The Wonderful World of Wellness

Our bodies are supermachines that perform a host of complex tasks, most of which are beyond our comprehension. But supermachines are still machines and as such are prone to breakdowns in the absence of routine maintenance and software upgrades. This is where wellness and other health sciences come in, helping our bodies maximize their potential.

In today’s Daily Dose, we meet fascinating entrepreneurs inspired by old customs, highlight the traditional treatments that influenced them and bust a series of myths that have circulated for years in the wellness and diet industries.


All Cholesterol Is Bad

For years, wellness experts have parroted on radio and TV and in books that cholesterol is an enemy of good health. As it turns out, even though too much low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL, can lead to a risk of heart disease, having high levels of high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s because HDL cholesterol is flushed from the body. Eating whole grains and high-fiber fruit can help lower your LDL levels, which will improve your ratio of HDL to LDL cholesterol.

Sunblock Secret

If you’re hitting the beach or stepping out on a hot sunny day, you know you should apply sunscreen, then slather on more every couple of hours after that. And indeed, applying sunblock in those situations will help reduce the risk of skin cancer and premature aging. But here’s the plot twist: We should use sunscreen every day, not just on those that are sunny. “Unless you are completely shaded and protected from the sun, you still need sunscreen on cloudy days,” says Jonathan Leventhal, an onco-dermatologist at Yale Medicine. Oh, and even if you have dark skin, you should still be using sunblock.

Fat Into Muscle

In a world where fatphobia is increasingly enveloping us, it’s normal to be told that if you put in the work in the gym to convert fat into muscle, you can achieve a conventionally attractive body type. But as London-based trainer Hollie Grant says, “This is akin to saying you can turn a dog into a cat.” Swapping fat for muscle is hard. Muscles are built by consuming a protein-rich diet and undertaking strength training. So if you’re aiming to lose that extra flab, good for you. Just don’t expect to gain a six-pack in the process.

Microwaving Kills Nutrients

You’ve definitely heard this one: Heating food in the microwave — one of the most utilitarian inventions created in the past century, if you ask me — saps it of its nutrients. However, scientists at Harvard and Cornell universities have countered by pointing out that while cooking by any method does indeed destroy some nutrients, “microwave cooking is actually one of the least likely forms of cooking” to do so.

Wellness DD 2


Joycee Awojoodu

In 2011, the Nigerian-American entrepreneur quit her job at a Fortune 500 company in the energy sector and moved to Nigeria to work for the government as a ministerial adviser. Four years later, she launched Oríkì, a natural skincare luxury brand named after a Yoruba word that means “your crown, heritage and inspiration.” Awojoodu, whose products cater to both men and women, works with small farms across the value chain in Nigeria and other African countries to source raw materials. The business also includes a luxury spa and men’s grooming parlor. At a time when many global luxury products ignore the specific skin and hair types of African ethnicities, can Awojoodu’s homegrown secrets offer a fix?

Atiya Wells

The Baltimore-based pediatric nurse is leading an outdoor camping revolution for people of color, a group that has largely been excluded from hiking. As a young woman growing up in Newark, New Jersey, Wells didn’t go on her first hike until she was in her 20s, and she quickly realized that she was usually one of only a few people of color present at these outdoor excursions. Now, Backyard Basecamp, Wells’ environmental organization, is offering racial minority families a retreat on a 10-acre green space just outside Baltimore. The idea is to connect them with nature and create more equitable access to green space overall.

Stephanie Zheng

The 25-year-old serial entrepreneur and aesthetician is the founder and CEO of Mount Lai, a beauty brand that’s taking traditional Chinese medicine to international audiences. The business is named after Mount Penglai, a mythical land with the secret to eternal youth. Zheng was inspired to start the brand by her grandmother, who performed traditional wellness rituals such as jade rolling and gua sha face scraping for decades. But it was at New York University’s Stern School of Business where she learned modern finance and marketing skills. Zheng’s entrepreneurial streak was evident early — she started her first business, an online jewelry store, at the age of 15. Today, Mount Lai’s products are stocked at major U.S. outlets like Sephora.

Charlyn Kentaro

While working and studying law in Cape Town, the Ugandan entrepreneur was drawn to create products for Africa’s growing natural hair movement after struggling to find natural styling products for her own hair. Now, she’s among a handful of women driving that movement, helping the continent overcome colonial and racial stereotypes. The Good Hair Collective, the hair care line of her brand Kentaro Handmade Organics, uses shea butter and other essential oils to help African women take care of their natural hair without having to worry about harmful chemicals or contend with expensive, imported ingredients.

Wellness DD 3



This more than 3,000-year-old wellness tradition originating in India literally means “science of life” in Sanskrit. It preaches relaxation, meditation, cleansing, connecting with nature and more while eschewing the use of chemicals. The diet promoted by Ayurveda is believed to be extremely beneficial in preventing hair loss and strengthening hair. Additionally, Ayurvedic herbs are also prescribed to help cure digestion problems and skin issues and to help speed up metabolism. Western medicine is now exploring whether one, turmeric, helps reduce inflammation and whether another herb, ashwagandha, is useful in the treatment of neurological disorders like depression and epilepsy.


Native to Southern Africa, this alternative therapy gets its name from the Zulu word umuthi, meaning “tree.” Its purported uses vary from (failed) attempts at bringing luck to the South African team at the 2010 soccer World Cup to supposedly treating erectile dysfunction and sexually transmitted diseases. Animal parts and herbs are central to muti. Many South Africans are quietly dismissive of the practice, but they’ve heard enough stories of how it has helped save lives and even aided in prison escapes to know better than to forcefully dispute its powers.


Centuries after the Spanish colonization of Latin America, this form of folk healing emerged as a combination of the traditional healing practices of Aztec, Maya and Inca people, and foreign Catholic rites. Called curanderismo, it derives its name from the Spanish verb curar, or “cure,” and has served as an antidote to illnesses that were often believed to be punishment meted out by displeased gods. Practitioners are referred to as curanderos and they are active even now, offering herbs, prayers and massages to followers across Central and South America, the U.S. and beyond.

