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Biden marks imminent ‘tragic milestone’ of 1m US Covid deaths in address to global summit – live | Joe Biden

Biden: ‘We have to prevent Covid-19 complacency’

Joe Biden marked the imminent “tragic milestone” of 1m deaths in the US in his address to the second global Covid-19 summit this morning, and renewed his call to Congress to strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

Biden highlighted the urgency of his $22.5bn request, which he says is crucial to fund vaccines, treatments and testing domestically, as well as boosting global efforts to end the emergency:

Today, we’re at a new stage in fighting this pandemic, facing an evolving set of challenges. We have to double down on our efforts to get shots in people’s arms, country by country, community by community, ensure we have reliable and predictable supplies of vaccines and boosters for everyone, everywhere, expand access globally to testing and treatments. And we have to prevent complacency.

Biden’s demand of US lawmakers has stumbled, one of a number of growing headaches for the president amid crises over inflation and abortion rights. An on-again, off-again bipartisan Covid deal was scuppered by political wrangling over immigration specifically.

Republicans agreed to a $10bn compromise “in principle”, without money for global initiatives, then backed out when the Biden administration insisted on pushing ahead with the termination of the Trump-era Title 42 policy that blocked refugees at the southern border because of coronavirus concerns.

As long as COVID-19 is present in one country, it impacts all of us. This morning I join @USAmbUN at the Second Global COVID Summit to discuss our path forward. Tune in. https://t.co/BiSN2peafu

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 12, 2022

Officially, the Covid-19 death toll in the US is not yet at 1m, Johns Hopkins reporting on Thursday a tally of 999,000.

But the inevitable reaching of that grim figure in the coming few days fired Biden’s new call to action, at home and internationally:

I continue to call on Congress to take urgent action to provide emergency Covid-19 funding that is vital to protect Americans, to make sure that we maintain our supplies and Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, including next-generation vaccines that are being developed.

The request also includes $5bn to keep up our global partnership in the fight against Covid-19 and sustain our efforts to get shots in people around the world, expand access to treatments and save lives everywhere.

We can do this, we can control Covid-19, we can start to build a better, healthier and more secure future today if we all do our part, and if we step up together.

He announced new global initiatives including sharing of US Covid-19 technologies, partnerships to expand access to rapid testing and antiviral treatments in harder to reach areas, and $450m seed funding for a pandemic preparedness and global health security fund to be established this summer:

The US has provided more than $19bn to help countries fight Covid-19, life saving medicines, oxygen, tests, equipment, supplies, and partnered with countries to improve their capacity to manufacture vaccines.

We’ve delivered more than 500m vaccines to 115 countries and we’re going to… deliver another 500m doses.

But there’s still so much left to do. This pandemic isn’t over. We mark a tragic milestone here in the US, 1m empty chairs around the family dinner table, irreplaceable losses that each leave behind a family or community forever change because of this pandemic.

Read the White House proclamation on 1m Covid-19 deaths here.

Pelosi rejects Republican bill to codify abortion rights

Nancy Pelosi has been explaining why Democrats rejected legislation proposed by Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski that would codify Roe v Wade abortion protections into federal law.

At her weekly briefing, the House speaker spelled out why her party pushed the women’s health protection act, which failed in the US Senate yesterday, instead of backing the more restrictive but still protective reproductive rights act from the pro-choice Republicans, seen as more likely to have attracted bipartisan support.

It’s not enough just to pass a bill to have a compromise. It’s not a compromise, because what’s in the Republican bill would enable states to do very destructive things when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.

Pelosi explained that while both bills would have enshrined into law the basics of Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling guaranteeing abortion protections, which the supreme court looks set to reverse, the Democrats’ act would go further.

Nancy Pelosi addresses reporters on Thursday. Photograph: Mariam Zuhaib/AP

It would, she said, have added the protections given by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling, which dealt with other issues including the viability of a fetus and restrictions on how far states could go in tinkering with the provisions of Roe:

This is not a public policy debate that is isolated from the personal impact that it has on the lives of women, whether it’s contraception, whether it’s invitro fertilization, whether it’s a post-miscarriage care, whether its size and timing of a family.

It is personal between a woman, her doctor, her God [and] her family, not the supreme court, or the Congress of the United States.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The US was today confirmed as the host of the 2031 men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2033 women’s event.

This is not particularly political news, except Joe Biden formally supported the bid, as we reported here, and has been known to be very enthusiastic about the game, as we reported here. And here.

We (OK, I) have also reported about how politicians from both sides of the aisle have played and loved the game, here, here and elsewhere.

The Guardian is working on a follow-up piece about what the bid announcement might mean for American rugby, and in the course of harvesting statements has spoken both to the Congressional Rugby Caucus (co-chairs Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat of Washington DC and Alex Mooney, Republican of West Virginia).

