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HeadlinesAugust 05, 2020

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Massive Explosion Tears Through Beirut, Leaving Hundreds Missing and Thousands Injured

Aug 05, 2020

In Lebanon, a massive explosion at the port of Beirut sent a devastating shock wave through the Lebanese capital Tuesday evening, leveling buildings, overturning cars and shattering windows miles from the blast site. More than 100 people have been reported dead, with hundreds still missing. Over 4,000 people were injured. The explosion carried the force of a 3.5-magnitude earthquake and was felt as far away as Cyprus, more than 100 miles off Lebanon’s coast.

Videos of the explosion show a rapidly expanding shock wave engulfing entire high-rise buildings, leaving a pink mushroom cloud rising far above Beirut’s skyline. One business owner, Ahmad Ismail, described the moment the blast reached his Beirut shop. 

Ahmad Ismail: “We were both standing at the entrance. We felt the glass shaking. I said to my friend maybe it was an earthquake, and he went to ask the neighbors what was going on. Then I felt something like lightning strike across Beirut, and then everything turned red. And the force of the explosion threw me off from the beginning of the shop.”

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Lebanon’s PM Says 2,700 Tons of Ammonium Nitrate Sparked “National Catastrophe” in Beirut

Aug 05, 2020

Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab called the explosion a “national catastrophe.” He said it was triggered by 2,700 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate, inexplicably left unattended in a warehouse for six years. The explosion completely destroyed the Port of Beirut — a main economic lifeline to Lebanon. Even before Tuesday’s disaster, Lebanon’s economy was in crisis, exacerbated by U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.

At the White House, President Trump told reporters that U.S. military generals believed the explosion was caused by a bomb. 

President Donald Trump: “They would know better than I would, but they seem to think it was an attack. It was a bomb of some kind. Yes.”

Trump offered no evidence for his claim, which was not supported by intelligence agencies. The Pentagon declined to comment and referred all press questions to the White House.

After the explosion, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to offer assistance to the Lebanese people, not the current prime minister, Hassan Diab. 

Mississippi Becomes Biggest U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spot as Governor Mandates Masks

Aug 05, 2020

The United States reported more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday — with 1,358 deaths. On Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves ended his long-standing opposition to requiring masks in public and issued a state-wide mandate. He also ordered a delay to the start of the school year in some — but not all — of Mississippi’s counties. Mississippi is on track to become the top coronavirus hot spot in the United States.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan coalition of governors in seven states, led by Maryland Republican Larry Hogan, is working to acquire millions of rapid coronavirus tests, citing a failed response by the Trump administration that’s led to severe testing shortages and delays.

On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Tuesday he might be willing to reverse Republican opposition to a new round of $600-per-week unemployment benefits. That benefit expired in late July as talks on a new coronavirus stimulus bill broke down.

Georgia Prisoners Live-Stream Video from Prison Uprising Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Aug 05, 2020

In Georgia, prisoners at the Ware State Prison used smuggled cellphones to live-stream a prison uprising last weekend demanding improved health measures amid an outbreak of COVID-19. One video, filmed on a contraband cellphone, shows two men lying on the floor of a prison cell, covered in blood and bandages, as other prisoners plead for help. In another video, a prisoner describes being locked in a cell 24/7 with limited drinking water, terrible food, no electricity and no sanitation. 

Prisoner: “Toilet’s not flushing. Sink is not working. They have cut the power off. They have cut everything off. We ain’t took no shower since last Tuesday. It’s been a week. The reason we riot, the reason why the riot popped, is because of health issues.”

Georgia prison officials said two prison staffers and three prisoners were injured in the uprising. Dozens of prisoners and employees at Ware State Prison have tested positive for COVID-19, and two prisoners have died of the disease.

Meanwhile, in California, officials at San Quentin State Prison say a 22nd prisoner has died from COVID-19.

