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HeadlinesJuly 21, 2020

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Coronavirus Spikes Across U.S. as Tensions Mount over Plans to Reopen Schools

Jul 21, 2020

Florida has reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row. On Monday, Florida’s largest teachers’ union sued Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to block his order requiring all schools to reopen next month despite the growing pandemic, which has killed nearly 5,200 Floridians.

Meanwhile, Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson is insisting students go to school despite the risk of the virus. In an interview, Parson said, “They’re going to get over it,” and “We can’t just let this thing stop us in our tracks.”

This all comes as Republican lawmakers in Washington are pushing to include a provision in a new coronavirus relief package tying school funding to the reopening of classrooms. Many public health officials fear the reopening of schools could lead to a new surge in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.

In Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves has ordered residents to wear masks in 10 additional counties as the number of new COVID-19 cases hit a new high on Monday.

Overall in the United States, the virus has killed nearly 141,000 people and infected 3.8 million — both by far the highest numbers in the world. In fact, the United States has more than a quarter of the deaths and infections in the entire world, yet only a little more than 4% of the population. As cases continue to spike, President Trump has announced he plans to lead a televised coronavirus briefing today for the first time since April. He also tweeted an image of himself wearing a mask for the first time, saying it is patriotic to wear one.

Labs Show Promising Results in COVID-19 Vaccine as Cases Surge in Countries Around the World

Jul 21, 2020

Three separate laboratories reported promising results Monday in the race to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. Andrew Pollard is heading up a vaccine research group at Oxford.

Andrew Pollard: “So we’ve now seen exactly the sort of immune responses that we hoped to see, but we now need to do the rigorous studies to show that the vaccine is protective against the virus in humans.”

The worldwide death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000. Across the globe, countries and regions are reimposing new lockdowns and other preventative measures. France, Hong Kong and parts of Australia have all imposed new orders to wear masks in public spaces as cases grow again.

India recorded at least 40,000 new infections on Monday, its highest single-day total. The pandemic is also worsening in sub-Saharan Africa as the WHO warns of an “acceleration of transmission” in the region. South Africa has topped 5,000 coronavirus deaths, as health experts say the virus is expected to peak in the coming weeks. Nigeria’s foreign minister has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Cuba reported zero new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in 130 days.

Trump Threatens to Send More Feds into Cities Across U.S. to Crack Down on Protests

Jul 21, 2020

President Trump is threatening to send more federal officers onto the streets of U.S. cities as outrage mounts over their violent treatment of protesters in Portland, Oregon.

President Donald Trump: “We’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats. … We’re going to have more federal law enforcement. That, I can tell you. In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been there three days, and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time. No problem. They grab 'em, a lot of people in jail. They're leaders. These are anarchists. These are not protesters.”

In Portland, unidentified federal officers have beaten protesters and snatched activists into unmarked vans. State and local leaders, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon’s two Democratic senators, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, have called for the officers to be removed from the city’s streets.

The mayors of Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City and Washington, D.C., sent a letter Monday to Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, writing, “Unilaterally deploying these paramilitary-type forces into our cities is wholly inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.”

And Congressmembers Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Eleanor Holmes Norton are introducing a bill this week that would require federal law enforcement officers to display their identifying information while on duty. We’ll have more on the situation in Portland after headlines.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports Trump has been consulting with former George W. Bush Justice Department attorney John Yoo about the president’s authority to bypass federal laws through executive orders. John Yoo, widely known as Bush’s “torture lawyer,” wrote the legal memo that justified waterboarding.

Georgia Dems Select State Senator Nikema Williams to Run for Late John Lewis’s Congressional Seat

Jul 21, 2020

The House of Representatives held a moment of silence for Congressmember John Lewis on the House floor Monday. Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats have selected state Senator Nikema Williams to appear on the November ballot for late Congressmember John Lewis’s seat. Williams says she considered Congressmember Lewis to be a friend and mentor. In 2018, she was arrested at a peaceful protest at the state Capitol demanding that all votes be counted in the hotly contested gubernatorial election. She is expected to handily win in November against Republican Angela Stanton-King, a reality-TV personality and author whom Trump pardoned after she was convicted for her role in a car theft ring.

Suspect in Killing of NJ Judge’s Son Is Found Dead, Was an “Anti-Feminist,” Racist Lawyer

Jul 21, 2020

The suspect in the fatal shooting of a federal judge’s son in New Jersey has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The FBI identified the killer as Roy Den Hollander, a self-described anti-feminist lawyer. He filed numerous lawsuits alleging that women get special treatment, and worked to make “ladies’ nights” at bars illegal, as well as ban women’s studies at colleges. Den Hollander appeared before Judge Salas in a case that argued the military draft is unconstitutional because it bars women from registering.

In a self-published 1,700-page book, Den Hollander directly attacked Judge Esther Salas, calling her “a lazy and incompetent Latina judge appointed by Obama.” Salas became the first Latina federal judge in New Jersey in 2011. Den Hollander was also a fervent Trump supporter and identified himself as a Trump volunteer in his writings. Den Hollander appeared to die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds, according to some reports.

Daniel Anderl, Judge Salas’s son, was a student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and planned to pursue a legal career, following in his parents’ footsteps. Salas’s husband, Mark Anderl, who was injured in the shooting, is a criminal defense attorney.


