Weekly RoundUp (5/31-6/6)


One of the first cash reparations programs in the US has been launched by the Virginia Theological Seminary. The seminary was constructed by enslaved black people during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow periods. As part of the reparation program, descendants of the enslaved people that were used by the Virginia Theological Seminary will receive annual payments of $2,100. Prime Minister Violeta Bermudez of Peru stated a new figure for Peru’s estimated COVID-19 death toll at 180,000, more than double the previous estimate of 69,000 deaths. With this new estimate, Peru now has the highest per capita COVID-19 death rate at 500 deaths per 100,000 people. Gas prices throughout the nation hit a 7 year high as millions of Americans traveled on Memorial Day. According to AAA, 53% more Americans are traveling by car as the nation relaxes COVID-19 restrictions. TSA also reported a record number of flight passengers since the beginning of the pandemic. 


The FDA has approved the drug LUMAKRAS™ for the treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer in adults. This breakthrough drug, produced by Amgen, is the first and only targeted treatment for patients with the disease. Chinese President Xi Jinping approved new legislation that allows couples in China to have three children. This comes after the two-child limit’s failure to maintain a steady birth rate. Amnesty International has stated that the new policy is still a “violation of sexual and reproductive rights”. Labrador Retrievers in Thailand that were trained to detect COVID-19 in human sweat through scent have been observed with a 95% accuracy rate. The dogs are not trained to smell humans directly, but instead, detect COVID-19 scents in collected samples of sweat. The dogs provide a more reliable method than temperature checks and can provide a cheaper and quicker testing option. 


During this month, The Supreme Court is set to make a decision on Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, a case between Catholic Social Services and the City of Philadelphia which will impact LGBTQ+ couples looking to start a family. The city of Philadelphia put an end to their foster-care contract with Catholic Social Services because of the organization’s discriminatory policy of not placing children with LGBTQ+ couples as of March 2018. Then in April 2019, the Catholic Social Services filed a lawsuit against the city stating that the organization’s First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion had been violated. After their loss at the district court, they appealed to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who agreed with the decision of the district court. Ultimately in November 2020, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia made its way to the Supreme Court where it is awaiting a decision now. Currently, this decision could affect upwards of the 6,000 children in the Philadelphia foster-care system and the LGBTQ+ couples who want to start families. This court ruling could also affect other decisions based on religious ideals, making it so that “religious organizations can be exempt from anti-discrimination laws, even if they receive government funds.” U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez officially ruled the California ban on assault weapons in violation of the Second Amendment as of Friday, June 5th, 2020. During the ruling, Judge Benitez stated that “California’s assault weapon ban disrespects [the] freedom.” of the Second Amendment and the rights of California residents to defend themselves. Currently, the ruling is being stayed for 30 days, in which time there can be a call for an appeal from the Attorney General, Rob Bonta, who has already stated that he will be appealing Judge Benitez’s decision. The appeal is set to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where Benitez’s overturning of the California assault weapons ban will be challenged. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed an anti-transgender athlete bill into effect as of Tuesday, June 1st. The bill prevents transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams in public schools. This makes Florida the eighth state to enact anti-transgender laws this year. Governor DeSantis was quoted saying that “In Florida, girls are going to play girls sports and boys are going to play boys sports,” while signing the bill into action. Currently, the bill takes effect on July 1st and requires that transgender athletes can no longer compete without showing a birth certificate. The act also requires that transgender athletes in high schools and colleges must submit to taking testosterone or genetic testing as well as having their genitals examined. The law is already being met with appeals on the grounds that it is unconstitutional to discriminate against transgender players.


Leaders from the WHO, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization are urging international support for a $50 billion plan to reduce the disparity in vaccine distribution between developing and high-income countries. In an IMF press release, David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group, and Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund stated, “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery.” Developing countries have received less than 1% of vaccines being produced so far. The U.N. has stated that 90% of the population of Tigray is in need of emergency food aid. The region has been embroiled in conflict for the past seven months. According to the UN, about 90% of Tigray’s crops and 80% of their livestock were lost due to looting and destruction. The sinking of the X-press Pearl cargo ship off the coast of Sri Lanka threatens the nation with one of its worst environmental disasters of all time. The ship was transporting chemicals such as nitric acid and about 350 tons of oil. A disastrous oil spill would cause great harm to the area’s marine life populations, which are an essential source of food and income for many Sri Lankans.


Defying the ban on Hong Kong’s mass vigil for the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, thousands of protesters attended and held gatherings in Victoria Park. Law enforcement officers have cited COVID-19 safety protocols as the reason behind the ban. Police also informed local media that 3,000 riot officers would be sent to the park to stop gatherings. The FBI has opened an investigation on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over campaign finance violation allegations. Before his appointment as Postmaster General, DeJoy was a major Republican fundraiser. Only the USPS Board of Governors is authorized to remove DeJoy. Mexico is experiencing one of its most violent and largest elections. So far, at least 35 candidates have been shot to death by organized crime groups. 


Ever Lopez, a student at Asheboro High School in North Carolina, was denied his diploma because he wore a Mexican flag over his gown during the graduation ceremony. Lopez stated that he wore the flag to honor his identity as a first-generation high school graduate and refused to take it off when he was requested to by his principal. According to the school, Lopez was violating the ceremony’s dress code guidelines. To speed up the re-opening of the Canadian and US border, Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire is offering his state’s excess vaccine supply to Canada. Almost half of the population of New Hampshire has been fully vaccinated for coronavirus. New York Democratic Mayoral candidate Scott Singer has been accused of sexual misconduct and harassment by a second woman. In an interview with the New York Times, Teresa Logan alleges that Stringer groped her and made unwanted sexual advances on her. In response to the allegations, Stringer stated, “If, in fact, I met Ms. Logan, and ever did anything to make her uncomfortable, I am sorry. Uptown Local was a long-ago chapter in my life from the early 1990s and it was all a bit of a mess.” Logan claims that this sexual misconduct occurred in 1992. 


At least 30 were killed in a train crash in Sindh province, Southern Pakistan, with the cause of the crash still unknown. Around 15-20 passengers are still trapped in the wreckage of the 2 trains with over 1500 passengers aboard. Connecticut has sent a bill to the general assembly to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The “goal would be to encourage communities disproportionately affected by the prohibition of marijuana, to participate in the cannabis industry,” or in other words, it would help to decrease the number of BIPOC incarcerated for the possession of marijuana. Organizations such as “Every Town for Gun Safety” and “Moms Demand Action” are holding protests in Jackson, Mississippi, in order to bring awareness to the gun violence that is prevalent in the city and to hold prayers for the people who lost their lives to it. The goal was to allow victims of gun violence speak their stories in order to have laws passed that can prevent future occurrences. The National City Council voted to add 4 new flags to the list of flags that can already be flown at city buildings including the LGBTQ+ flag, The Juneteenth flag, The Kumeyaay flag, and a mourning flag that can be displayed at fire stations when a firefighter dies during work. 

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