The U.S. celebrates its Independence Day
On the day long earmarked as a milestone in the fight against the coronavirus, the White House hosted a celebration of about 1,000 people yesterday to commemorate the July 4 holiday and herald the administration’s progress toward overcoming the pandemic.
Speaking at the event, President Biden compared the nation’s fight for independence with the battle against the coronavirus. “Two hundred and 45 years ago, we declared our independence from a distant king,” he said. “Today, we’re closer than ever to declaring our independence from a deadly virus.”
Despite celebrations across the country, the U.S. remains deeply divided. The American flag, once a unifying symbol, is now alienating to some, its stripes fault lines between people who kneel while “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays and those for whom not pledging allegiance is an affront.
By the numbers: Reports of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. are steady at 12,000 a day, the lowest since testing became widely available, with fewer than 300 daily deaths. The U.S. did not meet Biden’s deadline of 70 percent of adults at least partly vaccinated by July 4.
From Opinion: Both Juneteenth and the Fourth of July belong to all Americans, writes Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor at Harvard. But while one celebrates the independence of the American nation, the other celebrates the independence of a nation within the American nation.
Related: Stacie Marshall, who inherited a Georgia farm, is descended from a family that enslaved people. She is trying on a small scale to address a generations-old wrong that still bedevils the nation.
A deadly plane crash in the Philippines
A military plane in the Philippines crashed yesterday, with 96 soldiers and crew members onboard, after missing a runway while trying to land on the island of Jolo. At least 50 people died, including three civilians on the ground. Officials fear the death toll will climb.
The soldiers were heading to Jolo to bolster military operations against Abu Sayyaf, a small Islamist group that the Philippine government considers a terrorist organization.
Context: The Philippine military has been trying to modernize its aging air fleet. The plane that crashed first flew in 1988 and was used by the U.S. Air Force until the Philippines bought it in January. Three helicopters have also crashed this year.
An overnight vaccination drive in Rome
Nearly 900 people showed up on Saturday in the Italian capital for an overnight vaccination drive, called Open Night, which aimed to reach “people on the margins of society, the most fragile,” a local health official said.
Doctors and nurses administered the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine to homeless people, undocumented migrants, foreign students and legal migrants who are not registered with the national health service. The vaccine is especially useful for people who might be harder to reach or might not return for a second dose.
At least 700,000 people in Italy are not registered with the national health service, which is managed by regional governments, according to the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty.
Details: To help draw in crowds, a jazz pianist serenaded those present on Saturday night, while free espresso and cornetti — the Italian croissant — were offered yesterday morning.
In other developments:
Iran’s president warned of a potential fifth wave as the Delta variant spread.
Since April, health care providers in France have routinely given a third dose of a two-dose vaccine to people with certain immune conditions.
The Indian police are investigating whether scammers gave out thousands of shots of salt water instead of Covid-19 vaccines.
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Why American politics aren’t budging
The country is recovering from a pandemic and an economic crisis, and its former president is in legal and financial peril. But no political realignment appears to be at hand, writes Alexander Burns, a national politics correspondent for The Times.
It’s unclear whether the American electorate is still capable of large-scale shifts in opinion, or whether the country is essentially locked into a schism for the foreseeable future, with roughly 53 percent of Americans on one side and 47 percent on the other.
“I think we’re open to small moves; I’m not sure we’re open to big moves,” said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster. “Partisanship has made our system so sclerotic that it isn’t very responsive to real changes in the real world.”
Though the pandemic recovery had helped voters feel better about the direction the country is moving in, it did not seem to be changing party preferences, said Russ Schriefer, a Republican strategist. “If anything, since November people have retreated further and further back into their own corners.”
Last year, Donald Trump presided over an out-of-control pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and devastated the economy. In his subsequent presidential campaign, he outlined no agenda for his second term and delivered one of the most self-destructive debate performances in modern history — but still won 25 states.