In Lebanon, protests raged over the weekend following the catastrophic explosion last week at the Port of Beirut, which killed at least 200 people, injured thousands more and leveled neighborhoods. The explosion was triggered by 2,700 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate left unattended in a warehouse for six years. Protesters stormed three ministries as security forces unleashed tear gas and rubber bullets on demonstrators. This is a protester speaking Saturday.
Tarek Baddawi: “I’m endangering myself, just like others are doing, because we’ve reached our limit. Nothing more can happen. Enough corruption. Enough negligence. Stored substances exploded all of Beirut. And on top of this, there are still people down there at the port who they’re shooting with live ammunition, pellets and rubber bullets. They are slaughtering people.”
A number of high-level politicians have resigned amid the growing unrest and accusations of corruption and negligence, and media is reporting Prime Minister Hassan Diab will soon submit his resignation.
Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States have topped 5 million — by far the highest caseload in the world, though the true number of cases is likely much higher. As the new school year starts or approaches for kids around the country, a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that nearly 100,000 children contracted COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July.
In Georgia, a high school that recently suspended two students for posting images of classmates ignoring social distancing guidelines and not wearing masks announced it is implementing remote learning for part of the week, after at least nine students and staffers tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, sophomore Hannah Watters, who posted the photos, had her suspension reversed.
In South Dakota, tens of thousands of motorcyclists rolled into the town of Sturgis Friday for the annual 10-day motorcycle rally, in spite of the concerns of local residents. Health experts warn it could turn out to be a superspreader event, as images emerged of attendees without masks and not social distancing. The Cheyenne River Sioux set up checkpoints to block the motorcyclists from entering their land, to prevent a possible outbreak.
In California, the director of the Department of Public Health abruptly resigned Sunday, following the discovery of a computer system failure that led to an undercounting of California’s COVID-19 cases.
Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to ravage prisons across the country. Over 800 prisoners and 60 prison staff have now died, according to The Marshall Project. In Northern California, San Quentin has now reported 24 deaths. The Orlando Sentinel found that many of the prisoners who have died from COVID-19 in Florida prisons were eligible for parole. Over 60 prisoners have died in Florida, according to the report.
In Hong Kong, media tycoon Jimmy Lai was arrested today — the most high-profile arrest yet under the China-imposed national security law. Jimmy Lai is accused of “colluding with foreign powers.” Police also raided the newsroom of his publication, Apple Daily. On Friday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a number of top officials in Hong Kong, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam, over the crackdown on mass protests.
In Belarus, police fired stun grenades, water cannons, and beat and arrested protesters as demonstrations broke out Sunday over the results of the presidential election. Protesters are calling the elections a fraud, after the incumbent, authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, was declared the winner with 80% of the vote. His main challenger, 37-year-old teacher and political newcomer Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, had gathered significant public support, with packed campaign rallies. She entered the race after her husband, who was planning to run, was arrested as part of the government’s crackdown on opposition. President Lukashenko has been in power for 26 years and is facing mounting criticism over the failing economy, his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his human rights record.
Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency” after a stricken tanker carrying 4,000 tons of fuel began leaking into the Indian Ocean. Miles of the Mauritius coastline have been covered in black sludge, as conservationists warn protected coral reefs and endangered species are in serious peril. This is Reuben Pillay, who operates a virtual tour website of Mauritius.
Reuben Pillay: “The oil trail is right next to an island called Île aux Aigrettes, which is a natural reserve with endemic and endangered species there. There’s the pink pigeon. There’s giant tortoises. There’s a tree there that’s said to be 400 years old. … For the local people, it’s been terrible. These people, they are fishermen, they are boat operators, they are divers. They live from the sea, and they eat from the sea.”
In Somalia, at least eight people were killed and 14 others injured after a suicide bomb attack on a military base in the capital Mogadishu over the weekend. The Islamist militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack.
In Yemen, air raids in the north of the country killed at least nine children, according to a United Nations official. It’s the third such attack, resulting in the killing of children, in the Houthi-controlled region over the past month.
