The United States recorded more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, the highest figure in nearly two months. On Tuesday, President Trump held his first televised briefing on the pandemic since April. After months of downplaying the pandemic and claiming it was dying out, Trump admitted the crisis will continue to worsen.
President Donald Trump: “It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better — something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is. It’s the way — it’s what we have. You look over the world, it’s all over the world.”
Trump did not invite doctors Anthony Fauci or Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus Task Force to speak at the briefing. Trump falsely claimed the United States has a lower fatality rate than “almost everywhere else in the world.” The United States actually has the world’s 10th-highest rate of reported deaths and by far the most total deaths and infections. The U.S. death toll has now topped 142,000, and nearly 4 million Americans have been infected, though both numbers are believed to be undercounts.
In California, the coronavirus death toll at San Quentin State Prison has now reached 12. More than 2,000 men held at the prison have tested positive in one of the nation’s worst outbreaks. In Texas, more than 500 women jailed at a federal medical prison in Fort Worth have tested positive for coronavirus, including National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner.
In Brazil, the coronavirus death toll has surpassed 80,000. Two more government ministers in Brazil have tested positive. In Bolivia, police have recovered 400 bodies in recent days from streets, cars and homes. Most of the people are believed to have died from COVID-19.
The number of U.S. military personnel infected with COVID-19 has topped 20,000, raising growing concerns in Japan, South Korea, Germany and other countries housing U.S. military bases, as well as in the war zones of Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. In Okinawa, Japan, more than 140 marines have tested positive. The New York Times reports the infection rate in the services has tripled over the past six weeks.
In immigration news, President Trump has signed a memorandum ordering the Commerce Department to exclude millions of undocumented people from a portion of the 2020 census, that will be used to determine the number of U.S. House seats each state receives when voting district lines are redrawn next year. The unprecedented move reverses a long-standing policy of counting everyone regardless of their immigration status, and is being denounced as an attempt to preserve white Republican political power. Civil and voting rights groups have already vowed to challenge the move. This is Ben Monterroso, an advocate with the voting rights group Poder Latinx.
Ben Monterosso: “It’s not only unconstitutional; it’s illegal, and it’s immoral. It’s one more time the president has shown his true color of the racism that he has in his blood. Our community needs to be counted and will be counted, for the good of our country and for the good of our community.”
Immigrant families and allies in Boston have been camping outside the Massachusetts state House since Friday demanding state legislators include a provision in a racial justice bill that would grant undocumented people the right to get a driver’s license.
In Portland, Oregon, federal agents tear-gassed protesters on Tuesday night, the 55th day of demonstrations in the city against racism and police brutality. Over the past week, unidentified federal officers have been attacking antiracist protesters and even snatching activists off the streets in unmarked vans. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection arm confirmed it had deployed officers from three paramilitary-style units to Portland. Meanwhile, a leaked DHS memo reveals the agency is now conducting domestic surveillance targeting potential threats to federal buildings, as well as local statues and monuments. In Washington, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed President Trump had the legal right to deploy federal agents into Portland and other cities.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “Yes. Well, what you’re referring to is Portland, and 40 U.S. Code 1315 gives DHS the ability to deputize officers in any department or agency, like ICE, Custom and Border Patrol and Secret Service.”
President Trump has threatened to deploy federal agents to other cities, including Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.
In other protest news, a Detroit police officer, Daniel Debono, has been charged with multiple counts of felony assault for shooting rubber bullets at three journalists who were covering a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.
In New York, at least seven people have been arrested after dozens of police officers in riot gear pushed out the remaining occupants of a peaceful encampment outside City Hall. The raid occurred early this morning. Protesters with the Occupy City Hall movement had been camped out for over a month calling on the city to cut $1 billion from the NYPD’s $6 billion budget and reinvest the money into social programs.
The Democratic-controlled House has approved a $740 billion military spending package — a $2 billion increase from the previous year. A group of antiwar Democrats had pushed for a 10% Pentagon budget cut, but 139 House Democrats joined with Republicans to defeat the measure. Over 100 House Democrats also joined with Republicans to reject a proposal to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Congressmember Ilhan Omar, who had submitted the proposal, tweeted, “20 yrs later, Congress is still not willing to support withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan. Endless wars continue to take lives and disable so many. It is long past time to end this war.” In other news from Capitol Hill, the Senate has rejected a bipartisan effort to limit the transfer of military gear, including tear gas, grenade launchers and weaponized drones, to local police departments.
The United States has abruptly ordered China to close its consulate in Houston within 72 hours. Within hours of the order, smoke could be seen from the consulate’s courtyard, where it appears Chinese Consulate workers were burning documents. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry called the closing of the consulate illegal under international order.
Wang Wenbin: “The unilateral closure of China’s Consulate General in Houston within a short period of time is an unprecedented escalation of its recent actions against China.”
The State Department said the move to close the Chinese Consulate was needed to “protect American intellectual property.” On Tuesday, the Justice Department indicted two Chinese residents, accusing them of stealing trade secrets from U.S. firms, including research into a coronavirus vaccine.
The FBI has arrested the Republican speaker of Ohio’s House of Representatives, Larry Householder, in connection with a $60 million bribery scheme. Householder is accused of helping pass a $1.1 billion bailout of two nuclear plants after his political operation received $60 million from the owner of the plants, FirstEnergy Solutions. The company is not facing charges and is not named in the indictment. Four others were arrested on Tuesday, including the former chair of the Ohio Republican Party, an aide to Householder and two lobbyists.
In Chicago, at least 15 people were wounded Tuesday night in a mass shooting outside a funeral for a man who was shot to death last week. Passengers in an SUV reportedly began shooting at funeral attendees as the vehicle drove by. A group of funeral attendees then reportedly started shooting back, causing the vehicle to crash. The occupants fled. At least six people who were hit are in critical condition.
In news from Africa, the trial of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir began on Tuesday. He is facing charges stemming from his role in a 1989 coup that brought him to power.
In London, the acclaimed fashion designer Vivienne Westwood locked herself inside a giant yellow bird cage outside a London court Tuesday to protest the ongoing jailing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and his possible extradition to the United States.
Vivienne Westwood: “I am Julian Assange. I am the canary in the cage. He has been trapped by a big net, taken out of the sun and shoved in a cage. And the problem is, they want to send him to America for a sentence of 175 years and stick him in a concrete block for a jail. And this could happen to every journalist.”
On Tuesday, President Trump weighed in on the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who is facing child sex trafficking charges. Trump was asked about her arrest during his coronavirus briefing.
President Donald Trump: “I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well.”
In news from Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders are calling for Republican Congressmember Ted Yoho to be sanctioned, after he was overheard calling Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “f—ing bitch” on the steps of the Capitol. His remarks were overheard by a reporter for The Hill newspaper. ABC reports it’s been nearly a century since a member of Congress was censured for using “unparliamentary language.” Ocasio-Cortez responded by writing on Twitter, “Bitches get stuff done.”