India reported another record daily COVID-19 death toll today with close to 3,800 fatalities. The World Health Organization says India accounted for nearly half of all global COVID-19 cases reported last week and one in four deaths, as the government of Narendra Modi is coming under mounting calls to impose a national lockdown. India’s official infection and death figures are believed to be vast undercounts.
In Britain, India’s entire delegation to the G7 summit in London is in self-isolation after two of its members tested positive for COVID-19. India’s foreign minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and all Indian delegates will attend meetings virtually.
Tanzania announced new measures on travelers entering the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants. The move comes two months after Samia Suluhu Hassan replaced the late John Magufuli, who downplayed the pandemic, as Tanzania’s president.
In the Seychelles, which has the world’s highest vaccination rate, officials are closing schools and reimposing other restrictions as infections surge. Over 60% of the Seychelles’ adult population is fully vaccinated.
Here in the U.S., COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to trend downward, but some regions are seeing new surges, including in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest. On Tuesday, President Biden announced a new vaccination goal.
President Joe Biden: “Our goal by July 4th is to have 70% of adult Americans with at least one shot and 160 million Americans fully vaccinated. That means giving close to 100 million shots — some first shots, others second shots — over the next 60 days.”
Biden urged people in their twenties and thirties, in particular, to get the vaccine. Currently, 56% of the adult population has received at least one shot. As supply starts to outpace demand in some states, the White House will begin keeping unordered doses in a federal bank so they can be made available for other states that have higher vaccination demand.
Pfizer says it will seek emergency use authorization in September for its vaccine to be given to children aged 2 to 11. The FDA is expected to clear the vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old by early next week. Meanwhile, Pfizer announced Tuesday its COVID-19 vaccine brought in $3.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021, by far its biggest source of revenue. Pfizer expects to make $26 billion in revenue this year.
More than half the House Democratic Caucus called on President Biden in a letter Tuesday to stop blocking an effort to waive patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization. They write, “We must make vaccines, testing, and treatments available everywhere if we are going to crush the virus anywhere.” The WTO is meeting today and tomorrow to discuss the waiver.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation extending a moratorium on evictions through August 31. The moratorium was set to expire May 1. New York is also expected to start distributing $2.4 billion in rental assistance. Despite these measures, many New Yorkers are still at risk of losing their homes. At least 50,000 eviction cases have been filed in New York City since the start of the pandemic, the highest number in the country.
In California, police arrested a suspect in the stabbing attack of two Asian American women Tuesday afternoon in San Francisco. This comes after at least four assaults on Asian Americans were reported in New York City over the weekend, including a hammer attack on two women walking in Manhattan. A new study by Cal State San Bernardino found a 164% increase in reports of anti-Asian violence in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.
An attorney for former Minneapolis police officer and convicted murderer Derek Chauvin filed a motion for a new trial Tuesday, alleging prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, witness intimidation and negative publicity around the case. The office of Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison said it would oppose the defense’s arguments. Last week, Ellison called for a harsher prison sentence for Chauvin because of the “particular cruelty” of his crime. Chauvin is due to be sentenced on June 25.
In Massachusetts, questions are mounting following the April death of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller, a Black LGBTQ teenager from the Boston suburb of Hopkinton. An investigation is ongoing, but the District Attorney’s Office has already come under fire after initially saying no foul play was suspected. Mikayla’s mother reportedly said her daughter was assaulted, then tied to a tree. A community vigil is planned for Thursday.
In Puerto Rico, hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in recent days in response to the femicides of 27-year-old Keishla Rodríguez and 35-year-old Andrea Ruiz. Ruiz’s body was found Friday, covered in burns. Her ex-partner confessed to her murder. Ruiz had sought protection against him, but the courts denied it. And Rodríguez — who was pregnant — was found lifeless floating in the San José Lagoon Saturday after being reported missing the day before. Prominent boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympics, has been charged with Rodríguez’s murder. Feminist leaders are demanding Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Pierluisi take action against skyrocketing gender violence on the island.
