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5 things to know for March 22: Covid, immigration, spa killings, Afghanistan, China

More than two months after the January 6 insurrection, the temporary protective fencing around the US Capitol finally came down.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

(You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Coronavirus

Experts are split on whether the US is on the brink of another coronavirus surge. One very concerning sign? Throngs of spring breakers flocking to hot spots like Miami Beach, where officials enacted emergency curfews to keep people off the streets. Things got ugly this weekend when officers fired pepper balls into crowds and arrested dozens. In Brazil, hospitals are near collapse and the country reported spiking case numbers over the last week. No Brazilian states have ICU occupancy rates below 70%, and only two have occupancy below 80%. Thankfully, the first batch of coronavirus vaccines sent through the COVAX program arrived in Brazil yesterday. India is also seeing ominous numbers. Infections there have been increasing for almost a week, and the latest numbers mark the biggest case rise since November.

2. Immigration

The Biden administration is trying to get a grip on the surge of young migrants at the southern border, and Republican opponents are seeing it as a chance to sow division and doubt about the President’s immigration strategies. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas insists the border is closed to migrants right now, but there’s an exception for unaccompanied minors. As of Saturday, more than 5,000 of these children were in custody at the border. President Biden says he plans to rebuild a system that lets potential child migrants seek asylum in their home countries so they don’t make the perilous journey through human trafficking networks to the southern border. Some critics say Biden reversed Trump-era policies that were considered inhumane before the new administration was ready to deal with the influx it would cause.

3. Spa killings

Hundreds gathered in Georgia, Denver, New York City and other places across the US over the weekend to honor the eight lives lost in last week’s Atlanta-area spa shootings and to call for an end to hate targeting Asian communities. Though the suspect told police he had a sex addiction (which isn’t a medically recognized diagnosis), many leaders and activists believe it was a hate crime. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. The attack has also raised awareness of anti-Asian hate across the world. Statistics out of London showed a 96% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020 over the prior year.

4. Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made an unannounced stop in Afghanistan this weekend to meet with President Ashraf Ghani and other officials. The defense secretary’s visit comes as the US is deciding whether it will adhere to an agreement the Trump administration reached last year with the Taliban to remove all US forces from the country by May 1. The Biden administration is considering a six-month extension for American troops there as that deadline nears. Austin says he isn’t aware of any final decision by Biden or what the timeline may be. This was Austin’s first visit to the country as the top US defense official.

5. China

Detained Canadian Michael Kovrig is on trial in Beijing on espionage charges, and his case has frayed relations among Canada, China and the US. Kovrig is one of two Canadians detained since 2018, following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat, is accused by Chinese authorities of stealing sensitive information and intelligence. Another Canadian, Michael Spavor, faced trial in China last week on related charges. Both Washington and Ottawa have repeatedly called for Kovrig and Spavor’s release. Diplomats from more than two dozen countries were denied access to the Chinese court where Kovrig’s trial is being held. Meanwhile, US and Chinese officials’ diplomatic summit in Alaska this weekend did not go well. The sides traded barbs and insults during the opening meeting, signaling an inauspicious start to a new era of relations.


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That’s about how many people have been evacuated from homes in New South Wales as severe flooding and heavy rains hit. This same area was ravaged by record-setting bushfires in 2019 and 2020. Australia often has extreme weather events like floods, bushfires, droughts and storms, and scientists agree the climate crisis is making them worse.


“The recent changes are nothing more than putting a little makeup and cologne on Jim Crow.”

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Check your local forecast here>>>


Good mornin’, good mOOOrnin’!

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