with Mariana Alfaro

The civil unrest that erupted in the summer of 2014 in Ferguson, Mo., drew attention to the heavy militarization of local police departments. The police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man, was never charged with any crime. But one consequence of the conflagration was an executive order by then-President Barack Obama to significantly curtail a Pentagon program that had transferred billions of dollars’ worth of equipment originally intended for overseas combat to local law enforcement agencies.

“We’ve seen how militarized gear sometimes gives people a feeling like they are an occupying force as opposed to a part of the community there to protect them,” Obama said as he announced the changes in May 2015, following the recommendations of a working group he appointed after the fires went out in Ferguson. “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments.”

President Trump signed an executive order in August 2017 to rescind Obama’s restrictions on what is known as the 1033 program, allowing once again for the military to provide bayonets, grenade launchers, .50-caliber ammunition and other equipment to local law enforcement agencies. Police unions widely praised the move, which was championed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

This helps explain the ubiquitous images of Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, also known as MRAPs, deployed during nationwide protests of police brutality after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.

These tactical vehicles, designed amid the Iraqi insurgency 15 years ago to withstand IED attacks, have been cruising around American cities, often accompanied by officers who are armed in ways that even infantry veterans of the global war on terrorism find themselves taken aback by.

Stopping the steady stream of battlefield equipment into American cities will not solve systemic racism, but many criminal justice reformers see demilitarizing local departments as both an essential first step to restoring public trust and a far more realistic goal than the rallying cry among some protesters to “defund the police.” Many Democratic strategists worry that calls for defunding the police will create political headaches, especially in swing states and the suburbs.

“What police departments need are techniques and training for deescalation. Giving them increasingly dangerous and powerful weapons of war moves us in the opposite direction,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in an interview last week. “There is no evidence at all that the police in any of these situations have been outgunned. The idea that the solution to what's happening across the country is to arm ourselves to the hilt, and then essentially point those weapons in the direction of citizens, is preposterous.”

Schatz tried last year to recalibrate the 1033 program, partnering unsuccessfully with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to insert an amendment into the annual National Defense Authorization Act. They plan to try again this year.

The Justice in Policing Act, unveiled by congressional Democrats on Monday with more than 200 co-sponsors, would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct, prohibit certain no-knock warrants and scale back liability shields for police officers in civil and criminal court. The 134-page measure would also ban the Defense Department from transferring military-grade weapons to law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local levels. The measure would specifically stop the Pentagon from providing bayonets, silencers, grenade launchers, grenades (including flash bangs) and other explosives. The Democratic proposal also bans the military from giving MRAPs to domestic law enforcement agencies, as well as armored or weaponized drones and long-range acoustic devices designed to disorient enemy combatants.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), a Marine veteran who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, considers this “one of the most absurd programs in the United States government” and he’s pushing to abolish it in any criminal justice package. “It pains me when I see police acting as if they are soldiers,” said Gallego, who represents the Phoenix area. “They must be seen as interwoven into the fabric of our communities — not as a foreign force — but that is the only image I see when they roll through our streets with more armor than I, and those I served with, had in Iraq.”

Former vice president Joe Biden has signaled that he would restore Obama’s restrictions on the 1033 program if he is elected in November. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said that a law should be passed by the end of this month “to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces.” Speaking in Philadelphia last week, Biden said: “No more excuses. No more delays.”

Sessions, who is competing in a GOP primary to win back his old Senate seat in Alabama, attacked the Obama-Biden administration for not just making it harder for local authorities to obtain military-style equipment but also recalling equipment that had already been transferred. “They were basically trying to suggest that the police departments are threats and not to be trusted,” Sessions said during an interview last week. “I've not seen any real complaints of them abusing their equipment. They're just pandering, in my opinion, to the anti-police mood. … I don't think Vice President Biden has a clue about how to safely maintain a big city like Philadelphia or Baltimore.”

The Defense Department has been heavily criticized for faulty record-keeping, but government data show that more than $7.4 billion of materials has been transferred to local law enforcement departments since the program started, and more than 8,000 agencies have benefited.

