First up, coronavirus updates.
This past week the United States saw a 36% decrease in the average number of new coronavirus cases per day compared to the average two weeks ago. Here's what else you need to know about the virus:
- 46 states are seeing declines in new cases, though the death rate is still high. On Monday, the CDC announced that at least 32.2 million people have received one dose of the vaccine, and 9.5 million people have been fully vaccinated. The United States is also, on average, administering 1.46 million doses per day.
- Researchers warn that the B.1.1.7 variant, which originated in Britain and is already in the United States, could become predominant in the U.S. by March.
- A week after one million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrived in South Africa, the country was forced to halt distribution after evidence showed that the vaccine was not successful against the new coronavirus variant found in the country. A clinical trial showed that the vaccine was not successful at preventing mild or moderate illness caused by the new, more contagious variant of the virus.
- On Sunday, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she had reached a tentative deal with the Chicago Teachers Union to resume in-person classes for some students. If the deal is finalized, pre-school students are expected to return to the classrooms this Thursday, K-5 students returning on March 1., and 6-8 returning on March 8. No plan has been made for the high schools yet. All Chicago schools have been completely remote since last March, and the deal was made in hopes of avoiding another distributive strike.
Next, what we know about the coup in Myanmar.
Myanmar's military staged a coup d’état on Feb. 1, overthrowing the democratically elected government and declaring a national state of emergency.
- The military has imprisoned Myanmar's civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who leads the National League for Democracy. She and her party won in landslides in Myanmar's elections in November, which the military refuses to accept, and has been the civilian leader of Myanmar since 2015. She is imprisoned on charges of illegally importing walkie-talkies.
- Aung San Suu Kyi was previously under house arrest during the time of military rule that lasted from 1962 to 2011. She won the Nobel prize in 1991. She has recently come under fire for defending the military’s genocidal actions against the Rohingya minority.
- The coup was the culmination of a long power struggle between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military’s leaders. The military thought its proxy party would win more seats in parliament than it did in the elections in either 2015 or 2020, and Aung San Suu Kyi tried to pass amendments to Myanmar's constitution to decrease the number of required military seats from 25% to 5%.
- The military has given power to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is supposed to retire this summer from his post.
- Thousands of people protested in Yangon, Myanmar’s most populous city, on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7 in the biggest rallies since the coup. Hundreds of cars and motorcycles paraded through the city on Saturday to protest military rule. People have also released red balloons to represent the National League for Democracy and clanged their pots and pans in resistance.
- During the coup on Feb. 1 and during the protests on Feb. 6, the country’s internet and access to social media were cut. The military additionally asked the two telecom companies servicing Yangon to shut down their networks on Feb. 6. Much of the internet, with the exception of social media, was restored on Feb. 7. After the coup, the military has suspended all flights, telephone access, many TV stations and closed commercial banks.
- The coup has drawn international condemnation, including from the U.S. and Japan. The Biden administration is considering sanctions targeting Myanmar’s military leaders. China, however, has not criticized the coup or the military leaders in an effort to make inroads with Myanmar including to help accelerate China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia.
- Finally, one physical education teacher filmed a workout video in front of the parliament building that captured military trucks going to start the coup in the background.
Now, India's farming protests.
In India, thousands of people are protesting against new legislation that negatively impacts farmers. Here are the details:
- The Indian government passed a law that would open the agriculture industry more to private investors and reduce the role of the government. This concerned farmers, as they are now left open to exploitation by these big corporations.
- On Tuesday of last week, which was also Republic Day (the anniversary of the enactment of India’s constitution), thousands of protestors stormed the Red Fort in New Delhi as police retaliated. Internet access was also blocked in several states bordering the city until 5 P.M. on Monday, Feb. 1.
- Pop star Rihanna and activist Greta Thunberg mentioned the protests on social media, raising awareness and sharing ways to publicly oppose the laws. Many Indian government officials released statements claiming Rihanna and Thunberg were spreading propaganda and many Indian celebrities also released similar statements soon after.
Finally, don't be a cat.
Rod Ponton, a Texas attorney, was not able to turn off a zoom filter that gave him the image of a white kitten while in an appearance Tuesday with the 394th Judicial District Court of Texas.
- Judge Roy Ferguson pointed out to Ponton that he had a filter on his zoom image.
- Ponton expressed frustration, asking if the judge could hear him and saying that he and his assistant were trying to get the filter off.
- Ponton affirmed that he could go through with the meeting and declared “I’m not a cat.”
- In the video, the kitten’s eyes move downwards, ashamedly and forlornly and he nods several times.
- Judge Ferguson shared the video clip on Twitter with the warning to turn off your zoom filters before you log on to virtual hearings and emphasized the commitment of the legal profession to function during COVID.