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5 things to know for August 23: Afghanistan, Henri, Covid-19, Harris, voting rights




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1. Afghanistan

2. Extreme time

Tropical storm Henri touched down yesterday off the coast of Rhode Island, causing widespread power outages and damaging storm surge. The system has weakened to a tropical depression, but still provides a dangerous climate in the northeast. In Tennessee, rapid and severe flooding caused by almost record rain it has left at least 21 people dead and 20 more missing. Photos of the area show the scope of the damage, with empty houses and water-saturated roads full of destroyed vehicles. On the other side, nine national forests in California are closed today while firefighters struggle to contain 11 large forest fires.

3. Coronavirus

Complete US Food and Drug Administration approval of Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is “imminent” according to a senior federal official. Another official said approval could arrive in the next two weeks or today. The Pfizer vaccine has so far been distributed under an FDA emergency use authorization. Full approval could helping companies, schools and states enforce vaccine mandates and encourage some hesitant people to get the hit. If approval leads to higher vaccination rates and if people remember receiving booster vaccines, health professionals hope it will be enough to curb the latest rise in the pandemic.

4. White House

Vice President Kamala Harris is in Southeast Asia this week, making it the highest-level Biden administration that has visited the continent so far. His passage through Vietnam and Singapore was supposed to be a friendly diplomatic visit to promote the White House’s message that “America is back.” However, with the dire situation in Afghanistan, things are much more thorny. Now, Harris must convince the nations of Southeast Asia that USA is sincere in its long-term commitment to the region and can manage relationships competently. Harris will also focus on mutual priorities such as economic growth, climate change and pandemic solutions. China is also on the agenda, with a focus on regional security issues amid concerns over China’s land claims in the South China Sea.

5. Voting rights

The battle for voting rights in the U.S. is likely to heat up again this week. In Arizona, the false “audit” report of 2.1 million ballots issued in Maricopa County in the 2020 presidential election it is supposed to be handed over to Republican state senators today who ordered it. The company conducting the so-called audit did not follow standard audit procedures and election experts have stated for months that the results will not be credible. Meanwhile, in Texas, State House Democrats do ended his quorum effort to freeze a restriction vote bill. Now, Republicans are free to push ahead to pass the bill, which contains items such as restrictions on ballot boxes by email, a ban on automatic voting and restrictions on early voting. Looking ahead, activists are scheduled to meet on Saturday to march in Washington defend voting rights.


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