It’s been a whirlwind of a week, with the passing of the White House from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, fresh worries about the global vaccine rollout and a harrowing mine rescue ongoing in China. But we’re always keeping you a step ahead. Will Biden’s diplomacy fall flat in Africa? What is phenibut, and how can it kill you? This week’s Best of OZY answers all.
Daniel Malloy, Senior Editor
1. Phenibut Fears
It started as an anti-anxiety drug for Russian cosmonauts in the 1960s. Now phenibut is emerging as the latest drug to be widely abused in the U.S. — with significant side effects, even deaths. Often consumed as a party drug to lower inhibitions, it’s now resulting in hundreds of calls to poison control each year. And 13 percent of phenibut cases reported at health care facilities have life-threatening or disabling symptoms.
Are you ready for a new kind of marijuana magic? Meet cannabigerol, or CBG. New research shows the hard-to-extract compound carries the best qualities of CBD and THC — without the high. Now the race is on to extract CBG more efficiently so the burgeoning medical marijuana business can make more green. Some experts even say that within a cannabis pharma market that’s projected to hit $50 billion by 2025, CBG could become a kingpin.
They’re buzzing. A new breed of female baristas, roasters, judges and quality experts is coming to the fore in the Middle East, all of a sudden defining the coffee scene in the male-dominated region. These entrepreneurs are part of a push by regimes like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to diversify their economies away from oil and encourage more women in the workforce, if slightly. And we all know entrepreneurship runs on caffeine.
If you’re like us, you’ve gotten used to working from the comfort of home wrapped in cozy blankets and might dread the idea of putting on “real clothes.” With Outerknown’s Blanket Shirt, your problem is solved: It is rugged, sustainable and the coziest shirt ever. Don’t let its stylishness fool you: The Blanket Shirt can also stand up to the elements and function as an extra layer on chilly nights. And now its available in men’s and women’s!
Thanks to our friends at Outerknown, OZY readers get an exclusive 20 percent off with the code OKOZY.
Carlos turns the tables on his When Katty Met Carlos co-host, Katty Kay. The BBC World News America presenter shares stories from her nomadic childhood, which took her everywhere from Saudi Arabia to Japan, and reveals how her “nosiness” has helped her become the journalist she is today. But perhaps most important to her is her work helping women recognize their capability and shifting gender dynamics.
Asking the right questions has the power to dissolve the barriers to creative thinking, and channel the pursuit of solutions into new, accelerated pathways. A great question can ignite innovative thinking that is essential in our globalized, digitized and disruptive world. The six-week Inquiry-Driven Leadership online short course from the MIT Sloan School of Management teaches you to adopt a questioning approach to effectively identify and solve organizational problems.
Are you ready to unlock the power of catalytic questioning? Find out more about the program here.
1. Defusing the Bomb
Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and assassinated Gen. Qassem Soleimani, so many Iranians are likely relieved to see President Joe Biden’s arrival. But jumping back into the nuclear deal with a country that now has 12 times the amount of enriched uranium than it agreed to keep will be no easy task, writes former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin, an OZY columnist. More regional powers will want a seat at the table, hard-liners are on the rise in Tehran and there’s a presidential election looming in June — meaning Biden’s on the clock.
As he tries to mend ties with key corners of the globe, Biden will have to deal with substantial baggage in Africa, where the U.S. has hardly been a champion of democracy, writes Charu Sudan Kasturi, OZY’s senior editor based in Bangalore, India. In Africa, America’s closest allies include Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni — who just rigged his reelection — and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has also faced charges of corruption and election fraud. “Democracy has prevailed,” Biden declared in his inaugural speech on Wednesday after a trying transition. The question is whether he’ll apply that elsewhere.
Speaking of the inauguration, there was plenty of TV yakking about a peaceful transfer of power, but that didn’t mesh with reality, writes OZY editor-at-large and Fordham University professor Christina Greer. The attack on the Capitol two weeks before revealed the violence — often racially motivated — lurking in America for all to see. And for those who say the attack was “not who we are,” Greer asks: “Where have you been?”
“We locked and bolted doors and built a barricade with the desk. We could hear running above us but didn’t know if it was the good guys or the bad guys.” Lisa Quigley, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, shares a harrowing first-person tale of being in the Capitol complex on Jan. 6.
In all this tumult, now is the time for America to hit the reset button, writes OZY co-founder and editor-in-chief Carlos Watson. The next decade will be a time of great debates about everything from politics to love to robots, and OZY is committed to being a forum for the big ideas that will reshape our country and our world. How would you Reset America? Email Carlos and start the conversation.
Cymone Davis has a radical idea to revive a nearly forgotten rural Oklahoma town: an all-Black boarding school. The 30-year-old city manager and former school administrator is planning to build Kingdom Come International as a beacon to Black excellence and an homage to the history of Tullahassee, Oklahoma, the oldest all-Black town in Indian Territory — started in the mid-19th century by people who had been enslaved by the Creek Nation.
As we near the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced millions to work from home, leading to increased stress and a squeeze on leisure time — not to mention the added mental strain of a racial justice reckoning — we’re hitting an epidemic of burnout. Now a new suite of startups is sprouting with solutions. From helping companies identify burnout cues early so they can spring into action to a “mental health gym” that will connect you with therapy, these platforms are here to keep your flame from extinguishing.