Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9tn coronavirus relief proposal, aimed at urgently combating the pandemic and the economic crisis it has triggered. The ambitious, wide-ranging plan includes $160bn to bolster vaccination and testing efforts, and other health programs and $350bn for state and local governments, as well as $1tn in relief to families, via direct payments and unemployment insurance.
The government of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte collectively resigned on Friday over its mismanagement of childcare subsidies, national broadcaster NOS reported. The inquiry report said around 10,000 families had been wrongfully forced to repay tens of thousands of euros of subsidies, leading to unemployment, bankruptcies and divorces. It described such mismanagement over a decade as an “unprecedented injustice”.
At least nine people were left needing hospital treatment after a bus fell 49ft off a bridge and into an underpass in New York. The articulated passenger transport – like a bendy bus – crashed at about 11pm local time on Thursday. Photos from the scene showed the blue bus with its front half broken through a railing and touching the tarmac below.
North Korea displayed new submarine-launched ballistic missiles under development and other military hardware in a parade that underlined leader Kim Jong Un’s defiant calls to expand the country’s nuclear weapons program. State media said Kim took center stage in Thursday night’s parade celebrating a major ruling party meeting in which he vowed maximum efforts to bolster the nuclear and missile program that threatens Asian rivals and the American homeland.
The leader of the Taliban in Afghanistan has issued a decree urging the group’s leaders and commanders to forego taking multiple wives, which he said was inviting “criticism from our enemies”. Muslim men can be permitted by religion to have up to four wives at a time and polygamy is still legal in Afghanistan, Pakistan and some other predominantly Muslim nations.
A global team of researchers arrived Thursday in the Chinese city where the coronavirus was first detected to conduct a politically sensitive investigation into its origins amid uncertainty about whether Beijing might try to prevent embarrassing discoveries. The 10-member team sent to Wuhan by the World Health Organization (WHO) was approved by President Xi Jinping’s government after months of diplomatic wrangling.
Donald Trump has called for “no violence” ahead of what the FBI has warned are “armed protests” being planned at all 50 state capitals ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration – as removal vans were spotted outside the White House. One group has vowed an uprising will take place and government offices will be stormed if attempts are made to remove Mr Trump from office.
The Dutch government will decide on Friday whether to step down over an escalating scandal in which tax officials wrongly accused thousands of parents of fraud, plunging many families into debt by ordering them to repay childcare allowances. The prime minister, Mark Rutte, has said he opposes dissolving the current coalition, arguing the Netherlands needs stability amid the coronavirus pandemic, but has not ruled it out.
South Korea’s top court upheld on Thursday a 20-year prison sentence for former President Park Geun-hye on graft charges that led to her downfall, bringing an end to the legal process and for the first time raising the possibility of a pardon. Park became South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be thrown out of office when, in 2017, the Constitutional Court upheld a parliament vote to impeach her.
Archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest known animal cave painting in Indonesia – a wild pig – believed to be drawn 45,500 years ago. Painted using dark red ochre pigment, the life-sized picture of the Sulawesi warty pig appears to be part of a narrative scene. The painting may be the world’s oldest art depicting a figure, but it is not the oldest human-produced art.