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In California, three firefighters are fighting for their lives after a massive fire tore through their station at the Los Padres National Forest overnight. They were among 14 firefighters who deployed emergency shelters as flames overtook their position. The Dolan Fire is just one of at least 85 raging across the West Coast — with red flag warnings from San Diego to the Canadian border in Washington state.
Fires this year have burned more than 2 million acres across California — even before the start of September and October, historically the state’s worst months for fires. California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday his state needed to adapt to the realities of the climate crisis.
Gov. Gavin Newsom: “But I quite literally have no patience for climate change deniers. It simply follows — completely inconsistent, that point of view, with the reality on the ground, the facts as we are experiencing. You may not believe it intellectually, but your own eyes, your own experiences tell a different story.”
The confirmed U.S. death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 190,000. This comes as new evidence shows the death rate among African Americans and Latinos rose sharply during the summer. The percentage of African Americans killed by the virus is more than twice as high as white Americans.
Meanwhile, a new study estimates more than 250,000 cases of COVID-19 may be linked to a motorcycle rally that brought hundreds of thousands of people to Sturgis, South Dakota, last month. This would make it the largest superspreading event in the United States since the start of the pandemic. Most attendees refused to wear masks or practice social distancing. The rise in cases is estimated to have cost public health agencies over $12 billion.
In Britain, the drug company AstraZeneca has paused its Phase 3 vaccine trials after a trial participant came down with an unexplained illness. The vaccine is being developed with the University of Oxford.
Globally, the death toll from COVID-19 is approaching 900,000. In Peru, the confirmed COVID-19 death toll has reached 30,000 — Latin America’s third highest after Brazil and Mexico. But the true toll could be more than double the official number, with over 68,000 more deaths recorded across Peru this year compared to 2019. Residents of the capital Lima are reporting large gatherings and lapses in social distancing measures.
Aide Galvez: “People think that coronavirus is a joke. This is something they don’t believe. They think it’s a smokescreen. I have family members who have died because of COVID, so this is not a game. This is real.”
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are spiking in Britain again, forcing the government to reinstate a ban of most gatherings larger than six people.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned a plan to send a new round of stimulus checks to help Americans suffering from the nation’s worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. On Tuesday, McConnell unveiled a slimmed-down $500 billion economic relief package. House Democrats say at least $2.2 trillion in spending is needed.
Sudan has declared a three-month state of emergency after record rainfall and flooding left dozens of people dead and damaged over 100,000 homes. Climate scientists say global heating is increasing rainfall during the rainy season and causing the Nile to jump its banks.
In Senegal, at least six people are dead, and suburbs of the capital Dakar remain underwater, following record-shattering rainfall over the weekend. Senegal’s water minister reports more rain fell on Saturday than Senegal would usually see during its entire three-month rainy season.
President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday extending a ban on oil and gas drilling in eastern parts of the Gulf of Mexico near Florida’s beaches, while expanding protections to the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. Trump’s order comes despite his long-standing support for pipelines like the Dakota Access and Keystone XL — and his support for oil and gas drilling on federal lands, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Trump’s order comes as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham faces a strong reelection challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison in South Carolina, where a majority of state residents oppose offshore drilling.
The Justice Department on Tuesday asked to take over the defense of President Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by author E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s. In a highly unusual legal move, the DOJ argues that while the alleged sexual assault occurred before Trump took office, he was president when the defamation suit was filed, and could be defended by government lawyers, paid by taxpayers. Carroll sued Trump last year after he denied her allegations, accused her of lying and said he didn’t know Caroll, despite a photo showing the two of them together at a party in the 1980s.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, a police officer opened fire Friday on a 13-year-old autistic boy after his mother called 911 to request a crisis intervention team, reporting her son was having a mental health emergency. Linden Cameron remains hospitalized in serious condition with injuries to his ankles, bladder, colon, intestines and shoulder. Linden’s mother Golda Barton says her son became afraid and fled police after armed officers entered his home. After a brief chase, she says she heard several gunshots. A police spokesperson said the 13-year-old was armed and threatening people, but The Salt Lake Tribune later reported no weapon was found. Golda Barton told reporters, “He’s a small child. Why don’t you just tackle him? You are big police officers with massive amounts of resources.”
