News Timeline: March 2021

March 1 – Europe: France

France’s former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, is found guilty of corruption and influence peddling and sentenced to one year in prison.  A court found him guilty of trying to illegally obtain information on another case against him from a judge in return for a prestigious job for him.  He denies any wrongdoing and is expected to appeal.  Nicolas Sarkozy was president between 2007 and 2012,and is only the second French president since WWII convicted of a crime.  Former President Jacques Chirac was convicted in 2011 of embezzling and misusing public funds when he was mayor of Paris.[1]

March 3 – South Asia: Afghanistan

Islamic State (IS) militants take responsibility for killing three women that worked for a TV station in eastern Afghanistan. A fourth woman is in a critical condition. This is another assassination by terrorist groups in Afghanistan in recent months that target rights activists, judges, journalists, and others with progressive ideas. The largest terrorist group in Afghanistan is Taliban, which is behind many of these kinds of attacks.[2]

More on the Taliban including a map showing parts Afghanistan under control of the Taliban

March 4 – Global

Global Health: Coronavirus, or Covid-19

The U.S. has administered more than two million vaccine shots per day over the past week.  So far, about 148.6 million Americans (56 percent of adults) have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.  This also means that everyone could get a shot this year, although some people are hesitant or unwilling to get vaccinated.  Also, vaccine has yet to be authorized for children under 16.  It is estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of the total population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus, when transmission of the virus substantially slows because enough people have been protected through infection or vaccination.[3]

(Mar 6): A more contagious and more lethal UK coronavirus variant (first discovered in the U.K.) is spreading fast in the U.S. and accounts for more than 20 percent of new U.S. cases.  The overall cases, however, are at the lowest level since October. In addition to this UK variant, there are also Brazilian and South African variants identified, but they make up a small fraction of total coronavirus cases so far.[4]

(Mar 14):  Most of Italy enters a new lockdown as coronavirus cases surge by 15 percent driven by the spread of the UK variant and slow progress in vaccination.  The residents can leave their homes only for work, necessities, or health reasons.  Italy is one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus in the world with 100,000 deaths so far and 3.2 million infections.[5]

(Mar 25): Globally there has been 125,234,087 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 2,749,397 deaths worldwide. Covid-19 cases have been registered in 214around the world.[6]

Latest stats on Covid-19

March 7 – North America: United States

The U.S. Senate approves $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, aimed at boosting the economy and providing help to Americans from the coronavirus pandemic.  The bill passes along the party lines, 50–49 vote, with one Republican absent.  Every Democrat voted in favor and every Republican against it. Much of the aid in the bill is directed toward low- and middle-income families rather than businesses.  The money will go for stimulus checks to individuals, unemployment benefits, child tax credit, vaccine and Covid testing programs, state, local, and territorial governments, and for school reopening efforts.  In the long term, the bill is expected to cut poverty by a third this year, and is hoped to become permanent and cut child poverty by half.[7] 

More on the American Rescue Plan

March 22 – East Asia: China

The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada impose sanctions on China in response to its human rights abuses against its Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province.  Chinese authorities have detained so far more than a million Uighurs in “re-education” camps where they are subjected to systematic torture, sexual abuse, and rape.  The U.S. labels these abuses genocide and crimes against humanity.  The sanctions include travel bans and frozen assets; they also target senior officials who have been accused of serious human rights violations against the Uighurs.  Australia and New Zealand who depend on trade with China issue a joint statement endorsing the sanctions, but do not impose their own.[8]  China condemns the sanctions and vows to impose its own sanctions against these countries.[9]

Who are the Uighurs and why is China being accused of genocide?

March 25 – East Asia: North Korea

North Korea launches two ballistic missiles, days after firing two non-ballistic missiles into the Yellow Sea.  This test is a violation of United Nations Security sanctions, as North Korea is banned from testing ballistic missiles.  North Korea’s neighbors, Japan and South Korea, condemn the test.  North Korea last fired ballistic missiles a year ago amid stalled relations with former President Donald Trump’s Administration.[10]

Profile of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un

March 29 – Global / Africa: Egypt

One of the world’s largest cargo ships that belongs to the Taiwanese company Evergreen Marine is refloated again, opening the passage through the Suez Canal.  The almost quarter-mile-long Ever Given vessel ran aground and became wedged across the waterway, blocking all traffic through the canal for six days causing a disruption in the world trade.  Fourteen tugboats were involved in dislodging the ship at high tide, while 450 ships were stuck behind it waiting to pass through the canal.  The blockage has cost the Canal about $15 million a day in lost revenue.  About 12 percent of global trade, around one million barrels of oil and roughly 8 percent of liquefied natural gas pass through the canal each day.  An alternate route around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope adds another eight and a half days of travel.[11]

Pictures, maps and history of Suez Canal


[1] Aurelien Breeden. “Ex-President Sarkozy Gets Jail Sentence for Corruption in France.” The New York Times. March 1, 2021. Accessed

[2] “Afghan war: Female TV workers ‘shot dead by IS’ in Jalalabad.” BBC News. March 3, 2021. Accessed April 14, 21.

[3] David Leonhardt. “The Morning: The Latest News: The Virus” The New York Times. March 4, 2021 and            

“See How the Vaccine Rollout Is Going in Your County and State.” The New York Times. Updated May 5, 2021. Accessed May 5, 2021.

[4] Lauren Leatherby and Scott Reinhard. “More Contagious Variant Is Spreading Fast in U.S., Even as Overall Cases Level Off.” The New York Times. March 6, 2021. Accessed May 5, 2021.

5] Gaia Pianigiani and Jennifer Jett. “Italians start a widespread lockdown.” The New York Times. Published March 14, 2021. Updated April 2, 2021. Accessed May 5, 2021.

[6] Caroline Kantis, Samantha Kiernan and Jason Socrates Bardi. “UPDATED: Timeline of the Coronavirus.” Think Global Health. March 26, 2021. Accessed May 6, 21 from

[7] Emily Cochrane. “Divided Senate Passes Biden’s Pandemic Aid Plan.” The New York Times.  March 6, 2021. Updated March 13, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2021.

[8] Pranshu Verma. “U.S. Joins Allies to Punish Chinese Officials for Human Rights Abuses.” The New York Times. Published March 22, 2021. Updated March 25, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021.

[9] “Uighurs: Western countries sanction China over rights abuses.” BBC News. March 22, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2021 and “Who are the Uighurs and why is China being accused of genocide?” BBC News. March 26, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2021.

[10] “North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into the sea.” BBC News. March 25, 2021. Accessed April 21, 21.

[11] Mary-Ann Russon. “The cost of the Suez Canal blockage.” BBC News. March 29, 2021. Accessed April 22, 21.