Will this cure America’s rep? President Joe Biden’s using more than kind words to reassert his nation’s global influence as he begins his presidency’s first foreign trip. Word emerged Wednesday that he’s planning to send half a billion doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine overseas. The World Health Organization’s Covax program will distribute the doses, with 200 million going out this year and 300 million in early 2022. While it’s bound to upset “America First” supporters of former President Donald Trump, they may be unwittingly helping: 17 of 18 states with the lowest adult immunization rates were the ones that most fervently voted for Trump.
Death stalks them. The team of professionals painstakingly clearing war-ravaged Afghanistan of mines from decades of warfare are already risking life and limb by doing their work. But Islamic State on Wednesday declared that it had sent attackers to kill 10 staff of the HALO Trust demining group in the country’s northern province of Baghlan late Tuesday. It’s another demonstration of the sort of violence expected to proliferate once foreign forces withdraw before Sept. 11. Senior U.S. officials have told The New York Times that they’re considering intervening with airstrikes to aid Afghan government forces once American ground troops depart.
3. Biden Lands in Europe, Vowing Fight for Democracy
The U.S. is back, Biden declared yesterday in Britain, ahead of tomorrow’s G-7 summit there. But many are wondering if “leading with strength” and “defending our values” will be enough to confront the world’s autocratic tendencies. He promised to stand up to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Geneva meeting next Wednesday on Russia-based hackers attacking U.S. commerce and the fate of jailed dissident politician Alexei Navalny. But there’s already push-back, with a Russian court branding any group connected with Navalny “extremist,” meaning that anyone who makes common cause with such groups can be barred from seeking public office.
It’s untraceable, they said. But U.S. authorities quickly located $2.3 million of a $4.3 million paid to restore service for Colonial Pipeline, casting doubt on cryptocurrencies’ reputation as a way to hide ill-gotten gains. After causing U.S. fuel shortages, the hacking group DarkSide extorted 75 Bitcoin, but lost nearly 64. While it’s unclear how the feds obtained private keys to the assets, one expert said “digital bread crumbs” on a blockchain ledger can pinpoint transactions. Now that meat multinational JBS has admitted paying $11 million to end its ransomware outage, the crypto world will be watching to see if lightning strikes twice.
At least nine people died yesterday when a building being demolished collapsed onto a bus in South Korea. The company building the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada into the U.S., which was supported by former President Trump but opposed by President Biden, said Wednesday it’s ending the project. And President Biden plans to urge leaders at this week’s G-7 summit not to jeopardize peace in Northern Ireland with intransigence over U.K.-EU trade disputes.
Coronavirus Update: The addition of several thousand previously unreported pandemic deaths in the state of Bihar, India, is prompting calls for a review of the country’s death toll, now near 360,000 and second only to the United States.
Today on The Carlos Watson Show, get to know crossover musical icon Jody Watley from this inspiring conversation about how to overcome insecurity and fear in your life to pursue joy and self-fulfillment. The former Shalamar star joins Carlos on the 34th anniversary of her solo debut with tips on why she still feels just 34 years old — and why the greatest moment of her life is still today. From healing through the pain of her parents’ gut-wrenching issues and her own divorce, get to know the real woman behind the music — she might just be the most down-to-earth musical superstar on the planet. Watch now.
The flowers are blooming and the world is slowly starting to reopen, so you’ll want to make sure you start the season in style. We have just the thing: our favorite sneakers from Cariuma. These colorful kicks are crazy-comfy and sustainably made. Get an OZY-exclusive $15 off with code OZY15 to step out in style this spring.
Just don’t lose her on the beach again. In the latest effort to demonstrate Mattel’s corporate responsibility, its Barbie Loves the Ocean collection features dolls made with 90% recycled ocean-bound plastic. It’s billed as a step toward the company’s vow to make its toys and packaging with 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic by 2030, while encouraging consumers to return old toys so their materials can be reused. Researchers say that despite the publicity “garbage patches” receive, floating plastic trash is only 1% of the material polluting the ocean, so collecting it would barely make a dent in the problem.
Will she bring penitence to the penitentiary? Over 10 years, Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper admittedly embezzled $835,000 from a Southern California catholic school, using the proceeds in part to fund gambling trips to casinos. The nun, now 79, who retired in 2018 as principal of Torrance’s St. James Catholic School, has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud and money laundering and faces a maximum 40 years in prison — where she’ll no doubt adhere to her vow of poverty. She’ll be arraigned July 1 in state court, but there may be a far loftier judgement to come.
Hey! You with the weird settings! Fastly, a little-known but huge lynchpin in how websites communicate with the world, said yesterday that an hourlong global shutdown of major websites was triggered by one customer. A bug in some new code deployed by the content delivery network in mid-May was triggered Tuesday when one customer changed their settings, thus causing a massive failure that, for example, cost Amazon an estimated $32 million in sales. Fastly said it quickly detected the fault and fixed the bug, and the attention, negative or not, prompted investors to scoop up the San Francisco company’s stock.
Like the lost Ark, maybe the classic film should remain in storage. As the timeless Oscar-crushing Raiders of the Lost Ark nears its 40th anniversary, co-star Karen Allen recently declared that she didn’t think Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones character was a pedophile. The film has her Marion Ravenwood character upset about her “wrong” relationship with Indy when “I was a child.” Despite imagining them as aged 16 and 26, Allen believes they “could have kissed a few times,” with the romance remaining “innocent.” But following #MeToo, it might be time to drag the film into a new age.
5. Serbian Volleyballer Benched Over Racist Gesture
“I didn’t mean to disrespect anyone.” So said Sanja Djurdjevic after she sparked an uproar by stretching her eyelids in a racist gesture aimed at opposing Thai players. The International Volleyball Federation this week suspended Djurdjevic for two games and fined her Serbian team more than $22,000 for the June 1 offense. Both she and Serbia’s volleyball federation apologized, but called it a “misunderstanding” and claimed the gesture wasn’t meant to denigrate Thailand’s players. The international body plans to donate the money to “a cause tackling discriminatory behavior” as well as cultural sensitivity training for volleyball players.