Free speech is democracy’s last line of defense. In these times of war, climate chaos, mass shootings, attacks on abortion rights, economic and racial injustice and threats to our democracy, we're committed to shining a spotlight on abuses of power and amplifying the voices of the movement leaders, organizers and everyday people who are working to change the world. But we can’t do it alone. We count on you to make all of our coverage possible. Can you donate $10 per month to support Democracy Now!’s independent journalism all year long? Right now, a generous donor will DOUBLE your gift, which means your $10 donation this month will be worth $20 to Democracy Now! Please do your part right now. Every dollar counts. Thank you so much.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
Coronavirus cases and deaths are surging across much of the globe, including in Latin America, Europe and South Asia, with India reporting more than 100,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time. It’s the only country other than the United States to reach that grim milestone. India’s Maharashtra state, home to the country’s most populous city, Mumbai, announced a weekend shutdown and a weekday curfew. Neighboring Bangladesh has entered a week-long lockdown to slow a surge in cases.
Argentina’s President Alberto Fernández has tested positive for COVID-19. He received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in January.
Peru reported a record daily death toll of nearly 300 Saturday as the nation prepares to vote for a new president and Congress next weekend. Peru has been in political turmoil following what some called a “legislative coup” last November, which removed former President Martín Vizcarra, and amid a corruption scandal involving government officials receiving the coronavirus vaccines ahead of the general population.
In Europe, France has entered a third national lockdown as ICUs fill to capacity with coronavirus patients. At the Vatican, as Italy imposed an Easter weekend lockdown, Pope Francis delivered a sermon in a scaled-back Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, where he warned against vaccine nationalism.
Pope Francis: “I urge the entire international community to a common commitment to overcome the delays in their distribution and to promote their distribution especially in the poorest countries.”
Here in the United States, more than 4 million coronavirus vaccine shots were administered for the first time in a 24-hour period Saturday. The seven-day average for vaccines is now higher than 3 million a day as more states continue to expand eligibility to anyone 16 or older. Nearly a third of people in the U.S. have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with close to 20% fully vaccinated. Despite the increasing pace of vaccinations, health experts continue to sound the alarm for a possible fourth wave. This is Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky: “It is important that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, continue to take prevention measures in public and adhere to our guidance on ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19: Wear a mask, physically distance, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas, and wash your hands frequently.”
The CDC said Friday fully vaccinated people can safely travel both domestically and internationally, though the agency still recommends against nonessential trips due to the high number of infections.
A U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed after a man crashed his car into a security checkpoint Friday. William Evans was an 18-year veteran of the agency. Another officer was hospitalized. The suspect was shot and killed on the scene after police say he attempted to attack the officers with a knife. Authorities are investigating a possible motive. The attack comes three months after the January 6 Capitol insurrection, which killed one officer; two died by suicide following the attack.
The first week of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial wrapped up Friday with testimony from the longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, who said Chauvin violated police policy when he kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes last May as Floyd repeatedly gasped “I can’t breathe.” This is Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman responding to questions from the prosecution.
Matthew Frank: “What is your view of that use of force during that time period?”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman: “Totally unnecessary.”
Matthew Frank: “What do you mean?”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman: “Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground, face down, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, is just uncalled for.”
More police testimony is expected this week, including Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo, who in June said Floyd’s death was murder and “not due to a lack of training.”
The U.S. and Iran will hold indirect talks this week in Vienna on a possible plan to bring both nations back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement. The nations will negotiate through other parties to the deal for now. Former President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the landmark deal in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions on Iran.
In Jordan, more than a dozen prominent figures have been arrested and are accused of plotting a coup against King Abdullah II. Among those detained by police Saturday were the former head of Jordan’s royal court and a member of the royal family who once served as an envoy to Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah’s half-brother, the former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, said in a video statement he’d been put under house arrest with most of his lines of communication cut off. He accused Jordan’s leaders of corruption, incompetence and harassment, and said he would continue to disobey orders from the Army not to speak with the outside world.
In Britain, over 100 people were arrested Saturday during “Kill the Bill” protests in London as people marched around the country to stop a new bill which would increase police authority to crack down on peaceful demonstrations. This is a protester in London.
Protester: “Because people should have the right to protest. Any country, any government needs to be held to account. And by protesting, you hold a government to account. Otherwise, it becomes a dictatorship.”
In Somalia, five civilians were killed and four others wounded on Saturday after a suicide bomber struck a tea shop in the capital Mogadishu. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Earlier on Saturday, al-Shabab fighters attacked two key Somali military bases with car bombs and heavy gunfire.
In India, at least 22 police officers were killed and more than 30 others injured after a pitched, four-hour gun battle with hundreds of Maoist fighters on Sunday. The police had been carrying out anti-insurgency operations in the central state of Chhattisgarh when they were ambushed by the Maoists. The rebels have been waging a four-decade-long guerrilla campaign in support of India’s Indigenous people and other marginalized groups.
At least 100 people have died after torrential rains triggered massive floods and landslides in Indonesia and East Timor Sunday. Most of the victims were in Indonesia. Thousands of homes were submerged. Indonesia’s disaster agency says some 125 million people, or half the country, live in areas at risk of landslides, which is largely exacerbated by deforestation.
Back in the U.S., authorities in Florida are racing to prevent the catastrophic collapse of a 77-acre wastewater storage pond at an abandoned phosphate mine in the Tampa Bay area. Work crews have been pumping more than 20,000 gallons of contaminated water per minute from the Piney Point reservoir into surrounding waterways after containment walls began leaking. Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered the evacuation of 300 homes. Manatee County Sheriff’s officials initially ordered prisoners moved to the second floor of a jail near the pond, but later reversed the order, saying it posed a security risk. Some models predict a collapse could trigger a 20-foot-high wall of water. This is Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes.
Scott Hopes: “We’re talking about the potential of about 600 million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area.”
According to the EPA, phosphorus and nitrogen in the wastewater could cause algal blooms that may harm humans and kill fish.
In Texas, seven Collin County Sheriff’s officers were fired last week over their involvement in the killing of a 26-year-old Black man, Marvin Scott III, who died in jail on March 14. Scott’s family says he may have been suffering from a mental health crisis. Scott was arrested that day on misdemeanor marijuana possession charges. He had less than two ounces of marijuana on him. Before he died, officers put Scott on a restraint bed, pepper-sprayed him and covered his face with a spit mask.
Protests have erupted in Chicago following a fatal police shooting last week of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. Police were called to the predominantly Latinx neighborhood of Little Village, where an officer started chasing Toledo. The officer then shot him, striking him in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Shortly after the shooting, police alleged there was an armed confrontation and posted a photo on social media of a firearm on the ground. Body camera footage of Toledo’s killing is expected to be released soon.
Major League Baseball announced it will move its All-Star Game and draft out of Atlanta to protest Georgia’s recently passed voter suppression law. The highly contested legislation adds new voter ID requirements, shortens the window for absentee voting, severely limits ballot drop boxes, and grants the state power to intervene in elections in Democratic counties.
In labor news, over 1,300 steelworkers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut are entering into their second week on strike. United Steelworkers says Allegheny Technologies has refused to bargain in good faith with workers who are demanding fair wages, job security and better healthcare.
Meanwhile, in Alabama, over 1,000 mineworkers are on strike at Warrior Met Coal. Amazon workers from Bessemer, about 30 minutes away from the mines, have been joining strikers on the picket line. Votes are still being tallied in Bessemer in what could become Amazon’s first-ever union.