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Up to half a million Americans are dead as a result of the novel coronavirus that first hit US shores just a little more than a year ago. President Joe Biden marked the “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone" during a ceremony at the White House. There is growing evidence on the effectiveness of vaccines, and the US outlined a faster path for drugmakers developing shots or boosters against new variants. Thailand is considering waiving mandatory quarantines for vaccinated visitors as a way to revive tourism, reports Bloomberg. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite

Hong Kong activists in Germany intimidated

Hong Kong activists in Germany intimidated
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Hong Kong activists in Germany intimidated

China has tried to intimidate Hong Kong residents living in Germany since pro-democracy protests broke out in the city two years ago, the German interior ministry said in a letter to a lawmaker published on Tuesday. The letter, sent to the head of parliament’s human rights committee, Gyde Jensen, in response to a request for information on the subject, could add to pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to take a firmer line toward China over human rights. The letter cited a protest in support of Hong Kong activists in Hamburg on 17 August 2019 during which Chinese pro-government counter-demonstrators filmed and photographed participants “presumably for the purpose of intimidation". Jensen, a member of the liberal FDP party, told Reuters that it is about time that the German government realised that actors for the Chinese government could pose a threat to exiled Hong Kongers.

Myanmar generals face new pressure

Myanmar generals face new pressure
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Myanmar generals face new pressure

Myanmar’s military leaders came under renewed pressure on Tuesday as the world’s wealthiest nations condemned junta for responding to anti-coup demonstrators “with violence", a rebuke coming on the heels of tightened sanctions from Washington and Brussels. Authorities have gradually ratcheted up their use of force against a massive and largely peaceful civil disobedience campaign demanding the return of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Three anti-coup protesters have been killed in demonstrations, while a man patrolling Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead. The sharp condemnation comes after the overnight blacklisting of another two members of the regime by the US—air force chief Maung Maung Kyaw and fellow junta member Moe Myint Tun—after Washington announced targeted sanctions against other top generals earlier this month.

India’s silk ambition for future

India’s silk ambition for future
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India’s silk ambition for future

The government is looking to ensure that India become self-reliant in the silk sector in the next two years, Union minister for textiles and women and child development Smriti Irani said. She said that the recent budget has brought cheer to the textile industry with the announcement of seven mega textile parks. Addressing the inaugural session of the Karnataka Vastra Tek—Apparel & Textile Conclave organized by Karnataka’s department of handloom and textiles, in association with Ficci Karnataka State Council, Irani elaborated on the growth of the silk sector in the state. She also said that the minimum support price operations for cotton procurement by the Cotton Corporation of India has touched over 359 crore in the state.

Japan claims South Korean island

Japan claims South Korean island
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Japan claims South Korean island

Japan renewed its claim on a contested island in the Sea of Japan held by South Korea at an annual event Monday, escalating tensions between the neighbours whose relations were already strained over Seoul’s demands for compensation for Japanese actions in World War II. Monday is the anniversary of the day Japan placed the island under the jurisdiction of the western Japanese prefecture of Shimane in 1905. Japan has held the annual ceremony since. The uninhabited islet in rich fishing grounds off the northwestern coast of Shimane is called Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in South Korea. It has been effectively controlled by South Korea since the 1950s. Yoshiaki Wada, a Cabinet Office official representing the central government at the ceremony in the prefectural capital of Matsue, accused South Korea of “unlawful occupation that has no legal basis whatsoever under international law.

Afghan civilian casualties decline

Afghan civilian casualties decline
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Afghan civilian casualties decline

The number of civilians killed and wounded in violence across war-weary Afghanistan fell by 15% last year compared to 2019, according to a United Nations (UN) report released Tuesday. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Human Rights Office attributed the drop in civilian casualties in part to an apparent tactical change by insurgents to targeted killings, fewer suicide bombings and a stark drop in casualties attributed to international military forces, reports PTI. Still, Afghanistan remains among the deadliest places in the world to be a civilian. A distressing feature of the conflict remains the disproportionate impact on Afghan women and children, who make up 43% of all casualties. The attacks targeting civilians include assaults on members of the judiciary, media and activists. Also targeted have been religious minorities, especially the Shiite Muslim and Sikh population.

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

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