In Kentucky, the death toll from last week’s massive rain storms and flooding has risen to 28, including several children. On Sunday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that recovery crews face weeks of work — even as forecasters predict more rain in the coming days.
Gov. Andy Beshear: “This is one of the most devastating, deadly floods that we have seen in our history. … With the level of water, we’re going to be finding bodies for weeks, many of them swept hundreds of yards, maybe quarter-mile-plus, from where they were lost.”
Meteorologists say the record-breaking deluge that brought flooding and mudslides to eastern Kentucky would have had a one-in-a-thousand chance of happening, if not for climate change.
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency after a fire in the Klamath National Forest grew to become the state’s largest of the year, scorching more than 52,000 acres near the California-Oregon border. In Montana, the Elmo wildfire expanded overnight, tripling in size to over 11 square miles.
In other climate news, in Iran, at least 80 people were killed, and dozens more remain missing, after heavy rains triggered flash floods impacting hundreds of villages, towns and cities.
On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders are pushing the Senate to pass new legislation on healthcare, taxes and the climate crisis before senators leave for their summer recess on Friday. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a surprise deal with conservative West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin on a 10-year, $739 billion domestic policy package that seeks to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by roughly 40% by the end of this decade. All eyes are now on Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema, who has yet to announce whether she’ll support the legislation.
A ship carrying 26,000 tons of corn left the Ukrainian port of Odessa today. It is the first ship to leave Ukraine under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to reopen ports on the Black Sea which have been closed since Russia’s invasion began over five months ago. On Saturday, the CEO of one of Ukraine’s largest grain producers and one of the country’s richest entrepreneurs was killed in the southern port city of Mykolaiv during intense Russian shelling. Oleksiy Vadaturskyi died along with his wife when a missile hit their home.
Meanwhile, a small drone attacked the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea. Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack, which injured six people.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has arrived in Singapore to begin an Asian trip that will include stops in Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. CNN reports Pelosi will also visit Taiwan despite warnings from China and criticism from top Biden administration officials. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said today such a trip would be “a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”
Pope Francis has wrapped up his trip to Canada, where he apologized for the abuse of Indigenous children who were separated from their families and sent to church-run residential schools, where they faced psychological, physical and sexual violence. Thousands of children died. On his return flight home, the pope described the forced assimilation of Indigenous children to be a form of genocide.
Pope Francis: “I apologized. I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide. I condemned this, taking children away and trying to change their culture, their minds, change their traditions, race and an entire culture.”
The top watchdog at the Department of Homeland Security abandoned efforts to recover text messages sent by the agency’s top two officials around the time of the January 6 assault on the Capitol and failed to warn Congress that important information about the insurrection may have been erased. That’s according to The Washington Post, which reports that DHS Inspector General Joseph Cuffari — a Trump appointee — first learned last December of the missing texts involving then-acting DHS head Chad Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli, but made no effort to alert lawmakers.
On Friday morning, the FBI raided several properties in St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Petersburg, Florida, tied to the African People’s Socialist Party, which leads the Uhuru Movement. The Pan-Africanist group has been a longtime advocate for reparations for slavery and a vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy. The raids came as the Justice Department indicted a Russian man living overseas. He is accused of using U.S.-based groups to spread Russian propaganda. The groups were not named in the indictment but reportedly include the African People’s Socialist Party. One of the FBI raids targeted the home of Omali Yeshitela, the founder of the African People’s Socialist Party. He accused the FBI of targeting the group for its political work.
Omali Yeshitela: “They see in the African People’s Socialist Party a vanguard for the struggle for the liberation of our people. They see that because not just what we do here in the United States, but because we have the temerity to do like Garvey, to do like Malcolm X, and take the struggle of Black people around the world.”
In Guatemala, press freedom and human rights groups are condemning the arrest of veteran award-winning journalist José Rubén Zamora. On Friday, police raided his home and the office of his newspaper, elPeriódico. Zamora has been accused — without evidence — of money laundering and blackmail. But Zamora and supporters say his arrest is in retaliation for the newspaper’s probes into corruption by Guatemala’s right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei and other officials. Zamora spoke to reporters after being taken into custody.
José Rubén Zamora: “They chased me and my children in the streets in a very dangerous way. My family had to exile. My home was illegally raided. But they haven’t gone as far as now, with them formally arresting me. I don’t know how long the process will take. … We keep facing a narco-klepto dictatorship. Four years ago, our apparent democracy was transformed, electing a president that is a thief who has been assaulting us for the past four years. Us, as Guatemalans, we don’t have the capacity to defend ourselves.”
Basketball legend and civil rights activist Bill Russell has died at the age of 88. As a player, he helped transform the game as he led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships during his 13-year career. In 1967, he became the NBA’s first Black coach. Off the court, Russell was a longtime civil rights advocate. In 1961, he led a boycott of a game in Kentucky after two of his Black teammates were denied service at their hotel. In 1963, Russell participated in the March on Washington. He also spoke out against school segregation and racism in Boston, which he described as a “traumatizing” place to live.
The pioneering Black actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on “Star Trek,” has died at the age of 89. Nichols was one of the first Black women to have a leading role on television. In the 1960s, one of her biggest fans was Dr. Martin Luther King, who told her, “When we see you, we see ourselves, and we see ourselves as intelligent and beautiful and proud.” Nichols later worked with NASA to help the space agency recruit women and people of color.