Which kind of hate was it? It’s a question authorities are trying to answer as they investigate a mass shooting Tuesday night at three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Georgia police say Robert Aaron Long, 21, confessed to killing eight people, claiming he was sex-addicted and wanted to eliminate “temptation.” But they’re not ruling out a racial motive: Six of those killed were Asian women. It comes amid a surge in racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Meanwhile, a Georgia sheriff’s deputy is under fire for saying the suspect was having “a really bad day” when he began his rampage.
2. Russia Recalls Envoy After Biden Says Putin’s a ‘Killer’
A day after President Joe Biden essentially called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” who “will pay a price” for U.S. election meddling, the Kremlin recalled its ambassador Wednesday. Russia’s Foreign Ministry didn’t reference Biden’s remarks while explaining that Ambassador Anatoly Antonov would return to Moscow to consult on “what needs to be done” about U.S. relations. It’s the latest friction between the powers after the recent release of a U.S. intelligence report concluding that Russia worked to prevent Biden’s election and supported former President Donald Trump, known for his rapport with Putin.
Something killed him. But many are skeptical of the official “heart condition” cause of death for 61-year-old Tanzanian President John Magufuli, announced yesterday. After he denied COVID-19’s spread in his country, claimed vaccines were dangerous and recommended prayer and herbal remedies, many suspected that he’d contracted the virus — and some Tanzanians were arrested for suggesting it — when he disappeared from public view nearly three weeks ago. What’s clearer is that many are suffering and dying, including one of Magufuli’s aides and the head of the Zanzibar region, even if the government won’t admit it.
The U.S. Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee didn’t just vote to keep benchmark interest rates near zero and continue its $120 billion monthly bond-buying program yesterday. It also pointed toward rates remaining low through 2023, helping boost stock buying and sending the Dow past 33,000 points. That record high also represented its fastest 1,000-point leap after the index cracked 32,000 only five days earlier. But tech stocks are suffering, with Zoom dropping 24 percent in a month, while the pandemic and storms have choked supply chains for auto and electronics manufacturers.
Forecasters warn that new thunderstorms threaten to spawn tornadoes across the southeastern U.S. today as 30,000 utility customers remain without power in Mississippi and Alabama from Wednesday’s weather. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will likely win a fourth term after his party won a commanding victory in this week’s parliamentary elections, despite a child welfare benefits scandal. And American taxpayers have an extra month to file their annual income tax returns this year.
Win This: Are you the next Steve Jobs, Billie Eilish or Amanda Gorman? Help us help you with the OZY Genius Awards. Apply today for a prize worth up to $10,000 or nominate the brilliant college student in your life.
It’s time for #RealTalk and #RealChange. Why do Black people distrust the medical system? Why do white doctors believe racist myths? Should there be all-Black hospitals? The racial inequities in America’s health care system have been on display more than ever in the past year, and they cry out for bold questions and creative solutions. In today’s special episode of The Carlos Watson Show, we hear from policymakers, medical professionals and patients about what needs to change to fix this shame in our society. Subscribe now!
The undefeated Zags are favorites to win the 18-day NCAA men’s basketball tournament that begins today in Indiana. But Gonzaga University and its collegiate rivals have some formidable off-court foes as well: A positive COVID-19 test has already sidelined Oklahoma guard De’Vion Harmon, and as testing continues, any school that can’t field a full team will automatically forfeit. It’s also the first March Madness to be held entirely within a state with legal sports betting, so Indiana authorities have pledged to be vigilant for any signs of big money compromising the integrity of the competition.
As your ride ratchets its way to the top of a 200-foot drop, remember: Shh! In one of the more bizarre attempts to minimize the spread of contagion while trying to resume normal activities, California is asking amusement parks to discourage screaming on thrill rides like roller coasters. Parks can reopen as early as April 1, initially at 15 percent capacity under a new plan hatched amid falling COVID-19 cases. The most famous venue, Disneyland, won’t reopen until April 30, and at first will only allow California residents to experience the Happiest Place on Earth.
It took two years for Yik Yak, an anonymous campus-based social platform, to flame out in 2017 amid hate speech, lawsuits and even terror threats. Now a new generation of apps is aiming for the same demographic that launched Facebook, OZY reports. Librex, for instance, uses volunteer student moderators to keep it “legal” and “tasteful.” Linking to university emails adds another layer of accountability, while knowing abusers face bans “makes the app feel safer,” said a user of Boston College’s Herrd. But the apps’ success may hinge on walking the fine line between chill and chilling speech.
What really wowed them was the basket. Israeli archaeologists have announced the discovery of a trove of new fragments of the ancient writings known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scientists had to rappel down a sheer cliff into the Judaean Desert’s Cave of Horror — named for the remains of Jewish Revolt fighters who perished there — to locate the dozens of scraps of parchment, including biblical texts believed to date back 1,900 years. The cave also yielded the mummy of a child, ancient coins and an intact 10,500-year-old basket, the world’s oldest.
They’ve got them covered — and uncovered. Yesterday Sports Illustrated published its first Swimsuit Edition pictorial of a transgender woman of color, Leyna Bloom. Once told she was “at the bottom of the food chain,” Bloom says now she’s hearing, “You are a beautiful Black woman and you're a powerful trans woman.” That came a day after Time magazine featured its first transgender man on its cover: Actor Elliot Page, who shot to fame in the 2007 film Juno, came out as trans in December but says he’ll continue playing a female character in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy.
Join the coolest new streaming platform. With CuriosityStream you can dive into history and explore nonfiction films and series. Interested in other topics? They have thousands of documentaries on topics ranging from food to space exploration to animals.
Join OZY’s editors today at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET for a behind-the-scenes look at our editorial planning and in-depth analysis of the news of the day here. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe at email@example.com so we can get you into the room.