The Goodies That Baddies Love

Like superheroes, supervillains also love their toys. Criminals choose their preferred tools for their utility, symbolism and even brand-building potential, which means they too embrace consumerism — despite claims of a higher calling.

Very often, brands, through no fault of their own, get pushed onto the defensive because of an unfortunate association with militants. Fans of the now-defunct Boston rock band Isis, for example, stopped wearing its merchandise for fear of being labeled as supporters of the infamous militant group of the same name.

In today’s Daily Dose, we explore some of the items that jihadists are commonly associated with, from ordinary phones to distinct watches and more.



Since its emergence in the Soviet Union in the 1940s, the Kalashnikov’s rise to prominence in terrorist circles in Europe has been well-documented. But the AK-47, the most popular of the over 200 models of AK assault rifles, is also regularly exported into crisis hot spots in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And it is loved by individuals on both sides of the law. Thanks to the rise of anti-Western sentiment during and after the Cold War, terrorists turned to the Russians for weapons supplies.


The instant messaging app, which claims to be more secure than its rival WhatsApp, is favored by groups like the Islamic State and right-wing extremists in America who disseminate propaganda using the encrypted service. In 2017, Pavel Durov, Telegram’s Russian founder, was forced to reach an agreement with Moscow about information sharing after the Russian government threatened to ban Telegram in the aftermath of a bombing in St. Petersburg earlier that year. Elsewhere, the French government intercepted Telegram messages from individuals planning a terror attack in 2018, raising questions about the app’s security claims. Still, Telegram is known to be largely unregulated, even in authoritarian states, so terrorists are converging on the platform.

Casio F91W-1 Watch

It’s one of Casio’s most popular timepieces — 3 million units are manufactured each year. Cheap, resilient and sturdy, the watch is distributed to recruits at al-Qaida training camps and was even worn by Osama bin Laden himself. The F91W-1’s long timer duration — it can be set for more than a day — has notably been used to detonate bombs. Islamic State fighters have also been known to wear it.

Nokia 105 Phone

To detonate improvised explosive devices, many terrorists turn to the Nokia 105, one of the most basic cellphones around. According to a 2016 report by London-based Conflict Armament Research, it is by far the most common remote trigger used by Islamic State militants. Perhaps the most important factor leading to its ubiquitous use by jihadists is that it costs $30 or less, or that its battery can last for weeks on a single charge. In addition, it is in abundant supply in most places around the world.

soda fix



Analysts say the Islamic State group uses soda bottles as product placement in its “Western cultural framing” strategy in an attempt to attract young recruits. Bin Laden was another soda fan who, despite his fervent anti-Western ideology, was fond of popular sodas. He had his lieutenants buy these drinks for him in large quantities. Likewise, the diaries of Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn, aka Abu Zubaydah, who was implicated in the 9/11 attacks, reveal his love for soda, detailing how he would drink an entire bottle “as one shot.”

Video Games

Since its emergence, the Islamic State group has demonstrated keen social media savvy and for years, it leaned on the internet to help it become the world’s most feared terrorist organization. In 2014, it embedded video clips taken from the popular game Grand Theft Auto 5 in a propaganda piece released as part of its recruitment drive. The grand idea? To show potential young recruits that Islamic State members “do the things you do in games, in real life on the battlefield,” according to the video. Worse still, online video games can be used to communicate extreme ideologies and launder money in Europe, according to the EU’s anti-terrorism chief, Gilles de Kerchove.


What has gunpowder and explodes, just like a bomb? Fireworks. Little wonder then that experts warn that your holiday centerpiece could cause the kind of injuries that bombs in war zones are also responsible for. For their part, jihadists and criminals are big fans of using fireworks in bomb-making. For instance, Liverpudlian gangs have a long history of using firework bombs, including a six-month stretch in 2004 when bombs were set off outside three police stations in the city. There’s also the 2010 bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square. Three years later, two brothers used bombs made of pressure cookers and fireworks to target the Boston Marathon.

terr lead 3



For decades, the satellite phone has been a favored means of communication by the criminal underworld from Mumbai to Maiduguri, as it allows the user to avoid being monitored by law enforcement. Robbers and pirates love Thuraya. Rebels and terrorists can’t seem to do without it. In 2013, the Nigerian military banned its use in northeastern parts of the country after it emerged that Boko Haram insurgents were using the phones to coordinate operations. Authorities in India banned foreigners from bringing satellite phones into the country in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Made in the United Arab Emirates, Thuraya says that its satellites cover services in more than 160 countries, and it was one of the earliest satellite phones available for public use worldwide.

Arsenal Soccer Jersey

Osama bin Laden was a big soccer fan. An ardent follower of London-based team Arsenal FC, he even attended some games at its stadium as far back as 1994. Other terrorists have also been known to show their love for the club. In the summer of 2017, the ringleader of a three-man gang responsible for killing seven people and wounding dozens of others in a vehicle and stabbing attack in London was an Arsenal fan. He was wearing his jersey when British police shot him dead.

Toyota Pickup Trucks

If you’ve been watching the news from Afghanistan, you can’t but have noticed the Taliban’s unmistakable vehicle of choice. Their fighters became almost synonymous with Toyota pickups back in the 1990s and now history is repeating itself. But it’s not just the Taliban. Back in 1987, Chadian soldiers aboard Hiluxes relied on the vehicles so much in skirmishes against better-equipped Libyan troops that the conflict became known as the Toyota War. Today, the sturdy vehicles are also the favorite of Islamic State and militant groups across Iraq, Syria, Chad and Mali. Which might be why Toyota introduced a new contract for buyers at the launch of its 2022 Land Rover model in Japan in August: Customers must commit to waiting at least a year before reselling the pickup.

The Next Big Shift in College Sports

College sports are back. Take it from fans of the Virginia Tech Hokies. On Sept. 3, close to 70,000 of them screamed out the team’s entrance song, Enter Sandman by Metallica, at the 2021-22 season opener against the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Virginia Tech crowd was so amped up that their rendition of the rock classic registered as a seismographic activity

But there are other tremors reshaping college sports. How will the U.S. Supreme Court’s summer ruling allowing student-athletes to make money from sponsorships play out on campuses? From colleges rethinking the role of sports to game-changing legal cases, in today’s Daily Dose we give you a courtside seat to the shifts that could fundamentally alter the relationship between the NCAA, school campuses and athletes.

