India is facing a growing public health catastrophe. Officials have announced about 3,600 people died of the coronavirus Wednesday, but that figure is believed to be a vast undercount. Another 380,000 new cases were confirmed as India’s health system is nearing collapse with a massive surge in patients and a shortage in oxygen. In New Delhi, makeshift crematoriums are being set up in parks and parking lots. Despite the surge, elections are going ahead in West Bengal, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held large political rallies despite warnings from public health experts. COVID cases are also rising in neighboring Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
Federal prosecutors have indicted three white men in Georgia for hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in connection with the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased down by the men and shot to death while out for a jog last year. The men — retired police officer Greg McMichael, his son Travis and their friend William Bryan — already face numerous charges in Georgia, including felony murder.
In North Carolina, a state judge is refusing to release bodycam footage of the police killing of Andrew Brown Jr. for at least 30 days, but he did order more footage to be shown to Brown’s family. The family has only seen a 20-second snippet of video, which they say shows Brown had his hands on the steering wheel of his car when he was shot dead while police were carrying out an arrest warrant. An independent autopsy showed Brown was shot five times, including once in the back of the head. Harry Daniels, an attorney for the Brown family, called for the police footage to be released.
Harry Daniels: “Let’s not get distracted. An innocent man was gunned down, shot in the back of the head, vehicle riddled with bullets from the rear. Now, I heard statements being made: 'Well, he might have hit the deputies,' or 'He might have did that.' Well, show us the video. Show us the video. Show us the tape. Show the tape.”
In Chicago, newly released video shows police killed 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez last month while he was running away during a foot chase. Police have not said why they initially confronted and then chased Alvarez. At one point in the video, Alvarez is heard saying, “Why you shooting me?” The officer said, “You had a gun!” Alvarez was killed on March 31, two days after Chicago police shot dead another young Latino male, 13-year-old Adam Toledo, also after a foot chase. At the time of his death, the seventh grader had his empty hands up in the air.
FBI agents have raided the New York home and office of Rudy Giuliani and seized his electronic devices as part of a probe into the attorney’s dealings with Ukraine. Giuliani is the former mayor of New York and the personal attorney of Donald Trump. The FBI also seized the cellphone of conservative attorney Victoria Toensing, who has worked closely with Giuliani.
In Colombia, tens of thousands of people took to the streets Wednesday after trade unions called for a national strike to protest against the government of Iván Duque and a proposed tax reform bill. At least two protesters were killed. Union leaders said protests occurred across Colombia.
Diógenes Orjuela: “This march is the biggest display of outrage against this government, against the tax reforms and against the labor and pension reform. The government has gone against the country, and the country is responding, in more than 500 cities in the country.”
The Pentagon has confirmed to the news outlet Vox that U.S. contractors are continuing to help Saudi Arabia maintain its warplanes despite President Biden’s pledge to end offensive support for Saudi Arabia’s devastating six-year war in Yemen. The Pentagon defended the role of the contractors, saying the U.S military relationship with Saudi Arabia is “important to the region.”
Press freedom groups are calling on Israel to release Palestinian journalist Alaa al-Rimawi, who was detained a week ago when Israeli authorities raided his home. According to Reporters Without Borders, the Al Jazeera reporter has been on a hunger strike for the past week and is being held in solitary confinement. Meanwhile, another Palestinian journalist, the freelance photographer Mohammed Atiq, is being held in an undisclosed location after being arrested at an Israeli checkpoint last week.
Scientists have found glaciers are melting 31% faster than they did just 15 years ago. The most impacted glaciers have been in Alaska, Iceland, the Alps and the Himalayas. Robert McNabb of Ulster University linked the melting glaciers to human-induced climate change.
Robert McNabb: “On the global scale, the main driver of that is temperature. And it’s hard to separate the fact that the temperature is what is causing the melt with the fact that humans are, by and large, causing the increase in temperature.”
In other climate news, the Senate has voted to reimpose Obama-era regulations on methane emissions from oil and gas wells. The vote reverses a move by the Trump administration to weaken the rules on methane, which is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
President Biden has nominated Houston-area sheriff Ed Gonzalez to be the next head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Gonzalez was a vocal critic of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, speaking out against ICE raids and the separation of families at the borders. In 2017, Gonzalez ended Harris County’s involvement in ICE’s 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement officers to perform the functions of federal immigration agents within local jails.
In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey has signed a sweeping anti-abortion bill that makes it a felony for doctors to terminate pregnancies because of a fetal genetic defect such as Down syndrome. The bill’s language is so broad it could also lead to charges against nurses and other staff at health centers. Arizona state Representative Diego Espinoza blasted the new law, saying it is “anti-families, anti-woman and anti-doctor.”
Meanwhile, in Ecuador, pro-choice activists celebrated in Quito Wednesday after Ecuador’s high court decriminalized abortion in cases of rape.
Native American activists are calling on CNN to fire commentator and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum over remarks he made to an ultra-conservative student conference.
Rick Santorum: “We came here and created a blank slate. We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here. I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but, candidly, that — there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”
The National Congress of American Indians criticized CNN for not firing Santorum. The group’s president, Fawn Sharp, said, “Televising someone with his views on Native American genocide is fundamentally no different than putting an outright Nazi on television to justify the Holocaust.”