APD | Weekly top 10 hot news (Jul. 17 - Jul. 23)



Every weekend, Asia Pacific Daily will provide you with a run-down of the latest hot news.

This week, the following hot news you should know:

Top 1 | US life expectancy in 2020 saw biggest drop since WWII

U.S. life expectancy fell by a year and a half in 2020, the largest one-year decline since World War II, public health officials said Wednesday. The decrease for both Black Americans and Hispanic Americans was even worse: three years.

The drop spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic, which health officials said is responsible for close to 74% of the overall life expectancy decline. More than 3.3 million Americans died last year, far more than any other year in U.S. history, with COVID-19 accounting for about 11% of those deaths.

Black life expectancy has not fallen so much in one year since the mid-1930s, during the Great Depression. Health officials have not tracked Hispanic life expectancy for nearly as long, but the 2020 decline was the largest recorded one-year drop.

Top 2 | Vaccinations rise in some states with soaring infections

Vaccinations are beginning to rise in some states where COVID-19 cases are soaring, White House officials said Thursday in a sign that the summer surge is getting the attention of vaccine-hesitant Americans as hospitals in the South are being overrun with patients.

Coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters that several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole. Officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.

“The fourth surge is real, and the numbers are quite frightening at the moment,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said on a New Orleans radio show. Edwards, a Democrat, added: “There’s no doubt that we are going in the wrong direction, and we’re going there in a hurry.”

Top 3 | Western wildfires: California blaze crosses into Nevada

A Northern California wildfire crossed into Nevada, prompting new evacuations, but better weather has been helping crews battling the nation’s largest blaze in southern Oregon.

The Tamarack Fire south of Lake Tahoe had burned more than 68 square miles (176 square kilometers) of timber and head-high chaparral in national forest land. It erupted on July 4 and was one of nearly two dozen blazes sparked by lightning strikes.

More than 1,200 firefighters were battling the Alpine County blaze, which has destroyed at least 10 buildings, forced evacuations in several communities and had closed parts of U.S. 395 in Nevada and California. Fire officials expected active or extreme fire behavior on Thursday, which could see 14-mph winds and temperatures approaching 90 degrees.

Top 4 | Martine Moise, widow of assassinated president, returns to Haiti

Martine Moise, the widow of Haiti's assassinated president Jovenel Moise, returned to the Caribbean nation on Saturday for his funeral after she was treated in a Miami hospital for injuries sustained during the July 7 attack at their private residence.

Jovenel Moise was shot dead when assassins armed with assault rifles stormed his home in the hills above Port-au-Prince, tipping the country into uncertainty and sparking a frenzied investigation to identify the authors of the plan.

The Prime Minister's office tweeted a video of Martine Moise arriving back at the Haitian capital's Toussaint Louverture international airport on Saturday, wearing all black clothing, donning a bullet proof vest and with her right arm in a sling. She was greeted by Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph.

Top 5 | UK govt plan to end virus orders queried as cases top 50,000

The U.K. recorded more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases for the first time in six months Friday amid a warning from the British government’s top medical adviser that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 could hit “quite scary” levels within weeks.

Government figures showed another 51,870 confirmed lab cases, the highest daily number since mid- January. Infections have surged in recent weeks, mainly among unvaccinated younger people, as a result of the far more contagious delta variant and the continued easing of lockdown restrictions.

Despite the increase, the British government plans Monday to lift all remaining legal restrictions on social contact in England and to ditch social distancing guidelines as well as the legal requirement for people to wear masks in most indoor settings, including shops, trains, buses and subways.

Top 6 | Bubble burst: New Zealand suspends quarantine-free travel with Australia

New Zealand will pause its quarantine-free travel arrangement with Australia for at least eight weeks starting Friday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, as Australia fights an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta virus variant.

"We've always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe," Ardern told reporters in Auckland.

The "travel bubble" had already been paused for travellers to and from New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Top 7 | Japan, S.Korea leaders summit in limbo amid uproar over sexual innuendo

Plans to hold the first in-person summit between the leaders of Japan and South Korea have hit a snag over a disparaging comment by a Japanese diplomat about the South Korean president, the latest flare-up between the fractious neighbours.

Japan's Yomiuri newspaper reported South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit Tokyo and hold a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday to coincide with the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

But both governments on Monday denied a meeting had been finalised, with Moon's office citing a "last minute obstacle."

South Korea reacted with anger and lodged a protest with Tokyo after a broadcaster on Friday quoted a senior diplomat at Japan's embassy in Seoul as saying Moon was "masturbating" when describing the leader's efforts to improve ties with Tokyo.

Top 8 | Man faces 1st sentencing for felony in riot at US Capitol

A Florida man who breached the U.S. Senate chamber carrying a Trump campaign flag is scheduled to become the first Jan. 6 rioter sentenced for a felony, in a hearing that will help set a benchmark for punishment in similar cases.

Prosecutors want Paul Allard Hodgkins to serve 18 months behind bars, saying in a recent filing that he, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy” by forcing lawmakers to temporarily abandon their certification of Joe Biden’s election victory and to scramble for shelter from incoming mobs.

Video footage shows Hodgkins, 38, wearing a Trump 2020 T-shirt, the flag flung over his shoulder and eye goggles around his neck inside the Senate. He took a selfie with a self-described shaman in a horned helmet and other rioters on the dais behind him.

Top 9 | Biden promises to appeal immigration ruling, urges Congress to act

President Joe Biden on Saturday vowed to preserve a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the United States as children, promising to appeal a judge's "deeply disappointing" ruling invalidating it and urging Congress to provide them a path to citizenship.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen on Friday ruled in favor of a group of states led by Republican-governed Texas that sued to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Hanen concluded that Democratic former President Barack Obama exceeded his powers when he created DACA in 2012 by executive action, bypassing Congress.

People protected under DACA are often called "Dreamers," based on the name of a proposed immigration overhaul that failed to pass Congress.

Top 10 | Brazilian president authorizes veterinary industry to produce COVID-19 vaccines

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has signed a law authorizing the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines by veterinary facilities, as well as the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

The law requires interested parties to comply with all sanitary standards and biosafety requirements for facilities engaged in the production of vaccines for human use, according to the Official Gazette on Friday.

The production, packaging, labeling and storage of vaccines for human use must be done in facilities physically separated from those for the manufacture of veterinary vaccines, according to the law.