Senate Republicans and the White House have agreed on a plan to slash unemployment benefits for the tens of millions of workers who have lost their jobs since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For the past four months unemployed workers have received an additional $600 per week, but Republicans want to reduce that to just $200. Many economists fear the cut could lead to a spike in evictions and a rise in hunger.
In other coronavirus news, former presidential candidate Herman Cain remains hospitalized. He tested positive in early July after not wearing a mask at President Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The former presidential candidate is a 74-year-old African American cancer survivor. After Trump’s Tulsa campaign rally, there was a major spike in COVID-19 cases there.
The global COVID-19 death toll has topped 654,000. On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak the most severe global health emergency the WHO has ever faced.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “This is the sixth time a global health emergency has been declared under the international health regulations, but it’s easily the most severe. … In the past six weeks, the total number of cases has roughly doubled.”
In other international news, Vietnam is locking down its third-largest city, Da Nang, and evacuating 80,000 tourists, after 15 residents tested positive — the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in Vietnam since April.
Bloomberg is reporting the number of new COVID-19 cases are now growing faster in India than anywhere in the world. India already has the world’s third most cases behind the United States and Brazil.
A coalition of Brazilian healthcare workers, unions and social groups have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court accusing Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of committing a crime against humanity by responding to the pandemic with “contempt, neglect and denial.” On Monday, Bolsonaro removed his mask while greeting supporters, just days after he announced that he no longer had COVID-19.
Attorney General William Barr is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today on a range of issues, including the Trump administration’s deployment of federal officers to Portland, Oregon, which has been the site of two months of daily antiracist protests. Barr calls the protests “an assault on the government of the United States,” according to his prepared remarks. This comes as Trump is reportedly planning to send even more federal agents to Portland, which could include an additional 50 Customs and Border Protection officers.
Meanwhile, a National Guardsman is appearing today before the House Natural Resources Committee, where he will testify that the violent June 1 crackdown on demonstrators in Lafayette Square near the White House — which was ordered by Barr — was an “unprovoked escalation” and that protesters were “engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights.”
In related news, the Electronic Frontier Foundation obtained records showing the San Francisco Police Department engaged in mass surveillance of protesters in May and June using a downtown business district’s camera network.
The body of late civil rights icon and Georgia Congressmember John Lewis arrived at the U.S. Capitol Monday, where he became the first Black politician to lie in state in the Rotunda. Former colleagues, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, paid tribute in a ceremony honoring Lewis’s legacy. Earlier in the day, a motorcade carrying Lewis’s coffin stopped at the Martin Luther King Jr. and Lincoln memorials and the newly established Black Lives Matter Plaza — which Lewis visited before his death — before making its way to the Capitol. Notably absent from yesterday’s ceremony was President Trump. A reporter asked Trump if he planned on paying his respects to Congressman Lewis.
Reporter: “Do you plan on paying your respects to Congressman Lewis either today or tomorrow at the Capitol?”
President Donald Trump: “No, I won’t be going. No.”
Trump did not publicly acknowledge Congressmember Lewis’s passing until 12 hours after it was announced. “Saddened to hear the news of civil rights hero John Lewis passing. Melania and I send our prayers to he and his family,” Trump tweeted.
In election news, 360 Democratic delegates say they will oppose the Democratic Party platform if it does not include Medicare for All, which presumptive nominee Joe Biden does not support. A petition signed by the delegates reads, “[T]his Country is currently in the throes of a catastrophic public health crisis; … millions of Americans have lost their healthcare insurance because of job losses … this crisis has highlighted the need to separate healthcare from employment.”
In Sacramento, California, immigration rights activists protested outside the mansion of Governor Gavin Newsom Monday to demand mass clemency and the immediate release of people in state prisons and immigration prisons. Protesters chained themselves to the gate of Newsom’s home. This is Lisa Knox, an attorney with the legal center, Centro Legal de la Raza.
Lisa Knox: “We’re here today not just to ask, but to demand that Gavin Newsom live up to the values he says he holds, and free them all.”
Fourteen undocumented activists and immigration attorneys were arrested at the action and released early this morning.
In Malaysia, former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been found guilty on multiple charges of graft and was sentenced to 12 years in jail. The charges stem from the multibillion-dollar looting of the government’s investment fund. Najib faces a total of 42 charges in five separate trials. Last week, Goldman Sachs reached a nearly $4 billion settlement with the current Malaysian government over its role in the corruption scandal. Goldman Sachs raised $6.5 billion for the fund, which was routinely looted by government officials, people working for the fund, and two senior Goldman bankers.
In Britain, a trial is underway over the 2015 Mariana dam collapse in Minas Gerais, Brazil, which killed 19 people and destroyed nearby villages as mudflow with millions of tons of toxic mining waste blanketed nearby villages. The Samarco mine was owned by Brazilian company Vale and Anglo-Australian multinational BHP, which is being sued by over 200,000 Brazilian individuals, local governments and organizations, including Indigenous tribes whose lands were decimated by the disaster. This is Guaraní Indigenous chief Kara’i Peru.
Kara’i Peru: “What we had, they took everything. They finished it off. With what they did in our river, it ended everything for us. How are we going to survive with this polluted river? They have already killed us.”
In environmental news, Deutsche Bank is the latest major financial institution to say it will stop funding Arctic drilling projects. This comes as Siberia continues to battle wildfires and record-high temperatures, spurred by greenhouse gas emissions from human activity.