Worst virus fears realized in poor, war-torn countries
CAPE TOWN, South Africa — For months, experts have warned of a potential nightmare scenario: After overwhelming health systems in some of the world’s wealthiest regions, the coronavirus gains a foothold in poor or war-torn countries ill-equipped to contain it and sweeps through the population.
Now some of those fears are being realized.
In southern Yemen, health workers are leaving their posts en masse because of a lack of protective equipment, and some hospitals are turning away patients struggling to breathe. In Sudan’s war-ravaged Darfur region, where there is little testing capacity, a mysterious illness resembling COVID-19 is spreading through camps for the internally displaced.
Cases are soaring in India and Pakistan, together home to more than 1.5 billion people and where authorities say nationwide lockdowns are no longer an option because of high poverty.
In Latin America, Brazil has a confirmed caseload and death count second only to the United States, and its leader is unwilling to take steps to stem the spread of the virus. Alarming escalations are unfolding in Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Panama, even after they imposed early lockdowns.
Testing stepped up as number of new cases surges
NEW DELHI — Governments were stepping up testing and warily considering their next moves Monday as the number of newly confirmed coronavirus cases surges in many countries. India reported 20,000 new cases Monday, while the U.S. confirmed more than 40,000 new infections for the the third straight day.
As infections rise along with summer temperatures in the northern hemisphere, many governments are stepping up testing and mulling more aggressive moves such as renewed lockdowns to stem fresh outbreaks.
India’s 20,000 new infections was a new daily record. Several states reimposed partial or full lockdowns after the total number of cases jumped by nearly 100,000 in one week to 548,318.
While some states have tightened precautions, in the worst-affected regions of Maharashtra, which includes India’s financial capital, Mumbai, and Delhi, home to the federal capital of New Delhi, most restrictions have been eased, with restaurants, shopping malls and parks reopened, and public buses and shared-ride services back on the roads.
The United States, the worst affected country, reported 42,600 newly confirmed infections as of Saturday, with the total surpassing 2.5 million, or about a quarter of all of the more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the actual numbers, both in the U.S. and globally, are likely far higher due to the large number of apparently asymptomatic cases and issues with testing.
Trump denies briefing about reported bounties
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has denied that he was made aware of U.S. intelligence officials’ conclusions that Russia secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American troops in Afghanistan. The Trump administration was set to brief select members of Congress on the matter on Monday.
The intelligence assessments came amid Trump’s push to withdraw the U.S. from Afghanistan and suggested that Russia was making overtures to militants as the U.S. and the Taliban were holding talks to end the long-running war. The assessment was first reported by The New York Times and then confirmed to The Associated Press by American intelligence officials and two others with knowledge of the matter.
There were conflicting reports about whether Trump was aware of Russia’s actions. The intelligence officials told the AP that the president was briefed on the matter earlier this year; Trump denied that, tweeting on Sunday that neither he nor Vice President Mike Pence had been briefed. The Republican president tweeted Sunday night that he was just told that intelligence officials didn’t report the information to him because they didn’t find it credible.
The intelligence officials and others with knowledge of the matter insisted on anonymity in order to discuss the highly sensitive matter.
The White House National Security Council would not confirm the assessments but said the U.S. receives thousands of intelligence reports daily that are subject to strict scrutiny.
China forces birth control on Uighurs
The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.
While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”
The state regularly subjects minority women to pregnancy checks, and forces intrauterine devices, sterilization and even abortion on hundreds of thousands, the interviews and data show. Even while the use of IUDs and sterilization has fallen nationwide, it is rising sharply in Xinjiang.
The population control measures are backed by mass detention both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply. Having too many children is a major reason people are sent to detention camps, the AP found, with the parents of three or more ripped away from their families unless they can pay huge fines. Police raid homes, terrifying parents as they search for hidden children.
After Gulnar Omirzakh, a Chinese-born Kazakh, had her third child, the government ordered her to get an IUD inserted. Two years later, in January 2018, four officials in military camouflage came knocking at her door anyway. They gave Omirzakh, the penniless wife of a detained vegetable trader, three days to pay a $2,685 fine for having more than two children.
Images of brutality against Black people spur trauma
Since Wanda Johnson’s son was shot and killed by a police officer in Oakland, California, 11 years ago, she has watched video after video of similar encounters between Black people and police.
