Democratic congressman Ted Lieu accused the US Conference of Catholic Bishops of hypocrisy for taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians who receive Communion and support abortion rights.
“Dear @USCCB: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites,” Lieu said on Twitter.
Referring to Donald Trump’s attorney general, Lieu added, “You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership.”
Lieu also joined dozens of other Catholic Democrats in Congress in signing on to a “statement of principles” urging the USCCB not to continue with their efforts.
“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the statement says. “The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”
Joe Biden has arrived in his home state of Delaware, where he will be spending the weekend. The president did not take any questions from reporters as he boarded and later exited Marine One.
Jill Biden will travel to Jackson, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday to visit coronavirus vaccination sites and encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.
The first lady, the vice-president and the second gentleman have recently been participating in a nationwide tour to areas with lower vaccination rates to encourage people to get their shots.
Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University in Georgia today, Kamala Harris urged Americans to reject misinformation about the vaccines and protect themselves against the virus.
“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said.
Mike Pence, the former US vice-president, has been heckled as a “traitor” for his refusal to overturn last year’s election result during a speech to a gathering of religious conservatives.
Pence, who is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a White House run in 2024, had entered an auditorium in Orlando, Florida to a standing ovation on Friday. But a small group began shouted abuse including “traitor!” as he began a 28-minute speech. The dissenters were quickly escorted out by police.
Earlier, in a corridor outside the ballroom, an attendee named Rick Hurley, wearing a red “Make America great again” cap, also vented his frustration over Pence’s role in certifying Donald Trump’s defeat on 6 January amid false claims of voter fraud.
“We need to start fighting!” Hurley shouted at anyone who would listen. “We need to stop being so damned nice. What the hell’s going on? Why is Pence coming today? Donald Trump has his pen in his back still.”
Before being taken aside by police, he also remarked: “I’m ready to fight. I’m going to boo him off stage. I’ll take the bullet. I’ll walk to the front of the stage and look him in the eye and and say, ‘What are you doing here?’
In an interview, Hurley said he had been at the US Capitol on 6 January. “I want to know why Pence is here today.” he said. “He stabbed Donald Trump in the back and took the coins like Judas.”
Dozens of Catholic Democrats in Congress signed on to a letter denouncing the efforts to rebuke lawmakers who receive Communion and support abortion rights.
“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the letter says.
“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”
The lawmakers who signed the letter — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro and Ted Lieu — also made a point to list some of the Republican policies that they say contradict Catholic teachings.
“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants,” the letter says.
The lawmakers encouraged the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to not continue with its efforts, saying, “We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue.”
‘I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ Biden says of efforts to block him from receiving Communion
Joe Biden took a couple questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on his administration’s coronavirus vaccination efforts.
One reporter asked the president for his response to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians, such as Biden, who receive Communion and support abortion rights.
“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden replied.
U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved the drafting of a ‘teaching document’ that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including [Biden], for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.
The result of the vote — 168 in favor and 55 against — was announced Friday near the end of a three-day meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that was held virtually.
The bishops had cast their votes privately on Thursday after nearly three hours of impassioned debate.
Supporters of the measure said a strong rebuke of Biden was needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.
Covid ‘remains a serious and deadly threat’ for unvaccinated people, Biden says
Joe Biden has just finished delivering remarks on reaching 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered since he took office in January.
The president praised the “whole of government response” that has allowed millions of Americans to get vaccinated. As of today, 65% of American adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
“Above all, we got here because of the American people,” Biden said.
The president also touted his administration’s efforts to get Americans of color vaccinated, while acknowledging more works needs to be done in that regard.
“We’ve built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one,” Biden said. “The more we close the racial gap in vaccination rates, the more lives we’ll save.”
While looking ahead to the country’s “summer of joy” as pandemic-related restrictions are relaxed, Biden emphasized that coronavirus “remains a serious and deadly threat” for unvaccinated Americans.
The president also warned that the delta variant of the virus could pose an even worse threat to unvaccinated people. Speaking directly to unvaccinated Americans, Biden said, “Act. Act now.”
As Joe Biden prepares to deliver an update on US vaccination efforts, Kamala Harris is in Atlanta, Georgia, to encourage more Americans to get their shots.
Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University this afternoon, Harris denounced misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines, saying, “Let’s arm ourselves with the truth.”
The vice-president also noted that most of the Americans currently hospitalized with coronavirus are unvaccinated.
“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said. “When the American people come together, in the spirit of community, we can do anything. Anything.”
As we prepare for Joe Biden’s remarks on the ongoing coronavirus vaccination efforts in the US, some reporters shared photos of a rainbow-lit hallway at the White House.
