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Japan will start coronavirus vaccinations next week, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday, but the country is scrambling to secure suitable syringes so that doses won’t go to waste. Japan is trying to secure enough special syringes that can extract the full six doses from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine. More commonly used syringes can only draw five doses—meaning the last one needs to be discarded. The syringe problem could force the country to forgo enough Pfizer vaccine doses for up to 12 million people, local media estimated. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Democrats push for school funding

Democrats push for school funding
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Democrats push for school funding

House Democrats muscled past Republicans on portions of President Joe Biden’s pandemic plan, including a proposed $130 billion in additional relief to help the nation’s schools reopen and a gradual increase of the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, reports AP. Democrats on the Education and Labor Committee say schools won’t be able to reopen safely until they get an infusion of federal funding to repair building ventilation systems, buy protective equipment and take other steps recommended by federal health officials. The plan faces opposition from Republicans who want to tie new school funding to reopening. The panel met Tuesday to craft its portion of a $1.9 trillion covid-19 relief package that tracks with Biden’s plan for battling the pandemic and reviving a still staggering economy. Meanwhile, the senate has decided to continue with Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Myanmar’s coup impacts businesses

Myanmar’s coup impacts businesses
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Myanmar’s coup impacts businesses

Myanmar’s political upheaval is prompting global companies from Japan to Thailand to dial back operations in the country, spurring concern about a widening business fallout, according to Bloomberg. From beer maker Kirin Holdings Co. to an early backer of gaming firm Razer Inc., companies and investors are weighing the impact of a military coup that’s thrust the once- thriving nation into a state of emergency. The turmoil is prompting multinationals like Thailand’s biggest industrial developer to delay investment plans, a harbinger of things to come should the chaos deepen. Western nations are applying pressure on the newly installed military government of the Southeast Asian country, once regarded as greenfield territory for everything from oil and gas to leisure resorts. With the US reiterating plans to renew sanctions, it could cause a rippling effect among businesses.

The NRI’s political attitude

The NRI’s political attitude
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The NRI’s political attitude

Indian-Americans have relatively more conservative views of policies in India while on issues affecting the US, the diaspora has a more liberal take, according to a survey of the political attitudes of the influential community in this country. Indian-Americans comprise slightly more than 1% of the total US population-and less than 1% of all registered voters. The survey, titled “How Do Indian Americans View India? ", is a collaboration between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania. Indian Americans, in other words, believe that white supremacy is a greater threat to minorities in the US than Hindu majoritarianism is to minorities in India, a country where Hindus are in the majority, the report said.

Thailand’s royal insult law

Thailand’s royal insult law
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Thailand’s royal insult law

A Thai opposition party on Wednesday submitted a proposal to amend the country’s strict royal insult law, a potentially groundbreaking move that it said could ease political tension and improve freedom of expression amid anti-government protests. The proposed amendment by 44 lawmakers from the opposition Move Forward Party comes a day after four leaders of youth-led demonstrations were jailed pending trial under the royal insult law, known as lèse-majesté, which carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison. The move is significant in a country where criticizing the king—who is revered among the military and many conservatives—has long been taboo and even talking about lèse majesté can trigger a criminal charge. At least 58 activists have been charged with royal insult since November over protests where calls were made for reform of the monarchy and an end to military involvement in government.

Conflict zones’ new trading interest

Conflict zones’ new trading interest
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Conflict zones’ new trading interest

People in the world’s major conflict zones are turning to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as soaring values and the backing of super-rich investors make them more attractive. Online searches for bitcoin, ethereum and dogecoin have increased in Libya, Syria and Palestine, pushing aside the usual focus of interest in stock markets and safe-haven investments in gold and property, reports the Guardian. Publicity surrounding the new breed of digital currencies has spread across the world since the pandemic struck and meant users have also looked to them as a way to borrow when banks have become reluctant to lend money. Digital currencies, unlike the pound, dollar and euro, are not backed by a central bank that can print money to meet growing demand. There are a fixed number of bitcoins and they are traded and registered on a ledger that is not part of the banking system or visible to regulators.

Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen







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