Coronavirus cases continue to surge in much of the United States, where the number of confirmed infections has topped 4.2 million, with nearly 147,000 reported deaths. Florida has surpassed New York to become the state with the second-highest number of infections after California. The White House Coronavirus Task Force’s Dr. Deborah Birx called Florida, Texas and California “three New Yorks.”
In California, healthcare providers say they are again dealing with shortages in testing, which is hitting low-income and immigrant communities the hardest.
In Texas, doctors at a rural hospital in Starr County have received critical care guidelines to help them decide which COVID-19 patients the hospital can treat and those whom they send home because they are more likely to die. Southern Texas is now also reeling from Hurricane Hanna, which battered the region Sunday, causing flash flooding and knocking out power lines. Hurricane Hanna also caused major damage in parts of Mexico.
In immigration news, a federal judge has denied a Trump request to delay today’s deadline for releasing immigrant children from “family detention centers” run by ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — in Texas and Pennsylvania. The release was ordered due to concerns over rising coronavirus infections. “There will be no family separation without parental consent,” Judge Dolly Gee specified in her order.
Globally, coronavirus cases have now topped 16.2 million. Last week, the worldwide caseload jumped by 1 million in just four days. As European nations scramble to prevent a second wave of infections, Britain has reinstated a 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from Spain.
North Korea has locked down a city bordering South Korea and declared a national emergency as the first suspected case of COVID-19 was announced, though outside observers say North Korea may have already had unidentified or unreported cases.
In the Philippines, thousands of people packed a stadium in the capital Manila over the weekend as they awaited mandatory COVID-19 testing before being allowed to return to their hometowns, after many lost their jobs during the lockdown. Unemployment in the Philippines has surged to over 17% since the start of the pandemic.
Latin America remains one of the worst-hit regions. In Costa Rica, hundreds of Nicaraguans have been stuck at the border after authorities shut down entry into Nicaragua for anyone who is unable to present a negative COVID-19 test, including their own citizens. In Mexico, the health minister of the northern state of Chihuahua has died from COVID-19. In Brazil, the second-most-affected country with 2.4 million cases, New Year’s Eve festivities in Rio de Janeiro have been canceled. The event draws up to 3 million people each year. In Bolivia, where coronavirus cases are still surging, election officials delayed the presidential election for the second time this year, citing the pandemic. Former President Evo Morales was ousted last year and replaced by right-wing interim President Jeanine Áñez.
The World Health Organization warned last week COVID-19 is taking a major toll on healthcare professionals across Africa. Over 10,000 health workers across 40 African countries have been infected. Morocco has locked down major cities, including Casablanca, Marrakech and Fez, as recent spikes have been reported across the country.
Antiracist protests across the country this weekend were met with violent police attacks, arrests, and the death of a protester in Austin, Texas.
For the 60th day in a row, demonstrators rallied in Portland, Oregon, Sunday. Shortly after midnight this morning, federal officers fired tear gas and other crowd-control weapons to disperse a crowd that had gathered outside the federal courthouse, which has become a flashpoint of the nightly protests.
President Trump’s deployment of federal officers to Portland and other cities sparked a new round of protests across the country over the weekend. On Thursday, the Trump administration sent a team of federal tactical border officers to Seattle. It remains unclear what role the agents played as Seattle police arrested dozens of protesters and fired flash grenades and pepper spray into crowds.
In related news from Seattle, a judge has ordered The Seattle Times and four TV stations to hand over to the police photos and videos of a protest in May during which windows were smashed and police cars were set ablaze. The police hope the images will help them identify suspects, in a move press freedom advocates and reporters warn endangers all journalists.
In Austin, Texas, a protester named Garrett Foster was shot dead. Foster’s mother said her son was pushing his fiancée’s wheelchair when a car drove into the crowd and the motorist opened fire.
On Saturday, three people were injured at a Louisville, Kentucky, protest over the police killing of Breonna Taylor. The gun fired at the protest belonged to a member of the armed coalition of mostly Black activists known as the “Not F—ing Around Coalition” — the three victims were also part of the group.
In Aurora, Colorado, authorities are investigating after a car drove through a Black Lives Matter protest. One protester also reportedly fired a weapon at the march.
In Chicago, Christopher Columbus statues were taken down from two parks after an order from Mayor Lori Lightfoot. One of the statues was in Grant Park, where a police officer last week punched teenage activist Miracle Boyd in the face, knocking out her teeth, during a protest to topple the statue.
