More arrests have been made in connection with last week’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Christian Emmanuel Sanon is accused of working with the masterminds who plotted the killing, after flying into Haiti on a private jet. He is believed to be a Haitian-born, Florida-based doctor. Police say he planned to assume the presidency and use the men involved in the killing as part of his security team. Haiti’s police chief said his forces are working with Colombian officials. So far, 26 Colombians, including former soldiers, are suspected of being involved in the killing; 18 of them have been arrested, along with three Haitians. The arrested Colombians were reportedly recruited by a Miami-area security firm called CTU Security. Five suspects remain at large. Two Haitian Americans who were arrested last week claim to have been acting as interpreters. The U.S. said it is sending senior FBI and DHS officials to Port-au-Prince, but has so far denied requests to send troops to Haiti. Meanwhile, unrest is growing in Haiti amid the political turmoil and the worsening economic crisis.
Prophete Elyse: “Politicians are fighting amongst themselves. Each one is claiming power. Since 1804, the country has a leadership problem. The leaders never think of the people. They always use the people to defend their own interests.”
Haiti is also struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic as the country has yet to see a single vaccine.
COVID-19 cases rose in 42 U.S. states over the past week as the vaccination rate has slowed down and the more transmissible Delta variant spreads. Over 99% of U.S. COVID deaths in June were among unvaccinated people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines urging schools to fully reopen in the fall but leaving major decisions in the hands of local officials. The CDC said fully vaccinated students can mostly forgo mask-wearing, even when inside, but that three feet of distance between children should be maintained if possible, and six feet between adults or between adults and students.
In New York City, officials were forced to halt the transfer of unhoused people from empty hotel rooms to congregate shelters after the Legal Aid Society filed a motion saying it was a violation of people with disabilities and certain health conditions.
In Cuba, thousands of people took to the streets of Havana and other cities in rare anti-government protests, denouncing the island’s economic crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba is facing its harshest phase of the pandemic with skyrocketing infections. The island set a new record Sunday with over 6,900 positive cases. People are scrambling to cope amid shortages of medicine, food and other resources due to catastrophic U.S. sanctions. Thousands of others led counterprotests Sunday in support of the Cuban Revolution and President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who accused the U.S. of instigating anti-government protests on the island and urged the Biden administration to lift the blockade.
The top U.S. military general in Afghanistan is stepping down today in a symbolic end to the nearly two-decade occupation. Army General Austin “Scott” Miller has overseen the U.S. War in Afghanistan since 2018. Last week, President Biden said the U.S. military will complete its withdrawal by August 31. This comes as Taliban fighters have stepped up their offensive, seizing more territory and surrounding major cities. This is a resident of the northern city of Kunduz.
Naweed Jan: “The fighting is ongoing in Kunduz. The situation is worrying, and many people have been displaced from their homes. When will this situation end? Our demand from the central government is to make this clear whether they should hand over the city to the Taliban or take full control by themselves and clear the whole area from insurgents, so that we can live a peaceful life.”
Ethiopia’s National Electoral Board says incumbent Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won a second five-year term in office. His party’s landslide victory came after fewer than 40 million people in a nation of 110 million registered to cast ballots — with no voting at all taking place in three of Ethiopia’s 10 regions. That includes the Tigray region, home to 6 million people. Four hundred thousand people in Tigray are in famine, with nearly 2 million more on the brink, after Prime Minister Abiy pursued a devastating military offensive against separatists.
In sports news, England’s Football Association is condemning racist attacks on social media aimed at Black players on the national team following their loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final Sunday. England lost to Italy 3 to 2 during penalty kicks. The English team responded on Twitter, “We’re disgusted that some of our squad — who have given everything for the shirt this summer — have been subjected to discriminatory abuse online … We stand with our players.”
In Venice, Italy, officials at the G20 summit have backed a proposal calling for a global minimum tax of at least 15% in an effort to curb tax havens and loopholes for major corporations. The proposal faces many potential obstacles, including objections from businesses and low-tax countries. It also currently excludes financial services firms and extractive industries. Protesters gathered in Venice called out the exclusive gathering of the world’s 20 largest economies.
