New York to pay undocumented migrants pandemic relief

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — New York state will issue one-time payments of up to $15,000 to undocumented migrants who lost work during the pandemic under a multi-billion-dollar fund championed by progressive Democrats but opposed by Republicans. The payments, by far the largest of their kind in the United States, will help tens of thousands of people who arrived in America illegally and who are unable to collect unemployment insurance or federal stimulus checks. […]

Robbers steal jewels worth 100,000 euros from top Paris hotel

PARIS, France (AFP) — Two armed men late Thursday made off with jewels worth 100,000 euros from the famed George V hotel in Paris just off the Champs-Elysees avenue, a source said. The two men entered the hotel at around 9:30 pm (1930 GMT), smashed show windows and took jewellery, the source said. They managed to flee and no-one was hurt. © Agence France-Presse

One dead, multiple victims wounded in Texas shooting

BRYAN, United States (AFP) — One person was dead and several in critical condition following a shooting at a business in Texas Thursday, just hours after US President Joe Biden called gun violence an “epidemic” and unveiled plans to tackle the crisis. The suspect was “in custody,” according to the police department in the east Texas town of Bryan where the attack took place. Officials said the individual shot and wounded one officer following the […]

Myanmar actor arrested as junta hunts 120 celebrities

  YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — A leading Myanmar actor, singer and model who has backed the country’s anti-coup protests was arrested on Thursday, his sister said, as the junta hunts more than 100 celebrities for supporting the movement. The country has been rocked by daily protests since the military seized power on February 1, and the authorities have launched a bloody crackdown on dissent, with hundreds killed and more than 2,500 arrested. Paing Takhon, 24 […]

German mayor suspended for skipping vaccine queue

BERLIN, Germany (AFP) — A German mayor was suspended by his own city council after it emerged he had received a coronavirus vaccination in January, despite not being in a priority group. An overwhelming majority of 34 councillors voted late Wednesday to temporarily suspend Bernd Wiegand, mayor of the central city of Halle. Wiegand, 64, had previously admitted to receiving the vaccine in January, at a time when it was still only available to older […]

Spain reserves AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 60

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Spain on Wednesday announced it would reserve the AstraZeneca vaccine for those over 60 after an EU regulator said blood clots should be listed as a rare side effect of the jab. “We will continue to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine, but from the age of 60,” Health Minister Caroline Darias told a press conference as the country joined several other nations that have taken similar measures. The EU medicines regulator EMA […]

Singapore PM-in-waiting bows out, upending succession

SINGAPORE, Singapore (AFP) — A prominent Singapore minister stepped aside on Thursday as the successor to the premier, in a shock move that upended the tightly-controlled country’s carefully planned power transfer. Finance minister Heng Swee Keat was in 2018 named to a key post in the ruling party that put him in pole position to take over when Singapore’s founding family hands over the premiership. He was expected to replace Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, […]

China hits out at US over Beijing Olympics boycott row

BEIJING, China (AFP) — China accused the United States of “politicizing sports” on Wednesday, after Washington said it would discuss calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics with its allies after growing pressure to shun the Winter Games on human rights grounds. Republican politicians in the US have led calls for a boycott of the Olympics, in part over what rights monitors say is the mass incarceration and indoctrination of more than a million Uyghurs and […]

Taiwan imposes water rationing as drought worsens

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — More than one million households and businesses in Taiwan’s heavily industrialized central regions were put on water rationing Tuesday, as the island battles its worst drought in 56 years. The shortage is expected to particularly impact the water-intensive microchip manufacturing sector during a global shortage of semiconductors that power everything from cars to iPhones and computers. The state water company is now cutting supplies in Taichung, Miaoli and northern Changhua county […]

Cyclone that ravaged Indonesia, East Timor set to hit Australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australian authorities on Thursday urged holidaymakers to evacuate a stretch of the country’s western coastline in the path of a cyclone that has devastated parts of Indonesia and East Timor. Tropical Cyclone Seroja is expected to hit Western Australia late Sunday or early Monday after tracking south. It is forecast to bring “destructive winds with gusts of 150 kilometres per hour (93 miles per hour) and intense rainfall that could cause […]

India suffers vaccine shortages as virus surges

by Ammu KANNAMPILLY MUMBAI, India (AFP) — More than 700 million people across India were facing coronavirus vaccine shortages Thursday, local media reported, as infection numbers hit yet another daily record. Case numbers had eased in India but a second wave of the virus has since returned with a vengeance, with more than 126,000 new infections recorded in the past 24 hours, a new record. Several regions have tightened curbs on activity while Maharashtra, the […]

Australia halts AstraZeneca shots for under 50s over clot concerns

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia on Thursday joined a growing number of countries halting the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for younger people over fears it can cause serious blood clots. In a further setback for Australia’s already halting coronavirus vaccine rollout, officials said the AstraZeneca shot should no longer be given to people under the age of 50, unless they had already received a first dose without any ill effects. Prime Minister Scott […]