Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are demanding answers after revelations over the weekend that the U.S. National Security Agency wiretapped friendly foreign leaders with the help of Danish intelligence. Denmark’s public broadcaster reported Copenhagen had helped the U.S. to gain access to underwater cables, allowing it to track calls and messages between 2012 and 2014. The NSA’s wiretapping of Merkel and others was first revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, but the new report shows the Danish involvement. The NSA and Danish intelligence are yet to comment on the scandal.
2. Indigenous Groups Call for School Site Searches in Canada
Canadian Indigenous groups are demanding a nationwide search of residential school sites after the discovery of more than 200 children, some as young as 3, in a mass grave last week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said yesterday that he was “appalled” by government policy between 1831 and 1996 that forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and put them in schools where they were often abused. Last week’s gruesome discovery sparked a massive reckoning in Canada, with flags being flown at half-staff. The opposition is calling for an emergency debate in parliament, while First Nations groups are drawing up a list of sites to search.
A Virginia seminary that used both slaves and Jim Crow labor is making history as it begins to pay reparations to descendants. The program is one of the first of its kind; Instead of running scholarships or other historical atonement projects, it’s giving cash payments to the families of former slaves. The Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria began distributing the annual checks for $2,100 in February, with some 15 people having received them so far, as genealogists look through records to find more descendants. However, critics warned that the only acceptable form of reparations would come from the federal government. Check out our recent OZY poll on the issue below.
4. Vaccines and Krispy Kremes: Promo for Doughnut Day
People still awaiting jabs around the world are literally dying for vaccines, yet some Americans had to be coerced into getting their shots with the promise of free doughnuts. Since starting a special promotion in March, Krispy Kreme has given away more than 1.5 million doughnuts to customers who present a vaccination card. Meanwhile, Budweiser has offered free beer to those who got jabbed, while Nathan’s Hot Dogs also ran a special offer. Krispy Kreme, which is preparing to go public, has upped the ante for National Doughnut Day on Friday, promising all customers a free doughnut, and two for vaccinated clientele.
Police in Hong Kong have arrested a 65-year-old woman known fondly as “Grandma Wong” after she held a lone demonstration ahead of Friday’s Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary. Intense political bargaining is underway in Israel as various political parties try to cobble together a coalition to form a new government and oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Affairs Minister has defended his decision to limit the volume on mosque loudspeakers.
Coronavirus Update: Peru now has the highest coronavirus death rate per capita in the world after doubling the official death toll to 180,000. The World Health Organization has renamed COVID-19 variants with Greek letters, so the UK variant is labeled as Alpha, the South African Beta and the Indian as Delta.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: The most candid interview yet with one of the most experienced public servants in the country, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Don’t miss her surprising takes on the Trump presidency and her relationship with President George W. Bush. Why does she say the Jan. 6 Capitol storming was both “the most frightening and the most affirming” thing to have witnessed in her life? Watch later today to find out.
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Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French Open yesterday citing depression. The 23-year-old Japanese American was heavily criticized the past week after announcing she wouldn’t take part in press conferences while in Paris. After being fined $15,000 for avoiding the press and threatened with disqualification altogether, the world’s richest female athlete and four-time Grand Slam-winner beat the officials to it and bowed out. Osaka said she had “suffered bouts of depression” and would “take some time away from the court.” Fellow champion Serena Williams said she wished she could give Osaka “a hug,” adding that she “feels for” the younger player.
What do you think? Is press just part of the package when you’re a sports star, or should athletes be allowed to opt out? Tell us here.
2. Mexican’t: Ministry Slams Zara for Cultural Appropriation
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? Not according to Mexico which has accused fashion brands Zara, Anthropologie and Patowl of cultural appropriation. Mexico’s Ministry of Culture sent letters to the three chains, saying that they were drawing on Indigenous symbols and traditional embroidery — which take local artisans weeks to make — in their mass-produced high street fashion. The ministry has called on the companies to work directly with Indigenous craftspeople in future, saying it was trying to “prevent plagiarism” and protect “the rights of native peoples who have historically been disregarded.” Zara’s parent company Inditex has denied its designs were borrowed from Mexican tribes.
3. Dying of Heat: Scientists Warn of Climate-Related Deaths
As temperatures rise due to global warming, so too do the numbers of related deaths. A new study has found that the highest number of deaths from heat was in cities in South America, with São Paolo, Brazil, recording an average of 239 a year. Southern Asia was another badly affected region. In the U.S. about 35% of heat deaths can be blamed on climate change, accounting for some 1,100 deaths a year, the majority of which were recorded in Honolulu. By mid-century, scientists expect deadly heat waves to occur more frequently.
Usually museums don’t want their priceless antiquities to be covered in bugs and bacteria. Not so the Medici Chapel in Florence — created by Michelangelo — whose curators saw lockdown as a chance to unleash grime-eating bacteria on his marble masterpieces. The microbes, a bacteria called Serratia ficaria SH7, managed to clear up hardened stains on the statues, as well as the tomb of Alessandro de Medici, a 16th-century Florentine ruler whose decapitated corpse had not been interred properly. The bacteria fed on the phosphates from the body so that, as one of the restorers put it, “SH7 ate Alessandro.” The Chapel is now reopened to tourists.
5. Instagram Makes Changes After Israel Conflict Criticism
After accusations that pro-Palestinian content during the recent conflict was suppressed, Instagram is changing its algorithm. The move comes after a group of employees at Facebook, which owns Instagram, expressed concern about posts being improperly blocked or removed. Instagram has been under fire over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict before, after it blocked hashtags last month related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque because its moderation system mistakenly associated it with terrorist organizations. The algorithm changes mean reshared content in the Instagram stories section will now be ranked on the same level as original posts, whereas the latter used to get favored placement.
From Cleopatra to Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great — powerful and helpless, popular and scorned, determined and desperate — they are some of the most influential women in history. This dramatized series about remarkable women in history is something you won’t want to miss — available now on CuriosityStream, the coolest new streaming platform.