“The battle for the soul of America.” That’s how U.S. President Joe Biden referred to the racial reckoning sparked by George Floyd’s death as he pressed the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, named for the murdered African American man. The president’s statement came after he met members of Floyd’s family, including his daughter, at the White House yesterday. After the meeting, Floyd’s brother urged Congress to act, saying: “If you can make federal laws to protect the bird which is the bald eagle, then you can make federal laws to protect people of color.”
2. Belarus Blogger’s Parents Plead for Their Son’s Life
The parents of detained Belarusian journalist Roman Protasevich have issued a heartfelt plea to the international community to “save” their son. “He’s only one journalist, he’s only one child but please, please ... I am begging for help … They’re going to kill him in there,” said his mother Natalia Protasevich. The 26-year-old was detained when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko forced a plane carrying the blogger to Lithuania to instead land in Minsk. His Russian girlfriend, Sofia Sapega, was also detained. Both have since appeared in videos, apparently under duress. President Biden says he has asked his team “to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible."
3. Blinken Makes Overtures to Palestinians on Israel Visit
On his visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday announced that Washington would provide $75 million in development aid to the Palestinians and would also reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, which was shuttered by the Trump administration. Blinken’s visit came days after a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas following an 11-day conflict that saw several hundred civilians killed. America’s top diplomat trod a careful path in the volatile region, confirming Washington’s commitment to Israel’s right to self-defense while also stressing Gaza’s reconstruction. Today Blinken heads to Egypt and then on to Jordan. Read more on OZY.
“The People versus Shell.” That’s what some are dubbing a historic case against the oil giant that a district court in The Hague will rule on today. The suit was brought by environmental groups and ordinary citizens trying to force the Anglo-Dutch multinational to honor targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Shell argues that while it is taking “serious steps” to cut emissions, it is up to governments to meet the targets laid out in the Paris climate accords. “We hope the judge will take this historic opportunity to hold Shell accountable,” said ActionAid Netherlands executive director Marit Maij.
New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury for their criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump’s business operations, indicating that charges could soon be brought. President Joe Biden will meet Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin face to face for the first time since becoming president at a summit in Geneva next month. And Ethiopia’s wartorn Tigray region is at risk of famine, the UN’s top humanitarian official Mark Lowcock has warned.
Coronavirus Update: The U.S. has joined other countries calling for further investigation into the origins of the pandemic in Wuhan, China. Fifty percent of American adults are now vaccinated, the White House said yesterday, hailing the milestone.
OZY Playlist! Our favorite songs from game-changing stars you love and rising stars you'll soon love, curated for a specific POV. Today's vibe: You can't wait for bountiful summer fruit and veggies!
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: Saturday Night Live cast member and rising comedian Chris Redd joins Carlos to discuss how COVID-19 and the moment of racial reckoning changed the iconic sketch show and share his nontraditional path to stardom. Plus, watch him do his best impressions in rapid-fire.
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“It took a really special place to get me to leave a special place,” Katty Kay told Axios, which broke the news of her move, adding, “I think we're going to have fun.” Kay, who will take up the roles of senior editor and executive producer, has already worked with OZY CEO Carlos Watson on the popular When Katty Met Carlos podcast. “OZY has always been global, since the very beginning,” Watson said. “I hope that focus only deepens upon Katty's arrival.” The Silicon Valley-based digital media company produces newsletters, articles, TV shows and podcasts and brought in $50 million in revenue last year.
2. Experts Say Florida ‘Big Tech’ Law is Unconstitutional
Tech company trade groups say a new law signed in Florida this week is unconstitutional, setting the stage for a possible legal battle. Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced the law, which essentially bans social media companies from “deplatforming” political candidates. The bill fines any social media company that deplatforms candidates for statewide office $250,000 per day. But critics in the industry say it restricts the editorial discretion of private companies and makes it harder for them to remove harmful speech. The Florida law comes into effect July 1 and Texas is looking to introduce similar measures.
3. ‘High on the Hog’ Champions African American Cuisine
Cayenne-red dried shrimp, sweet yams and black-eyed peas. A mouthwatering new series drops on Netflix today, revealing how African American cuisine transformed America. Hosted by food writer Stephen Satterfield and based on a book by Jessica B. Harris, the four-part documentary High on the Hog begins in the West African nation of Benin, a key country in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It explores how African food and traditions were imported to America and influenced U.S. classics like mac ‘n’ cheese. Often considered working-class, the show details how soul food actually shaped fine dining and how Black cowboys galvanized America’s meat industry.
Fast & Furious star John Cena got in trouble so he apologized, and then he got in more trouble for apologizing. The furore started after the Hollywood actor referred to Taiwan as a country in his latest promotional video. Chinese netizens were outraged, so Cena apologized, in Mandarin, on his Weibo account, saying: “I made a mistake. I must say now that, very very very importantly, I love and respect China and Chinese people.” That drew flak from Republicans and conservative media who accused him of kowtowing to China, with Sen. Tom Cotton describing the apology as “pathetic.”
LeBron James was among the sports legends who marked the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death yesterday, calling for further reforms. The NBA star tweeted his endorsement of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which has stalled in the Senate. Toronto FC’s Justin Morrow also encouraged politicians to pass the bill, tweeting: “CALL YOUR SENATORS...Together we can prevent murder.” In Britain, Lewis Hamilton, the only Black Formula One driver, marked the somber date by tweeting: “Rest in peace George Floyd ... Your legacy will last forever.” The NFL, NHL and other Minnesota sports teams also posted to mark the occasion.
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