A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continues to hold as Egyptian mediators try to maintain the relative calm that follows Israel’s brutal 11-day assault on the Gaza Strip, which killed at least 248 Palestinians, including 66 children. But tensions in the region remained high over the weekend as Israeli forces and settlers entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem multiple times since Friday, with local outlets reporting attacks on Palestinian worshipers. Gazans have begun to clean up the wreckage as they surveyed the devastating aftermath of the Israeli bombardment.
Mahmoud Mahdy: “We are looking at our memories, the houses, the apartments. We lost everything we own, from furniture to all of our memories and childhood memories. Everything is destroyed.”
The U.N. said it is launching an aid appeal for the Gaza Strip, where fears are mounting COVID-19 could further spike after residents were forced to flee their homes and shelter together from the bombing. The U.S. has said it would contribute to helping rebuild Gaza, while refusing to condemn the death and destruction wrought by Israel.
Meanwhile, massive protests in solidarity with the Palestinian people took place around the globe again this weekend, including here in the U.S. An estimated 180,000 people took part in a London march. This is a demonstrator speaking from a protest in Paris.
Nesrine Akhres: “France has, for example, advantageous agreements with the Israeli state at the import level. And what is important is that all countries who don’t respect human rights should be sanctioned, as any country would be when they don’t respect human rights. And today what is incomprehensible is that Israel still benefits from total impunity.”
India recorded over 4,400 new COVID fatalities today, bringing its official death toll over 300,000 — just the third country to pass the tragic milestone after the U.S. and Brazil. Its daily cases have dropped significantly from early this month, with around 220,000 reported today. Experts say both numbers are vast undercounts.
Latin America has now recorded over 1 million COVID-19 deaths — around 30% of the world’s death toll, despite accounting for just 8% of the global population. Brazil represents around 45% of the region’s fatalities. On Friday, the state of Maranhão issued a fine to far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for refusing to respect local health rules by holding a mass gathering and not wearing a face mask.
This all comes as the World Health Organization said Friday the true global death toll for COVID-19 is likely two to three times higher than official reports.
The Biden administration is granting more than 100,000 Haitians in the U.S. the chance to gain temporary protected status, or TPS, which includes work permits and protection from deportation while Haiti suffers a political crisis. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse continues to refuse calls to step down, even as human rights groups report he has sanctioned attacks against civilians in impoverished neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince, with targeted assassinations and threats against government critics carried out with impunity. President Biden deported more Haitians during his first two months than Donald Trump did in the last year of his presidency. We’ll have more on the Biden administration’s decision to grant TPS to Haitian immigrants later in the broadcast.
International leaders are accusing Belarus of “state terrorism” and “hijacking” after it ordered a commercial flight be diverted to Minsk, using a fake bomb threat, so it could arrest a journalist critical of President Alexander Lukashenko. The Ryanair jet had been flying from Athens to Lithuania, where 26-year-old journalist Roman Protasevich has been living. He ran social media for the outlet Nexta, which covered the violent crackdown on anti-government protests in Belarus last year following the highly contested reelection of Lukashenko. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who also operates in exile from Lithuania, spoke out against the arrest.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Today, Lukashenko personally caused an international scandal, used military aircraft against civilians in Belarus and European countries to reprise a single person. No one else is safe. Anyone can be in Roman Protasevich’s place.”
In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi appeared in person at a court hearing for the first time since she and other officials were deposed in a February 1 military coup. She faces a range of charges that the U.N. and others have condemned as politically motivated, including illegally possessing walkie-talkies and violating a state secrets law. Suu Kyi’s legal team says she has no access to newspapers and is only partly aware of events that have taken place since her arrest. A local rights group says over 800 people have been killed and 4,300 arrested since February 1 as mass protests shook the country. Meanwhile, rebel fighters said they killed dozens of Burmese security force members over the weekend.
In Bangladesh, prominent investigative journalist Rozina Islam, who reported on corruption in the government’s response to the pandemic, has been granted bail after her arrest last week prompted international outrage. Islam was detained under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a possible death penalty. Press freedom groups are calling for charges to be dropped immediately.
A severe cyclone is brewing in the Bay of Bengal and is forecast to slam into northeast India Wednesday with 100-mile-per-hour winds. This comes just one week after another cyclone battered India’s western state of Gujarat as the most powerful storm to hit the region in two decades, killing at least 140 people. Over the weekend, authorities said 61 bodies had been recovered from a barge carrying oil workers that sank in the Arabian Sea last week.
In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, at least 15 people were killed and thousands more forced to flee their homes as lava from a volcano near the city of Goma reached their villages and neighborhoods. Residents blamed the government for failing to warn them of the impending eruption.
Ernestine Kabuo: “I was with my husband, who is too old, and he didn’t want to leave the house because he was sick. He couldn’t walk. I said to myself, 'I can't go alone. We’ve been married for the best and for the worst.’ I went back to at least try to get him out, but couldn’t. I ran away, and he got burned inside. I don’t know what to do. I curse this day.”
Lava from the eruption flowed to within a mile of Goma’s main airport, but the city of 1 million people appears to have been spared.
The United States experienced another weekend of deaths and injuries from at least 12 mass shootings. At least 11 people were killed and 69 injured from gun violence in New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio and Minnesota. The nonprofit Gun Violence Archive reported 2021 is the second straight year the U.S. has seen over 60 mass shootings in the month of May, with 229 mass shootings recorded since the start of the year.
In Minneapolis, community members, civil rights leaders and George Floyd’s family gathered to mark the first anniversary of Floyd’s murder ahead of the May 25 anniversary this Tuesday. This is local community organizer and pastor Carmen Means.
Carmen Means: “So, what has changed? The game hasn’t changed. The game remains the same. But what has changed is that you’ve been activated on a whole 'nother level. There's a warrior on the inside of you that was activated on 5/25 on a whole ’nother level.”
George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police set off a nationwide uprising and global movement calling for an end to racism and for the defense of Black lives. President Biden will host Floyd’s family at the White House tomorrow.
In Tennessee, a newly published video shows officers at the Marshall County Jail pressing a hogtied man into the floor with their knees on his back for nearly four minutes — and taunting him as he pleaded with officers that he could not breathe. Forty-eight-year-old William Jennette, who was white, died during the violent encounter. The Marshall County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Jennette’s death a homicide — a combination of drug intoxication and asphyxiation. Despite the ruling, a grand jury declined to indict any of the officers. The newly surfaced video shows Jennette shouted, “Help! They’re going to kill me!” as officers cursed at him, with one replying, “You shouldn’t be able to breathe, you stupid bastard.”
In media news, shareholders have approved the purchase of Tribune Publishing by New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital for $633 million. Tribune Publishing’s many newspapers include the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and New York Daily News. Alden, which already owns around 100 newspapers and 200 publications, is known for making major cuts to local papers in pursuit of profit. The outlet More Perfect Union reports Alden slashed the staff of The Denver Post by 75% and closed six newsrooms in 2020. About half of daily local newspaper circulation in the U.S. is now controlled by hedge funds.