President Joe Biden has wrapped up a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, ahead of a highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday. As talks wrapped up, China accused NATO of adopting a “Cold War mentality” after Biden successfully pushed the military alliance to declare China to be a security risk for the first time. NATO leaders also criticized Russia and called on Moscow to withdraw troops from Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova.
The World Health Organization warned Monday the coronavirus is spreading faster than the global distribution of vaccines. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was responding to a pledge by leaders of the G7 to donate 1 billion vaccine doses to middle- and low-income countries. That’s just 613 million new doses on top of previously pledged aid.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “This is a big help, but we need more, and we need them faster. More than 10,000 people are dying every day. During this press conference alone, more than 420 people will die. These communities need vaccines, and they need them now, not next year.”
The WHO says 11 billion doses are needed to fully vaccinate 70% of the world’s population.
COVID-19 infections are surging in at least 14 African nations, where confirmed cases rose by 26% in the first week of June. Just 0.6% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated.
Chile has ordered millions of residents of the capital Santiago back into lockdown as intensive care units near capacity. That’s despite South America’s most successful vaccination program, which has fully vaccinated nearly 60% of Chileans.
Brazil has opened the Copa América soccer tournament despite one of the world’s worst COVID outbreaks. Brazil’s Health Ministry has identified more than 40 COVID cases connected with Copa América, including 31 players or staffers. As the tournament kicked off in Brasília Sunday, Indigenous people marched in protest.
Kretã Kaingang: “We see the Copa América as an affront to the 500,000 deaths due to the misgovernance of this fascist government, which denied the vaccine to the Brazilian population, denied the vaccine to us Indigenous peoples.”
The United States’ death toll from COVID-19 has topped 600,000 — even as the number of daily deaths fell to its lowest level since a pandemic was declared in March of last year. That’s the highest official death toll of any country in the world, though disease experts at the University of Washington estimate the true U.S. toll is over 924,000.
On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to South Carolina to kick off her tour promoting vaccinations in southern states, several of which have vaccination rates under 50%.
Vice President Kamala Harris: “If you are vaccinated, you are protected. If your community is vaccinated, COVID rates in your community will go down.”
CDC data show U.S. coronavirus hot spots are clustered in areas with lower vaccination rates. Meanwhile, Vermont has become the first state to administer at least one vaccine dose to over 80% of its eligible population. Vermont Governor Phil Scott on Monday said he was lifting all remaining coronavirus restrictions.
Gov. Phil Scott: “Because it’s safe to do so. And it’s safe because Vermonters have done their part to keep the virus from spreading, and stepping up to get vaccinated. In fact, no state in the nation is in a better position to do this than we are.”
Former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner was released from prison on Monday into a halfway house, where she’ll serve the remaining six months of her sentence. Winner was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to five years in prison under the Espionage Act for leaking classified government information about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prosecutors say Winner received the longest sentence ever given by a federal court for unauthorized disclosure of government information to the press.
On Capitol Hill, three Senate Republicans voted with Democrats Monday to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The court is widely seen as a stepping stone to a nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her confirmation came as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would refuse to confirm any of President Biden’s nominees to the Supreme Court in 2024, should a vacancy open. McConnell spoke Monday with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: “I think it’s highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don’t think either party, if it controlled — if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election.”
During the same interview, McConnell hinted he would also stonewall a Biden Supreme Court nominee in 2023, should Republicans take control of the Senate.
A Chicago police officer who joined the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol has been arrested, becoming the 465th person charged in connection with the insurrection. Officer Karol Chwiesiuk wore a Chicago Police Department sweatshirt as he texted selfies of himself breaching the offices of Senator Jeff Merkley.
Meanwhile, weapons maker Boeing has resumed major campaign contributions to three Republican congressmembers who voted to overturn the official certification of 2020’s Electoral College votes: Representatives Jack Bergman, Vicky Hartzler and Steve Scalise. Boeing briefly stopped campaign contributions in the wake of the January 6 insurrection.
Georgia Republican Congressmember Marjorie Taylor Greene has apologized for equating mask mandates during the pandemic to the Holocaust, when over 6 million people — most of them Jewish — were murdered by Nazi Germany. But Greene refused to retract her statement comparing Democrats to Nazis. Greene’s comments came after she toured the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., on Monday.
