As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world, fueled by the more transmissible Delta variant, more countries are enacting or considering health passes for vaccinated people. France just approved a highly contested law making proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test mandatory for accessing certain indoor venues. Germany says it is considering similar measures amid surging cases there.
In Indonesia, hundreds of children have died in recent weeks as infections continue to surge and hospitals are pushed past their breaking point. Children may make up as many as 12.5% of Indonesia’s confirmed infections. Other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand and Malaysia, have recently reported record case numbers. Meanwhile, a recent study by The Lancet found that over 1.5 million children lost a primary or secondary caregiver to COVID-19. In Tokyo, Japan, Olympic organizers reported 10 new cases related to the games Sunday.
Here in the U.S., top medical adviser Anthony Fauci warned Sunday the U.S. is “going in the wrong direction” due to the large number of unvaccinated people who continue to get sick and fuel outbreaks. Only around half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Fauci also said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was considering new mask guidelines for vaccinated people amid the current surge. St. Louis, Missouri, is the latest place to reinstate its indoor mask mandate as cases in the state spike. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Republican governor Kay Ivey said it’s “time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks” for COVID’s persistent spread.
Gov. Kay Ivey: “Almost 100% of the new hospitalizations are with unvaccinated folks. And the deaths are certainly occurring with unvaccinated folks. These folks are choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain. Y’all, we’ve got to get folks to take the shot.”
In other coronavirus news, advocates are calling on the Biden administration to take action after it upheld a Trump memo which would send some 4,000 prisoners, currently in home confinement, back to jail once the pandemic state of emergency is lifted. Either Biden would have to commute their sentences or Congress could pass a law extending home confinement beyond the emergency order.
The president of Tunisia dismissed the prime minister and suspended parliament Sunday, announcing he would take on executive power with the assistance of a new prime minister. The move came following major protests across Tunisia against the ruling Ennahda party. This is a protester speaking just hours before the president’s announcement.
Hammemi Ahmed: “The main demand is that the Ennahda Movement, which ruled for 10 years and did not provide us with solutions, leave the parliament. As a young man in 2011, I called for jobs, freedom and national dignity. And in 2021, I still call for jobs, freedom and national dignity.”
Police released tear gas on crowds after they poured into the streets to celebrate the news, as some members of parliament and others accused the president of launching a state coup. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is reporting police raided their Tunis office earlier today, expelling all the staff and confiscating equipment.
The U.N. said a record 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in May and June as fighting between government and Taliban forces escalated. The number of casualties reported in the first half of this year was nearly 50% higher than in 2020. The Afghan government just imposed a nationwide curfew in an effort to curb Taliban advances. Meanwhile, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said the U.S. will likely continue its airstrikes even after August 31, when U.S. and NATO forces are expected to complete their withdrawal.
The U.S. military launched its second drone strike in Somalia in under a week Friday. It was also the second attack targeting al-Shabab fighters in Somalia since President Biden took office. Minnesota Congressmember Ilhan Omar, whose family came to the U.S. as Somali refugees, wrote a letter to Biden requesting more information about the strikes. She said, “It is critical that any military action must be part of a broader strategy focused on the security of the Somali people and the stability of the Somali state.”
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during a protest over illegal Israeli settlements near the town of Beita. Mohammed Munir al-Tamimi was 17 years old. Over 300 others were injured as Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition on the crowds.
Sierra Leone has abolished the death penalty. It’s the 23rd African country to do so. Advocates in Sierra Leone say capital punishment was a brutal remnant of colonialism and that the recent vote could serve as as example for the United States.
In Guatemala, protests calling for the resignation of right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei have intensified after the attorney general fired the country’s top anti-corruption prosecutor Friday. Juan Francisco Sandoval fled Guatemala just hours after being ousted, fearing for his life. Protesters are also condemning government corruption and the deadly mishandling of the pandemic.
The Mexican government is sending two boatloads of food and medical supplies to Cuba, including oxygen tanks, needles and syringes. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has denounced catastrophic U.S. sanctions on Cuba that have triggered an economic crisis on the island and a massive shortage of resources during the pandemic, leading to recent unrest.
In India, at least 135 people are dead after torrential rains triggered massive floods and landslides across the state of Maharashtra and the city of Mumbai. Dozens are still missing as rescue efforts continue. While monsoon rains are common in India, climate scientists warn global warming has contributed to heavier and devastating rainfall. This is a resident of Mumbai.
Mahesh Narwegar: “The level of the floodwater never rose to 20 to 25 feet. The water level has risen to this height for the first time. All the properties of the residents are destroyed. They have nothing to eat and drink.”
In more climate news, Northern California’s Dixie Fire has become the state’s largest blaze this year after it exploded in size in recent days due to high winds and hot, dry temperatures. California fire officials said the blaze had merged with the smaller Fly Fire over the weekend as they continue to rage through Butte and Plumas counties, forcing residents to evacuate. Dozens of structures have been destroyed, with thousands more at risk. As of Sunday, both the Dixie and Fly fires had burned a combined over 195,000 acres. Meanwhile, Oregon’s Bootleg Fire has destroyed more than 400,000 acres. Oregon Governor Kate Brown said the climate crisis is “a hammer hitting us in the head.”
Gov. Kate Brown: “We’re going to see more of these wildfires. They’re hotter. They’re more fierce and, obviously, much more challenging to tackle. And they are a sign of the changing climate impacts. In the last year, Oregon has had four federal emergency declarations. … Climate change is here, it’s real, and it’s like a hammer hitting us in the head. And we have to take action.”
At least 86 active large wildfires in the U.S. have scorched nearly 1.5 million acres. This comes as another searing heat wave is set to hit much of the country this week, including the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added Illinois congressmember and Trump critic Adam Kinzinger to the special committee investigating the January 6 Capitol insurrection. He is the second Republican after Liz Cheney to join the committee. Kinzinger and Cheney were two of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in instigating the deadly riot. Kinziger was censured by his party for publicly opposing Trump. A growing number of Republican lawmakers are calling on Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to punish Cheney and Kinzinger for joining the committee. The House panel will start hearing testimony this week.
Mississippi’s attorney general urged the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, asking it to rule in favor of a highly contested Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The majority-conservative Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in May; it’s expected to be argued later this year. The president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, said the move from Mississippi “reveals the extreme and regressive strategy, not just of this law, but of the avalanche of abortion bans and restrictions that are being passed across the country.”
In New York, over 1,000 immigrants, activists and their supporters took to the streets Friday to demand Congress and President Biden include in the infrastructure package a pathway to citizenship for all DACA recipients, TPS holders and immigrant essential workers. Ushered by drivers from the New York Taxi Workers Union, demonstrators shut down traffic on the Manhattan Bridge.
Civil rights leader Bob Moses has died at the age of 86. Bob Moses worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to register voters across Mississippi. A former high school teacher, he went on to found the Algebra Project, devoted to improving access to education, particularly in math, for students of color. In 2009, Democracy Now! spoke with Bob Moses on the first day of the Obama presidency about the ongoing challenges in education.
Bob Moses: “In our country, I think we run sharecropper education. … So, if we carry that forward into the information age, then we will have serfs in our cities, just like we had serfs in the Delta of Mississippi in the industrial era. And this is the huge challenge facing our country. I think what we need is a movement for our constitutional rights. We need a constitutional amendment, something which simply says every child in the country is a child of the country and is entitled to a quality public school education.”