Silvia Crash: “This is an economic model that we want to oppose. It is the same economic model that today at the G20 they will try to propose again to get the lost economy back on its feet after the COVID-19 crisis. This model of tourism, capitalism and exploitation is not a sustainable model to recover from the economic crisis.”
President Biden issued a wide-ranging executive order Friday to curb anti-competitive practices, which he said stifle economic growth and lock workers into low-wage jobs.
President Joe Biden: “What we’ve seen over the past few decades is less competition and more concentration that holds our economy back. We see it in Big Agriculture, in Big Tech, in Big Pharma. The list goes on. Rather than competing for consumers, they are consuming their competitors. Rather than competing for workers, they’re finding ways to gain the upper hand on labor.”
Included in the executive order are provisions calling on federal agencies to more thoroughly scrutinize mergers; support for states and tribal governments that import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada; and for the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality for broadband.
In immigration news, government data obtained by the ACLU has revealed the Trump administration began separating asylum-seeking families at the U.S.-Mexico border as early as May 2017, nearly a year before Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy officially went into effect. From July to December of 2017, some 234 families were separated in Yuma, Arizona, according to government documents, though the overall numbers are likely higher. Many children remain separated from their parents four years later, while some parents are missing after having been deported. Some of the families originally came from Guatemala, Belize, Nicaragua, Angola and Russia.
In Texas, an African American man who waited over six hours to cast a vote in March of 2020 faces up to 40 years in prison for “illegal voting.” Sixty-two-year-old Hervis Earl Rogers was arrested on Wednesday and charged with violating a Texas law barring people with felony convictions from casting ballots. He remained in jail for three days until the nonprofit group The Bail Project paid his $100,000 bail. Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton ordered Rogers’s arrest just before the start of a special legislative session in Texas in which Republicans are pressing new voter suppression laws — and trying to make it more difficult for people arrested to post cash bail. On Tuesday, President Biden is set to deliver a major voting rights speech in Philadelphia.
The city of Charlottesville took down three racist statues over the weekend, including of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Lee’s statue was at the center of the deadly white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker spoke just ahead of its removal.
Mayor Nikuyah Walker: “Taking down the statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia and America grapple with its sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gains.”
Charlottesville also removed a statue of 19th century explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, who were involved in establishing settler-colonialist rule over Indigenous peoples. They are depicted with Shoshone interpreter Sacagawea kneeling by their side in a submissive posture. Meanwhile, the University of Virginia on Sunday took down its statue of Revolutionary War military leader George Rogers Clark, who is depicted attacking a Native American family.
The death toll in Florida’s Sursfide condo collapse reached 90 people; 71 bodies have been identified, including three children. Recovery work is expected to last at least another two weeks.
British billionaire Richard Branson rocketed to 53 miles above the Earth on Sunday in a test flight of his privately funded Virgin Galactic space plane. Branson’s trip above the atmosphere came just days before the world’s richest person — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — is set to fly to the edge of space aboard his self-funded New Shepard rocket. This month Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO, in part to focus on his rocket company, Blue Origin, as it struggles to compete with billionaire Elon Musk’s privately held SpaceX corporation. In response, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told The New York Times, “You have the richest guys in the world who are not particularly worried about earth anymore. They’re off in outer space.”
In western Arizona, two firefighters were killed Saturday when their plane crashed as they surveyed the Cedar Basin Fire. It’s one of thousands of wildfires burning on over 300,000 acres in six western states. California’s largest wildfire exploded in size to nearly 84,000 acres Sunday, fueled by a withering drought and scorching-hot temperatures. The Beckwourth Complex Fire has spread into neighboring Nevada and is only about 8% contained. So far this year, California has seen 115 square miles consumed by wildfires, more than double what had burned at this point in 2020’s record-setting fire season.
The fires came as record heat returned to part of the western United States over the weekend, fueled by the climate crisis. Las Vegas tied an all-time record high of 117 degrees Fahrenheit; Palm Springs, California, hit a record 120 degrees; and the overnight low in Phoenix on Friday was 93 degrees. Maricopa County officials have logged over 100 suspected heat-related deaths so far this year. Death Valley hit 130 degrees on Sunday for just the fifth time ever — tied for the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. And in the Arctic Circle, the town of Banak in northern Norway reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit last week — hotter than the highest temperature recorded in Miami, Florida, this year.