“How many thousands more Americans, daughters and sons, are you willing to risk?” President Joe Biden asked at a press conference yesterday on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Biden defended his administration’s pullout from critics who say the country is being left to the mercy of the Taliban once more. The president promised that Afghan translators and others who’d helped American troops would be evacuated to the U.S. if they wished. The Taliban are increasingly making gains in the country, today capturing a key border crossing with Iran, and there are fears that Kabul could fall.
Read more about the withdrawal from Afghanistan on OZY.
2. Haiti Says US and Colombian Citizens Among Assassins
Officials say two Haitian Americans were involved in this week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Police have labeled the group responsible “mercenaries,” although the motive for the attack is still not clear. Police killed several suspects and detained another 17, including the two U.S. citizens from Florida and 15 Colombians, among them ex-military personnel. Bogota confirmed that Colombians were arrested and said it is investigating. Meanwhile, riots have broken out on the streets of Port-au-Prince, with people burning cars. Moïse’s death has left a power vacuum and two men are now claiming to be prime minister.
They’re back. After Republican voting restriction efforts failed to pass the Texas Legislature in May due to a late-night walkout by Democrats, the GOP’s bills are back on the table with a few changes. They would ban 24-hour and drive-through voting and add identification requirements for voting by mail, among other rules. However, they no longer limit Sunday voting or make it easier to overturn election results. Democrats argue the bills would make it easier to suppress votes and would predominantly affect Black voters. The state’s House and Senate have set committee hearings for tomorrow.
4. Streaming Is Universal: Amazon Partners With Film Studio
It’s the battle of the streaming services. Amazon yesterday inked a licensing deal with Universal Pictures that will allow it to run the studio’s new releases on Prime Video and IMDb TV. Universal's sister service Peacock will be given first dibs on its new films, running them for four months before they move to Amazon. Earlier this year the tech giant acquired another studio, MGM, as Silicon Valley competes for a slice of Hollywood and tries to keep up with Netflix. Universal expects the deal will earn the studio about $2 billion when it starts next year.
Last week’s heat wave in the Pacific Northwest killed almost 200 people, authorities say. Tennis champion Naomi Osaka has written an article for Time magazine in which she speaks about her mental health and says her intention “was never to inspire revolt.” And Belgium has recalled its ambassador to South Korea after his wife hit a cleaner, her second altercation in four months.
Coronavirus Update: Africa has had its worst week of the pandemic so far, the WHO said yesterday, adding that “the worst is yet to come.” Pfizer is seeking the U.S. FDA’s go-ahead to roll out a booster shot amid a surge in variants.
Test Your Knowledge! If you’ve been faithfully reading the PDB, you might be able to ace the OZY News Quiz.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show:’ Joel Kinnaman, Swedish American star of The Killing and House of Cards, opens up about his severe struggles with stage fright and panic attacks as a young actor. Get a sneak peek into next month’s new Suicide Squad movie in which he co-stars alongside Margot Robbie, Idris Elba and John Cena. Watch later today.
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.
Can you spell “querimonious”? How about “solidungulate”? Zaila Avant-garde can. Those difficult words were among the ones she got correct, resulting in her jumping for joy on making history. The wonderfully named teen from New Orleans has just become the first African American to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and to win the $50,000 prize, in 93 editions of the contest. The homeschooled 14-year-old practices spelling about 13,000 words daily, but she also excels at another hobby: basketball. The teen has three world records for dribbling multiple balls at once.
2. Ghost in the Machine: Tencent Polices Teen Gamers
Big Brother really is watching you. Chinese tech giant Tencent says it’s employing facial recognition technology to enforce a cyber curfew to stop under-18s from playing video games after 10 p.m. Underage players in China already have to use their real names and identification numbers to play online games, but to prevent clever teens from logging on under their parents’ names, Tencent rolled out “Midnight Patrol,” which uses facial recognition to determine who’s playing and kick them offline if they’re underage. Netizens on Weibo were quick to criticize the move, saying parents, not technology, should be monitoring children.
3. Forever Young: Military to Test ‘Anti-Aging’ Pill
It’s the stuff of sci-fi novels: a pill that keeps you young. Now scientists are hoping to turn fiction into reality. The U.S. military and the Metro International Biochem laboratory are developing a drug that could prevent inflammation and decrease neurodegeneration, in what could be a game-changer for delaying injury and slowing the effects of aging. The pill would work by increasing levels of a compound that converts food into energy, and while it wouldn’t make you fit on its own, it could boost characteristics that usually decline with age. Clinical trials are expected to start in 2022.
They famously shared an onstage kiss in the early noughties, and now Madonna is backing Britney Spears in her battle against her conservatorship. “This is a violation of human rights! Britney, we coming to get you out of jail!” the Queen of Pop wrote on Instagram yesterday. Madonna, 62, added, “Slavery was abolished long ago! Death to the greedy patriarchy that has been doing this to women for centuries.” The “Like a Virgin” singer joins numerous celebrities, including ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake, speaking up for Spears, whose mother this week filed a petition to let her hire her own lawyer.
Read more about conservatorships and how they work on OZY.
5. Empty Stadium: Tokyo Bans Spectators From Olympics
What’s the sound of one hand clapping? That’s all athletes in Japan will be hearing from the stands as they compete in a spectator-free Tokyo Olympics. Authorities announced yesterday that despite having already sold tickets, due to a renewed state of emergency because of coronavirus, the games will not allow even Japanese spectators. Foreign fans had already been banned, and many locals are furious that the event is going ahead at all. The Olympics, delayed from last year due to the pandemic, will now have little pomp and spectacle, despite costing some $15.4 billion.
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