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HeadlinesJuly 17, 2020

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United States Hits Daily Record of 75,600 Coronavirus Cases as Death Rate Rises

Jul 17, 2020

The United States has shattered its own record for COVID-19, confirming 75,600 cases of the disease on Thursday, as Texas and Florida both reported their highest death tolls of the pandemic. Speaking in an online forum hosted by Facebook, top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the record spike in infections — which is the worst in the world — resulted from states rushing to reopen their economies too quickly.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “You can’t jump over steps, which is very perilous when you think about rebound. And the proof of the pudding is, look what’s happened. There really is no reason why we’re having 40-, 50-, 60,000, other than the fact that we’re not doing something correctly.”

Dr. Fauci said the U.S. economy will continue to suffer unless the virus is brought under control through simple measures like mask-wearing, avoiding crowds, and practicing social distancing.

Colorado & Arkansas Mandate Masks as Georgia’s Governor Sues to Overturn Atlanta Mask Ordinance

Jul 17, 2020

In Colorado, Democratic Governor Jared Polis issued a statewide mask mandate Thursday, a week after refusing public health officials’ pleas to require facial coverings in public. Arkansas Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a similar mask mandate.

In Georgia, Republican Governor Brian Kemp filed suit Thursday against Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who’s sick with COVID-19, seeking to overturn her local mask ordinance. Meanwhile, Target and CVS became the latest major U.S. retailers to require masks nationwide.

Detroit Protesters Block School Buses in Bid to Halt In-Person Summer Classes

Jul 17, 2020

In Detroit, Michigan, police arrested 11 people Thursday as they blocked school buses in a nonviolent protest demanding the cancellation of in-person classes during the pandemic. At least 600 children are attending summer classes at Detroit-area public schools, even as coronavirus infections have been rising in Michigan for the last three weeks.

In St. Louis, Missouri, contact tracers have linked the spread of the coronavirus to summer extracurricular programs, including football conditioning camps at two high schools. Despite the surge, Missouri high school football games are set to begin on August 28.

“Science Should Not Stand in the Way” of School Reopenings, Says Trump’s Spokesperson

Jul 17, 2020

At the White House, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Thursday that science should not stand in the way of reopening schools.

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “You know, the president has said unmistakably that he wants schools to open. And I was just in the Oval talking to him about that. And when he says open, he means open in full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school. The science should not stand in the way of this.”

In response, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten accused President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos of disregarding the safety of children and school employees. She told The Guardian, “It’s as if Trump and DeVos want to create chaos and want to jeopardize reopening. There’s no other reason why they would be this reckless, this callous, this cruel.”

India and Brazil Pass Grim Coronavirus Milestones

Jul 17, 2020

In Brazil, confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed the 2 million mark, with an official COVID-19 death toll of more than 76,000.

India recorded another record daily toll as coronavirus cases passed the 1 million mark. Several Indian states have reintroduced lockdown measures they lifted just last month. In eastern India, flooding from monsoon rains has forced more than a million people into shelters where social distancing is difficult or impossible.

Colombia’s Hospitals Near Capacity as Paramilitaries Enforce Coronavirus Lockdowns with Violence

Jul 17, 2020

In Bogotá, Colombia, doctors are demanding a citywide lockdown as a surge of COVID-19 cases overwhelms hospitals. This is Dr. Herman Bayona, president of the Colombian Medical College.

Dr. Herman Bayona: “Emergency services are overcrowded. In some places, respiratory rooms are at more than 150% occupancy. And that concerns us a lot. We are very close to collapse. Even in emergency wards, there are patients on respirators that are waiting to be transferred to intensive care.”

Elsewhere in Colombia, illegal armed groups have been enforcing their own quarantines in areas with limited government control, threatening civilians who fail to comply with orders by paramilitaries. Human Rights Watch reports at least nine people have been killed for defying the measures, with some residents barred from leaving their homes even if they are sick.

