April 1, 2016

State security agents are trying to track down the mysterious author of a short letter published online, calling for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Since the letter first appeared on Canyu, a U.S.-based Chinese language website edited by a human rights activist named Cai Chu, more than two dozen people believed to have some connection to the letter have been detained, The Guardian reports. The letter, addressed to "Comrade Xi Jinping" and signed "loyal Communist party members," says the authors feel Xi does not "possess the capabilities to lead the party and the nation into the future, and we believe that you are no longer suitable for the post of general secretary."

After the letter appeared on Canyu, it showed up on the Chinese news site Wujie; censors took it down that day, the site was shut down, and authorities detained several staff members, The Guardian reports. Several exiled journalists also say their relatives have been detained in China and questioned about any ties they may have to the letter. As Chinese officials continue their search for the writer, and experts discuss whether or not this is all a prank or actual Communist Party dissent, William Nee of Amnesty International in Hong Kong says Xi's plan is "backfiring. Conducting an aggressive manhunt against anyone allegedly involved in commenting on the letter only serves to put more attention on the letter, giving it a longer shelf life." Catherine Garcia

11:33 a.m.

It appears college football players and conference commissioners are increasingly growing apart in their desire to play games this fall season.

Several players from all so-called Power 5 conferences — the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, and PAC-12 — joined up for a video call Sunday to create a statement expressing their desire to get on the field, albeit with universal health and safety protocols in place, as well as the ability to opt-out and the guarantee of an extra year of eligibility regardless of whether they play. Mainly, the players said, they just want their voices heard.

But the commissioners of those conferences had their own meeting Sunday evening, and reports indicate they aren't so optimistic about a fall season, with the Big Ten seemingly leading the charge. "It doesn't look good," one Power 5 athletic director told ESPN, although it appears the conferences may try to move games to the spring, like the Mid-American Conference is planning to do.

Long-time sports personality Dan Patrick reported Sunday that multiple sources told him the Big Ten and PAC-12 are prepared to postpone their seasons Tuesday, while the Big 12 and ACC remain on the fence. If the reports are accurate, that leaves the SEC as the lone league trying to salvage something. Tim O'Donnell

11:31 a.m.

The U.S., by a wide margin, leads the globe in COVID-19 cases. But its neighbor to the south has its own alarming spike, making it the third worst outbreak in the world.

Mexico has had 52,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, The New York Times reported Monday. A widespread distrust of hospitals has made the pandemic even deadlier, as Mexicans are reportedly frequently refusing to seek treatment until their COVID-19 symptoms have worsened past the point of possible recovery, or not at all. Additionally, the tendency to avoid hospitals has made it difficult to confirm the true number of coronavirus deaths — those who die at home often aren't tested, so their deaths aren't counted as part of the official death toll. Mexico's government says there were 71,000 excess deaths this spring, deaths that aren't officially COVID-19-related but likely point to an even deadlier outbreak.

Last month, nearly 70 percent of Mexicans said they would feel unsafe taking their loved ones to a hospital for coronavirus treatment, writes the Times. The fear, of course, isn't unfounded. Almost 40 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 end up dying, data shows, compared to less than 25 percent in New York City at the peak of the outbreak. Deaths in hospitals also happen quicker in Mexico, though doctors say that's partly because patients wait so long before arriving for treatment.

The vicious cycle has many fearing that medical workers are even deliberately infecting patients or allowing them to die, though no evidence suggests that's the case. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

10:11 a.m.

Infectious disease experts are warning Americans to rethink their priorities with winter approaching more swiftly than people would like to think, bringing with it the possibility of an even worse coronavirus crisis.

The problem is many people aren't taking advantage of the breathing room summer provides to curb the virus' spread, opting instead to return to pre-pandemic routines, Stat News reports. "We just continue to squander every bit of opportunity we get with this epidemic to get it under control," said epidemiologist Michael Mina, an assistant professor in Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate medical director of clinical microbiology at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital. "The best time to squash a pandemic is when the environmental characteristics slow transmission. It's your one opportunity in the year, really, to leverage that extra assistance and get transmission under control."

