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HeadlinesMarch 02, 2021

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CDC Director Warns Against States’ Rollback of Coronavirus Public Health Measures

Mar 02, 2021

Governors around the United States have begun rolling back restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 — even as the U.S. recorded another 58,000 new infections and 1,500 COVID-19 deaths on Monday. Daily cases are down from January’s record highs but have plateaued at rates comparable to last summer’s peak. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Monday that steps to reopen public spaces may be coming too soon.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “We cannot be resigned to 70,000 cases a day, 2,000 daily deaths.”

Los Angeles County has begun vaccinating all school staff and is planning on reopening elementary schools and preschools by April 9. Meanwhile, children in Chicago returned to in-person classes Monday for the first time in nearly a year.

Donald and Melania Trump Were Secretly Vaccinated Against COVID-19 in January

Mar 02, 2021

Former President Donald Trump and Melania Trump were secretly vaccinated against COVID-19 in January before leaving the White House. That’s according to The New York Times, CNN and other outlets, who report the Trumps didn’t want to alienate supporters in the anti-vaccine movement by broadcasting images of their inoculations. 

Merck Strikes Deal to Produce COVID-19 Vaccine of Rival Johnson & Johnson

Mar 02, 2021

About one in five U.S. residents over the age of 18 have been vaccinated. And the pace of inoculations is set to pick up, with the first shots of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine due to be administered today. This comes as the Biden administration is announcing it has secured a deal to have the pharmaceutical giant Merck produce shots of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in a move that could sharply boost supply. 

WHO Warns of Global Rise in Coronavirus Cases After Weeks of Declines

Mar 02, 2021

The World Health Organization warned Monday the number of new coronavirus infections is rising worldwide for the first time in seven weeks.

In Peru, a second wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths has spawned shortages of bottled oxygen, leading to long lines and soaring prices for limited supplies.

In West Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana have begun administering shots of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine purchased under COVAX, the U.N.-backed initiative.

Slovakia has become the second European Union country after Hungary to approve shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. Slovakia has one of the worst COVID-19 death rates in the world.

In Brussels, European Commission officials announced plans to issue certificates known as “digital green passes” to allow vaccinated people to travel more freely.

U.N. Warns of “Death Sentence” for Yemenis as Humanitarian Aid Drive Falls Short

Mar 02, 2021

The United Nations is warning 400,000 Yemeni children under the age of 5 could die from acute malnutrition this year, as the coronavirus pandemic and a Saudi-led war on Houthi rebels compounds the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Monday a donor’s conference netted just $1.7 billion for humanitarian relief in Yemen — less than half of the $3.8 billion needed to avert widespread famine.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “Today, reducing aid is a death sentence for entire families. With the war raging, Yemen’s children are paying the price.”

The U.N. says about half of Yemen’s population of 29 million people is going hungry. Last month, President Biden pledged to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which began six years ago under President Obama. But the U.S. has refused to sanction Saudi Arabia’s minister of defense — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — over the war in Yemen, and after he approved the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday the administration was looking forward, not backward, on U.S.-Saudi relations. 

Ned Price: “We are very focused on future conduct. And that is part of why we have cast this not as a rupture but a recalibration.”

President Biden is suffering major blowback for not sanctioning Mohammed bin Salman.

Senate Confirms Miguel Cardona as Education Secretary, Will Vote on Merrick Garland for AG

Mar 02, 2021

The Senate has confirmed Miguel Cardona to become secretary of education. Cardona became Connecticut’s youngest school principal at age 28. He’s Puerto Rican and grew up in public housing.

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 15 to 7 Monday to recommend that Judge Merrick Garland be confirmed as attorney general, setting up a vote by the full Senate.

Senators are debating last-minute changes to a $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill approved by the House and are expected to begin debate as early as mid-week. 

Democrats Unveil Wealth Tax on Ultra-Millionaires and Billionaires

Mar 02, 2021

Democratic lawmakers have introduced a wealth tax on ultra-millionaires and billionaires to help fund President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. Co-sponsor Senator Elizabeth Warren said Monday the wealth tax would help reverse massive inequality that’s only gotten worse during the pandemic.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: “We have watched the wealth of the billionaire class in America increase by more than a trillion dollars over the last year. A two-cent wealth tax would just help level the playing field a little bit.”

DOJ to Appeal After Trump-Appointed Judge Orders End to Eviction Moratorium

Mar 02, 2021

The Department of Justice is appealing a ruling by a federal judge in Texas that puts millions of U.S. residents at risk of eviction. Last week, U.S. District Judge John Barker — a Trump appointee — ruled that an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention temporarily ending evictions during the pandemic is unconstitutional. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says more than 2 million people are more than three months behind on rent and could face eviction if — and when — the moratorium is lifted.

