Houston, we have a problem. Well, the Texas GOP does anyhow. In order to prevent them from moving ahead with controversial voter legislation, some 50 Texas House Democrats fled the state to Washington DC yesterday. Their absence leaves the Republicans without the attendance level necessary to conduct business, with House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner saying: “We are determined to kill this bill.” Texas Democrat leaders say they won’t return home until August 7, when the special legislative session ends. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden heads to Philadelphia today to speak on the importance of protecting voting rights. (Sources: Washington Post, NYT)
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2. Army Called in After South Africa Rocked by Riots
South Africa has sent the army into two provinces in an attempt to quell some of the worst violence the country has seen since the birth of democracy. Ten people have been killed since protests broke out in support of jailed former President Jacob Zuma, but quickly led to opportunistic looting and cars being burned. Zuma is serving 15 months for failing to appear at a corruption inquiry, but with the country experiencing a deadly third wave of coronavirus, coupled with high poverty and unemployment, the protests quickly tipped into anarchy. There are worries the country’s nascent vaccination program will now be severely disrupted. (Sources: AP, Washington Post, The Guardian)
3. Biden Turns Attention to Cuba, Haiti
Unrest in both Haiti and Cuba is proving a growing headache for Biden, who has had to turn his focus from Russia and China to America’s own neighborhood. After Cuba saw unprecedented anti-government protests over the week, Biden yesterday described the demonstrations as “a clarion call for freedom” and accused the country’s communist leaders of “enriching themselves” at the expense of their people. The U.S. leader has also urged Haiti’s squabbling politicians to come together following last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moïse and said Washington could provide assistance. There are concerns continued unrest could lead to an exodus from both nations.(Sources: NYT, CNN, Politico)
ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant that owns TikTok, shelved its IPO plans earlier this year after the government told the company to solve data-security risks. ByteDance, valued at $180 billion, delayed listing in the U.S. or Hong Kong as China tightens controls over offshore listings. Ride-hailing app Didi, however, took another approach, moving ahead with its plans and raising $4.4 billion last month. However, Didi is now under investigation by Chinese authorities. ByteDance is one of dozens of Chinese companies that have pledged to comply with anti-monopoly laws as Beijing cracks down. (Sources: WSJ (sub), The Verge)
Read more about what’s next in the world of IPOs on Ozy.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show:’ Surgeon General Vivek Murthy joins Carlos to share insights into the greatest lessons we can take from the pandemic — everything from the impact of loneliness on health to whether a cure for cancer could be the next scientific breakthrough coming out of the successful vaccine race. The chief public health spokesperson under both Presidents Obama and Biden also drops some knowledge around the rise of Indian Americans … and why he’s obsessed with The Sound of Music. Watch now.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja … goldfish? Stop releasing your pet fish into waterways, authorities in Minnesota are begging people, after finding goldfish that have grown ginormous and are ruining the natural ecology. Officials in part of the state removed some 50,000 goldfish from waterways last year and say they can grow several times their normal size to almost as big as a football. Recently in Virginia a fisherman caught a 16-inch goldfish, prompting wildlife officials to warn people not to “release their aquatic organisms into the wild.” Goldfish are an invasive species, breed fast, and wreak havoc on indigenous species, scientists say. (Sources: The Guardian, USAToday)
2. Swipe Right for ‘Permanent Marriage and a Single Spouse’
Could it be more romantic? Iran’s Islamic Propaganda Organization wants citizens to get together and fix the country’s declining birth rates, so it’s made an app for “bachelors seeking permanent marriage and a single spouse.” Hamdam, meaning “companion” is Iran’s only state-sanctioned dating platform, and when two people match they get introduced — along with their families and “service consultants” from the app. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned Iranians are leaving marriage until later and birth rates are declining. A law is in the works to provide financial incentives for marriage as well as for people who have more than two children. (Sources: Al Jazeera)
Warnings for excessive heat continued yesterday across parts of the western U.S. This weekend saw unprecedented temperatures in parts of Salt Lake City and Colorado and a record 130 degrees in California’s Death Valley, while a megafire forced evacuations in Oregon. Last month was the hottest June on record, and some 200 people have died this month with scientists blaming climate change. If we don’t get global warming under control, experts warn, this is only the beginning. This week temperatures will drop slightly, with rains expected to cool things off over the next few days, though Death Valley is forecast to reach 125 degrees today. (Sources: NYT, BBC)
4. Sexless and the City? Fans Mourn Samantha’s Absence
I couldn’t help but wonder, what’s Sex and the City without Samantha Jones? That’s apparently how a lot of fans felt after HBO Max released the first teaser for the limited-edition sequel to the hit show. The image shows Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda strutting down a New York street, but without sex-crazed Samantha, as actor Kim Cattrall has declined to be in it. The twittersphere had a field day making memes out of the image under the hashtag #AndJustLikeThat, with one user adding Bernie Sanders in mittens to complete the fab foursome. The show’s premiere date is yet to be announced. (Sources: HuffPost, Today)
5. Racism Row in Britain After Euro 2020 Abuse
After several English soccer players suffered racist abuse online following their defeat by Italy in the Euro 2020 Sunday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince William released statements condemning the attacks. Now both are being accused of hypocrisy. Johnson, who yesterday labeled the abuse directed at three Black players, Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, as “appalling,” had earlier refused to condemn fans who booed players taking the knee. While the Duke of Cambridge, who said he was “sickened” by the abuse, didn’t defend Meghan Markle when she said she faced racism. Authorities are now investigating after a Manchester mural of Rashford was defaced. (Sources: Daily Mail,Fox, The Guardian, The Cut)
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