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HeadlinesJuly 09, 2020

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U.S. Posts Another Record Daily High in New Coronavirus Cases

Jul 09, 2020

The United States reported 62,000 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday — a new daily record. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to over 3 million — by far the largest in the world. At least five states — Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia — set new single-day infection records on Wednesday. California and Texas also reported their highest single-day death toll to date.

The U.S. death toll has topped 132,000, but that is widely believed to be an undercount. In Houston, Texas, ProPublica reports there has been a spike in people dying at home before they even make it to the hospital.

As the U.S. case count has soared, so has the demand for tests. In Texas, drive-thru COVID testing sites report long lines and hours-long wait times. And with many laboratories backlogged, test results can take more than a week to arrive, making contact tracing ineffective. 

Anthony Fauci Absent from Coronavirus Task Force Briefing After Drawing Criticism from Trump

Jul 09, 2020

The White House Coronavirus Task Force held just its second public briefing in more than two months Wednesday. Notably absent was top U.S. infectious disease scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci, who this week called the U.S. response to the coronavirus “really not good.” President Trump on Tuesday slapped back at Dr. Fauci in an interview with Fox News.

President Donald Trump: “Well, I think we are in a good place. I disagree with him. You know, Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks, and now he says wear ’em. And he said numerous things.”

Trump Attacks CDC Guidance on School Reopenings During Pandemic

Jul 09, 2020

The Trump administration is continuing to push for public schools to reopen in the fall despite concerns from educators and public health officials. On Wednesday, President Trump lashed out at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying the CDC’s guidelines on safely reopening schools was “very tough and expensive.” Hours later, the CDC announced it would revise its guidelines, which call for staggered scheduling, new seating arrangements to encourage social distancing, the use of face coverings and the closing of communal spaces. Trump also threatened to cut off funding for schools that do not reopen.

On Wednesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced New York students will receive a mix of in-person and remote learning in the fall. Students will attend classes in person between one and three days a week. Meanwhile, Harvard and MIT have sued the Trump administration over its plan to strip international students of their visas if their schools switch to online-only courses.

Hundreds Test Positive for COVID-19 at Arizona For-Profit Immigration Jail

Jul 09, 2020

In California, a seventh prisoner has died at San Quentin State Prison from complications related to the coronavirus. More than 1,300 prisoners have tested positive for the virus so far, making it one of the largest hot spots in the country. Meanwhile, in Arizona, at least 240 immigrants have tested positive at the privately owned Eloy Detention Center. Nearly half of the center’s staff have also tested positive. NBC reports the staff shortage has resulted in immigrants being detained in their cells for up to 24 hours at a time without access to showers, laundry and other necessities. The jail is owned by CoreCivic.

HHS Secretary Claims Medical Workers “Don’t Get Infected” After 95,000 Test Positive for Coronavirus

Jul 09, 2020

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is facing criticism after claiming that healthcare workers “don’t get infected” with COVID-19.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: “We have healthcare workers. They don’t get infected, because they take appropriate precautions. They engage in social distancing. They wear facial covering. They use good personal hygiene.”

In fact, as many as 768 U.S. healthcare workers have died from COVID-19, according to a count by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News. Some 95,000 healthcare workers have also tested positive for the virus, according to CDC data. 

COVID-19 Cases Spike in Africa, While Melbourne, Australia, Is Placed Back on Lockdown

Jul 09, 2020

In international news, the African CDC is reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases have jumped 24% this week. South Africa has been hardest hit — the death toll there has topped 3,500. In Australia, the country’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has reentered lockdown due to a spike in coronavirus cases. Residents have been told to stay home for the next six weeks. 

Bolivians Buried in Mass Graves as Hospitals “Collapse” Amid COVID-19 Surge

Jul 09, 2020

In Brazil, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has tested positive for COVID-19, has vetoed parts of a new law designed to help Indigenous communities amid the pandemic. In Bolivia, work crews have been digging mass graves for COVID-19 victims in Cochabamba, after a local cemetery stopped accepting victims of the disease. A surge in coronavirus cases has also overwhelmed hospitals in El Alto and La Paz. This is Mary Ticona, a nurse who joined a protest of healthcare workers demanding personal protective equipment and coronavirus tests.