In West Virginia, the Poor People’s Campaign led a “Moral March on Manchin” in Charleston Monday protesting Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition to killing the filibuster. They also demanded Manchin reverse his opposition to the For the People Act, which would restore and expand the protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. This is the Rev. William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
Rev. William Barber II: “We ain’t in this heat to play.”
Protester: “That’s right!”
Rev. William Barber II: “Am I right about it?”
Rev. William Barber II: “We’re not in these streets to play. We are here to bring street heat and moral heat to the legislative processes. The voices of the people in West Virginia will be heard. We are nonviolent, but we ain’t playin’. We will fight for the soul of this democracy, because wages are at stake, infrastructure is at stake, voting rights are at stake. And we will fight for this democracy!”
Senator Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey and other progressive lawmakers are rejecting a bipartisan infrastructure bill negotiated by Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, along with Mitt Romney and other Republicans. The compromise package calls for $580 billion in new spending, which climate activists say is far short of what’s needed to avert a climate catastrophe.
Meanwhile, dozens of youth climate activists marched across the Golden Gate Bridge Monday, capping a 266-mile march across California to demand officials take real action on the climate crisis. The protesters ended their march at the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. This is 17-year-old Ema Govea, a member of the Sunrise Movement and one of the leaders of the march.
Ema Govea: “They are not being brave, and they’re not fighting hard enough to keep the climate in this infrastructure bill, to fight for the boldest, most well-funded civilian climate corps possible. And we know — we understand the science. We know what is necessary. We are asking for their legislation to be at scale with the climate crisis. And frankly, everything that they’re putting forward is too watered down. It’s just not enough.”
The protest came as California faces a historic drought, with firefighters preparing for a wildfire year they anticipate could rival last year’s record-breaking season.
In Rockton, Illinois, a massive fire at a chemical plant is continuing to burn for a second day amid warnings of an unfolding environmental catastrophe. The Chemtool chemical plant northwest of Chicago erupted in flames Monday morning, billowing thick, black smoke and prompting a mandatory evacuation order for all residents within one mile of the site. People within a three-mile radius have been ordered to wear masks to avoid respiratory irritation. Rockton’s fire chief said firefighters would allow the blaze to continue to burn for days in order to prevent hazardous runoff into the nearby Rock River.
In Minneapolis, a driver slammed his car into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators who had gathered Sunday at a vigil against police brutality, killing one person and injuring three others. The crash killed 31-year-old Deona Marie Erickson, a mother of two small daughters. Police arrested the driver, Nicholas Kraus, on suspicion of vehicular homicide. He’s a 35-year-old white man with a history of domestic violence and at least five convictions for driving while intoxicated.
Protesters had gathered to demand justice for Winston Smith, a 32-year-old Black father of three who was shot dead in Minneapolis on June 3 by members of a U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force. Minnesota officials said Smith fired a gun at officers, who returned fire, striking him multiple times. Police say there is no video of Smith’s killing. A woman who was a passenger in the car disputed the police account, saying, through her attorneys, that she never saw a gun on Smith and never saw one in his vehicle.
In Burma, the trial against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi began Monday. 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, totaling up to 15 years in prison. Suu Kyi has been under house arrest since she and other officials were ousted in a February 1 military coup. A local rights group says over 800 people have been killed and 4,300 arrested since mass protests erupted in response to the coup.
The International Criminal Court is seeking authorization from The Hague tribunal to open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity committed as part of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs. The crimes include murder, torture and serious physical and mental harm. Since 2016, Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed thousands of lives, including children. This is Normita Lopez, the mother of one of the victims. Her 23-year-old son was killed in May 2017 for allegedly resisting arrest during a sting operation.
Normita Lopez: “When I heard the news about the International Criminal Court, I was happy. I thought the case would no longer prosper. If we filed the case against Duterte here, nothing would happen. Since he is the president, he can manipulate everything. He can do anything to avoid getting sued and imprisoned. When I heard the news about the ICC, I became more hopeful.”