Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Occasions
The EU exports millions of doses of vaccine
Despite accusations of “vaccine nationalism” and protectionism, the European Union has exported 34 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to dozens of countries in the past few weeks, though it lags behind the US, UK and Israel according to internal documents from The Times seen.
The news, EU officials privately admitted, was bound to outrag European citizens in 27 countries who were still waiting to be shot as they watched people in other countries rush past them to reopen and reopen their economies to resume safer, more normal public life.
By the numbers: Only 6.5 percent of people in the EU received at least one shot, compared to nearly 58 percent of Israelis, 33 percent of British and 19 percent of Americans.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
A protest in Greece turned violent as anger grew over tactics used by police officers enforcing lockdown restrictions.
The Biden government plans to procure an additional 100 million doses of the single vaccine from Johnson & Johnson by the end of this year.
According to RDIF, a Russian sovereign wealth fund, Kenya and Morocco have approved the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine, Reuters reported.
US House adopts huge pandemic relief plan
President Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package was finally approved in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Mr Biden is expected to sign the bill on Friday.
The American Rescue Plan provides direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to Americans and an additional $ 300 per week of unemployment benefits extended through early September. The bill also offers significant benefits to low-income Americans, including an expanded child tax credit, and funds pandemic priorities like testing, contact tracing, and genome sequencing.
The measure, which was passed with 220-211 votes, cemented one of the largest injections of federal aid since the Great Depression. Republicans have attacked the plan as wasteful and excessive, but according to a poll by Pew, 70 percent of Americans support it.
Connected: Merrick Garland was confirmed as attorney general with strong support from both parties. The Senate vote was 70-30, with 20 Republicans in support.
China is increasing tech spending
Chinese leaders are releasing tens of billions of dollars to allow the country’s tech industry to borrow. With research and development spending planned to increase 7 percent a year for five years, China’s goal is not to be indebted to anyone – especially not to the United States.
The Trump administration angered the Communist Party leadership by restricting access to American technology for corporate giants like Huawei, and Beijing believes the U.S., under President Biden, will continue to question China’s technological advancement. The first face-to-face diplomatic meeting under the Biden administration is scheduled for March 18 in Anchorage.
Microchips: China only covers 15.9 percent of its chip demand domestically. That could change, however: Premier Li Keqiang last week made detailed proposals to accelerate semiconductor production that are part of a broader strategy that includes processors, cloud computing and AI
Connected: China and Russia announced Tuesday that they had agreed to jointly build a research station on or around the moon to set the stage for a new space race.
If you have some time, it’s worth it
A changing New York City
A year ago this month, the city famous for never sleeping began to close. Retailers closed their doors. Wealthy residents fled to second homes. The nightly subway service has been discontinued.
We spent months documenting the city when its economy was frayed and divided during the pandemic. These images tell the story of a broken city – and of resilience.
The following also happens
Russia and Twitter: The government said it slowed down access to Twitter and accused the social network of failing to remove illegal content. The restrictions are a marked escalation of an ongoing offensive against American internet companies that have long been a haven for free speech.
Prince Harry and Meghan: Although the aftermath of her bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey reverberated around the world and caused a rare public schism in the British press, many members of the British political class have avoided dealing with it. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not yet issued a comment.
Under: While the US film industry is slowly chugging, Hollywood has temporarily moved to Australia. Dozens of international film productions have been lured to the country where there are few cases of Covid-19. In return, actors have found something that resembles paradise.
Sarah Everard: A UK police officer is being held on suspicion of murder in connection with the disappearance of the young woman who disappeared in south London after leaving a friend’s house. Detectives investigating the case have found human remains in a wooded area in Kent.
Snapshot: A decade after an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 19,000 people and triggered a catastrophic meltdown, many former residents of Fukushima, Japan have still not returned. What’s waiting for those who do it upstairs is often more eerie than inviting.
Mysterious manuscript: In 1883, 15 fragments of manuscripts found near the Dead Sea and written in an ancient Hebrew script caused an international sensation. Although denounced as forgeries, a young scholar is now arguing that they are not only authentic, but also older than the First Temple-era book of Deuteronomy.
What we read: This Irish Times article about the Meghan and Harry interview is a decidedly Irish take on their revelations about racism and the royal family. One selected quote: “After Harry and Meghan, the monarchy looks archaic and racist. Well duh “
Now a break from the news
And now for the background story about …
The new Hong Kong
China’s crackdown on Hong Kong has taken place swiftly: a rising power asserted its authority over global finance capital through a tough national security law passed last summer. Our China correspondent Vivian Wang spoke to the Morning Newsletter about the new Hong Kong. Here is an excerpt.
Why did Xi Jinping and the rest of the Chinese leadership decide to act now?
Vivian: The short answer is the massive anti-government protest movement in 2019 in response to a government proposal that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China.
The scale of the protests really shook Beijing. All previous protest movements had lasted a few months at the most. This time there was great support and it didn’t die on its own.
Did the process work from Beijing’s point of view? And has it caused problems for the central government?
In many ways, it absolutely worked. There are no more street protests. There is extensive self-censorship. Virtually every prominent pro-democracy activist is in exile, in prison, awaiting trial, or has disappeared from public life.
But there is a lot of simmering anger among Hong Kongers, even if they no longer dare to express it publicly.
Do people see reasons for optimism in the movement?
Since the Security Act came into force, the mood within the democracy movement has been gloomy. I expected at least some people to show fiery defiance, reminding people that there is still hope – if only as a rally, whether they believed it or not. But everyone I speak to is pretty much agreed that there isn’t much they can do to change the situation, at least for now.
Thank you for coming to me. And look forward to our redesign, which starts on Tuesday.
Thanks to Melissa Clark for the recipe and to Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected].
• We listen to “The Daily”. Our latest episode features a police officer’s account of the Capitol Rebellion.
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• Our Brussels correspondent Matina Stevis-Gridneff discussed the EU hunt for coronavirus vaccines with BBC Outside Source.