Hard Numbers: US unemployment drops, NZ's "compassionate" legislation, Washington hits Myanmar generals, Japanese push for LGBTQ equality
657,000: Initial claims for state unemployment benefits across the United States fell to 657,000 last week, the lowest level since the pandemic began. Unemployment claims have been at historically high levels over the past year, with the economy shedding 22 million jobs between March and April 2020.
2: The US on Thursday sanctioned two businesses run by Myanmar's military, citing the deteriorating human rights situation since the military staged a coup last month. Washington is hitting the economic interests of the generals, who acquire hundreds of thousands of former state-run enterprises in key sectors like beer, tobacco, mining, tourism, real estate, and telecommunications.
106,000: Japanese activists submitted a petition with 106,000 signatures to the government, calling on the ruling party to pass an LGBTQ equity law before the Olympic Games kick off in Tokyo this summer. This comes weeks after a Japanese court ruled for the first time that the government's failure to recognize same sex marriage is unconstitutional.
3: New Zealand's parliament passed landmark legislation granting three days paid leave for couples who experience a miscarriage or stillbirth. The MP who put forward the bill said New Zealand should lead the way on "progressive and compassionate legislation."