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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 30, 2021
There have been flood warnings and power outages in New Orleans after the city was hit by Hurricane Ida on the exact day Katrina made landfall 16 years ago. Militants have fired rockets at Kabul airport and a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan has killed civilians. And #Time’sUp for octopus and hummingbird harassers!
It’s the anniversary of 2005’s devastating Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the city is being battered by another raging storm. Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on Sunday killing at least one person and leaving a million without power. Hundreds of thousands of residents were rushing to evacuate and storm waters are expected to strain the levees, with over 980,000 people under flash flood warnings. The state’s hospitals are already suffering from some of the worst coronavirus levels in the country. The storm weakened early Monday and is expected to move further inland with tornadoes a possibility in parts of the state and in Alabama and Mississippi. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
2 - Eve of Afghanistan Deadline
Rockets Fired at Airport as U.S. Departure Nears
The U.S. intercepted rockets fired toward Kabul’s airport today, the eve of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The White House confirmed the attack but said evacuations are continuing with about 300 Americans left in the country. Yesterday nine civilians, including six children, were killed in a U.S. drone strike on an explosives-laden car and suicide bombers planning another attack on the airport. Over the weekend the remains of 13 U.S. soldiers killed in a blast Thursday, with almost 200 others, were returned home. French President Emmanuel Macron is today expected to ask the U.N. to create a Kabul “safe zone” for fleeing Afghans. (Sources: Al Jazeera, NYT, CNN)
3 - Pyongyang’s Plutonium
Signs of Activity at North Korea’s Main Nuclear Reactor
North Korea appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor capable of producing plutonium, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said, adding that the findings are “a cause for serious concern.” It also noted activity earlier this year at the nearby radiochemical laboratory. The U.N. watchdog was kicked out of the secretive state in 2009 and has since had to monitor activity through satellite imagery. Pyongyang’s last nuclear test was in 2017. Attempts by the Biden administration at dialogue with the hermit state have been rebuffed so far, but analysts warn the new developments show North Korea cannot be ignored. (Sources: Al Jazeera, CNN, WSJ)
4 - Environmentally Friendly Scotch
Scottish Whiskey Producer Aims for Net Zero Emissions
Never mind cake, hopefully soon you can both have your Scotch and drink it in good conscience. Most of Scotland’s whiskey producers rely on oil to fire the boilers that make the favorite tipple, which is the U.K.’s most valuable net export product. Now one brand, Bruichladdich, is aiming to go carbon neutral by 2025 in a drastic effort to reduce emissions. The whiskey maker plans to use a type of green hydrogen production and water electrolysis instead of natural gas and to use wind or tidal power. The company, one of many whiskey producers on the Scottish island of Islay, hopes other distilleries will follow suit. (Sources: The Guardian)
5 - Also Important …
Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held the first high-level talks in a decade today. Dozens of soldiers were killed in a major attack by Houthi rebels on a military base in Yemen. And eight great white sharks in Cape Cod were seen feasting on a humpback whale carcass, one expert calling it “the biggest smorgasbord a shark could ever dream of.”
Coronavirus Update:Singapore is the world’s most COVID-19 vaccinated country, with 80% of its citizens fully inoculated. And the EU is expected to recommend stopping nonessential travel from the U.S. after America’s increase in coronavirus cases.
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Octopuses and Hummingbirds Fed Up with Male Harassment
The #MeToo movement has reached the deep blue sea and the open skies. Two different research papers published in recent days showed how both octopus and hummingbird females respond to harassment by males. The cephalopod females take a more violent tact, actually picking up objects from the seafloor with their tentacles to hurl at randy males. Hummingbirds, for their part, use disguise to avoid unwanted male attention, evolving to adopt the bright feathers of the male birds to avoid aggressive behavior. In the birds’ case, scientists say the disguise helps them avoid being bullied and beaten up by males while feeding (Sources: New Scientist, The Guardian)
2 - Queen Bey’s 128.54-Carat Problem
Beyoncé and Tiffany Criticized for Diamond Ad
Diamonds may not be a girl’s best friend after all. Beyoncé is under fire for starring in a new Tiffany campaign which critics say promotes “blood diamonds.” In an Instagram post, the renowned jeweler said the singer was the first Black person to wear its famous Yellow Diamond necklace, previously worn by Lady Gaga and Audrey Hepburn. But outraged netizens argued the diamond was mined in British colonial South Africa in 1877, where Black migrant workers were subject to abuse and often received no pay. Beyoncé is apparently furious she was not made aware of the necklace’s history, one source told a British tabloid. (Sources: Business Insider, Black Enterprise)
3 - Bad Blood
Theranos Founder to Argue Abuse During Trial
It was a Silicon Valley start-up-story that read like a novel — one that had a very bad ending for protagonist Elizabeth Holmes. The former Theranos chief executive goes on trial early next month on 10 counts of wire fraud, among other charges. Holmes started the blood-testing company at 19. It quickly garnered major press and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding. But in 2015 the technology was found to be faulty, leading to fraud claims. Documents in the case unsealed this weekend show Holmes will argue abuse by her then-boyfriend and COO prevented her from making her own decisions. Jury selection starts tomorrow. (Sources: Washington Post, Bay Area News Group)
Former Soldier Arrives Back in UK With 200 Animals
Former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing yesterday arrived back in the U.K. on an evacuation flight with animals from his shelter, but not his staff. Farthing, who founded the animal rescue organization, Nowzad, after serving in Afghanistan, had been lobbying the British government to get himself, his staff and his 200 animals out. While the staff and their families had visas, the Taliban blocked their entry to the airport. Nowzad said on Twitter it would do its “utmost” to help those left behind. The British Defence Secretary and other MPs have slammed Farthing for taking up time that should have been spent on the humanitarian crisis. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian, The Independent)
What do you think? Should Farthing’s animals have been evacuated from Afghanistan? Take our poll.
5 - Wheelchair Rugby
Britain Wins First Gold in the Sport at the Paralympics
Great Britain beat the USA 54-49 in wheelchair rugby at the Tokyo Paralympics yesterday, earning its first gold in the game. The sport is mixed gender and Britain’s Kylie Grimes became the first woman to win gold, while top scorer Jim Roberts got 24 tries. “USA always beat us in the major tournaments so it was good to put a nail in that one,” he said. Meanwhile, Japan beat Australia 60-52 to take the bronze medal. Today’s events include wheelchair tennis, archery, swimming and equestrian. The Games run until Sept. 5. (Sources: The Guardian, BBC)
More on OZY
Southlake, Texas, seems to have it all: stately homes, intense civic pride and above all terrific schools. So when a video surfaced in 2018 showing Southlake high school students chanting the N-word — and when Black residents came forward to share stories of racist harassment and bullying — the school board vowed to make changes. But the unveiling of the Cultural Competence Action Plan set off a backlash that’s consumed Southlake, fueled by a growing national crusade against critical race theory. Hosted by NBC News national reporter Mike Hixenbaugh (host of the hit podcast Do No Harm) and NBC News correspondent Antonia Hylton, Southlake tells the story of how one idyllic city became the test case for a new political strategy with national repercussions. Follow or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to listen to the first two episodes now.
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