Mary Ticona: “We collapsed about two months ago. We are attending to our people as we can, in stretchers, wheelchairs, however we can attend to them. We have collapsed.”

Oxfam Warns COVID-19 Pandemic Could Push 122 Million to Brink of Starvation

Jul 09, 2020

Oxfam is warning that 122 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation this year due to fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. The global charity says this could result in 12,000 people dying per day by the end of the year due to COVID-19-linked hunger. Oxfam America President Abby Maxman said, ”COVID-19 is the last straw for millions of people already struggling with the impacts of conflict, climate change, inequality and a broken food system that has impoverished millions of food producers and workers.”

126,000 Could Lose Birth Control After SCOTUS Overturns Contraceptive Care Mandate

Jul 09, 2020

In the United States, the Supreme Court voted 7 to 2 Wednesday to uphold Trump administration rules allowing employers with religious or moral objections to deny workers access to free birth control coverage. The ruling hollows out a birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act that requires most private health insurance plans to cover birth control without a copay. According to government estimates, up to 126,000 people could immediately lose access to no-cost contraception.

Also on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that civil rights laws barring workplace discrimination do not apply to most teachers at religious elementary schools. The ruling carves out a major exception to U.S. fair employment laws.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Supreme Court revealed this week that Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a fall at a country club in Maryland on June 21 and was hospitalized after hitting his head. Roberts received stitches and was released the next day. He has previously suffered seizures on at least two occasions.

Man Convicted of Murder at 18 Put to Death in Texas’s First Execution Since Pandemic Began

Jul 09, 2020

In Texas, condemned prisoner Billy Joe Wardlow was pronounced dead at 6:52 p.m. local time Wednesday, 24 minutes after prison officials strapped him to a gurney and injected him with a massive dose of the sedative pentobarbital. It was Texas’s first execution since the start of the pandemic. Wardlow’s killing came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused his petition for a stay of execution. Wardlow was convicted of capital murder after a botched robbery in 1993, when he was just 18 years old. His lawyers argued he was too young to receive the death penalty.

Owner of Dakota Access Pipeline Threatens to Defy Federal Court Order to Stop Oil Flowing

Jul 09, 2020

The owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline threatened Wednesday to keep the pipeline open despite a court order for the pipeline to be shut down and emptied of all oil in the next 30 days, pending an environmental review. The company, Energy Transfer, told Bloomberg News, “We are not shutting in the line.” The company went on to accuse the federal judge of exceeding his authority, claiming he “does not have the jurisdiction to shut down the pipeline or stop the flow of crude oil.” The company later said it had no intention of defying the order. Energy Transfer is owned by Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, who hosted a fundraiser for President Trump last month. 

Mexican Labor Leader Released from Jail But Barred from Visiting Maquiladora Workers

Jul 09, 2020

President Trump welcomed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the White House on Wednesday for a ceremony marking the signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the event, citing scheduling conflicts and health concerns.

President López Obrador’s White House visit came days after Mexican labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas was released from jail, following her arrest for allegedly inciting riots in support of striking maquiladora workers. She’s been ordered to remain at her home address in the state of Chihuahua for the next two-and-a-half years and will be barred from traveling to the border state of Tamaulipas, where she led labor campaigns that won historic wage gains for workers. Prieto Terrazas called the travel ban unconstitutional in a video posted after her release.

Susana Prieto Terrazas: “There appears to be a criminal association, not only to discredit me, as they have tried for years with lies, but to disarticulate me, to disarm me, to end me, to annihilate me, to take my life, because if the head of the workers’ movement in northern Mexico is dead, the rage is over.”

U.N. Special Rapporteur Calls U.S. Assassination of Iranian General Illegal Under International Law

Jul 09, 2020

A United Nations investigator on Wednesday called the U.S. drone strike on Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January “unlawful and arbitrary under international law” and a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty. President Trump authorized Soleimani’s assassination at the Baghdad International Airport on January 3, sparking mass protests across Iraq and bringing the U.S. to the brink of war with Iran.

