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 24, 2021
With thousands more people still to be evacuated from Kabul, America’s allies are pressuring U.S. President Joe Biden to keep troops at the airport past his August 31 pull-out date. The U.S. FDA has fully approved the Pfizer vaccine and some states are already instituting mandates for certain professions, but will it convince vaccine skeptics? And, para-taekwondo is among the new sports athletes will compete in at the Tokyo Paralympics, which begin today.
Tributes are pouring in for Charlie Watts, who played in one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time for almost 60 years, after his spokesperson announced he had died in a London hospital today. Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney were among the musicians who tweeted their condolences. The news came weeks after the British band announced Watts had undergone an unspecified medical procedure and wouldn’t be able to join them on their American “No Filter” tour, planned for the fall. Despite their decades of hedonism and the fact that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are well into their seventies, the Stones continue to tour and record music. (Sources: BBC, AP)
Allied Powers Expected to Push Biden to Extend Deadline
At a G7 meeting today, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to urge the U.S. to delay its August 31 withdrawal from Afghanistan by keeping troops at Kabul airport, as fearful Afghans try to flee the Taliban-occupied country. Germany and France also want more time to complete evacuations, of which there were 10,000 yesterday alone. There are still thousands of Americans and a much larger number of Afghans who aided the U.S. mission believed to be stuck in Kabul. U.S. President Joe Biden has refused to rule out staying longer if necessary, despite Taliban threats. (Sources: Al Jazeera, NYT)
3 - Pfizer First
Vaccine Mandates Incoming after FDA Approval
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine full approval yesterday, potentially paving the way for vaccine mandates. Despite having been authorized for emergency use since December, it’s the first COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA, and officials hope it will encourage vaccine-hesitant people to get their shots. It’s also a game-changer for universities and businesses that may wish to insist students and workers are inoculated. Already the Pentagon has said active members of the military must get it, while New York and New Jersey officials have ordered all education staff be inoculated by September 27. (Sources: NYT,CNN, Washington Post)
What do you think? Should companies make vaccines mandatory for workers? Take our poll.
Kathy Hochul Takes Reins From Scandal-Plagued Cuomo
Gov. Kathy Hochul was sworn in as New York’s first female governor earlier today, following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid sexual harassment allegations. Hochul, 62, vowed to tackle rising COVID-19 cases and distribute assistance to New York renters facing eviction. Meanwhile, Cuomo blamed “political pressure and media frenzy” for forcing him from the job. Hochul has said she intends to run for a full term next year. She’s planning to name a second-in-command later this week and is scheduled to give her first address as governor this afternoon. (Sources: NYT, WSJ (sub))
5 - Eviction Evaluation
Biden Asks Supreme Court to Extend Moratorium
The Biden administration yesterday urged the Supreme Court to leave the eviction moratorium in place as infections from the delta variant continue to spread. In June the court voted 5-4 against a bid by landlords to end the policy. But after the July 31 expiration date passed, Biden unilaterally renewed the eviction freeze expected to run until early October. The moratorium has faced several court challenges; currently a coalition of landlord and real estate groups have a case. About 3.5 million people could face eviction in the next two months. The Supreme Court could now act on the matter at any time. (Sources: The Hill, Al Jazeera, Washington Post)
6 - Also Important …
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is on a week-long trip in the Asia-Pacific region and has accused Beijing of “intimidation” regarding its claims in the disputed South China Sea. Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven, has abruptly announced he is stepping down in order to give his successor a chance to prepare for next year’s election. And Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has been sentenced to five months in jail for burning a Black Lives Matter banner and bringing two high-capacity firearm magazines into Washington D.C., days before the January 6 riot.
Coronavirus Update:Infections in Israel show signs of slowing down after the country started administering vaccine booster shots to over-60s on July 30. And the World Health Organization has urged wealthy countries not to administer booster shots while poorer nations are still waiting for their first and second doses.
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Games Open in Tokyo With Exciting New Athletes to Watch
If you’ve got Olympic withdrawal symptoms, then there’s good news for you. The Paralympics in Tokyo begin today with a wealth of amazing athletes set to inspire. Among the new sports are para-badminton and para-taekwondo. The athletes to look out for include Italian wheelchair fencer Beatrice “Bebe” Vio, who lost her arms and legs at age 11 after contracting meningitis, and Ugandan swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe, who was born without her right arm and is making her debut aged just 14. Tragically, Afghanistan’s two Paralympians were unable to get to Tokyo, but the country’s flag will be displayed as a sign of solidarity in the opening ceremony. (Sources: BBC, AFP, VOA)
2 - Vicious Vegan
Scientists Shocked as Giant Tortoise Hunts Prey
She’s done with veganism. A “gentle” giant tortoise got a taste for flesh when she was filmed chasing and devouring a baby bird. Researchers said the attack on Frégate Island in Seychelles was the first known instance of the species, always believed to be primarily herbivores, hunting in the wild. Scientists believe the incident was not a one-off and probably happens often. Zoologist Justin Gerlach said the unusual ecological combination of a large population of tree-nesting terns on the island and the tortoises probably led to the change in diet. He added this is “a new type of behavior with evolutionary implications.” (Sources: The Guardian, Wired)
3 - Gig Economy
California Judge Rules Against Uber, Lyft
Shares in ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft rose slightly yesterday despite a California judge ruling that the state’s Proposition 22, a ballot measure that passed last November, was unconstitutional. Proposition 22 affects “gig economy” workers, like Lyft and Uber drivers, ensuring that they remain contractors. But a judge said this means they’re exempted from state labor law and prevented from collectively bargaining for things like worker compensation. Although stocks slumped initially they were back up later in the day, a sign that investors weren’t too concerned about the ruling, which the firms plan to appeal. (Sources: WSJ (Sub), CNBC)
4 - Hiker Mystery
Could Toxic Algae Have Killed a California Family?
Officials are investigating how a family of hikers all died on a trail in California earlier this month. John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, 1-year-old daughter Miju and dog Oski were discovered by a search and rescue team after they didn’t return from a hike. Autopsies have so far revealed nothing, and a toxicology report is pending, leaving officials scratching their heads over the cause of death. Police said there were no signs of trauma, no indication it was a suicide and no evidence of snakebites. Investigators are examining whether it could be carbon monoxide poisoning from a mine or toxic algae blooms in the river nearby. (Sources: Washington Post)
5 - R Kelly Trial
Second Accuser Breaks Down in Court
More horrifying testimony comes out daily at singer R Kelly’s sex trafficking trial in Brooklyn. One woman yesterday detailed how the R&B star had abused her in 2015 when she was still in high school. The woman sobbed, detailing how Kelly had beaten her and given her herpes. Last week, the trial’s first witness said the singer started abusing her when she was a 16-year-old. An ex-employee told the court last week working for Kelly, 54, had been like being in the “Twilight Zone.” The accusers said they were made to call him “Daddy.” Kelly has pleaded not guilty but faces life in prison if convicted. (Sources: The Guardian, Sky News)
More on OZY
Alright, alright, alright — The Carlos Watson Show is excited to bring you a special episode with proud Texan and Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey. The Dazed and Confused actor reveals he is certainly not confused about a future in politics and shares insight into his process of writing his new book, Greenlights. Plus, hear him gush about wife Camila Alves and the family they have built together. Watch now on Amazon Prime Video.
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