In Oregon, a half-million people — or more than one out of 10 state residents — have been forced to evacuate their homes as unprecedented wildfires fueled by the climate crisis continue to rage across the western United States. In California, the town of Berry Creek was completely consumed as a wall of fire swept through the community, killing 10 people and leaving another 16 missing. Meanwhile, the August Complex fire in Mendocino County has become the largest conflagration in California history at nearly 750 square miles. More than 3 million acres have burned across California — shattering previous records even before the normal peak of the fire season. This comes as President Trump last spoke publicly about the fires in August and has yet to offer any public statement of support for victims of the blazes.
More details have emerged over why AstraZeneca paused its Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial in Britain. During a private call with investors, AstraZeneca’s CEO revealed a woman in the trial developed severe neurological symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord. Details about the phone call were first reported by the medical news site STAT.
A new report finds Amazon set prices for essential products during the COVID-19 pandemic at levels that would violate price gouging laws in many U.S. states. Public Citizen reports Amazon marked up some goods by as much as 1,000% over the expected price at a time when millions of people were forced to shop online due to remain-at-home orders. Meanwhile, a new Oxfam report finds Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could personally pay each of his 876,000 employees a six-figure bonus and still have more wealth than he controlled at the start of the pandemic.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden said Thursday that if elected president, he might increase military spending — even beyond the Pentagon’s current record budget of $738 billion. Biden told Stars and Stripes, “We have to focus more on unmanned capacity, cyber and IT, in a very modern world that is changing rapidly.”
President Trump campaigned outside Saginaw, Michigan, Thursday, where he spoke for 90 minutes to an overwhelmingly white crowd of several thousand supporters, who packed shoulder to shoulder into an airport hangar, with Air Force One as a backdrop. Red hats vastly outnumbered face masks at Trump’s rally — flouting Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s public health orders. Trump also wore no mask. He attacked Joe Biden as a “globalist sellout.”
President Donald Trump: “If Biden wins, China wins. If Biden wins, the mob wins. If Biden wins, the rioters, anarchists, arsonists and flag burners win.”
In Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler has ordered his city’s police force to stop using tear gas, following its widespread use during 105 straight days of protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. A U.S. Army study found tear gas can leave its victims more susceptible to respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Meanwhile, Portland has some of the worst air quality of any major city in the world, after a thick shroud of smoke from record wildfires settled over the city.
In Oregon state, a witness to last week’s police killing of Michael Reinoehl says the 48-year-old anti-fascist activist did not appear to have a gun and was not threatening officers before he was killed in a hail of police gunfire. The witness, Nathaniel Dingess, says Reinoehl was clutching his phone and eating candy outside an apartment complex on September 3 when officers in two unmarked cars converged on him. Dingess says the officers never announced themselves or gave commands before opening fire.
In Los Angeles, police fired tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets to clear demonstrations while arresting 35 people this week, as protesters continue to demand justice for Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old Black bicyclist who was shot dead by police after being pulled over for an alleged bike violation in late August. Protesters want L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey to resign and for the officers involved to be fired and criminally prosecuted.
ProPublica is reporting 86 high-ranking officers in the New York Police Department have tallied at least one credible misconduct allegation. Assistant Police Chief Christopher McCormack had the most. He was repeatedly promoted even though 15 Black and Latino men have accused him over the years of invasive body cavity searches and pulling down their pants in public, exposing their genitals.
The Houston Police Department has fired four officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man suffering a mental health crisis in April. Nicolas Chavez died after police shot him 24 times on April 21. Calls are growing for Houston and other cities to begin sending mental health professionals, not police officers, to deal with such incidents in the future.
In Colombia, at least eight people were killed and 400 injured as thousands took to the streets of Bogotá Wednesday night protesting police violence following the killing of Javier Ordóñez, a father of two. A video circulating on social media shows police officers pinning Ordóñez to the ground and repeatedly shocking him with a stun gun for over two minutes as Ordóñez begs, “Please, no more.” Ordóñez died shortly after in police custody.
