Balance of power from Bloomberg 13 03 2021

President Joe Biden’s administration cheered the rollout of his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that the White House says will accelerate vaccinations, lift millions out of poverty and put America back to work. But his next economic stimulus plan will likely face a more difficult road.

A new hacking attack, this time on Microsoft, raised alarm bells in the cybersecurity world.

China maintained its drive to tighten its grip on Hong Kong to eliminate opposition to Beijing’s rule in the Asian financial hub.

Biden’s Road Gets Even Harder Once Stimulus Clears Squeaker Vote
The president’s supporters are pointing to the passage of his stimulus package as a sign of even bigger wins to come. But as Steven T. Dennis and Erik Wasson explain, Biden’s soon-to-be-unveiled longer-term economic plan, likely to include climate-change policies, faces far tougher obstacles in Congress.

How China’s Influence is Reshaping Hong Kong’s Landscape
Beijing’s increasing grip on Hong Kong has done more than snuff out the pro-democracy movement — it’s changed the city’s physical landscape. As Karen Leigh and Annie Lee write, from buildings barricaded in the wake of protests in 2019 to a hotel converted into the new National Security Office’s headquarters, evidence of China’s heavy hand is widely apparent.

Jack Ma Crackdown Casts a Chill on China’s Tech Entrepreneurs
President Xi Jinping is preparing to pour trillions of dollars into making China self-sufficient in everything from semiconductors to software. But as Peter Elstrom and Coco Liu explain, the crackdown on Jack Ma’s business empire has cast a chill over parts of the nation’s technology sector.

Microsoft, SolarWinds Breaches Spark Two-Front War on Hackers
Attacks by Chinese hackers on Microsoft’s business email software following a campaign by Russians on SolarWinds have created a two-front war that threatens to overwhelm cybersecurity’s emergency responders, Jordan Robertson,  Kartikay Mehrotra and  Ryan Gallagher write.

The U.K.’s Next Covid Challenge Could Be Public Complacency
Some British officials are growing concerned that the very success of the U.K.’s inoculation program poses danger to the fight against the pandemic. Tim Ross and Emily Ashton look at how indications the public is giving up on the lockdown carry warnings about another Covid-19 spike.

EU Officials Plot Lighter Touch on Russia But It’s a Tough Sell
As European Union leaders prepare to review the bloc’s strategy on Russia this month, a number of senior officials in Brussels are privately advocating a less combative approach. As Alberto Nardelli explains, that’s putting them at odds with some member states that say the Kremlin’s actions are getting worse.

Ghost Towns of Fukushima Remain Empty After Decade-Long Rebuild
A decade after a nuclear disaster devastated it, Japan’s Fukushima is largely empty despite billions in state funding for decontamination and rebuilding. Isabel Reynolds reports that its future is clouded by the decades it may take to decommission the nuclear plant hit by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

How Africa Can Save the World From a Never-Ending Pandemic
As long as the pandemic continues to rage among unvaccinated populations in Africa and elsewhere, spawning new, more virulent, vaccine-resistant strains, no one is safe. Antony Sguazzin explains why.

The defiant ex-president known as Lula spoke Wednesday in his first speech after corruption convictions were annulled by a Supreme Court justice, clearing the way for his comeback.

Brawling Myanmar Monks Show Buddhist Nationalists Backing Coup
Buddhist monasteries are usually known as places of solace and meditation. But one in Myanmar’s biggest city became the site of an ugly brawl in the aftermath of the Feb. 1 military coup, Philip J. Heijmans writes.

Millions Of Women Face Health Risk From Cuts to Modi’s Fuel Plan
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s offer of cooking-fuel subsidies five years ago was life-changing for Indian women, who no longer had to burn cow dung and wood that left a sooty flame and teary eyes, Debjit Chakraborty, Saket Sundria and Dhwani Pandya report. Yet, facing a widening fiscal deficit, New Delhi has slowly cut the size of those handouts.

Tech Giants’ Dreams of Free Internet Wither in African Backlash
Facebook and Google are spending billions trying to get more people online in Africa. But as Loni Prinsloo and  Michael Cohen report, the internet giants face a backlash from governments worried about social-media platforms being used to undermine their grip on power.

And finally ... Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s vast reforestation program pays farmers to plant trees for fruit or timber on small plots of land to create an industry in deprived rural areas. After Max De Haldevang revealed that the project known as Sowing Life is linked to widespread destruction because it motivates cultivators to clear tracts of jungle for planting, the president vowed to investigate.