Cuomo faces impeachment probe. Poll: majority of Americans want limits on unvaccinated people. Hong Kongers protest EU-China deal. Nations pause AstraZeneca jabs over clot fears.
Cuomo facing impeachment investigation
Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has had a hard fall from grace after raising his national profile immensely during the height of his state’s COVID crisis last year. In recent weeks, at least 6 women who have worked for Cuomo have come forward to accuse him of sexual harassment and even assault.
In addition to the sexual misconduct allegations, questions have arisen about the governor’s efforts to bury reports of out-of-control nursing home deaths. Yesterday, New York Assembly speaker Carl Heastie authorized the the Judiciary Committee to open an investigation into misconduct allegations against Cuomo which may lead to impeachment. It appears at the moment that the probe will focus on the sexual misconduct rather than the nursing home deaths.
Cuomo has remained defiant despite many of the state’s prominent Democratic politicians, including NYC mayor Bill DiBlasio, calling on him to resign. The majority of the state’s Assembly have also called on him to step down.
Poll: Americans support barring unvaccinated people from offices, travel
A Reuters poll indicates that an increasing number of Americans are willing to get COVID vaccines. The poll was small (just over 1000 participants) but the sampling is geographically representative. According to the results, 54% of respondents were “very interested” in getting vaccinated. This is a significant increase over a similar survey conducted in January when only 41% expressed similar interest. Still, 27% said they were not at all interested in getting vaccinate, a number that has remained relatively unchanged since May last year.
The results also point to changing social attitudes as the US slowly emerges from the pandemic. A majority of participants said they were in favor of limiting the ways unvaccinated people mix in public. 72% felt it was important to know “if the people around me have been vaccinated”. 62% said that unvaccinated people should not be allowed to travel on airplanes. 55% were in favor of restricting unvaccinated people’s access to public gyms, movie theaters and concerts.
The poll may also have implications for eventual returns to workplaces. 60% of respondents said they wanted their employers to require :everyone to get a coronavirus vaccine before returning to the office” while 56% thought unvaccinated workers should stay home.
Hong Kong activists urge halt to EU-China deal
Hong Kong democracy activists are calling on the EU to delay signing a massive trade deal with China. The activists fear that ratifying the deal will sap any political will in the EU to challenge China’s authoritarian grip on Hong Kong. Recently, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government proposed to force the island’s lawmakers to sign a loyalty pledge to Beijing. The Mainland Chinese parliament has also just passed a raft of reforms that will permanently overturn Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous rule. Activists hope that the EU and other international powers can use their influence to withdraw these reforms as well as a controversial security law.
Many fear that China’s growing global economic and military power will silence international criticism of other humanitarian abuses. Notably, a legal report found that China is breaching every article in the genocide convention in its treatment of its Uighur minority.
At present, the US seems to be the only major world power willing to condemn China’s abuses of the Uighurs and Tibetans. President Biden is currently planning a virtual summit with Japan, Australia and India, China’s most powerful neighbors, to build bolster economic cooperation to rival China’s growing influence.
Denmark, Thailand pause AstraZeneca vaccinations over clot fears
Denmark has temporarily halted vaccinations with the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab after several recipients formed blood clots. One of these patients has reportedly died. The national health service stressed that the pause was temporary to give researchers time to investigate these cases. The agency stressed there was no firm link has been established between the vaccinations and the clots and there was “good evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective”. The situation will be reassessed in two weeks’ time.
Six other European countries have stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca doses over similar concerns. The scare has also halted the start of Thailand’s vaccine rollout.