Delta variant challenges China's costly lockdown strategy
BEIJING (AP) — The delta variant is challenging China's costly strategy of isolating cities, prompting warnings that Chinese leaders who were confident they could keep the coronavirus out of the country need a less disruptive approach.
As the highly contagious variant pushes leaders in the United States, Australia and elsewhere to renew restrictions, President Xi Jinping's government is fighting the most serious outbreak since last year's peak in Wuhan. The ruling Communist Party is reviving tactics that shut down China: Access to a city of 1.5 million people has been cut off, flights canceled and mass testing ordered in some areas.
That "zero tolerance" strategy of quarantining every case and trying to block new infections from abroad helped to contain last year's outbreak and has kept China largely virus-free. But its impact on work and life for millions of people is prompting warnings that China needs to learn to control the virus without repeatedly shutting down the economy and society.
Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai doctor who became prominent during the Wuhan outbreak, suggested in a social media post that China's strategy could change. "We will definitely learn more" from the ongoing outbreak, he said, calling it a stress test for the nation.
"The world needs to learn how to coexist with this virus," wrote Zhang, who has 3 million followers on the widely used Sina Weibo platform.
Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Games
TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a record since the pandemic began as the infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.
The additional cases brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases on Wednesday for a total of 970,000.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added and extended until Aug. 31. But the measures, basically a ban on alcohol in restaurants and bars and their shorter hours, are increasingly ignored by the public, which has become tired of restrictions.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied that the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics have caused a rise in infections.
Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide.
'Trauma as his shield': Cuomo's apology, defense criticized
NEW YORK (AP) — He said his actions had been misconstrued, his words misunderstood. He said it was cultural: He hugs, he kisses, he says "Ciao, bella." He said it was generational: Sometimes he lapses into "honey" or "sweetheart" or tells bad jokes.
But of all New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's responses to investigative findings that he sexually harassed 11 women, one that most disturbed many women — particularly sexual assault survivors and their advocates — was his use of a family member's sexual assault to explain his own behavior with an accuser.
"We will not be moved by Governor Cuomo's attempts to use the stories of survivors, including those he harassed, as a shield for his own misconduct and abuse of power all while claiming the harassment was a 'misunderstanding,'" said an open letter to be released Thursday by the National Women's Law Center and several gender and survivor groups, demanding the Democratic governor's resignation or removal.
Tarana Burke, the survivor and advocate who gave the #MeToo movement its name, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that "abusers, no matter their own personal histories, do not get to center themselves in cases of abuse."
"In these moments, survivor's stories are the ones that should be elevated," Burke said. "There are 11 women, whose stories were corroborated, who experienced harassment at the hands of the governor. His family's story does not exonerate him, and he does not get to use someone else's trauma as his own shield."
In Tokyo, social platforms help the Pandemic Olympics shine
TOKYO (AP) — A condom fixed Jessica Fox's canoe, and skateboarder Jagger Eaton celebrated his bronze medal by broadcasting live on Instagram. Margielyn Didal "let" Tony Hawk take a picture with her to post on Facebook.
The stability of the cardboard framed beds in the athlete's village has been tested by Olympians who treated them as trampolines on nearly every social media platform, and a Greek water polo player created a dating app — which might have come in handy for American rugby player Ilona Maher, who rolled with the schtick of the "Thirsty Olympian."
The made-to-watch Tokyo Games, where pandemic precautions prevent permitting spectators, have become a digital affair more than ever. From social media to streaming, athletes and their events are reaching the public in record-smashing and trailblazing ways.
More than 100 million unique users had visited Olympic digital platforms or used the Tokyo 2020 app through the first week of the games. U.S. rightsholder NBC has notched 2.5 billion streaming minutes of Olympics content across all its digital platforms, the network said, a 77 percent increase from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. The first week in Tokyo was the highest-ever weekly usage for streaming platform Peacock.
But it's the social media platforms that are causing the breakout buzz. Social posts by Olympics accounts on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Weibo generated 3.7 billion engagements. The Olympics' social media accounts have a combined total of 75 million followers.
Israel launches airstrikes on Lebanon in response to rockets
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israel on Thursday escalated its response to rocket attacks this week by launching rare airstrikes on Lebanon, the army and Lebanese officials said.
The Israeli army said in a statement that jets struck the launch sites from which rockets had been fired over the previous day, as well as an additional target used to attack Israel in the past. The IDF blamed the state of Lebanon for the shelling and warned "against further attempts to harm Israeli civilians and Israel's sovereignty."
The overnight airstrikes in southern Lebanon were a marked escalation at a politically sensitive time. Israel's new eight-party governing coalition is trying to keep peace under a fragile cease fire that ended an 11-day war with Hamas' militant rulers in Gaza in May. Several incidents leading up to this week's rocket fire from Lebanon have focused attention on Israel's northern border, and the United States swiftly condemned the attacks on Israel.