Let’s Get Legal

Talking TV

The big bucks are set to start rolling in soon for college athletes across the U.S. after the NCAA’s ongoing attempts to limit students’ earnings suffered a series of setbacks. In June, a federal judge turned down a request by the collegiate body to block athletes from getting a cut from TV rights and earning revenue from their name, image and likeness. For years, the NCAA banned college athletes from receiving media or endorsement money (in what is a $14 billion industry) because of their status as students, preferring to give many full scholarships instead.

Vaccine Woes

Last month, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett delivered an order in Klaassen v. Trustees of Indiana University that permitted the latter to require all students be vaccinated against COVID-19. The judgment could have a ripple effect across the world of college sports in a climate where the reopening of schools and mask mandates have already polarized the nation. The eight students in the Indiana University case argued that the school’s vaccine requirement violates their 14th Amendment rights, even though a lower court had previously ruled against them. Hundreds of colleges across the U.S. now have similar vaccination mandates.

Systemic Racism?

But vaccines and money aren’t the only things over which students are battling the NCAA. Last December, students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) filed a class-action lawsuit against the body, alleging unfair penalization in its Academic Performance Program (APP). Under the program — designed to improve academic performance among student-athletes — the NCAA rewards schools with high scores. But the plaintiffs are arguing that the APP ignores the fact that HBCUs enroll low-income, at-risk students who are disadvantaged academically because of historic discrimination. The APP, by holding HBCUs to the same standards as students at mostly white institutions, “perpetuates a system that punishes Black student-athletes at HBCUs,” they say.

Title IX

This summer, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights affirmed that Title IX will now be enforced against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as an interpretation of Bostock v. Clayton County, a landmark civil rights case involving a wrongful dismissal on the basis of sexual orientation. As schools reopen, the federal government’s decision could be critical in addressing continuing discrimination against LGBTQ college athletes. For its part, the NCAA has now pledged not to hold events in states that are not welcoming to transgender athletes.

Louisiana v Texas

Life on Campus for Athletes

Different Admissions Standards

Yet student-athletes aren’t always victims. They can also be beneficiaries of unequal standards on campus. In 2019, Stanford fired its head sailing coach for accepting bribes to help certain students gain admission by naming them as recruits, a scandal detailed in a recent Netflix documentary. The so-called “special admits” are held to different academic standards, including lower SAT/ACT scores and GPAs, a practice that has been described by critics as the “original sin of college sports.” At the University of Pennsylvania, students for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle were not required to submit standardized test scores . . . but recruited athletes were, as required by Ivy League policies. Could this be a mechanism for leveling the playing field between special admits and students?

Easier Majors?

College athletes at Division I schools, especially those who rely on sports for income, are often pushed toward less onerous majors to accommodate their rigorous training and game schedules. It’s called “clustering” — when 25% or more of a single team enrolls in the same major. At the University of Oregon, for instance, athletes cluster in the social sciences. At the University of California Los Angeles, they pick history. In a survey of more than 600 college athletes at schools in the Big Ten Conference and other sports powerhouses, researcher Amanda Paule-Koba at Bowling Green State University in Ohio found that 30% of the students were not pursuing majors that aligned with their interests or career goals.

Is It a Myth?

Is it possible to be a student and an athlete at a top school? Schools have long cultivated the myth of amateurism to justify not paying athletes. But the challenges of being a student at an academically oriented school can cut both ways. Data from Harvard’s class of 2020 revealed that 1 in 4 athletes left their sport while at the university for reasons ranging from mental health concerns and injuries to a loss of interest in their chosen athletic field. In 2016, Brown University revealed that roughly one-third of their students quit their sport.

Beats an On-Campus Job!

Most students earn minimum wage for on-campus jobs. But not Quinn Ewers of Ohio State football. He’s earning $1.5 million for his contributions to the team thanks to the recent Supreme Court ruling on student-athletes. Ewers was initially the top high school prospect in the recruiting class for 2022, but he decided to skip his senior year and join the class of 2021 to bypass a Texas law blocking high school athletes from making money from their sport. The quarterback has signed deals with a beverage company and car dealership. 

Louisiana v Texas

Rethinking Sports in Schools

Mental Health

Like in professional sports, mental health among college athletes is finally taking center stage as a subject of research and debate. Though student-athletes are less likely to commit suicide than the general population or other undergraduates, a 2020 survey of NCAA players found a pandemic-spawned crisis. Reports of mental health concerns were 150% to 250% higher than in previous survey years. When it comes to student-athletes, males are more at risk of suicide than females, and Black athletes are more vulnerable than their white counterparts. The highest suicide rates are among male football players.

Is Wellness the Way?

In 2012, Spelman College, the Atlanta-based, all-women HBCU, decided to disband its sports teams and reinvest that money into wellness programs, from mental health counseling to Zumba. The college of 2,200 students had only about 80 athletes when the decision was made, but the athletics budget was $900,000 — funds that are now being directed at the entire student body. With the pandemic forcing schools to drastically cut costs amid deepening mental health concerns, some experts are calling for Spelman’s model to be embraced by more universities and colleges — especially since a majority of athletic programs fail to generate significant fan interest despite heavy investments.

Foreign Focus

International students increasingly constitute a significant chunk of students on campus, with Canada the leading source of Division 1 athletes and tennis the most popular college sport among them. In 2019, nearly 13% of male college athletes were international students. Unfortunately, student visa stipulations prevent international student-athletes from profiting off their likeness as their American peers can. Some lawmakers are trying to change that. One idea is to make it easier for international students to get a professional visa instead of a student one, which would allow them to make money during their collegiate career.

Year of the HBCU

More and more recruits are opting for HBCUs over traditional sports powerhouses. They want to “make the HBCU movement real,” says Makur Maker, a former basketball recruit at Howard University and the only five-star player to choose an HBCU. Maker, who now plays professionally in Australia, hopes that his choosing of Howard University will inspire other young Black athletes to do the same. With his sights set on the NBA, he will take a road rarely traveled if he makes it: There are only two HBCU alumni playing in the NBA today.

