An elderly woman walks past a poster encouraging seniors to get vaccinated against COVID in Beijing.

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Beijing gets China's first COVID vax mandate

Somewhat late to the party compared to many parts of the world, China introduced on Wednesday its first COVID vaccine mandate in Beijing. Starting next week, residents of the capital will need to show proof of vax to enter most public spaces as authorities scramble to contain a new outbreak of a more infectious omicron subvariant. Oddly enough for an authoritarian state, China shunned mandates early in the pandemic because most people agreed to get vaxxed on their own, which helped keep the virus under control until late 2021. While nearly 90% of the population is fully vaccinated, inoculation rates among the elderly — those most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID — are lower because many older Chinese adults are wary of getting jabs. What's more, China's vaccines are not as effective as Western mRNA jabs against new variants, so perhaps the goal of Beijing's mandate is to keep the unvaccinated elderly at home without implementing a citywide lockdown like in Shanghai. How will this affect Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy? If major outbreaks are reported, expect other big Chinese cities to follow Beijing's lead.

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Employee at a gas station during a protest against rising fuel prices in Assam, India.

David Talukdar via Reuters Connect

100,000: New export taxes on fuel could reduce the amount of diesel India sells abroad by as much as 100,000 barrels per day, exacerbating shortages and high prices elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Indians keep scooping up Russian oil at bargain prices.

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Johnson attends a news conference during a NATO summit in Madrid.

REUTERS/Yves Herman

Britain’s bombshell resignations

The hits keep coming for the scandal-plagued administration of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. On Tuesday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, both of them heavyweights in the Conservative Party, quit Johnson's government. The trigger came in the wake of MP Chris Pincher’s resignation last week. Pincher stepped down amid new allegations of sexual misconduct. But the party controversy has erupted over the PM’s decision to appoint Pincher as deputy chief whip in the first place. He denied being aware of earlier sexual misconduct allegations against Pincher. Those stemmed from Johnson’s tenure as foreign secretary, when Pincher served under him. The PM was forced to acknowledge this week that he had been briefed on the matter. On Tuesday, Johnson admitted that appointing Pincher had been a mistake. Johnson survived an embarrassing vote of no confidence on June 6 following revelations that he participated in social gatherings that violated COVID lockdown rules and failed to come clean with parliament. But the Pincher scandal and these bombshell resignations now have Johnson’s political career on life support.

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Pro-Russian troops ride through the city of Lysychansk in Luhansk, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

Russia takes Luhansk

President Vladimir Putin declared victory in Ukraine's eastern Luhansk province on Monday, a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last bastion of resistance there. Luhansk is one of two provinces — along with Donetsk — that make up the Donbas region, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014. Capturing Luhansk will free up the Kremlin's military resources to attack Donetsk, about half of which is now under Russian control. Seizing the entire Donbas would be a big win for Russia that some analysts predict might lead to Putin declaring a unilateral ceasefire. Over time, the Russian leader may hope this will dampen Western support for Ukraine and for sanctions against Russia. For his part, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky recognized the defeat but vowed to continue fighting to reclaim the territory. Although that seems unlikely in the near term, perhaps Zelensky is buying time so he can secure more weapons from his Western allies to mount a counter-offensive against the Russians. Now that the war increasingly looks like it's headed to a deep freeze in the Donbas, both sides are signaling that they intend to play the long game.

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Gabriella Turrisi

1 billion: An anonymous hacker claims to have stolen the police records of about one billion Chinese citizens, almost three-quarters of the population. If true, it could be one of the biggest data hacks of all time — and very embarrassing for Beijing.

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A man lifts a gas tank during an opposition protest demanding the resignation of President Gotabhaya Rajapakse in Sri Lanka.

Thilina Kaluthotage

10: On Thursday, Sri Lanka ended 10 days of talks with the IMF without agreeing on a bailout package to get the bankrupt island nation out of its worst-ever economic, social, and political crisis. Who else could help? India might find an opening to win Sri Lankan hearts and minds by offering the cash China now seems unwilling to provide.

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Marcos attends a news conference at his headquarters in Manila.

REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Will Marcos 2.0 be kind to the Philippine media?

Weeks after winning the election in a landslide, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (aka Bongbong, or more recently BBM) will be inaugurated on Thursday as president of the Philippines. He has a lot on his plate, including uniting — as he promised repeatedly during the campaign — a country deeply divided over the legacy of his father, the late dictator. One issue that'll surely pop up soon is how he'll handle the media, which was heavily censored under the elder Marcos’ martial law. On Tuesday, the Philippine SEC ordered the shutdown of Rappler, the news site run by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, a vocal critic of outgoing strongman President Rodrigo Duterte. BBM will also face pressure to return a broadcast franchise to ABS-CBN, the country's biggest network, which Duterte canceled in early 2020 (and Marcos' dad also took off the air entirely in the 1980s). Supporters say Marcos 2.0 wants to kick off his presidency with a charm offensive to appease his enemies, but he may have more of a problem with his most powerful friend. Overturning two of Duterte's most controversial decisions would not go down well with the famously pugnacious outgoing leader — whose feisty daughter is … Marcos’s VP.

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Luisa Vieira

As NATO leaders gather this week in Madrid for their first summit since the war in Ukraine began, they will talk mainly about the immediate bogeyman, Russia, and the long-term strategic rival, China. Meanwhile, host Spain is seizing the opportunity to get the alliance to pay at least some attention to Africa and parts of the Middle East, where Russia and jihadists are stirring up trouble that could impact Mediterranean countries.

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