It’s one record you don’t want to be setting. India reached its fifth straight day of coronavirus highs, with 352,991 cases and 2,812 deaths today. As the virus spirals out of control, the government has asked Twitter to remove tweets critical of its handling of the crisis; the company is withholding some posts. With many hospitals out of oxygen, families are being forced to buy cylinders on the black market at 10 times the normal price. The U.S. has offered support for the country’s health care system, with the White House announcing it is sending ventilators and vaccine-production material.
2. Cheerleader’s Free Speech Case Reaches Supreme Court
“Give me an F, give me a U —” A Pennslyvania teenager’s foulmouthed Snapchat rant about being held back in her high school’s junior squad has sparked what’s likely the most significant free speech case in years. When then-14-year-old Brandi Levy’s school suspended her for the post, her parents filed a federal lawsuit claiming their daughter’s free speech rights had been violated. Experts say the case is the most significant of its kind since a 1969 ruling involving two Iowa teens who wore armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Wednesday.
All 53 crew from a missing Indonesian submarine have been declared dead, officials announced yesterday. Underwater photos showed the submarine, which lost contact during a training exercise on Wednesday, broken into pieces, deep in the Bali sea. The U.S. and other countries helped in days of searching but to no avail. In recent days search teams found items such as prayer mats. Although it’s one of the worst submarine disasters in history, it is still unclear what caused the vessel to sink. The Indonesian government is now working to recover the debris and find the cause of the accident.
4. Paris in the Springtime? Maybe, as EU Opens to Americans
Good news for the travel and airline industries. Fully vaccinated Americans will be allowed to vacation in Europe this summer, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday. More than a year since the bloc shut down most nonessential travel, top destinations have been arguing for reopening in recent weeks, citing progress with vaccinations. This would be a huge economic boost for countries that get millions of U.S. tourists each summer, like Croatia, Italy and Greece.The latter is reopening to American tourists from today, provided they have been vaccinated or show evidence of a negative coronavirus test.
What do you think? Would you get on a trans-Atlantic flight just yet? Vote on Twitter or here.
5. Also Important …
Renewed clashes have broken out between government forces and rebel groups in war-torn Somalia after the president extended his mandate for two more years. Although the official pullout date starts from May 1, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have already begun preparations to withdraw, a top commander says. And NASA says you can catch a pink “supermoon” tonight at 11:32 p.m. ET.
Coronavirus Update: Eighty-two people were killed after a fire broke out at a COVID-19 hospital in Baghdad over the weekend. South Africa is today resuming its rollout of the J&J vaccine, which it had suspended over blood clot concerns.
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Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: Meet the Spice Queen. Carlos and host Padma Lakshmi geek out over 90s hip-hop, spill tea about her "mischievous" love life and get real about racism in the TV industry. What wild connection does she have to VP Kamala Harris? Watch to find out.
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Was diversity the real winner at last night’s Oscars? A far cry from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy of 2015, nine of the 20 acting nominees were people of color. Chloé Zhao became the first Asian woman to win best director for Nomadland, while Daniel Kaluuya and Yuh-Jung Youn clinched the supporting actor awards for Judas and the Black Messiah and Minari respectively. South African film My Octopus Teacher won best documentary feature film. However, there was outrage on Twitter that Chadwick Boseman didn’t win a posthumous best actor gong for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with the Oscar going to Anthony Hopkins.
2. Turkmenistan Is Barking Mad About Its National Dog
Forget Day of the Dead, it’s time to celebrate Day of the Dog. Yesterday Turkmenistan marked a new public holiday honoring its native Alabai dog breed, one of the world’s largest canines. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is the Alabai’s biggest fan, last year unveiling a huge golden statue of the hound in the capital Ashgabat, and writing a poem in its honor. The leader of the central Asian nation even gifted an Alabai puppy to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017. The Alabai day includes contests to find the best of the shepherd dogs, with the champion’s handler winning a car.
3. Astronomers Find the Closest Black Hole to Earth
There’s a “unicorn” in space — and not the startup kind. Astronomers have found the closest black hole to Earth, and the smallest on record. The discovery got its name because it’s one of a kind, and was found in the constellation Monoceros – “The Unicorn.” Scientists from Ohio State University published the findings last week, explaining that the black hole is 1,500 light-years from Earth and three times the mass of the sun. Meanwhile, researchers are arguing over what collective noun best suits black holes. So far the options are: a crush, a scream and a silence.
We’re Listening! Last week we asked you what food you couldn’t do without in space. “Vegemite of course!” responded reader Chris Lotinga from Queensland, Australia, while pizza was the space food of choice for Lynne Shapiro in Brea, California.
4. BLM and Chinese Censorship: A Politicized Academy Awards
Aside from the best actor award controversy, it was also a highly political Oscars in other ways. Travon Free and Martin Desmond Roe, the directors of Two Distant Strangers, wore their politics on their sleeves — literally — donning custom tuxes bearing the names of 17 Black Americans killed by police. Meanwhile, in her native China, Chloé Zhao’s historic win has received little praise, following an old interview in which the best director winner was apparently critical of the Communist regime. The ceremony was not broadcast in China and posts about her victory were removed from social media on Sunday.
5. Myanmar Swimmer Opts Out of Olympics in Protest
A Myanmar swimmer has said he is boycotting the Olympics in protest against the military coup in his country. Win Htet Oo, 26, was set to represent the nation in Tokyo in July but stated on Facebook that, “I shall not march ... under a flag steeped in my people's blood.” He also urged the International Olympic Committee not to acknowledge the Myanmar Olympic Committee. Hundreds of people have been killed since the February 1 putsch. Activists are calling this week for people to stop paying electricity bills and keep children home from school in a new civil disobedience campaign.
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