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The COVID-19 crisis continues to ravage India, the world’s second most populous nation, which now accounts for one in every three new cases reported worldwide. On Saturday, India reported over 400,000 daily infections for the first time, while a record 3,700 deaths were reported Sunday. On Saturday, a fire at a COVID-19 hospital ward in western India killed 18 patients. Health workers are rushing to ramp up inoculations. So far, fewer than 2% of India’s 1.4 billion people have been fully vaccinated. This is a New Delhi resident speaking after receiving his first vaccine.
Sahil Kapoor: “The situation is extremely grim. I mean, of course, there aren’t any words that can explain the situation. It’s extremely, extremely grim. The system is at brink of collapse. And that’s the reason why we try to get vaccinated as early as possible. In fact, for whoever I can reach, I would only want to urge that get your vaccination as soon as it’s possible.”
The head of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, warns shortages will persist for months because the government of Narendra Modi failed to prepare for the massive second wave. As India faces an acute vaccine shortage, the Los Angeles Times is reporting the U.S. government and big drug companies last year rejected a WHO initiative to scale up global vaccine manufacturing. The program, known as C-TAP, would have trained manufacturers in Latin America, Asia and Africa to produce the shots once they were approved for market.
In other news from India, Prime Minister Modi and his right-wing BJP party lost key state elections in West Bengal Sunday. Health officials fear that voting and massive campaign rallies in the region will lead to a spike in new infections.
Here in the U.S., the White House said it will start barring entry for travelers who have been in India within the previous 14 days. The order, which goes into effect Tuesday, does not apply to U.S. citizens or legal residents.
In Columbus, Ohio, mourners gathered Friday at the funeral of Ma’Khia Bryant, the 16-year-old Black girl who was killed last month by police officers outside her foster home. This is Don Bryant, Ma’Khia’s cousin, who spoke on behalf of her family.
Don Bryant: “I look at each and every person in this room today, in this church, and say Ma’Khia Bryant did not have to die, that she should still be here. But, in closing, say her name as a reminder of the loving, kind person she was. Say her name as a reminder that change doesn’t just happen by offering words or talking about it. Change happens through action and through doing.”
Meanwhile, the body of Andrew Brown Jr. is being laid to rest today in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Brown was a 42-year-old Black father who was shot five times by police officers, including a fatal shot to the back of the head. His family continues to demand the release of all body-camera footage showing his killing. Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy at Brown’s funeral.
Three Colorado police officers have resigned after video surfaced of their arrest of a 73-year-old white woman last June, who was slammed to the ground and handcuffed. Karen Garner, who suffers from dementia, ended up with a dislocated shoulder, a fractured arm and a sprained wrist. Another widely circulated video shows officers laughing while watching footage of Garner’s violent arrest. Garner has filed a federal lawsuit, citing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Biden administration has revealed portions of President Trump’s 2017 secret order rolling back limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside of U.S. combat zones. The partially redacted document reveals Trump rolled back a requirement that U.S. attacks would have a “near certainty” of avoiding civilian deaths and injuries — to a lower standard of “reasonable certainty.” In a statement, the ACLU responded, “Secretive and unaccountable use of lethal force is unacceptable in a rights-respecting democracy, and this program is a cornerstone of the 'forever wars' President Biden has pledged to end. He needs to do so.”
The Department of Homeland Security announced four migrant families ripped apart at the U.S.-Mexico border under the Trump administration will be reunited this week. The families, which came from Honduras and Mexico, are the first to be reunited through a new task force under the Biden administration. Some have not seen each other since 2017. The ACLU’s Lee Gelernt said, “[We are] certainly not prepared to celebrate just yet given the thousands who still need to be reunified and the more than 5,500 children who were traumatized and need help. We are pressing for permanent legal status, compensation and social services. It is the least these families deserve given that our government deliberately abused them.”
In other immigration news, the Biden administration says it’s canceling construction of former President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall and returning billions of dollars that were diverted from the Pentagon to pay for it. The administration also said it would repair damage created by the wall’s construction: filling holes in the Rio Grande Valley levee system and fixing soil erosion near San Diego.
In Southern California, a boat that was believed to be carrying migrants overturned off the coast of San Diego Sunday, killing at least four of the 29 people on board. Over 20 people have been hospitalized. The boat’s captain, who is suspected of human smuggling, has been taken into custody.