There's still time do that, per Stat, but if Americans don't act quickly, they can expect bleaker-than-usual winter months. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, predicted that, without a new lockdown or barring an effective vaccine before the end of the year, winter will force people indoors and exacerbate the pandemic, which he said will see peaks "by far" exceeding the one the U.S. just experienced in recent weeks. Read more at Stat News. Tim O'Donnell

9:25 a.m.

Widespread looting and vandalism were reported in Chicago overnight following an officer-involved shooting in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood on Sunday afternoon. By Monday morning rush hour, city officials had raised the bridges across the Chicago River in an apparent effort to stop people from going downtown, while Illinois state police blocked off ramps and CTA suspended train and bus service.

"The looting began shortly after midnight as people darted through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise," the Chicago Tribune reported. "Cars dropped off more people as the crowd grew. At least one U-Haul van was seen pulling up." The looting continued into the daylight hours, prompting the city's blockades.

"Videos that were circulating on social media captured the early morning scenes of hundreds of people in the streets, dozens of police officers, looting, and confrontations with the police," The New York Times reported. Police spokesman Tom Ahren claimed shots were fired at police at one point during the overnight unrest; while a squad car was apparently hit, no officers were injured in the incident.

The unrest was apparently linked to an event that took place on Sunday afternoon, when police responded to reports of a person with a gun. According to the police department, the suspect was confronted and fired at the officers, who responded by "[discharging] their firearms, striking the offender." The suspect was taken to a hospital, and his condition is unknown. Jeva Lange

8:31 a.m.

China imposed retaliatory sanctions against five U.S. senators, a congressman, and five additional Americans on Monday in response to sanctions levied by the White House on Friday over China's crackdown on Hong Kong, Bloomberg reports. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), and Pat Toomey (Pa.), as well as Rep. Chis Smith (N.J.), were all slapped with the restrictions. "Last month China banned me. Today they sanctioned me. I don't want to be paranoid but I am starting to think they don't like me," Rubio joked in a tweet Monday morning.

The lawmakers all share "hawkish" attitudes on China and have "urged the U.S. government to adopt harder stances toward Beijing," The Wall Street Journal reports. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in a press conference Monday that the measures were "in response to the U.S.'s wrong behaviors" and took aim at "individuals who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues."

The heads of five non-governmental organizations — the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute, Freedom House, and Human Rights Watch — were also among those sanctioned, according to CNBC. Notably, no one in the Trump administration was slapped with restrictions. Jeva Lange

8:03 a.m.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate this week, teasing a reporter on Sunday by asking, "Are you ready?"

Biden has said he will choose a woman as his vice presidential pick, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice having emerged as frontrunners. Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and California Rep. Karen Bass have also been floated by analysts as potential picks.

"[Biden] has a very difficult decision to make … but it's almost an embarrassment of riches," Howard University political science professor Niambi Carter told USA Today, while others have worried that Biden's delay has made his choice "messier than it should be" and pitted "women, especially Black women, against one another." Check out the seven candidates The Week's Matthew Walther believes have the best chance here. Jeva Lange

1:58 a.m.

When Lauren Cortez found out she was pregnant, there was one person she wanted to deliver her baby: Dr. Bryan Cox, the same OB/GYN who helped welcome her to the world 25 years ago.

Cox has been an OB/GYN at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for 33 years. Cortez's mother, Isabel Luna, has been one of his patients for decades, and spoke highly of him. When Cortez arrived at her first appointment, she was "excited, because her mom loves me, so it was a great situation," Cox told Good Morning America. "It was fun the whole pregnancy."

Cortez's son, Logan James, was born on July 26, weighing six pounds, one ounce. Cox had a special greeting for Logan — the same one he gave Cortez in 1995. "Dr. Cox, right when the baby is born, he sings 'Happy Birthday,'" Cortez said. "The fact that he takes that little time to personalize the birth experience meant a lot to me." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads