Three US presidents delivered eulogies for John Lewis at the congressman’s funeral in Atlanta on Thursday. A fourth, Donald Trump, was not in attendance, but his presence was felt strongly in Barack Obama’s eulogy – which was perhaps Obama’s most explicitly political speech since leaving office.
First Thing: Obama's eulogy for John Lewis was powerfully political
Describing Lewis as a founding father of “a fuller, better” US, Obama called on Americans to stand up for the late civil rights leader’s most enduring cause: the right to vote. Without mentioning his successor by name, Obama sharply criticised “those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting.”
‘Emmett Till was my George Floyd,’ Lewis himself wrote, in an essay published posthumously by the New York Times on Thursday, recounting chapters of his own civil rights struggle and calling for future peaceful progress, and “good trouble”.
First Thing: Obama's eulogy for John Lewis was powerfully political
This is the worst US recession since GDP was first recorded
With no end in sight to the US coronavirus crisis, the country’s economy has just suffered its sharpest contraction since the second world war, shrinking by an annual rate of 32.9% between April and June. Last week, another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment, while in Washington, GOP infighting has delayed a replacement for the $600 expansion to weekly unemployment benefits, a lifeline for millions amid the pandemic.
Yet in the middle of the worst recession since GDP was first recorded, the tech firms Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google posted results that sent their already sky-high share prices soaring.
Trump suggests delaying the election, just as Biden predicted
When Joe Biden warned in April that Trump might try to postpone the presidential election, the Trump campaign dismissed the idea as “incoherent, conspiracy theory ramblings”. But sure enough, on Thursday morning – minutes after the release of that epically awful economic news – the president tweeted without evidence that “universal mail-in voting” would lead to “the most INACCURATE FRAUDULENT election in history”, adding:
Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???
The power to shift an election date rests with Congress, not the president, and even Republicans swiftly dismissed the suggestion. But critics say Trump’s real goal is to cast doubt around the legitimacy of the election, in order to contest its outcome if he loses.
Michael Brown’s killer still won’t be prosecuted
With the protests over George Floyd’s death still fresh in the memory, old wounds have been reopened in the case of another police killing that sparked widespread unrest six years ago. The top prosecutor in St Louis county, Missouri, has announced he will not charge Darren Wilson, the former police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson in August 2014.
Wesley Bell, the county’s first Black prosecutor, pledged to reopen the case after taking office in January 2019. But following a five-month review of the evidence, his office could not prove Wilson committed murder or manslaughter. Dropping the case was “one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do,” Bell said.
Breonna Taylor is on the cover of Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine. The 26-year-old EMT, who was shot dead by police in Louisville in March, is the first person besides Winfrey herself to feature on the cover in the magazine’s 20-year history.
The chief of police in Vallejo, California is investigating claims that his officers bent their police badges to mark fatal on-duty shootings. Vallejo police have killed 19 people since 2010.
US sheriffs are refusing to enforce mask laws, and in some cases actively resisting lockdowns, in a trend critics say is linked to the far-right “constitutional sheriffs” movement, which holds that sheriffs are the country’s highest constitutional authority.
In other news …
Herman Cain has died with coronavirus aged 74. The businessman, former Republican presidential candidate and chair of the Black Voices for Trump group had been hospitalised less than two weeks after he was photographed without a mask at the president’s rally in Tulsa on 20 June.
A court has unsealed documents in the case against Ghislaine Maxwell, including correspondence with Jeffrey Epstein from 2015, in which the British socialite asks to be distanced from the now-deceased sex offender’s dating life. The documents also allege that Maxwell trained underage girls as sex slaves.
The decision to withdraw 12,000 US troops from Germany came under bipartisan scrutiny on Thursday, as senators grilled secretary of state Mike Pompeo over Trump’s stated desire to punish Germany for spending too little on defence.
Climate countdown: 96 days to save the Earth
At least 96 cities, which together account for a quarter of the global economy, have pledged to ensure their Covid-19 recoveries are environmentally sustainable. And 96 is also the number of days remaining until the US withdraws from the Paris climate agreement. Read the latest in our climate countdown series.
What can we learn from movie utopias – and dystopias?
If we’re lucky, the Covid-19 pandemic might provide an opportunity to shape a kinder, more ecologically harmonious future. Or it might leave the world ever darker. Anna Smith looks to sci-fi cinema for pointers to our post-lockdown existence.
The new wave of Chinese nationalism
China is facing international criticism for its treatment of the Uighurs and its takeover of Hong Kong. But domestically, Beijing’s aggressive stance has stoked nationalist sentiment – at the expense of more moderate views. Lily Kuo reports.
Opinion: I killed someone when I was a cop
Thomas Owen Baker once shot a knife-wielding suspect dead as a police officer in Arizona. Now a PhD student researching police culture , he says such violent incidents are the product of an environment we have all contributed to creating.
There is usually a complex combination of race, class, guns, violence, capital and other social forces that lead to the fatal encounter. Merely identifying a handful of bad officers and sending them to prison is not a sufficient solution. We must work toward a society where citizens and their governmental representatives – the police – aren’t so terrified of one another.
Last Thing: I was Tupac’s pen pal
In her early 20s, Nina Bhadreshwar requested an interview with Tupac Shakur for a small magazine she’d started in England, about social issues such as racism and police brutality. A phone-call grew into a transatlantic correspondence – and a unique friendship.
First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.