For the first time a NATO summit communiqué has named China as a problem, saying it presents “systemic challenges to the rules-based international order.” The statement came at the prompt of U.S. President Joe Biden, who also used the G-7 meeting over the weekend to urge allies to take a tougher stance on Beijing. Biden told the press: “We’re in a contest — not with China per se — but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world.” Yesterday Biden met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and tomorrow he sits down with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who he’s previously called “a killer.”
2. Belarus Blogger Appears at Press Conference ‘Under Duress’
Why did BBC reporters walk out of a press conference in Minsk yesterday? They left after authorities giving a briefing on last month’s forced plane landing brought in detained journalist Raman Pratasevich. The BBC’s Jonah Fisher tweeted: “Not taking part when he is clearly there under duress.” The West has accused Belarus of hijacking the plane to kidnap Pratasevich, 26, who ran a blog critical of President Alexander Lukasheko, sometimes dubbed “Europe’s last dictator.” His parents believe he has been tortured in detention, but Pratasevich told the media yesterday: “Nobody beat me.” He faces years in prison if found guilty on charges of inciting unrest.
3. NSA Whistleblower on 2016 Election Gets Early Release
National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner has been released from prison for good behavior, after being given a five-year prison sentence in 2018 for leaking a report about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Winner, who was 26 at the time of her arrest, leaked a classified document that showed Russian military intelligence hacked a balloting software supplier and tried to breach more than 100 local voting systems ahead of the election won by former President Donald Trump. The information was published by investigative news website The Intercept. Winner will spend the next six months in a halfway house.
4. The Chips Are Down: Countries Scramble for Semiconductors
A global chip war. With worldwide shortages of semiconductors, or computer chips, international competition to get the essential parts is on the rise. Last week the U.S. Senate endorsed $52 billion in subsidies for local chip manufacturers, and Europe, Singapore and China have also introduced subsidies for factories that make the cutting-edge technology. Supply chains in Asia were disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the West short of the tiny components essential for running everything from mobile phones to aircraft. The U.S. now wants to become more self-reliant, though the Senate-endorsed measure must still clear the House.
Israeli far right groups are expected to take part in a march through East Jerusalem today, in what Palestinians say will be a “provocation.” The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor has called for an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines. And Canadian authorities have brought terrorism charges against a man who killed four members of a Muslim family.
Coronavirus Update: The spread of COVID-19 is outpacing the global rollout of vaccines, the World Health Organization has warned, saying the G-7’s promise to donate one billion shots is not enough. Mask rules are set to be relaxed in Germany as some 48% of the population has now had at least one dose of the vaccine.
Black stories are often portrayed in extremes — as struggles or triumphs — but these stories do not represent the full richness of the Black experience. What about the inside jokes, hard conversations, honest gestures, family struggles and celebrations? To understand the Black experience, we need to see the whole truth. By enabling Black creators, P&G aims to widen the screen to widen our view to combat systemic bias in advertising and media. Our “Widen the Screen” initiative is an expansive content creation, talent development and partnership platform that enables and advocates for increased inclusion of Black creators across the advertising, film and television industries.
Do you dread big family gatherings because they always lead to fights, or at least an excruciating conversation with your QAnon-believing uncle? Consider yourself lucky your family is not as big as Ziona Chana’s, the head of the world’s largest family, who died yesterday aged 76. Chana, from northeastern India’s Mizoram state, had 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren —and they all lived under one roof. The leader of a local Christian sect, Chana’s wives shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, in a four story pink house. The state’s chief minister mourned his death, saying the polygamist had been a “major tourist attraction.”
2. Scientists Upcycle Plastic Bags Into Fragrant Vanilla
Plastic is so ubiquitous there are even tiny bits of it in a lot of the food you eat. But what if this scourge on the environment could instead be used to flavor food. Unlike plastic, vanilla — used in everything from your ice cream to your latte —is a rare and expensive commodity. Now scientists have found they can use the common E. Coli bacteria, often found in your intestine, to transform lightweight plastic into vanillin, the primary ingredient in those costly vanilla beans. The researchers from the University of Edinburgh will now do further studies on whether it’s safe to eat.
3. Chinese Gen-Z Trend of ‘Lying Flat’ Worries Government
“Turn on, tune in, drop out,” was the old hippy saying in the 1960s, while the slacker theme song for Gen X went: “Oh well, whatever, nevermind.” Now a new generation is opting out of the rat race, and in a country where the pressure to succeed is huge: China. Burnt-out youth in the world’s second largest economy have a term for it too: “lying flat.” They reject heavy competition at universities, and rail against 996-culture, or working 9am to 9pm, six days a week. State media accuses the “lie-flatists” of being harmful to the country’s economy and society.
They call him “the blood man.” Shabir Hussain Khan from conflict-ridden Kashmir is India’s biggest blood donor, having given 174 pints (2784 fl oz.) of his blood away since 1980. The 57-year-old, with O-negative blood, has volunteered with the Indian Red Cross for 40 years and is now running campaigns to encourage more people to donate. Hospitals in the insurgency-wracked region often need blood, but due to the pandemic, this has become even more of a challenge, says Khan. He works as a manual laborer and lives in poverty, but stresses he will continue to donate as, “I have made this my life’s mission.”
5. An Olympic Number of Condoms, But Sex Not Advised
You can compete in a marathon, just don’t have marathon sex. That’s the message from organizers of the Tokyo Olympics, who are giving out 150,000 condoms at next month’s games, but are urging athletes not use them in the Olympic Village, due to the pandemic. Handing out free condoms has been a tradition at the games for decades to promote awareness of HIV/AIDS, but this year people are being urged to “take them home.” Strict COVID-19 protocols are in place for the Games, which won’t have any international spectators when they start on July 23.
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