Democrats Push Civil Rights Law After John Lewis Death & Global News

by Debra Brown

John Lewis

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.

 

Democrats Push Civil Rights Law After John Lewis Death

Representative John Lewis a Georgia Democrat, announced on Dec. 29 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and vowed to fight it with the same passion with which he had battled racial injustice. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said.

On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history. In the vanguard of 600 people demanding the voting rights they had been denied

The death of Mr. Lewis, who was brutally beaten in 1965 while demonstrating for voting rights in Selma, Ala., has renewed a push by Democrats and civil rights activists to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, a move that Republicans have steadfastly opposed, and name it in his honor.

“The law he nearly died for has been gutted by the Supreme Court,” Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said on the Senate floor. “Congress has the power to restore it.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated key aspects of the Voting Rights Act, allowing states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

The Voting Rights Act had applied to nine states, Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia and other counties and towns including Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. It required federal approval before local jurisdictions could institute changes to voting procedures, such as voter identification laws, drawing new district maps and restricting early voting.

 

Florida Teachers Sue To Block School Coronavirus Reopening Mandate

The largest teachers union in Florida sued Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday over his administration’s push to fully reopen all public schools next month, even as the number of coronavirus cases in the state is spiking.

The Florida Education Association accused DeSantis and other state officials of violating a state constitutional mandate to keep public schools “safe and secure.” The union asked a state court in Miami to halt the governor’s reopening edict.

The order, which applies to the fall academic semester, requires schools to open at least five days a week for all students, subject to guidance from public health officials. DeSantis has recommended that all Florida schools reopen at full capacity. He argued that if they remained closed, parents would not be able to return to work.

 

Thousands of U.S. workers walk out in ‘Strike for Black Lives’

Tens of thousands of workers nationwide walked off the job in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, hoping to draw closer scrutiny to the income inequality and systemic racism that organizers say have become more entrenched during the coronavirus pandemic.

The planned day of strikes and protests was organized by 60 different labor unions and racial and social justice organizations, from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to the Movement for Black Lives to the U.S. Youth Climate Strike Coalition.

The “Strike for Black Lives,” as leaders have dubbed the campaign, featured workers from a broad range of industries. The campaign is pressing for “an unequivocal declaration that Black Lives Matter” from business and political leaders, and urging government officials to “reimagine our economy and democracy” with civil rights in mind. Organizers also called on businesses to “dismantle racism, white supremacy, and economic exploitation” and ensure access to union organizing, according to a list of demands posted on the strike’s website.

 

Covid-19 Updates from Around the World 

More than 14.7 million people around the world have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. More than 8.3 million have recovered while nearly 611,300 have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US has recorded at least 141,100 deaths, the most in the world.

The number of new cases of coronavirus rose by almost 260,000 in 24 hours – the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began. The biggest increases were in the US, Brazil, India and South Africa.

California became the second United States state after New York to report more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases.

Non-essential Hong Kong civil servants will work from home starting on Monday as the global financial hub tightens social distancing restrictions further amid an escalating third wave of coronavirus cases, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said.

Major United States and European Union airlines asked the EU and White House to consider adopting a joint US-EU COVID-19 testing programme as a way to again allow people to travel between the US and Europe.

Spain will send 1.7 billion euros in aid to developing countries to help them deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said after a cabinet meeting.

 

Militarized Federal Agents & Local Police Occupy Portland Anti-racist Protests

Heavily armed federal officers without name tags have carried out nightly attacks on antiracist demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and snatched people off the streets into unmarked vans, sparking widespread outrage.

For more than 50 days since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, demonstrators have gathered in Portland seeking accountability for law enforcement officers they believe have acted with impunity.

Democrats and local leaders reiterated on Monday that protests have been largely peaceful, and harshly criticized the federal forces, which have shot and seriously injured one peaceful protester and shoved others into unmarked vans.

Donald Trump has threatened to send federal officers into several other US cities whose mayors he described as “liberal Democrats”, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland.

 

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