The strikes also come as Lebanon is mired in multiple crises, including a devastating economic and financial crisis and political deadlock that has left the country without a functional government for a full year.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Israel's use of its air force to target Lebanese villages "is the first of its kind since 2006 and indicated the presence of aggressive, escalatory intentions" against Lebanon. In a statement, he said Lebanon would submit a complaint to the United Nations.
Immigrant detentions soar despite Biden's campaign promises
WINNFIELD, La. (AP) — Alexander Martinez says he fled from homophobia, government persecution and the notorious MS-13 gang in El Salvador only to run into abuse and harassment in America's immigration detention system.
Since crossing the border illegally in April, the 28-year-old has bounced between six different facilities in three states. He said he contracted COVID-19, faced racist taunts and abuse from guards and was harassed by fellow detainees for being gay.
"I find myself emotionally unstable because I have suffered a lot in detention," Martinez said last week at Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana. "I never imagined or expected to receive this inhumane treatment."
He's among a growing number of people in immigration detention centers nationwide, many of whom, like Martinez, have cleared their initial screening to seek asylum in the U.S.
The number of detainees has more than doubled since the end of February, to nearly 27,000 as of July 22, according to the most recent data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That's above the roughly 22,000 detained last July under then-President Donald Trump, though it's nowhere close to the record in August 2019, when the number of detainees exceeded 55,000, ICE data shows.
Progressives see blueprint for next fights in eviction win
WASHINGTON (AP) — The rare clash this week between the Biden administration and congressional Democrats over a lapsed eviction moratorium could become a blueprint for even larger fights that lie ahead.
Finding allies in congressional leadership, a new generation of progressive lawmakers insisted the White House pay attention to them. Their tactics, including a well-publicized, multiday protest on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, ultimately forced the administration to find a new way to keep most tenants in their homes.
After largely holding back as President Joe Biden spent his opening months in office courting moderate Democrats — and even some Republicans — many progressives say that deference is over. And with Democrats holding exceedingly narrow margins in Congress, that means the White House may have to pay closer attention to the left wing of the Democratic Party in the coming weeks, especially as the administration's push for an infrastructure package intensifies.
"Hopefully, this has shown not only leadership, the caucus, but our progressive family that when we say we are not going to back down, we don't back down," said Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., who staged the round-the-clock sit-in on the Capitol steps.
While progressives are feeling emboldened in Washington, there are warning signs. Voters in Ohio on Tuesday rejected a congressional candidate enthusiastically backed by progressive leader Sen. Bernie Sanders. That followed similar setbacks for the left in elections earlier this year in New York City and Virginia.
Palestinian dad expects no justice for son killed by Israel
BEIT UMMAR, WEST BANK (AP) — A week after the death of his eldest son, Moayed al-Alami sat on the sofa on his ground floor patio, protectively hugging and kissing two of his remaining children.
The Israeli military has opened an investigation into the killing of 12-year-old Mohammed al-Alami who was shot by Israeli soldiers as he rode in the family car. But that is no comfort to his father, who is devastated by his son's death and has little faith that he will see justice.
"I have no confidence in the investigation until I see the soldiers in court," he said. The rear of Moayed's car is riddled with bullet holes and the back seats are still covered in bloodstains.
Mohammed was shot and killed by Israeli forces as he traveled with his father and two siblings in their hometown of Beit Ummar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. His death sparked two days of violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops, resulting in the death of one protester.
Recounting the events of last week, al-Alami said he had just picked up some snacks for the children, using his car, when Mohammed asked to return to the store.
Worst-Case Scenario: Firms wrestle with supply bottlenecks
WASHINGTON (AP) — Toy maker Eric Poses created a card game last year he called The Worst-Case Scenario, a wry reference to the way the coronavirus had upended normal life.
He had no idea.
In a twist that Poses never could have predicted, his game itself would become caught up in the latest fallout from the health crisis: a backlogged global supply chain that has delayed shipments around the world and sent freight costs rocketing.
Worst-Case Scenario, produced in China, was supposed to reach U.S. retailer Target's distribution centers in early June. Instead, the games were stuck for weeks at the Port of Seattle and didn't arrive until mid-July.
"It's consuming my life,'' said Poses, who started his Miami Beach, Florida-based toy company All Things Equal in 1997, selling games from the trunk of his car. "You do everything right. You produce on time. You're psyched about your product.''
Olympics Latest: Britain's Walls wins track cycling omnium
TOKYO (AP) — The Latest on the Tokyo Olympics, which are taking place under heavy restrictions after a year's delay because of the coronavirus pandemic:
Britain's Matthew Walls won the opening scratch race of the four-event omnium and was never really challenged over the remainder of the races in winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Walls finished third in the tempo race and second in the elimination race before taking a lap on the field early in the concluding points race to effectively put the gold medal out of reach.