California Governor Gavin Newsom has handily defeated a recall effort with just over 64% of voters casting “no” ballots with two-thirds of votes counted. The failed recall attempt, organized by right-wing opponents of Newsom, cost taxpayers close to $300 million. Newsom’s main challenger was anti-immigrant, anti-science conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who said he’d roll back COVID mandates. Elder also spread false election fraud claims ahead of Tuesday’s results.
President Biden will call on world leaders to commit to a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within a year. The ambitious target, set to be formally announced during an upcoming summit, is very far from current vaccination rates in poorer countries with limited access to vaccines. The World Health Organization is warning that most of Africa has been left behind in pandemic recovery efforts, as wealthier countries and drug companies are blocking the fair distribution of vaccines.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “More than 5.7 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of those have been administered in Africa. This leaves people at high risk of disease and death exposed to a deadly virus against which many other people around the world enjoy protection.”
A WHO official said this week a vaccine hub established in South Africa may take up to a year to replicate Moderna’s vaccine, as talks with the pharmaceutical company on sharing information have stalled. A recent Public Citizen report said the Biden administration has the authority to unilaterally share the recipe for Moderna’s vaccine with the world.
Meanwhile, Britain is the latest country to announce booster shots for people 50 and above and other more vulnerable groups. The U.N. has called for a halt on third doses amid the worsening vaccine apartheid between rich and poor countries.
Here in New York, two judges have temporarily put on hold vaccine mandates for state health workers and New York City teachers. Some health workers argue receiving the vaccine violates their religious beliefs.
Poverty rates in the U.S. fell in 2020 thanks to government assistance during the pandemic, including stimulus checks and unemployment aid. The Census Bureau said Tuesday the U.S. supplemental poverty rate fell over 2.5 percentage points to 9.1% despite the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted, “When government responds to the needs of the working class, millions of families are lifted out of poverty.” Sanders added, “We must not stop here. We must pass the $3.5T reconciliation bill and invest in working families.”
President Biden was in Colorado Tuesday to pitch his infrastructure plans in the wildfire-ravaged, drought-stricken state.
President Joe Biden: “Communities that nearly one in three Americans call home have been struck by weather disasters in just the past few months: hurricanes in the Gulf Coast are up to the — and up the Eastern Seaboard, wildfires threatening throughout the West and tearing it apart, droughts and heat waves across the country devastating farmers and ranchers and draining the Colorado River. In addition to the lost lives, lives shattered, extreme weather cost America last year $99 billion.”
Biden’s remarks came as a “high risk flood alert” was issued in Louisiana as Tropical Depression Nicholas drenches the state with heavy rain and winds — while many communities are still reeling from the destruction of Hurricane Ida.
In Haiti, a political crisis is deepening after Prime Minister Ariel Henry fired the country’s top public prosecutor, hours after the prosecutor said he was seeking charges against Prime Minister Henry over the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Prosecutor Bed-Ford Claude said Henry had communicated with a key suspect on the night Moïse was killed.
Meanwhile, many Haitians are still struggling to recover from the devastation brought by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck one month ago.
Webson Similien: “As you can observe, we haven’t received help from anyone. My house is destroyed. We haven’t received help. People who live here are helping us to rebuild this church.”
Tensions are ratcheting up on the Korean Peninsula as South Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile earlier today, in response to a ballistic missile test by North Korea just hours earlier — its first since March and a breach of U.N. sanctions. Two days earlier, Pyongyang tested a long-range cruise missile. President Biden previously said he was open to diplomacy with North Korea, but denuclearization talks between the two countries have not resumed since negotiations between Trump and Kim Jong-un broke down in 2019.
The Justice Department charged three former U.S. intelligence and military officials after they admitted to helping the United Arab Emirates build a hacking program. The hackers, who provided the services without an export license, are also accused of stealing personal identifying information and developing a hacking tool that is able to infect a mobile device without the user having to click on anything.
The Justice Department has filed an emergency motion urging a federal judge to temporarily block Texas’s near-total ban on abortions. The DOJ last week sued Texas over the law, which went into effect September 1. The legislation bars abortions around six weeks into a pregnancy — without an exception for rape or incest — and allows anyone in Texas to sue patients, medical workers, or even a patient’s family or friends who “aid and abet” an abortion. Meanwhile, reproductive rights advocates led a protest outside the Maryland home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, one of five conservative justices who refused to halt the Texas law.
A group of Senate Democrats introduced new voting rights legislation Tuesday after reaching a compromise with conservative West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. The Freedom to Vote Act includes a ban on partisan gerrymandering; universal no-excuse mail-in voting; automatic and Election Day registration; two weeks of early voting; and makes Election Day a holiday. The bill, however, does away with some of the provisions of the sweeping For the People Act and includes the creation of a voter ID requirement, which voting advocates say disproportionately targets low-income and communities of color. But the ID requirement would be far less stringent than those many states are trying to impose. It’s unclear whether Democrats can convince 10 Republicans to vote for the bill, prompting renewed calls to abolish the filibuster.
In New York, more than a dozen elected officials visited Rikers Island earlier this week following repeated reports of the worsening conditions inside the jail complex, including skyrocketing violence, staff shortages and chronic medical neglect. At least 10 people have died at Rikers so far this year. Following Monday’s visit, New York Assemblymember Emily Gallagher tweeted, “What I witnessed was a humanitarian crisis. A horror house of abuse and neglect.” And this is New York Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas speaking Monday after touring Rikers.
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas: “People have been stuck inside for days, for weeks, for months without a court hearing, without being able to get transported to court, without medical care. … I just witnessed an attempted suicide. 'Miss, come here.' Jumped up there and tried to hang themselves. Me and Senator Ramos were right there. Nobody deserves this. These are human beings.”