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HeadlinesJuly 08, 2020

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Trump Begins Formal U.S. Withdrawal from World Health Organization

Jul 08, 2020

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.

Brazil’s Official Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 65,000 as Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive

Jul 08, 2020

In Brazil, the nation’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has tested positive for the coronavirus after months of downplaying the severity of the pandemic. Bolsonaro recently developed a high fever and a cough. Brazil is the second-hardest-hit nation in the world after the United States, with more than 65,000 deaths and 1.6 million confirmed cases. Bolsonaro said Tuesday that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, even though it has been proven ineffective against COVID-19. 

President Jair Bolsonaro: “Here, I’m taking my third dose of hydroxychloroquine. I’m feeling very well. I was feeling a little ill on Sunday. I was bad on Monday. Today, Tuesday, I feel better than on Saturday. So, in all certainty, it’s working.”

Brazil-based journalist Glenn Greenwald noted that Bolsonaro’s announcement comes as the country is on day 53 of having no health minister. The last two were fired or resigned within 30 days of each other for endorsing science. The grandmother of Brazil’s first lady Michelle Bolsonaro is also suffering from COVID-19. She was recently transferred to an ICU unit and is reportedly intubated.

U.S. Confirms Record 60,000+ Coronavirus Cases as Trump Demands School Reopenings

Jul 08, 2020

Here in the United States, more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases were reported Tuesday — a new record, shattering the previous high. Nearly 3 million people have now tested positive for the virus. The U.S. death toll has topped 131,000. On Tuesday, President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urged elementary and secondary schools to resume in-person classes in the fall. 

President Donald Trump: “So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open. And it’s very important. It’s very important for our country. It’s very important for the well-being of the student and the parents.”

The main teacher unions have warned that reopening schools without a comprehensive safety plan would be “putting students, their families and educators in danger.” 

Houston Mayor Pleads with Republicans to Cancel Texas Convention Amid Coronavirus Surge

Jul 08, 2020

Health facilities across Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are grappling with a surge in coronavirus patients as hospitals run out of ICU beds and run low on protective gear for medical workers. On Tuesday, Texas reported more than 10,000 cases in a day for the first time. Meanwhile, the Republican Party in Texas is planning to go ahead with holding an in-person state convention in Houston next week despite opposition from the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, who appeared on CNN on Tuesday.

Mayor Sylvester Turner: “Bringing 6,000 people together indoors over a two-to-three-day event is not good on any level, not in the midst of a pandemic.”

Prominent GOP Senators to Skip Republican National Convention Amid Pandemic

Jul 08, 2020

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.”

Serbian Anti-Lockdown Protesters Storm Parliament; Spanish Study Questions “Herd Immunity”

Jul 08, 2020

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 to Meet with Trump; Canadian PM Won’t Attend over COVID Concerns

Jul 08, 2020

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. 

Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley Introduce BREATHE Act, Backed by Black Lives Matter

Jul 08, 2020

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.” 

Phoenix, AZ and Columbus, OH Latest U.S. Cities to Ban Police in High Schools

Jul 08, 2020

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. 

New York Protesters Demand Broad Moratorium on Evictions Amid Pandemic

Jul 08, 2020

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 Struck by Motorists in Indiana, New York

Jul 08, 2020

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 Incumbents Fend Off Progressive Primary Challengers

Jul 08, 2020

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. 

New Data Show 12-Month Period Ending in June Tied Warmest Year on Record

Jul 08, 2020

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. 

U.N. Investigators Find All Factions Committed War Crimes During Offensive in Idlib, Syria

Jul 08, 2020

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.

Bone Fragment from Disappeared Student Casts Doubt on Official Account of Ayotzinapa Massacre

Jul 08, 2020

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.

Police in Kenya’s Capital Fire Tear Gas to Clear Protests Against Police Brutality 

Jul 08, 2020

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.”

Facebook Ad Boycott Leaders Say CEO Zuckerberg Is Failing to Crack Down on Hate Speech

Jul 08, 2020

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. 

WNBA 2020 Season Will Honor Black Lives Matter, Say Her Name Movements

Jul 08, 2020

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.”

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