In New York, the entire Rochester Police Department command staff, including Police Chief La’Ron Singletary, has resigned following a week of nonstop mass protests over the killing of Daniel Prude. Prude, a Black man, died from asphyxiation in March after police officers handcuffed him, put a hood over his head and pushed his face into the freezing cold ground for two minutes while kneeling on his back. Protesters have accused Rochester’s government of covering up the details of Prude’s death, which weren’t released until five months after he died. They’re also demanding the resignation of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren.
In Greece, a massive fire swept through an overcrowded refugee camp on the isle of Lesbos overnight, forcing thousands to flee as flames consumed their makeshift shelters. The cause of the fires was not immediately clear. There have been intense wildfires on the isle of Lesbos and other parts of Greece, fanned by hot weather and gusty winds. Meanwhile, camp residents have been protesting dangerously overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, after at least 35 people in the camp tested positive for COVID-19. The Moria camp is home to nearly 13,000 asylum seekers — more than four times its stated capacity.
In Afghanistan, at least 10 people were killed and 15 others wounded Wednesday morning when a roadside bomb exploded in the capital Kabul. The blast appeared to target the convoy of Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who escaped serious injury but sustained burns on his face and hand. The Taliban denied responsibility. The group has promised not to launch such attacks in urban areas under a partial ceasefire with the United States.
The Pentagon says it will reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq from about 5,200 to 3,000 during the month of September. The drawdown comes nine months after the Trump administration ignored an order by Iraq’s parliament for all U.S. troops to leave Iraq, following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in January on President Trump’s order.
A new report finds at least 37 million people in eight countries have fled their homes since the start of the U.S.-led, so-called global war on terrorism in 2001. The report by the Costs of War Project at Brown University also finds more than 800,000 people have been killed since U.S. forces began fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Yemen, at a cost of $6.4 trillion to U.S. taxpayers.
In Pakistan, press freedom groups are denouncing the recent killing of journalist and women’s rights activist Shaheena Shaheen Baloch. Baloch was reportedly shot twice by her husband, who then dropped her off at a hospital and fled. The Coalition for Women in Journalism is demanding an investigation. The organization’s founder said in a statement, “The state continues to do nothing about the violations women face in the country.”
President Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen has released his tell-all book titled “Disloyal: A Memoir,” describing Trump as a mob boss driven by deep-seated racism. Cohen quotes Trump as saying, “Tell me one country run by a Black person that isn’t a s—hole.”
Cohen goes on to describe a racist diatribe by Trump after the death of South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela in 2013. Trump reportedly said, “Mandela f—ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s—hole. F— Mandela. He was no leader,” using the F-word and S-word.
Michael Cohen also writes that Trump was so consumed by his hatred of President Barack Obama that he hired a “Faux-Bama” to record a video in which Trump belittles the fake Obama and fires him like a contestant on Trump’s former reality TV show, “The Apprentice.” Cohen spoke with NBC News on Tuesday.
Michael Cohen: “I believe that his hatred for Barack Obama just basically starts with the fact that he’s Black and that he was the first Black president in this country.”
The Department of Homeland Security is facing new criticism for downplaying the threat of white supremacists. DHS recently drafted a document that stated that “white supremacist extremists will remain the most persistent and lethal threat in the Homeland through 2021.” But in newer versions of the document, the reference to white supremacists was removed and replaced with the phrase “Domestic Violent Extremists.” None of the document’s drafts refer to anti-fascist activists or antifa as a threat, despite claims made by President Trump and Attorney General William Barr.
In labor news, graduate student instructors at the University of Michigan have gone on strike in part to protest the school’s safety plans around COVID-19, as well as the university’s ties to law enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
Meanwhile, University of Arizona employees have officially established a union, after months of denouncing the university’s reopening plan and following a series of furloughs and layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The union has recruited over 200 members so far and will represent current and former U of A faculty, student workers and staff.
Thousands of professors and students in universities around the country are participating in a two-day scholar strike protesting racial violence and police brutality. The action is being live-streamed, with free lectures and panels about racial violence, policing and community organizing.