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HeadlinesAugust 04, 2020

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Concerns Mount over Politicization of COVID-19 Vaccine, as Trump Lashes Out at “Pathetic” Dr. Birx

Aug 04, 2020

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 has topped 156,000 — by far the highest in the world. On Monday, President Trump lashed out at his top White House coronavirus adviser, Dr. Deborah Birx, after she warned the virus is “extraordinarily widespread.” Trump took to Twitter calling Birx “pathetic.”

Meanwhile, concern is growing that the Trump administration may rush to approve a vaccine to boost the president’s chances of winning in November. The New York Times reveals the Department of Health and Human Services produced a slideshow for the White House in April about developing a vaccine. The first slide read, ”DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020.” The date was in bold letters. One regular participant in White House meetings on vaccine development has been Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is also helping to run his reelection campaign.

WHO Warns There May Never Be a Coronavirus “Silver Bullet”

Aug 04, 2020

The World Health Organization is warning there may never be a “silver bullet” to defeat the coronavirus.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “There is no silver bullet at the moment, and there might never be. For now, stopping outbreaks comes down to the basics of public health and disease control: testing, isolating and treating patients, and tracing and quarantining their contacts.”

This comes as the confirmed global death toll approaches 700,000, though the true number is believed to be far higher. The BBC is reporting leaked records from the Iranian government show almost 42,000 Iranians have died from the virus — nearly triple the number reported by the health ministry.

In Latin America, the total number of cases has now topped 5 million, with more than 200,000 deaths. Brazil has recorded almost 95,000 coronavirus deaths — the world’s second-highest total. Mexico is third highest with 48,000 deaths. On Monday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff tested positive for the virus, making him the seventh Brazilian minister to have contracted the infection.

Trump Threatens to Sue Nevada After It Expands Voter Access

Aug 04, 2020

President Trump has threatened to sue Nevada over its expansion of mail-in voting. Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak signed a bill Monday ensuring all registered voters automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Trump tweeted, “Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state.” He made a similar claim in March, saying if Democrats had expanded voter access in the coronavirus relief bill, “You’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” Trump also renewed his attack on the U.S. Postal Service, saying it would not be able to handle the increase in mail. The USPS responded in a statement that they have “ample capacity” to handle the higher volume.

In other election news, five states are holding primaries today: Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Arizona and Washington.

Leaked Video Shows George Floyd Pleaded for His Life, Cooperated with Police, Before He Was Killed

Aug 04, 2020

A leaked police bodycam video reveals George Floyd begged Minneapolis police officers not to shoot him, just minutes before an officer killed him by kneeling on his neck for over eight minutes. In the video, Floyd is seen sitting in his car saying, “Please, please don’t shoot me. I just lost my mom.”

Thomas Lane: “Step out and face away.”

George Floyd: “OK, Mr. Officer. Please don’t shoot me! Please, man!”

Thomas Lane: “I’m not going to shoot you.”

George Floyd: “Please!”

Thomas Lane: “Step out and face away.”

George Floyd: “Brother, I’ll look you eye to eye, man. Please don’t shoot me, man.”

Thomas Lane: “I’m not shooting you, man.”

George Floyd: “Please, man. I just lost my mom, man.”

Thomas Lane: “Step out and face away.”

George Floyd: “I’m so sorry.”

Another part of the video shows George Floyd handcuffed and saying, “I am not resisting.” Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, said Monday, “The police officers approached him with guns drawn, simply because he was a Black man. As this video shows, he never posed any threat.”

Video Shows LAPD Shot Peaceful Protester in the Head as He Held His Arms in the Air

Aug 04, 2020

Newly released police bodycam footage reveals Los Angeles police shot a protester in the head with a “less lethal round” while the man had his arms in the air during a protest on May 30. The protester, CJ Montano, is a 24-year-old former marine who was protesting the killing of George Floyd. Montano was hospitalized for four days and is still recovering. Montano’s attorney condemned the police department’s use of force, saying, “He is isolated in that intersection. His arms are up in the air. There’s no good argument that he was hit accidentally.” The Los Angeles Police Department has described the incident as an “unintentional head strike.”

Prosecutor Clears Arkansas Officers Who Pushed Black Man into the Ground for 6.5 Minutes Before He Died

Aug 04, 2020

In Conway, Arkansas, prosecutors have cleared several officers of criminal charges over their violent arrest in February of a man who died after he was repeatedly punched in the back, tasered while on the ground, and pinned under an officer’s knee as he protested, “I can’t breathe.” The officer replied, “If you can talk, you can breathe. Chill out.”

Newly released police bodycam footage shows officers pressing 39-year-old Lionel Morris into the floor of a supermarket for six-and-a-half minutes and ignoring his repeated cries for medical help. Morris became unresponsive and was later pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. Police were called when Morris allegedly attempted to shoplift. The officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

Census Bureau Cuts Short Collection Efforts by One Month

Aug 04, 2020

The Census Bureau has announced it will wrap up collection efforts for the 2020 census a month earlier than planned, even though the pandemic has disrupted field operations. All door-knocking and phone inquiries will now end by September 30. Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law condemned the decision, saying, “By prematurely ending critical door-knocking efforts, we run the risk of missing millions in Black and immigrant communities. This decision may deprive these communities of fair representation, and fair allocation of funds for the next 10 years.”