North Korea has warned the U.S. of a “very grave situation” over President Biden’s stance on its nuclear weapons program. During an address to Congress last week, Biden called North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear programs “serious threats” to U.S. and global security. North Korea also fired back after the State Department condemned its human rights record. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote, “The U.S., where innocent people lose their lives to social inequality and racism every day, where 580,000 people died of novel coronavirus, is itself a human rights wasteland.” The White House signaled Friday it is open to diplomatic relations with North Korea.
In Burma, security forces killed at least eight people Sunday, after they opened fire on anti-coup protesters in some of the largest demonstrations in days. Organizers had called for “the global Myanmar spring revolution.” At least 765 people, including children, have been killed during the crackdown on protests following the February 1 military coup.
In Afghanistan, a suicide attacker detonated a truck bomb in the eastern province of Logar on Friday, killing at least 21 people and injuring scores of others. The attack targeted a government-run guest house for students. There was no claim of responsibility, but Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry blamed the Taliban.
The U.N. said at least 11 refugees drowned after a rubber dinghy capsized off the coast of Libya Sunday. The U.N. is calling for urgent action to stop the mounting deaths in the Central Mediterranean, which has been called the most dangerous migration route in the world. Meanwhile, over 800 refugees, including over 100 unaccompanied children, were brought to Italy over the weekend after being rescued at sea.
In Colombia, President Iván Duque withdrew planned tax reforms after days of mass demonstrations protesting the move. Rights groups say as many as 20 people were killed during the protests. Duque’s plan would have increased taxes on many citizens and business owners and imposed taxes on utilities and some foods.
Back in the U.S., Republican Senator Mitt Romney was booed and called a “traitor” and a “communist” as he gave a speech Saturday at the Utah Republican convention.
Sen. Mitt Romney: “Now, you know me as a person who — who says what he thinks, and I don’t hide the fact that I wasn’t a fan of our last president’s character issues.”
Sen. Mitt Romney: “And I’m also no fan” —
A motion to censure Romney at the Utah convention narrowly failed. He is the only Republican to have twice voted to impeach former President Trump.
Meanwhile, speculation is growing that the Republican Party will seek to oust Wyoming Congressmember Liz Cheney from her leadership role. Cheney is the third-ranking House Republican and one of 10 Republican congressmembers who voted to impeach Trump earlier this year. She recently was forced to defend herself after fist-bumping President Biden at his address to Congress last week.
Oregon Republican state Representative Mike Nearman, who opened the doors of the state Capitol to far-right protesters in December, is facing criminal charges. The far-right mob, who were calling for an end to public health restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID, attacked security officers with chemical sprays and assaulted a number of journalists.
A federal appeals court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, unless it can prove the toxic chemical can be used safely. The Obama administration said it would ban the use of chlorpyrifos in 2015, citing EPA research showing it can cause brain damage in children. But the rule never took effect and was suspended by the Trump administration in 2017. The pesticide is still widely used by U.S. farmers on more than 50 fruit, nut, cereal and vegetable crops.
In related news, the New York City Council has voted unanimously to ban the use of most toxic pesticides by city agencies, replacing their use with nature-based techniques like organic gardening. The ban comes after years of activism led by students — some of them as young as 5 years old.
Thousands of workers took to the streets of cities around the world Saturday in rallies marking May 1, International Workers’ Day. In Turkey, police fired tear gas and arrested over 200 protesters in Istanbul after declaring May Day protests had violated a coronavirus-related curfew. In Cuba, officials largely canceled annual May Day celebrations for a second year in a row due to the pandemic. More than a million workers usually gather each year in Havana’s Revolution Square to mark the holiday.
Enrique Tondique Domínguez: “It is a happy day because it is May Day, but it is also a sad day because many workers are no longer with us.”
Cuba has had one of the lowest death rates per capita in the world from the coronavirus, with fewer than 700 deaths.
Here in the U.S., May Day protesters called on the Senate to pass the PRO Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions. This is prison abolitionist, author and activist Angela Davis speaking at a May Day rally in San Francisco.
Angela Davis: “We have to protect the right to organize. Pass the PRO Act!”
In Washington, D.C., thousands of immigrants and their supporters marched through downtown and to the National Mall, demanding President Biden and Congress act in support of 11 million undocumented people in the U.S. This is Jein Ryu of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium.
Jein Ryu: “President Biden, it’s been decades since Congress has passed any meaningful legislation to legalize the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. You ran your campaign with a promise of immigration reform and a promise of protection for immigrant families. Nothing has changed. You have failed to put immigration reform in American Family Plan and protect the immigrants from deportation. You gotta do better!”