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A nationwide moratorium on evictions expired Saturday after Democratic lawmakers failed to pass a bill to protect millions of people who could be forced from their homes during the pandemic. Some progressive Democrats slammed Democratic leaders for beginning their summer recess before extending the moratorium. Democratic Congressmember Cori Bush began camping out on the steps of the Capitol on Friday in protest.
Rep. Cori Bush: “The night was necessary to continue this awareness, because we need the powers that be to understand that we’re not just going to let this go quietly, when the lives of actual people that we’re supposed to represent, like actual whole people, like human beings, actually are at risk by this policy decision, or the lack of one. So, we’re out here.”
After Congress failed to extend the moratorium, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers urged President Biden to take executive action, but the White House claims its power is limited due to a recent Supreme Court ruling in which Justice Kavanaugh said it was his view that congressional authorization would be necessary to extend the moratorium.
The number of coronavirus hospitalizations in Florida has topped 10,000, and the number of daily new infections has exceeded 21,000 for the first time since the pandemic began, as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread. Florida accounts for about one in five COVID-19 cases nationwide. On Friday, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order making masks optional in public schools. The United States is now averaging about 80,000 new cases a day — about six times as many as a month ago. On Sunday, top White House coronavirus adviser Anthony Fauci spoke to ABC and warned the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: “Things are going to get worse. If you look at the acceleration of the number of cases, the seven-day average has gone up substantially. You know, what we really need to do, Jon, we say it over and over again, and it’s the truth — we have 100 million people in this country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not getting vaccinated.”
China is battling its largest COVID outbreak in over a year. More than 300 cases have been confirmed across 15 provinces. China has suspended all flights, trains and buses between Beijing and areas with confirmed cases. This comes as COVID cases continue to surge across Asia, with Thailand and Malaysia reporting record infections. In Japan, authorities reported over 4,000 new COVID cases in Tokyo on Saturday — a new single-day high in the Olympic host city.
In Turkey, at least eight people have died as over 100 wildfires continue to burn. President Erdogan has declared parts of southwestern Turkey to be disaster areas. Thousands have been evacuated. Greece, Italy and Spain are also battling fires fueled by intense heat, in the latest sign of the climate emergency facing the world.
In Bangladesh, thousands of Rohingya refugees have been displaced after mass flooding in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp. At least six refugees have died. Many others lost all of their belongings.
Abu Siddique: “The landslide fully damaged my house. Somehow my family members could evacuate. The mud that came down from the hill entered my home, and it was totally covered with mud. All of our belongings inside are covered in mud. There were very few things I could retrieve.”
In Afghanistan, dozens of people have died after flash floods in the Taliban-controlled Kamdesh district. The Taliban put the death toll as high as 150.
Here in the United States, there are now 91 large wildfires burning in the West. The New York Times reports the Bootleg Fire in Oregon has now burned an area the size of Portland, Seattle, Sacramento and New York City combined. Authorities warn the fire may not be fully contained until October.
Newly released Justice Department documents show Donald Trump directly asked the acting attorney general for help to overturn the November election. According to notes taken during a conversation on December 27, Trump told Jeffrey Rosen, “Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the [Republican] congressmen.” Rosen refused. Ten days later, Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to stop the counting of electoral votes.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is facing widespread criticism for remarks he made about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. During a fundraising event before 1,400 people on Saturday, the top Republican in the House talked about what would happen if the Republicans regained control of the House. McCarthy said, “I want you to watch Nancy Pelosi hand me that gavel. It will be hard not to hit her with it.” In response, Pelosi’s spokesperson said, “A threat of violence to someone who was a target of a #January6th assassination attempt from your fellow Trump supporters is irresponsible and disgusting.”
In news from Afghanistan, the Taliban has stepped up attacks on three provincial capitals: Kandahar, Herat and Lashkar Gah. In response, the U.S. military launched airstrikes against Taliban fighters. On Sunday, at least three Taliban rockets hit Kandahar airport. And on Friday, at least one person died after rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire hit the main U.N. compound in Herat. Earlier today, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani presented a new security plan to a special session of parliament, but details were not made public.
Mexico, Russia and Bolivia have sent shipments of food and medical supplies to Cuba over the past week. Cuba is in the midst of a public health and economic crisis. On Sunday, Cuba reported nearly 10,000 new COVID-19 cases — the highest since the start of the pandemic. Miguel Díaz Reynoso is Mexico’s ambassador to Cuba.
