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“Leadership requires discipline, sacrifice, the ability to make people believe in the impossible. No one said anything about easy.”
– Sophia Maguire, The Event
Situation Escalates In Hong Kong
China signaled its intent to impose new national security laws over Hong Kong yesterday, potentially overturning the “one country, two systems” principle that has governed the territory since it was handed over to China by the UK in 1997.
Back To The Basics “One country, two systems” is a principle enshrined in Hong Kong’s 50-year de-facto constitution (called Basic Law) that allows the city to retain governmental, legal, and economic systems independent from mainland China. The principle also applies to China-controlled Macau.
Lawmakers last proposed a national security law in 2003. The bill was eventually withdrawn after mass protests.
The ongoing protests in Hong Kong began last June in response to a proposed bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminals to China (later withdrawn). Activists’ demands eventually grew to encompass five main points.
Beijing’s proposed changes have drawn criticism from pro-democracy lawmakers, who fear the measures would give the Chinese government legal cover to treat the Hong Kong protesters as terrorists.
What’s Next? China’s legislature – which begins its annual week-long conclave today – is expected to rubber-stamp the resolution sometime next week.
Two U.S. senators plan to introduce a bipartisan bill that would sanction banks that do business with Chinese party officials and entities who enforce new national security laws in Hong Kong.
So… what are people saying?
Basic Law does not envisage Hong Kong as a colony of China
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Global cases rose to nearly 5.19 million yesterday, with more than 334,000 deaths. The number of confirmed U.S. cases rose to nearly 1.62 million, with 96,280 confirmed deaths.
On Wednesday, the USS Theodoreleft Naval Base Guam and returned to sea, according to the Navy. The aircraft carrier was sidelined for nearly two months due to a COVID-19 outbreak among its crew.
North Carolina will allow in-person dining at 50% capacity starting today, as the state begins its phase 2 reopening plan. See where your state stands on reopening here.
Swedenreported the highest COVID-19 deaths per capita across all European countries over a seven day period ending Tuesday. Sweden did not employ a full lockdown, and a recent study found about 7% of Stockholm inhabitants had developed antibodies as of late April.
As states continue the reopening process, experts are paying close attention to the number of tests, cases, and deaths across the U.S. See where your state stands.
Lori Laughlin & Husband Plead Guilty
Lori Laughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to a plea deal Thursday in connection with allegations that the couple paid $500,000 to secure their two daughters’ admission to the University of Southern California. Laughlin will serve two months in prison and Giannulli will serve five, along with combined fines totaling $400,000 and 350 hours of community service.
More: Laughlin’s trial was part of “Operation Varsity Blues” – a widespread college admissions scam where parents used money, fraud, and deception to get their children into top colleges.
The U.S. disclosed plans to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty on Thursday. The treaty, established three decades ago, allows its 35 member countries to fly over foreign territories with sensor equipment to ensure they are not preparing for military action.
More: Per the WSJ, U.S. officials will meet with their Russian counterparts to discuss limiting nuclear weapons amongst themselves and China, though Beijing has shown no such interest in a potential deal.
Over four million Americansfiled for unemployment last week. A total of 1 in 4 U.S. workers (over 43 million people) have applied for jobless aid over the past ten weeks.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergannounced a plan to transition to remote work for new hires permanently. The company expects as many as half of its employees (currently 45,000) will work from home in ten years.
The U.S.agreed to give AstraZeneca up to $1.2 billion to secure the supply of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The funds will bankroll a 30,000-person trial this summer and enable the production of at least 300 million doses.
The Mall of America has missed the past two months of payments on its $1.4 billion mortgage. Located in Bloomington, MN, the U.S.’s largest mall is planning to reopen June 1.
Are You Still Watching?
Netflix announced it will begin asking customers who have not used the platform within the past year if they wish to keep their subscriptions. If the customer fails to respond, Netflix will automatically cancel the account. Inactive users should begin to receive in-app notifications and emails by the end of the week.
Leap Of Faith
Magic Leap CEO Rony Abrovitz told employees the company received $350 million in additional funding from unnamed current and new investors. Magic Leap also withdrew the 60-day notification of large-scale layoffs sent to employees late last month, which could signal a reversal of its April decision to eliminate around half the company’s workforce (~1,000 people).
More: Magic Leap, valued between $6 and $8 billion in 2017, had internally projected to sell at least one million VR headsets following an August 2018 launch. An investigative report (The Information – $) published in Dec. 2019 found the company had sold just 6,000 units.
Any native Texan will tell you that driving from El Paso to Austin and back in a single day is a Herculean feat. Still, to 53-year-old Julio Caesar Segura, the 17-hour journey seemed like a blur.
Each year, Julio buys his daughter, Lerma, the same meal for her birthday – a Chick-fil-A sandwich. Despite the 1,100-mile round trip separating the two, this year turned out to be no different. Earlier this month, Julio surprised Lerma with a celebratory (and socially distant) lunch.
Sansa, a three-year-old black mutt with a white spot on her belly, was at a shelter in Rio de Janeiro for nearly a year. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, making the odds of her adoption even slimmer.
Instead of shuttering operations, the animal shelter used the pandemic as an opportunity to launch its new ‘pet delivery’ service. Sansa soon found a home with Maria – a 73-year-old retired nurse self-isolating in her house.
Thank U, Text
Many health care workers across the globe have committed themselves to the tireless fight against COVID-19. Thanks to a new texting service, these workers can receive messages of love and support from appreciative people everywhere.
Communications company Sinch – along with Mental Health for America – launched Text For Humanity in January. They have shared more than 83,000 messages of positivity with nurses, doctors, and other essential workers across 85 countries. If you’re so inclined, you can text JOIN to 37352 to sign up for free.
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Australian citizens who do not participate in federal elections face a fine of 20 Australian dollars, while those skipping a state election are forced to pay 79 dollars. Voters are allowed to appeal the fine and explain why they failed to participate.