U.S. Has 1,000 More Troops in Afghanistan Than It Disclosed
Facing a high-stakes choice and running out of time to make it, the Biden administration is wrestling with whether to follow through with a full withdrawal in the next seven weeks of the 2,500 U.S. troops still in Afghanistan — except, as it turns out, that number is actually around 3,500. The United States has about 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan than it has disclosed, according to U.S., European and Afghan officials. That adds another layer of complexity to the debate at the White House over whether to stick with a deal, struck by the Trump administration, that calls for removing the remaining U.S. forces by May 1.
On Mexico’s Border With U.S., Desperation as Migrant Traffic Piles Up
The migrants’ hopes have been drummed up by human smugglers who promise that President Joe Biden’s administration will welcome them. Instead, the United States is expelling them back to Mexico, where they wait along with tens of thousands of others hoping to cross. The pressure, and desperation, is quickly building among families stuck in Mexico, as shelters and officials struggle to help them. In the United States, federal authorities are scrambling to manage a sharp increase in children who are crossing the border on their own and then being held in detention facilities. And the crises on both sides of the border show no sign of abating.
Germany Launches Election Year With Losses for Merkel’s Party in Two States
Voters in two southwestern German states punished Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party in regional elections Sunday, early results showed, turning from the Christian Democrats in record numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic and a growing scandal over lawmakers who accepted kickbacks for selling masks. The elections in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate were the first in a year that will see voting for new legislators in four more states, and for the country’s parliament. In September, Germans will choose a new chancellor and government to take over Europe’s largest economy after 16 years under Merkel’s leadership.
Days of Killings and Defiance in Myanmar, With Neither Side Relenting
Soldiers and police officers shot and killed at least 51 people in Myanmar over the weekend, as they pressed their campaign of attrition against protesters who have defied them in cities and towns across the country. Despite weeks of killings by the security forces, a nationwide civil disobedience movement — which has paralyzed much of the economy as well as the government’s operations — shows no sign of waning, a month and a half after the Feb. 1 military coup that ousted the civilian leadership. Late Sunday afternoon, another wave of killing began in the Hlaingthaya district of Yangon.
Ireland Suspends Use of AstraZeneca’s Vaccine
Ireland suspended use of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oxford-AstraZeneca on Sunday, citing reports of unusual blood clotting problems among people who recently received shots in Norway. The decision followed a new advisory from Norway on Saturday that four people given the AstraZeneca vaccine had experienced blood clotting issues and all had low platelet counts. Leading public health agencies, including the World Health Organization, point out that millions of people have received the vaccine without experiencing such blood clotting issues, and that experts have not found a causative link between any of the vaccines and the conditions.
Policing at Sarah Everard Vigil in London Faces Official Scrutiny
The mayor of London and the British Cabinet minister responsible for policing called Sunday for an independent inquiry into how the city’s main police force broke up a vigil for Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive whose killing has sparked a reckoning over violence against women. The demand for an investigation came after images of officers clashing with women at the event prompted a widespread outcry. The mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that “scenes arising from the policing of the vigil,” which had been banned under coronavirus restrictions, “were completely unacceptable,” and that he was “not satisfied” with explanations from the two top officers in the force.