It's like the Fourth of July, Bonfire Night, Diwali and Chinese New Year -- every night.
In the oppressive heat of the Covid-19 summer, US cities are suddenly reverberating with the crack and boom of fireworks that blast on into the small hours. Authorities haven't got a clue where the explosives are coming from.
It started in the New York borough of Brooklyn, then spread to Boston, the DC suburbs and across the country. Police on the other coast, in San Francisco, are now being flooded with complaints about sleepless nights and frightened pets.
It's perhaps not surprising that some people are letting off steam -- or rockets and firecrackers -- after months stuck at home under shutdowns. But the nightly cacophony is not just a nuisance to those whose nerves are already stretched to the breaking point by recent months -- they can cause injuries and house fires. In Brooklyn, troublemakers appeared to target a homeless man with a thrown firecracker.
Where is this arsenal coming from? In the last few months alone, the New York Police Department has fielded more than 4,000 firework-related complaints -- which is a lot when you consider that fireworks are banned in New York City. But since plenty of states do permit all kinds of fireworks to be sold, pyrophilic New Yorkers need only cross state lines into, say, Pennsylvania to stock up.
With July Fourth, Independence Day, just a week away, the nightly chorus is likely to get even more intense. But New York Mayor Bill De Blasio is feeling considerable heat over the issue, adding to criticism of his handling of the pandemic. On Thursday, he effectively lit the fuse and retreated before what is likely to be an explosive public showdown over the great pandemic pyrotechnics.
'We need to go to the root cause -- we have to go to the supply -- we have to shut down the source.' he vowed.
'His job is to do something about it'
In a speech Thursday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Joe Biden lambasted President Donald Trump for trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and for acting 'like a child' in his handling of the public health crisis. 'He's like a child who can't believe this has happened to him. All his whining and self-pity. Well, this pandemic didn't happen to him. It happened to all of us. And his job isn't to whine about it, his job is to do something about it. To lead,' said the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
What they're saying about America
One of Trump's big election lines in 2016 was that the world was laughing at America. That wasn't true, but now the reality is worse: A bemused world is pitying America. Consider this selection of global headlines this week, compiled by Meanwhile producer Shelby Rose, as the coronavirus resurged across the US.
'We are going in the wrong direction and at full speed: In the United States, a worrying resurgence of the pandemic,' read French newspaper Le Monde this week.
'In the US, the first wave isn't finished,' declared Italian newspaper Il Post. 'Things were going better, but the easing of restrictive measures has already brought a new rise in coronavirus infections.'
'United States reports record in daily coronavirus cases. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut impose a mandatory 14-days quarantine from visitors coming from nine states,' read Spain's El Pais.
The virus has America in a 'stranglehold,' said Swiss paper of record Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and has surged 'in states where they laughed at masks.'
Australia's Sydney Morning Herald called it a 'disaster.'
And Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua didn't miss the opportunity to mark America's failure so far to contain the virus.
'You, doctor, are going to be arrested'
In Palm Beach County, Florida, this week, some residents at a commissioners' meeting expressed fury at a unanimous vote to make face masks mandatory -- and even threatened to make citizen's arrests. 'Every single one of you that are obeying the devil's laws are going to be arrested, and you, doctor, are going to be arrested for crimes against humanity,' said one woman. Another lamented that officials sought to 'throw God's wonderful breathing system out the door.' (WPTV)