Former President Barack Obama was the first U.S. president to visit Havana since the revolution, and now Cubans have borrowed his catchphrase: “Yes, we can.” Thousands of protesters were chanting the words in the biggest anti-government demonstration in decades yesterday, fed up amid a worsening pandemic and food shortages. President Miguel Díaz-Canel called for government supporters to battle the protesters, blaming the U.S. for orchestrating the demonstrations. Security forces used tear gas and many demonstrators were reportedly wounded and arrested. Cuba is in its worst economic crisis since the 1990s following severe Trump-era sanctions, currently under review by the Biden administration, but not an immediate priority. (Sources: Washington Post, Al Jazeera, CNN)
2. Georgian Cameraman Killed by Anti-LGBTQ Mob
Alexander Lashkarava was so badly beaten by a far-right mob of about 20 people while covering a protest against an LGBTQ pride march in Tbilisi that he later died of his injuries. The cameraman, 37, was one of numerous journalists attacked, according to Reporters Without Borders. The pride march, planned for Sunday, was canceled due to safety fears in a country with a poor record for LGBTQ rights. After his death was announced thousands of people protested outside the Georgian parliament last night, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, who had publicly spoken out against the pride march. Police have launched an investigation. (Sources: AP,The Guardian)
After a marathon 24 hours of debate, Texas Republican voter legislation advanced over the weekend, despite opposition from Democrats. The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a bill yesterday after a 15-hour session, while the House hearings dragged on even longer — about 24 hours. In May, Texas Democrats managed to block the legislation with a last-minute walkout, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke yesterday called the latest move “the single greatest coordinated attack on democracy in our lifetimes.” The State Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday, with Democrats hinting they could stage another walkout.(Sources: NYT, NBC)
4. Yellen Warns G-20 COVID Variants Risk Global Recovery
Vaccines need to be distributed more quickly worldwide if the global economy is to rebound, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said yesterday at a G-20 meeting in Venice. Yellen said the delta variant, which is prevalent in largely unvaccinated countries like Australia, Indonesia and South Africa, as well as in the U.S., could hamper economic recovery, adding: “We are a connected global economy. What happens in any part of the world affects all other countries.” The International Monetary Fund said over the weekend that “the world is facing a two-track recovery.” Yellen is urging G-20 nations to accelerate equitable vaccine delivery. (Sources: NYT, AFP)
5. Also Important …
A Haitian living in Florida is suspected of being the middleman in the assassination plot that killed President Jovenel Moïse last week. The Chinese military says it “drove away” a U.S. warship near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea today. And riots and looting have broken out in South Africa as supporters of former President Jacob Zuma protest his imprisonment.
Coronavirus Update: The Australian government has been criticized for a new vaccine campaign ad featuring a young woman on oxygen, when people in that age group are still ineligible for shots. Indonesians are scrambling to buy oxygen as COVID-19 cases surge and hospitals turn people away.
This week on ‘The Carlos Watson Show:’ You know him from The Book of Mormon on Broadway, as the iconic voice of Olaf in Frozen and for his new show on Apple TV, Central Park. The acclaimed screen and stage actor Josh Gad joins Carlos to discuss the power of his fame, and hardships he faced in his rise to stardom and lessons he learned from working with Dame Judy Dench. Why does he want to have Chinese food with Jesus? Watch on YouTube.
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In a major blow for England, Italy won the Euro 2020 tournament yesterday 3-2 on penalties, crushing the dreams of English fans that soccer was “coming home” after 55-years. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince William both praised the team however, with Johnson saying they had “played like heroes.” For Italy it was a boost after being one of the first countries to be hard-hit by the pandemic last year. Both sides took the knee before the match, but following England’s defeat, Black players received racist abuse on social media, and the Metropolitan Police have opened an investigation. (Sources: The Guardian, Daily Mail,AFP)
2. Like a Virgin: Branson Takes First Space Flight
At least one Englishman was elated yesterday. Richard Branson officially won the billionaire space race, rocketing from New Mexico in an hour-long trip on the Virgin Galactic rocket-plane his company has been developing for almost two decades. Branson, 70, called the trip “magical,” adding that “nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space.” Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, whose own date with space is set for July 20, sent his congratulations, while Elon Musk was there to watch the Brit make history. Branson has already sold 600 tickets to would-be space tourists, who are looking to make the voyage next year. (Sources: The Verge, Sky, BBC)
3. Meth-Contaminated Waters Are Creating Fish Addicts
Look out Jesse Pinkman, there are some new meth-heads in town … though it’s kind of a fishy story. Scientists in the Czech Republic found human sewage laced with meth gets into waterways and can get fish addicted. The researchers studied the effect of the highly addictive drug on brown trout, then forcing them to quit cold turkey, which saw them exhibit signs of withdrawal. Then the trout addicts, when offered the chance to swim in meth-contaminated or clean water, chose the former. “Such contamination could change the functioning of whole ecosystems,” Pavel Horký, one of the ecologists involved in the study warned.(Sources: Smithsonian, Mashable)
4. Lightning Kills 11 People Taking Selfies in India
Selfies have proven deadly before, whether it was people falling at popular tourist spots or being involved in other accidents while trying to get the perfect Instagram pic. Yesterday 11 people were killed by lightning in India while taking selfies in the rain at Jaipur’s 12th century Amer Fort. Another nine deaths from lightning occurred at other locations in Rajasthan state, and 18 more in Uttar Pradesh state, mainly workers in the fields. Deaths by lightning have doubled since the 1960s, according to the Indian Meteorological Department, which says climate change is one of the reasons for the increase.(Sources: BBC, AP)
5. Nine Lives: Surfside ‘Miracle’ Cat Reunited With Family
A small miracle. That’s what Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said one grieving family got in the wake of the Surfside condo collapse. The Gonzalez family were in their ninth-floor apartment when the tower came down, with the mother and one daughter injured and the father still missing. Also missing were their pets, but two weeks after the tragedy they had a joyful reunion after their black cat Binx showed up alive and well. Binx was found roaming the rubble, where the family’s other pets, a cat called Hippo and two dogs, Daisy and Honesty, had also disappeared. Binx is certainly one cat with nine lives! (Sources: Washington Post, CBS)
Cat Contest! Send a photo of your meow with their name, city and state to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll run the winners in our Cat-alogue.