Who Are the Highest-Paid Public Workers in America?

Sports money makes the world go round. 

Just ask LeBron James, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo and many other athletes around the world whose annual net worth is beyond the wildest dreams of most of us. But even beneath that pantheon of superstar athletes, other sportspeople are raking in huge sums. That roster includes college coaches who nurture many talents to stardom.

According to data analyzed by GOBankingRates, head football coaches, closely followed by basketball coaches, have been easily racking up seven-figure salaries over the last couple of years. 

In fact, coaches at state-funded colleges are America’s highest-paid public workers, pocketing far more than tenured college professors or even governors. 

Ed Orgeron, head football coach at Louisiana State University, earns $14 million annually, 30 times more than governor John Bel Edwards’ $130,000. Over in South Carolina, the disparity is even more pronounced as Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney takes home $9.3 million every year in comparison to Governor Henry McMaster’s relatively measly $106,100. By contrast, tenured professors in the U.S. typically make between $120,000 and $145,000 annually. 

Some head coaches also get to fly on private jets and benefit from fat buyout or severance clauses. During the 2015-16 season, the Ohio State University (OSU) Athletic Department spent $166.8 million. Approximately a fifth of that went to coaching benefits, including more than $6 million to Urban Meyer, coach of its Buckeyes football team. Not even pay cuts during the pandemic particularly dented the earnings of coaches. 

For years, controversy has dogged these bizarrely high salaries. Just before the pandemic, Congresswoman Donna Shalala of Florida introduced federal legislation to cap earnings. “I’m mortified at these salaries,” she said. “We have not been able to slow spending or expenditures.”

It’s an artificial marketplace.

Andrew Zimbalist, economics professor, Smith College

Yet experts say the high wages are purely down to economics. Highly qualified college coaches are in short supply — partly because they are often snapped up by professional sides — even though demand is high, especially down South where college sports are the main local entertainment in the absence of major professional sports teams. 

“It’s an artificial marketplace,” says Andrew Zimbalist, professor of economics at Smith College. “You have an athletic director who has one objective, which is to win. There are only stakeholders who want victory, not stockholders who want profit.”

It’s also been argued that sports teams generate funding for colleges from merchandising, ticket sales and an increase in enrollment numbers as the teams win trophies. This revenue generated from football and basketball helps fund less popular sports. 

Overall, athletics departments of NCAA member colleges generated $18.9 billion in revenue in 2019.

But while coaches earn so much, athletes have historically been paid nothing. Until this summer, when a landmark Supreme Court ruling opened up new avenues of revenue for college athletes by permitting them to earn from name, image and likeness (NIL) rights, athletes earned no salaries but got scholarships instead.

It is too early to tell if the new law will translate into college athletes out-earning their mentors, as is the case with most professional sports. For now though, the coach is king. 

Back to School, Ready or Not

Putting aside the medical world, has any aspect of life been as dramatically affected by the pandemic as schooling? Now, after 18 months of hybrid teaching, endless hand-washing and mind-numbing headaches for parents and teachers alike, classrooms are beginning to reopen en masse across America.

But as they do, the dynamics around what that ought to look like are shifting — again. Some districts are mandating masks for children riding the school bus, but not while they’re in class. In parts of the country, Republican-dominated state legislatures are threatening to withhold pay for school administrators who insist that students mask up. Anger is mounting on many sides as political ideologies, poor planning, and new policies pit parents against schools and local authorities. Read on for our deep dive into the state of play — plus the creative solutions these unique times are forcing upon all involved.



This month, growing discontent among parents in California, Colorado and South Carolina devolved into public protests. In San Francisco, a city with one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the state, parents last week protested against school district authorities’ plans to return to in-person classes amid rising COVID-19 cases. The demonstrations were entirely different scenes from this past March, when hundreds of protesters, including children, thronged the city’s streets to call for a full reopening of schools. Meanwhile, officials nationwide are pressing ahead despite the probability of transmission of the delta variant at schools and despite parental nervousness about exposure.

Sleep Starvation

For some schools in Philadelphia and some cities in California, classes are now starting earlier than before, presenting a new set of logistical challenges to students and parents: Will the new commute times mean more traffic on California’s already gridlocked streets? Can children learn properly if they’re sleep-deprived? According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, more than two-thirds of American middle- and high-schoolers are already not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. Mental health experts warn that an erratic sleep schedule could lead to an increased risk of depression and other psychiatric disorders. San Francisco parent of three Sacha Xavier says the new start times are also disrupting schedules for parents who are working longer hours compared to when they were office-bound. “With [school] start times starting earlier, I can’t move bedtime any earlier because we barely have enough time to shower, eat dinner and just spend quality time,” she tells OZY. “My kids literally have lost an entire hour . . . because they get up earlier but haven’t shifted their p.m. bedtime.”

Staff Shortage

The back-to-school season has also caught some schools napping. Many are facing acute bus driver staffing shortages due to the closure of vehicle licensing offices that has, in turn, resulted in a scarcity of licenses for new drivers. Years of budget cuts in school districts have made it more difficult to attract new teachers, and substitute teachers in a host of districts currently earn less than many fast-food restaurant employees. In Pittsburgh, public school officials have told almost a thousand students they might have to walk to class after already delaying the start of the school year because of a bus driver shortage. School administrators in Kentucky also say teachers have left the profession due to the increased workload caused by the pandemic. New research suggests that 1 in 4 teachers are thinking about quitting due to higher stress levels and general dissatisfaction with their job.

Bonus Opportunity

They say every cloud has a silver lining, and the severe shortage of drivers has turned out to be a blessing in disguise — for the drivers. In states like Vermont and Connecticut, bus drivers are being offered juicy bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 just for signing up. Other school employees are being urged to drive the routes in addition to their regular jobs. Things are so bad in Delaware that one school is offering parents $700 to chauffeur their child to and from class for a year. And for those with multiple children? A bonanza is afoot, as they get paid per child. According to Aaron Bass, head of the Wilmington, Delaware, EastSide Charter School, “We’ve been looking like crazy for everybody you can think of: janitors, cafeteria workers, psychologists, counselors, bus drivers.”




