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HeadlinesJuly 02, 2020

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States Reverse Reopenings as Daily U.S. Coronavirus Cases Top 50,000 for First Time

Jul 02, 2020

The United States has set another grim coronavirus record, confirming nearly 52,000 cases of COVID-19 in just 24 hours. Alaska, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all reported single-day record levels of the disease Wednesday, with hospitals in some regions already overwhelmed with patients.

In Arizona, Governor Doug Ducey ordered bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks closed for at least 30 days amid an exponential rise in new infections.

Gov. Doug Ducey: “Our message to Arizonans today is clear: They are safer at home. If they do go out, we want them to mask up. We want them to physically distance. We want them to wash their hands.”

Governor Ducey spoke to reporters after meeting Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the coronavirus task force. Pence is traveling to Florida today for talks with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who vowed this week he was “not going back” on reopening his state’s economy despite an exponential rise in new infections.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday reimposed coronavirus restrictions, shutting down bars and indoor dining in 19 counties that are home to more than 70% of California’s population.

New York City has halted plans to reopen indoor dining at restaurants. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have ordered travelers from 16 states with high infection rates to self-quarantine upon their arrival.

As U.S. Deaths Top 128,000, Trump Predicts Coronavirus Will “Sort of Just Disappear”

Jul 02, 2020

The official U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has now topped 128,000, with nearly 2.7 million confirmed cases — the worst levels in the world, by far, though public health officials say both figures are significant undercounts. On Wednesday, President Trump once again claimed the coronavirus would soon “disappear.”

President Donald Trump: “And I think we’re going to be very good with the coronavirus. I think that at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”

Trump, who has repeatedly refused to wear a mask in public, said, “I’m all for masks, I think masks are good” — but said he doubted a national mandate is needed.

This comes as a new study by the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs found a federal mask mandate could slow the rate of coronavirus infection and prevent new lockdowns, avoiding a 5% drop in gross domestic product worth a staggering $1 trillion to the U.S. economy.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania’s health secretary signed an order requiring all state residents to wear masks in public spaces.

Dallas Choir Members Tested Positive for COVID-19 Ahead of Performance for Mike Pence

Jul 02, 2020

In Texas, at least five members of a choir and orchestra at a Dallas megachurch visited by Mike Pence last weekend tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the vice president’s trip. That’s according to BuzzFeed News, which reported that church officials failed to quarantine performers after their exposure to infected people — and instead continued holding rehearsals for the rest of the month. Over 2,000 people attended Sunday’s event, where Pence sat in the front row while the choir of over 100 people performed unmasked in front of a largely unmasked audience.

San Quentin Prisoners Launch Hunger Strike Amid Explosion of COVID-19 Cases

Jul 02, 2020

At least 20 people held at San Quentin State Prison in California launched a hunger strike Monday to protest inhumane conditions inside. Over 1,100 men have tested positive for COVID-19 — that’s a third of San Quentin’s population. One person has died. Among those testing positive is incarcerated journalist Juan Moreno Haines. He appeared on Democracy Now! in March warning about the likelihood of a COVID outbreak at San Quentin.

Juan Moreno Haines: “So, we live in such close proximity, that in the 13 years that I’ve been in San Quentin, if I see somebody with the flu or sick, I’m going to get it. I already know this. I’m going to get it. There’s no avoiding it.”

Seattle Riot Police Clear Autonomous Zone

Jul 02, 2020

In Seattle, heavily armed police officers have cleared a large protest encampment that grew over the past three weeks after the Seattle police abandoned one of its police precincts. At least 44 people were arrested on Wednesday. The area was known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) or the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). Authorities cracked down on the encampment following four shootings that left two people dead.

Los Angeles City Council Approves $150M in Cuts to Police Budget

Jul 02, 2020

In California, the Los Angeles City Council voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to cut the L.A. Police Department’s budget by $150 million while cutting back on hiring new officers. The move, which comes amid widespread protests demanding even deeper cuts to the LAPD’s budget, would reduce L.A.’s police force to fewer than 10,000 officers — the lowest level since 2008.

Trump Calls Black Lives Matter Message Outside Trump Tower a “Symbol of Hate”

Jul 02, 2020

President Trump has called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate.” He made the charge in a tweet attacking New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to paint “Black Lives Matter” in large letters on Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. The president said the city’s plan is “denigrating this luxury Avenue.”

Richmond, Virginia, Mayor Removes Confederate Statue

Jul 02, 2020

The mayor of Richmond, Virginia, on Wednesday ordered the immediate removal of a monument to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from city grounds. Mayor Levar Stoney said Confederate statues pose an immediate and growing threat to public safety.

Mayor Levar Stoney: “Since the end of Richmond’s official tenure as the capital of the Confederacy 155 years ago, we have been burdened with that legacy. The great weight of that burden has fallen on our residents of color, but it’s also placed a weight on all of our brothers and sisters who saw the unmet potential for Richmond to become an international example of a diverse, compassionate and inclusive community.”

Trump Backs Confederate Base Names as Monuments to Racism Continue to Fall 

Jul 02, 2020

In Massachusetts, the Boston Art Commission voted Tuesday to remove a copy of the “Emancipation Memorial” sculpture from public display. The statue portrays an enslaved man kneeling at the feet of Abraham Lincoln.

In San Antonio, Texas, officials removed a statue of Christopher Columbus Wednesday. A similar statue was removed from outside City Hall in Ohio’s capital city, Columbus, named after the 15th century Italian mercenary.