Thousands Still Planning to Attend Scaled-Back Republican National Convention in Florida

Jul 17, 2020

In the United States, Republican leaders said Thursday they will scale back in-person attendance at the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville next month, as Florida suffers one of the world’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19. The Republican National Committee’s plans call for a mix of indoor and outdoor events, with only regular delegates permitted to attend the first three days of convention business — about 2,500 people each day. When President Trump formally accepts the nomination on August 27, the RNC plan calls for a crowd of up to 7,000 people.

Trump Administration Wins Reprieve in Bid to Keep Migrant Children Locked Up

Jul 17, 2020

A federal judge on Thursday extended a deadline for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, to release immigrant children in its custody. Last month, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee told ICE it had until today — July 17 — to release children from its “family detention centers” in Texas and Pennsylvania due to concerns over rising coronavirus infections. ICE now has until July 27 to comply with the order. This comes as another federal judge is poised to rule next week on a Trump administration request to keep immigrant families jailed in “family detention centers,” prompting fears that immigrant children could once again be separated from their parents.

Customs and Border Protection Fires 4 Agents over Hateful Social Media Posts

Jul 17, 2020

After a year-long investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it has fired four employees — and suspended dozens more without pay — over their participation in a Facebook group filled with racist, homophobic and misogynistic content. In one post, a photoshopped image depicted Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being sexually assaulted by President Trump. In another thread, members of the group made fun of a video of an immigrant man trying to carry a child through a raging river in a plastic bag. One group member commented, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.”

Guatemalan Asylum Seeker Dies in ICE Custody, 13th Such Death This Year

Jul 17, 2020

In Monroe, Louisiana, a 46-year-old Guatemalan man in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement has died in a hospital where he had been receiving care since February. Luis Sánchez-Pérez had been imprisoned at the Catahoula Correctional Center, where over 100 people have tested positive for COVID-19. ICE alleges Sánchez-Pérez’s death was unrelated to the coronavirus. The American Immigration Lawyers Association reports at least 13 asylum seekers have died this year after being jailed by ICE.

In Texas, a Houston jail is reporting a surge in coronavirus cases linked to newly booked prisoners. Confirmed cases at Harris County Jail had dropped in recent weeks after the jail cut some of its population to ease an earlier outbreak. Nearly 1,000 people held in the jail have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

Federal Agents in Unmarked Cars Snatch Black Lives Matter Protesters from Portland Streets

Jul 17, 2020

In Portland, Oregon, police arrested nine people Thursday morning after declaring their protest encampment near a downtown federal courthouse an “illegal assembly.”

The crackdown came as acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf accused Portland officials of failing to restore order during seven weeks of protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd. During a visit to Portland Thursday, Wolf blasted Black Lives Matter protesters as “lawless anarchists” and a “violent mob” that desecrated and destroyed federal property.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown clapped back on Twitter, writing, “This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

Videos circulating on social media show heavily armed federal officers with no agency markings snatching people off Portland’s streets and forcing them into unmarked cars. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports one protester ran when he saw people wearing camouflage jump out of an unmarked vehicle, not knowing whether he was being arrested or kidnapped.

SCOTUS Decision Could Strip 1 Million Formerly Incarcerated People in Florida of Voting Rights

Jul 17, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to overturn a lower court’s ruling that could strip the voting rights of 1 million formerly incarcerated citizens in Florida. In an unsigned opinion, the court let stand an appeals court ruling upholding a Florida law, signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, that requires people with felony convictions to pay court fines and fees before they can register to vote. A U.S. district court previously compared the fees to the poll taxes of the Jim Crow South. In a scathing dissent signed by Justices Kagan and Ginsburg, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, “This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor.”

Protesters Camp Outside Amazon CEO’s Penthouse to Demand Billionaires’ Tax

Jul 17, 2020

Here in New York, hundreds of immigrant protesters camped out overnight outside Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s penthouse apartment on Fifth Avenue, calling for the passage of a New York state tax on billionaires. A proposed capital gains tax, backed by Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would fund food and rental assistance for people who’ve lost jobs during the pandemic — including immigrants shut out of unemployment benefits and government stimulus funds.