In the Buckeye State, Gov. Mike DeWine has made an about-face on a plan that would have seen the compulsory wearing of face masks in schools as they reopened last week. DeWine, whose hands are tied by a controversial new state law that overturns health-related restrictions such as mask mandates, has said the delta variant could pose a serious risk to returning students. Still, the Republican governor’s critics say his decision not to enforce a mask mandate is more political than practical, especially in a state where daily infections are rising and only 55% of Ohioans over the age of 12 are vaccinated. Democrat Nan Whaley, who is seeking to replace DeWine in the forthcoming primaries, was especially brutal, accusing the incumbent of being “Willing to let children get sick in order to win an election.”


In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott remains determined to punish schools that make masks compulsory. That is despite threats from President Joe Biden to overrule states positioning themselves against mask mandates and a Texas Supreme Court ruling this month that declined to block injunctions against the mask ban. Meanwhile, another legal effort by parents of children with disabilities is in place to challenge Abbott. Frustrated by his stance, the parents of at-risk children have dragged the Republican governor to court, citing a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. All 14 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are ineligible for vaccination because they are below the age of 12.

Defiance in Paris, Texas

While the lawsuit challenging Abbott’s actions is pending, several school districts are already acting in defiance of the mask ban. One in Paris, Texas, is circumventing the ban by adding masks to its mandatory uniform and claiming that its new dress code is backed by the Texas Education Code. Lawyers argue that under the code — a statewide law allowing school boards to oversee their own affairs — schools can mandate masks in the same way they can require students to wear certain types of shoes or clothing. “The Board believes the dress code can be used to mitigate communicable health issues,” it said in a statement.


But Texas is only one of seven states attempting to enforce a ban against mandatory masking, with Arkansas making the move as far back as April. “It is important to respect the individual decisions made by private businesses,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared at the time. How things have changed. Several weeks ago, Hutchinson publicly expressed his regret for banning masks. Now, having watched COVID-19 infections surge in his state, the governor is calling for an amendment to protect children heading back to class and has urged lawmakers to act quickly given the delta variant’s rampant spread.

Tokyo skyline at Night


Parents Unionize

One of the pandemic’s side effects has been to allow (some would say force) parents to find one another and work together in districts where schools are closed to in-person teaching. Groups like the San Francisco Parent Coalition have sprung up since last summer to help organize protests and picket school board meetings as a way to press for policy changes. The nonprofit coalition is devoted to securing funds for schools’ human resources and payroll support. Another issue that’s top of the group’s list is increasing enrollment in public schools after witnessing a decrease across 41 states that could translate to huge funding cuts.

California Cooking

What’s California’s recipe for keeping kids tuned into class amid the pandemic and for years to come? Handing out free lunches. In July, the state signed into law the universal school meals program, which will make food available for all 6 million public school students beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year, regardless of household income. The landmark decision was prompted in part by the fact that some public schools were used as food distribution sites for the needy at the height of the pandemic. Maine followed suit with a two-year budget for its own free meals program.

Vaccines for Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on School Health has recommended that children under 12 be vaccinated as soon as it is safe and possible. Currently, vaccine makers Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are conducting trials on kids ages 5 to 11. Pfizer suggests results could come in September, but Moderna is believed to be operating at a slower pace. The need to protect the youngest members of the population from the virus couldn’t be greater. Last week, over 3,000 public school students and staff in Brevard County, Florida, were forced to quarantine due to a surge in infections.


Zoom tended to dominate remote learning and work over the past 18 months, but for many schools in California, the homophonous “Zum” seems set to be the driving force for the post-pandemic school year. Also known as “Uber for kids,” Zum has been around since 2015, when it launched as a ride service for children of busy parents, before diversifying to include a dashboard service that allows parents to track rides and interact with one another. During the pandemic, it added laptop and lunch delivery to its list of services. And now that students are back, Zum has embedded contactless thermometers and plexiglass partitions in its vehicles and is working with over 4,000 schools and districts.

How ‘A Luta Continua’ Became a Rallying Slogan for Nigeria’s New Revolution

Eduardo Mondlane’s speech was as succinct as it was poignant. It was 1967, right in the middle of Mozambique’s guerrilla war against colonial Portuguese control, and the founding president of the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) was telling his countrymen why they needed to keep fighting after three years of combat. When the war finally ended seven years later, Mondlane was long gone, assassinated by a parcel bomb. 

But one phrase lingered from his speech and came to represent the pursuit of freedom for his compatriots just as Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech did for African Americans. It was the rallying cry: “A luta continua; victoria ascerta,” Portuguese for “The struggle continues; victory is certain,” sometimes shortened to A luta continua. It was popularized by Mondlane’s successor and the independent country’s first president, Samora Machel, who chanted it during his speeches and marches. The phrase was the primary slogan of the fight for independence and is now cemented not just in Mozambican history and pop culture, but in movements across Africa. Today, the hashtag #alutacontinua accompanies posts supporting the Nigerian youth movement to abolish SARS, the country’s widely despised special police force.

In 1972, it was introduced to the rest of the world after the international release of A Luta Continua, a film chronicling the chutzpah of the FRELIMO guerrilla units and their dedication to its nationalist philosophy under Machel’s leadership. Its director was an African American lawyer named Robert Van Lierop, who had roots in the tiny Caribbean country of Suriname and was part of the NAACP in the ’60s.

“Comrade Machel represented an idea … the idea of total liberation, and freedom, the idea of peace and liberty, the idea of pursuit of happiness and justice, the idea of the will of sovereignty of the people,” says Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who has used the phrase in his own speeches.

Les soldats du Frelimo accueillis par les villageois de Lourenco-Marques

FRELIMO soldiers greeted by villagers in Lourenco-Marques, Mozambique, on Sept. 15, 1974.

Source Getty

For Mozambicans, taking the language of their colonial oppressor and weaponizing it in their march for independence came naturally. Perhaps because it had been passed down by leaders who understood the significance of engaging the adversary in their own language, the phrase stuck. After the independence ceremony in 1975, South African songstress and human rights activist Miriam Makeba began performing “A Luta Continua,” a song written by her daughter who also composed songs about Patrice Lumumba and Malcolm X. 

