Iraq’s military has condemned U.S. airstrikes along the Iraq-Syria border as a “breach of sovereignty.” The Pentagon says President Biden ordered Monday morning’s assault on weapons storage facilities in Syria and Iraq in response to drone attacks by an Iran-backed militia against U.S. troops and personnel in Iraq. It’s the second time Biden has ordered airstrikes in the region. In a statement, the Coordinating Committee of the Iraqi Resistance promised to retaliate, adding, “We will not remain silent over the continued presence of American occupation forces in Iraq, which goes against the constitution, the Parliament’s vote, and the will of the Iraqi people.” The U.S. airstrikes came less than two weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which grants sweeping war powers to the president.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. He is expected to serve just 15 years of that sentence. His lawyers are also expected to appeal his April conviction. Lawyers for Floyd’s family and Minnesota’s attorney general said that while the sentence does not serve justice, it provides some accountability for Floyd’s murder. Floyd’s family said the sentence was too light, but they are looking toward the federal civil rights indictment. This is his brother, Rodney Floyd.
Rodney Floyd: “This right here is — this 22-year sentence they gave this man, it’s a slap on the wrist. We’re serving life sentences not having him in our life.”
In related news, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet is calling on states in North America, Europe and Latin America to take steps to dismantle racism and to “confront past legacies and deliver redress,” as her agency released a report outlining the systemic nature of racism against people of African descent.
The World Health Organization is urging even fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks, maintain social distancing and take other precautions as more outbreaks linked to the Delta variant spread around the world.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “Delta is the most transmissible of the variants identified so far, has been identified in at least 85 countries and is spreading rapidly among unvaccinated populations.”
Israel has reimposed an indoor mask mandate and other measures amid a new rise in cases. About half of those infected in a recent outbreak linked to the Delta variant were fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, India is reporting mounting cases of a related variant which has been dubbed “Delta Plus.”
In Bangladesh, tens of thousands of migrant workers left the capital Dhaka Sunday ahead of strict stay-at-home orders going into effect this week.
In Australia, over 5 million people in and around Sydney have been ordered to stay home for the next two weeks after an outbreak of the Delta COVID-19 variant.
Indonesia set a new daily record of over 21,000 cases Sunday. Authorities say the current surge has brought the health system “close to collapse.”
In Russia, Moscow and Saint Petersburg both set new records for daily death tolls this weekend.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced new restrictions to deal with its surge.
President Cyril Ramaphosa: “Along with many other countries on our continent, Africa, South Africa is seeing a massive resurgence of infections. … A curfew will be in place from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and all nonessential establishments will need to close by 8 p.m. The sale of alcohol, both for onsite and offsite consumption, is prohibited.”
President Biden has promised to support Afghanistan’s central government even after the U.S. completes its troop withdrawal by a September 11 deadline. Biden made the promise during talks at the White House Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation. President Ghani said after the White House meeting he still hoped to engage the Taliban in dialogue.
President Ashraf Ghani: “Force is not the way to compel an Afghan to submission. We still call on them to have a ceasefire and to engage in a political process, because a political settlement is the ultimate mechanism of ending a war. As Lincoln said, the best way of turning — treating an enemy is to turn him into a friend.”
President Ghani’s visit to Washington came amid a rapid advance by the Taliban into areas formerly held by the Afghan government — roughly doubling the territory under Taliban control in just the last two months.
In Florida, the death toll has risen to nine people, with over 150 still missing, following the collapse of a high-rise apartment building in Surfside last Thursday. A 2018 inspection found the building had “abundant cracking and spalling” in its foundation, with engineers pointing to design flaws and insufficient waterproofing. NPR is reporting a Surfside official nonetheless told residents one month after the inspection report that the building was “in very good shape.”
Vice President Kamala Harris visited El Paso, Texas, Friday for her first trip to the U.S.-Mexico border since taking office. Harris toured a Customs and Border Protection facility and met with detained refugee children. Harris called for a depoliticization of immigration policies as advocates continue to condemn her statements earlier this month during her visit to Guatemala telling asylum seekers “do not come” to the U.S.
In labor news, more than 2,000 healthcare workers in Cook County, Illinois, are on strike demanding affordable healthcare and better pay — including temporary bonuses for frontline workers in situations made hazardous by the pandemic. Friday’s strike by Service Employees International Union Local 73 came a day after 1,200 Chicago-area nurses held a one-day strike to demand safe staffing levels in Cook County hospitals and clinics.
The Justice Department has filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for a sweeping voter suppression law, which the suit says discriminates against Black voters. This is Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
Kristen Clarke: “These legislative actions occurred at a time when the Black population in Georgia continues to steadily increase and after a historic election that saw record voter turnout across the state, particularly for absentee voting, which Black voters are now more likely to use than white voters.”
The Georgia law, which passed in March, adds new voter ID requirements, shortens the window for absentee voting, severely limits ballot drop boxes and grants the state power to intervene in elections in Democratic counties.
Lawyers for the Trump Organization must present any final arguments on their client’s behalf no later than today, according to a deadline set by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The Manhattan DA is expected to announce criminal charges as early as this week against former President Trump’s business over its financial dealings involving top executive Allen Weisselberg. Meanwhile, a former executive vice president for the Trump Organization told CNN Trump “deserves to go to jail.”
White House aides drafted a proclamation last June to invoke the Insurrection Act, as then-President Trump considered deploying thousands of active-duty troops in Washington, D.C., to suppress the protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd. That’s according to The New York Times, which reports Trump had to be talked out of the plan to invoke the Insurrection Act to call in the military.
Millions of people took to the streets around the world this weekend to celebrate LGBTQ Pride. In Turkey, police in riot gear came down on protesters, firing tear gas and blocking streets where marches were taking place. Thousands marched in Paris, Mexico City, Panama and in El Salvador’s capital San Salvador, where there were also reports of police harassment during Pride celebrations. Here in New York City, two main events took place. New York City Pride held a mostly virtual ceremony for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. The event also banned New York police from participating this year, after years of advocacy from Black and Brown LGBTQ community members. This year also marked the third annual anti-corporate, anti-police Queer Liberation March.
Steven Love Menendez: “This one [Queer Liberation March] is corporate-free, and this one is really about the roots of the movement. This is why we celebrate and also still remember to be active and fight for our rights that still need to be met.”
There were reports of NYPD agents attacking and pepper-spraying revelers on Sunday night.
In other news from New York, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay a settlement of up to $230 million over its role in fueling the opioid crisis. Attorney General Letitia James announced that as part of the deal with New York, J&J will no longer manufacture or sell opioids in the U.S. and that the funds from the settlement will go toward prevention, treatment and education efforts in the state. The settlement also allows J&J to escape a major opioid trial starting this week in Long Island, New York.
Mike Gravel, former Democratic U.S. senator from Alaska and two-time presidential candidate who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, has died at the age of 91. Gravel ran for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination as a vocal critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. During a 2007 presidential debate, Gravel confronted then-candidate Barack Obama about using nuclear weapons. He switched from running as a Democratic candidate to a Libertarian one after opposing the military-industrial complex and imperialism that permeates the Democratic Party. Later in the show, we’ll air excerpts of Mike Gravel reading the Pentagon Papers in 1971 and speaking in 2007 about the events leading up to the historic reading.