More than 150,000 people in the US have now died of Covid-19, and global cases have topped 15 million. The US has the most cases, with nearly 4.5 million, followed by Brazil (2.5 million) and India (1.6 million). Australia and Japan recorded their highest single-day case numbers yet, and places like Italy, which were hit hard at the beginning of the pandemic, are extending emergency measures into the next few months. The medical community has also expressed concern about the state of African countries. The International Rescue Committee says cases there are much higher than official numbers suggest, due to lack of testing, stigma, and damaged medical infrastructure. The World Health Organization has also warned that there has been an acceleration of cases in sub-Saharan Africa, an area initially thought to be spared from the worst of the pandemic.
The Justice Department is sending more federal agents and investigators to Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee as part of an initiative aimed at helping local and state authorities tackle a spike in violent crime. Past administrations have done the same thing, and it typically isn't controversial. But given the Trump administration's stance on current nationwide unrest, and the President's renewed "law and order" persona, local and state leaders have been pushing back on his deployment of federal efforts. The administration just reached an agreement with Oregon to withdraw federal officers from parts of Portland after they were sent there earlier this month to allegedly protect federal assets amid prolonged protests for racial justice and police accountability.
Congress has doled out trillions in coronavirus relief aid, but a new report from the Treasury Department finds states and localities have used less than 25% of that money so far. That number underscores a common complaint -- that the money has come with so many restrictions and has been distributed so slowly that local leaders can barely use it. It also could complicate the next round of relief. House Democrats want to send an additional $1 trillion in support to states, while the Republican plan contains no additional funding, but changes the flexibility of existing relief rules. By the way, Congress is reportedly no closer to agreeing on a final deal, and the clock is running out on the $600 weekly unemployment enhancement. Some economists say that extra boost is helping keep the economy afloat, and when it expires at the end of the month, unemployed Americans won't be the only ones in trouble.
4. Hong Kong
Four Hong Kong student activists have been arrested for their social media posts under the city's sweeping new national security law imposed by China at the beginning of the month. The students, ages 16 to 21, are being investigated under a part of the law that deals with secession. The arrests have incensed human rights activists, who have vehemently opposed the national security law. There are also concerns that wider crackdowns may be coming now that the city's legislative elections are right around the corner in September. However, given the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Hong Kong, the elections may ultimately be postponed.
The US will withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, making good on a controversial Trump administration plan that will cost billions of dollars over the next few years to execute. The withdrawal has been criticized by bipartisan US leaders and international allies, since many think the move will weaken the US' strategic position regarding Russia and undermine relations with Germany, NATO and Europe. Republican Sen. Mitt Romney even said the move was "a gift to Russia." The President has justified the decision by saying Germany doesn't spend enough on defense. The NATO target for defense spending is 2% of a member country's GDP. Germany spends about 1.38%, and the US spends about 3.4%. However, a 2019 NATO report revealed only seven of its 29 member countries were meeting the 2% threshold.
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