Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 26 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including nine children, as tension in the region has escalated sharply over the past day. In one incident, seven members of a single family in Gaza were killed, including three children.
Refat Al Masri: “What happened here is we were sitting outside the house waiting for iftar, the breaking of the fast. An 8-month-old child was killed. Mohammad, who was getting married in five days after Eid, was killed. How is this the children’s fault? Girls between the ages of 7 and 9 have been killed. How is this their fault? We were just sitting outside the house waiting for the call to prayer.”
The attacks came after 700 Palestinians were injured in Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli security forces on Monday — including a violent crackdown inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the third-holiest site in Islam. Hamas responded by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. No deaths were reported, but police said over two dozen people were injured. The tension in Jerusalem has been mounting for weeks as Palestinians have been organizing to block Israel from forcibly evicting dozens of Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem to give their homes to Jewish settlers.
India reported another 330,000 coronavirus cases Tuesday and nearly 4,000 additional deaths, though the true tolls are likely to be far higher. In northern India, dozens of bodies of COVID-19 victims have washed up on the banks of the Ganges River in recent days. Residents said desperate relatives disposed of the bodies in the river after they couldn’t find a cremation site with open space or couldn’t afford to buy wood for a funeral pyre. On Monday, the World Health Organization declared that a new, potentially more transmissible coronavirus lineage circulating widely in India is a “variant of concern.”
In the Czech Republic, mourners lit nearly 30,000 candles Monday at Prague Castle to commemorate the number of victims who’ve fallen to COVID-19. The Czech Republic has the second-highest per capita death toll in the world from COVID, after Hungary.
Worldwide, cases have edged down from record highs set in April but remain at a dangerous, high plateau. Case rates are highest in countries with low vaccination rates. In Geneva, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Monday on wealthy nations to stop hoarding vaccine doses at the expense of poorer countries.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “The shocking global disparity in access to vaccines remains one of the biggest risks to ending the pandemic. High- and upper-income countries represent 53% of the world’s population but have received 83% of the world’s vaccines. By contrast, low- and lower-middle-income countries account for 47% of the world’s population but have received just 17% of the world’s vaccines.”
COVID-19 cases continue to fall across the United States as more of the population becomes vaccinated. Nearly half of U.S. residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and the number testing positive each day has fallen below 40,000 for the first time since September.
The Food and Drug Administration on Monday granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children as young as 12. This is acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock.
Dr. Janet Woodcock: “We know this is a big step for our country. Vaccinating a younger population brings us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy and to ending the pandemic.”
The Pentagon says a U.S. Coast Guard ship fired warning shots at Iranian speedboats Monday as they approached U.S. Navy ships escorting a nuclear submarine through the Strait of Hormuz. It was the third encounter between U.S. and Iranian ships in the past month.
The naval tensions came as dozens of Democratic officials wrote to President Biden asking him to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, from which former President Trump withdrew in 2018. The officials demanded the lifting of Trump-era sanctions, writing, “The only result has been a vastly expanded Iranian nuclear program, increased regional instability, near U.S.-Iran war on multiple occasions, and severe economic sanctions that have contributed to a dire humanitarian crisis inside Iran.”
In Colombia, as massive anti-government protests continue for a second week, the city of Cali has become the epicenter of skyrocketing violence against demonstrators by police and vigilantes. On Sunday, over a dozen protesters were wounded after they were attacked by unknown armed assailants who demanded protesters end the blockade of major highways during a series of Indigenous-led actions in Cali. Right-wing President Iván Duque on Monday announced more security forces would be deployed to Cali and urged Indigenous leaders to leave the city. This is one of the protesters.
Giovanni Yule: “The president has been making some reforms and changes against the Colombian people, benefiting a few families, big banks and big international corporations and placing all the tax burden on the country’s poorest population.”
Nationwide protests started on April 28 against a now-withdrawn tax reform proposed by Duque and have continued to grow amid increasing poverty, inequity and police brutality in Colombia. This is a member of the National Strike Committee speaking from Bogotá Monday.
Jennifer Pedraza: “One of the basic guarantees we asked for was respect for the constitutional right to peaceful protest, a simple social right. On the contrary, the discourse of President Iván Duque was permissive toward the excess of the security forces.”
