Moscow warned Washington not to “play with fire” and promised to reciprocate after President Joe Biden’s administration imposed sanctions yesterday over the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny last year. The U.S. froze the assets of seven senior officials, including the head of an intelligence agency, and blacklisted 14 entities, saying it had evidence that Russian intelligence was behind Navalny’s poisoning. However, no sanctions were leveled at President Vladimir Putin. Last week the U.S. also held back from imposing direct sanctions on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the operation that killed Jamal Khashoggi.
Attorney General Christian Porter admitted today that he is the Cabinet member at the center of a historical rape accusation after reports last week that Prime Minister Scott Morrison received a letter accusing an unnamed minister of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988. The woman committed suicide last year. Porter called a press conference to say she had been a friend at school, but the incident never happened, adding he would not step down. It’s the second recent rape scandal in Australian politics after a staffer said she’d been raped by a Parliament House colleague in 2019.
Despite health authorities’ fears of a new wave of infections brought on by COVID-19 variants, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott yesterday announced that mask requirements and business occupancy limits would be lifted March 10. Abbott, who’s been criticized by fellow Republicans for the restrictions, said lifting them “does not end personal responsibility.” Meanwhile, country music icon Dolly Parton received a dose of the Moderna vaccine she donated $1 million to help develop, singing “Vaccine” to the tune of “Jolene” and challenging fans, “Don't be such a chicken squat, get out there and get your shot.”
President Biden’s nominee for head of the Securities and Exchange Commission said he’ll try to eliminate “fraud and manipulation” from cryptocurrency markets, causing Bitcoin to fall 4 percent Tuesday. Although Gary Gensler is believed to favor cryptocurrencies, having lectured on the subject at MIT, he said the SEC should enforce investor protections. “Cryptocurrencies brought new thinking to payments but raised new issues of investor protection we still need to attend to,” Gensler told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing. Meanwhile, Biden has withdrawn his nomination of Neera Tanden for budget chief after signs she would not be confirmed.
At least a dozen people died after the packed SUV they were riding in pulled in front of a tractor-trailer near California’s Mexican border Tuesday. Ten rockets strucka U.S. coalition airbase in western Iraq Wednesday, though no significant losses were reported. And reggae legend Bunny Wailer, co-founder and last surviving member of the Wailers, has died at the age of 73.
Coronavirus Update: President Biden said Tuesday that there would be enough vaccine for “every adult in America by the end of May,” thanks in part to a new agreement under which the newly approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be manufactured by rival drugmaker Merck.
We Heard You! PDB reader David S. of Chicago responded to our question about Britain stripping citizenship from a young woman who traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State group as a teenager: “Shamima Begum should be allowed to return home to argue for restoration of her citizenship. Her actions at age 15 alone are not a sufficient basis to conclude that she poses a risk.”
This week on The Carlos Watson Show we're remembering The Rule Breakers — change-makers who break barriers and defy the odds. Today, meet the mischief-maker. It's impossible not to have a fascinating conversation with famed New Yorker writer and Revisionist History podcast host Malcolm Gladwell. He tells Carlos about his journey to intellectual superstardom — including how his famous "10,000-hour" rule applied to his own journey of mastering the craft of writing — and how he thinks America can start to work toward racial justice.
Ever dreamed of a lunar holiday? Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa is offering eight wannabe astronauts seats on a 2023 SpaceX voyage around the moon. The fashion mogul paid an undisclosed price for the trip, asking only that fellow passengers “help other people and greater society in some way.” Initially Maezawa advertised for a girlfriend to join his expedition, but despite tens of thousands of responses, he nixed the idea. If the voyage succeeds, the eccentric tycoon and his band of amateur spacefarers will be the first to visit the moon since the last Apollo mission in 1972.
What do you think? Will space travel soon become accessible to all, and not the preserve of the mega rich? Reply to this email, including your first name, last initial and city or state, and we may include your view in the PDB.
2. Rio Tinto Boss Steps Down, Offers Mea Culpa
Mining company chairman Simon Thompson will step down over “failings” that led to the destruction of ancient Aboriginal rock structures in Western Australia. Rio Tinto blew up the Juukan Gorge rock shelters last May, despite an archaeological survey saying the site had “the amazing potential to radically change our understanding of the earliest human behaviour in Australia.” Indigenous leaders welcomed Thompson’s resignation but said Rio Tinto should add an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander to its board. The company is also facing problems in the U.S. over a development involving Native American land in Arizona.
You could say his head was in the clouds. But Robert Ludvigoich Bartini’s brilliant mind was actually skimming the surface. Ahead of his time and largely unheralded in his adopted nation, the Soviet Union, Bartini designed extraordinary amphibious aircraft known as ekranoplans — including the tourist-attracting Caspian Sea Monster — using an aerodynamic phenomenon that still bears his name, OZY reports. Nearly 50 years after his death, forward-looking engineers are eyeing the Bartini Effect, seeing potential in ground-hugging flight to save energy for everyday needs like package delivery while taking a hop toward combating climate change.
We do not like them, Sam I Am. No, Green Eggs and Ham hasn’t been discontinued. But Dr. Seuss Enterprises, which controls the late Theodor Seuss Geisel’s work, announced yesterday that they’ll stop publishing some titles over racist images. On Beyond Zebra!, To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and four other books “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” including racist stereotypes of Asian and Black characters. Conservatives blamed “cancel culture,” and noted that President Biden omitted the beloved children’s author in a proclamation for Read Across America yesterday.
5. F1 Diversity Is Lewis Hamilton’s ‘Driving Force’
The race for racial equality should take priority over chasing trophies, the British Formula One star and seven-time world champion has said. Hamilton, the sport’s only Black driver, encouraged fellow racers to take the knee following George Floyd’s killing last year. However, he now says that’s not enough and there must be a broader focus on addressing inequality. “I don't think it's the most important thing that everyone goes and takes the knee,” Hamilton said. “I think it's more the action that we take in the background.”
We’re not quick to claim something is our favorite, so when we do, you know it’s something to look out for. Cariumas are our favorite sneakers. Not only do their sustainable, plant-based materials help give the planet a break, but their bold colors and comfortable fit will boost any outfit in your closet.