5 things to know for June 9: White House, Covid-19, Congress, Myanmar, Uyghurs
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1. White House
President Biden has ended infrastructure talks with a group of Republican senators after the two sides failed to reach an agreement, saying their proposal did not meet the country’s needs. The administration is now shifting its efforts to a coming proposal from a bipartisan group of senators led by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. But some Senate Democrats are frustrated that any deal reached by that group is unlikely to satisfy the majority of their caucus, and they are prepared to go it alone. While his legislative efforts stall at home, Biden is preparing to leave today for his first foreign trip as President — where he’ll meet with the UK Prime Minister, Turkish President and other world leaders.
Americans can travel safely to more countries now, per CDC guidance. The agency issued new travel advice for more than 120 countries, moving 33 countries — including Israel, Iceland and Singapore — into its lowest risk category. Travel within Europe is set to become easier as well, with the European Union’s launch of its EU Digital Covid Certificate. But just as we’re beginning to emerge safer from the coronavirus, we now have to watch out for other infections. Experts say this coming flu season could be a doozy.
Democrats and Republicans in the Senate finally agreed on something: the need to keep the US competitive on the global stage. The Senate passed legislation aimed at countering China’s growing economic influence by investing more than $200 billion in American technology, science and research. The bill includes more than $50 billion for the semiconductor industry, as well as investments in cybersecurity and biotechnology. It now must pass the House before going to Biden’s desk for his signature.
The United Nations estimates 100,000 people in Myanmar’s borderlands have been displaced by fighting that includes attacks by security forces in civilian areas. The country has been in a state of unrest since a military coup in February, with daily protests and fighting between the military and ethnic minority militias. People who have fled Kayah state, which borders Thailand, urgently need shelter, food, water and health care, according to the UN, and the organization urged security forces to let aid workers and supplies through. Thailand, which fears a flood of refugees, is concerned about the fighting and is urging the military government to restore democracy, as per a plan agreed upon by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Uyghurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group from northwest China, are allegedly being detained and deported at China’s request in three major Arab countries: Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Rights groups have documented several cases of Uyghur disappearances in the last few years, and families of those deported fear their loved ones have ended up among the estimated 2 million Uyghurs who have been sent to internment camps. Even as Western nations condemn China’s treatment of Uyghurs, activists fear that countries in the Middle East and beyond will be willing to acquiesce to Beijing’s crackdown on members of the ethnic group.
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