The colorful lights appear to be an homage to LGBTQ+ Pride month, which began on June 1.
300 million vaccine shots administered since Biden took office, White House announces
More than 300 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered since Joe Biden took office in January, the White House announced in a press release.
“Today, thanks to the President’s COVID-19 strategy, the virus is in retreat. 300 million shots have been administered in 150 days, COVID-19 cases and deaths have decreased by more than 90 percent, and the economy is experiencing the strongest rebound in decades,” the White House said.
“The results are clear: America is starting to look like America again, and entering a summer of joy and freedom.”
The White House noted that 65% of American adults have now received at least one vaccine dose, and 55% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated. Additionally, 15 states and DC have gotten more than 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated.
However, it is still unclear whether the US will hit Biden’s goal of having 70% of all American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, when America celebrates its Independence Day.
Biden is expected to deliver an update on his administration’s vaccination efforts at any moment, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has endorsed a Republican Senate candidate running against Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska who is up for reelection next year.
“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Trump said in a new statement. “Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs. Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski—and she will.”
The endorsement is not a surprise, given that the former president has frequently criticized Murkowski since she voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year.
Trump said of Tshibaka, “Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First. … Kelly is a powerful supporter of the Second Amendment and JOBS! I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Mike Pence heckled at conservative Christian conference
Former Vice President Mike Pence was heckled during his speech at a conservative Christian conference on Friday, with some attendees shouting “traitor!” according to Forbes.
“It is great to be back with so many patriots, dedicated to faith and freedom and the road to the majority,” Pence remarked.
Pence, speaking at the Trump supporter-filled Faith & Freedom symposium, was cheered when he took the stage, NBC News journalist Ali Vitali said. Less than thirty seconds into his address, however, yelling emerged from the audience.
One woman who yelled “traitor!” was escorted out, Vitali reported.
Although Pence served Trump dutifully, some of the ex-president’s supporters turned on him. On 6 January, a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.
Some insurrectionists shouted “hang Mike Pence,” shortly after Trump remarked that he would feel “very disappointed” if his then-deputy didn’t overturn the results, per Forbes.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
Republicans pushed back against Joe Manchin’s compromise proposal on a voting rights bill, which the Democratic senator laid out in a memo to colleagues this week. Manchin’s bill would include Republican demands like requiring voter ID and allowing voter purges, but Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said the proposal was still “an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections”.
Joe Biden released a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America. Biden signed a bill yesterday to make Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a federal holiday. “Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power,” Biden said in his proclamation. “On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice.”
Kamala Harris is visiting Atlanta, Georgia, as part of her tour to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Visiting a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church this afternoon, the vice-president thanked those present for getting their shots. “What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” Harris said.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Joe Biden is nominating former congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small to a senior role in the department of agriculture, the White House just announced in a statement.
If confirmed by the Senate, Torres Small, who lost her reelection bid last year, would become undersecretary of rural development at the USDA.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Representative Torres Small kept a rural hospital from closing its doors, improved constituent access to healthcare over the phone, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars for broadband in New Mexico through USDA’s ReConnect Program,” the White House said.
“Throughout her career, Torres Small has employed her experience organizing in vulnerable, rural communities to achieve lasting investments that combat persistent poverty.”
Torres Small served only one term in the House before being defeated in November by Republican Yvette Herrell, who won the race in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District by about 7 points.
Kamala Harris toured the pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and she thanked those who are getting their shots today.
“What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” the vice-president said, per a press pool report. “We’re here to say thank you.”
Harris toured the vaccination site with several Democratic lawmakers, including Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
After Harris made her remarks to the newly vaccinated people at the site, Warnock joked, “The vice-president preached a good sermon today. Amen!”
Harris visits Georgia to encourage coronavirus vaccinations
Kamala Harris has arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, where she will continue her tour of southern states to encourage more Americans to get their coronavirus vaccines.
Harris is scheduled to tour a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr once preached, and then deliver remarks at a vaccination mobilization event at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black college.
The vice-president will also later participate in a conversation on voting rights with community leaders at the university.
As part of Joe Biden’s “month of action” to increase vaccination rates, Harris kicked off her southern tour with a trip to South Carolina earlier this week.
“Vaccination gives protection,” Harris said in Greenville. “This act, in a way, is a projection of love thy neighbor.”
Final victim of Florida condo collapse identified by relative
The final victim of the condo building collapse in Florida has been identified, a relative said Monday, more than a month after the middle-of-the-night catastrophe that ultimately claimed 98 lives.
