It’s going to be one of the most unusual Olympic Games in history. Already postponed for a year due to the pandemic, the $20-billion spectator-less Tokyo Games are now going ahead, to the anger of many Japanese people. The event, plagued by scandals and gaffes, from sexist comments by organizing officials to a bully music composer, yesterday fired the director of today’s opening ceremonies for joking about the Holocaust. Several athletes in the Olympic village have tested positive for COVID-19, and Tokyo is under a state of emergency with cases rising country-wide. The opening ceremony is live today from about 7 a.m. EDT. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post, WSJ (sub))
Read more about new stars competing in Tokyo on OZY.
2. Millions of Unvaccinated Americans at Risk From Delta Variant
Not out of the woods. That’s according to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who yesterday warned that the U.S. “is at another pivotal moment in this pandemic.” Rochelle Walensky said the more aggressive delta variant is spreading quickly, and in areas with low vaccination rates hospitals are filling up. “This is like the moment in the horror movie when you think the horror is over and the credits are about to roll,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, told The New York Times. “And it all starts back up again.”(Sources: NYT, The Guardian)
3. Afghan Interpreters Beg American Soldiers for Help
Afghan interpreters who worked with U.S. forces during the 20-year war are begging their former U.S. friends and colleagues to help get them out as a resurgent Taliban makes gains. Through WhatsApp and Facebook, desperate Afghans are contacting the soldiers they worked with asking for help in speeding up the U.S. visas they’ve been promised as a reward for risking their lives to help American troops. The Biden administration has vowed to evacuate thousands of interpreters who risk Taliban reprisals, with the House on Thursday voting to speed up a process beset with bureaucracy. (Sources: NYT, CNN)
Read more about the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on OZY.
4. Global Chip Shortage Could Last Years, Intel CEO Says
There’s nothing to feel chipper about. Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, has warned that the global chip shortage could continue into 2023. “We have a long way to go yet,” he said. “It just takes a long time to build (manufacturing) capacity.” The dearth of semiconductors has hit the auto industry especially hard, bringing price hikes for some goods. Germany’s Volkswagen said it expects the shortage could worsen in the next six months. However, the world’s largest chip-maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., said it has ramped up production and the shortage could ease in the coming months. (Sources: WSJ (sub), The Verge)
Thousands of people are trapped and at least 33 dead as massive flooding continues in central China. NGOs in Belarus say the government has targeted dozens of civil society groups in a crackdown, with raids on their offices and arrests of staff. And the death toll from last week’s unrest in South Africa has jumped to more than 300.
Coronavirus Update: Italy has approved restrictions on unvaccinated citizens, saying Italians will need a “green pass” to access places like gyms and cinemas. New Zealand has burst its bubble — it’s travel bubble with Australia that is — amid a new COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney.
Are you ready for the news Olympics? We have 10 trials for you in today's News Quiz!
Ready to walk into the room “purse first?” Iconic performer and activist Bob the Drag Queen is on The Carlos Watson Show. The RuPaul’s Drag Race-winner joins Carlos for a laugh-out-loud funny and deeply meaningful conversation on being raised by a drag club-owning mother in the Deep South, gender fluidity and polyamory and reaching across the political aisle. Why does Bob say straight Black men need to get on board to truly deconstruct transphobia in the Black community? Watch the full episode now.
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They’re one cocky breed of bird. Australian scientists have discovered that Sydney’s large population of sulfur-crested cockatoos has learned a clever trick. Parrots might be known for trash-talking, but these Sydney residents have learned trash-diving. The white birds with yellow mohawks are able to open garbage can lids with their beaks and dive in to eat the spoils. The cool thing? The research shows the cockatoos learned the trick by watching their peers, and the ability spread across suburbs. Now scientists are trying to see if the bin-opening birds are operating in other parts of Australia too. Not so bird-brained after all! (Sources: AP, The Guardian)
2. Serious News Websites Accidentally Flooded with Porn
The Washington Post, HuffPost, New York magazine and other webpages got a rude surprise yesterday after hardcore porn popped up on their sites. The error appears to have happened after a porn company called 5 Star Porn HD bought the domain of defunct video hosting site Vidme. So at one point in New York magazine, an article about former House Minority Leader John Boehner was embedded with an explicit video as was a HuffPost story about “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. Archived versions of the pages show there was formerly Vidme content embedded. Affected websites are cleaning up their pages. (Sources: Vice, Gizmodo)
3. Argentines X-cited Over New Non-Binary Identity Documents
Are you male, female or X? People in Argentina are now allowed to choose from those options when getting their national ID. A presidential decree on the issue said “X” could signify “non-binary,” “indeterminate” or “another meaning.”The Argentine LGBT Federation called the move “historic,” while President Alberto Fernández said: “The state should not care about the sex of its citizens.” Australia, Canada and New Zealand have similar measures in place. U.S. President Joe Biden has also supported adding the “X” option to American IDs; only male or female are available currently. (Sources: AFP, Washington Post)
4. After Racism Controversy, Maria Taylor Leaves ESPN
ESPN’s Maria Taylor is leaving the network in the wake of a racism scandal. The top NBA analyst’s contract has ended and the company announced that “after much discussion, an agreement on a contract extension could not be reached.” Earlier this month, controversy broke out after revelations that another ESPN analyst, Rachel Nichols, had said Taylor was only chosen to head coverage of last year’s NBA finals because she is Black. Nichols has since apologized, but ESPN pulled her from covering this week’s Finals. There are reports Taylor will now take a job at NBC to work on its Olympics coverage. (Sources: CNN, NBC)
5. IOC Reversal: Photos of Athletes Taking the Knee Allowed
The International Olympic Committee has reversed its policy of excluding images of protests, like athletes taking the knee, on its social media platforms. Despite the fact that five women’s soccer teams made the gesture against racism on Wednesday, none of the IOC’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts carried the images. But yesterday the committee posted a photo of British soccer player Lucy Bronze doing so. The IOC has been grappling with how to handle political protest during the Tokyo event, and now says athletes are banned from protesting on the podium during medal ceremonies. (Sources: HuffPost, AP)
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