Get your grills ready! That was President Joe Biden’s message when he addressed Americans last night, marking his first 50 days in office and the signing of his massive stimulus bill. He said by Independence Day vaccination levels should be high enough to hold celebrations, with all adults eligible for inoculation by May 1. It was a stark contrast from former President Donald Trump’s speech a year ago, when he downplayed the pandemic. Without mentioning Trump by name, Biden chastised mask skeptics and called for unity. Next week, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris hit the road to pitch their COVID relief package.
2. US Condemns China’s ‘Assault on Democracy’ in Hong Kong
One country, one system? U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned China Thursday for pushing sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, labeling it “an assault on democracy.” Beijing will now be able to veto candidates in the territory and has said only “patriots” should be allowed to govern there. Hong Kong was promised semi-autonomy when Britain returned it to China in 1997, but its freedoms have been constantly eroded, galvanizing a major protest movement and the arrests of dozens of opposition activists. Next week, U.S.-China relations will be tested at talks in Alaska.
3. Thailand Halts AstraZeneca Jab Over Clot Concerns
Today Thailand became the latest country to halt the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine over fears it can cause blood clots. Several EU countries, including Denmark and Norway, have already stopped its use, but Australia, France and Germany have said they’ll continue to use the jab. The European Medicines Agency raised concerns over 30 cases of blood clots reported among 5 million people who’ve so far received the shot in Europe. However, the EU says there’s no indication the vaccine increases the risk of blood coagulation and its benefits outweigh the risks.
4. South Korean Startup Becomes Largest IPO This Year
Not bad for a college dropout. Seoul-based e-commerce company Coupang, founded by Harvard dropout Bom Suk Kim, became 2021’s largest initial public offering in the U.S. on Thursday, raising $4.6 billion. Dubbed South Korea’s Amazon, Coupang joined the New York Stock Exchange as CPNG, and was briefly valued at $100 billion. It was the biggest Asian IPO in the U.S. since China’s Alibaba in 2014. The company is known for its same-day delivery service, but has come under criticism from labor advocates after several of its staff died from apparent overwork.
Coronavirus Update: The virus is surging in Brazil, with the country recording more than 2,000 deaths for a second day. Meanwhile, today India reported its biggest spike in cases in the past two months, with over 23,000 new infections.
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This week on The Carlos Watson Show we're highlighting the pioneers — industry titans who have changed their field and are blazing their own path. Today music superstar Jason Derulo describes his viral success and how the COVID lockdown and the rise of TikTok — plus walking away from his former record label — helped reignite his career in 2020. As he embarks on new ventures into TV, film and entrepreneurship, will he follow in the footsteps of his heroes Michael Jackson and Will Smith to earn true legend status?
Girls just wanna shoot guns? The U.S. military hit back at the Fox News host after he disparaged it for being too “feminine” while China’s army becomes “more masculine.” Carlson ridiculed President Biden over measures to retain female troops, saying, “We’ve got new hairstyles and maternity flight suits. Pregnant women are going to fight our wars. It’s a mockery of the U.S. military.” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby responded Thursday, saying, “What we absolutely won’t do is take personnel advice from a talk show host or the Chinese military,” adding that the diversity of America’s military is one of its greatest strengths.
2. Pakistan Court Bans ‘Immoral’ TikTok for Second Time
Pakistan has banned TikTok again over what a high court called “immoral content” that’s “unacceptable” for Pakistani society. Last year the country briefly blocked the Chinese video-sharing app, but relented when TikTok agreed to close accounts “repeatedly involved in spreading obscenity and immorality.” It’s unclear whether the latest ban is temporary or permanent. The platform is already blocked in neighboring India, where it had 167 million users, after a border dispute with China. In the U.S., the Trump administration tried to force TikTok to partner with American tech firm Oracle, a deal that has now stalled.
Should the Biden administration continue to push TikTok to partner with Oracle?Reply to this email, including your first name, last initial and city or state, and we may include your view in the PDB.
3. Girls Who Play With Thin Dolls Want ‘Barbie’ Bodies
It’s long been thought that unrealistic dolls could have a detrimental effect on young girls’ body image, but new research has revealed just how damaging toys can be. Researchers gave girls aged 5 to 9 ultrathin dolls to play with, asking them before and after what their ideal body size was. After playing with the dolls for just a few minutes, the children gave a significantly thinner ideal than before. A previous study went even further, finding that compared to children who played with other toys, girls who played with thin dolls thought their career opportunities were more limited.
4. Queen Bey Heads to Grammys as the Weeknd Boycotts
Beyoncé fans will be rooting for her BLM anthem “Black Parade” to win big at Sunday’s Grammys, while Canadian pop star the Weeknd has vowed to boycott after he was snubbed. He’s the latest artist to raise questions about racism at the biggest awards in music, with Kanye West, Drake and Frank Ocean having already slammed the selection process. Queen Bey leads the nominations with nine, followed by Dua Lipa, Roddy Ricch and Taylor Swift for her first lockdown album, Folklore. The usually glittering ceremony, hosted by Trevor Noah, will be toned down this year, with many virtual performances.
It’s a dose of diplomacy. The International Olympic Committee and Chinese officials have agreed to provide vaccines for any athletes who want them ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Games and the Winter Games in Beijing next year. There’s been some argument over whether athletes should be allowed to skip vaccine lines, with countries including Israel and India giving them priority. But the IOC said it will also pay for replacement doses in athletes’ home countries. Japan’s own Olympians won’t be taking China up on its offer, though, because the country hasn’t approved Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm.
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