In Mexico, women have started occupying human rights offices across the country. This comes as feminist groups and family members of women and girls who have been murdered or disappeared have occupied Mexico City’s National Human Rights Commission for a week. In the city of Ecatepec, in the state of Mexico, police attacked and detained protesters at one of the feminist occupations last night. Ecatepec is one of the most dangerous places for women in the country. The activists and families are demanding the government do more to end disappearances and investigate cases of femicides. An average of 11 women are killed daily in Mexico, and the perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has frequently dismissed violence against women. This is Yesenia Zamudio, whose 19-year-old daughter was murdered in Mexico City four years ago.
Yesenia Zamudio: “We are the families, the real ones, the searchers, the diggers, those who have suffered femicide, rape, the survivors, the real women, those that no one names, that are not shown on the television. … We are going to speak about everyone. We are going to guarantee justice for all women, and we demand to live in a country free of violence. It is our right. … This occupation will help all women. I told the secretary of the interior that if we don’t see a solution, we are going to take over the entire country.”
In news from Arizona, armed Border Patrol agents arrested two land and water defenders Wednesday who attempted to stop construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in an area sacred to the O’odham Indigenous people.
In immigration news, a federal court in New York has blocked the Trump administration from excluding undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census, ruling undocumented people “qualify as 'persons in' a 'state'” who must be counted. Advocates called the ruling a victory for voting and immigrant rights.
In Greece, officials are sending at least three ships to aid some 13,000 people who have been left homeless after a blaze completely incinerated the Moria refugee camp in the isles of Lesbos earlier this week. A series of small fires were reportedly lit by refugee youth as a form of protest after the only ATM machine available on site — which the entire refugee camp was dependent on for money — was blocked amid COVID-19 restrictions, leaving them unable to buy food and hygienic supplies.
In Australia, the CEO and other top executives of the mining giant Rio Tinto have stepped down over their role in demolishing a 46,000-year-old archeological site. Last month, chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques acknowledged his company used dynamite to blow up ancient aboriginal caves in order to get at millions of dollars’ worth of iron ore.
An Indigenous water protector who was arrested during protests against the Dakota Access pipeline has been released from federal prison. Prosecutors accused Red Fawn Fallis of firing three shots from a handgun as police in riot gear, wielding batons, surrounded her to make an arrest amid mass protests against the pipeline in 2016. Red Fawn’s uncle, Glenn Morris, welcomed her release Thursday, telling Indian Country Today, “The real criminals continue to pump oil through the pipeline in violation of the 1851 and 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaties and US environmental laws.”
The NFL season got underway Thursday night in Kansas City, where the defending Super Bowl champions defeated the Houston Texans before a crowd of about 17,000 — the limit set by coronavirus restrictions. Ahead of the game, Kansas City players joined arms with their opponents on the field in what players billed as a “moment of silence dedicated to the ongoing fight for equality in our country.” Much of the crowd erupted in boos during the players’ demonstration.
Kansas City Councilmember Eric Bunch responded on Twitter, “Some NFL fans booing the players for standing and locking arms in a moment of silent unity proves that for them 'standing for the flag' was always about perpetuating white supremacy.”
This comes as Miami Dolphins players said they would remain inside their locker room this season for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as well as the NFL’s new addition to pre-game ceremonies, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” often referred to as the Black national anthem. This is an excerpt from a video released by Dolphins teammates on Thursday.
Elandon Roberts: “So, if my dad was a soldier, but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem and then kneel for the other?”
Kavon Frazier: “This attempt to unify only creates more divide.”
Shaq Lawson: “So we’ll skip the song and dance.”
Elandon Roberts: “And as a team, we’ll stay inside.”
This week, former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick returned to the NFL — but only in virtual form. Kaepernick was added to the 2021 version of the popular Madden NFL video game. He has remained unsigned by NFL teams since 2017 after leading protests against police brutality and racism during the 2016 season.