President Biden has announced new requirements for civilian federal employees amid the surge in COVID-19 cases from the rapidly spreading Delta variant.
President Joe Biden: “Every federal government employee will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest or is not vaccinated will be required to mask, no matter where they work; test one or two times a week to see if they’ve acquired COVID; socially distance; and, generally, will not be allowed to travel for work.”
Biden also directed the Pentagon to work toward a vaccine mandate for all military members and called on states and local governments to use federal funding they received to offer a $100 incentive for vaccinations. New York City is launching that initiative today. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., is the latest area to reinstate an indoor mask mandate for all.
According to an internal CDC report, infections of the Delta variant could be just as transmissible from breakthrough infections in vaccinated people as from the unvaccinated and could be more severe — with each infected person able to infect eight to nine others. The document also said the Delta variant is as contagious as chicken pox and more contagious than the viruses that cause the common cold, the seasonal flu and other easily transmitted illnesses.
The House is expected to consider a bill today which would extend a nationwide moratorium on evictions, set to expire Saturday, as nearly 12 million people in the U.S. are behind on rent. On Thursday, Biden urged Congress to find a way to extend the ban since the CDC is no longer able to do so as a result of a Supreme Court ruling last month.
Britain’s U.N. ambassador has warned that half of Burma’s population of 54 million could contract COVID-19 in the next two weeks amid the ongoing turmoil following a military coup in February.
Pakistan is enacting an air travel ban for anyone who cannot provide a vaccine certificate. It is also mandating all public sector workers get vaccinated, as well as public transport and retail staff, and teachers and students 18 and older.
Meanwhile, record cases have been reported across Japan and in Tokyo this week as the Olympics continue.
Israel said it will be offering booster shots of the Pfizer vaccine to people over 60, the first country to do so. This despite less than 10% of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories having been fully vaccinated.
The European Union pulled ahead of the U.S. this week in its rate of vaccination after a slow rollout earlier in the year. In July, the EU has given shots at four times the pace of the U.S.
In Haiti, health workers say hospitals are becoming overwhelmed due to a surge in cases as the country grapples with a worsening economic and political crisis in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. This is hospital director Dr. Nathalie Colas.
Dr. Nathalie Colas: ’’Sometimes we have almost 60 patients at the hospital who need oxygen, while we only have 10 oxygen tanks available. The areas where we could get oxygen are inaccessible. It is a very stressful situation for us at the hospital.”
Both the House and Senate passed a $2.1 billion emergency spending package for Capitol security, in response to a funding crisis incurred by the January 6 insurrection. The measure also includes funds for resettling Afghans who worked with U.S. forces during the occupation of their country. The first evacuation flight for Afghan interpreters and others arrived at Washington Dulles Airport earlier this morning.
A new watchdog report says over 80 Afghan troops were killed during the Taliban offensive this spring in more than two dozen insider attacks as the U.S. withdrawal was underway.
The United States is returning some 17,000 archaeological treasures to Iraq that were looted during the decades of war and U.S. occupation. Some of the artifacts date back 4,000 years. Baghdad’s culture minister praised the move as an unprecedented restitution.
The U.S. is reportedly planning to impose sanctions on Iran’s drone and guided missile programs. This comes following reports the Biden administration is weighing tightening oil sanctions on Iran if talks to relaunch the nuclear deal — which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from — fail. Iran has repeatedly said it will not recommit to the agreement until the U.S. lifts its devastating sanctions.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man at a protest that took place during the funeral of a 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed by Israel just one day earlier. Twenty-year-old Shawkat Khalid Awad reportedly died from gunshot wounds to the head and the stomach. Israeli forces also fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at the mourners.
In Hong Kong, the first protester to be tried under a sweeping national security law was sentenced to nine years for inciting terrorism and secessionism. Tong Ying-kit was arrested in 2020 while riding a motorbike and flying a flag with the slogan “liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times.” Over 100 people have been arrested under the legislation following months of massive mobilizations in 2019.
In climate news, researchers found Greenland lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass due to ice melting over just one day this week — an event that’s only happened three times in the last decade. That melt is large enough to cover the entire state of Florida in at least two inches of water.
A Massachusetts court has charged Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in 1974. The 91-year-old McCarrick, who was defrocked in 2019, is the highest-ranking Catholic official in the U.S. to face criminal charges for sex crimes. Massachusetts law stops the clock on the statute of limitations if someone accused of a crime leaves the state.
Missouri Congressmember Cori Bush has introduced the Unhoused Bill of Rights. The bill would protect the human rights of unhoused people, including freedom from harassment by law enforcement. It would also work to permanently end the unhoused crisis by 2025 through increasing affordable housing, universal housing vouchers and ensuring funding of essential social services and housing programs. This is Congressmember Bush.
Rep. Cori Bush: “I sit here today as a formerly unhoused congressmember. I am outraged. There is no reason we can fund wars and weapons, but we can’t provide universal housing and healthcare. The urgency of this crisis has never been clearer, as the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed just how many of our neighbors live one missed paycheck away from becoming unhoused.”
In Brooklyn, New York, the mutual aid collective The Gym is speaking out after they were attacked at their storefront space in Bushwick by the NYPD over the weekend. Fourteen people were arrested, one person was hospitalized, and others injured. New York officials have called for an investigation into the attack. Members of The Gym held a press conference earlier this week.
Member of The Gym: “This community experienced a brutal crackdown by every force and tool of the NYPD against a community center and safe space. Sent by a millionaire landlord who wasn’t here and doesn’t live or have an office in the five boroughs, they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Saturday’s violence, followed by a further four-plus days of round-the-clock surveillance. … You can’t stop us, because we mean we will be here every day with our neighbors until the world’s ample resources are freely available to all.”
New York City police arrested at least 11 people who shut down a Lower Manhattan street in front of City Hall at a “Housing Not Shelters” demonstration Thursday. Housing rights advocates were calling out the city’s plan to transfer thousands of unhoused people from hotels back to shelters, where they face increased precarity and possible COVID exposure.
Hundreds of striking Alabama coal miners traveled to New York City this week and held a protest in front of the offices of hedge fund BlackRock, the largest shareholder of Warrior Met Coal. Over 1,000 members of the United Mine Workers of America have been on strike since April 1 after rejecting a new contract that refused to restore their full pay, after miners took a pay cut in 2016 to help keep the company afloat.
Carl Levin, longtime liberal senator from Michigan, passed away at the age of 87. He was known for doggedly pursuing tax fraud and going after Wall Street’s financial crimes. Levin also led opposition to the resolution that granted then-President Bush authority to invade Iraq. He served from 1979 to 2015.
A 25-foot totem pole from the Lummi Nation arrived in Washington, D.C., after a more than 20,000-mile cross-country journey through sacred lands. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and tribal leaders blessed the pole Thursday during a ceremony on the National Mall. It was carved from a 400-year-old red cedar tree and will serve to raise awareness of Native issues and protecting sacred sites.