The constellation of groups backed by billionaire industrialist and libertarian donor Charles Koch has also ripped the program as unnecessary. “The 1033 program improperly treats communities like combat zones, rather than our shared neighborhoods, while inducing fear and suspicion between the public and the police,” said Will Ruger, the vice president of policy at the Charles Koch Institute. “We certainly want police officers to have the gear they need to keep themselves and us safe from violent criminals, but do the police officers in our cities and towns really need bayonets, grenade launchers … and camouflage uniforms?”

Ruger emphasized that overhauls to the policing system need to go far beyond ending this one program. The Koch Institute, Stand Together and Americans for Prosperity are working to replicate the kind of coalition that helped smooth the way for the bipartisan passage of the First Step Act in 2018. Officials representing the groups say that their three priorities will be transforming police culture, so that there’s more transparency on recruitment, training, tactics and police union contracts; addressing structural barriers to good policing by restricting civil asset forfeiture, limiting immunity for officers and reducing the incentives to give out tickets or make arrests; and “eliminating unnecessary criminalization,” so that homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse are treated more as social ills than problems for police.

The origin of this program dates to 1990, when the federal government wanted to put military surplus to good use after the Cold War and, particularly, to give local law enforcement agencies better tools to fight the war on drugs. Section 1033 of the NDAA in 1997, where the program gets its name, expanded the equipment made available and removed the requirement that it be used for drug interdiction. The program grew immensely after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Tom Clark, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said it is hard to research the long-term effects of the transfers because the record-keeping was so bad in the years before Obama’s executive order in 2015. “As a consequence, a lot of the social science analysis that’s been done has rested on really flawed data that are problematic,” Clark said. “We have revisited previous studies using newer data, and our analysis suggests there’s no evidence the 1033 program leads to a reduction in crime rates.” He added that local police departments also buy military-style equipment directly from suppliers, adding to the battlefield look of city streets over the past two weeks.

Lindsay Koshgarian, the program director for the National Priorities Project at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies, said the 1033 program has been “terribly ill-advised” because it has incentivized using military-style equipment for law enforcement functions that don’t benefit from having it. “Police departments can ask for almost any piece of military equipment and get it with little scrutiny,” she said.

In 2017, investigators from the Government Accountability Office were able to obtain $1.2 million worth of items, including night-vision goggles, simulated rifles and simulated pipe bombs, by creating a fake law enforcement agency. The Pentagon has said it fixed the problems that allowed this to happen.

Wayne McElrath, who led the GAO investigation and is now a senior investigative adviser at the Project on Government Oversight, suggested several reforms to the program. “States that have a pattern and practice of discrimination should be suspended and/or excluded from the 1033 program,” McElrath wrote in an email. “Additionally, a justification should be required for existing equipment to be maintained if a pattern and practice of discrimination is substantiated. To minimize the negative effects of surplus military equipment on community policing, Congress should put further restrictions on the 1033 Program that exclude the use of surplus equipment (weapons, vehicles, devices) from typical day-to-day policing and protest control activities. This specialized equipment should be exclusively for high-risk warrants and arrests.”

Princeton political scientist Jonathan Mummolo found in his own 2018 study that militarized police units tend to be more often deployed in communities with large shares of African American residents, "even after controlling for local crime rates." He did this by using a geocoded census of SWAT team deployments from Maryland. Using nationwide panel data on local police militarization, Mummolo also showed that "militarized policing fails to enhance officer safety or reduce local crime." Furthermore, he used survey experiments to illustrate how seeing militarized local police in news reports may diminish the reputation of police departments in the eyes of the public. “In the case of militarized policing, the results suggest that the often-cited trade-off between public safety and civil liberties is a false choice,” he wrote.

Ryan Welch, now with the University of Tampa, and Jack Mewhirter, at the University of Cincinnati, found in their own 2017 study that “more-militarized law enforcement agencies were associated with more civilians killed each year by police,” even after controlling for other possible factors in police violence, including household income, black population, violent-crime levels and drug use. “When a county goes from receiving no military equipment to $2,539,767 worth (the largest figure that went to one agency in our data), more than twice as many civilians are likely to die in that county the following year,” Welch and Mewhirter wrote.

