Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 31, 2020

Protests lead to another night of unrest nationwide, Global coronavirus infections top 6 million, and more


Protests lead to another night of unrest nationwide

Protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd continued throughout dozens of cities across the United States on Saturday. The demonstrations were largely peaceful during the day, but several turned violent at night, as police and crowds clashed and some protesters set fires and damaged property. In New York, a police car was seen plowing into a crowd of protesters, and one person was killed in Indianapolis when a gunman fired at a protest. Hundreds of people were arrested throughout the day. Mayors in several cities issued curfews, while the National Guard was activated in Washington, D.C., and 10 states, including Minnesota, where Floyd died and the protests originated. By Saturday evening, around 1,000 protesters in Washington had gathered by the White House, which was protected by Secret Service, D.C. police, and U.S. Park Police.


Global coronavirus infections top 6 million

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide has topped six million, per Johns Hopkins University, as several countries continue to ease restrictions amid the pandemic. The United States accounts for more than 1.7 million of those cases. Brazil, which has the second highest number of cases, registered its highest daily increase after tallying 33,000 new infections in the previous 24 hours, as it approaches 500,000 overall. The South American country also surpassed France's death toll, making it the country with the fourth most COVID-19 fatalities after the U.S., United Kingdom, and Italy. Globally, there have been 369,627 coronavirus deaths, with more than 100,000 occurring in the U.S.


Trump postpones G-7, aims to expand summit

President Trump on Saturday postponed the Group of Seven summit, which he had hoped to host in Washington, D.C., at the end of June, until at least September. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau refused to commit to attending over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, but Trump didn't indicate their potential absences were the primary reasons for his decision. Instead, Trump said he believes the current group of countries — the U.S., Germany, Canada, Great Britain, France, Japan, and Italy — is "outdated" and doesn't represent "what's going on in the world." He said he plans to extend invitations to Australia, South Korea, India, and Russia, which was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight in 2014 over Moscow's annexation of Crimea. Trump reportedly wants to discuss China with those countries at the summit.


SpaceX, NASA team up for historic launch

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are making their 19-hour journey from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon after NASA and SpaceX teamed up for the first launch of a spacecraft carrying humans into space from U.S. soil since 2011. The launch was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but lightning and rain led to its postponement. Weather threatened to derail Saturday's launch, as well, but the skies cleared in time. The mission is considered the start of a new era in spaceflight. Not only is it the first launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, it's the first time a private company orchestrated a crewed mission to space. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock with the Space Station at 10:29 a.m. E.T. on Sunday.


Pompeo, Iran's Zarif call each other out for hypocrisy amid U.S. protests

United States and Iranian officials traded barbs over Twitter in response to the police brutality protests that have swept across the U.S. this weekend following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted "it is long overdue for the entire world to wage war against racism" even if "some don't think black lives matter," while posting a picture of an edited U.S. State Department press release that had been written about protests in Iran in an effort to highlight what he considers U.S. hypocrisy. That prompted a response from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said "you hang homosexuals, stone women, and exterminate Jews."


Los Angeles closes coronavirus testing centers for safety reasons during protests

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti closed the city's coronavirus testing centers Saturday for "safety" reasons as protests against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd sprung up across the nation's second largest city. Garcetti said it was necessary to close the testing centers to clean up damage and restore order. The city has 36 free coronavirus testing locations, including a new one at Dodger Stadium, giving it the capacity to conduct 20,000 tests per day. Los Angeles continues to report a high number of cases, but the city will begin its second phase of reopening, and Garcetti said Friday that diagnostic centers are now reporting the lowest positive rate since testing began.


China factory activity slows

China's manufacturing activity slowed in May thanks to decreased demand, especially from foreign markets, official data showed Sunday. China's factories are up and running again after the country shut down earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but economists believe it will take some time before the industry — and broader economic activity — returns to pre-crisis levels. Other sectors such as services and construction, did see a slight jump in activity from April, but the cultural, sports, and entertainment industries continue to struggle and many venues remain closed due to fear of a second wave of infection. Economists also flagged concerns around unemployment.


Saudi Arabia reopens 90,000 mosques, Grand Mosque remains closed

Around 90,000 mosques reopened under strict health guidelines in Saudi Arabia, allowing worshipers for the first time in two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. People must keep six feet apart during prayer, wear facemasks at all times, and refrain from greeting one another with handshakes or hugs. The Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest site and home to the Kaaba, remains closed to the public, however. Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which The Associated Press notes is Islam's holiest site outside Saudi Arabia, also reopened for prayers for the first time since mid-March. A large crowd reportedly waited outside its gates Sunday before getting their temperature checked upon entrance.


Israeli defense minister apologizes for police shooting of unarmed Palestinian man

Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, who is also Israel's "alternate" prime minister in the country's new power-sharing deal, apologized Sunday for the Israeli police's fatal shooting Saturday of 32-year-old Iyad Halak, an unarmed, autistic Palestinian man, in Jerusalem. Gantz said "we are really sorry about the incident" and "share in the family's grief," adding that he's sure "this subject will be investigated swiftly." In a statement, Israeli police said they spotted a suspect "with a suspicious object that looked like a pistol" and fired when Halak failed to obey orders to stop. The victim's family said he was heading to a school for students with special needs where he studied every day.


Goodell criticized for statement on protests

In response to the protests against police brutality that have swept across the United States, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Saturday that "there remains an urgent need for action" following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and that the "NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country." Goodell added that "the protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger, and frustration that so many of us feel." Goodell's comments weren't particularly well-received, however, as people took to social media to point out that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has remained out of the league for years following his non-violent protests of police brutality during the National Anthem.


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