Minneapolis Police Bodycam Transcripts Reveal George Floyd’s Dying Words

Jul 09, 2020

In Minnesota, transcripts of police bodycam footage made public Wednesday show George Floyd pleaded for his life repeatedly as officers pinned him to the ground on a South Minneapolis street corner in May. The transcripts reveal Floyd said “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times as officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. At one point, Floyd said, “You’re going to kill me, man,” to which officer Chauvin replied, “Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.” Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

Autopsy Finds L.A. Sheriff’s Deputies Shot Andrés Guardado in the Back 5 Times

Jul 09, 2020

In Los Angeles, results from an independent autopsy show 18-year-old security guard Andrés Guardado was shot five times in the back by an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy last month, in a police killing that’s sparked mass protests. Guardado’s family commissioned the autopsy after the Sheriff’s Office placed a so-called security hold on the L.A. County coroner’s official report on the June 18 police killing.

California Couple Who Defaced Black Lives Matter Mural Charged with Hate Crimes

Jul 09, 2020

In California, two Bay Area residents will be charged with hate crimes after they painted over a Black Lives Matter mural commissioned by the city of Martinez. Video of the Fourth of July incident shows a white woman using a bucket of black paint and a roller to cover two of the mural’s large yellow letters reading “Black Lives Matter.” A white man wearing a red Trump campaign T-shirt and hat looks on, shouting abuse at onlookers.

David Nelson: “This is racism, is what it is. That’s what it is. There is no oppression. There is no racism. It’s a leftist lie.”

Nicole Anderson: “Keep this [bleep] in [bleep] New York! This is not happening in my town!”

If convicted on hate crimes charges, the vandals, Nicole Anderson and David Nelson, could face up to a year in jail. Meanwhile, authorities are investigating who painted the words “White Lives Matter” on a Martinez street three days after the first incident. 

Jackson, MS to Remove Andrew Jackson Statue, May Replace It with Medgar Evers Memorial

Jul 09, 2020

In Jackson, Mississippi, officials have approved plans to remove a monument to the city’s namesake Andrew Jackson from outside City Hall. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said in a statement, “When I took office I found out the name Jackson means 'God has shown favor.' So, we want to reclaim the name of our city for that meaning and divorce it from the legacy of a brutal owner of enslaved people who was instrumental in initiating the Trail of Tears against Indigenous people.” City officials are considering replacing the Andrew Jackson statue with a monument to Medgar Evers, the civil rights leader who was assassinated by a white supremacist in Jackson 57 years ago.

Tucker Carlson Echoes White Nationalists in Attack on Lawmakers of Color

Jul 09, 2020

In media news, Fox News host Tucker Carlson is under fire over racist attacks on Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressmember Ilhan Omar, using language that echoes a popular white nationalist slogan. During a segment Tuesday attacking the two women lawmakers of color over their alleged lack of patriotism, Carlson’s producers broadcast a graphic reading “We have to fight to preserve our nation & heritage.” Critics have compared that to an infamous “14-word” slogan frequently used by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.

Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Army National Guard veteran who lost both her legs in 2004 after the helicopter she was piloting was shot down by Iraqi fighters. She tweeted, “Does @TuckerCarlson want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love America?”

Carlson joined prominent Republicans this week in attacking Congressmember Omar, who is Somali American, after she called for the “dismantling” of systems of oppression in the United States.

Rep. Ilhan Omar: “As long as our economy and political systems prioritize profit without considering who is profiting, who is being shut out, we will perpetuate this inequality. So we cannot stop at criminal justice system. We must begin the work of dismantling the whole system of oppression wherever we find it.”

Following those remarks, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy accused Congressmember Omar and Democrats of seeking to “tear down” America. Omar responded, “It is telling that a black woman discussing systematic oppression is so triggering to the right.”

Federal Court Upholds Endangered Species Protections for Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

Jul 09, 2020

In a victory for animal rights campaigners and environmentalists, a federal appeals court has upheld Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park. The ruling comes three years after the Trump administration rolled back protections which would have allowed trophy hunters to resume killing the bears.

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