First Thing: Covid-19 skeptics may convert as virus hits Trump country

Tim Walker

Good morning,

Throughout the coronavirus crisis, many Republicans have remained skeptical about the threat of Covid-19. But as the disease moves from urban Democratic strongholds such as New York into some of the rural and exurban areas that voted for Donald Trump, research suggests those partisan attitudes to the pandemic may be shifting.

Coronavirus cases are climbing in Arizona, Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas. In Texas, hospitalisations for Covid-19 are up 42% since Memorial Day. In Oklahoma, health officials have expressed concern that a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa this weekend could contribute to the spread of the disease in a city that has experienced a recent rise in cases.

The president, however, sees mass rallies as his best chance of changing the narrative and putting him back on track for re-election, reports David Smith:

A Trump rally with a cheering crowd eschewing face masks, and a packed convention crowning him as the Republican nominee, could be used to draw a striking contrast in optics with the mask-wearing, basement-bound Biden, selling the incumbent as a happy warrior.

  • China has won the battle over world opinion in a survey that found just three out of 53 countries believed the US has handled the coronavirus better than its superpower rival.

  • … But Beijing is back on lockdown after dozens of new cases were linked to two seafood markets in the Chinese capital.

The police killing of Rayshard Brooks was a homicide

A protester in Atlanta, close to the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was shot dead by police. Photograph: John Amis/EPA

After weeks of protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a fresh tragedy in Atlanta on Friday has further fuelled the Black Lives Matter movement. Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man, was shot in the back by a police officer, after what began as a friendly encounter. His death has now been ruled a homicide by the Fulton county medical examiner’s office.

Leading Democrats said on Sunday that Brooks’s killing underlines the need for significant change in US law enforcement. “This did not call for lethal force,” said the House majority whip, James Clyburn. “And I don’t know what’s in the culture that would make this guy do that. It has got to be the culture. It’s got to be the system.”

  • The shooting puts a spotlight on two VP contenders, Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, both touted as potential running mates for Joe Biden. Bottoms said the footage of Brooks’s death broke her heart.

  • Beyoncé has called for justice for Breonna Taylor. in an open letter to the attorney general of Kentucky, Knowles complained no arrests had been made in the case of the 26-year-old African American EMT shot dead in her home by police.

Trump claims the ‘radical left’ has ‘taken over’ Seattle

Trump interrupted his own 74th birthday, spent in seclusion at his New Jersey golf club on Sunday, to tweet that Seattle has been “taken over” by the “radical left”. The president appeared to be referring to the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” established by demonstrators in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where police vacated a precinct amid the protests.

Meanwhile, there was outrage over distressing footage of police macing a seven-year-old boy during a peaceful protest in Seattle on 30 May. Evan Hreha, the 34-year-old who captured the incident on camera, has since been arrested and spent two days in jail, for what some consider police retribution over the video going viral.

How the US military covered up a killing in Iraq

US prosecutors say Julian Assange risked American lives by releasing hundreds of thousands of US intelligence documents. But their indictment against the Wikileaks founder does not include perhaps his most shocking revelation: the video entitled Collateral Murder, which depicted an Apache helicopter gunning down a group of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in July 2007. Its omission has raised accusations that the US is trying to avoid having its “war crimes” exposed in public.

In other news…

The archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo, blesses portraits of Covid-19 victims at his cathedral in the Peruvian capital. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Great reads

An image of Angela Davis at the entrance to the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, which was vacated amid the recent protests over police violence. Photograph: Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Angela Davis on George Floyd: ‘They’re now finally getting it’

The veteran civil rights campaigner Angela Davis has witnessed and participated in decades of protest and campaigning for racial justice. This time, things might be different, she tells Lanre Bakare – but “while the immensity of this response is new, the struggles are not new.”

The trans kids helped by a pioneering project

While the debate goes on over whether trans children ought to be allowed to transition, or even to express their gender, their families often need guidance on how to parent them. New York’s Gender and Family Project is the largest independent program for transgender youth and families in the US. Katelyn Burns reports.

How coronavirus shook a neglected neighborhood

New York’s coincidentally-named Corona neighbourhood has been hard hit by Covid-19, with economic and health consequences that will likely shake the community for years to come. Amanda Holpuch explains how race, poverty and inequality left this corner of Queens vulnerable.

Opinion: Republicans are hypocrites on defunding the police

The GOP is feigning a fainting fit over calls to defund the police. And yet, argues David Sirota, they gladly slash budgets for those charged with policing the world’s most dangerous and powerful criminals.

Apparently, we’re expected to be horrified by proposals to reduce funding for the militarized police forces that are violently attacking peaceful protesters – but we’re supposed to obediently accept the defunding of the police forces responsible for protecting the population from the wealthy and powerful.

Last Thing: NZ porn actors ‘keep it real’ for web safety ad

A December 2019 report revealed young New Zealanders use the internet as their primary source of sex education, while a third of the country’s most popular porn clips depict non-consensual sexual activity. The government’s answer? This web safety ad.

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