At least four people, three of them athletes from the South African soccer team, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo’s Olympic Village ahead of the kickoff to the Summer Olympics later this week. Meanwhile, one of tennis’s biggest rising stars, 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, had to bow out of competition after contracting COVID-19. Japanese officials announced earlier today an unnamed American gymnast had also tested positive for COVID. No spectators will be allowed at the Olympics in Tokyo, where there is very low public support for the event.
In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into self-isolation over the weekend after coming into contact with U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for COVID-19. Johnson delivered a message to the British people from isolation Sunday, one day before the U.K. lifted its coronavirus restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “If we don’t do it now, we’ve got to ask ourselves, when will we ever do it? So this is the right moment, but we’ve got to do it cautiously. We’ve got to remember that this virus is, sadly, still out there. Cases are rising. We can see the extreme contagiousness of the Delta variant.”
In France, over 100,000 people took to the streets Saturday, many spurred by right-wing politicians, to condemn President Macron’s plan for mandatory vaccines for healthcare workers and a “health pass” to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas. Two vaccination centers were also vandalized in France over the weekend.
The highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant is continuing its rapid spread across the globe, with poor, mostly unvaccinated countries bearing the brunt of its impact. Namibia is recording a world record of 28 COVID-19 deaths per 1 million people as infections soar across many African nations. The World Health Organization is also warning cases are surging in Latin America and the Caribbean as the Delta variant becomes dominant across the region.
Here in the U.S., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said COVID-19 is “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” as cases continue to rise in all 50 states — driven by the Delta variant — with the most dramatic increases in areas with low vaccination rates. Twenty percent of new cases are being reported in Florida alone. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said vaccine refusal puts children under 12, who are not able to get the vaccine, at risk.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy: “Our kids depend on us, the people around them, being protected, being vaccinated, in order to shield them from the virus. And that’s why, again, it’s so important for us to get vaccinated. I’m worried that what we’re starting to see increasingly in states like Arkansas and Missouri and Nevada and my home state of Florida and Louisiana, these surges within the unvaccinated population.”
Dr. Murthy also says he expects more localities throughout the U.S. to reimpose mask mandates and other mitigation measures, as L.A. recently did, as numbers continue to rise.
Meanwhile, at least five Texas Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., last week to block their state from passing sweeping voter restrictions tested positive for COVID-19. The legislators were fully vaccinated.
A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday that DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is unlawful, in a crushing blow to immigrant communities and activists. The order does not affect current recipients for now but blocks the Department of Homeland Security from approving any new applications. DACA has offered temporary legal protections and work authorization for over 800,000 undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Judge Andrew Hanen said the program exceeded President Obama’s authority when he created it through executive action in 2012. President Biden vowed his Justice Department would appeal the ruling. Biden and other Democrats renewed calls for Congress to pass legislation providing a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have spent almost their entire lives in the U.S.
A joint investigation by 17 news outlets, including The Guardian and The Washington Post, found Israeli surveillance company NSO Group’s Pegasus software targeted the phones of journalists, activists and political figures around the world for foreign governments. A massive data leak, shared with the publications by Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories, a Paris-based nonprofit, contained over 50,000 phone numbers gathered since 2016, which reportedly includes heads of state. It’s unclear how many phones were actually breached. The report has identified 37 hacks out of 67 smartphones that were analyzed. The Washington Post said the cellphone of Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of its slain columnist Jamal Khashoggi, was infected with the malware days after his murder in October 2018 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
In climate news, the death toll from the catastrophic floods that have torn through parts of Western Europe continues to rise. At least 157 people have been confirmed dead in Germany, while 31 fatalities are being reported in Belgium. Rescue efforts are ongoing as hundreds of people remain missing. This is the heaviest rainfall many European countries have seen in at least a century.
This comes as climate change-fueled wildfires continue to rage across the western United States. In Oregon, firefighters battling the massive Bootleg Fire were forced to retreat from portions of the fire line last week as high winds and dry conditions are fueling the blaze’s growth. As of Sunday, the Bootleg Fire had burned nearly 300,000 acres. More than 70 major fires are burning in the western U.S.
Martine Moïse, the widow of assassinated President Jovenel Moïse, has returned to Haiti after being treated at a Miami hospital for injuries sustained in the attack at the presidential residence.
