Joe Biden has selected Senator Kamala Harris of California to be his vice-presidential running mate, making her the first Black woman and the first Indian American to be on a major party presidential ticket. Biden and Harris are scheduled to make their first joint appearance today in Wilmington, Delaware. In a tweet, Biden described Harris as a “fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.” Kamala Harris has served in the Senate since 2017. She previously served as California’s attorney general for six years and as district attorney of San Francisco for seven years. While Harris has been credited with pushing criminal justice reform in the Senate, she has been criticized for her record as a prosecutor in California. Harris is the daughter of immigrants, her father from Jamaica, her mother from India. We’ll have much more on Kamala Harris after headlines.
India reported more than 60,000 new coronavirus cases and 834 deaths Wednesday — nearly breaking a record set earlier this week — bringing India’s official death toll to more than 46,000. Latin America remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with just 8% of the world’s population and 30% of global deaths from COVID-19.
In Bolivia, morgues in the city of La Paz are filled to capacity as bodies of COVID-19 victims have been left uncollected in an open-air spot near a local chapel. A police officer cited residents’ fear of contracting the virus.
Grover Yujra: “The majority of those bodies here at the morgue are people who died on the street. And for those who died at home, families have passed on funerary responsibilities because they fear coronavirus infection.”
In election news, a supporter of a far-right conspiracy theory with a history of racist remarks has won the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s primary victory Tuesday in a deep-red district makes her the heavy favorite in November’s general election. Greene ran on a pro-gun, anti-immigrant and anti-abortion platform, and has embraced the QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims, among other things, that President Trump is secretly at war with a deep state cabal of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex trafficking operation. In videos posted to social media, Greene voices support for Confederate monuments, calls Black people “slaves to the Democratic Party,” claims billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a Nazi, and attacks Muslims elected to Congress.
Marjorie Taylor Greene: “There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now, OK? They are — you saw, after midterm elections, what? We saw so many Muslims elected. I don’t know — I don’t know the exact number, but there were quite a few. What? We had that woman out of Minnesota. Now she’s going into Congress, and she’s got to wear a head covering?”
In Minnesota, freshman Congressmember Ilhan Omar, one of three Muslims in Congress, defeated a well-funded challenger in Tuesday’s primary elections. Antone Melton-Meaux’s campaign raised $3.2 million in the second quarter of 2020 — seven times as much as Omar’s campaign. Melton-Meaux had the support of two pro-Israel lobby groups that bundled 20% of his large-dollar donations; he was also backed by two billionaires.
Ilhan Omar, who’s been outspoken in her support of Palestinian rights, celebrated her victory Tuesday by tweeting that “organized people will always beat organized money.” She added, “It’s about standing up for the basic human rights around the world — and fighting a military-industrial complex that opposes the recognition of people’s humanity and dignity.”
The Democratic National Convention has unveiled its list of speakers for next week’s convention, which will be held entirely online. Among marquee names are former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich and freshman New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Also scheduled to speak are Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
In Lebanon, mourners on Tuesday marked one week since a catastrophic explosion destroyed the Port of Beirut, killing more than 220 people, injuring 7,000 and leaving more than a quarter-million residents homeless. Overnight, police fired tear gas at protesters who set fire to a gate leading to the Parliament building. The mass resignation of Lebanon’s top government officials on Monday has failed to quell anger over a crushing economic crisis, record rates of COVID-19 infections and last week’s catastrophic blast.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports an American contractor working with the U.S. Army warned over four years ago about the hazard posed by over 2,700 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate fertilizer left unattended at Beirut’s port. The U.S. State Department reportedly then failed to pass along the warning to U.S. allies.
In Mali, thousands of protesters flooded the capital Bamako Tuesday, demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta amid a financial crisis, widespread corruption, and mounting violence from separatist groups. The protests were the biggest since July 10, when the police opened fire on anti-government protesters, killing at least 11 people and wounding scores of others.
In Chicago, a 20-year-old man who was shot at multiple times by police and charged with attempted murder for allegedly firing at police officers first is being held on a $1 million bond. This comes as South Side Weekly reports there is no bodycam footage or any video evidence of Latrell Allen allegedly shooting at police officers. Allen’s brother, who was with him at the time of Sunday’s shooting, told the Chicago Sun-Times that his brother hadn’t fired at police. Another witness told South Side Weekly a police vehicle drove toward Allen at high speed, jumping a curb, possibly causing Allen to panic and run. The shooting sparked massive protests in Chicago, where over 100 people were arrested overnight on Monday.
In Aurora, Colorado, the family of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black young man who was killed by police last year, has filed a lawsuit against the officers and paramedics involved in his death. McClain was stopped by police on August 24, 2019, as he was walking home from buying iced tea for his brother. He was tackled by police, placed in a chokehold, and later injected with ketamine by paramedics. He died on August 30, after days on life support. An online petition demanding justice for McClain has collected over 5 million signatures.
In California, a viral video shows Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies detaining three teenagers at gunpoint after bystanders called 911 to report the teens were under attack by a man with a knife. Two of the three teens are African American, and the arresting officers are white. Video of last Friday’s incident in Santa Clarita shows two officers with handguns trained on the teens, who have their hands above their heads. A third officer sights one of the teens through the scope of his assault rifle, his finger on the trigger. As bystanders protest that the deputies have the wrong suspects, the officer with the rifle shouts at them to back up.
Bystander 1: “That’s not them!”
Bystander 2: “It’s not them!”
Bystander 1: “It’s not them!”
Officer: “Hey, get away from me! Get away from me! Back up!”
Bystander 3: “It’s the other guy! It’s the other guy! It’s the other guy!”
Bystander 4: “Put your guns down! They’re kids!”
Officer: “Back up!”
Bystander 3: “Get your hands up! Get your hands up!”
Deputies detained the three teens in squad cars for about 30 minutes before releasing them without charge. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a brief statement on Twitter he had “concerns regarding the tactics employed” and that the officers’ actions were under investigation.
A Michigan judge has closed the case against a 15-year-old African American student who had been sent to a juvenile jail in May after she failed to complete her schoolwork online. The girl, who is known simply as Grace, was released from custody in July and has now been removed from probation.
In labor news, a California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their drivers from independent contractors to employees. Monday’s ruling forces Lyft and Uber to grant thousands of contract drivers the same protections and benefits under law as other company employees, including health insurance and paid sick leave.