirus pandemic.”

GOP Convention in Jacksonville May Move Outdoors, as COVID-19 Skyrockets in Florida

Jul 15, 2020

White House officials said Tuesday the Republican National Convention may convene in an outdoor venue next month in Jacksonville, as Florida grapples with an explosion of coronavirus cases. Florida reported a record 132 new deaths on Tuesday, two days after its daily confirmed coronavirus caseload topped all of Europe combined. At least six Republican senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio, have said they will not attend this year’s RNC.

U.N. Chief Warns Pandemic May Set Back Global Economy by “Decades”

Jul 15, 2020

At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres warned Tuesday the pandemic has spawned the sharpest decline in global per capita income in more than a century and could set the world economy back by “decades.”

In South Africa, health officials have reimposed some lockdown measures, including a ban on alcohol sales, amid an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases.

In India, nearly a dozen states have reimposed partial lockdowns as confirmed coronavirus cases rapidly approach 1 million.

Brazil’s death toll has topped 74,000 — second only to the United States — with nearly 2 million confirmed cases. On Tuesday, protesters descended on the capital Brasília demanding far-right President Jair Bolsonaro step down.

Claudia Lima: “Brazil can’t take it anymore. There have been more than 70,000 deaths, more than 70,000 families crying over the deaths of people that were ignored and scorned by the genocidal person in charge of the Brazilian government.”

In Europe, the governments of both the U.K. and France are taking steps to mandate face masks in indoor public spaces. Germany, Greece, Italy and Spain already have national mask mandates.

Trump Admin Rescinds Plan to Strip International Student Visas

Jul 15, 2020

In immigration news, the Trump administration has backed down on its plan to deport thousands of international students enrolled at universities that will offer online-only courses in the fall due to the coronavirus pandemic. The plan, announced by Immigration and Customs Enforcement just last week, would have revoked visas for international students unless they transferred to universities holding in-person instruction.

Jeff Sessions Loses Bid to Reclaim Alabama Senate Seat

Jul 15, 2020

In Alabama, Jeff Sessions has failed in his bid to reclaim the U.S. Senate seat he vacated to become attorney general, before Trump fired him in 2018. Trump-backed candidate Tommy Tuberville, the former head coach of the Auburn football team, won Tuesday’s Republican primary and will take on Democratic incumbent Senator Doug Jones in the general election.

Democrats Pick Challengers to GOP Incumbent Senators in Texas & Maine

Jul 15, 2020

In Maine, Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, has won the Democratic nomination to take on Republican U.S. Senator Susan Collins in November. The race is on track to become the most expensive in Maine’s history.

In Texas, former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar has narrowly defeated state lawmaker Royce West for the Democratic Party’s nomination for a U.S. Senate seat. Hegar will challenge Republican incumbent Senator John Cornyn in November.

Progressive Challenger José Garza Unseats District Attorney of Travis County, TX

Jul 15, 2020

Meanwhile, in Travis County, Texas, incumbent District Attorney Margaret Moore has conceded Tuesday’s Democratic primary runoff to progressive challenger José Garza. Garza tweeted in response, “Together, we will transform our broken justice system and create a future where the dignity of communities of color is honored, immigrants and working families are protected, survivors are treated with respect, and the powerful are held accountable.”

Joe Biden Unveils $2 Trillion Clean Energy and Jobs Plan

Jul 15, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has unveiled an economic recovery plan that would see $2 trillion invested in clean energy projects over four years. Biden’s plan calls for new infrastructure projects, investments in electric cars and zero-emissions public transportation, an end to carbon pollution in U.S. power generation by 2035, a new Civilian Climate Corps and more. Biden laid out his plan in a speech in Delaware on Tuesday.

Joe Biden: “When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is 'hoax.' When I think about climate change, the word I think of is 'jobs.'”

Biden’s plan drew measured praise from the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led climate action group that’s pushing for the Green New Deal. The group tweeted, “This plan isn’t perfect, & there are still gaps and places to push, but it’s a major step forward, & parts are more ambitious than what Bernie Sanders ran on in 2016, or Jay Inslee championed in 2020.”

U.S. Retailers End “Hero Pay” for Essential Workers Amid Record Coronavirus Surge

Jul 15, 2020

In labor news, major U.S. retailers have quietly ended hazard pay for essential workers, even as the U.S. coronavirus epidemic reaches new heights. Amazon, Albertsons, Kroger and Stop & Shop have all ended so-called hero pay, even as many workers have seen their risk of infection rise.

Illinois Nurses Strike, Demanding Safe Staffing Levels Amid Pandemic

Jul 15, 2020

In Joliet, Illinois, more than 700 unionized nurses at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center are in the second week of a strike demanding safe staffing levels amid the pandemic. The nurses say their demands for better nurse-to-patient ratios have been met with illegal intimidation and threats of termination by management.

China to Retaliate as U.S. Ratchets Up Sanctions over Hong Kong Security Law

Jul 15, 2020

China is vowing to retaliate after President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to preferential trade treatment for Hong Kong, while signing a bill authorizing new sanctions against Chinese officials who imposed an authoritarian security law on the semi-autonomous territory. It’s the latest in a series of tit-for-tat moves that have brought U.S.-China relations to their lowest point in decades. On Monday, China imposed largely symbolic sanctions on senior U.S. politicians, including Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over China’s human rights abuses of minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang province.

