Weekly Roundup: (3/22-3/28) & (3/29-4/04)

(3/22-3/28)

Monday: 

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may now become the fourth vaccine approved for emergency use in the US after demonstrating a 79% efficacy rate. Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, amongst other countries in the EU, have issued a temporary suspension on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine over concerns of blood clots seen in vaccinated individuals, however, clinical trials in the US found no increased risk associated with the vaccine. The World Health Organization issued a statement expressing that “vaccination against COVID-19 will not reduce illness or deaths from other causes. Thromboembolic events are known to occur frequently” and recommend that use of the vaccine continue. Ali Aliwi Alissa, brother of Colorado grocery store shooter suspect Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, told CNN that he believes his brother’s actions may be a result of mental illness. He describes his brother as paranoid, anti-social, non-violent, and not political or religious. Ahmad Alissa’s family are Syrian immigrants and his brother also claims that Ahmad was bullied in high school for his Muslim name. The modified AR-556 pistol used to fatally injure 10 people was bought legally, according to law enforcement databases. Airport restaurant and store operating groups at Newark, La Guardia, and Kennedy International, like OTG, has laid off 1,200 airport employees in New York City and are not offering them severance packages. These layoffs are a result of the pandemic’s strain on the travel industry.  Airlines have been called on to spend portions of their request for $60 billion in federal aid on taking care of their ex-employees, who are now left without health insurance. 

 

Tuesday: 

North Korea has run its first weapons test since President Joe Biden has taken office. Two short-range projectile missiles were launched, neither being ballistic or nuclear. Retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis told CNBC this type of launch isn’t necessarily threatening, but more so intended to get the attention of the Biden administration. Following the shooting in Colorado on Monday, Biden has since spoken out about banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, referring to it as “common-sense measures”. Biden states that as a senator he brought forth this ban and intends to do it again, further urging his colleagues in the Senate to take action. Evanston, Illinois has become the first US city to issue reparations based on slavery and racial discrimination. Phase one includes giving 16 of the city’s black residents $25,000 each for their homes. This is meant to address “historical harm” based on the housing discrimination that occurred here heavily from 1919 to 1969. Priority is focused on descendants of residents who lived in the city during those years or suffered housing discrimination after these years.

Wednesday: 

On Tuesday, Pfizer announced that it started an early-stage clinical trial of an oral antiviral drug for Covid-19. The drug could be used to treat newly infected Covid patients outside of the hospital. Health experts have said the world will need an array of drugs and vaccines to end the pandemic. According to CNBC, a group of 12 state attorney generals called on tech companies Facebook and Twitter to remove misinformation from accounts spreading anti-vaccine ideas. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general during the Obama administration was revealed to have been confirmed to the same role under Biden. Shalanda Young was confirmed as the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. In addition, the White House agreed to add a senior level AAPI liaison after two Asian American senators, Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono, raised issues about the lack of Asian American representation on Biden’s team. 

Thursday: 

The UN is now looking into a crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. There are reports of widespread famine, civilian killings, increased violence, and over 500 recent rape cases. The entire scope of the situation remains unknown owing to political tensions and lack of communication. Following Krispy Kreme’s announcement that vaccinated customers can receive free donuts, a New Jersey gym owner is now offering free membership to non-vaccinated people. As covid cases reach highs and lows, Oregon is now facing a virus of a different name. In Oregon, four people are being monitored for the Ebola virus. When asked about U.S. occupation in Afghanistan, President Biden said “It’s not my intention to stay there for a long time, we will leave. The question is when we leave.” Many see this as a covert signal of continued occupation. 

Friday:

Arkansas and Tennessee became the most recent states to pass legislation that targets the transgender community. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), twenty-eight states are currently considering passing anti-trans bills. These bills could target the ability of trans girls to participate in school sports and restrict access to gender-affirming healthcare. Following the tragic shooting in Boulder, new information is being released about the suspected gunmen, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa. Days before the shooting, Alissa purchased a Ruger AR-556 from a local gun shop. The gun shop owner says that Alissa passed a background check, despite the fact that Alissa had been found guilty of third-degree assault after attacking a high school classmate in 2018. Outrage broke out among Chinese citizens after Western brands like H&M, Nike, and Adidas released statements declaring their refusal to use cotton from the Xinjiang region amidst criticisms of human rights violations. The stores face backlash as many Chinese citizens view this as a false accusation from the West. Stores are being shut down across China and facing boycotts from Chinese consumers.  

Saturday:

On Thursday night, a man opened fire in a Boulder King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, killing ten innocent people. A suspect by the name of Ahman Al Aliwi Alissa has been identified and arrested, but his motive is still unknown. Alissa obtained a gun just six days before the shooting occurred, and even passed a background check. The rifle-like gun used by Alissa had been banned in Colorado until mid-March when the National Rifle Association (NRA) and similar anti-gun control lobbying groups pushed lawmakers into overturning a 2018 ordinance banning the sale of assault weapons. U.S. weekly jobless claims have reached a one-year low, potentially signaling an improvement in the economy as public health improves. However, many economic specialists believe it will take years for a full economic recovery. Amid recent talks of unionization among Amazon employees, the company has denied that its warehouses treat any workers unfairly. Documents have surfaced, however, that prove otherwise, demonstrating how many workers have had to urinate in bottles or in bags to avoid taking breaks. Amazon continues to push back on any allegations.