In other news from Yemen, historic houses in the UNESCO-listed Old City of Sana’a have been collapsing under heavy rains that have battered Yemen for months. The U.N. says the torrential rains and flooding have compounded the situation in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
In Venezuela, a court sentenced two former U.S. Special Forces soldiers to 20 years in prison over a failed coup attempt in April. Former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry were two of 10 men who took part in the attempted ouster of President Nicolás Maduro; the other eight were killed on site by Venezuelan authorities.
In Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani approved a measure to release 400 Taliban prisoners — one of the major roadblocks in the embattled peace deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Talks between the warring parties are expected to start in Doha this week.
The new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has overhauled the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service in a move that critics say will give DeJoy more power ahead of the November election, when a record number of mail-in ballots are expected to be cast. Twenty-three Postal Service executives were reassigned or displaced on Friday in what Democrats described as a “Friday night massacre.” Since taking office, DeJoy has instituted a number of cost-cutting measures that have slowed down the delivery of mail. There is now a days-long backlog of mail across the country. Prior to becoming postmaster general, DeJoy was a major donor to Donald Trump and the Republican Party.
Hawaiian state Senator Kai Kahele won the primary to replace retiring congressmember and former Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Kahele would be just the second Native Hawaiian in Congress since statehood. Hawaii becomes the fifth state to conduct an election entirely, or primarily, by mail.
In Tennessee, environmental justice activist and political newcomer Marquita Bradshaw won the Democratic nomination for retiring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander’s seat. She is the first Black woman in Tennessee to gain a major party’s nomination for the Senate.
In Arizona, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost his bid to win back his old position — to his former chief deputy. In 2017, Trump pardoned Arpaio for defying a court order to stop his deputies from racial profiling.
In Puerto Rico, election officials had to partially suspend voting Sunday as a number of polling centers had still not received ballots. Puerto Ricans expressed anger and frustration at the election-day chaos, as the island is still grappling with last year’s political turmoil which forced then-Governor Ricardo Rosselló to resign over offensive leaked text messages and accusations of corruption. San Juan mayor and President Trump foe Carmen Yulín Cruz is running to become governor.
Louisiana’s Supreme Court has upheld a life sentence for an African American man who was convicted of attempting to steal hedge clippers from a home nearly a quarter-century ago. Fair Wayne Bryant’s life sentence for the 1997 burglary followed his fourth felony conviction, which carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 20 years under Louisiana law.
In other news from Louisiana, an African American Gulf War veteran, Derek Harris, will be released from prison, after the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned his life sentence for selling less than $30 of marijuana to an undercover police officer.
In Kentucky, authorities are cracking down on protests demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a Black Louisville resident who was shot inside her own home in March by police. Louisville’s Metro Police Department said Sunday that protesters may no longer march in the street and that car caravan protests could face citation or arrest if they disobey traffic laws.
In Salt Lake City, protesters who broke windows and splashed red paint outside the District Attorney’s Office in July face a maximum sentence of life in prison, after prosecutors charged them with felony criminal mischief and a gang enhancement. The protesters were calling for justice for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, who was shot dead by police officers in May. The officers have not been charged. The move to label protesters as gang members has drawn renewed attention to Utah’s 1990s-era street gangs law, which disproportionately targets communities of color.
Meanwhile, a U.S. district judge in Oregon has extended a restraining order against the U.S. Marshals Service and agents with the Department of Homeland Security, ordering them to stop attacking journalists and legal observers at Black Lives Matter protests in Portland.
Sunday marked 75 years since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki, which killed 74,000 people. Three days earlier, the U.S. dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, killing some 140,000 people. This is Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue, speaking at a commemoration ceremony where he urged the Japanese government to ratify a 2017 nuclear ban treaty, and called for a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.
Mayor Tomihisa Taue: “Same as with the novel coronavirus, which we did not fear until it began spreading among our immediate surroundings, if humanity is not aware of the threat of nuclear weapons until they are used again, we will find ourselves in an irrevocable predicament.”