The Trump administration has begun the process of officially withdrawing from the World Health Organization, in a move condemned by public health officials across the world. The move came on the same day that the WHO warned that the global peak of the pandemic has still not been reached. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and American College of Physicians condemned President Trump’s decision, saying it “puts the health of our country at grave risk.” Former Vice President Joe Biden has vowed to reverse Trump’s decision on his first day in office if he wins the November election.
A number of prominent Republican lawmakers have announced they will skip the party’s national convention in Jacksonville next month. The list includes Senators Chuck Grassley, Lamar Alexander, Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins. Grassley, who is 86, said, “I’m not going to go because of the virus situation.”
In Serbia, demonstrators stormed the parliament building in Belgrade on Tuesday to protest the government’s plan to reimpose a lockdown as COVID-19 cases spike.
In medical news, a report in The Lancet raises new doubts about whether areas can develop “herd immunity” to COVID-19. A large study in Spain found that just 5% of the population had developed antibodies to the virus, even as more than a quarter-million people tested positive for the disease, with over 28,000 deaths.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is meeting President Trump at the White House today to mark the beginning of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, which went into effect last week. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s skipping the meeting with Trump and López Obrador, citing scheduling conflicts and health concerns. Upon his arrival to Washington yesterday, López Obrador was reportedly wearing a face mask, a protection he’s largely ignored back in Mexico after he, like Trump, initially downplayed the coronavirus pandemic.
On Capitol Hill, Congressmembers Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley have introduced new legislation to transform the federal U.S. criminal justice system, in what organizers are calling a modern-day Civil Rights Act. The BREATHE Act was drafted in partnership with the Movement for Black Lives. It would slash Pentagon spending, divest federal resources from prisons and police departments, end mandatory minimum prison sentencing and life sentences, abolish the Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and more. This is Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Patrisse Cullors.
Patrisse Cullors: “Right now the streets are swelling with demands for a new future and a new policy mandate. The Movement for Black Lives has responded with a vision that reflects these demands on a federal level. Our movement is strong, and we’re inviting our nation’s leaders to join us in making this vision a reality.”
In Arizona, the Phoenix Union High School District said Tuesday it will no longer assign police officers to school campuses, following weeks of student-led protests and petitions. This follows a similar decision by authorities in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday to end the use of school resource officers.
Here in New York, tenant rights advocates rallied outside housing courts in the Bronx and Brooklyn on Tuesday calling for a broader moratorium on evictions during the coronavirus pandemic. One recent study estimated up to 28 million renters across the country are at risk of eviction as the country faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Black Lives Matter protesters continue to come under attack at demonstrations. On Tuesday evening, an SUV driver sped through a peaceful protest march in Times Square, narrowly missing several people. In Bloomington, Indiana, two people were injured Monday when a driver rammed a peaceful march demanding justice for a Black activist who survived an attempted lynching. And in Long Island, New York, police arrested a man Monday after he allegedly plowed his SUV into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters, injuring two people.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have documented over 50 such attacks since protests erupted in May, warning right-wing extremists are turning vehicles into weapons.
New Jersey wrapped up primary elections Tuesday, with incumbent Democratic Senator Cory Booker easily defeating progressive primary challenger and civil rights activist Lawrence Hamm.
In New Jersey’s 5th Congressional District, progressive challenger Arati Kreibich failed to unseat incumbent Josh Gottheimer. Kreibich was endorsed by Senator Bernie Sanders; Gottheimer, who’s backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was judged the second-most conservative Democrat in the House by the website GovTrack.us.
Elsewhere, 12-term Democratic Congressmember Albio Sires fended off progressive challenger Hector Oseguera, a supporter of the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and Black Lives Matter.
In climate news, a new study by European scientists shows Arctic wildfires in June dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than any other month in 18 years of data collection. Temperatures in parts of Siberia above the Arctic Circle recently topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time in recorded history. This comes as new data for the 12-month period ending in June show global surface temperatures effectively tied with the hottest year on record.
United Nations human rights investigators said Tuesday that all warring factions in Syria’s conflict committed war crimes during the recent Russian-backed Syrian government offensive on Idlib. The report found Syrians experienced “unfathomable suffering” during the campaign to retake Syria’s last rebel-held region, which lasted from late 2019 until a ceasefire in March. This is Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
Paulo Pinheiro: “All sides likely committed war crimes. Children were shelled at school. Parents were shelled at the market. Patients were shelled at the hospital. Entire families were bombarded even while fleeing these attacks.”
International aid groups are warning of unprecedented levels of hunger in Syria after nearly a decade of war, with millions of people acutely vulnerable to COVID-19.
In Mexico, there is a major development in the case of the 43 Ayotzinapa students who were kidnapped and disappeared nearly six years ago in the town of Iguala, Guerrero. A bone fragment found in the nearby town of Cocula has been determined to be from one of the students, 21-year-old Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre. The Mexican government has long claimed the bodies of the students were burnt and disposed of in a garbage dump in Cocula or in a nearby river. But the bone fragments were found in a different location, casting new doubts about the government’s official account of what happened to the students.
In Nairobi, Kenya, police fired tear gas Tuesday to clear crowds of demonstrators demanding an end to police brutality, amid a mounting number of police killings during the coronavirus lockdown. Amnesty International reports Kenyan police have killed at least 100 people so far this year. This is activist Wanjuri Samons.
Wanjuri Samons: “We are tired of police brutality. We are tired of a weak justice system. We are tired of the rule of law not being obeyed. And we just want justice to be done for the many souls that have been lost by extrajudicial killings and all that is happening.”
In the United States, civil rights leaders who’ve organized an advertising boycott of Facebook blasted the company Tuesday after a conference call with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives failed to meet their demands. Leaders of Color of Change, Free Press, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League say the social media giant is continuing to allow hate speech and misinformation to proliferate on its platform. Nearly 1,000 companies have joined the Facebook advertising boycott.
In sports news, the Women’s National Basketball Association is dedicating its 2020 season to addressing the country’s “long history of inequality, implicit bias and racism” disproportionately affecting Black and Brown communities. WNBA players will highlight the Black Lives Matter and Say Her Name movements, some wearing a special uniform honoring Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and aspiring nurse who was shot to death by police inside her own apartment in March. Republican Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, a white woman and supporter of President Trump who is co-owner of the WNBA’s franchise the Atlanta Dream, slammed the initiative, saying any alignment with the Black Lives Matter movement sends a message of “exclusion.”