Parts of the southeastern US are still feeling the dangerous effects of that Saharan dust cloud, and a new round of it will hit parts of the Gulf Coast later this week.

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1. Coronavirus

More than half a million people have now died of Covid-19 worldwide, and more than 10 million cases have been diagnosed. Those aren't the only worrying numbers: Only two US states reported a downward trend in cases over the weekend and Friday marked the biggest nationwide single-day increase in cases, with 40,173 new reports. Even though states have increased testing, a survey from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the total numbers of infections could be up to 24 times higher than reported. All of this may translate to a new round of restrictions. Already, at least a dozen states are pausing their reopening plans and others are looking at ways to keep the weekend's Fourth of July holiday from becoming a disastrous crucible of new infections. On the vaccine front, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a vaccine may not be enough to get the US to herd immunity status if not enough people agree to get it. On the Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi voiced her support for a federal mandate on mask wearing. None of this seemed to bother Vice President Mike Pence, who attended a church service in Texas this with thousands of other worshipers and a 100-person, unmasked choir

2. Russia

Russian intelligence officers for the military intelligence GRU recently offered money to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan as rewards if they killed US or UK troops there, according to a European intelligence official. Reports of the alleged bounty arrangement circulated through various news outlets over the weekend, including a report in the New York Times that claimed the Trump administration was briefed on the news in late March. President Trump denied any such briefing, and said the fact that "there have not been many attacks" on US troops by Taliban fighters could mean the information is "phony." However, the Washington Post reports the bounties have indeed resulted in the deaths of US troops, citing US intelligence gathered from military interrogations. Both the Russian Embassy and the Taliban have denied the reports. If the GRU sounds familiar, it's because it's the same Russian military agency the US concluded was behind the interference in the 2016 US election.

3. Police reform

New protests materialized over the weekend as Americans continued to push for police accountability and reform in response to several high-profile deaths of Black men and women. In Colorado, protesters shut down a highway during a peaceful demonstration calling for justice in the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old who died after a confrontation with Aurora police officers in August. Activists in other cities are pushing to remove police from schools, and so far school officials in Minneapolis, Denver, Milwaukee and Portland, Oregon, have all announced they are severing such ties. School resource officers are a familiar sight in public schools, but opponents argue these officers sometimes criminalize Black and Latino students. Despite all this activity, hopes are fading for meaningful widespread police reform legislation. Congress is deadlocked on competing reform bills, and the President's recent executive order has been criticized for lacking enforcement plans.

4. Facebook

Several large companies have joined a growing advertising boycott of Facebook over claims the platform doesn't do enough to stop the spread of hate. Ben and Jerry's, Coca-Cola, Hershey's, Honda, Levi Strauss, Verizon, and Starbucks are just some of the big names to commit to the #StopHateForProfit boycott, organized by a civil rights coalition which includes the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP. Facebook Vice President for Public Affairs Nick Clegg has pushed back on the premise of the boycott, saying that the social media giant does not benefit from the proliferation of hate speech on its platform. However, Facebook and its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have come under frequent scrutiny for how the platform responds to and regulates instances of hate speech, misinformation and harassment.

5. Pakistan

At least five people have died in an attack at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi. Abid Ali, the director of the PSE, said in a media briefing that four attackers threw a grenade at the entrance of the compound, entered, and started firing. They were eventually killed by security forces. Ali also said the attackers "were wearing uniform that looked like police uniforms." A message from the PSE administration described the attackers as "terrorists." Karachi's PSE is the country's largest exchange, and it's located in the city's financial hub, where there is usually a heavy security presence.


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