Statements are awaited. In the meantime Chris Murphy, the Democratic senator from Connecticut, has confirmed he was a college rugby player and said the following:

“I was first introduced to rugby at Williams, and although I wasn’t very good, I loved the sport and made lifelong friends. I am excited that the U.S. will host the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups and look forward to it introducing even more Americans to the game.

For further reading, here’s the US Eagles men’s fly-half or full-back Will Hooley on What This All Means For The Game:

A baseball signed by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has sold at auction for more than $50,000, the Associated Press reports, with a portion going to Ukrainians displaced in the war with Russia.

Boston auctioneer RR Auction said the winning bid for the Rawlings Major League baseball was more than three times its estimate. The company will donate its $15,000 cut of the sale, while seller Randy Kaplan will also donate an undisclosed portion of his proceeds.

The ball is signed in black felt tip in Ukrainian Cyrillic and Latin letters. It is accompanied by a transmittal letter signed by Volodymyr Yelchenko, permanent representative of Ukraine to the United Nations.

Local officials have rejected a request from Virginia’s Republican governor Glenn Youngkin to set up a security perimeter outside the homes of three conservative supreme court justices to thwart pro-abortion protestors.

Officials in Fairfax county say such a move at the residences of Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas would infringe on the protesters’ first amendment rights.

Demonstrators gathered at their homes, and outside that of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Maryland, after last week’s leaked supreme court draft ruling written by Alito ending almost half a century of constitutional protections for abortion rights.

Glenn Youngkin.
Glenn Youngkin. Photograph: Kendall Warner/AP

Youngkin wrote to Fairfax’s county board of supervisors Wednesday, stating: “I fundamentally believe such demonstrations and picketing should not be allowed at the Justice’s [sic] homes as they are meant to intimidate and influence the Justices”.

Fairfax, though, is having none of it.

In a forthright written reply, according to the Associated Press, board chair Jeff McKay said the request is “unnecessary and improper” and would amount to creating an unconstitutional neighborhood “checkpoint” that would infringe on first amendment protest rights.

He also noted that protests that have occurred outside Alito’s home in the Fort Hunt neighborhood have been peaceful.

“We will enforce laws that serve to protect persons and property,” McKay wrote.

“Our officers are equally committed to protecting the first amendment guarantees afforded to those who gather to exercise their freedom of speech.”

Nina Lakhani

Trump officials “collaborated” with the meatpacking industry to downplay the threat of Covid to plant workers and block public health measures which could have saved lives, a damning new investigation has found.

Internal documents reviewed by the congressional select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis reveal how industry representatives lobbied government officials to stifle “pesky” health departments from imposing evidence-based safety measures to curtail the virus spreading – and tried to obscure worker deaths from these authorities.

At least 59,000 workers at five of the largest meatpacking companies – Tyson Foods, JBS USA Holdings, Smithfield Foods, Cargill and National Beef Packing Company which are the subject of the congressional inquiry – contracted Covid in the first year of the pandemic, of whom at least 269 died.

According to internal communications, the companies were warned about workers and their families falling sick within weeks of the virus hitting the US. Despite this, company representatives enlisted industry-friendly Trump appointees at the USDA to fight their battles against Covid regulations and oversight.

In addition, company executives intentionally stoked fears about meat shortages in order to justify continuing to operate the plants under dangerous conditions.

The fears were baseless – there were no meat shortages in the US, while exports to China hit record highs.

Yet in April 2020, Donald Trump issued an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act to keep meat plants open following a flurry of communication between the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the vice-president’s office, USDA allies and company executives.

Read the full story:

Leaders from the Association of South-East Asian Nations will meet with Joe Biden at the White House later today, with the president making efforts to show he hasn’t forgotten them while the US focuses on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Associated Press says.

Biden will host dinner for the leaders of eight of the 10 Asean nations attending the two-day summit, before more formal talks at the state department tomorrow.

China’s rising influence in the region will be among the topics discussed with leaders from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The two other Asean members, Myanmar and the Philippines, are not expected to attend, the AP says.

The Asean leaders were meeting Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill this morning.

A White House Asia policy adviser told the news agency that the administration remains committed to stepping up relations with Asean nations to address climate, economic and education initiatives.

“There has been a sense that in previous administrations that we had set off with a determined pace to focus on East Asia or in the Indo-Pacific and then find ourselves with other pressing challenges that perhaps draws [us] away a little bit,” Kurt Campbell, coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the White House national security council, said, acknowledging the conflict in Ukraine.

Campbell took part in a discussion earlier this week previewing the US-Asean summit.

Back to the ongoing second global Covid-19 summit, and we’re learning that the event has attracted $3bn in previously unannounced funds to fight the pandemic.

