CORONAVIRUS: India just became the third country (after the US and Brazil) to surpass 300,000 coronavirus deaths. In some good news: cases in Mumbai and Delhi, where some of the worst outbreaks have taken place, are starting to go down. Over in the US, cases are at their lowest levels since last summer. This comes as nearly half of the total US population has gotten at least one vaccine shot. Speaking of which, Japan’s ramping up vaccinations in Tokyo and Osaka as cases surge. And meanwhile, a previously undisclosed US intel report is furthering debate over the origins of the pandemic. See: researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were hospitalized with covid-like symptoms about a month before the first reported cases.
PEOPLE: Lately, anti-semitic hate crimes have been on the rise throughout the US. Case in point: over the weekend, there were two hate-related incidents in Brooklyn targeting Jews. And last week, a man allegedly tried to set fire to a synagogue and Jewish school in Brooklyn - while another man was arrested in Los Angeles for assault with a deadly weapon after yelling slurs at Jewish people in a restaurant. Meanwhile, recently, at least 21 people were killed after extreme weather hit an ultramarathon trail in China. Think: a sudden drop in temps, hail, and gale-force winds. And in other news, Italian authorities are investigating the cause of a cable car crash near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy that killed 14 people. Stay tuned.
POLITICS: Last month, Samoa elected its first female prime minister: Fiame Naomi Mata’afa. Problem, since the previous leader has maintained he’s still in charge - and locked Fiame out of Parliament earlier today. She was forced to have her swearing-in ceremony in a tent outside of the building. Tensions, high. In other news, the Biden team just cut the price tag of that $2.25 trillion infrastructure bill to $1.7 trillion in an effort to appeal to Republican lawmakers. Unclear if the lower cost will get the bill bipartisan support. Meanwhile, ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi just appeared in court in person for the first time since Myanmar’s military jailed her and took control of the country in a coup. This comes just after the new gov declared it would dissolve Suu Kyi’s political party.