The US death toll in the coronavirus pandemic passed 600,000 on Tuesday. As it did so, a former White House Covid adviser, Andy Slavitt, was under fire from the right for saying Americans could have avoided such severe losses if they had been prepared to “sacrifice a little bit for one another”. Throughout the pandemic, Republicans have been less likely to wear masks and observe other public health measures meant to mitigate virus transmission. Donald Trump eschewed social distancing guidelines to hold rallies or events. His supporters are now more likely to say they will “definitely not” get vaccinated than Democrats or independents.
Southern Baptists reject push from right and elect Ed Litton as president
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) tamped down a push from the right at its largest meeting in decades on Tuesday, electing a new president who has worked to bridge racial divides in the church and defeating an effort to make an issue of critical race theory. Ed Litton, a pastor from Alabama, won 52% of the vote in a runoff against Mike Stone, a Georgia pastor backed by a new group called the Conservative Baptist Network that has sought to move the already-conservative denomination further right.
Cummings texts show Boris Johnson calling Matt Hancock ‘totally hopeless’
Boris Johnson described Matt Hancock as “totally fucking hopeless” during the early stages of the pandemic, concerned by the health secretary’s promises on testing, text messages published by Dominic Cummings have revealed. Writing on Substack, the prime minister’s former chief aide published a slew of texts and documents from emergency Cobra meetings that he said would combat what he called “lies” from Downing Street and the health secretary about the initial handling of the pandemic.
Peru election: Vote count ends but official result may take days
Peru has finished counting the votes in a tight presidential run-off election, but an official announcement may take days. Leftist Pedro Castillo kept a lead of about 60,000 votes over conservative Keiko Fujimori, who has claimed fraud without providing detailed evidence. Ms Fujimori wants hundreds of thousands of votes to be reviewed. Observers say Sunday's poll was carried out cleanly. A political novice, Mr Castillo has pledged to rewrite the constitution. The primary school teacher was little known before winning the first round of the election, and campaigned on a promise to help the poor by introducing higher taxes on powerful mining firms in this copper-producing nation.
Trump DoJ secretly seized House Democrats’ data in crackdown on leaks
The US justice department under Donald Trump seized data from the accounts of at least two members of the House of Representatives intelligence committee in 2018 as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters, according to a committee official and two people familiar with the investigation. Prosecutors from the previous president’s DoJ subpoenaed Apple for the data, according to the people, who were granted anonymity to discuss the secret seizures first reported by the New York Times.
German Greens choose moderate path in bid to reignite election hopes
The leaders of Germany’s Greens will resist a push by party activists this weekend to adopt more ambitious climate policies, balancing their ecologist message with care to ensure poorer voters are not left out of pocket after September’s election. The Greens, aiming to win the chancellery for the first time at the 26 September federal election, surged ahead of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in polls in late April after picking Annalena Baerbock as their candidate to run for chancellor.
Pope rejects German cardinal's offer to quit over abuse failures
Pope Francis has rejected a German cardinal's offer to resign, over the mishandling of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis. Cardinal Reinhard Marx said earlier this month that he should share responsibility for the "catastrophe" of abuse by Catholic priests. Cardinal Marx is Archbishop of Munich, and one of the Church's most influential liberal figures. He is not under investigation himself, either for abuse or for covering it up.
China has created a 'dystopian hellscape' in Xinjiang, Amnesty report says
The human rights organisation Amnesty International has said China is committing crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, the north-western region that is home to the Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. In a report published on Thursday, Amnesty called on the UN to investigate, and said China had subjected Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslims to mass detention, surveillance, and torture. Agnès Callamard, the secretary general of Amnesty International, accused Chinese authorities of creating "a dystopian hellscape on a staggering scale".
Biden warns Russia against 'harmful activities' at start of first official trip
US President Joe Biden has launched his first official overseas trip with a warning to Russia that it faces "robust and meaningful" consequences if it engages in "harmful activities". Mr Biden made clear his intention to strengthen ties with US allies, following strained relations under the Trump administration. President Biden arrived in the UK on Wednesday. He will meet PM Boris Johnson to agree a new "Atlantic Charter". The pact will be a modern version of the one agreed between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, with a focus on challenges including climate change and security.
US agrees to buy 500m Pfizer vaccine doses to distribute to 100 countries
The US has reached an agreement with Pfizer to buy 500m doses of their coronavirus vaccine to distribute to nearly 100 countries around the world, as the centrepiece of Joe Biden’s initiative to help vaccinate the world against Covid-19, according to US reports. Under to the scheme, which Biden is expected to announce in the UK on Thursday, the US would pay for the vaccines at cost price. The first 200m doses would be distributed this year, and the remaining 300m in the first half of next year.