U.S., U.K. and Canada Accuse Russian Hackers of Targeting COVID-19 Vaccine Data

Jul 17, 2020

Russia is denying claims by U.S., Canadian and British intelligence agencies that Russian hackers are targeting proprietary research on the development of vaccines for COVID-19. The National Security Agency blamed a Russian hacker group known as “Cozy Bear” that intelligence officials accuse of hacking into Democratic Party servers during the 2016 presidential campaign. The hacking claim has raised fears of growing “vaccine nationalism,” with countries competing to become the first with a vaccine rather than sharing research data. Dr. Ali Khan, the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, tweeted, “I know the Russian govt are the bad guys but I dont see this any different than stealing bread if you are starving … Make open source.”

Federal Judge Bars Trump from Gutting Obama-Era Rule on Methane Emissions

Jul 17, 2020

A federal judge has barred the Trump administration from gutting an Obama-era rule limiting emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Rogers will reimpose limits on the amount of methane that oil and gas companies can allow to leak from drilling sites on public lands.

“An Existential Crisis”: Greta Thunberg Leads Call for End to Fossil Fuel Extraction

Jul 17, 2020

Scores of prominent environmentalists have signed an open letter demanding a halt to all investments in fossil fuel exploration and extraction, and an immediate end to all fossil fuel subsidies. They’re also calling on member states of the International Criminal Court to make “ecocide” an international crime. The letter was co-authored by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who says world leaders need to face the climate emergency.

Greta Thunberg: “We need to see it as, above all, an existential crisis. And as long as it’s not being treated as a crisis, we can have as many of these climate change negotiations and talks, conferences as possible; it won’t change a thing.”

Marilyn Cazares, 22-Year-Old Transgender Woman, Found Killed in Southern California

Jul 17, 2020

In California, a 22-year-old transgender woman was found killed in an abandoned building in the city of Brawley earlier this week. Police are investigating the death of Marilyn Cazares as a homicide. Cazares’s aunt described her as charismatic, brave and outspoken. Cazares is at least the 23rd transgender or gender noncomforming person killed in the U.S. this year.

At Least 15 Women Accuse Washington NFL Team Executives of Sexual Harassment

Jul 17, 2020

In sports news, at least 15 women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and verbal abuse against several executives and other employees of Washington’s NFL team. In details provided to The Washington Post, the women describe male executives constantly commenting on their looks, sending inappropriate text messages and pursuing unwanted relationships. The team announced this week it would be changing its name and mascot — a racist slur against Native Americans — which it first adopted in 1933.

Mary Trump’s Book About Her Uncle Donald Breaks Sales Record

Jul 17, 2020

A tell-all book by President Trump’s niece sold nearly 1 million copies Thursday on its first day of publication — a record for publisher Simon & Schuster. In her book, titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” clinical psychologist Mary Trump describes her uncle Donald as a “sociopath” who grew up in a dysfunctional family that fostered his greed and cruelty. On Thursday, Mary Trump told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow she’s heard her uncle repeatedly using racist language.

Rachel Maddow: “Have you heard the president use the N-word?”

Mary Trump: “Yeah.”

Rachel Maddow: “And anti-Semitic slurs specifically?”

Mary Trump: “Yes.”

Game Show Host Whose Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Trump Retweeted Says Son Has COVID-19

Jul 17, 2020

A former game show host — whose conspiracy theory about coronavirus was recently shared by President Trump — has revealed his son contracted COVID-19. Over the weekend, President Trump retweeted a claim by Chuck Woolery, the former host of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Love Connection,” that “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19. Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors.”

A day later, Woolery tweeted, “Covid-19 is real and it is here. My son tested positive for the virus, and I feel for those suffering and especially for those who have lost loved ones.” President Trump did not retweet that tweet. On Wednesday, Woolery abruptly deactivated his Twitter account.

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