In Mexico City, hundreds of mothers whose children have been disappeared led a massive march Monday to commemorate Mother’s Day and to urge the government to take immediate action against violence and to find missing people. Since the U.S.-backed war on drugs was unleashed in Mexico in 2006, over 85,000 people have disappeared. This is Marisol Esquivel, one of the mothers.
Marisol Esquivel: “The government never told me, 'Marisol, I am sorry for what happened to you.' They have never apologized to us. They are the ones responsible for allowing this situation to continue escalating. The statistics of missing people go up every day. In Guanajuato and Celaya, 531 people disappeared in 2020.”
In Italy, more than 2,000 refugees — mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan and Syria — have arrived on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa within the past day. Hundreds of the asylum seekers were forced to sleep on an open-air dock after the local shelter surpassed its capacity. Hundreds more have been quarantined until they’re tested for COVID-19.
This comes after at least five refugees died Sunday when their boat capsized off the Libyan coast as they attempted to reach Europe. A humanitarian aid group said there could be a newborn baby among the dead.
In Russia, at least nine people were killed and 13 others hospitalized after a pair of gunmen reportedly opened fire at a school in the city of Kazan. Russian media reported one of the shooters — believed to be a teenager — was arrested by police while another attacker was shot dead by security forces. School shootings are very rare in Russia. Immediately after Tuesday’s assault, President Vladimir Putin said he had ordered Russia’s government to immediately begin work on tightening gun ownership regulations.
The Washington Post is reporting Trump’s Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records — and attempted to get email records — of journalists reporting on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Justice Department sent three separate letters earlier this month addressed to three Post journalists, notifying them the department had received records associated with their telephone numbers from between April 2017 and June 2017. This comes as press freedom groups are denouncing the Biden administration for defending Trump’s move against the Washington Post journalists and the U.S. government’s ongoing push to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain.
The head of Instagram has apologized after the social media platform blocked and deleted posts supporting a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People. A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, blamed a “global technical issue” but did not provide further details. The company did not specify why the content was singled out.
Meanwhile, attorneys general from 44 U.S. states and territories wrote to Facebook Monday urging CEO Mark Zuckerberg to scrap plans to launch a version of Instagram marketed at children younger than 13. The officials wrote, “Use of social media can be detrimental to the health and well-being of children, who are not equipped to navigate the challenges of having a social media account.”
The Biden administration announced Monday it’s reinstating discrimination protections for transgender people accessing healthcare, reversing an anti-trans Trump-era policy. The move prohibits healthcare providers that receive federal funding from discriminating against people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation — extending from an anti-discrimination clause that is already included in the Affordable Care Act.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has expanded a drought emergency to 39 more counties, after the spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas measured well below historical averages. Several other western states are also reporting droughts. This follows a record-shattering 2020 fire season along the West Coast, fueled by the climate crisis.
In Louisiana, dozens of climate activists with the Sunrise Movement have begun a 400-mile march from New Orleans to Houston, Texas, demanding lawmakers pass a Civilian Climate Corps and provide millions of climate-friendly jobs as part of President Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.
In New York, the federal trial against environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger began Monday. Donziger has been on house arrest for over 600 days on allegations of contempt of court. In 2013, he won a landmark $9.5 billion judgment against oil giant Chevron over the corporation’s dumping of 16 billion gallons of oil into the Ecuadorian Amazon. Donziger, who has since been disbarred, says Chevron’s legal attacks on him are meant to silence critics and stop other lawsuits against the company for environmental damage. Democracy Now! spoke to Donziger in March.
Steven Donziger: “Chevron destroyed the Ecuadorian Amazon, and I was part of a legal team that held the company accountable. The decision in Ecuador has been affirmed by multiple appellate courts in Ecuador and Canada. What Chevron did is, rather than pay the judgment that it owes to the thousands of people in Ecuador that it poisoned, it’s gone after me and other lawyers.”
The news outlet Common Dreams reports Dozinger’s trial is being overseen by right-wing Judge Loretta Preska, a member of the Federalist Society. Click here to see our full interview with Steven Donziger.