Colombian authorities said Friday a former Haitian Justice Ministry official, Joseph Felix Badio, may have ordered Moïse’s killing. Few other details are known, including Badio’s whereabouts.
In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police violently attacked and forcibly removed worshipers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sunday, just two days ahead of Eid al-Adha and as Israeli forces continue their attacks in the Occupied Territories. This is Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani: “It is clearly provocative action. At dawn, Israeli forces evacuated worshipers by force, and more than 1,300 extremists visited and prayed, and did provocative tours. The occupation forces raided Al-Aqsa compound and attacked worshipers who are in there until now.”
Prominent Egyptian human rights activist Esraa Abdel Fattah has been released from prison. She had been behind bars since October 2019, part of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s brutal crackdown on dissent. Esraa Abdel Fattah played a leading role in the 2011 uprising which helped topple dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to be released under the Biden administration has returned to his home country of Morocco. Fifty-six-year-old Abdul Latif Nasser was imprisoned for nearly two decades without charge and had been cleared for release since 2016. Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Guantánamo.
In Afghanistan, some 12,000 families have been displaced and are in need of immediate assistance amid deadly fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban. This is a displaced woman speaking from Takhar province.
Golnaar: “We have not come here eagerly. Ten women and 10 men are here together, while we had our own village and house before. What else can we do? Our children and ourselves are sick, and we have no carpets or anything else here.”
Intra-Afghan talks have resumed in Doha as the U.S. and NATO withdrawal nears completion.
In other news from Afghanistan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui was killed while covering a clash between Afghan security forces and the Taliban Friday. Siddiqui, a staff journalist at Reuters since 2010, was embedded with members of Afghanistan’s elite special forces attempting to recover a district near the border with Pakistan. Siddiqui is the first known journalist killed in Afghanistan since U.S. and allied troops began their withdrawal. He was just 38 years old and is survived by his wife and two children.
In Washington, D.C., at least three people were injured in a shooting outside Nationals Park Saturday night during a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres. Multiple loud gunshots were heard, causing panicked fans inside the stadium to flee and seek shelter. Gun violence erupted elsewhere across the country over the weekend, including in Chicago, where eight people were reported dead and some 50 others injured in shootings since Friday night. Other fatal shootings were also recorded in Philadelphia and Tucson.
Illinois has become the first U.S. state to ban law enforcement from lying and using other deceptive methods when interrogating minors. The ban goes into effect in January, and it will prohibit law enforcement agents from falsely promising leniency or claiming to have incriminating evidence when they don’t. These methods are still largely allowed in the U.S., often leading to false confessions, with minors and people with intellectual disabilities particularly vulnerable.
The remains of nine Indigenous children were buried Saturday by the Rosebud Sioux in South Dakota after being transferred back from the former Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. On Friday, another ceremony was held at a Missouri River landing near Sioux City, Iowa, where the children departed their homes, ripped from their families, over 100 years ago, as part of the cultural genocide orchestrated by the U.S. government. We’ll have more on this later in the broadcast with Christopher Eagle Bear.
In Kansas, hundreds of workers at the Frito-Lay factory in Topeka have been on strike for two weeks to demand fair pay and humane working conditions. Workers say they are forced to work 12-hour days, including over the weekend, and many have not received a pay raise in years. In the summer, workers endure triple-digit temperatures without air conditioning. Multiple workers have reportedly died on the job of heart attacks. Senator Bernie Sanders voiced support for the strikers over the weekend, noting Frito-Lay made over $4.2 billion in sales last year.
Civil rights pioneer Gloria Richardson died over the weekend at the age of 99. Richardson was co-founder of the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee in Maryland, which fought to desegregate public institutions like schools and hospitals. Richardson also spent much of her life fighting for economic justice. She described herself as “a radical, a revolutionary,” and was one of the few women at the forefront of protests during the civil rights movement. In 2013, Democracy Now! spoke with Richardson about her life’s work, including the very brief moment she took the microphone during the 1963 March on Washington.
Gloria Richardson: “So I went up. So, I said hello, and I really, by that time, was so annoyed, I was going to tell them, 'You all just sit here until they pass that civil rights bill, even if it is a weak one.' And I said, 'Hello.' And they took — so, I guess they were right, because” —
Amy Goodman: “And they pulled the mic from your mouth.”
Gloria Richardson: “Oh yeah, they pulled it, but had one of the marshals.”