Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei cast his ballot in the country’s presidential election today, urging his fellow citizens to do the same amid worries about low voter turnout. Four candidates are vying to succeed President Hassan Rouhani, after the Guardian Council headed by Khamenei barred hundreds of candidates, including reformists, from running. Conservative head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi, who is under U.S. sanctions for his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988 and is a prominent critic of the West, is widely considered the front-runner, with results expected tomorrow.
Obamacare lives to see another day. That was the Supreme Court’s decision in a 7-2 vote yesterday after two previous attempts by Republicans to kill the healthcare law. Recent Trump administration appointee Amy Coney Barrett, who Democrats had considered a major threat to former President Barack Obama’s key domestic legacy, was in the majority. After the decision, Obama tweeted: “This ruling reaffirms what we have long known to be true: The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.” Though critical of the vote, Republicans said they would end their focus on repealing the law and instead address it on the 2022 campaign trail.
3. North Korea Warns of Possible Confrontation With US
“Dialogue and confrontation” are two very different tactics, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has urged the country’s central committee to be ready for both when it comes to relations with the U.S. under President Joe Biden. Kim stressed in the Thursday meeting that North Korea now “get fully prepared for confrontation in order to protect the dignity of our state.” Pyongyang has already slammed the new U.S. administration for its “hostile policy” to the North, with Kim also referring to America as its “biggest enemy.” Washington and the G-7 urged the hermit state to abandon its nuclear policy earlier this week, but Kim’s statement suggests he’ll instead strengthen it.
4. A Big Byte of the Pie: TikTok’s Owner Sees Revenue Double
TikTok owner ByteDance saw its revenue rise 111% year-over-year to $34.3 billion in 2020, with 1.9 billion users across all its platforms. Amid signs the Chinese company is readying to make an initial public offering, its estimated valuation has been over $100 billion. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the firm however, with former President Donald Trump declaring it a national security threat and ordering it to divest its TikTok business in the U.S. This month President Biden undid his predecessor’s ban, but ordered a review of apps owned by foreign adversaries.
It’s not often in our digital age that you see people queuing for print newspapers anymore, but Hongkongers have been lining up to buy copies of the Apple Daily in a sign of solidarity after the paper’s editor-in-chief was arrested. Forced displacement has reached new heights during COVID-19, the United Nations refugee agency said today, with 82 million people made to leave their homes. And authorities have shot dead a brown bear that went on a rampage in the northern Japanese city of Sapporo.
Coronavirus Update: Having had and recovered from COVID-19 doesn’t mean you have long term immunity, a new study has found, especially in the face of new variants. Russia has seen a 30% increase in coronavirus infections over the past week, with Moscow’s mayor calling it an “explosion.”
Situational Awareness: Do you think you know what’s going on in the world? Prove it with the PDB News Quiz.
Today on The Carlos Watson Show: Juneteenth is a day of celebration, but also an occasion that forces us to take a deep look at our violent past and the systems that continue to uphold racial injustice in this country. Tune in for a special Juneteenth edition today with Carlos and special guests including activist DeRay Mckesson, comedian W. Kamau Bell, acclaimed writer Baratunde Thurston, Harvard professor Jarvis Givens and more. Watch today.
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.
“It is obscene.” That’s what Nigerian prize-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie thinks of online “cancel culture”. An essay by the Americanah writer has gone viral — prompting both applause and criticism — detailing how another Nigerian author she helped mentor, Akwaeke Emezi, later publicly turned on her. While Ngozi Adichie says she is an ally of trans women, she maintains there is a difference between trans women and cisgendered women, prompting allegations she is a “TERF” or trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Emezi blasted her over the remarks, and Ngozi Adichie has now responded with an essay skewering “people who are choking on sanctimony and lacking in compassion.”
What do you think? Is social media’s court of public opinion unfairly punishing those with controversial opinions? Tell us here.
2. US Could Learn From Estonia On Cybersecurity Measures
With a spate of hacks on large U.S. companies in recent months, cybersecurity has become a prominent part of President Biden’s agenda. If he wants tips on preventing ransomware attacks, he should look east — to Estonia. The small Baltic nation’s government does almost everything online, from filing taxes and voting to registering a birth. That needs high levels of cybersecurity. The e-government uses measures like blockchain, not duplicating data and storing data separately as some of its security methods. Capital city Tallinn is home to NATO’s cyber defense hub and is now investing in training citizens how to stay safe online.
3. Not Horny: Strange Prehistoric Rhino Was as Tall as a Giraffe
Rhinos are short and squat, giraffes are tall and elegant. Right? Not according to fossils scientists have unearthed in China, which indicate that gigantic rhinos taller than giraffes walked the Earth about 26.5 million years ago. Standing at over 20 feet tall and weighing more than four African elephants combined, they were even bigger than mammoths, making them history’s largest land mammal. The new species has been named Paraceratherium linxiaense, for the Linxia region of northwest China where the fossils were found. Unlike today’s rhinos, under threat from poachers for their horns, their ancestors didn’t have any, meaning they developed later.
4. $5 Thrift Store Painting by David Bowie on Auction
As thrift store finds go, you don’t get much better than inadvertently snagging a David Bowie painting for $5. But that’s what one lucky Canadian shopper did, only later discovering the star’s signature on the back. The painting, a face rendered in shades of blue and red, was done in 1997 by the legend who called himself Ziggy Stardust — a keen artist as well as a musician. It’s now on auction, and offers have quickly surpassed the $14,000 opening bid. The current bid is at more than $50,000 and could go much higher before the online auction closes next week.
5. Diminished Wimbledon as Osaka and Nadal Withdraw
She’ll be ready for the Olympics in her mother’s home country of Japan next month. That’s what four-time Grand Slam-winner Naomi Osaka’s agent assured her fans after she pulled out of Wimbledon yesterday. The 23-year-old hasn’t played publicly since quitting the French Open in a media storm last month, saying she suffers from mental health issues. Her agent said: “She is taking some personal time ... She will be ready for the Olympics and is excited to play in front of her home fans.” Another favorite expected to play at Wimbledon, Rafael Nadal, has also withdrawn and will be replaced as third seed by Stefanos Tsitsipas.