Estelle Hedaya, an outgoing 54-year-old with a love of travel, was the last victim identified, ending what her relatives described as a torturous four-week wait.
Her younger brother, Ikey Hedaya, confirmed the identification to the Associated Press. The news comes just days after rescuers officially concluded the painstaking and emotionally heavy task of removing layers of dangerous debris and pulling out dozens of bodies.
“She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” he said. “She had reached a different level spiritually, which allowed her to excel in all other areas.”
Her brother said he is drawing strength from God, just as he’d seen his sister do in troubling times. A funeral was scheduled for Tuesday.
The site of the 24 June collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South has been mostly swept flat, the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, authorities said there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood.
In the end, crews found no evidence that anyone who was found dead had survived the initial collapse, fire chief Alan Cominsky has said.
Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida’s stifling summer heat and thunderstorms. They went through more than 14,000 tons of broken concrete and rebar before finally declaring the mission complete.
Miami-Dade fire rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team pulled away from the site Friday in a convoy of firetrucks and other vehicles, slowly driving to their headquarters. The fire chief saluted their bravery, saying they had worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site and also dealing with the heavy emotional burden.
Linda March, a 58 year-old attorney and fellow former New Yorker, was close friends with Hedaya. Oddly the two were among the last three victims to be identified, along with 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova of Canada.
Leah Sutton, who knew Hedaya since birth and considered herself a second mother to her, said she and March were both “forces to be reckoned with”.
“My two beautiful amazing fearless friends saved for last, have to believe there was a reason for them to be last,” she said Monday. “Estelle’s love of God was unbelievable and unwavering.”
The dead included members of the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community, the sister of Paraguay’s first lady, her family and their nanny, along with an entire family of four that included a local salesman, his wife and their two young daughters, four and 11, who were buried in the same coffin.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear what will happen at the collapse site. A judge presiding over several lawsuits filed in the collapse aftermath wants the property sold at market rates, which would bring in an estimated $100m or more. Some condo owners want to rebuild, and others say a memorial should be erected to remember the dead.
California and New York City to mandate vaccine for government workers
California and New York City announced Monday that they would require all government employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or face weekly Covid-19 testing, and the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to require healthcare workers to receive the shot.
Meanwhile, in a possible sign that increasingly dire health warnings are getting through to more Americans, vaccination rates began to creep up again, offering hope that people who have previously been reluctant to receive the shot may finally be getting inoculated.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all municipal workers – including teachers and police officers – will be required to get vaccinated by mid-September or face weekly Covid-19 testing, making the city one of the largest employers in the US to take such action.
“Let’s be clear about why this is so important: this is about our recovery,” de Blasio said.
California said it will similarly require proof of vaccination or weekly testing for all state workers and healthcare employees starting next month.
The move comes amid a surge in cases in California, which have risen 218% over the last two weeks, while hospitalizations are up 62%, according to New York Times data. In the month since California lifted all Covid safety restrictions for its “grand reopening”, the state capitol has reinstated a mask requirement after several aides contracted Covid-19, and Los Angeles county is again requiring mask-wearing indoors, even for people who are fully vaccinated. The San Francisco Bar Alliance, which represents almost 500 bars, is recommending that members require guests to show proof of vaccination to enter the establishments.
California saw a 16% increase in vaccinations over last week and is one of the country’s most vaccinated states with 77% of adults having received at least one vaccine dose, but there are still plenty of unprotected people to transmit the virus, experts say.
“Primarily, we’re seeing infections in the unvaccinated,” said George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
The VA’s move came on a day when nearly 60 leading medical and healthcare organizations issued a call through the American Medical Association for health care facilities to require their workers to get vaccinated.
“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Veterans affairs secretary Denis McDonough told the New York Times.
Elsewhere, St Louis became the second major city to mandate that face masks be worn indoors, regardless of vaccination status, joining Los Angeles in re-imposing the orders.
“For those who are vaccinated, this may feel like punishment, punishment for doing the right thing,” St Louis county executive Sam Page, a Democrat, said Monday. “I’ve heard that, and I feel that frustration.”
Dr Leana Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner, applauded the moves but called on President Joe Biden to “lead by example” and impose similar mandates on federal employees and in public venues where the government has jurisdiction, like on planes, trains and government buildings.
She also said all hospitals and nursing homes need to require all employees get vaccinated.
“We need vaccine mandates and vaccine verification,” Wen said. “We’re well past the time for the Biden administration to get on board with this. What we’re doing is not working. Doing more of the same is not the answer here.”
The White House has so far deferred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masking guidance, which recommends that those who are unvaccinated wear masks indoors. But officials acknowledged over the weekend that they are considering changing that guidance and recommending that the vaccinated also wear masks indoors.