President Biden Voices Support for Amazon Workers’ Vote to Unionize in Alabama

Mar 02, 2021

President Joe Biden has voiced support for Amazon workers in Alabama who are voting on whether to form a union. Biden posted this message to Twitter on Sunday evening.

President Joe Biden: “Unions lift up workers, both union and nonunion, and especially Black and Brown workers. I made it clear, made it clear when I was running, that my administration’s policy would be to support unions organizing and the right to collectively bargain.”

Some 6,000 Amazon workers in Alabama have until the end of the month to cast ballots in what could become the first successful union drive at a U.S. Amazon warehouse.

Biden Administration Paves Way for Reunification of Families Separated by Trump 

Mar 02, 2021

In immigration news, the Biden administration is giving asylum-seeking parents separated from their children by Trump the opportunity to decide if they want to reunite with their children on U.S. soil or in their country of origin.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who’s heading Biden’s family reunification task force, said Monday the policy was “the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration.” Mayorkas said the government will explore “legal pathways” to allow parents who choose to return to the U.S. to be with their kids to remain in the country.

While immigrant justice advocates celebrated the move, many have vowed to keep fighting until Biden abolishes the detention of all asylum-seeking families.

Goya Foods Boycott Grows After CEO Calls Trump the “Legitimate” U.S. President

Mar 02, 2021

Calls to boycott Goya Foods continue to grow after the company’s CEO, Robert Unanue, falsely claimed Donald Trump had won the presidential election. Unanue gave an introductory speech for Trump Sunday at the the Conservative Political Action Conference — or CPAC — in Florida.

Robert Unanue: “My biggest honor today is going to be that I think we’re going to be on the same stage as, in my opinion, the real, the legitimate and the still actual president of the United States, Donald J. Trump.”

In response, the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, LULAC, Domingo Garcia, told CNN, “When you put out lies to the community, there are consequences and there are going to be ramifications for your product.”

Nearly 300 Nigerian Schoolgirls Released After Mass Kidnapping 

Mar 02, 2021

In northwestern Nigeria, officials say nearly 300 girls who were kidnapped from a boarding school in Zamfara state last week have been released and are now safe. Their release reportedly follows negotiations between government officials and the kidnappers. It’s not known if the abductors received ransom payments.


Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy Found Guilty of Corruption

Mar 02, 2021

In France, a court in Paris has found former President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of corruption charges, sentencing him to at least a year in prison for trying to bribe a judge in 2014. He’s the second French president in the modern era to be convicted of a crime. Sarkozy will remain free as he appeals his case, a process that could take years.


Georgia’s State House Passes Voter Suppression Bill to Limit Absentee and Early Voting

Mar 02, 2021

On Capitol Hill, Democratic lawmakers are beginning debate on two separate bills to protect voting rights. If enacted, H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act would bring some of the most sweeping changes to U.S. elections law in a generation.

Meanwhile, the Georgia state House voted along party lines Monday to pass an overhaul of the state’s election laws, requiring ID for absentee voting, curbing ballot drop boxes and limiting weekend early voting hours. Georgia Democrats blasted the law as an effort to roll back civil rights. 

Third Woman Accuses New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of Sexual Harassment

Mar 02, 2021

In New York, a third woman has accused Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Anna Ruch detailed her experience in an interview with The New York Times, saying she met Cuomo at her friends’ wedding reception in 2019, where he reportedly grabbed her lower back, put his hands on her cheeks and loudly asked if he could kiss her. “I was so confused and shocked and embarrassed,” Ruch told The New York Times. Her story was corroborated by a friend who witnessed the interaction, as well as photographs from the event.

Cuomo briefly addressed allegations made by two former aides in a statement Sunday night, saying his actions had been “misinterpreted.”

On Monday, Democratic Congressmember Kathleen Rice of New York tweeted, “The time has come. The Governor must resign.”

Australian Youth Climate Activists File Class Action Suit to Block Coal Mine Expansion

Mar 02, 2021

In Australia, eight youth climate activists and a nun have filed a landmark class action lawsuit that would force the Australian federal government to stop approving new fossil fuel projects. The suit was filed in response to a proposal by a coal corporation to extend its mine in northern New South Wales. Sixteen-year-old climate justice advocate Anjali Sharma is the lead plaintiff in the suit.

Anj Sharma: “This is a crisis that disproportionately affects people of color, young people and marginalized people around the world. So, yes, I’m terrified. I’m terrified about hearing the Pacific Islands sink into the sea. I’m terrified about hearing the increasing prevalence of natural disasters like bushfires and droughts and floods.”

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