Chicago Schools Cancel September Classes as Union Threatens Strike over Coronavirus Safety

Aug 05, 2020

In Illinois, the Chicago Public School system has canceled in-person classes in September and will begin the new school year entirely by remote learning. The school district had been planning to bring most students back two days a week, but canceled those plans after the Chicago Teachers Union announced its members would vote to authorize a strike over coronavirus safety measures.

U.N. Warns Coronavirus School Closures Have Impacted Over 1 Billion Students

Aug 05, 2020

At the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres warned Tuesday that the world faces a “generational catastrophe” because of school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Secretary-General António Guterres: “In mid-July, schools were closed in more than 160 countries, affecting over 1 billion students. At least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education in their critical preschool year. And parents, especially women, have been forced to assume heavy care burdens in the home.”

Guterres called on countries to bring COVID-19 under control as quickly as possible so that schools can reopen safely. 

Brazil COVID-19 Deaths Approach 100,000 as Infections Surge in India

Aug 05, 2020

Brazil reported 45,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, with the official death toll rapidly approaching 100,000.

India reported 50,000 new infections for the fifth consecutive day Tuesday. India is behind only the U.S. and Brazil in coronavirus cases.

The surge came as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid a ceremonial foundation stone for a highly controversial new Hindu temple at the former site of a 16th century mosque in Uttar Pradesh state. The mosque was destroyed in 1992 by far-right Hindu nationalists, sparking rioting across India that left 2,000 people dead.

Black Lives Matter & Ferguson Activist Cori Bush Pulls Off Huge Upset in Missouri Democratic Primary

Aug 05, 2020

In St. Louis, Missouri, Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush has scored a major political upset, defeating 10-term Congressmember Lacy Clay in a Democratic primary. Clay and his father had held the seat for half a century. His father was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Cori Bush is a formerly homeless African American woman who helped lead protests in Ferguson after the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Bernie Sanders was the only member of Congress to endorse Bush ahead of the election, though she also received the backing of Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement. This is Cori Bush speaking last night.

Cori Bush: “This summer, after George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop and so many more were taken from us, millions of people have taken to the streets around the world to join us, to join those who had said, for years, starting in this place, that Black lives matter.”

Kris Kobach, Architect of Voter Suppression Efforts, Loses Kansas GOP Senate Primary

Aug 05, 2020

In Kansas, the state’s anti-immigrant former Secretary of State Kris Kobach has lost in the Republican Senate primary. Congressmember Roger Marshall won the 11-person race with 40% of the vote. In November, Marshall will face Democratic state Senator Barbara Bollier, a former Republican, in the race to fill the seat of retiring Republican Senator Pat Roberts.

Elsewhere, Congressmember Rashida Tlaib is leading in early returns against Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in Michigan’s Democratic primary. Two years ago, Tlaib beat Jones by less than 1%.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney & NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres Win New York Primaries

Aug 05, 2020

In New York, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres have been declared the winners in their congressional races after six weeks of counting ballots.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, the race for Maricopa County sheriff is too close to call. Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is trying to win back his old position. In 2017, Trump pardoned Arpaio, who is now 88 years old, for defying a court order to stop his deputies from racial profiling.

Former Census Bureau Directors Blast Trump Admin’s Early End to Collection Effort

Aug 05, 2020

Four former directors of the Census Bureau are criticizing the Trump administration over its plans to wrap up collection efforts for the 2020 census a month earlier than planned. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer slammed the Trump administration’s decision as a blatant assault on democracy. Hoyer said, “In seeking intentionally to undercount the poor, minorities and immigrant communities, he is hoping to skew the upcoming redistricting process and transfer funding and resources away from communities that need it most.” As of Monday, nearly four in 10 households have not completed census surveys.

Trump Refuses to Praise Late Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

Aug 05, 2020

President Trump has refused to praise the late civil rights icon and longtime Congressmember John Lewis, who died last month. This is Trump being interviewed by Jonathan Swan of Axios.

Jonathan Swan: “How do you think history will remember John Lewis?”

President Donald Trump: “I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose — I don’t — I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.”

