1. Record-Setting Wildfires Redden California Skies
Skies over San Francisco darkened to an apocalyptic orange as wildfires grew so large the smoke blotted out the sun. Three people have died in more than 85 major fires currently burning across the western U.S., and Washington state saw more acres burn in one day than it normally sees in a year, officials say. Even for those outside the blaze zone, the effects may be severe: A new federal report released this week found that climate change poses an extraordinary threat to U.S. financial markets. It recommended that carbon emissions carry fees and that banks undergo climate risk stress tests.
Newly released tapes of President Donald Trump’s February interviews with journalist Bob Woodward show he knew COVID-19 was airborne and far deadlier than the flu weeks before he claimed the virus, which has now killed 190,000 Americans, was “going to be fine.” Trump defended his comments by saying he’s “a cheerleader for this country.” A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that trust in health officials like the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci is dropping as the pandemic continues, though both are still more trusted than the president: Only 40 percent of Americans believe Trump’s information about the coronavirus is reliable.
3. US Official Claims Pressure to Downplay Russian Threats
Department of Homeland Security whistleblower Brian Murphy has come forward with allegations that agency leadership pushed him to downplay the severity of Russian threats to the 2020 election because it “made the president look bad.” Murphy, who’s been asked to testify before Congress this month, said he was also pressured to exaggerate links between immigration and terrorism and to downplay the threat of white supremacist violence to Americans’ safety. Meanwhile, Microsoft reportedly alerted a campaign strategy firm working with Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates that it had been targeted by Russian state-backed hackers.
Over the past year, a radical feminist movement sparked by the high rate of femicide in Mexico has defaced monuments and government buildings. But last week dozens of hooded women armed with paint stormed Mexico City’s national Human Rights Commission, claiming it as a shelter for victims and draping the building with posters of women who’ve disappeared or been killed. They say the government doesn’t care about their cases and ignores violence against women. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who himself occupied Mexico City’s main avenue to protest election results in 2006, decried the women for property damage.
Join Us: Imagine a new era in which all people have equal access to the future. This is why we bring you ASU+GSV Virtual Summit 2020 — free of charge. The summit will provide deep industry insights into the digital learning space, interactive networking opportunities and a star-studded group of speakers including Malcom Gladwell, Gloria Steinem, Bill Nye, Gen. Colin Powell and many more. Register for the event here.
OZY’s working on a new show, The Science of Dating, and you could be the perfect match. This groundbreaking new series will use scientific methods and experiments to help match compatible couples. We are currently looking for people who live in the Chicago area and are ready to get serious about settling down and finding their perfect match. We are looking for all types of people — from serial daters to newly divorced parents to people who have never been in love before. Interested? Fill out the application here.
The World Wildlife Fund’s new report on the planet’s animals says overall populations have declined 68 percent in just 50 years — and it blames humans alone for the devastation. The report warns that expansion into wildlife habitats isn’t just bad for animals, but also exacerbates climate change and encourages the development of pandemics like COVID-19, which often jump from animals to humans.Still, another new study suggests the 15 known extinctions since 1993 could have been a lot worse: An estimated 48 extinctions were prevented during that period by focused conservation efforts.
They're turning over an old leaf. As China advances control over areas like Hong Kong with strict security laws and police crackdowns, it’s also exerting soft power via … tea parties. China has used tea to forge new trade relationships and deals, and even pushed for the first International Tea Day to be recognized by the U.N., OZY reports. As a cultural symbol, tea is comparable to India’s global influence through yoga and China’s own panda diplomacy. Still, with the country’s domestic tea market expected to contract 10 percent due to the pandemic, it may be an oolong hard slog.
Take at your own risk. A new Ohio State University study suggests that acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol or Tylenol, causes users to feel more positive about risky activities like skydiving, bungee jumping or changing careers. Further studies show acetaminophen — the most common painkiller worldwide, with 1 in 4 Americans using it in any given week — can also reduce empathy and decrease hurt feelings. Researchers now worry that the drug, which is recommended to treat mild symptoms of the coronavirus, may encourage people to risk leaving the house and infecting others.
4. Affleck Film Sues Insurance Company Over Pandemic Policy
That’s show business. Filming on Ben Affleck’s action movie Hypnotic has been delayed by the pandemic — and now Chubb National, the company providing the production’s $58 million insurance, is refusing to extend its coverage, which expires next month, without a COVID-19 exclusion clause. The current policy covers the cast for illness or death, meaning Chubb would be liable if Affleck got coronavirus, but many insurers won’t issue new policies covering COVID-19. The production is suing for breach of contract, saying Hypnotic would likely need to be scrapped since moving forward without insurance would be impossible.
They’re taking their ball and going … anywhere else. The Americans have long dominated women’s soccer, but interest in the sport is growing in Europe, and in the last month four U.S. stars have decamped for English teams: Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis to Manchester City and Tobin Heath and Christen Press to Manchester United. That’s partly due to the pandemic: The hard-hit U.S. was forced to cancel its league’s regular season, while England’s kicked off last weekend. Though the players could return in 2021 ahead of the Olympics, the loss of marquee stars could strike a blow to U.S. women’s soccer fandom.