A White House fact sheet just released says $2bn will be available “for immediate Covid-19 response” and that $962m will be allocated for “a new pandemic preparedness and global health security fund at the World Bank”.

The money is coming from dozens of countries and organizations worldwide who are supporting the summit and, as the White House put it, supporting “collective efforts to get shots into arms, enhance access to tests and treatments, protect the health workforce, and finance and build health security for future pandemics and other health crises”.

Joe Biden issued a joint statement with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European commission, which says it is committing $450m to the pandemic preparedness fund.

All regions should have the capacity to prevent pandemic outbreaks & produce their own vaccines & other tools, locally.@EU_Commission plans to make a $450 million contribution to the global pandemic preparedness fund agreed in the #G20, as soon as its governance is established.

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) May 12, 2022

The Republican Montana senator Steve Daines continues to reap a whirlwind of mockery for his comments this week comparing pregnant women to sea turtles.

On Tuesday, Daines appeared on the senate floor to rail against abortion, using an oversize image of six babies in diapers and a number of swimming or hatching turtles as a prop.

Steve Daines.
Steve Daines. Photograph: Reuters

“If you were to take or destroy the eggs of a sea turtle, the criminal penalties are severe,” Daines asserted.

“Why do we have laws in place that protect the eggs of a sea turtle or the eggs of eagles? Because when you destroy an egg, you’re killing a preborn baby sea turtle or a preborn baby eagle.”

The backlash was swift, and not altogether complimentary. Twitter users in particular were quick to mock the senator, HuffPost compiling a gallery of responses, including one with a photo of Daines and a fish he caught, accusing him of “murdering a fish and all the offspring it could produce”.

Daines then took umbrage at the barrage of insults, issuing a tweet on Wednesday accusing those who mocked him as throwing a “turtle tantrum”.

“The liberal Twitter mob throwing a turtle tantrum are the same people who believe men can get pregnant,” he wrote, without any supporting evidence.

The Liberal Twitter mob throwing a turtle tantrum are the same people who believe men can get pregnant.

— Steve Daines (@SteveDaines) May 11, 2022

Presumably hoping to put the turtle tale behind him, Daines has since reverted to tweeting about more familiar, and arguably safer topics, including attacks on Joe Biden for inflation and gas prices, and wishing the Glacier national park a happy birthday.

Peter Stone

Among the rightwing crusaders promoting Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, wealthy pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell occupies a key niche, spending lavishly on lawsuits to ban voting machines in some states, endorsing big lie advocates for top offices in 2022 and financing an anti-voting machine film, plus related projects.

In some respects, Lindell is an unlikely figure to emerge in the hotbed of US politics and the conservative ecosystem. As the chief executive of MyPillow he was once better known for his TV adverts than his extremist politics. But Lindell has become an ally of a still-powerful Trump who is eying a 2024 bid to return to the White House. Lindell has also become a popular figure on the right himself, making several appearances at recent Trump rallies.

Mike Lindell.
Mike Lindell. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

But election experts and voting watchdogs say Lindell’s legal blitz to ditch voting machines, and other drives that sustain Trump’s baseless claims about widespread fraud in the 2020 election, are deeply flawed and dangerous and potentially further damage voter confidence in elections.

Lindell though sounds undaunted, telling the Guardian that he has spent about $30m to retain about 70 lawyers, cyber consultants, private investigators and other staffers for his projects to prove widespread fraud in the 2020 elections, despite mountains of contrary evidence, and expand his crusade to get rid of voting machines.

Last month Lindell pumped about $500,000 dollars into an Arizona lawsuit filed by two Trump and Lindell backed state candidates for Secretary of State and Governor, Mark Finchem and Kari Lake, respectively, to obtain a preliminary injunction against voting machines that Lindell has repeatedly charged are defective.

Lindell said that he plans to underwrite similar anti voting machine lawsuits in the next few months in many other states including Colorado, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan and Alabama. “I’d like to file the lawsuits in all 50 states,” he said. “I didn’t come all this way not to succeed. We’ve got to get rid of them all.”

To further spur his conservative agenda, Lindell has publicly endorsed several candidates for top posts in battleground states including Lake and Finchem, who early this month benefitted from a Trump sponsored fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago that Lindell attended.

Read the full story:

Supreme court meets for first time since abortion rights leak

The nine supreme court justices are meeting Thursday for the first time since last week’s leak of a draft opinion that would overrule the 1973 Roe v Wade opinion and sharply curtail abortion rights in roughly half the states.

According to the Associated Press, the meeting in the justices’ private, wood-paneled conference room could be a tense affair in a setting noted for its decorum. Nobody other than the justices attends, with the most junior, Amy Coney Barrett, responsible for taking notes.

