FEMA mobilized to deal with child migrant surge. Dems push for “big”, “green” infrastructure bill. Myanmar protesters raze Chinese factories. More countries halt AZ jabs.
White House mobilizes FEMA to help with migrant children surge
The Department of Homeland Security is calling on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support a 90-day push to process and house a surge of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border. The administration recently received sharp criticism for re-opening a controversial Trump-era private facility in Texas to temporarily house the children. The White House defended the move, saying that COVID restrictions had caused a shortage of appropriate housing.
Over the weekend, DHS announced it was working towards moving the children from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to the Department of Health and Human Services. Working with FEMA, HHS will then place the children “with a family member or sponsor until their immigration is adjudicated”.
Democrats begin work on ‘big’, ‘green’ infrastructure bill
Shortly after President Biden signed the first major COVID stimulus bill of his administration, Democrats turned their attention to even more ambitious big money projects. On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Congressional Democrats to begin crafting a “big, bold and transformational infrastructure package” with their Republican colleagues. Pelosi says she hopes to get bipartisan support for the bill. Pelosi recently stressed that “building roads and bridges and water supply systems and the rest has always been bipartisan… except when [Republicans] oppose it with a Democratic president, as they did under President Obama”.
While details are sparse, initial reports indicate that the plan will contain about $2 trillion in infrastructure spending and tax incentives for transport, clean energy, education, broadband internet, housing and utilities. The Biden administration has previously published a green infrastructure wish list, including a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2025, upgrading 4 million buildings, weatherizing 2 million homes, constructing 1.5 million sustainable homes and installing 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations.
Pelosi said on Friday that the plan would bring jobs “to every zip code”. The bill, which could come in May, may be attached to a further $2 trillion in COVID stimulus spending.
Myanmar protesters target Chinese-run factories
After one of the deadliest weekends yet for protesters since the Feb. 1 military coup, several Chinese-owned factories in Yangon have been set ablaze. Some believe that protesters’ are attacking the factories to express their anger and China’s refusal to condemn either the military coup or the deadly police violence against protesters. Pro-Suu Kyi protesters considered it particularly telling when Chinese diplomats in Myanmar took to Twitter to demand protection for their factories and personnel. An outpouring of fury in the form of 52,000 comments followed, one of which read “Does it hurt? How about people dying?”.
Up to now, at least 120 protesters have died as Myanmar’s police brutally suppress any anti-military demonstrations. China, as Myanmar’s most important economic partner, has been accused of at least tacitly approving of the junta or even actively supporting it.
Ireland and Netherlands join countries halting AstraZeneca jabs
Last week, the Danish health service decided to stop administering AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccines for at least 2 weeks to investigate reports of blood clots in recipients. Several other European countries quickly joined Denmark in announcing a pause for AZ jabs pending investigation. Norway subsequently announced cases of patients who had received the jab experiencing an abnormally low blood platelet count, which could cause bruising or bleeding.
At present, there is no evidence that the AZ jab is to blame for these blood factor issues. In Britain, 11 million people have received AZ jabs, and just 11 subsequently developed blood clots. None of these were proven to be linked to the vaccine.
In any major vaccination campaign, scientists expect a certain number of adverse reactions. Since the vaccines are less than a year old, no long-term studies have been conducted. Experts say that, at this stage in the rollout, serious or even medical events following a jab aren’t particularly surprising. This is in part because the vaccination campaign began with people who are older or have pre-existing medical conditions. These patients are vulnerable to blood factor issues in any case, whether or not they receive the vaccine.