Mexican Man Dies After Falling from Border Wall

Aug 04, 2020

A 33-year-old Mexican man died over the weekend, days after he fell from the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Arizona. Customs and Border Protection, who found and detained the unidentified man, said he was brought to a medical center but eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Mexican Journalist Pablo Morrugares Shot Dead in Guerrero

Aug 04, 2020

In the Mexican state of Guerrero, gunmen shot dead journalist Pablo Morrugares Sunday, along with his bodyguard. Morrugares worked for the news website PM Noticias and had recently reported on a crime that involved local criminal gangs. According to Reporters Without Borders, he is at least the fourth journalist killed in Mexico this year.

3 Salvadoran Officers Sentenced to 20 Years for Killing a Trans Woman Who Was Deported from the U.S.

Aug 04, 2020

In El Salvador, a judge sentenced three police officers to 20 years each for the 2019 killing of 29-year-old Camila Díaz Córdova, a transgender woman. Prosecutors say the officers brutally assaulted her, then threw her out of a moving vehicle. Díaz Córdova had been deported from the U.S. a year before she was killed. The case marks the first homicide conviction for the killing of a transgender person in El Salvador.

Egypt Sentences 6 Women to Prison over TikTok Videos as Calls Grow to Free Activist Sanaa Seif

Aug 04, 2020

In Egypt, human rights advocates are condemning the conviction and prison sentences handed last week to six young women over their TikTok videos, which were found to violate so-called family values and public morals. The convictions have also intensified public attention on the case of 17-year-old Menna Abdel Aziz, who in May posted a social media video in which she appeared covered in bruises and revealed she was gang-raped. The teenager was then arrested, alongside the accused men, and accused of “inciting debauchery” and violating “family values.”

In other news from Egypt, over 200 public figures from around the world, including actors and writers, as well as rights groups and cultural organizations, have signed on to a letter calling for the release of political prisoner Sanaa Seif and “all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights.” The 26 year-old activist and film editor was arrested last month. Click here to see an interview with Sanaa Seif’s mother, activist Laila Soueif.

Former Spanish King Juan Carlos Goes into Exile over Corruption Scandal

Aug 04, 2020

In Spain, the royal family is refusing to disclose the whereabouts of former King Juan Carlos, after it was announced Monday he was going into exile in the wake of a corruption scandal that has rocked the monarchy in recent months. In June, the Spanish Supreme Court launched a probe into Juan Carlos’s involvement with a Saudi rail contract, after a Swiss newspaper reported he received $100 million from the late Saudi Arabian King Abdullah. Juan Carlos abdicated as king in 2014 after another corruption investigation drew scrutiny to the royal family’s finances. He is the father of the sitting king, Felipe VI, who has distanced himself from Juan Carlos, including renouncing his inheritance in March, as the scandal erupted.

U.S. to Permanently Station Thousands of Troops in Poland

Aug 04, 2020

Poland’s defense ministry has reached a deal with the Trump administration to permanently station 1,000 additional U.S. troops in Poland, bringing the total U.S. contingent there to 5,500. The announcement came days after the Pentagon announced plans to withdraw some 12,000 U.S. troops from bases in Germany.

Manhattan DA Investigating Trump for Bank and Insurance Fraud

Aug 04, 2020

The Manhattan district attorney may be investigating Trump over bank and insurance fraud, according to a new filing from his office. DA Cyrus Vance has been looking into hush-money payments made during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to women Trump had affairs with. But Monday’s filing, which seeks to compel Trump’s accounting firm to hand over eight years of his tax returns, suggests the investigation is much more expansive, as it cites reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.” On Monday, Trump dismissed the news, saying it was part of a Democratic “witch hunt” against him.

NJ Federal Judge, Whose Son Was Killed by Racist, Misogynistic Lawyer, Calls for Privacy for Judges

Aug 04, 2020

The federal judge whose son was killed and husband critically injured after a racist and self-described “anti-feminist lawyer” opened fire on their house in New Jersey last month has spoken out in a video, urging more privacy protections for judges. Judge Esther Salas is the first Latina federal judge in New Jersey.

Judge Esther Salas: “The monster knew where I lived and what church we attended, and had a complete dossier on me and my family. At the moment, there is nothing we can do to stop it, and that is unacceptable. My son’s death cannot be in vain.”

FDA Expands List of Dangerous Hand Sanitizers to Over 100 Products

Aug 04, 2020

The Food and Drug Administration has expanded its list of dangerous hand sanitizers to over 100 different products. The FDA warns some hand sanitizers contain methanol, which can be toxic when applied topically, and deadly if ingested. The FDA’s list also includes sanitizers that contain less than 60% alcohol — the amount needed to be effective.

John Hume, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Architect of Irish Peace Deal, Dies at 83

Aug 04, 2020

Irish politician John Hume has died at the age of 83. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998 for his role in crafting the Good Friday Agreement that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland. At the time, the Nobel Committee praised him for being the “clearest and most consistent of Northern Ireland’s political leaders in his work for a peaceful solution.”

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