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Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act after the House of Representatives voted to approve it this week.

Why it matters: The legislation is one of the federal government's first effort to address the rise of anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic, with one in four Asian Americans saying that they have experienced a hate incident.

What they're saying: "I believe with every fiber of my being, that there are simple core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism — the ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation," Biden said in a speech ahead of the signing.

  • Too many Asian Americans woke up this past year "genuinely fearing for their safety," Biden added.
  • "For centuries, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders — diverse and vibrant communities — have helped build this nation, only to be often stepped over, forgotten or ignored," Biden said. "Lived here for generations and are still considered by some the 'other.'"
  • "History will remember this day and this moment when our nation took action to combat hate," Vice President Kamala Harris said.
  • "This bill brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not only for Asian Americans, but for all Americans," Harris added.

Details: The bill directs the Justice Department to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes, and to issue guidance to state and local law enforcement officials on how to create online strategies to report such crimes.

  • Both the DOJ and the Health Department must offer guidance on how to raise awareness on the rise on coronavirus-related hate crimes over the past year.

Between the lines: Over 75 Asian and LGBTQ organizations urged Congress to oppose the legislation last week, arguing it would only bolster policing and disproportionately hurt marginalized communities. Lawmakers maintained that it would boost hate crime tracking and not policing.

Go deeper: Why attacks against the AAPI community are difficult to prosecute as hate crimes

Go deeper

Aug 22, 2021 - World

Kamala Harris arrives in Singapore for historic Southeast Asia trip

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore on Sunday. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Singapore on Sunday, as she began her trip to Southeast Asia.

Why it matters: As the crisis in Afghanistan continues to unfold, a Biden administration official said Harris "will make clear" during her visit "that we do have an enduring commitment" to Asia.

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.