Israeli Protesters Demand PM Netanyahu Step Down Amid Corruption Trial

Jul 15, 2020

In Jerusalem, thousands of Israelis protested outside the home of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, demanding he step down during his trial on corruption charges. Netanyahu is also under fire over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic amid a spike of infections linked to the reopening of schools in May. At least one person was injured after police used horses and water cannons to disperse Tuesday’s demonstrations. Fifty protesters were arrested.

Honduran Land Defender Marvin Damián Castro Found Murdered

Jul 15, 2020

In Honduras, 29-year-old environmentalist and land defender Marvin Damián Castro was found dead Monday near the capital of Tegucigalpa after going missing on Sunday. Castro was a member of a network of land and water defenders in southern Honduras. He had recently told a government human rights agency he was afraid for his life. Two alleged gang members were arrested as suspects in Castro’s killing. Violence against land and water defenders and Indigenous leaders in Honduras has skyrocketed since the U.S.-backed coup in 2009.

Belarusian Election Commission Bars Challengers to President Lukashenko

Jul 15, 2020

In Belarus, police arrested dozens of people in the capital Minsk Tuesday as they protested the Central Election Commission’s refusal to allow opposition candidates to run against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. The decision solidifies Lukashenko’s 26-year grip on power.

Phoenix Police Footage Shows Motorist’s Violent Arrest over Minor Traffic Violation

Jul 15, 2020

In Phoenix, Arizona, newly released body-camera footage shows a police officer assaulting a 23-year-old unarmed woman after she was pulled over for a minor traffic violation in January. The video shows officer Michael McGillis stopping Mariah Valenzuela without explanation, before he suddenly tackles her and slams her to the ground without warning.

Mariah Valenzuela: “Why am I getting pulled over?”

Michael McGillis: “Is this your car?”

Mariah Valenzuela: “No.”

Michael McGillis: “Bravo, John, Sam, 5-4-5-5.”

Mariah Valenzuela: “Why am I getting pulled over?”

Michael McGillis: “Do you have ID on you?”

Mariah Valenzuela: “No. Why am I getting pulled over?”

Michael McGillis: “OK. Put your hands behind your back.”

Mariah Valenzuela: “Excuse me!”

Michael McGillis: “Put your hands behind your back!”

Mariah Valenzuela: “No!”

Michael McGillis: “Put your hands behing your back! Stop!”

Mariah Valenzuela: [screams]

Michael McGillis: “Stop!”

Mariah Valenzuela: [screams]

Michael McGillis: “Stop! Hands behind your back!”

Mariah Valenzuela: [screams]

The assault left Valenzuela with injuries to her head, face, hands and legs. The video surfaced just one week after another Phoenix police officer was caught on camera fatally shooting James Porter Garcia while he was in a parked car in a residential driveway over Fourth of July weekend.

Trump Says Police Kill “More White People” Than African Americans

Jul 15, 2020

President Trump reacted angrily Tuesday to a question about police killings of African Americans. Trump was speaking with CBS News correspondent Catherine Herridge at the White House.

Catherine Herridge: “You said George Floyd’s death was a terrible thing.”

President Donald Trump: “Terrible.”

Catherine Herridge: “Why are African Americans still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country?”

President Donald Trump: “And so are white people. So are white people. What a terrible question to ask. So are white people. More white people, by the way. More white people.”

A recent Harvard University study found African Americans are more than three times as likely to be killed by police as white Americans.

Meanwhile, President Trump again defended displays of the Confederate flag at NASCAR races and other events, calling it a “free speech” issue. And in a separate interview, Trump defended a wealthy white couple who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters passing their home in a gated community in St. Louis last month.

Black Michigan Teen Jailed for Failing to Do Online Schoolwork

Jul 15, 2020

In Michigan, ProPublica reports a 15-year-old Black student with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder has been jailed at a juvenile detention center in Detroit since May — after a judge ruled that she violated probation by failing to complete her high school coursework online. The teen has since been transferred to a long-term treatment program, where she will remain at least until a hearing review in September. Her jailing comes amid demands for the release of juvenile prisoners at risk of the coronavirus inside crowded detention centers.

Ghislaine Maxwell Denied Bail After Pleading Not Guilty to Sex Trafficking Charges

Jul 15, 2020

Here in New York, Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who is accused of luring girls to be sexually abused by convicted predator and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, has pleaded not guilty to sex trafficking charges and will remain behind bars until her trial in July 2021. A judge denied Maxwell bail on Tuesday after two of Epstein’s accusers pleaded for her to remain behind bars and federal prosecutors argued she was an “extreme” flight risk. Maxwell is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where her attorneys say she’s at risk of contracting the coronavirus. She was arrested July 2 and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalized

Jul 15, 2020

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized Tuesday after experiencing fever and chills linked to a possible infection. In May, the 87-year-old Ginsburg received a nonsurgical treatment for a gallbladder condition. In 2018, she had surgery for lung cancer, after previously beating pancreatic and colorectal cancer.

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