In Georgetown, Delaware, city officials have removed an eight-foot-high whipping post from outside the Sussex County Courthouse. Delaware was the last U.S. state to carry out public floggings — as recently as 1952 — with a highly disproportionate number of African Americans receiving the punishment.

Meanwhile, President Trump threatened this week to veto the National Defense Authorization Act if it includes a provision to rename Fort Bragg, Fort Lee and other military bases named after Confederate leaders. On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security said it has set up a task force aimed at protecting monuments, memorials, statues and federal facilities.

Baltimore Court Reinstates $38 Million in Damages to Family of Korryn Gaines, Killed by Police

Jul 02, 2020

In Baltimore, an appeals court has reinstated $38 million in damages to the family of Korryn Gaines, a 23-year-old Black woman who was killed by Baltimore County police in 2016. In a ruling late Wednesday, the appeals court said a Baltimore County judge was wrong to overturn a jury’s decision to award the Gaines family millions in damages and that the lower court had abused its discretion. Gaines was killed in August 2016 by police gunfire, after a SWAT team broke down her door and stormed her home in order to serve a warrant related to a traffic violation. Her 5-year-old son Kodi was injured by police gunfire, but he survived. No criminal charges were filed against the police officer who shot Gaines.

Family of Andrés Guardado, Shot by L.A. Sheriff’s Deputy, Demands Autopsy Report

Jul 02, 2020

In California, the family of Andrés Guardado, an 18-year-old Salvadoran teen shot to death in June by a sheriff’s deputy in the city of Gardena, is demanding his autopsy report be immediately released. Last week, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department placed a so-called security hold on Guardado’s autopsy, barring public release of its findings. Guardado was working as a security guard at an auto body shop when two officers approached him. One of his co-workers says Guardado became scared and ran after an officer drew a gun. Police claim Guardado brandished an illegal firearm; his family says he was shot in the back and that a handgun recovered by officers didn’t belong to him.

Families Demand Investigations into Police Killings of Sean Monterrosa, Erik Salgado

Jul 02, 2020

In Sacramento, family and friends of victims of police violence rallied at the California state Capitol Wednesday, demanding lawmakers launch probes into the recent killings of their loved ones. Among them was the family of 22-year-old Sean Monterrosa, who was shot outside a Walgreens by police in the city of Vallejo during a Black Lives Matter protest. And the family of Erik Salgado is demanding a probe into why California Highway Patrol officers fired 40 rounds indiscriminately at Salgado’s vehicle during a traffic stop in Oakland. Salgado was killed, and his pregnant girlfriend Brianna Colombo was badly injured. Both passengers were unarmed. This is Erik Salgado’s sister, Amanda Majail-Blanco.

Amanda Majail-Blanco: ”CHP [California Highway Patrol] put out a report that he this and he that, and he did this and he did that. And it’s like, that’s not the point. So, he a criminal? OK, so that justified y’all had to shoot him and his unborn child? His baby’s mama was in the car. Y’all had to shoot her, too? He didn’t even have a weapon, y’all. He didn’t have a gun. He didn’t even get out the car. They shot him in the car, in his own neighborhood.”

Shallow Grave Found Near Fort Hood, TX Likely Holds Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillén

Jul 02, 2020

The family of Vanessa Guillén, the missing 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier, said Wednesday her remains were likely found in a shallow grave near the Texas Army base, ending a painful search that began months earlier, when Guillén first went missing April 22. The Army said Wednesday that one suspect was in custody in connection with Guillén’s disappearance. A second suspect in the case — a soldier who has not yet been named — took his own life in Killeen, Texas, as officers approached him on Tuesday. We’ll have more on Vanessa Guillén’s case later in the show.

Reporters German Vallecillo and Jorge Posas Murdered in Northern Honduras

Jul 02, 2020

In Honduras, a TV reporter and videographer were shot to death Wednesday in the northern city of La Ceiba. German Vallecillo and Jorge Posas were reportedly working when two gunmen inside a vehicle stopped and opened fire on them. Five suspects have reportedly been arrested. The Honduran Association of Journalists says 86 journalists have been killed in Honduras since 2001, and only seven of those killings have resulted in prosecutions. Violence against social leaders and journalists in Honduras has skyrocketed since the U.S.-backed 2009 coup.

U.S. Seizes Chinese Hair Products Said to Be from Uyghurs in Forced Labor Camps 

Jul 02, 2020

U.S. customs officials in New York have seized 13 tons of products made from human hair from China. Authorities believe the products — which include hair weaves — come from imprisoned Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities held in camps in China’s Xinjiang province.

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Russians Approve “Rigged” Referendum Allowing Vladimir Putin to Remain in Power

Jul 02, 2020

Election officials in Russia say 78% of voters have backed a change in Russia’s constitution that could keep President Vladimir Putin in power for another 16 years. Voting took place over the last week. The election monitoring organization Golos — which has received funding from the United States — described the vote as rigged.

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon Surge to Highest Rate in 13 Years

Jul 02, 2020

In Brazil, new government data show fires in the Amazon region jumped by 20% in June to a 13-year high for the month. Campaigners say most of the fires were deliberately set by illegal miners and cattle ranchers, with the encouragement of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Environmentalist Carlos Souza Jr. says smoke from the fires could compound respiratory problems for Brazilians who are already suffering from one of the world’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19.

Carlos Souza Jr.: “The clearing of land already represented a serious health problem. If we have land clearing and COVID-19 together, this could bring catastrophic consequences for the residents of the region.”

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