World 5 things to know for April 30: Coronavirus, police reform, security hacks, Afghanistan, Israel

14:20  30 april  2021
14:20  30 april  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Afghans working for US worry about their future after Biden withdrawal announcement

  Afghans working for US worry about their future after Biden withdrawal announcement There are about 18,000 people who have applied for special immigrant visas to the US who are still awaiting approval, according to a State Department official. But how quickly they can move through the red tape built into the program is unclear, given thorough and years-long vetting that often takes place before a visa is granted. For many, that time could be a matter of life and death. "Due to high risk from Taliban and target killing, the company which I am working with told me that I should not go to my job site for a short time.

The FDA is looking to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars within the next year to "significantly reduce disease and death."

Police personnel riding on motorbikes hold placards during a Covid-19 coronavirus awareness rally in Chennai on April 29, 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images) © Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images Police personnel riding on motorbikes hold placards during a Covid-19 coronavirus awareness rally in Chennai on April 29, 2021. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP) (Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

There have now been more than 150 million reported coronavirus cases worldwide, less than 13 months after the pandemic began. Across the United States, more cities are reopening -- New York City, for instance, is primed to lift all restrictions by July 1. Still, experts say more people need to get vaccinated in order to maintain safety. That could be a problem, since a CNN poll reveals about a quarter of American adults say they won't try to get a vaccine. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has been consulting "nonstop" with the Indian government about aid priorities as the country grapples with a catastrophic surge. The first shipment of supplies from the US, including PPE, oxygen, test kits and masks, should be arriving in India soon. On Thursday, India reported 3,645 deaths, the highest number the country has ever claimed in a single day.

CIA head said to have made unannounced trip to Afghanistan

  CIA head said to have made unannounced trip to Afghanistan KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — CIA Director William Burns made a recent unannounced visit to Kabul, a senior politician and a well-placed public figure told The Associated Press, as concerns mount about Afghanistan's capability to fight terrorism once the U.S. has withdrawn its remaining troops by summer. Separately, a senior former Afghan security official deeply familiar with the country's counterterrorism program said two of six units trained and run by the CIA to track militants have already been transferred to Afghan control. The three men spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive security issues with the media.

a fireplace in a forest © CNN

2. Police reform

The Justice Department is reportedly moving forward with plans to charge Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers with federal civil rights violations in connection with the death of George Floyd last May. The reports of the possible federal indictments come a week after Chauvin was found guilty on three charges of murder related to Floyd's death. The three other officers involved will face trial in August. Yesterday, lawmakers on Capitol Hill and advocates who want to overhaul the nation's policing laws held a series of meetings to identify legislation that can pass both chambers of Congress. The families of several victims of police violence also met with prominent Republican lawmakers to request meaningful change on the issue.

EXPLAINER: New players add volatility in Jerusalem tensions

  EXPLAINER: New players add volatility in Jerusalem tensions JERUSALEM (AP) — The holy city of Jerusalem, a tinderbox of competing religious and political claims, has repeatedly triggered bouts of Israeli-Palestinian violence. This time around, there have been some additional sparks, including Jewish extremists who, emboldened by their political patrons’ recent election to parliament, staged a provocative march to Jerusalem’s walled Old City chanting “death to the Arabs.” Over the course of a few days, nightly Jerusalem street brawls between Israeli police and disaffected Palestinian residents of the city escalated to cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas.

3. Security hacks

At least five federal civilian agencies appear to have been breached in a hack affecting Pulse Secure VPN, a widely used remote connectivity tool. Hackers with suspected ties to China took advantage of vulnerabilities in the system to gain access to government agencies, defense companies and financial institutions in the US and Europe, according to a report released earlier this month. Now, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is trying to determine the full scope of the hack. In a separate incident, hackers stole personnel files of some Washington Metropolitan Police Department officers in a ransomware attack earlier this month. The attackers posted a ransom note claiming they had stolen more than 250 GB of data, and threatened to publish the material if they were not paid. The FBI and the police department are investigating the incident.

