In Iraq, a fire at a Baghdad hospital treating COVID patients killed at least 82 people Saturday, most of them patients. The blaze was sparked by an exploding oxygen cylinder. The hospital had no smoke detectors, sprinkler system or fire hoses. This is a family member of one of the victims.
Athar Al-Maliki: “Shouldn’t there be supervision over the hospital? Ministerial supervision? A supervising authority? This is neglect. Neglect. A hospital burnt, and there are no firefighting trucks immediately available on site?”
In Thailand, officials have shuttered museums, libraries, gyms, parks and other public venues in Bangkok after reporting new records in COVID cases and deaths.
Japan has declared its third state of emergency, just three months ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. New restrictions on bars and restaurants were announced for Tokyo and other major cities, but officials are resisting a full lockdown.
Morocco has condemned Spain for treating Brahim Ghali, the leader of the Polisario Front, for COVID-19. The Polisario movement is fighting to establish an independent state in Western Sahara, which was colonized by Spain in the 19th century and annexed by Morocco in 1975.
In other international news, the European Union says it will let vaccinated U.S. tourists visit the region this summer, after more than a year of barring all nonessential travel.
Here in the U.S., many states resumed administering Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine over the weekend, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration ended an 11-day pause on its use. Researchers were investigating the vaccine’s link to an extremely rare blood-clotting condition. This is Janet Woodcock, acting FDA commissioner.
Dr. Janet Woodcock: “Together, both agencies have full confidence that this vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.”
Federal officials said patients — particularly women under the age of 50 — should be given a warning about the vaccine.
Over one-third of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, with over 50% partially vaccinated, but the rate of vaccination has slowed down over the past week. Some states are turning down or reducing new vaccine shipments as supply has started to outpace demand. There is now a growing number of people who are not taking the second vaccine.
In North Carolina, the family of Andrew Brown Jr., who was shot dead last week by police officers serving an arrest warrant, may finally see the bodycam footage of their loved one’s killing today. At least seven sheriff’s deputies in Elizabeth City have been put on leave, and calls are mounting for the sheriff to step down. Andrew Brown’s son spoke during a press conference with civil rights leaders Saturday.
Khalil Ferebee: “I never expected this to happen so close to home. Like, he left a close and tight family, with each other every day, talking to each other every day. And we, my brothers, my sisters, we is what drove him as a person. We is what made him better. And now I gotta live every day, my newborn without even getting a chance to meet him at all. And that’s going to hurt me every day. I just want justice.”
In Kenosha, Wisconsin, protesters gathered over the weekend following news that police officer Rusten Sheskey would return to work. Sheskey, who is white, fired seven shots at point-blank range into the back of 29-year-old African American man Jacob Blake last August in front of his children. We’ll have more on this after headlines with Jacob Blake Sr.
In Maryland, officials say they will review all cases of police-involved deaths that were handled by ex-chief medical examiner David Fowler, who testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder case. Fowler said the murder of George Floyd was not a homicide despite the overwhelming evidence. He has been sued by the family of 19-year-old Anton Black, a Black teen who died in 2018 after he was electrocuted with a Taser and pinned down by three white police officers.
In Virginia, a Black man was hospitalized after he was shot by a sheriff’s deputy who responded to a 911 call. Less than an hour earlier, the same sheriff’s deputy drove that same man, Isaiah Brown, home after Brown’s car broke down. Isaiah Brown was unarmed and was holding a cordless phone in his hand when the officer fired seven shots at him. Brown’s family said he was on the line with 911 when he was shot.
President Biden became the first U.S. president to officially recognize the early 20th century massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as a “genocide.” Biden made the recognition Saturday in a proclamation marking Armenian Remembrance Day. On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated campaign targeting the Armenian people — an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule. More than 1 million Armenians were exterminated; another million fled into permanent exile. Turkey decried Biden’s decision and summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara in protest. We’ll have more on Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide later in the broadcast.