Miguel Díaz Reynoso: “This awaited arrival, together with other vessels, other forms of assistance, of cooperation, represent one simple and great thing. They are proof of friendship, of gratitude, of solidarity. That’s what President Obrador asked for, for Cuba to have what it needs now, and that’s what is being shipped.”
This comes as the Biden administration continues to reject calls to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba. On Friday, the U.S. announced new sanctions on Cuba, and President Biden warned more sanctions might be coming.
Over 700 refugees — including a 3-month-old baby — were rescued off the coast of Libya and Malta over the weekend as they attempted to reach Europe. The humanitarian group SOS Méditerranée has carried out at least six separate rescue operations since Saturday. The group is searching for a safe location to disembark the asylum seekers. This comes as the number of refugees trying to reach European soil continues to grow due to worsening poverty, violence and the climate crisis. Over 1,100 refugees have perished crossing through dangerous sea routes so far this year. Meanwhile, Greek authorities on the island of Lesbos have drafted criminal charges against at least 10 humanitarian aid workers, accusing migrant rescue groups of “human trafficking.”
New Zealand has apologized to Pacific Islanders for the country’s past racist anti-migrant policies. In the 1970s, New Zealand police routinely raided the homes of Pacific Islanders in the middle of the night looking for residents who had overstayed their visas. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke Sunday.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern: “Today, I stand on behalf of the New Zealand government to offer a formal and unreserved apology to Pacific communities for the discriminatory implementation of the immigration laws of the 1970s that led to the events of the Dawn Raids.”
In Burma, the head of the military junta has named himself prime minister, six months after the military seized power. Army chief Min Aung Hlaing has announced the state of emergency imposed after the military coup will extend for two more years. He also vowed to hold elections in 2023. Since the military coup, more than 900 people have been killed and thousands arrested.
The Washington Post reports police in the United States shot dead more than 1,000 people in 2020 — the highest number since the Post began an effort to track police shootings in 2015. About one in five of the fatal shootings occurred after police were called to investigate reports of domestic violence or another type of domestic disturbance. Over the past six years, the Post has documented more than 6,400 fatal police shootings, an average of almost three per day.
In Connecticut, an Ecuadorian father of three — who lived in the basement of a New Haven church for two years to avoid deportation — has been granted a one-year stay of removal. Nelson Pinos has been living in the U.S. for nearly three decades. The 47-year-old was given a deportation order in 2017, prompting him to seek sanctuary at the church.
In Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee says it’s investigating whether an “X” gesture made by U.S. shot put silver medalist Raven Saunders violated its ban on political statements. Saunders, who is African American and identifies as queer, told reporters her gesture from the medal podium represented the “intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.” In other Olympics news, U.S. gymnastics superstar Simone Biles says she will compete in the balance beam competition on Tuesday — about a week after she withdrew from her team finals for mental health reasons.
Belarusian athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya has entered Poland’s Embassy in Tokyo requesting political asylum. The 24-year-old sprinter says she refused her coaches’ demand that she board a flight Sunday to return to Belarus out of fears for her safety after she criticized Belarusian Olympic officials.
Elka Schumann, co-founder of the Bread and Puppet Theater company, has died at the age of 85. Elka was born in the Soviet Union in 1935 and brought to the United States in 1941. She and her husband Peter Schumann began the Bread and Puppet Theater company in 1963. Their first productions ranged from puppet shows for children to pieces protesting poor housing conditions. The group later moved to Vermont. Its processions involving monstrous puppets, some about 20 feet high, became a fixture of protests against the Vietnam War. The Bread and Puppet Theater also milled its own flour and baked its own bread, sharing it with audience members. This is Elka Schumann appearing in the 2001 film, “Ah! The Hopeful Pageantry of Bread and Puppet,” produced by her daughter Tamar and DeeDee Halleck.
Elka Schumann: “We have a grinder over there, and we grind the grain ourselves. And the bread is not at all like your supermarket bread. You really have to chew it. You really have to put some work into it. But then you get something very good for that. And when our theater is successful, we feel it’s the same way. You’ve got to think about — it doesn’t like tell you everything. It’s not like Wonder Bread: It’s just like there it is, here’s the story, this is what it means. You’ve got to do some figuring yourself in the theater, in our theater. And if the play is successful, then at the end you probably feel it was worth the work.”
Elka Schumann died Sunday, surrounded by her five children and her partner Peter.