Feminist leader: “We demand the state hold itself accountable and tell us where the real state of emergency is. The entire country is shocked by the recent murders of women, horror stories that resonate with so many of us, not only because we see ourselves reflected in each of them, but because we also share the same vulnerability.”
The Intercept is reporting the Trump Justice Department repeatedly contacted and eventually threatened to subpoena two researchers at MIT over their analysis of the 2019 Bolivian presidential election. The MIT study debunked claims of electoral fraud in Bolivia, which were used to help justify a coup against President Evo Morales.
In Colombia, as massive demonstrations against poverty and inequality continue, the United Nations has condemned police and military officers for violently cracking down on protesters. At least 19 people have been killed since protests erupted last week against now-withdrawn proposed tax reforms introduced by right-wing President Iván Duque. Over 400 people have reportedly been detained and hundreds more injured.
Meanwhile, here in New York, a demonstration is planned today to protest a New York University event featuring former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Uribe has long been accused of human rights abuses and linked to right-wing paramilitary groups. He’s also celebrated recent violence against protesters.
A group of Indigenous leaders and members of Mexico’s Zapatista movement have set sail on the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. The group is marking 500 years of Indigenous resistance after Spanish colonizers arrived in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, which later became Mexico City. The Zapatistas hope to arrive in Spain in August and will go on to tour Europe and share their plans to fight the inequities triggered by capitalism.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has offered a formal apology to the Maya Indigenous community.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador: “We offer the most sincere apologies to the Mayan people for the terrible abuses committed by national and foreign authorities during the conquest, during the three centuries of colonial domination and two centuries of independent Mexico.”
AMLO was joined by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei at the ceremony, which was held in the southern state of Quintana Roo. This comes as AMLO continues to support the construction of a massive railway in southern Mexico that would cut through sacred Indigenous land and ancient sites. And in Guatemala, Indigenous land and water defenders continue to be brutalized, criminalized and displaced under Giammattei’s government.
In Afghanistan, fighting between government forces and the Taliban has forced thousands to flee their homes in southern Helmand province as the U.S. military started its official withdrawal over the weekend. Attacks have been surging leading up May 1, the previous pullout date agreed to by the Trump administration. Biden announced the U.S. will withdraw instead by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Fighting was also reported in other parts of the country.
Back in the U.S., President Biden has tapped Richard Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to manage the federal student aid program within the Department of Education. The move was welcomed by progressives as student campaigners and many top Democrats continue to pressure Biden to use executive action to cancel at least $50,000 in student debt per borrower.
A federal judge has ordered the Justice Department to turn over an internal memo used by then-Attorney General Bill Barr in 2019 to justify clearing former President Trump of obstructing justice in relation to the Russia investigation. The judge accused Barr of misleading her court and Congress about advice he said he received on the matter from top Justice Department officials.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its updated figures for U.S. climate averages, with the “new normal” one degree hotter than it was just 20 years ago. The data also shows the U.S. is much wetter in the eastern and central parts of the country and drier in the West. The rising temperatures mean that places like Fairbanks, in Alaska, are no longer classified as a sub-Arctic climate, but are now considered part of a “warm summer continental zone.”
In France, a new bill aimed at addressing the nation’s response to the climate crisis passed its first vote Tuesday. The bill includes a ban on short domestic flights when there is an alternative train route, restrictions on landlords renting out poorly insulated properties, and making “ecocide” a punishable crime. But climate groups say the measures are still too weak. This is Jean-François Julliard of Greenpeace France.
Jean-François Julliard: “It’s a law that could have been sufficient if it had been passed 15 years ago, when the climate emergency was less pressing. Today, in 2021, that law will unfortunately not be sufficient to effectively tackle global warming. It is far from ambitious enough, far from allowing to reach the target the government has set itself, namely reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.”