World this week
Russia's President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle. The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed on May 29. President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident two days later. The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world's leading nickel and palladium producer.
In a televised video conference on Putin lambasted the head of the company over its response. "Why did government agencies only find out about this two days after the fact?" he asked the subsidiary's chief, Sergei Lipin. "Are we going to learn about emergency situations from social media?" The region's governor, Alexander Uss, had earlier told President Putin that he became aware of the oil spill on Sunday after "alarming information appeared in social media".
Hong Kong's legislature approved a contentious bill that makes it illegal to insult the Chinese national anthem. The legislation was approved after pro-democracy opposition lawmakers tried to disrupt the vote. The bill was passed with 41 lawmakers voting for it and just one voting against. Most of the pro-democracy lawmakers boycotted the vote out of protest.
The pro-democracy camp sees the anthem bill as an infringement of freedom of expression and the greater rights that residents of the semi-autonomous city have compared to mainland China.
The pro-Beijing majority said the law was necessary for Hong Kong citizens to show appropriate respect for the anthem. Those found guilty of intentionally abusing the "March of the Volunteers" face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 50,000 Hong Kong dollars ($6,450).
The United Nations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement urged that governments and others unite in developing a "people's vaccine" to protect everyone against the coronavirus. Their appeal came ahead of a vaccine summit in London organized by the Global Vaccine Alliance that is seeking to mobilize billions of dollars of funding for a COVID-19 vaccine.
The "people's vaccine" should protect the affluent, the poor, the old and young, said a statement by the U.N. and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. That is a "moral imperative that brings us all together in our shared humanity," it said. It said the pandemic is also raising risks of other diseases as it disrupts childhood immunization programs, leaving at least 80 million children under the age of one at risk of diseases like measles, diphtheria and polio.
Meanwhile, Mexico and Brazil recorded their highest daily death tolls as the coronavirus epidemic showed no sign of abating in Latin America. It came as Germany announced a massive spending package to reboot its post-lockdown economy.Mexican health authorities reported 1,092 coronavirus deaths on June 3 - double the country's previous highest one-day toll. Daily infections were also at an all-time high of just under 4,000.
The country's deputy health minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, attributed the sharp death-toll rise to the results of a new mortality committee dedicated to better identifying which deaths in the country were caused by the virus. Brazil registered a record number of daily coronavirus deaths (1,350) for the second consecutive day and infections looked set to pass 600,000 on June 4, just four days after passing 500,000. Germany looked to shore up its battered lockdown economy, with a massive €130bn ($146bn) stimulus package.
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