It’s a poignant date. President Joe Biden has set a Sept. 11 deadline for withdrawing troops from the co-called “forever war” in Afghanistan. Americans have been there for 20 years, since after the 9/11 attacks, but only some 2,500 soldiers remain, compared to 100,000 in 2011. But there’s widespread concern about a Taliban resurgence when the U.S. pulls out, and the Washington-backed Kabul government may struggle to hold them at bay. Biden is expected to make the formal announcement today, while the Taliban have ruled out attending a peace summit in Turkey later this month.
What do you think? Was the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan worth it? Take our poll here or on Twitter.
2. Ponzi Fraudster Bernie Madoff Dies in Prison
Kevin Bacon probably wished there’d been six degrees of separation. He was one of the victims of infamous Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who died today in a federal prison, reportedly of natural causes at age 82. The former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange swindled thousands of investors out of billions of dollars in history’s largest Ponzi scheme, including film star Bacon and director Steven Spielberg. He was arrested after the 2008 financial crisis prompted investors to cash out money that only existed on paper. Madoff, who had 138 years left on his fraud sentence, was played by Robert De Niro in the 2017 film The Wizard of Lies.
3. What About Birth Control? Women Ask After J&J Halt
You’re more likely to get a blood clot from the pill. That’s what some experts are noting after the U.S. halted the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine following six cases of blood clots. While oral contraceptives can cause 1 in 100 women to experience a clot over a 10-year period, it’s noteworthy that the rare reaction linked to the vaccine is a brain clot, while the pill causes clots in the legs. The company has delayed shipments to the EU while the U.S. reviews the drug, which American officials say should only take a few days.
4. House Committee to Vote on Slavery Reparations Bill
What amount could ever be enough to pay for America’s “original sin”? Today the U.S. could come one step closer to paying reparations as lawmakers vote on establishing a commission to study slavery and racial discrimination. The bill faces an uphill battle to make it into law, but proponents say it’s a step in the right direction. The form reparations would take is still being debated: Some advocate monetary payments to slaves’ descendants, while others argue that’s unrealistic, noting it would cost up to $12 trillion. House Republicans are expected to vote against the bill in today’s meeting.
When has capitalism Ever Given up? Now that the massive container ship has been dislodged from the Suez Canal, Egypt has impounded the ill-fated vessel as it tries to recoup the cost of the salvage operation and lost transit fees. The ship’s Japanese owner Shoei Kisen Kaisha is asking clients with cargo on board to pay part of the costs of freeing the Ever Given. The canal authority is reportedly seeking $900 million due to the six-day shutdown last month.
The Minnesota police officer responsible for shooting Daunte Wright has resigned along with the police chief of the Minneapolis suburb, as protests continued in the city for a third night. George Floyd chose to struggle instead of “resting comfortably” on the ground as Derek Chauvin pinned him, a use-of-force expert called by the defense said yesterday. And Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has carried out her first official duties since the death of her husband, Prince Philip, last week, hosting a retirement ceremony for her household’s most senior official.
Coronavirus Update: Israel may be close to achieving herd immunity, a leading doctor there has said, with more than half of the country’s residents vaccinated. With the Olympics now 100 days away and less than 1 percent of Japan’s population vaccinated, questions remain over whether Tokyo should hold the massive event.
Friendship Playlist: OZY's favorite songs from game-changing stars you love and rising stars you'll soon love, curated for a specific POV. Today's vibe: It's been a year since you saw your best friend. You both got vaccinated and are getting together for the first time!Listen here.
Whiskey in Your Clubhouse: Join OZY editors and writers on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET for insights on the week’s big news, a chat about your favorite sections of the Whiskey in Your Coffee newsletter and more. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe below so we can pull you into the room, and follow him @Eferighe.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: The scientist who needs no introduction, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins Carlos for a tour around the cosmos — and why a young Neil fell in love with it at the age of 9. Discover why your daily life is more connected to space than you think, and learn about Tyson’s surprising skills in wrestling and martial arts. Watch now.
We all enjoy a delicious meal at the end of the day. But let’s face it, life is busy. When things don’t go according to plan, or whenever you need a great-tasting meal you can trust, ButcherBox is the place to go. Get high-quality meat for that busy night delivered right to your door with The Essentials Bundle and enjoy up to 7 pounds of chicken breasts, pork chops, and ground beef for free.
Move over, self-decapitating sea slugs, there’s a new freaky insect in town. Scientists have discovered that Indian jumping ants, Harpegnathos saltator, can shrink and expand their brains. This happens after the death of a queen, when worker ants hold violent contests to replace the monarch. The winner takes the crown and her brain shrinks up to 25 percent — which might be a case for ant colonies becoming republics. The new queen’s brain shrinks and her ovaries grow as she readies for reproduction. But if she’s deposed by a cunning underling, the process reverses and her brain regrows.
2. White Actor Apologizes for Voicing Apu in ‘The Simpsons’
He wants to apologize “to every single Indian person in this country.” Hank Azaria, the voice behind Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, is white but mimicked an Indian accent as the voice of The Simpsons’ convenience store owner since 1990. Azaria said the character was created with good intentions but that it had contributed to “structural racism” in the U.S. and Apu is “practically a slur at this point.” He stepped down from the role last year after criticism from Indian comedians and others who said they were bullied with Apu’s catchphrase, “Thank you, come again.”
3. American Passport Still One of World’s Most Powerful
Forget current concerns about vaccine passports, just having the right national passport can make all the difference. If you hold a South Korean, Danish or German passport, you’ve won the travel lottery. If, however, you hail from Yemen, Iraq or Syria, your freedom of movement is severely restricted. According to the annual Henley Passport Index, Japan’s travel document is the best, allowing visa-free access to 193 destinations. The U.S. is tied for seventh on the list, with access to 187 countries, while Afghans can only visit 26 nations. Of course, one-third of countries currently ban international visitors.
4. Popcorn Salad: Midwestern Classic or Culinary Crime?
The internet is popping over Food Network star Molly Yeh’s divisive Crunchy Snap Pea Popcorn Salad recipe, which went viral this week. “You don't think it's gonna work, but then you taste it and it's really good,” said Yeh, calling it a “classic” Midwestern dish. While some on social media seemed willing to give the creation a try, others are calling the mix of popcorn, mayo, carrots and sugar snap peas a culinary crime. One skeptical diner tweeted, “If I come over and you give me mayo popcorn I'll take that as a threat.”
5. Daughter of S. Sudanese Refugees Tipped as WNBA Top Pick
She’s an international sensation. Finland’s Awak Kuier, who plays pro basketball in Italy, was born in Egypt to South Sudanese refugees. Now the six-foot-five 19-year-old is set to be picked at the top of tomorrow’s WNBA draft. Her family fled South Sudan’s civil war and eventually immigrated to Finland, where she played basketball with her brothers and studied Candace Parker videos online. While Kuier, who’s known for slam dunks, hasn’t spent much time in the U.S. yet, she says her background is important, explaining, “I feel like, in a way, I am a Finnish basketball player.”
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