The pandemic surged past the grim milestone of 2 million worldwide fatalities yesterday — barely a year after the first virus outbreak reports emerged from Wuhan, China. The most populous and richest nations have been hit the worst, with India today launching the world’s largest vaccination drive and American President-elect Joe Biden pledging to mobilize federal resources to speed lackluster inoculation efforts as a new strain promises to amp up COVID-19’s spread. But as with all unfathomable realities, many still refuse to even acknowledge the killer virus, noted an overwhelmed Mexico City paramedic, saying he and his colleagues understand “that this is not a game, that this really exists.”
Is it going to get better? President-elect Biden is constitutionally scheduled to become the 46th U.S. chief executive at noon on Wednesday. But unlike his predecessors, he will do so under the protection of some 20,000 National Guard troops. That’s because millions of Americans still believe the Nov. 3 election was “stolen.” That’s bred extremism that precipitated the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack and threatens further violence on Inauguration Day, thanks to President Donald Trump’s repeated falsehoods, amplified by social media. Biden will oversee a nation where “you've got to do something to limit misinformation spread,” OZY CEO Carlos Watson told CNBC yesterday. “I don't think you can hide behind free speech.”
You Be the Judge: Is America’s two-party system working? Take OZY’s short survey and find out the results on a live Inauguration Day special edition of The Carlos Watson Show.
3. Uighur Offers Rare Glimpse of Life Inside China’s Camps
Gulbahar Haitiwaji was fortunate. She escaped her native Xinjiang region in 2006, before the Chinese began rounding up her fellow Uighurs. A resident of France, Haitiwaji was compelled to return to China to sign retirement papers for her Chinese employer. What followed was an “education” facility where “teachers” would slap inmates for “praying” — sometimes just closing one’s eyes from exhaustion — and other torture. Haitiwaji provided the Guardian with a rare look at camps estimated to contain more than 1 million mainly Muslim-minority Chinese. She was released, in 2019, only after she submitted and mouthed the appropriate words to satisfy her captors.
Across the country, states have backed away from the death penalty, executing seven convicts in 2020 — the fewest since 1983. But in keeping with his far-right ethos, President Trump has made a point of ending an informal 17-year federal capital punishment moratorium, allowing a dozen executions since July. This morning, with only five days left in office, Trump can take credit for one more death: Dustin Higgs was present during a 1996 triple murder, for which the gunman received life in prison. In a final statement, Higgs professed his innocence: “I did not order the murders.”
We Want to Hear From You: After the success of The Carlos Watson Show's first ever livestream, featuring OZY readers, we're back for more. If you'd like to join Carlos and friends LIVE on Wednesday for the post-inauguration show, fill out this application and a producer might be in touch.
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It may have simply been something to do. Living in a school bus, unemployed upstate New York grocery worker Brendan Fellows, 26, climbed a wall of the Capitol and thought, “I’m not missing this, this is history.” After meeting a Bloomberg reporter at President Trump’s speech, Fellows shared his story, corroborated by videos he posted to Snapchat. He describes cordial chats with Capitol Police and putting his feet up on a senator’s desk and feeling like he wasn’t going to get into trouble. Crediting Trump with starting the movement, Fellows believes “we started something even bigger with this.”
Even scientists don’t like to talk about it. That’s because there are a whole range of issues that come up when children, who are suffering greatly from lockdowns and being kept from school, are blamed for the spread of COVID-19. But research underway in Austria found in November that every third to fourth classroom had an infected student without so much as a runny nose, while researchers in England have found that kids are getting the new variant, B.1.1.7, even faster than adults. Experts say that may be what was always happening, but the truth was too inconvenient to hear.
Is this the end of a beautiful friendship? Supporters of President-elect Biden may expect a tearful reunion at the next NATO summit. But after President Trump battered the trans-Atlantic love fest, Europe may have found itself, OZY’s Butterfly Effect column observes. Or at least it found China, with which the EU just signed a trade pact that Biden’s aides opposed. And France is similarly selling weapons to Egypt with no human rights strings attached. After Trumpian estrangement, the Continent is seeking an open marriage, and Biden will need to adjust America’s new role — or mournfully listen to "As Time Goes By."
Take a deep breath, and relax. The world is filled with misfortune, but you control your destiny — inevitably leading to the mysterious Q and his QAnon followers. Cosmopolitan reports that an alarming number of the Trumpist misinformation cult's members were recruited via posts on wellness sites. It starts with questioning pandemic statistics, and offers an increasingly intoxicating mix when the “truth is scary as hell,” says one woman who got sucked in. But there’s hope: Friends have pulled devotees away and onto support threads on Reddit. But now boasting two Q-quoting members of Congress, experts say the movement “is going to get worse before it gets better.”
For the haters, he’s the mutant who survives Armageddon. But Tom Brady, arguably the GOAT among quarterbacks, has put his glory days with New England behind him and whipped an uneven Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an 11-5 season and into the playoffs. This weekend, he’ll face a worthy opponent: New Orleans’ veteran QB Drew Brees, 42, whose Saints will duel for divisional primacy over the NFC South. The 43-year-old Brady completes a new statistical anomaly: The first NFL playoff led by two men in their 40s. Win or lose, expect Brady to survive to break new records, perhaps even collecting a seventh Super Bowl trophy.
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