Sunday:

Britain is set to ease Covid restrictions in the coming weeks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted that plans for summer travel remain up in the air. During his presidency, President Trump removed three large New Jersey counties (Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties) “from the New York-Newark-Jersey City statistical area used to determine Medicare reimbursement rates.” This has resulted in $100 million dollars worth of losses for NJ hospitals.

(3/29-4/04)

Monday: 

Opening statements were scheduled to begin on Monday, March 29th for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin over the killing of George Floyd. Of the department’s homicide unit, senior officer Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified on Friday that after someone is put in handcuffs, the threat level has been brought “way down and that once handcuffed and face down on the ground, they should be moved immediately. He also claims that he has never been trained to place his knee on someone’s neck and that the restrainment of George Floyd after he was placed in handcuffs was “uncalled for.” Chauvin’s defense argued that Floyd was overdosing on Fentanyl at his time of death. The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled to overturn Francios Momolu Khalil’s rape conviction on the grounds that his victim was “voluntarily intoxicated by alcohol” and according to official court documents, this does not fit the legislative definition of being “mentally incapacitated”. In the state of Minnesota, people are only considered “mentally incapacitated” by law if they have been administered intoxicants without their agreement. The suspected suicide bombing of a Catholic church in Makkasar, Indonesia has injured at least 20 people. The explosion occurred on Palm Sunday, right as the two bombers rode past on a motorbike. Past attacks on churches signal a rise in religious extremism in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim majority country. No organizations have claimed responsibility yet.

Tuesday: 

This morning, the SpaceX rocket went up in flames for the fourth time after attempting high-altitude flight tests. Engines reignited during the landing process, resulting in the explosion. Even with such setbacks, the company still plans to launch on the scheduled date, April 22, 2021. Researchers suggest that even after just one round of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, recipients are 80% protected. Falling rates of infection are being seen as vaccination rates rise, providing hope for many. Washington is still reporting about a .01% infection rate among vaccinated individuals. In light of these breakthrough cases secretary of health, Umair A. Shah urges that even those who are vaccinated continue wearing masks and following guidelines. Arkansas becomes the first state to pass anti-trans legislation banning gender-affirming care for trans youth. This legislation would prevent transgender individuals under the age of 18 any access to puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapy.

Wednesday: 

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues as Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges for killing George Floyd in May of last year by kneeling down on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. On Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from Darnella Frazier, the 17-year old who used her phone to film the killing of George Floyd. Republicans in key electoral states like Arizona, Florida, Michigan, and Texas are moving forward with restrictive voting bills. In Arizona, these bills would repeal the state’s permanent early voting list and require identification for absentee ballots. This news comes out following the public outcry against similar laws such as the one just passed in Georgia. The US State Department has ordered the departure of all non-emergency US government personnel and their family members from Myanmar as crackdowns against protesters and opposing groups trudge on. According to multiple humanitarian groups, children have been among those killed and injured by the strikes. 

Thursday:

President Biden issued a $2 trillion plan to rebuild infrastructure and help shape the economy which he calls “a once in a generation investment in America.” The plan is predicted to fix 20,000 miles of road and 10,000 bridges and is said to address climate change by hastening the switch to clean energy sources. Pfizer announced that their vaccine is said to be powerfully effective in adolescents, there were no symptomatic infections found in children ages 12 to 15 who received the vaccine in a clinical trial which resulted in strong antibody responses. A U.N. official is warning that Myanmar (Bruma) could be heading towards civil war if the international community doesn’t do more to stop the violence against anti-junta protestors. This comes after widespread protests erupted since the new military regime seized power. Peaceful protestors have adopted the widely known three-finger salute from the Hunger Games trilogy as a sign of rebellion. In other national news, Delta and Coca-Cola have finally come forward in opposition in regard to Georgia’s clampdown on voting rights. Both companies faced backlash and boycott from customers before this statement occurred.  

Friday:

A released watchdog report revealed violations at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Arizona that threatened the health, safety, and rights of individuals at the facility. For instance, a detainee that was a cancer patient did not get their leukemia medication refilled on time by the staff. The facility also suppressed a peaceful protest over its handling of COVID-19 violently by spraying detainees with chemical agents and pepper spray. A man rammed his car into a barrier at the US Capitol, killing a police officer. Noah Green emerged from the car with a knife and was fatally shot by law enforcement on site. Friends noted the suspect’s growing mental health issues and his support for an extremist group, the Nation of Islam. The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met to discuss the possibilities of a US return to the Iran nuclear deal. Representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, UK, and Iran met virtually to ensure effective implementation of agreements from all participants. In 2018, Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal which aims to counter Iran’s sanctions. Current President Joe Biden has said that the US will rejoin once Tehran complies with the restrictions on nuclear development

Saturday:

Amazon is now backtracking–apologizing for denying the fact that its workers urinate in bottles. The remaining stranded 400 ships have now passed the Suez Canal, following the block on March 23rd by a container ship. A compensation claim is now underway and is expected to be over a billion dollars. France has continued to see a rise in Covid ICU patients. France is making attempts to quell the issue with curfews and business and school shutdowns. The personal data of half a billion Facebook users has been leaked. The leaked information includes “phone numbers, full names, location, email address, and biographical information.”

Sunday:

Brazil has reported over a thousand new Covid-19 related deaths. This comes after news that there was not enough money in the government’s budget to continue providing Covid aid. On the 4th, China reached its biggest daily Covid case jump in over two months. Global stocks rose to a high that hasn’t been seen in over a month, following the release of data reporting a spike in U.S. employment. This latest development has many thinking that the economy will recover faster than expected.

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