Jonathan Swan: “Do you find him impressive?”

President Donald Trump: “Uh, I can’t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive. But no. But I didn’t go” —

Jonathan Swan: “Do you find his story impressive?”

President Donald Trump: “He didn’t come — he didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK. That’s his right. And again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.”

Aurora, CO Police Detain Black Mother and Four Children at Gunpoint

Aug 05, 2020

Police in Aurora, Colorado, detained a Black family at gunpoint on Sunday after mistaking their vehicle for one that was stolen. Video has gone viral showing police ordering a woman and four girls to lie facedown at gunpoint in a parking lot. The girls ranged in age from 6 to 17. Two of the girls were handcuffed. In the shocking video, the girls can be heard crying and screaming.

Brittany Gilliam said she was taking her daughter, sister and nieces to get their nails done, when Aurora police drew guns on their parked vehicle. The Aurora Police Department has apologized and opened an internal investigation.

Last year in Aurora, Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old African American massage therapist, died after he was tackled by police, placed in a chokehold and then injected with ketamine by paramedics. At the time, he was walking home from picking up an iced tea for his brother at a convenience store.

Ex-Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Placed Under House Arrest 

Aug 05, 2020

In Colombia, former President Álvaro Uribe has been placed under house arrest by the Colombian Supreme Court, while an investigation unfolds over allegations of witness tampering and fraud. The accusations are related to crimes committed during Colombia’s 52-year U.S.-backed war. Uribe served as president from 2002 and 2010. His administration was defined by a brutal military campaign against the leftist rebel group, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Under Uribe’s reign, right-wing paramilitary groups terrorized communities with impunity, disappearing and murdering thousands of civilians, and falsely claiming they were rebel fighters to boost support for the war and justify U.S. aid sent to Colombia. Uribe’s house arrest marks the first time a Colombian president is formally detained.

U.S. Appeals Court Finds Former Bolivian President Liable for 2003 Indigenous Massacre

Aug 05, 2020

In Miami, a U.S. appeals court has found former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada and former Bolivian Defense Minister José Carlos Sánchez Berzaín liable for the massacre of at least 64 unarmed Indigenous people in 2003. The massacre happened as massive Indigenous-led protests erupted across Bolivia against a proposed pipeline. The mobilizations were met by a violent crackdown ordered by the government in what became known as the “Gas War” and “Black October.”

Tropical Storm Isaias Kills At Least 5 People, Leaves Millions Without Power Across East Coast

Aug 05, 2020

Tropical Storm Isaias swept rapidly up the East Coast on Tuesday, spawning tornadoes, uprooting trees, killing at least five people and leaving millions without power. Isaias is the earliest ninth-named storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, with 2020’s hurricane season on pace to break the previous record set in 2005.

Heat Wave in Europe Shatters Temperature Records in the U.K., France & Spain

Aug 05, 2020

In climate news, Europe is sweltering under a heat wave that’s shattered records across the continent. London marked its hottest day in recorded history last Friday with a high temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Paris hit triple digits, as well, while Spain’s northern coast recorded an all-time high of 107 degrees.

Trump Mispronounces “Yosemite” Twice at White House Event

Aug 05, 2020

At the White House on Tuesday, President Trump twice mispronounced the name of Yosemite — one of the most famous and most visited national parks in the United States. Trump’s gaffes came as he read a speech at a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan conservation law allocating billions of dollars to national parks.

President Donald Trump: “When they gaze upon Yo-semite’s — Yo-semenite’s towering sequoias.”

BP to Slash Oil & Gas Production, Invest Billions into Renewable Energy 

Aug 05, 2020

The fossil fuel giant BP said Tuesday it will slash oil production over the next decade and invest billions of dollars into renewable energy. Climate activist Bill McKibben tweeted, “This feels like the most serious announcement from an oil major: after years of pressure from activists, BP to cut oil and gas production 40% by 2030. Far from perfect, but far from normal.”

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