Record wildfires in California have prompted officials to issue new red flag warnings, with high temperatures and gusty winds threatening to make an already historic series of wildfires even worse. At least six people have died, and nearly 120,000 have fled their homes, as 1.2 million acres have already burned — an area larger than the state of Rhode Island. Two of the wildfires rank as the second- and third-largest fires in California’s history. The fires were triggered by an estimated 12,000 dry lightning strikes amid a record-shattering heat wave driven by the climate crisis.
The confirmed U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 176,000, with over 5.7 million recorded infections. On Sunday, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization for blood plasma in the treatment of COVID-19, saying “the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.” Over 70,000 patients have already been treated with plasma from recovered patients. The news came just one day after President Trump accused the FDA of delaying approval of coronavirus vaccines and being part of the “deep state” — without any evidence. Some top health officials, including White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, have questioned whether the data on the blood plasma study was still too weak, with no randomized studies, to grant an FDA approval.
This comes amid rising concern over outbreaks in schools around the country as at least three dozen states so far have reported cases on college campuses.
Meanwhile, ProPublica reports that meatpacking companies — another major source of coronavirus clusters — were regularly warned about the potential for a pandemic as early as 2006, but executives ignored, and in some cases mocked, recommendations for handling one.
Here in New York City, a protest under the banner “March for the Dead” took place Friday to memorialize the over 175,000 lives lost so far.
Protesters: “Fight for the living! March for the dead!”
Families of victims of COVID-19 called out Trump for his mishandling of the pandemic, as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Trump Building in Lower Manhattan.
Globally, the confirmed coronavirus death toll has topped 807,000. The United States has recorded the most deaths, followed by Brazil, Mexico and India, which crossed the 3 million mark for cases on Sunday. Meanwhile, countries including Australia, Spain, and South Korea are grappling with a second wave of the virus. This is the director of the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Jung Eun-kyeong: “We’ve been having more than 300 patients for three consecutive days. It is not just happening in the capital area but in 17 cities and provinces nationwide. We are in a very grave and serious situation, facing a nationwide pandemic.”
In Peru, which is the second most infected country in Latin America after Brazil, at least 13 people were either crushed to death or asphyxiated at a Lima nightclub after it was raided by police for violating coronavirus restrictions.
The House voted on a bill Saturday to provide $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service and halt any planned changes amid growing fears that Trump is attempting to hinder the delivery of mail-in ballots ahead of November’s election. The vote came one day after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy — a Trump megadonor — testified before the Senate about recent changes at the Postal Service. This is Michigan Senator Gary Peters questioning DeJoy.
Sen. Gary Peters: “Will you be bringing back any mail sorting machines that have been removed since you’ve become postmaster general? Will any of those come back?”
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy: “There’s no intention to do that. They’re not needed, sir.”
Sen. Gary Peters: “So, you will not bring back any processors?”
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy: “They’re not needed, sir.”
Postal workers in Washington state and Dallas, Texas, said they have ignored orders from above and reinstalled high-speed mail sorting machines. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports over 534,000 mail-in ballots were rejected across 23 states during this year’s primaries — nearly a quarter of those in battlegrounds states. DeJoy is testifying before the House Oversight Committee today.
In Belarus, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minsk Sunday as demonstrations continue calling for President Alexander Lukashenko to resign, two weeks after the longtime authoritarian leader was declared the winner of a controversial presidential election that many believe was rigged.
In Colombia, at least 17 people were killed in three separate massacres within 24 hours, marking one of the most violent days in Colombia since the signing of a peace deal in 2016. The attacks took place Friday and Saturday in regions that have been heavily disputed between drug traffickers and other criminal groups.
In the Philippines, at least 14 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded after two bombings in the southwestern town of Jolo. At least five military personnel and four civilians were killed, according to local reports. The attacks are the deadliest recorded in the Philippines this year. No one has claimed responsibility.