And then the phrase took on a life of its own. For years after Machel’s death, FRELIMO members still called each other “comrade,” and “A Luta Continua” became a popular mantra. Both expressions have since been adopted as part of the resistance movement by students on African campuses and other activists decrying the injustice meted out by military dictatorships in their respective countries in the ’80s and ’90s.

“It was exotica to lots of students who shouted ‘A luta’ before they knew its meaning,” says Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission. “The idea of struggle of course had ideological and generational appeal.” It would go on to be used by more movements in the coming years, including Nigerian students and labor activists protesting the annulment of the 1993 presidential elections as well as South African students during the 2015 #FeesMustFall protests. In 2011, Kenyan LGBTQ activists wore it to show solidarity after one of their own was bludgeoned to death earlier that year.

Machel died in a 1986 plane crash in nearby South Africa, an incident widely believed to have been an act of sabotage by the country’s apartheid government. But “A luta continua” itself continues to rally activist groups, having long outlived the men who made it famous.

Is It Portugal’s Turn to Gain ‘Freedom’ From Angola?

  • Forty-five years after Angola gained independence from Portugal, the tables have turned. Angolan investors now run many of Portugal’s major businesses.
  • With a new regime in Angola, those ties might come undone. Is it Portugal’s turn to gain economic independence?

José Eduardo dos Santos’ State of the Union address to Angola’s Parliament in October 2013 included a shocker: Trade with former colonial master Portugal — for which the country remains the fourth-largest export destination — would be stopped, the then president threatened. “There have been misunderstandings at the highest level of the state, and the current political climate does not encourage the implementation of the previously announced strategic partnerships,” dos Santos said. 

The presidential rebuke was prompted by Portuguese investigations into financial dealings of the Angolan elite, including members of dos Santos’ family. It didn’t help that Portugal’s foreign affairs minister, Rui Machete, had publicly withdrawn his apology to dos Santos under pressure from the Portuguese public. And Luanda was willing to flex its muscles, aware of the economic lifeline it provided to Lisbon. Relations improved. Today, Angola and Portugal are witnessing a remarkable turnaround in their relationship, 45 years after the Central African state gained independence following 400 years of colonial rule.


Pedestrians walk past a Millennium BCP branch in Lisbon.


Angola’s economy grew from a state of chaos to stability in the years following the 2002 end of the country’s civil war, expanding by more than 8 percent in 2012. Around the same time, the Portuguese economy was smarting from the eurozone crisis.

So when Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho went hand in hand to beg the Angolan presidency in 2011 to invest in its privatization program, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, brimming with Chinese investments and billions of petrodollars in revenue, rose to the occasion.

In Angola, they call Portugal ‘the laundromat.’

Ana Gomes, former member of the European Parliament

Angola’s elite began investing in Portugal — while the latter’s middle and lower class increasingly started migrating to the former colony for work and business opportunities. Ties between the elite of both countries go back many years “to the time some were in the same schools or got to know each other in the formative years,” says Carlos Lopes, a professor at the University of Cape Town and a former executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

For a decade now, Angola’s state oil corporation, Sonangol, has been a major shareholder in Millennium BCP, Portugal’s second-largest bank by assets. A third of the popular soccer team Sporting Lisbon is in the portfolio of Luanda-based holding company Holdimo.

Portugal’s Golden Visa program, which awards residency to non-EU citizens after investments upward of 350,000 euros ($415,000), has also lured many Angolan oligarchs and politicians to spend — and launder — money in Lisbon. “In Angola, they call Portugal ‘the laundromat,’” Ana Gomes, a Portuguese diplomat and former member of the European Parliament, says wryly.

The most influential of them remains Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s billionaire daughter who chaired Sonangol for almost two years until she was fired by her father’s successor, João Lourenço, for corruption. In 2015, she acquired a 65 percent stake in Portuguese power corporation Efacec for 200 million euros ($236 million). According to the Luanda Leaks investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists earlier this year, she is also part owner of Portuguese bank EuroBic and holds significant interests in the country’s telecommunications and real estate sectors. 

The new relationship between Angola and Portugal hasn’t always been smooth. When oil prices plummeted in 2014, causing the Angolan economy to contract for a few years, the heat was felt 3,600 miles away in Portuguese households whose breadwinners were affected by the economic fluctuations.

The combination of reduced oil prices, limited access to credit and the crisis surrounding Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht — the company at the heart of Latin America’s infamous Operation Car Wash scandal was also a major public works firm in Angola — was a “rude awakening” for Angola, says Lopes, who grew up in Guinea-Bissau, another former Portuguese colony. It has led to a fiscal deficit and has eroded the purchasing power of the Angolan kwanza, he says.

When Isabel dos Santos’ accounts in Lisbon were frozen earlier this year as part of investigations by the Lourenço administration, that also created a ripple effect. Angolans are now divesting many of their shares in key Portuguese corporations. “There is no appetite in the current regime in Luanda to pursue the approaches of the past,” Lopes says.

That shift could potentially hurt both economies. But decades after Angola gained political independence, the transition could perhaps grant Portugal financial independence from its former colony.

The Biggest Challenge for Apple and Spotify in North Africa: YouTube

  • As the streaming services enter the region, they’re up against an older giant — YouTube — which cultivated North Africa when others ignored it.
  • A very visual culture and better mobile data connectivity also help YouTube over its rivals in the area.

Beirut-based music streaming service Anghami was founded by necessity, as many startups often are. After struggling to play music while vacationing at a Lebanese ski resort in 2010 — iTunes was unavailable in the country then — founder Eddy Maroun raised funding to build a solution. Tailor-made for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, it has amassed exclusive rights to titles from prominent musicians and signed deals with mobile operators. By 2019, it had crossed 60 million mobile downloads, with 21 million monthly active users and 1 million paying subscribers.

Anghami’s success points to the massive potential of the North African market, which is frequently excluded from African music charts and discussions, even as sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) remains the darling of Western music industry stakeholders. It was only in 2018 that Spotify and Deezer launched operations in North Africa, within months of each other. This April, Apple Music came to Tunisia and Algeria. But while they’re now focusing on the region, they have a long way to catch up with the one global player that beat them all to the region — YouTube, which has served North Africa since its birth in 2005.

