Nearly 90 wildfires continue to ravage the West Coast, where over 5 million acres have already been scorched. San Francisco, Seattle and Portland have some of the worst air quality of any major city in the world. Hazy conditions from the fires have spread as far as New York and Washington, D.C.
President Trump was in California Monday, where he was challenged by California’s Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot over his denial of climate change.
Wade Crowfoot: “If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians.”
President Donald Trump: “OK. It’ll start getting cooler. You just” —
Wade Crowfoot: “I wish” —
President Donald Trump: “You just watch.”
Wade Crowfoot: “I wish science agreed with you.”
President Donald Trump: “I — well, I don’t think science knows, actually.”
In Delaware, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden slammed Trump as a “climate arsonist” Monday.
Joe Biden: “If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze?”
In related news, Oregon prisoners report being pepper-sprayed by guards after they were evacuated due to the wildfires, making it even more difficult to breathe amid the smoke and air pollution.
The total number of global COVID-19 infections has topped 29 million with nearly 930,000 dead. The CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer — Serum Institute of India — has told the Financial Times it might take up to five years to vaccinate everyone in the world — once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, if it is a two-dose vaccine.
In other COVID-19 news, infection levels are spiking in the Midwest as North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Iowa report record levels of infections.
In New York City, at least 55 public school staff have recently tested positive for COVID-19. One New York City public school in the Bronx was forced to close temporarily, before students even entered the building for the new school year, after two coronavirus cases were confirmed there.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Association is estimating nearly 550,000 children in the United States have tested positive for the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. This comes as the U.S. death toll approaches 195,000 — the highest in the world.
On Monday, CNN aired new audio from journalist Bob Woodward from an interview he did with Trump on April 13. At the time, Trump was publicly urging the U.S. economy to be reopened, but privately he compared COVID-19 to the plague.
President Donald Trump: “This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a chance.”
Bob Woodward: “Yes, yes, exactly.”
President Donald Trump: “So, this rips you apart.”
Bob Woodward: “This is a scourge. And” —
President Donald Trump: “It is the plague.”
Four days after Trump said these words to Bob Woodward in April, he sent out tweets calling on supporters to liberate the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia, sparking a series of protests against COVID-19 lockdowns.
A federal appeals court ruled Monday the Trump administration can end immigration protections for some 400,000 people under the temporary protected status program. Nationals with TPS from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan could be subject to deportations starting next year, some as early as January. Many TPS recipients have been living in the U.S. for decades and have children who are U.S. citizens. Plaintiffs say they will appeal the ruling. The National TPS Alliance is launching a cross-country “Journey 4 Justice” caravan next week.
A nurse at a Georgia Immigration and Customs Enforcement prison says the Irwin County Detention Center is performing hysterectomies on prisoners without their consent. Project South sent the explosive whistleblower account to the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Inspector General. One jailed migrant recounted, “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.” Nurse Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower, also described neglect and undertesting for COVID-19 at the facility, which is run by the for-profit LaSalle Corrections.
Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are holding a day of rage to protest the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain’s move to become the first Arab countries to normalize relations with Israel in over 25 years. President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and officials from the UAE and Bahrain are meeting today at the White House to sign the agreements. Over the weekend, the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah agreed on forming a “unified field leadership” to lead a joint resistance against the Israeli occupation.
A boat carrying refugees capsized off the coast of Libya in the Mediterranean, leaving at least 24 people dead or missing. At least 45 people survived. The U.N. called out the restrictions imposed on NGOs by European nations, including unnecessary and long standoffs at sea. Over 400 refugee deaths have been recorded so far this year in the Mediterranean Sea.
In Greece, thousands of refugees remain without shelter one week after the burning down of the massive, overcrowded Moria encampment. Some 13,000 people were left homeless, and many still do not have access to running water or food and are unable to leave the island of Lesbos. Many are also refusing to go to a new camp set up by Greek authorities, saying they do not trust the new facility. Refugees have been holding protests over their conditions and pleading for help from other European nations. Over the weekend, police fired tear gas at the demonstrators.
A Human Rights Watch report found that Belarusian security forces arbitrarily detained thousands of people and tortured or mistreated hundreds in the crackdown following last month’s presidential election. Despite the reports of violence, another 100,000 people took to the streets of the capital Minsk again Sunday to demand the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko. Police again attacked and arrested hundreds of protesters. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would loan $1.5 billion to Lukashenko to help stave off an economic crisis as he attempts to retain his grip on power.
In Japan, Yoshihide Suga is expected to become the country’s new prime minister after winning the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s leadership contest in a landslide Monday. Suga is expected to take up his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s push to revise parts of Japan’s pacifist constitution. Suga supported laws allowing the military to join combat operations with Japanese allies. He is also seen as one of the most pro-immigration politicians in Japan.
A large chunk of ice twice the size of the island of Manhattan has broken off the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf in Greenland. Last month, scientists said Greenland’s ice sheet has shrunk past the point of return. In related news, U.S. government scientists said this summer broke the record for hottest ever in the Northern Hemisphere.
In Brazil, thousands of fires in the world’s largest wetland have scorched more than 5.8 million acres of some of the planet’s most biodiverse land. The fires in the Brazilian Pantanal are often set to clear land for logging and farming, but have been exacerbated by severe climate change-fueled drought.
Conservationists say historic fires this year have caused a devastating loss of wildlife — including endangered species — as animals including jaguars, rare birds and reptiles have been charred or starved to death.
A University of Delaware professor and known climate change denier has been tapped for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. David Legates has written papers calling for more fossil fuel emissions and has had his work supported by the Robert Mercer-funded Heartland Institute and Koch Industries, as well as major gas companies.
In a Facebook live-stream, Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo claimed without evidence that armed, left-wing militants are preparing for insurrection and that gun owners should stock up on ammunition. He said Joe Biden would refuse to concede the election and that “when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin.” He also spewed conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus pandemic, accusing government scientists of sedition against Trump, and members of the CDC of forming an anti-Trump “resistance unit” to undermine him. Separately, Caputo went on a Twitter rampage in which he called for tear-gassing reporters, among other things. His account appeared to have been disabled Monday.
Meanwhile, House Democrats say they are investigating a recent report that political appointees at HHS, including Michael Caputo, have reviewed and altered weekly coronavirus reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to support Trump’s optimistic messaging about the pandemic.
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from enforcing new asylum restrictions, after it ruled Chad Wolf is likely serving unlawfully as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The House Homeland Security Committee subpoenaed Wolf to testify this week over whistleblower allegations that he told DHS officials to alter intelligence.
Eight people were arrested in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Monday as protesters took to the streets following the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Ricardo Munoz. Police also used tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds. Body camera footage shows a police officer shooting Munoz, who is holding a knife, after responding to a domestic disturbance complaint. Munoz’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia and paranoia.