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U.S. Coronavirus Cases Spike, With India Close Behind

Although the United States is still the worst-hit country, India’s cases show no signs of decreasing.

By Colm Quinn, the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy.
Guests stop to take a selfie at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on the first day of the theme park’s reopening on July 11, 2020.
Guests stop to take a selfie at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida on the first day of the theme park’s reopening on July 11, 2020. Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: India sees a record daily number of coronavirus cases, an unexplained explosion rocks a U.S. Navy vessel, Poland’s ruling party narrowly wins presidential election, and what to watch in the world this week.

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Daily Coronavirus Cases Surge in U.S., India

On Sunday, the World Health Organization announced another record number of cases recorded in one day, with more than 230,000 cases reported globally.

The United States remains the world’s hotspot, with some states seeing huge spikes in cases. If the state of Florida were a country, the 15,300 new cases reported there on Sunday would have put it in the top ten globally.

In the United States, the search for a scapegoat appears to have led to Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert and lead public health official on U.S. President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force. A White House official told CNN on Saturday that “several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things.” Fauci has a chance to speak for himself during an appearance at an event hosted by Georgetown University this Tuesday.

India’s ignominy. For the first time, India outpaced Brazil in new cases after the country recorded almost 30,000 on Sunday. Although delays in reporting can distort any one-day figures, the continued rise in cases shows how India has still failed to bend its curve. Writing in Foreign Policy on June 22, Kunal Purohit wrote about the country’s “bungling” response to its coronavirus outbreak and the sorry state of its healthcare system even before the pandemic struck.

Modi’s reckoning?  On July 6, Kapil Komireddi wrote about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and how “the dire state in which India finds itself today is the direct consequence of his ineptitude.” Komireddi warns of a wider press crackdown in the country as its coronavirus crisis worsens.

What We’re Following Today

Explosion at U.S. naval base. At least 21 people were injured, including 17 sailors, after an explosion and fire occurred on a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship while undergoing maintenance at port in San Diego. Although the cause is still unknown, the incident is believed to have taken place on the ship’s well deck, where small craft board and disembark the ship. 

PiS wins close Polish election. Incumbent Polish President Andrzej Duda has claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential runoff election pitting him against Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Duda is leading with 51.2 percent of the vote. Despite coronavirus fears, voter turnout was approximately 68 percent—the highest in 25 years.

Thaci heads to the Hague. Kosovo President Hashim Thaci visits the Hague today to be interviewed after he was indicted on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Thaci, who led an ethnic Albanian guerilla group in the 1998-99 Kosovo war, has defended his conduct. “Our war was clean and just,” he told Albanian television on Sunday.

Okinawa coronavirus cases cause tension. More than 60 U.S. Marines on the Japanese island of Okinawa have tested positive for the coronavirus, angering local officials after they had struggled to obtain exact figures from the U.S. military. Okinawa’s governor, Denny Tamaki, has demanded that the U.S. military stop sending soldiers from the U.S. mainland and for the bases to be sealed off. A Marine statement said that off-base activities would be restricted due to the outbreak, but stopped short of a full lockdown of bases. Okinawa has had roughly 150 cases of the coronavirus so far.

Russia advances Syria policy at U.N. Russia scored a diplomatic victory on Saturday when it successfully reduced the number of border crossings for United Nations aid to enter Syria from two to one, following a vote from the U.N. Security Council on Saturday. The move closes a humanitarian aid route from Bab al-Salam in Turkey to Aleppo. Bab al-Hawa, another Turkish crossing point which supplies Idlib, will remain open to aid until July 2021.

Keep an Eye On

The cost of Brexit. The United Kingdom announced plans to spend $890 million on border infrastructure to better facilitate trade after its transition deal with the European Union, according to Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove. Talks between the two sides are ongoing, with another formal round of trade talks set to begin on July 20. How the British government plans to handle the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a sticking point in EU negotiations, will be announced “later this month,” Gove said.

Norilsk spills again in Arctic. Norilsk Nickel has caused another environmental incident in Russia’s far north after roughly 45 tons of aviation fuel leaked from a pipeline near Tukhard, close to the Arctic port of Dudinka. The leak follows a massive fuel spill in Siberia on May 29, when 21,000 tons of diesel leaked into nearby rivers after a fuel tank collapsed. Norilsk was fined a record $2 billion by the Russian government for the destruction caused by the spill. The company plans to appeal the financial penalty.

Sudan puts some laws in the past. Sudan’s Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari announced a slate of new policies that dismantle laws put in place by the previous Islamist regime. Female genital mutilation will be banned, women will no longer need permits from male family members for travel, and apostasy will be decriminalized, Abdulbari told state television. The country’s non-Muslims—who amount to roughly 3 percent of the population—will now be allowed drink alcohol in private, although the Muslim majority is still banned from drinking.

The World This Week

On Tuesday, hearings begin in a case brought by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The two higher-learning institutions are seeking to block a rule, announced last week, that would leave foreign students open to deportation if they attend colleges that do not offer in-person classes for the fall semester.

On Wednesday, North Macedonia votes in parliamentary elections. The elections had been scheduled for April 12 but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice will issue its judgment in a case brought by privacy activist Max Schrems, over the transfer of his personal data from Facebook Ireland to Facebook Inc. in the United States. Schrems contends that Facebook is violating the EU’s data protection laws by allowing U.S. intelligence services to access his personal data.

On July 17, the leaders of EU member states will meet in Brussels for the first in-person European Council summit since the coronavirus pandemic began. The revised multi-annual financial framework (MFF) and economic recovery proposal are expected to top the agenda.

Odds and Ends

A part of Indian history has been unearthed in the French Alps after a local café manager discovered a batch of newspapers hailing the election of Indira Gandhi among the melting ice of the Mont Blanc glacier. The newspapers are thought to have come from the wreckage of an Air India Boeing 707 that crashed into the mountain in 1966. Timothee Mottin, who found the time capsule, plans to display the papers—along with other found items from the crash—at his café near Chamonix.

That’s it for today. 

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Colm Quinn is the newsletter writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @colmfquinn