Welcome to Wednesday, where Joe Biden chooses a major anniversary for the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout is stopped and there's an even taller Christ statue in Brazil. We also look at how different countries are finding creative ways to commemorate the COVID-19 victims.
• U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan: U.S. President Joe Biden has officially announced the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks that led to the 2001 invasion. It is a short extension of a May 1 deadline for full withdrawal made in an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban.
• New questions about vaccines made in U.S. and China: The United States, the European Union and South Africa temporarily halt the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine rollout, after a few rare cases of blood clots have been reported. Meanwhile, new questions are raised about the effectiveness of China's Sinovac vaccine, which has been distributed in such countries as Brazil and Indonesia.
• Violence continues in Minneapolis after police resignations: A third night of unrest was reported in Minneapolis, following the resignation of police officer Kim Potter two days after fatally shooting Daunte Wright. The police chief in the nearby town where the killing happened also resigned after calling the shooting an accident. The latest killing happened just a few miles from where George Floyd was killed last year by police officer Derek Chauvin, who is currently on trial for murder.
• 20 children die in Niger school fire: Investigators are probing the cause of a fire that killed 20 children died yesterday at a school in Niamey, Niger's capital city.
• Coinbase listing marks crypto landmark: The largest cryptocurrency exchange, called Coinbase, lists today on the Nasdaq stock market, a milestone for the blockchain-backed currency economy.
• Somalia's president extends his mandate: President Mohamed Abdullahi has signed a controversial law that extends his mandate for two more years, according to a state news agency. Adullahi's four-year term expired in February without a successor.
• World's longest rabbit is missing: Darius, the 129 cm-long continental giant rabbit has been stolen from its home in Worcestershire, in the UK, according to police officials. His owner has offered a £1,000 ($1,378) reward for his return.
"Two more quarantines," titles Colombian daily El Espectador as Bogota extends strict lockdown restrictions for the next two weekends, after the country's capital city declared its health system under red alert.
Different ways the world is commemorating COVID-19's victims
With society as a whole facing the sheer scale of the loss of life caused by this pandemic, what can we do to commemorate its countless victims? Since March 2020, people from all over the world have been searching for new ways to pay tribute to the dead. From Switzerland to Mexico, mourners have explored different approaches to commemorating.
Switzerland: Telling a dramatic story through music — this was the idea of Swiss journalist Simon Huwiler, who created a music box whose singular tune was based on the daily number of people who lost their lives to the virus since last year, reports SWI swissinfo.ch. The holes in the music paper correspond to COVID victims.
Chile: "To Mend the Pain." This is how a group of Chilean women have named their art project that aims at creating a textile memorial for COVID-19 victims, reports Diario Uchile. After having worked for seven months, trying to reach out to people across the country, the group of women received over 200 pieces of embroidery, and more than 100 people expressed their willingness to take part in this creative memorial.
Britain: 150,000. That's where the COVID-19 death toll has arrived in Britain, as well as the number of hand-drawn red hearts that decorate a wall opposite Westminster, in London, and which stands as a temporary memorial to victims of the pandemic, reports The Guardian.
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