North Africans are a very visual people.

Titilope Adesanya, head of West African operations, Africori

Across the continent, the newcomers continue to be dwarfed by the heights that streaming giant YouTube has hit in North Africa. In 2015, Moroccan pop singer Saad Lamjarred entered the Guinness Book of World Records with his song “Lm3allem,” which became the most viewed Arabic video on YouTube after garnering over 500 million views in three months; it has 841.7 million views as of July 2020. His duet with Egyptian singer Mohammed Ramadan, released four years on, racked up 100 million views in a month — numbers that American superstars dream of.

By contrast, no song from SSA has ever hit the 300 million mark. The closest, at 296.6 million, is “Magic in the Air” — and that involved a collaboration between Ivorian veterans Magic System and Moroccan singer Chawki and was released just in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It benefited from the global soccer rush and the name recognition of both parties, but still falls short of the glory of fully North African videos.

Titilope Adesanya, who oversees West African operations at Africori, a pan-African digital music distributor, says that “North Africans are a very visual people” who place a premium on visual delivery. “North Africans for the most part have better visuals than we do,” she says. “They’ve got structure and on YouTube they are knocking us out of the park.” 

The data backs her assertion: Middle East and North Africa residents consume 6 hours and 20 minutes of daily television on average, compared to 5 hours in, say, South Africa, according to data from Statista.

To be sure, the newcomers are trying to play catch up. Spotify, for instance, is offering educational classes to train artists to better promote their music to global audiences. But the loyalty to YouTube — built over years when others ignored the region — will be hard to break.

Where artists have long needed to liaise with streaming brands that weren’t available in the region to have their content pushed elsewhere, “they can just upload on YouTube themselves and their people will watch it,” explains Adesanya.

Karima Nayt, a Switzerland-based Algerian singer who grew up between her country and Egypt, says North Africa’s young population — the average age is 25 — helps attract them to YouTube, which has visual content. “Most of them are with smartphones so [are] automatically using YouTube as the easiest platform accessible to them. … Spotify and Apple Music aren’t used by [the] majority there.” It helps that 4G data penetration in North Africa and the Middle East is 62 percent, compared with just 34 percent in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the GSM Association, an industry body that represents mobile network operators globally. That makes it easier to stream videos on the phone in North Africa than in sub-Saharan Africa.

North Africans — even in the diaspora — remain attached to traditional music genres like chaabi, targui, andaloussi and raï, stresses Nayt. The region’s willingness to embrace its Arab heritage more than its African one means it’s only natural that young users prefer indigenous sounds — available on YouTube — to music from sub-Saharan Africa.

In other markets, Spotify and Apple Music have relied on their deep pockets to compete against local challengers. In North Africa, they’re up against a giant owned by tech titan Google — and one that catered to the region, when no one else would.

How K-Pop Is Conquering Algeria

  • The Korean pop wave is spreading in an unlikely new region: the deserts of Algeria.
  • It’s sparking a broader fascination with Korean culture in the North African nation.

On March 1, 2019, Algerians began pouring into the streets for a hirak (Arabic for “movement”) that forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president since 1999, to resign five weeks later. A large number of the demonstrators were young — 70 percent of the population is under the age of 30 — and they mobilized social media to make the campaign viral and tackle misinformation. They used placards that encapsulated the frustrations of the millennials while simultaneously highlighting the rise of K-pop in a part of the world with its own, very special musical forms.

The placards used lyrics from BTS (Bangtan Boys), a seven-man group whose popularity has exploded around the world in the last decade as a culmination of hallyu, the Korean wave of soft power that’s been wafting from Seoul since the ’90s. Earlier this year, the band donated $1 million to the Black Lives Matter movement, following in the footsteps of their global fan network that has actively supported political and human rights causes across the world, from police brutality in Chile to racism in the U.S.

In Algeria, the genre has inspired such ardent fandom that young people now dress like K-pop stars and incorporate Korean phrases into their everyday speech. Two years ago, a crowd of young people celebrated the 22nd birthday of BTS vocalist Kim Tae-hyung, singing and waving their phones in the dark. Last year, the BTS Army — as the fanbase calls itself — customized balloons and raised a billboard at a busy mall in Algiers to celebrate the birthday of Park Ji-min, another BTS member. Last year, the South Korean Embassy in Algiers organized a K-pop “world festival” with singing and dancing competitions that it claimed took place in almost 100 countries worldwide. 

Fadhela Manar Mezmaz, the 22-year-old spokesperson for the BTS Algeria team, tells OZY that the hallyu wave in the country began around 2008 when Algeria’s national TV started airing Korean TV dramas and series like 대장금 (Jewel in the Palace) and My Lovely Sam Soon. Then came “Gangnam Style,” the 2012 megahit by the quirky rapper Psy.

Nowadays, it’s common to find someone [in Algeria] with Korean added to their résumé.

Fadhela Manar Mezmaz, spokesperson, BTS Algeria

Jewel in the Palace, a 15th century historical romance about a chef working for the royal family who becomes a beloved physician, was such a hit in Asia that Chinese President Hu Jintao became a fan. “It’s a pity that I cannot watch Daejanggeum [the show’s Korean title] every day because I am so busy,” Jintao is reported to have told his counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, during an August 2018 visit to Seoul.

In North Africa, Mezmaz says, “it resulted in piquing interest in Korean culture in general, and eventually people got introduced to K-pop music.” These days, networks like state-owned Arirang TV and KBS World that broadcast from Seoul to an overseas audience are a common fixture on TV stations in Algiers. More Algerians are also curious about Korean hairstyles, fashion, food, makeup and beauty standards.

“There’s a demand for language schools with Korean courses,” says Mezmaz. “The fans want to cross the language barrier with their artists and be able to easily communicate and support them. Nowadays, it’s common to find someone with Korean added to their résumé.”

The youngsters have also tapped into the global fanbase, supporting K-pop ’stans — as obsessive fans of the genre are called — elsewhere in the world. Online, they host streaming parties and come together to fight xenophobia and any discrimination their favorites face. Offline, they organize charity and volunteer projects, and arrange group orders for physical albums and merchandise. 

