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HeadlinesAugust 03, 2020

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White House’s Dr. Birx Warns U.S. Has Entered New Phase in Pandemic as Death Toll Tops 155,000

Aug 03, 2020

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has topped 155,000 as the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 soared in July by nearly 50%. On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Deborah Birx appeared on CNN and warned the country has entered a new phase in its fight against the pandemic.

Dr. Deborah Birx: “What we’re seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. And to everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.”

Over the weekend, California became the first state to record more than 500,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. California reported 219 deaths on Friday — a new single-day high. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 death toll at San Quentin State Prison has reached 20. This comes as more than 7,000 people in Southern California have been forced to flee their home due to a massive wildfire east of Los Angeles.

Lawmakers at Standstill over Coronavirus Bill as Democratic Rep. Grijalva Goes After GOP Response

Aug 03, 2020

A new report in Vanity Fair reveals a White House task force led by Jared Kushner abandoned a nationwide coronavirus testing plan in the spring for political reasons. One public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force said, “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”

In news from Capitol Hill, negotiations over the next coronavirus stimulus bill remain at a standstill. Republicans are refusing to support renewing a program to give unemployed workers an additional $600 in benefits. The enhanced benefit expired on Friday.

In other news from Washington, Democratic Congressmember Raúl Grijalva has tested positive for COVID-19, just days after he chaired a meeting attended by Republican Congressmember Louie Gohmert, who refused to wear a mask and later tested positive. In a statement, Grijalva said, “While I cannot blame anyone directly for this, this week has shown that there are some members of Congress who fail to take this crisis seriously.”

Meanwhile, CNN is reporting the Republicans are considering barring journalists for the first time from attending the upcoming scaled-down Republican National Convention, citing health concerns.

Worldwide Cases Top 18 Million as Countries Across the Globe Hit Grim New Milestones

Aug 03, 2020

The global death toll from the coronavirus is approaching 700,000, with nearly 18 million confirmed cases, as the pandemic continues to accelerate. During the month of July, more than 8 million people tested positive — almost as many as in the first six months of the pandemic combined. The World Health Organization reports cases are now doubling every six weeks.

In India, the death toll has topped 38,000 — the fifth highest in the world, surpassing Italy. One of India’s top officials, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, has been hospitalized after testing positive.

The Philippines reported over 5,000 new coronavirus infections Sunday, its largest single-day increase on record, bringing its total confirmed cases to over 100,000. Authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte announced he is reimposing a stricter lockdown around the capital Manila, as medical workers around the country warned the healthcare system could collapse.

In Australia, a state of disaster has been declared in Victoria, which has instituted a nightly curfew to fight the outbreak.

The coronavirus is still surging in South Africa, where over 500,000 have now tested positive for the virus. Medical workers say the surge in cases has brought South Africa’s healthcare system close to collapse.

Medical worker: “The cracks that have been there even before coronavirus are getting bigger every day. Our healthcare system, public healthcare system, is failing our people. It’s failing the entire country. It was not ready for this virus.”

Border Patrol Raid Arizona Humanitarian Camp for 2nd Time in 2 Days, Detain 30 Asylum Seekers

Aug 03, 2020

In Arizona, Border Patrol officers raided the medical camp of humanitarian group No More Deaths Friday, detaining 30 migrants. This was the second such raid in just two days. The camp provides water, food and medical attention to refugees crossing into the U.S. through the scorching Sonoran Desert. Last week, No More Deaths published documents revealing the Border Patrol Union, a pro-Trump and anti-immigrant extremist group, had instigated a 2017 raid of the same camp. Volunteers say their phones were confiscated and border agents disconnected power to the property’s only water source.

SCOTUS Rules Trump Can Move Forward with Border Wall Construction

Aug 03, 2020

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said Friday President Trump can move ahead with building his U.S.-Mexico border wall, using $2.5 billion in military funds, while the legal battle to stop the construction continues. The Sierra Club and other groups argue Trump circumvented Congress to divert the funds and that the border wall will cause irreparable environmental damage.

Trump Admin to Start Charging Fees for Asylum Applications

Aug 03, 2020

The Trump administration will start charging fees to apply for asylum. “This is a penalty against asylum applicants,” an anonymous asylum officer told BuzzFeed News. The U.S. will charge $50 for asylum petitions, and joins Fiji, Iran and Australia as the only countries that require people to pay for seeking legal refuge. Citizenship and Immigration Services will also hike up the cost of other immigration services, including an 80% increase in the fee for applying for U.S. citizenship.

Islamic State Claims Attack on Afghanistan Jail Which Killed At Least 29 People

Aug 03, 2020

In Afghanistan, at least 29 people have been killed, and 50 others wounded, after gunmen raided a jail Sunday night in Jalalabad, in Nangarhar province. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes a day after one of its senior commanders was killed by Afghan forces in the same region.

