World leaders from countries in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia have called for a World War II-style treaty to “dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism” in order to shore up the response to future pandemics in an open letter published in several newspapers on Tuesday. The proposed treaty would be grounded in the constitution of the WHO and seek to improve pandemic preparedness on an international scale.
China has passed sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral rules which will tighten its control over the city. The number of directly elected seats in parliament has been cut almost by half, and prospective MPs will first be vetted by a pro-Beijing committee to ensure their loyalty to the mainland. The aim is to ensure only “patriotic” figures can run for positions of power.
Japan’s famous cherry blossoms have reached their flowery peak in many places earlier this year than at any time since formal records began nearly 70 years ago, with experts saying the climate crisis is the likely cause. Referred to in Japan as sakura, the blossoms used to reach their peak in April, coinciding with the start of the new school and business year.
Trash piled up on the streets of Myanmar’s main city on Tuesday after activists launched a “garbage strike” to oppose military rule as the toll of pro-democracy protesters killed by the security forces since a Feb. 1 coup rose to more than 500. At least 512 civilians had been killed in nearly two months of protests against the coup, 141 of them on Saturday.
The US is threatening to impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on some UK exports as it retaliates over Britain’s new ‘unreasonable’ and ‘discriminatory’ tax on big tech firms. The UK introduced a digital services tax last April in a bid to ensure search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces pay their fair share. Washington believes the tax unfairly targets US firms.