5 Things You Should Know For March 17: Spa Murders, Covid-19, 2020 Elections, Cuomo, Japan

This is what you need to know to Catch up and get on with your day.

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1. Spa shots

Eight people died yesterday in three spas in the Atlanta metro area in the span of about an hour. We don’t know much about the victims yet, but four have been described as ethnic Korean, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Earlier, the Atlanta police chief had said that at least four were female and appeared to be Asian. A 21-year-old suspect was arrested after a car chase, and police believe he was responsible for all three attacks. Authorities are still investigating the motive for the shooting, among other issues. But already, the attacks have sparked fears among Asian Americans, who have seen incidents of violence and hatred against them increase since the coronavirus pandemic began. Officials in some cities are increasing the police presence in Asian communities as a precautionary measure.

2. Coronavirus

The United States faces a tough race between Covid-19 vaccines and their variants. Vaccines are increasing rapidly and they have a great chance of winning. But contagious variants are spreading across the country and could threaten another surge. The CDC says that two coronavirus strains first detected in California are officially “worrisome variants.” The variants may be about 20% more transmissible, and there is concern that some treatments may not be as effective against them. But the CDC has not said that the vaccines will stop working against him. It also complicates the situation: some states are easing restrictions before the spread of the virus is fully contained.

3. 2020 elections

A US intelligence report has determined that Russia tried to interfere in the 2020 elections to help Donald Trump and hurt Joe Biden. The report also describes a smaller covert influence campaign by Iran. One of the report’s biggest bombshells confirms what we had assumed last year: Trump and his closest allies publicly embraced Russia’s disinformation campaign against Biden, meeting with Kremlin-linked figures who were part of the effort, and promoting their theories of conspiracy. CNN’s Stephen Collinson writes that the finding underscores a fundamental truth: “The gravest threat to American democracy comes from within.”

4. Governor Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces more scrutiny every day. Over the weekend, investigators met with the first woman to publicly accuse the governor of sexual harassment. Other women have made similar accusations against him, and investigations into those allegations continue to grow. Cuomo is also grappling with a separate issue involving an alleged cover-up of the number of Covid-19 deaths at state long-term care facilities. Now he faces increasing pressure to resign, including from prominent members of his own party. President Biden recently said that Cuomo should resign if an investigation confirms the sexual harassment allegations against him. Cuomo has denied ever “inappropriately touched” anyone and has said that he never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

5. Japan

A Japanese court has ruled that the country’s failure to recognize same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It’s a landmark ruling that could usher in a new era of equal marriage in Japan. Homosexuality has been legal in Japan since 1880, and the country is relatively liberal compared to other Asian nations. But Japan does not recognize same-sex unions throughout the country. This ruling alone will not legalize same-sex marriage in the country; that would require a Supreme Court ruling, which could take several years. Still, it is a significant step.


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