Award-Winning Author Tsitsi Dangarembga, Opposition Party Spokesperson Arrested in Zimbabwe

Aug 03, 2020

In Zimbabwe, author Tsitsi Dangarembga — a Booker Prize nominee — was released on bail Saturday, alongside several others, after being arrested for holding anti-government protests. Authorities had banned a Friday protest which was calling for an end to corruption and a worsening economic crisis, but Dangarembga still staged a two-person action, for which she was arrested. Fadzayi Mahere, a lawyer and spokesperson for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance party, who was also released on bail, filmed her own arrest.

Fadzayi Mahere: “Riot police are coming at us, and they’re armed. Riot police are advancing towards us, for the protest.”

Rights groups are warning the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa is intensifying its crackdown on critical voices, comparing his tactics to former leader President Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in 2017.

Hong Kong Postpones Elections, Issues Arrest Warrants Under National Security Law

Aug 03, 2020

Hong Kong has postponed legislative elections, citing the pandemic, as it intensifies its crackdown on opposition leaders and critics. A dozen pro-democracy candidates were blocked from running, including prominent activist Joshua Wong. This comes as Hong Kong has issued arrest warrants for at least six pro-democracy figures under its new national security law, including a U.S. citizen, Samuel Chu, who works at the D.C.-based Hong Kong Democracy Council and lives in the United States.

Microsoft in Talks to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Operations

Aug 03, 2020

Microsoft says it is in talks to acquire U.S. operations for the popular app TikTok, after Trump said he would ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform. Reuters is reporting Trump told Microsoft it has 45 days to close the deal, after he previously said he opposed the idea. This comes amid ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China over the coronavirus, trade and the situation in Hong Kong. TikTok says it has 100 million users in the U.S.

Trump Installs Islamophobic Fox News Pundit in Top Pentagon Post, Bypassing Senate Approval

Aug 03, 2020

President Trump has installed a nominee for a top Pentagon job in another, nearly identical position, after the Senate abruptly canceled his hearing last Thursday when it became clear they didn’t have enough votes to confirm him. Retired general and Fox News contributor Anthony Tata, Trump’s pick to be the next undersecretary of defense for policy, will now instead be “performing the duties of” the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy — a temporary position that does not require Senate confirmation. Tata has come under fire for promoting Islamophobic conspiracy theories, including calling former President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader”; calling Islam the “most oppressive violent religion I know of”; as well as pushing a conspiracy theory that former CIA Director John Brennan ordered the assassination of Trump in 2018 via a coded tweet.

Appeals Court Overturns Death Penalty for Boston Marathon Bomber

Aug 03, 2020

A federal appeals court overturned the death penalty sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, after the court determined the judge in his case did not thoroughly review jury members for bias. Tsarnaev will now have a new trial to determine his penalty. The attack killed three people and injured hundreds of others.

Active Army Sergeant ID’d as Killer of Austin, TX Antiracist Protester

Aug 03, 2020

An active-duty U.S. Army sergeant has been identified as the man who killed antiracist protester Garrett Foster in Austin, Texas, last weekend. Daniel Perry said he acted in self-defense when he opened fire after driving his car into a crowd, but eyewitnesses have challenged this account. In June, Perry retweeted a post by President Trump referring to protesters as “anarchists” and “lowlifes,” adding the comment, “Send them to Texas we will show them why we say don’t mess with Texas.”

Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon, antiracist and anti-police-brutality protests continued this weekend — now entering their third month — as federal agents drew down their presence last week after a widely condemned violent crackdown on the demonstrators.

Department of Homeland Security Removes Official Who Surveilled Journalists

Aug 03, 2020

In Washington, D.C., the Homeland Security official whose office put together intelligence reports on protesters and journalists covering protests in Portland has reportedly been removed from his post. Brian Murphy was reassigned to an administrative role within the agency on Friday. The intelligence reports compiled information on two journalists — from The New York Times and the blog Lawfare, respectively — who published leaked documents about DHS’s tactics to repress antiracist protesters, as well as some of the protesters.

Michigan Court Frees Black Teenager Jailed for Missing Online Schoolwork

Aug 03, 2020

In Michigan, a court of appeals freed a 15-year-old student Friday who had been locked up since mid-May for not doing her online schoolwork, pending an appeal of her case. Students have rallied behind the teen, known simply as “Grace” to protect her identity, saying she was unfairly targeted because she is Black.

Protesters in New York Demand End to Discrimination and Anti-Trans, Anti-Sex-Worker Laws

Aug 03, 2020

In New York City, sex workers and their allies took to the streets Saturday for the Black Sex Worker Liberation March and Vigil. Among protesters’ demands were the decriminalization of sex work and a repeal of the so-called Walking While Trans ban, an anti-loitering and anti-sex-work law that activists and rights groups say is disproportionately used to attack trans people.

Madame Namio: “This work is the only work that has allowed me to regain agency over a body I was taught to hate my whole life.”

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