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Zuckerberg unveils Facebook's plan to help get people vaccinated

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday that Facebook is building a tool to connect people to information about where and when to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The big picture: Facebook has been blamed for the spread of anti-vaccination misinformation during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.


Details: In a blog post, Zuckerberg said the company aims to help bring 50 million people "one step closer to getting vaccinated" by helping people "learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and find out when and where" they can get one.

  • To make this possible, Facebook has partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital to offer a tool that helps Facebook users identify places nearby to get a vaccine.
  • Zuckerberg said the company will also expand its "COVID-19 Information Center," currently on the main Facebook app, to Instagram.
  • It will also deploy official chatbots on its messaging app WhatsApp to get people registered for vaccinations with health authorities and governments.
  • Zuckerberg said Facebook will make real-time aggregate trends on "COVID-19 vaccinations, intent to get vaccinated, and reasons for hesitancy" available to public officials, like the World Health Organization, to help inform an equitable rollout of the vaccine.

Be smart: It's made more efforts in recent months to ensure more people access accurate information about the COVID-19 vaccine as it become more accessible around the globe.

  • In a reversal from its previous position, Facebook said last month that it will take tougher action during the pandemic against claims that vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccination, are not effective or safe.
  • Last year, Zuckerberg said the company wouldn't target anti-vaccination posts the same way it has aggressively cracked down on COVID misinformation.

Go deeper: Facebook says it will crack down on COVID vaccine misinformation

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 depot explosion

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbetice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

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Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

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U.S. and China agree to cooperate on climate action, but details remain to be negotiated

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

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"We couldn't do two things at once": Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

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Children of color in rural areas battle deep health care disparities

Living in the nation's poorest, most rural communities can be a death sentence for African American and Native American children.

Why it matters: Lack of health care and healthy food make Black and indigenous childrenin the nation’s most disadvantaged counties five times as likely to die as children in other areas of the country,the advocacy group Save the Children found after analyzing federal data.

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How telehealth can narrow racial disparities

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Racial disparities have been a constant problem in maternal health care, from rising death rates to the threat of severe COVID-19 among pregnant women. But now experts are hopeful that telehealth can help narrow those disparities.

Why it matters: It's not a complete solution to the racial barriers women of color face. But some experts are optimistic that telehealth — long-distance health care through videoconferences and other technology — can help reduce those barriers by offering flexibility in appointments and better access to diverse providers.

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Capitol Hill's far right pushes Anglo-Saxon values, European architecture

Multiple far-right House Republicans have begun planning and promoting an America First Caucus aimed at pushing "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," Punchbowl News first reported.

The big picture: "The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections," AP writes.

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Super Typhoon Surigae rapidly intensifies to a Cat. 5 near Philippines

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 180 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change.

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