A Congress riven along party lines approved the landmark $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Wednesday, as President Joe Biden and Democrats claimed a major triumph on legislation. Most noticeable to many Americans are provisions providing up to $1,400 direct payments this year to most people and extending $300 weekly emergency unemployment benefits into early September. But the legislation goes far beyond that.
China’s legislature has approved a resolution to make sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system. The measures were passed with 2,985 votes in favor, and zero against, in China’s National People’s Congress (NPC). A “candidate qualification review committee” will be established to vet candidates for election to Hong Kong’s parliament, the Legislative Council said. Chinese officials have said that the changes will ensure “patriots” are in control of Hong Kong.
Denmark’s national health agency has said it is temporarily suspending inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine after blood clots formed in several people who had the jab, one of whom has reportedly died. The agency said it would reassess the situation in consultation with the Danish medicines agency in two weeks’ time, but stressed there was “good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective”.
Myanmar’s military government has accused deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi of accepting illegal payments. The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday condemned violence against protesters and urged the army to show restraint. But language that would have denounced the military takeover as a coup or threatened possible further action was removed from the British-drafted text, due to opposition by China, India, Russia and Vietnam.
With a moment of silence, prayers and anti-nuclear protests, Japan on Thursday mourned about 20,000 victims of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan 10 years ago, destroying towns and triggering nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima. The world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and the tremor have left survivors struggling to overcome the grief of losing families and towns to the waves in a few frightening hours on the afternoon of March 11, 2011.