5 things to know for April 2: Covid-19, immigration, Capitol riot, Iran, Myanmar
Here's what you need to know to get up to speed and on with your day
The World Health Organization harshly criticized Europe’s coronavirus response, calling the region’s vaccine rollout “unacceptably slow” as new variants threaten to wipe out progress. Many European nations have struggled to carry out effective vaccination programs as drug companies have repeatedly under-delivered on scheduled shipments. WHO says the region has vaccinated only 10% of its population with one shot in a two-dose regimen. In the US, health experts are pleading with people to wait until their second vaccine shot to resume normal activities. A fourth surge, concentrated among young people, could be on the horizon if people aren’t careful. And with surges come new restrictions, like in Ontario, where a jump in ICU admissions has forced the province to issue an “emergency brake” shutdown beginning this weekend.
A Republican and a Democrat in the House have introduced a bill that would provide $1 billion in a fund to handle the migration influx at the southern border. To access the fund, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies would need to develop a plan to respond to increases in US-Mexico border crossings. The US is on track to encounter more than 2 million migrants at the border — which would be a record — by the end of the fiscal year. Meanwhile, a new watchdog report revealed violations at an Arizona ICE facility in 2020 threatened the health, safety and rights of detainees there. One cancer patient ran out of leukemia medicine when facility staff forgot to order a refill, and facility employees sprayed detainees with chemical agents and pepper spray when they held a peaceful protest because they felt the facility was not doing enough to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
3. Capitol riots
The United States Capitol Police’s Inspector General has issued a scathing preliminary report about the department’s “deficiencies” leading up to the January 6 Capitol riot. Inspector General Michael Bolton found that the department didn’t send out intelligence they had that warned the planned January 6 demonstrations could become violent. Bolton also criticized the department for failing to pass along information from others, such as the now-widely reported FBI Norfolk memo, sent the day before the riots, that warned for potential violence and a “war” at the Capitol. While this is the most complete review so far into what happened before and during the insurrection, it’s not the final report on the matter. Five people died in the January 6 violence, and nearly 140 law enforcement officers were injured.
4. Nuclear deal
Could the US rejoin the Iran nuclear deal soon? Representatives from Iran, China, Russia and Europe will meet today to discuss the United States’ possible return to the deal, which former President Donald Trump walked away from in 2018. The Biden administration says it wants to rejoin the deal, known as the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but only when Tehran returns to full compliance with the pact’s restrictions on nuclear development. Remember, the whole premise of the deal is that Iran reins in its nuclear development in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Myanmar’s military junta has cut all wireless internet services in the country, and leveled the most serious charges yet against ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi. She has been charged with violating the official secrets act, which could result in a 14-year prison sentence. Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide in the November 2020 elections, has not been seen in public since she and others were detained at the beginning of the military coup in February. Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning the “use of violence” against protestors, who have been filling the streets of Myanmar to demonstrate against the junta’s suppressive tactics.
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