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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Aug 23, 2021
There have been births, deaths and gunfire as Afghans continue to flee the country in the wake of the Taliban takeover, with Kabul airport the site of heart-wrenching scenes. At least 22 people have died in flash floods that ravaged rural Tennessee, with two dozen remaining missing. And French American cabaret star Joséphine Baker will be the first Black woman to be buried in Paris’ Panthéon.
Vaccine Gets Full FDA Approval, Could Lead to Mandates
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine full approval today, potentially paving the way for vaccine mandates. It’s the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA, having already been authorized for emergency use since December. Pfizer gave the FDA data from some 44,000 global clinical trials that showed it was 91% effective in preventing infections. The Pentagon has said vaccines would be mandatory for active-duty members of the military once there was FDA approval. It’s also a game-changer for universities and businesses that may wish to insist students and workers are inoculated. (Sources: CNN, NYT)
An Afghan security guard was killed and several others wounded today at the chaotic Kabul airport in unrest also involving German and U.S. forces. People continue to flood the airport one week after the Taliban took control of the country. Yesterday seven Afghans, including a two-year-old girl, were trampled to death at the airport. On Saturday, an Afghan woman went into labor on an evacuation flight. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to ask U.S. President Joe Biden to keep U.S. troops at the airport past his August 31 pullout date. Meanwhile, the Taliban is targeting resistance forces in Panjshir Valley. (Sources: Al Jazeera, NBC, The Guardian)
3 - Tennessee Tidal Wave
Death Toll Expected to Rise After Catastrophic Flash Floods
At least 22 people have been killed in floods in rural Tennessee and some two dozen more are missing, authorities have said. The flash floods hit rivers, creeks and woods in Humphreys County, near Nashville. The waters soon receded, but left devastation in their wake. Some people were surprised in their homes by the floods, which a county mayor described as a “tidal wave,” and had to break out through their attics to safety. Global warming and climate change have caused an unusual series of extreme weather events this year around the globe. Authorities said yesterday they expect the death toll to rise. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
4 - Pipeline Pique
Merkel Seeks to Reassure Ukraine Over Russia Gas Project
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel has threatened Russia with renewed sanctions if Moscow uses a gas pipeline against Ukraine. Merkel made the comments about the controversial Nord Stream 2 project on her last trip to Kiev, after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opposes the pipeline under the Baltic Sea, which will double Russia’s gas exports to Germany. Zelenskyy fears Moscow could use the pipeline as a “geopolitical weapon” to strengthen its influence in the region. Germany and the U.S. have an agreement that if Russia does use gas as leverage, the two will introduce sanctions. (Sources: BBC, AP)
5 - Bye Byd?
Chinese Chipmaker’s IPO Delayed Amid Crackdown
No IPO for Chinese electric carmaker BYD. The company, which planned to list its semiconductor arm on the Shenzhen stock exchange, is the latest to be hit by a regulatory probe. The law firm advising the company is being investigated, delaying the listing. BYD Semiconductor had hoped to raise at least $421 million from shares and funnel the money back into the business amid a global shortage of computer chips. BYD is another casualty as Beijing tightens regulations on its tech giants and other businesses. A BYD spokeswoman said she was not yet sure if the company would need to change its law firm. (Sources: BBC, Nikkei, SCMP)
6 - Also Important …
A group of notorious gangs in Haiti has offered to assist with relief efforts as the country reels from the devastating earthquake that’s killed over 2,200 people. Hundreds of protesters and counterprotesters clashed during a Proud Boys rally in Portland, Oregon, over the weekend. And Bolivia’s ex-President Jeanine Áñez tried to kill herself in prison after prosecutors charged her over the deaths of protesters in 2019.
Coronavirus Update: There were massive protests against government coronavirus lockdowns in Australia over the weekend, with more than 250 people arrested. And Taiwan has started rolling out its locally produced vaccine, Medigen.
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Josephine Baker Will Be First Black Woman in Pantheon
You might know her for her iconic cabaret costumes, but there was a lot more to French American performer Joséphine Baker, who will become the first Black woman to be interred in the Panthéon in Paris. President Emmanuel Macron announced the remains of Baker, who died in 1975, will be moved to the French monument where the likes of Victor Hugo and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are buried. The government said the Missouri-native was being given the honor due to her part in the French resistance against the Nazis. She also served as an ambulance driver and intelligence officer during WW II. The ceremony will take place November 30. (Sources: France 24, NYT)
2 - Disinformation Debate
Facebook Unveils Most Popular US Post of First Quarter
A potentially misleading post about the coronavirus vaccine was the most shared on Facebook in the U.S. in the year’s first quarter, the company has acknowledged. The article was a factual one from the South Florida Sun Sentinel about a doctor who died two weeks after taking the vaccine. It was later determined that there wasn’t enough evidence that the shot had caused his death. The tech giant says it gets rid of outright lies on the platform, but argues that grey areas like this shouldn’t be censored. The Biden administration has urged the company to do more to tackle misleading pandemic information. (Sources: Washington Post, Marketwatch, The Verge)
3 - Kiwi Faux Pas
Minister Advises New Zealanders to Get Active Outdoors
New Zealand’s COVID-19 response minister inadvertently spread some joy in tough times when he made a gaffe over the weekend. Chris Hipkins advised citizens to go outside and “spread their legs.” The internet had a field day with the minister’s misstep. He meant to advise people to stretch their legs, with netizens then advising fellow Kiwis to “spread your legs, and save lives,” or “spread your legs, not the virus.” New Zealand last week ushered in a nationwide lockdown after a single coronavirus case was reported. Today the country reported 107 infections and officials said the lockdown would remain until at least Friday. (Sources: The Guardian, New Zealand Herald)
4 - Keeping Up With The Joneses
Sex and City Reboot Adds Friend to Replace Samantha
Who’s the Samantha in your group? And the Lisa? There’s only one Samantha Jones, right? Not according to the producers of the new Sex and the City series, who’ve replaced actor Kim Cattrall with Boogie Nights star Nicole Ari Parker. While Ari Parker won’t play Samantha, she’ll be the fourth friend in the group — Lisa. After the reboot of the iconic show was announced earlier this year, fans were dismayed to hear Cattrall wasn’t involved. While some will miss Cattrall, others will find it a positive that the show, which has often been criticized for its lack of diversity, now includes a person of color. (Sources: Daily Mail, The Guardian)
“I’m not upset with myself at all.” That was sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s appraisal of her performance at the Prefontaine Classic over the weekend, in which she placed last in the 100 meters. “This is one race,” the flame-haired 21-year-old said matter-of-factly, describing it as “a great return back to the sport.” It was Richardson’s first return to the track since being barred from the Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, which she said she took to cope with the death of her biological mother. Jamaican Olympic gold-medalist Elaine Thompson-Herah won the race, but Richardson warned her competitors “They’re not done seeing me yet.” (Sources: ESPN, GiveMeSport, Jezebel)
More on OZY
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: On the heels of her Oscar win, R&B wunderkind H.E.R. joined Carlos for an open conversation about her early success and meeting the moment, and she shares a shocking revelation about a band that could have been: one featuring herself, Kehlani and Zendaya. In her special episode, now on Prime Video, H.E.R. discusses the journey to success and the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement in her music. Watch now on Amazon Prime Video.
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