Each time, she finds herself reliving the trauma of losing her son, Oscar Grant, who was shot to death by a transit police officer. Most recently, Johnson couldn’t escape the video of George Floyd, pinned to the ground under a Minneapolis officer’s knee as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.
“I began to shake. I was up for two days, just crying,” she said. “Just looking at that video opened such a wound in me that has not completely closed.”
Johnson’s loss was extreme, but, for many Black Americans, her grief and pain feels familiar. Psychologists call it racial trauma — the distress experienced because of the accumulation of racial discrimination, racial violence or institutional racism. While it can affect anyone who faces repeated prejudice, in this moment, its impact on Black people is drawing particular attention.
Miss. surrenders Confederate symbol from flag
JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi will retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the Confederate battle emblem, more than a century after white supremacist legislators adopted the design a generation after the South lost the Civil War.
A broad coalition of lawmakers — Black and white, Democrat and Republican — voted Sunday for change as the state faced increasing pressure amid nationwide protests against racial injustice.
Mississippi has a 38% Black population, and critics have said for generations that it’s wrong to have a flag that prominently features an emblem many condemn as racist.
Democratic Sen. David Jordan told his colleagues just before the vote that Mississippi needs a flag that unifies rather than divides.
“Let’s do this because it’s the right thing to do,” Jordan said.
Militants attack Karachi stock exchange, killing at least 3
KARACHI, Pakistan — Militants attacked the stock exchange in the Pakistani city of Karachi on Monday, killing at least three people — two guards and a policeman, according to police. Special police forces deployed to the scene of the attack and in a swift operation secured the building, killing all four gunmen.
There were no reports of any wounded among the brokers and employees inside the exchange and a separatist militant group from a neighboring province later claimed responsibility for the attack.
The attackers were armed with grenades and automatic rifles, police said. They launched the attack by opening fire at the entrance gate of the Pakistan Stock Exchange in the southern port city, the country’s financial center.
Heavily armed special forces quickly surrounded the building located in the heart of Karachi’s financial district, where the Pakistan State Bank is located, as well as the headquarters of several national and international financial institutions.
Local television stations broadcast images of police in full body armor surrounding the building but still staying outside the high-walled compound of the stock exchange.
Beyond ‘love,’ Trump has little to show from N Korea talks
WASHINGTON — Hours after an astonishing summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump boldly declared a breakthrough. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” he tweeted.
Yet two years later, despite two more face-to-face meetings and many exchanges of warm words between the leaders, North Korea continues to build up its nuclear program and test missiles. And even if Trump still hopes for an agreement, his administration isn’t betting on it happening before the November election.
The last significant contact between the two sides was outside of Stockholm last October. North Korea declared the dialogue a failure in a statement written before talks even began, administration officials say. Communication has been limited to the lower-level “New York channel” at the United Nations.
North Korea’s recent belligerence against South Korea has only stoked more tension. The North has lashed out at South Korea for not breaking from Washington to restart inter-Korean economic projects that have been held back by U.S.-led sanctions. Pyongyang blew up a multistory liaison office in the border town of Kaesong, a place where the North and South could talk and improve relations. The North also threatened military retaliation against the South, but then backed off.
Trump administration officials are hard pressed to find signals of interest from Pyongyang in resuming talks. But they are anticipating the possibility of an “October surprise” before the Nov. 3 election. They aren’t sure if this would be an olive branch from Kim to resume talks or fireworks in the form of an atomic test or missile launch. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s thinking on a sensitive diplomatic matter.
California’s alleged Golden State Killer set to plead guilty
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Forty years after a sadistic suburban rapist terrorized California in what investigators later realized were a series of linked assaults and slayings, a 74-year-old former police officer is expected to plead guilty Monday to being the elusive Golden State Killer.
The deal will spare Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. any chance of the death penalty for 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges spanning six counties. In partial return, survivors of the assaults that spanned the 1970s and 1980s expect him to admit to up to 62 rapes that he could not be criminally charged with because too much time has passed.
Yet nothing is certain until he actually speaks in a Sacramento State University ballroom pressed into use as a courtroom to provide for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been on pins and needles because I just don’t like that our lives are tied to him, again,” said Jennifer Carole, the daughter of Lyman Smith, a lawyer who was slain in 1980 at age 43 in Ventura County. His wife, 33-year-old Charlene Smith, was also raped and killed.
Investigators early on connected certain crimes to an armed and masked rapist who would break into sleeping couples’ suburban homes at night, binding the man and piling dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the woman.