U.K. Suspends Extradition Treaty with Hong Kong

Jul 21, 2020

In international news, Britain suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong Monday in the wake of China’s recent imposition of a national security law that effectively quashes any autonomy and dissent in Hong Kong. In related news, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong announced he is running for a seat in the Legislative Council.

Iran Executes Man Convicted of Spying, After Halting Killing of Protesters Following Public Outcry

Jul 21, 2020

Iran executed a man Monday convicted of spying on the late Revolutionary Guards commander, General Qassem Soleimani, for the U.S. and Israel. Soleimani was killed in Baghdad in a targeted drone strike ordered by Trump in January. This comes just a day after Iran halted the execution of three men who were sentenced to death after taking part in anti-government protests last November. U.N. experts said they were tortured into confession and had “unfair trials.” A mass online campaign was launched in an effort to save the young men’s lives. Rights groups say at least 300 people were killed, and over 7,000 arrested, during the protests, which were triggered by a spike in gas prices.


Rights Groups Call for Jailed Zimbabwean Reporter Hopewell Chin’ono to Be Released

Jul 21, 2020

Press freedom groups are calling on authorities in Zimbabwe to release journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, who was arrested and charged with incitement Monday. Chin’ono has reported on corruption allegations against the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, including recent stories on procurement fraud during the pandemic, which led to the arrest and firing of the health minister.

Jacksonville Sheriff Says City Is Not Prepared for RNC Next Month

Jul 21, 2020

Back in the U.S., Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams is warning his department is not equipped to provide the needed security for the Republican National Convention in just over one month. As Florida suffers one of the world’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19, Sheriff Williams is saying the event faces challenges of “finances, communication and timeline.”

St. Louis Prosecutor Charges White Couple Who Brandished Guns at BLM Protesters

Jul 21, 2020

In Missouri, a white St. Louis couple who pointed guns at antiracist protesters who marched in front of their mansion last month have been charged with unlawful use of a weapon. Kim Gardner, who is St. Louis’s first Black circuit attorney, filed the charges. She said, “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation will not be tolerated.”

Michigan Judge Says 15-Year-Old Who Was Jailed for Not Doing Homework Should Not Be Freed

Jul 21, 2020

A Michigan judge ruled Monday a 15-year-old African American student who was sent to prison after she failed to complete her schoolwork and for reportedly fighting with her mother should not be released and that she was benefiting from the treatment she was receiving in detention. The girl, who is known simply as Grace, has been detained since May. Students have rallied behind Grace and say she was disproportionately punished because she is Black. Grace told the court Monday, “I miss my mom.”

Workers “Strike for Black Lives” Across the Country

Jul 21, 2020

Tens of thousands of workers across the country walked off the job Monday as part of the “Strike for Black Lives” in support of the nationwide uprising against racism and police brutality. Workers demanded the companies they work for do more to dismantle white supremacy, economic inequality, and to address the public health emergencies facing Black and Brown communities. In Washington, D.C., demonstrators gathered on Capitol Hill to call for the passage of the HEROES Act, a coronavirus relief package approved by the Democrat-controlled House. This is McDonald’s employee Wanda Lavender, who joined the action in Wisconsin.

Wanda Lavender: “Like many Black workers who are struggling, who are stuck in low-paying jobs, I keep going to work through this pandemic. I can’t work my job from home, from the safety of my home, and I can’t afford to take time off. And a few times, I’ve been scared that I had COVID-19 myself. Even though I was feeling sick, coughing my lungs out, my job told me that I had to come in. They said, 'If you take sick leave, you don't have a job to come back to.’”

New Study Finds Black Children Far More Likely to Die After Surgery

Jul 21, 2020

In medical news, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows that Black children are nearly 3.5 times more likely to die in the month following a surgery than white children. The causes for the stark disparity are likely attributable to higher rates of chronic diseases among Black people and social factors including implicit bias and structural racism.

Louisiana Court Rules Bayou Bridge Pipeline Tramples Rights of Landowners

Jul 21, 2020

In Louisiana, an appeals court ruled the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Company “trampled” the rights of landowners by starting construction of the highly contested pipeline without the permission of the landowners. The 163-mile Bayou Bridge Pipeline is being built by Phillips 66 and Energy Transfer Partners, which earlier this month was ordered to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, pending an environmental review.

Former Fox News Producer Accuses Ex-Host Ed Henry of Rape

Jul 21, 2020

In media news, a former Fox Business producer has filed a lawsuit accusing recently fired Fox News anchor Ed Henry of raping her. Jennifer Eckhart says Henry sexually assaulted her in an office at the Fox News office building in New York in 2015 and raped her in a New York hotel room in 2017. She says Henry handcuffed her and took naked photographs of her. Eckhart alleges she was terminated in June after she complained to human resources about a “toxic work environment” at Fox. A co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, the journalist Cathy Areu, accuses Ed Henry of sending her sexual images, messages and videos. The lawsuit also alleges Fox hosts Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Howard Kurtz and Gianno Caldwell continuously engaged in inappropriate and suggestive behavior.

Journalist and Commentator Michael Brooks Dies at 37

Jul 21, 2020

The journalist and political commentator Michael Brooks has died suddenly at the age of 37. He hosted the online program “The Michael Brooks Show” and worked with “The Majority Report” and Jacobin. Tributes have poured in from around the world. Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva wrote on Twitter, “May his passion for social justice be remembered and inspire people around the world.” Michael Brooks traveled to Brazil earlier this year to interview Lula shortly after he was released from prison.

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