Your Friday Briefing – The New York Occasions

We delve into the threat of virus recurrence around the world and the beliefs of Hong Kong democratic leaders.

Experts around the world are reminding people that despite hopes for Covid-19 vaccinations and a clearer path, it is far too early to lose our vigilance.

In Hungary, Despite having one of the highest per capita coronavirus death rates in the world, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has stated that his government will not tighten restrictions and is determined to reopen society. There were 302 deaths on Wednesday, the highest since the pandemic began.

The USA, Where some states are in crisis mode is a study of contrasts. In Michigan, a major hotspot, more than 2,200 Covid-19 patients are being hospitalized nationwide, a number that has more than doubled since early March. And yet, officials are loosening mask rules and other measures to get the virus under control.

“Looking at numbers yesterday felt like a slap in the face,” said a Michigan epidemiologist. “We’re going to have to go through this boom and all this hard work all over again to bring the numbers down.”

So far, Japan has raised little more than an expression of “grave concern” about the fate of Uighur Muslims, hundreds of thousands of whom have been detained in camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

It is the only member of the 7 Nations Group that has not participated in coordinated sanctions against China for abuse. That seems to be changing, however, as Japanese public attitudes towards China intensify. Legislators are increasingly urging the government to take a tougher stance on China, and the country’s Uyghur community, roughly 3,000 people, has been vocal.

If Japan were to fully join efforts to force China to end the abuses there, it would give a decisive Asian voice to the otherwise Western campaign.

Hesitate: China is a critical market for Japanese exports and the economy has had major problems over the past year. Japanese retailer Muji, which has more than 200 stores in mainland China, recently said it would continue to use cotton from Xinjiang despite allegations of forced labor.

Growing awareness: Halmat Rozi, a Uyghur living in Japan, invited Japan’s public broadcaster NHK to secretly record an intimidating phone call he received from a Chinese security officer. The footage was broadcast to millions of viewers.

Seven of Hong Kong’s veteran democracy leaders were found guilty on Thursday of the unauthorized gathering, a verdict viewed by their supporters as a serious attack on civil liberties in the area.

The defendants were some of the city’s best-known and internationally recognized activists: Martin Lee, a lawyer known in Hong Kong as the “father of democracy”; Jimmy Lai, media tycoon and founder of the pro-democracy Apple Daily; and Margaret Ng, a distinguished lawyer and columnist. You and four others were convicted of participating in and organizing an unauthorized march in 2019.

Harsh sentences would send a strong message about how the courts could rule on similar charges of illegal gathering in several other trials this year.

Details: You can expect up to five years in prison at a time. The conviction will take place on April 16. The case revolved around a rally on August 18, 2019, during which protesters marched towards the city’s business district. Although there was no violence and minimal disorder, prosecutors argued that the march violated the Hong Kong Public Order Ordinance.

The crackdown: More than 2,400 people have been charged since the Hong Kong authorities sought to suppress the pro-democracy movement after protests in 2019 that posed the greatest challenge to Beijing’s rule in decades.

Visiting an art museum during a pandemic has a silver lining: the absence of the crowds allows you to appreciate art in new ways. Our critic communicated with Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat” and wrote: “I have to look thoughtful and thoughtful for as long as it takes to really bring a painting to life.”

Hiroko Tabuchi, one of our climate reporters, wrote in our Climate Forward newsletter about the interface between climate justice and anti-Asian discrimination, which we share with you here.

A wave of violence against Asians and Americans from Asia in recent weeks has shed light on a segment of the American population that has often not been represented in discussions about racial injustices – and the climate and the environment.

This means vulnerable communities may not get the attention they need to address longstanding environmental problems.

Asian-Americans typically live in areas that are disproportionately high in air pollution and are likely to be more exposed to carcinogens. (I wrote last year about a Laotian community in Richmond, California that has long studied the dangers of living in the shadow of a giant oil refinery and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.)

Native Pacific islanders have also suffered from pesticide exposure and health hazards from landfills in their communities, and are also leaders in dealing with the effects of climate change. (We recently spoke with Haunani Kane, a native Hawaiian who is conducting a climate vulnerability assessment on the impact of sea level rise on the Pacific islands.)

In an incident this week, a 65-year-old Filipino woman was viciously assaulted in New York City, New York. It’s difficult to focus on issues like climate change when you immediately feel hatred around you.

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