“We reasoned that if officers become more prone to use violence, we should also see more pets killed by police,” the authors added. “Using the Puppycide Database Project, which tracks police shootings of pets across the United States, we found that in counties where police received more military equipment, law enforcement kills more pets. That finding bolsters our assessment that militarization makes police more likely to turn to violence to solve problems.”

Since Ferguson, local law enforcement agencies have received more than $850 million worth of equipment through the DOD program. “As of this March, the arsenals of local law enforcement agencies currently include 494 mine-resistant vehicles, at least 800 pieces of body armor, more than 6,500 rifles, and at least 76 aircraft acquired through the 1033 program post-Ferguson,” BuzzFeed News reports. “Notably, one of the items Sessions specifically mentioned when Obama’s executive order was rescinded were bayonets. Over the past 14 months, at least 167 of the rifle-mounted weapons have been sent to local law enforcement agencies.” 

Kenneth Lowande from the University of Michigan released a study in February on the impacts of Obama’s post-Ferguson executive order: “Findings suggest similar federal reforms designed to demilitarize local law enforcement would not.”

Speaking at a law enforcement roundtable on Monday, Trump suggested he does not believe systemic changes to policing are necessary. And there is no indication he’s changed his mind about the value of transferring military equipment. “We want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there, and sometimes we’ll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently," Trump said at the White House. “But I say 99.9 – let’s go with 99 – percent of them [are] great, great people, and they’ve done jobs that are record setting.”

Divided America

Mourners lined up to pay their respects to George Floyd at a public viewing in Houston on June 8. (Spike Johnson/The Washington Post)
Three-quarters of Americans support the protests, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.

“The poll highlights how attitudes about police treatment of black Americans are changing dramatically," Scott Clement and Dan Balz report. “More than 2 in 3 Americans (69 percent) say the killing of Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement, compared with fewer than 1 in 3 (29 percent) who say the Minneapolis killing is an isolated incident. That finding marks a significant shift when compared with the reactions in 2014 to police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and New York. Six years ago, 43 percent described those deaths as indicative of broader problems in policing while 51 percent saw them as isolated incidents. … Currently, 86 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans say the Floyd killing represents a broader problem rather than an isolated incident. … Among both Republicans and independents, the shift is 28 points, while among Democrats it is 21 points. The biggest changes are among whites overall (a 33-point shift) and white women (38 points).” Trump receives negative marks for his handling of the protests: 61 percent disapprove and 35 percent approve.

Thousands lined up under the Texas sun to say goodbye to Floyd. 

“Floyd did not set out to be a martyr, but that is what mourners who came to pay their respects say he has become. That scene, those sounds, and the way it has touched Americans, particularly black Americans, has triggered the kind of uncomfortable reckoning that brought thousands of strangers to southwest Houston to lament and repent,” Arelis Hernández and Brittney Martin report. “Pastor Patrick Ngwolo was anxious to minister to the people of the ‘Bricks’ or the neighbors of the Cuney Homes, where Floyd once lived. But he had no way into a neighborhood suspicious of outsiders. He met ‘Big Floyd’ on the basketball court and the giant man became his ‘gateway’ to the people. Floyd ushered his neighbors to faith, the pastor said. And with his death, he is again playing that role. ‘We are either going to master the sin of racism or the sin of racism is going to master us,’ Ngwolo said before leading a group of people in prayer on the same basketball court where Floyd once played." 

Police officers have continued to fatally shoot about 1,000 civilians a year.

“Since 2015, police have shot and killed 5,400 people,” Mark Berman, John Sullivan, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins report. “Even amid the coronavirus pandemic and orders that kept millions at home for weeks, police shot and killed 463 people through the first week of June — 49 more than the same period in 2019. In May, police shot and killed 110 people, the most in any one month since The Post began tracking such incidents" in 2015.