A five-man squad consisting of members between the ages of 17 to 28 handles content for the BTS Algeria social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Their hope is that after the pandemic, the pop stars can have a concert in the North African country.

“The fandom is known for its infinite dedication to the boys,” says Mezmaz. “They use their voice to shine inspiration and hope, and our role is to assist them in delivering their positivity and break barriers.”

After Playing So Many Roles, Who Is the Real Tatiana Maslany?

Emmy Award–winning actor Tatiana Maslany was the most recent guest on The Carlos Watson Show. The Los Angeles–based Canadian discussed, among other things, life during quarantine and her masterful performance on the TV series Orphan Black (Maslany played 14 different characters). Below are excerpts from the hourlong conversation.

Joining the Protests

Carlos Watson: Did you consider going anywhere else at any point [during the pandemic] versus being in Los Angeles?

Tatiana Maslany: Yeah. I mean, I’m Canadian, so when this all kicked off, I kind of ran back to Canada.… I thought it was going to be like two weeks. And then as the months wore on, I was like, “I need to change the scene.” It’s so intense to be anywhere, really. I feel like we’re going to be processing this time for so long afterward. I feel like it requires a bit of space, which is hard to get any perspective right now because we’re all in the same thing in so many ways.

Watson: I think it’s interesting that you say that. I think it’ll take a long time to get full perspective. Have you been very involved in some of the protests?

Maslany: I did. So when I got back from Canada, I was quarantined for two weeks and that’s when everything started to really happen in terms of people actually getting in the streets or more getting in the streets. There’s a lot of demonstrations that were happening in LA for years that I didn’t know about until all of this. And every Wednesday, there’s a movement down at City Hall, and it’s baffling to me how little I knew before all of this. When I got back, everything had just started happening in terms of people speaking out on police brutality and Black Lives Matter. And so as soon as I was done with quarantine, I was out trying to be part of it and be there physically. It felt really important to do.

Redefining Identity

Watson: Do you feel like you’ve changed very much over the last six months in any way?

Maslany: I mean, massively so. I feel like COVID and quarantine stripped away from me a lot of the context by which I reflected back who I was. So social interactions, going out with friends, being free, just moving through the world the way that I did, taking things for granted. But all of these things were such markers of my identity, my career, all of it being such a huge part of just who I defined myself as. So having all of that stripped away was a really interesting revelation in terms of like, what’s left? What is there after all of that context is removed? So in that way, I think I’m learning huge things. I don’t know how I’ve changed from it, but I know I’m learning stuff. And then in terms of just baseline, my privilege as a white woman, to move through the world with the freedom that I so took for granted and with all of the luxuries that I took for granted and all of the privilege and all of the spaces that were mine to occupy, I am massively coming to terms with that and learning about that.

I think that’s life work. As I’ve been reading, that’s for the rest of your life kind of stuff that you have to incorporate and continue to analyze and to re-remember and refocus on.

The Term ‘Actress’

Watson: Which actors and actresses do you admire? And do you use the word “actress”?

Maslany: I don’t for some reason. And I don’t … I think it’s slightly political, slightly a move just to … I always get weirded out when somebody’s like, “a female director.” I’m like, “Or maybe just a director.” You know what I mean? And there’s this … I remember doing improv as a kid and they were like, “This is girl-prov because it’s a girl’s team.” There’s always this thing attached to it as if the default is not female. Do you know what I mean?

Watson: Yep.

Maslany: So, I do say “actors.” And some of the ones that I look up to the most … A Woman Under the Influence was the biggest influence to me in terms of acting. And Gena Rowlands in that movie specifically. I think I saw it when I was 20 and just realized what potential this art form has in terms of freedom and expression and connection and the ability to be so many things at the same time. This limitless freedom that it feels like I can feel in her performance there. I was like, “Ah, I want that. That’s the thing I want.”

Dealing With Rejection

Watson: So why do you think you broke through? 

Maslany: I don’t know. It must’ve been a combo of getting used to rejection but then also not taking it as rejection. I really experienced this when I was working, I did Network on Broadway a year or two years ago now. I went to an understudy rehearsal, which is where they basically go up onstage and all of the understudies play all of the parts as if it was a live performance. So all the music cues, the costumes, the everything. I watched my understudy, Nicole Villamil, sorry, do the performance.

I remember just being like, “Oh, no one part should ever be played by one person. There’s no correct way to play any part and I’m learning so much watching her do this because she’s bringing stuff that she knows to this character that I don’t know yet.” 

Identity Crisis

Watson: How did you feel when [Orphan Black] came to an end? Was that relief, disappointment, surprise? Where were you when the show ended?

Maslany: I mean, similarly, pulled from my context, because so much of the five years of working on a show, that’s your family, that’s the people you see the most. That’s the focus throughout the year, even when you’re not filming, because I’m promoting it or I’m talking about it or whatever it is. So, it was massively connected to my identity and to who I was, and to the fact that I could walk into a room being like, “I’m on this show.” Not even saying that, but just knowing that I’m on a show, OK. You know what I mean? Like that kind of self-worth that comes from that. So when it was gone, I was like, “I don’t know who I am. I don’t know that I have any value anymore. What is anything? What’s going to be the next thing that means that much to me?” Because it meant so much. So, it was a real shock to the system.

Unusual Celeb Crush

Watson: Most embarrassing thing you’ve never told anyone?

Maslany: I feel I’ve told everybody all the embarrassing things. Most embarrassing thing that I’ve never told anyone? There’s nothing I haven’t told them. I haven’t told you that I have a crush on Rick Moranis. I didn’t tell you that, but I’ve told other people that. So that’s not embarrassing.

Dog Days

Watson: Your most unusual celebrity friendship?

Maslany: Here’s a weird one. Amy Schumer named her dog Tatiana Maslany, so that’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to me. That’s the weirdest thing. It’s right there. That’s the one.

Watson: Wait, are you guys friends? Or how did she end up doing that?

Maslany: I guess she was a fan of Orphan Black. So I don’t know. We once were staying in the same hotel and she and Tatiana Maslany the dog came to my hotel room and we had some wine. And the dog pooped on the floor. So it was a great night … I’ll send you a photo.