The body of civil rights leader and Georgia Congressmember John Lewis has made one last trip across a bridge in Selma, Alabama, that became a flashpoint in the struggle for racial equality in the Jim Crow south. On Sunday, a funeral caisson drawn by two black horses crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, with family members placing red roses on the spot where Lewis was almost beaten to death by police in 1965 while marching for voting rights. This is Fred Lewis, speaking at a weekend memorial service for his brother, John Lewis.
Fred Lewis: “I remember the day when John left home. Mother told him not to get in trouble, not to get in the way, and be particular. Well, we all know that John got in trouble, got in the way. But it was a good trouble. John was different from the rest of the family, and he would have thoughts that all of the troubles he got himself into would change the world.”
Lewis’s body will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., today ahead of a funeral in Georgia.
Meanwhile, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is seeking to rename a major voting rights bill after John Lewis. The legislation, which has already been approved by the House, would restore parts of the Voting Rights Act gutted by a Supreme Court ruling in 2013. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to schedule a debate on the bill.
In Hungary, over 70 journalists — almost the entire editorial staff — of Index, the country’s largest online independent news outlet, resigned Friday following the removal of its editor-in-chief. The news deals a major blow to press freedom in Hungary, which has been under attack by authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party. Earlier this year, a powerful businessman and ally of Orbán bought 50% of Index’s advertising agency. Protesters took to the streets Friday to defend press freedom.
András Bezzeg: “We came to protest because another independent news portal has fallen victim to Fidesz. And I don’t like this. This is why I came. There is hardly any free press left.”
In Honduras, protests continue demanding the return of five Garífuna land defenders who were kidnapped last week in the northern coastal town of Triunfo de la Cruz. On Saturday, police reportedly began shooting at a crowd of protesters. Garífuna leaders believe the Honduran police and military are involved in the disappearance. This is Miriam Miranda, a Garífuna leader with the group Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, speaking from her home in Honduras Sunday.
Miriam Miranda: “What happened eight days ago today is the reflection of a systemic persecution and systemic repression, but also a well-crafted plan on behalf of the Honduran state to exterminate the Garífuna community.”
In Russia, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets for the third straight weekend in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk. Demonstrators are calling for President Vladimir Putin to resign, and for an end to corruption and economic inequality.
In other news from Russia, President Putin said he is arming the Navy with hypersonic nuclear weapons and underwater nuclear drones, as fears of a new nuclear arms race have been mounting following Trump’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty last year.
The Trump administration on Friday cleared a major hurdle for the proposed Pebble Mine, a multibillion-dollar copper and gold mine in Alaska that would be among the world’s largest. Environmentalists and local Indigenous communities have fought against the proposed mine for nearly two decades, saying it would poison their communities and devastate Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery.
In other environmental news, a group of progressive Democrats, including Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, introduced a bill Friday that would stop fossil fuel companies from receiving billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies and federal coronavirus relief funds.
ProPublica has published the disciplinary records for thousands of New York City police officers — records that were, until recently, completely sealed off from the public. New York lawmakers voted in June to repeal the controversial “50-A” law that shielded the records, in the wake of George Floyd’s killing and amid the nationwide antiracist uprising. ProPublica obtained the records from New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board before a federal judge last week issued a restraining order, blocking the city from releasing the data. NYPD unions are suing to prevent the city from making the records public.
Florida Congressmember Ted Yoho was forced to resign from his position on the board of a Christian organization amid the fallout from his verbal attack on Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The organization Bread for the World said Yoho’s recent actions are “not reflective of [our] ethical standards.” Yoho called Ocasio-Cortez a “f—ing bitch” after he accosted her on the steps of the Capitol last week. AOC responded to his attack from the House floor, calling out the “’culture of violence against women,” in a video that quickly went viral.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas has proposed a bill that would cut federal funding to any public school that includes the New York Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “1619 Project” as part of its curriculum. The initiative is named after the year that enslaved Africans were first brought to North America. In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Senator Cotton refers to slavery as a “necessary evil upon which the union was built.”
In response, 1619 Project writer Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted, “If chattel slavery — heritable, generational, permanent, race-based slavery where it was legal to rape, torture, and sell human beings for profit — were a 'necessary evil' as Tom Cotton says, it’s hard to imagine what cannot be justified if it is a means to an end.”