  • A newly released video shows a New Jersey trooper fatally shooting an unarmed, 28-year-old black man during a traffic stop. (Meryl Kornfield)
  • The ex-Minneapolis cop charged with Floyd’s murder is being held on $1 million bail. Derek Chauvin said little during his first court appearance. He is expected to make a plea on June 29. (Holly Bailey and Toluse Olorunnipa)
  • Minnesota state troopers confessed to slashing the tires of cars belonging to protesters and journalists on two separate nights but only after Mother Jones published videos and photos of officers in military-style uniforms puncturing tires with knives. Among the vehicle owners whose tires were damaged was Star Tribune reporter Chris Serres, the Minneapolis paper reports.
  • A county court issued a preliminary injunction that orders Minneapolis police officers to stop using chokeholds and neck restraints. (Teo Armus)
  • France said it will ban police from using chokeholds when arresting people after a week of demonstrations against police brutality at home and abroad. (CNN)
  • The Seattle City Council moved toward defunding their police department following an outbreak of police violence at a Sunday protest during which police tear-gassed protesters, despite the mayor asking for a limit on tear-gas use. (Meagan Flynn and Jay Greene) 
  • Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said she’s stepping down and will be replaced by an African American lieutenant. (OPB)
  • The Los Angeles Police Department will temporarily halt the use of carotid restraints. The county sheriff’s department also announced that it had restricted the use of these restraints, which can render people unconscious and be fatal, to when a suspect’s actions threatened someone’s life or serious bodily injury. (Los Angeles Times)
  • New York lawmakers took up an expansive package of bills targeting police misconduct, including a ban on the use of chokeholds and the repeal of a decades-old statute that conceals the disciplinary records of officers from public view. (NYT)
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) wants more structural change. He said his state will put resources into making sure all black residents have health insurance. Beshear said he’s not yet sure how he will accomplish the task, but he said he aims for all black residents in the state to either be on Medicare or Medicaid if they are not covered by private insurance. (Wave3)
Biden let police unions draft his 1994 crime bill. Now, he’s trying to undo parts of his signature achievement.

“As Sen. Joe Biden struggled 26 years ago to put together a massive crime bill, he relied on a man named Tom Scotto, who had become a fixture in his Capitol Hill office. Day after day, Scotto walked into Biden’s sanctum and convinced him to up the ante, asking for billions of dollars for 100,000 police officers, which in turn required a major expansion of prisons across the country. ‘There wasn’t one thing when he said, ‘No,’’ Scotto recalled in an interview," Michael Kranish reports. “He was the president of the National Association of Police Organizations, representing about 220,000 police department employees … As Biden later said of his work with Scotto’s organization, boasting of his ties: ‘You guys sat at that conference table of mine for a six-month period, and you wrote the bill.’” 

In a Senate floor speech selling that bill, Biden rejected the idea that he was one of those “wacko liberals.” Now he’s proposing an agenda that would effectively undo the impact of his own legislative triumph, including a dramatic reduction in the number of people behind bars. “Biden also proposed abolishing the death penalty, a sharp turn from his view in the 1990s when he boasted of drafting a bill that had 53 crimes eligible for such a penalty,” Kranish reports. “Most notably, Biden backs the gist of a proposed bill from the Brennan Center for Justice called the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act. It is designed to reverse some of Biden’s crime bill.” He has not received an endorsement from any of the national police unions, including those that backed him in past elections. “I don’t support defunding the police,” Biden told CBS News on Monday.

The D.C. Council is scheduled to vote on a sweeping package of police reforms. 

“The bill, proposed by council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who chairs the public safety committee, includes a prohibition on neck restraints, which are banned by D.C. police policy but not by law, and a requirement that police make public the name of an officer involved in a serious use of force and the footage from the officer’s body-worn camera within 72 hours,” Julie Zauzmer and Fenit Nirappil report. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) “stopped short of endorsing the legislation Monday, saying her administration is mostly supportive but was still working to ‘understand all the technicalities.’ Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said Monday that he would offer additions to the bill, including banning the hiring of officers with records of misconduct in other jurisdictions and removing officer discipline as a matter subject to police contract negotiations.” 