“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday.
Wen, who is also an emergency physician and public professor at George Washington University, said public health experts have been worrying for months about this very scenario.
“We were worried the honor system would not work, the unvaccinated would be behaving as if they’re vaccinated and people would think the pandemic is over,” she said. “That’s precisely what has happened, and it’s incredibly frustrating.”
Dr Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist Yale’s School of Public Health, said the U.S. should not have been caught off guard after watching the Delta variant ravage India in May and then land in the United Kingdom, Israel and other highly vaccinated nations with force last month.
“We have learned multiple times to not take anything for granted with CovidO,” he said.
The US is around 67% immune from Covid-19 when prior infections are factored, but it will need to get closer to 85% to crush the resurgent virus, said Dr Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health.
“So we need a lot more vaccinations. Or a lot more infections,” he tweeted Sunday.
Jha said the nation has to brace for another rough few months. The disease has killed almost 611,000 people in the US since the pandemic started last year.
Vaccinations ticked up over the weekend, with about 657,000 vaccines reported administered Saturday and nearly 780,000 on Sunday, according to CDC data. The seven-day rolling average on Sunday was about 583,000 vaccinations a day, up from about 525,000 a week prior.
Public health experts on Monday said the uptick in vaccinations is encouraging but warned that it’s far too early to say if the numbers mean that millions of unvaccinated people are finally beginning to overcome their reticence.
The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the country shot up over the past two weeks, from more than 19,000 on 11 July to nearly 52,000 on 25 July , according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Some prominent conservative and Republican voices that have spent months casting doubt on the vaccination effort have recently started sounding a different tune.
House minority whip Steve Scalise, a Louisiana Republican, was among the members of the GOP Doctors Caucus who held a press conference at the Capitol late last week imploring their constituents to lay lingering doubts aside.
A week ago, on 19 July, Fox News host Sean Hannity declared: “It absolutely makes sense for many Americans to get vaccinated. I believe in science. I believe in the science of vaccinations.”
And in Tennessee, the brother of a popular local conservative radio host who had been a vaccine skeptic urged listeners to get vaccinated as his brother was in critical care in the hospital battling Covid-19.
“For those listening, I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories,’” Mark Valentine said of his brother, Phil Valentine, Thursday on WWTN-FM in Nashville.
Arizona secretary of state tells Trump before election lie rally: get over it
Arizona’s secretary of state had a message for Donald Trump before he appeared in Phoenix on Saturday: “Take your loss and accept it and move on.”
Trump was set to speak at an event organised by Turning Point Action, a conservative group, and called the “Rally to Save Our Elections!”
Republicans in the most populous county in Arizona continue to pursue a controversial audit of ballots in an attempt to prove Trump’s claim that his loss to Joe Biden in the state, and nationally, was caused by widespread voter fraud. It was not.
Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, spoke to CNN on Friday. Asked what she wanted to tell Trump, she said: “Well, I mean, like most grownups, take your loss and accept it and move on … Nothing that’s going on here is going to change the outcome, and, really, this is nothing more than being a sore loser.”
Hobbs also said Trump’s appearance – like support for his lies from local Republican officials, office holders and congressional hopefuls lining up to speak at Saturday’s event – was dangerous.
“The bottom line is it doesn’t matter what he says or does,” she said. “Nothing is going to change the outcome of the 2020 election. But it also doesn’t change how dangerous this is.”
Trump’s lie about electoral fraud stoked the deadly attack on the US Capitol in Washington on 6 January this year. He retains power in the Republican party, which has swung behind him in seeking to obstruct investigations of the assault.
“The bottom line is that Arizonians are tired of being led by conspiracy theorists,” Hobbs said. “They don’t support this fake audit, and they’re ready for leaders who are going to put those partisan games aside and deal with real issues.”
Hobbs is hoping to become governor of Arizona. Midterm elections will also see a key Arizona Senate seat up for grabs again. Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and a prominent campaigner for gun control reform, won the seat on Biden’s coattails last year. But that was to complete a term and he must run again to secure a full six years in the seat.
On Friday, the former president blasted “Rinos”, or “Republicans in Name Only” whom he regards as insufficiently loyal. One GOP Arizona state senator offered a pithy reply.
“If he hadn’t started an insurrection in DC and gotten kicked off here,” Paul Boyer wrote on Twitter, “I could’ve responded directly to him. So there’s that.”
Trump said his remarks would be broadcast by networks including Newsmax and One America News, upstart rightwing operations which have sought to challenge Fox News on the right of the political spectrum.