In Iraq, U.S. forces have withdrawn from Camp Taji, handing control of the military base north of Baghdad to the Iraqi Army for the first time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The U.S. will still have about 5,000 troops stationed in Iraq, alongside 2,500 allied troops and thousands of private contractors.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Marco weakened to a tropical storm as it approached Louisiana this morning — the first of two major storms expected to wallop the Gulf Coast in just 48 hours. In the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Laura flooded homes and killed at least nine people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It’s expected to strengthen to a hurricane ahead of its landfall between Houston and New Orleans late Wednesday.
In Lafayette, Louisiana, protesters took to the streets this weekend in the wake of the police killing of a 31-year-old Black man, Trayford Pellerin, on Friday. Police officers reportedly were called for a “disturbance” at a convenience store, where they encountered Pellerin and used Tasers on him, before shooting him dead as he tried to enter another convenience store. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Pellerin’s family, called for the officers involved to be fired. Trayford Pellerin’s mother told the media her son struggled with anxiety, while his aunt remembered him as a quiet and generous person with “a big heart.”
Protests have also erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the Sunday police shooting of another Black man, identified as 29-year-old Jacob Blake. Video appears to show two officers shooting at Blake as he walked away from them and started to get into a car. His children were present and witnessed the shooting. Blake’s loved ones said on social media he’s out of surgery and in stable condition.
In Portland, Oregon, “alt-right” hate groups took to the streets again over the weekend, attacking anti-fascist protesters and others. As clashes erupted, some pointed out that Portland officials did not designate the events a riot and that police largely did not intervene, in contrast to the brutal police response toward antirascist protesters in recent weeks.
Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Lee signed a new law which could strip protesters of their right to vote. The new law says that protesters who camp out on state property could face felony charges, which would mean they automatically lose their right to vote. Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “This is a racially motivated law intended to silence the Black Lives Matter movement.”
In Charlotte, North Carolina, delegates are gathering for today’s opening of the Republican National Convention. President Trump is expected to make an appearance every night and will accept the nomination virtually from the White House Thursday. Protests have been taking place in Charlotte since Friday, resulting in at least five arrests Saturday night.
Longtime White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she will be leaving her job at the end of this month, citing her family. Her husband, George Conway, also announced he was stepping back from the anti-Trump Republican group The Lincoln Project. This comes as the couple’s 15-year-old daughter Claudia Conway said on social media she is seeking emancipation from her parents, and tweeted “I’m devastated that my mother is actually speaking at the RNC. like DEVASTATED beyond compare.”
In secretly recorded audio, President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, calls her brother “cruel” and says he has “no principles.” The damning audio was recorded by their niece Mary Trump and released Saturday by The Washington Post. Maryanne Trump Barry, a former federal judge, also appears to be the source for Mary Trump’s allegation in her tell-all book about her family that Donald Trump paid a friend to take his SATs for him. Mary Trump recorded her aunt in 2018 and 2019.
Maryanne Trump Barry: “His goddamn tweet and the lying, oh my god! I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories, the lack of preparation, the lying, the — holy [bleep]! But he’s appealing to the base. What they’re doing with the kids at the border, I mean…”
A U.S. district judge sentenced actress Lori Loughlin to two months in prison Friday for paying bribes to get her two daughters into the University of Southern California by lying about their athletic bona fides. Judge Nathaniel Gorton told Loughlin at her sentencing, “You have participated in the corruption of the system of higher education in this country.” Over 50 people have been charged as part of the college admissions scandal, which embroiled wealthy Hollywood actors, Silicon Valley executives and hedge fund managers. Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, received a sentence of five months.
In California, the man known as the “Golden State Killer” was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday. Seventy-four-year-old Joseph DeAngelo, a former police officer, had confessed to 13 murders and over 50 rapes. Over the course of his trial, survivors and their families took to the stand to share the impact of his crimes, which dated back to the 1970s.