  • The National Park Service said that the massive fence erected around Lafayette Square is temporary. A spokeswoman said some areas of the park will remain closed to deal with some damage but gave no details as to when the rest of the square will reopen. (AP)
  • Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. tweeted blackface and Ku Klux Klan imagery, spurring staff resignations and demands for his firing by influential alumni. (NYT)
  • A self-identified Ku Klux Klan leader was arrested after driving through peaceful protesters in Richmond late Sunday. Harry H. Rogers, 36, has been charged with assault and battery and is being held without bond. There were no fatalities reported as a result of the incident. (Emily Davies)
  • A Richmond judge temporarily blocked Gov. Ralph Northam (D) from removing the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The judge granted a 10-day injunction sought by William Gregory, who contends in a lawsuit that the state promised to “affectionately protect” the statue when it annexed the land it stands on from Henrico County. (Laura Vozzella and Gregory Schneider)
  • The Army, reversing course, will consider renaming 10 bases named after Confederate leaders. Defense Secretary Mark Esper supports the decision, an Army spokesperson said. (Politico)
  • Bon Appétit magazine’s top editor, Adam Rapoport, resigned after a series of damning disclosures, including an allegation by an editor that people of color are not paid for video appearances while white colleagues are paid. An undated photo also appeared to show him wearing a racist costume. (Emily Heil)
  • Refinery29’s co-founder and top editor, Christene Barberich, also stepped down after criticism over the news site’s lack of racial diversity and allegations of racial discrimination. Barberich said she’s stepping aside “to help diversify our leadership in editorial and ensure this brand and the people it touches can spark a new defining chapter.” (Variety)
  • Axios, in an unusual move by a news organization, will allow staff members to take part in protests. Jim VandeHei, the company’s CEO, said the organization will even help cover bail if people are arrested and assist with medical bills. (NYT)
  • An innocent Maryland man got doxxed after Internet sleuths mistakenly accused him of being the cyclist who attacked a group of young activists putting up fliers. It took him hours to get his name cleared by the police department, but an angry Internet mob had already released his private information online. (New York Magazine)

The coronavirus remains

The pathway to overcome the coronavirus is long, winding and full of hurdles. Here's how the public can help. (The Washington Post)
Fourteen states and Puerto Rico hit their highest seven-day average of new coronavirus infections. 

“As rates of coronavirus infections ease in places such as New York and Illinois and onetime hot spots move into new phases of reopening, parts of the country that had previously avoided being hit hard by the outbreak are now tallying record-high new infections,” Kim Bellware and Jacqueline Dupree report. “Since the start of June, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began according to data tracked by The Washington Post: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah. 

"If the pandemic’s first wave burned through dense metro hubs such as New York City, Chicago and Detroit, the highest percentages of new cases are coming from places with much smaller populations: Lincoln County, Ore., an area of less than 50,000, has averaged 20 new daily cases; the Bear River Health District in northern Utah has averaged 78 new cases a day in the past week, most of them tied to an outbreak at a meat processing plant in the small town of Hyrum. The increase of coronavirus cases in counties with fewer than 60,000 people is part of the trend of new infections surging across the rural United States. Health experts worry those areas, already short of resources before the pandemic, will struggle to track new cases with the infrastructure that remains. Adding to the disparity in health-care support, residents in states such as Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina are living under only minor-to-moderate restrictions — even as their average daily infection rate is rising.” At least 109,507 people in the United States have died of covid-19, with more than 1.95 million coronavirus cases reported.

  • Arizona’s state health director urged hospitals to “fully activate” their emergency plans as infections climb. “Hospitals are also being asked to prepare for crisis care, and to suspend elective surgeries if they are experiencing a shortage of staff or bed capacity,” the Arizona Republic reports. “Arizona's largest health system — Banner Health — said ICU bed occupancy was growing, and that if current trends continued would exceed capacity."
  • The seafood industry has become the new source of outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest. Infections have been found among seafood workers who traveled to remote island communities like Unalaska, Alaska. In Newport, Ore., Pacific Seafood said Sunday that 124 workers across five facilities had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with most of the infections concentrated in a single shrimp-processing plant. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Six of 10 sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus antibodies. The aircraft carrier became a hot spot. (Katie Shepherd)
New York City began to reopen. 