Amy Coney Barrett.
Amy Coney Barrett. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/Shutterstock

As the AP recognizes, Thursday’s conference comes at a fraught moment, with the future of abortion rights at stake and an investigation underway to try to find the source of the leak.

Chief Justice John Roberts last week confirmed the authenticity of the opinion, revealed by Politico, in ordering the court’s marshal to undertake an investigation.
Roberts stressed that the draft, written by Justice Samuel Alito and circulated in February, may not be the court’s final word.

Supreme court decisions are not final until they are formally issued and the outcomes in some cases changed between the justices’ initial votes shortly after arguments and the official announcement of the decisions.

On Wednesday, a Democrat-led effort to enshrine abortion rights into federal law failed in the UN Senate.

Read more:

Biden: ‘We have to prevent Covid-19 complacency’

Joe Biden marked the imminent “tragic milestone” of 1m deaths in the US in his address to the second global Covid-19 summit this morning, and renewed his call to Congress to strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package.

Biden highlighted the urgency of his $22.5bn request, which he says is crucial to fund vaccines, treatments and testing domestically, as well as boosting global efforts to end the emergency:

Today, we’re at a new stage in fighting this pandemic, facing an evolving set of challenges. We have to double down on our efforts to get shots in people’s arms, country by country, community by community, ensure we have reliable and predictable supplies of vaccines and boosters for everyone, everywhere, expand access globally to testing and treatments. And we have to prevent complacency.

Biden’s demand of US lawmakers has stumbled, one of a number of growing headaches for the president amid crises over inflation and abortion rights. An on-again, off-again bipartisan Covid deal was scuppered by political wrangling over immigration specifically.

Republicans agreed to a $10bn compromise “in principle”, without money for global initiatives, then backed out when the Biden administration insisted on pushing ahead with the termination of the Trump-era Title 42 policy that blocked refugees at the southern border because of coronavirus concerns.

As long as COVID-19 is present in one country, it impacts all of us. This morning I join @USAmbUN at the Second Global COVID Summit to discuss our path forward. Tune in. https://t.co/BiSN2peafu

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 12, 2022

Officially, the Covid-19 death toll in the US is not yet at 1m, Johns Hopkins reporting on Thursday a tally of 999,000.

But the inevitable reaching of that grim figure in the coming few days fired Biden’s new call to action, at home and internationally:

I continue to call on Congress to take urgent action to provide emergency Covid-19 funding that is vital to protect Americans, to make sure that we maintain our supplies and Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, including next-generation vaccines that are being developed.

The request also includes $5bn to keep up our global partnership in the fight against Covid-19 and sustain our efforts to get shots in people around the world, expand access to treatments and save lives everywhere.

We can do this, we can control Covid-19, we can start to build a better, healthier and more secure future today if we all do our part, and if we step up together.

He announced new global initiatives including sharing of US Covid-19 technologies, partnerships to expand access to rapid testing and antiviral treatments in harder to reach areas, and $450m seed funding for a pandemic preparedness and global health security fund to be established this summer:

The US has provided more than $19bn to help countries fight Covid-19, life saving medicines, oxygen, tests, equipment, supplies, and partnered with countries to improve their capacity to manufacture vaccines.

We’ve delivered more than 500m vaccines to 115 countries and we’re going to… deliver another 500m doses.

But there’s still so much left to do. This pandemic isn’t over. We mark a tragic milestone here in the US, 1m empty chairs around the family dinner table, irreplaceable losses that each leave behind a family or community forever change because of this pandemic.

Read the White House proclamation on 1m Covid-19 deaths here.

Good morning blog readers, welcome to Thursday’s edition of US politics live!

We’re kicking off with Joe Biden’s appearance later this morning at the second virtual global Covid-19 summit, and his commemoration of 1 million lives lost in the US since the beginning of the pandemic.

The president is under pressure on multiple fronts domestically, with soaring prices, raging inflation, and the furore over the supreme court’s stripping abortion rights uppermost on voters’ minds as November’s midterm elections approach.

Central to Biden’s woes has been his inability to strike a deal with Congress over his $22.5bn coronavirus relief package request, which got mired in political wrangling over both immigration and abortion. His speech this morning will include a new demand for lawmakers to get a deal done, aides say.

Here’s what else we’re watching today:

  • Leaders from the association of southeast Asian nations (Asean) are in Washington DC, meeting lawmakers and, later, Biden at the White House to discuss the pandemic, climate crisis and economic cooperation.
  • Yesterday’s defeat in the Senate of Democrat-proposed legislation on abortion rights could come up during Nancy Pelosi’s weekly briefing.
  • The House natural resources committee will evaluate a disturbing report on the discovery of dozens of burial sites at historic Native American boarding schools.
  • Outgoing White House press secretary Jen Psaki will give what could be her second-to-last briefing set for 2.30pm.



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