It’s like something out of a bad action movie. Belarusian authorities yesterday forced a Ryanair plane en route from Athens to Lithuania to instead land in Minsk, citing a false bomb threat. Once on Belarusian soil one of the passengers, 26-year-old journalist and activist Roman Protasevich, was arrested. The EU and U.S. have expressed outrage that the plane was diverted over Belarusian airspace, calling it a “hijacking.” State media said Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had personally given the order, as his crackdown on dissidents continues after last year’s disputed election. The opposition says Protasevich could face the death penalty.
The EU meets today to discuss how to respond to the incident, with fresh sanctions a possibility. What do you think the West should do? Take our poll.
2. 21 Dead After Freezing Chinese Ultramarathon
At least 21 people taking part in an ultramarathon in northwestern China died over the weekend due to extreme weather. Freezing rain and high winds hit Gansu province on Saturday, leading to the race being called off and rescuers sent to the area. Some 151 participants were rescued, but eight are being treated in hospitals. Liang Jing, one of China’s well known ultramarathon runners, was reportedly among the dead. Most of the runners participating in the 62-mile race were dressed only in shorts and T-shirts and many suffered from hypothermia after the weather changed.
The U.S. military considered using nuclear weapons against China during the Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958. That’s according to leaked documents made public by former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who was also behind the famous Pentagon Papers leak in 1971. The classified files show military planners suggested nuclear strikes on mainland China in order to protect Taiwan from a Communist invasion. Ellsberg, now 90, told The New York Times he had released the documents as tensions between Washington and Beijing grew, in order that the U.S. doesn’t “repeat this insanity.” There are growing calls for President Joe Biden to publicly commit to defend Taiwan militarily.
4. Zimbabwe Tycoon Becomes Britain’s First Black Billionaire
A Zimbabwean-born telecom entrepreneur who fled the regime of former President Robert Mugabe, has become Britain’s first Black billionaire, according to The Sunday Times Rich List. Strive Masiyiwa, 60, is now based in London, but the tycoon made his fortune from setting up mobile phone network Econet, which he started in Zimbabwe and then took global. He ranks 159th on the new rich list with a networth of about $1.54 billion. Masiyiwa sits on the boards of Netflix and Unilever and is also known for his humanitarian work. That is now focused on getting much-needed COVID-19 vaccines to Africa.
Italian authorities are investigating a cable car accident on Mottarone mountain in the country’s north thatkilled 14 people yesterday. Thousands of people have fled after a volcano erupted ineastern Congo over the weekend. And Sasha Johnson, a prominentBritish Black Lives Matter activist, is in critical condition after she was shot in the head in London.
Coronavirus Update: India has hit a new grim milestone with the number of COVID-19 deaths passing the 300,000 mark. Japan is ramping up vaccinations in Tokyo and Osaka, amid mounting pressure to cancel the Olympics.
Meet Today’s OZY Genius Award Winner! Joel Baraka, University of Wisconsin.
COVID-19 has disproportionately hurt educational outcomes for people of color and students in developing nations. Baraka’s genius idea is to use educational board games to tackle this challenge, starting with Uganda. If you’d like to help, let us know HERE.
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The Germans have a word for hedgehog sex: igelsex, and it seems Americans may now need to coin one for cicada sex. The batch getting ready to emerge this summer after a 17-year “lockdown” is set to contain some sex-crazed zombies with disintegrating butts. Yep, you read it right. Some cicadas have been infected by a psychedelic fungus while underground that eats away at their butts, leaving a clump of spores behind, and also hijacks their brains, turning them into nymphomaniacs. So despite not having the parts to mate, they keep trying. Billions of cicadas are set to emerge soon across 15 states and spend 4-6 weeks mating before they die.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has gone online. After allegations that Facebook censored the accounts of some pro-Palestinian activists, the tech giant has been the target of a campaign to push down the app’s ranking on Google and Apple’s app stores. Social media campaigners are instructing people to leave a one-star review of the app and the strategy seems to be working, with the average star rating down several points this week. Many of the negative app reviews contain the hashtag #FreePalestine. Facebook denies censoring posts about Palestine and says it only removes harmful content.
They don’t wear lab coats, but they are labs. Labradors that is. A study published today found man’s best friend is faster than a PCR test at sniffing out the deadly virus and more accurate than lateral flow tests. People with the disease, while they may sadly lose their sense of smell, also give off a distinct odor that the hounds’ genius noses can easily pick up, scientists found. The dogs in the study could make a diagnosis in under a second and with 94.3% accuracy. These very good boys and girls could now be used at airports or mass events.
4. Controversy After Eurovision Winners Accused of Drug Use
It’s so kitsch it’s cool. Maneskin, an Italian rock group all clad in shiny red lederhosen won the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam on Saturday, the country’s first win since 1990. After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, the event was back in all its tacky glory with mass-testing beforehand allowing an audience of several thousand people. But the win was followed by controversy with Maneskin’s frontman Damiano David saying he’ll take a drug test after accusations he used cocaine during the show. Meanwhile, it seems Europeans have not quite forgiven the U.K. for Brexit, rewarding Britain’s entry exactly zero points.
5. Phil Mickelson Becomes Oldest Major Winner at PGA
He’s proof that age is but a number. The 50-year-old American said he hoped others would take inspiration from his win.“It might take a little extra work, a little bit harder effort to maintain physically or maintain the skills but, gosh, is it worth it.” Rival Tiger Woods was quick to congratulate Mickelson, who recorded a 1-over-par 73 to collect the sixth major of his career at Kiawah Island yesterday. He heads to the U.S. Open next month, where he’ll get the chance to complete the career Grand Slam of all four modern majors.
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