“Monday marked the first, limited phase of a four-part reopening plan. Wholesale sellers and manufacturers were allowed to resume business, and the construction industry made its noisy return. Workers in hard hats swarmed a site in south Queens, installing walls and machinery within the skeleton of a tower that had been mostly hollow since March,” Ben Guarino and Shayna Jacobs report. “Florists, clothing shops and other retail establishments that have been shuttered for weeks welcomed customers to pick up goods at the curb — with masks and social distancing required. … Many businesses remained closed. In Lower Manhattan, where City Hall and most city agencies are based, lunch spots were still closed or boarded up. Vehicle traffic was light and there was a fraction of the foot traffic that would normally clog sidewalks.” 

  • The U.S. economy officially entered a recession in February – before any stay-at-home orders. “The Business Cycle Dating Committee, which tracks and dates business cycles for the National Bureau of Economic Research, said the economy peaked just before the pandemic forced business and social activity into a holding pattern,” Rachel Siegel reports.
  • Trump's campaign announced he will restart his “Keep America Great” rallies in the next few weeks. Campaign manager Brad Parscale previously said the rallies would probably resume in late summer, but Trump has been increasingly determined to get back out on the road as he slips in the polls. (Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez)
  • The D.C. region reported 1,058 new cases, as positive test rates continue to fall. Local officials say they are watching virus-related data closely for signs of a resurgence after the protests. (Dana Hedgpeth and Antonio Olivo)

The New York Times asked 511 epidemiologists when they expect to fly, hug and do 18 other everyday activities again: 64 percent of those polled said they’ll wait over a year before they attend a sporting event, concert or play. While 60 percent said they feel free to see a doctor for a nonurgent appointment now, 56 percent said they’ll wait between three and 12 months before eating at a dine-in-restaurant again, and 44 percent said they’ll wait the same amount of time before catching a flight again. “If we have a good vaccine, perhaps the first thing I'd do is more hugs,” said Indiana University’s Christina Ludema, who was among the 42 percent of epidemiologists who said they’d wait more than a year before hugging or shaking hands when greeting a friend again. 

As nursing home residents died from the virus, new protections shielded companies from lawsuits. 

“For weeks, health-care associations nationwide have pressed governors for immunity from lawsuits, in some cases offering specific language for emergency orders, according to letters, public statements and media accounts,” Debbie Cenziper, Peter Whoriskey, Shawn Mulcahy and Joel Jacobs report. “But what plaintiffs’ lawyers and patient advocacy groups contest most is not whether immunity should be extended to health-care personnel, but whether those protections should also extend to nursing homes and their owners. In their view, troubled facilities ought to remain subject to litigation resulting from life-threatening failures in infection control and patient care, and families offered a chance to pierce the layers of secrecy that often surround unexpected or unexplained deaths.”

A husband and wife, both nurses, thought they would get through the crisis. Then, he died.

“Jeff Baumbach and his wife, Karen, had been nurses for three decades. When covid-19 arrived in California, they thought it was just another outbreak they would get through together. Instead, Jeff Baumbach, 57, became one of the victims,” Rachel Weiner reports. “There were no known covid-19 patients at the hospital where he worked in emergency room case management, Kaiser St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, Calif. At the time, nurses were wearing masks only when with patients, not in their workspace outside examining rooms. Her husband didn’t complain about lack of protective equipment; at the time, Karen Baumbach said; they didn’t realize how much they would need it.” 

Coronavirus cases are rising in India, but holy places are reopening their doors.

“For more than a thousand years, devotees have worshiped the Hindu deity Lord Venkateshwara at a hilltop temple in South India, through times of drought, famine and conquest. But nowhere in its recorded history is a period like the one it just experienced — a mandatory shutdown lasting 80 days, during which the shrine closed to the public. In normal times, it receives 60,000 visitors daily,” Joanna Slater reports. “When it reopened Monday, much was different. Devotees approached the temple by the hundreds each hour, rather than by the thousands. The shrine’s employees wore full-body protective gear. Certain rituals were prohibited — no touching a sacred bell, no drinking of holy water. The careful opening of the Tirupati temple is part of a broader move by India’s government to withdraw the restrictions that made up the world’s largest lockdown — even as new cases in the country surge.”

  • Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador refuses to get tested, even though a high-ranking deputy has tested positive. “I don’t have symptoms,” he said. But the president appeared on Friday with the infected director of Mexico’s social security system. Our southern neighbor has had more than 120,000 infections and 14,000 related deaths. (Katie Shepherd)
  • The U.N. General Assembly won’t meet in person this fall in New York for the first time in its 75-year history. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Some governments are offering vouchers to encourage people to go out again. Malta is offering residents over the age of 16 five vouchers worth 100 euros ($112) to spend at hotels or restaurants. (Jennifer Hassan)
  • European Union members are continuing to reopen their borders. Slovakia became the latest country to announce the easing of restrictions, letting travelers from 16 other European nations into the country. (Rick Noack)

Other news that should be on your radar

The Trump administration is making it easier for hunters to kill bear cubs and wolf pups in Alaska. 

“Hunters will soon be allowed to venture into national parks in Alaska and engage in practices that conservation groups say are reprehensible: baiting hibernating bears from their dens with doughnuts to kill them and using artificial light such as headlamps to scurry into wolf dens to slaughter mothers and their pups,” Darryl Fears reports. “In a final rule that is expected to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register, the Trump administration will end a five-year-old ban on the practices, which also include shooting swimming caribou from a boat and targeting animals from airplanes and snowmobiles. It would take effect 30 days after being published.”

First look: The U.S. Chamber rewards bipartisanship with new awards.

As part of the business lobby’s broader strategic push to cultivate more pragmatism in a Congress that has’s become increasingly polarized and ideological, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce changed up the way it scored lawmakers this year. On Tuesday afternoon, executives from the group will hand out (virtually) new awards designed to reward lawmakers in both parties who have sponsored bills they care about and who have jointly signed onto legislation with members of the opposing party. (I wrote last year about the thinking behind this new approach.) “Now more than ever, our nation needs elected leaders with the courage to pursue common ground,” said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark, adding that the group will continue following through on its pledge “to heighten our focus and reward bipartisan leadership and constructive governing.”

The Abraham Lincoln leadership award recognizes 10 senators and 20 House members – with an even number of recipients in both parties – for either co-sponsoring specific bills, or declining to do so, when the Chamber made a request. The Jefferson-Hamilton bipartisanship award goes to the 10 senators and 20 House members who co-sponsored the most bills introduced by a member of the opposite party, excluding proposals opposed by the Chamber. There is some overlap between the two distinctions. For example, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) received both awards.

The Chamber’s political arm notched a victory in its bid to boost pragmatism with the defeat last week of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) in a primary. The group backed King’s challenger, Randy Feenstra, and ran attack ads highlighting that King has been kicked off the Agriculture Committee because of racist comments.

North Korea said it will shut telephone hotlines with South Korea.

“The escalation came five days after Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, took charge of relations with South Korea and threatened to shut a joint liaison office and factory park in the border town of Kaesong,” Min Joo Kim and Simon Denyer report. “Kim Yo Jong, who has been taking an increasingly high-profile role in Pyongyang, had demanded that Seoul prevent activists from sending leaflets across the border intended to promote democracy and undermine the nuclear-armed regime. In an attempt to salvage ties with the North, the South Korean government pledged to seek a legislative ban on the leaflets, angering human rights activists and others who questioned Seoul’s commitment to freedom of expression.”

Social media speed read

Biden met with Floyd’s family in Houston:

Even Alabama is starting to remove Confederate memorials:

Army counsel Joseph Welch confronted Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) 66 years ago in what became a turning point in our country's triumph over McCarthyism:

Videos of the day

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany bashed Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) after he marched with Black Lives Matter activists over the weekend. She claimed Trump took "great offense" to Romney's 47 percent comments in 2012. In fact, Trump is on tape defending them:

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on June 8 that Trump took "great offense" at Sen. Mitt Romney's 2012 comments on race. He hasn't always. (The Washington Post)

Seth Meyers looked at the ways Trump has lashed out against the Black Lives Matter movement: 

And Trevor Noah said police brutality is part and parcel with systemic racism: