First Thing: European finance ministers push for G7 tax abuse deal

·4-min read

Good morning.

With the G7 summit set to begin in two weeks, the EU’s four biggest economies have raised the stakes for leaders to reach a landmark agreement to curb tax avoidance by multinational companies.

In a letter sent to the Guardian, the finance ministers of France, Germany, Italy and Spain said a deal on an international tax system was within reach after years of false starts.

  • What exactly is the issue? Firms and rich individuals operating across international borders can shift profits around to exploit the most attractive low-tax locations. The Tax Justice Network campaign group estimates that this practice costs countries around the world $427bn a year in lost revenues.

  • What does the US think about tax avoidance? Joe Biden has a proposal in which companies would be forced to pay taxes to national governments based on the sales they generate in each country, irrespective of where they are based.

  • Do other countries like Biden’s proposal? Five of the G7 countries have indicated they will back Biden’s proposal, but the UK has yet to do so.

Biden outlines plan to share Covid vaccine with world

Biden plans to share 80m doses of the Covid-19 vaccine with other countries. Yesterday, he provided details of the plan to do so, with the first 25m doses to be disbursed across Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

Police crack down on the anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Police patrol Victoria Park, Hong Kong
Police patrol Victoria Park, Hong Kong, on Friday. Photograph: Vincent Yu/AP

Hong Kong police have arrested a vigil leader as 7,000 officers were deployed on to the streets to enforce a ban on any remembrance gatherings for the pro-democracy victims of China’s brutal military action on the evening of 3 June and morning of 4 June 1989.

While discussion of the Tianamen Square massacre is all but forbidden on the mainland, Hong Kong, because of its unique history, has traditionally been the only place in China where large-scale commemorations were tolerated. That appears to be coming to an end.

  • The official reason for the ban in Hong Kong this year was the coronavirus pandemic – though Hong Kong has not recorded an untraceable local transmission in more than month – one reason why there were no formal commemoration events held in the Chinese-speaking world anywhere for the first time since the massacre.

  • Police have also cited a national security law that warns people not to gather for unnamed events, reminding the public of the recent convictions of some activists.

At least 10 states diverted millions in federal dollars to fund anti-abortion clinics

At least 10 overwhelmingly Republican-led states used federal money meant to provide aid to their neediest families to fund the activities of anti-abortion clinics associated with the evangelical right.

In other news…

Stat of the day: California’s western monarch butterfly population has declined by 99% in the past few decades

Monarch butterflies
The population of monarch butterflies has fallen to 30,000 from 4.5 million in the 1980s. Photograph: Helen Sessions/Alamy Stock Photo

Monarch butterflies, known for their distinctive orange and black pattern, are on the brink of extinction, with a population that dropped from 4.5 million in the 1980s to a mere 30,000 in 2018.

Don’t miss this: the criminalisation of Covid exposure

A home health aide accused of inadvertently exposing an elderly patient early in the pandemic faces the equivalent of a felony, deportation and the permanent loss of her license in New Jersey. Meanwhile, anti-mask protesters at a nearby local gym offering free membership to people refusing the vaccine received misdemeanor citations for their antics.

Last Thing: The man trying to unionise 5,000 Amazon workers in New York

Amazon tried to smear Christian Smalls as “not smart or articulate” after they fired him when he led a walkout over concerns for worker safety during the pandemic. He has since founded the Amazon Labor Union. “They said they’d make me the whole face of the union effort against Amazon,” Smalls told the Guardian. “I’m trying to make them eat their words.”

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