The Pentagon says it has begun the first stages of its withdrawal from Afghanistan and will gradually turn over control of U.S. military bases to Afghan forces. Sunday’s announcement by Army General Scott Miller came as the Taliban reiterated its call for all foreign forces to leave Afghanistan by May 1 — the deadline agreed to by the Trump administration during peace talks in 2020. Earlier this month, President Biden rolled back the U.S. withdrawal to September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The U.N. released an urgent call for action after a shipwreck off the coast of Libya claimed an estimated 130 lives last week. It was the largest tragedy in the Central Mediterranean since the start of the year; 2021 has seen at least twice as many deaths along the dangerous migration route as the same period last year. The U.N. is calling on nations to strengthen search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, to stop returning refugees to dangerous countries, and to allow for safe disembarkation procedures.
Israel’s military launched airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip late Friday, targeting what it said were underground tunnels and rocket launchers. The airstrikes came as Palestinians fired dozens of rockets into southern Israel over the weekend. The violence followed Israel’s decision to close Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate to Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan. On Sunday night, thousands of Palestinians celebrated as Israeli authorities removed barriers and reopened the gate, capping days of clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters. On Thursday, hundreds of ultra-nationalist Israelis marched through central Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs.” This is Palestinian resident Osama Barham.
Osama Barham: “The violations during Ramadan and terrorizing the worshipers and threatening to burn any Arab through WhatsApp chat groups that belong to far-right Israelis, the residents of Jerusalem had to react in aim to defend themselves and not in aim to attack.”
Indonesia’s military has located the wreckage of an Indonesian Navy submarine, with all 53 crew members aboard presumed dead. The submarine broke into three pieces and settled at the bottom of the Bali Strait at a depth of 850 meters. An Indonesian admiral said the Navy lost contact with the 44-year-old submarine Wednesday ahead of a planned torpedo drill and that the vessel likely suffered an explosion.
Back in the U.S., in Louisiana, state Senator Troy Carter won the special election to fill the congressional seat left open by Cedric Richmond when he joined the Biden administration earlier this year. Troy Carter, a centrist Democrat, beat out state Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who was backed by progressives and received an endorsement by New York Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Once Carter is sworn in, Democrats will widen their margin slightly with 219 House members versus 212 Republicans.
In entertainment news, a scaled-down Oscars ceremony was held in Los Angeles Sunday evening, with some historic wins. Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman and only second woman ever to win the Academy Award for best director, for “Nomadland.” The film also won best picture. Yuh-jung Youn became the first Korean to win an acting Oscar for her role in “Minari.” Daniel Kaluuya won best supporting actor for his portrayal of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton in Shaka King’s “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe won best short film for “Two Distant Strangers,” which follows a Black man reliving his killing by a police officer over and over. The co-directors wore tuxedos with the names of Black victims of police violence emblazoned on their lining. Travon Free gave an emotional speech as he accepted his award.
Travon Free: “Today the police will kill three people, and tomorrow the police will kill three people, and the day after that the police will kill three people, because, on average, the police in America every day kill three people, which amounts to about a thousand people a year. And those people happen to disproportionately be Black people. And, you know, James Baldwin once said, 'The most despicable thing a person can be is indifferent to other people's pain.’ And so I just ask that you, please, not be indifferent. Please, don’t be indifferent to our pain.”
The pioneering free-form radio host and counterculture icon Bob Fass has died at the age of 87. For more than five decades, Bob Fass hosted the program “Radio Unnameable” in New York, which first aired on Pacifica station WBAI in 1963. His program played host to a number of legendary musicians, including Carly Simon, Odetta, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.
Bob Fass: “This is Bob Fass. We’re back on here with 'Radio Unnameable.' Remember I told you about 10 minutes ago that we were going to have somebody come up who wasn’t Shirley Temple? No” —
Bob Dylan: “Aw, come on now. Don’t do this to me.”
Bob Fass: “What — oh, I’m sorry. What am I doing to you?”
Bob Dylan: “I’m not supposed to do that. I’m not going to apologize for not being Shirley Temple. Come on.”
Bob Fass: “You want me to introduce you like Mike Wallace?”
Bob Dylan: “No, no, no. I want to be” —
Bob Fass: “All right. This is Bob Dylan.”
Bob Dylan: “No, no, no. Oh, [inaudible] to say that.”
Bob Fass: “Oh, I can’t say who it is? Oh, all right, OK.”