U.S. Tells Embassy Staff to Leave Afghanistan Unless Job Needs Them to Physically Remain in Kabul

  U.S. Tells Embassy Staff to Leave Afghanistan Unless Job Needs Them to Physically Remain in Kabul U.S. State Department: "U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk."The Tuesday order came as the U.S. is preparing for a full troop withdrawal of Afghanistan by September 11 under President Joe Biden's decision and also added that U.S. citizens who wish to leave Afghanistan should "leave as soon as possible on available commercial flights.

4. Afghanistan

The US has begun the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, but al Qaeda is still vowing a "war on all fronts." Al Qaeda's influence has been greatly reduced in the ten years since the death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, but the group is far from dead. And now, it says it's planning a comeback after US forces leave Afghanistan by partnering once again with the Taliban. During an interview with CNN conducted through intermediaries, two al Qaeda operatives said the group's war against the US "will be continuing on all other fronts unless they are expelled from the rest of the Islamic world." The troop drawdown was made possible when the US cut a deal with the Afghan Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda. The latter group's willingness to talk now, which is unusual, could raise concern about the Taliban's honesty regarding the deal.

5. Israel

At least 44 people have died and more than 100 are injured after a crush during a religious celebration at Israel's Mount Meron. An estimated 50,000-100,000 people had crowded onto the mountain to celebrate the Lag B'Omer holiday, despite warnings from the government to avoid the gathering due to Covid-19 concerns. Witnesses said singing and dancing devolved into chaos as a huge wave of people trapped others beneath them. Israel's emergency service chief said the crush is "one of the most difficult civil disasters Israel has ever known." An investigation into the tragedy is already underway.

Opinion: The lies that were told to sustain the US and UK mission in Afghanistan

  Opinion: The lies that were told to sustain the US and UK mission in Afghanistan In the end the lies about the US-led war in Afghanistan were bookended with -- even dominated by -- basic truths, writes Nick Paton Walsh. The lies themselves were not malicious -- more the deceit needed for survival. The things America had to tell itself to keep going. The lies the British - the largest NATO ally there - told were smaller, perhaps pettier, in the extremely violent and sparsely populated desert of Helmand they tried to control. Always said to be underfunded compared to their allies, always courageous, always carrying on and always maintaining their plan was working, even when it clearly was not.


World's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens in Portugal

Acrophobes, look away!

You can now buy a seat on a Bezos-backed Blue Origin rocket

Wanna get away? Like, really really away?

"Mighty Ducks: Game Changers" stages reunion with possibly more familiar faces to come

The Quack Attack is back!

Kamala Harris to be first vice president with wax figure at Madame Tussauds

Meeting your own hyper-realistic wax figure must be quite a trip.

Tiny cabins become hot property for pandemic getaways

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately ... and ignore my constant work emails."


25 million

That's how many people could be living in poverty in Myanmar by 2022 -- about 48% of the country's population -- if the security and economic situation doesn't improve, according to the United Nations Development Program. Myanmar has been hit with a double crisis: The pandemic, and the fallout from a military coup.


"I'm not a doctor. I'm not a respected source of information, even for me."

Podcast star Joe Rogan, who walked back comments he made on his show suggesting healthy young people should not get the Covid-19 vaccine.


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Rise and shine!

It's Friday, sleepy heads! Time to wriggle out of your cozy sleeping sock and seize the day, like this little chick has. (Click here to view.)

Formal start of final phase of Afghan pullout by US, NATO .
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The final phase of ending America's “forever war” in Afghanistan after 20 years formally began Saturday, with the withdrawal of the last U.S. and NATO troops by the end of summer. President Joe Biden had set May 1 as the official start of the withdrawal of the remaining forces — about 2,500-3,500 U.S. troops and about 7,000 NATO soldiers.

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