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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.
Sep 04, 2021
After claiming at least 60 lives across eight states, Hurricane Ida may help America come to grips with climate protection efforts. The Taliban claim to have captured the last Afghan province, but holdouts deny that. And a relatively unknown teenager has ousted Naomi Osaka from the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
This was no ordinary storm. But officials warned that extreme weather events like Hurricane Ida, which killed more than 60 people in eight states as its remnants brought heavy rains and devastating flooding, may well become commonplace with the warming climate. While at its strongest in Louisiana, the death toll was highest in New Jersey, where 25 people died, many drowned in vehicles. In New York City some basement apartments became death traps. The toll may pressure legislators in Washington to boost efforts, like $47 billion allocated in a bipartisan infrastructure package up for a House vote this month, to protect low-lying populations from climate-induced disasters. (Sources: USA Today, NYT, The Hill)
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They’re taking sex seriously. Or at least the more aware among Americans of reproductive age are, Vice reports. The Supreme Court’s late Wednesday decision to let a Texas anti-abortion law stand means legally terminating a pregnancy there will be nearly impossible. But the fight isn’t over. Other state restrictions are being challenged, and lawsuits to overturn the Texas law will need to run their course before the high court makes a substantive decision. Until then, many people’s sex lives in Texas just got a lot more complicated with the threat of abortion vigilantes being able to sue anyone who helps them get to one of the few clinics that provide the service. (Source: Vice)
3 - Overwhelming Force
Taliban Claim Conquest of Final Afghan Province
Three weeks after seizing Kabul, Taliban sources said Friday they’d taken the Panjshir Valley, which comprises the last province outside of the Islamists’ control. It would also be a psychological blow to the group’s foes, as Panjshiris, led by the legendary Ahmad Shah Massoud, held out against both Soviet and Taliban forces in the 1980s and 1990s. His son, resistance leader Ahmad Massoud, denies his forces have been defeated by the Taliban, who were able to attack the valley with captured U.S.-supplied weapons and vehicles. Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman said their new government, which isn’t expected to include any former leaders, was decided and would be announced shortly. (Sources: BBC, Reuters, The Washington Post)
4 - Sick Out
Jobs Report Shows Impact of Surging Virus
The recovery celebration may have been premature. The U.S. Department of Labor said Friday that American employers added only 235,000 jobs to the economy last month — a far cry from the 720,000 experts had predicted. Much of the slowdown came in in-person sectors like leisure and hospitality, even while other sectors like manufacturing kept expanding workforces, curtailing unemployment to 5.2%, a pandemic low. Meanwhile, in the U.K., surging contagion and Brexit continue to cause shortages of workers and goods, which economists expect will juice inflation, raising the cost of living while Britons see incomes drop. (Sources: WSJ [sub], The Guardian)
5 - Also Important …
Known from images of his presiding over the U.S. Senate chamber on Jan. 6 sporting a furry hat with horns, “QAnon Shaman” Jacob Anthony Chansley pleaded guilty Friday to obstruction of an official proceeding under a deal in which he could face four years imprisonment when sentenced in November. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, President Biden has ordered government agencies to review classified documents on the attacks for possible public release. And New Zealand plans to strengthen its security laws after a known ISIS sympathizer stabbed seven people in an Auckland supermarket Friday.
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Naomi Osaka’s seen this episode before. Except in 2018 she was the tennis newcomer shocking the superstar, Serena Williams, at the U.S. Open. Yesterday it was the No. 3 ranked Osaka’s turn, losing in three sets 5-7, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, in the tournament’s third round to 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez. Her global ranking? Seventy-third, having won her first WTA tournament in March at Mexico’s Monterrey Open. Osaka has made headlines speaking publicly of her mental health issues, and the New York crowd, which booed her at times, “helped me get the win,” said Fernandez in a comment sure to raise eyebrows among Canadian compatriots celebrated for their compassion. (Sources: SI, CBS)
Click below to read OZY's look at how Osaka’s homeland is becoming a sporting power.
In George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Thought Police couldn’t actually read your mind. But since that eponymous year, technology has come a long way. Researchers have implanted images in the brains of mice to control their behavior. It won’t be long until tech capable of reading human minds will exist. While it’ll potentially do wonders for Alzheimer’s sufferers, interfacing with neurons could leave people vulnerable to their very thoughts being open to the worst kind of privacy invasions. So a group of scientists has created the NeuroRights Initiative at New York’s Columbia University, which is advocating for codified rights to keep your thoughts private — before they can be assimilated. (Source: Politico)
3 - Unfriending With Prejudice
How Social Media Helps Kill Pakistani 'Heretics’
When a young man murdered 57-year-old Tahir Ahmad Naseem in a court complex last year, not everyone was horrified. A member of the Ahmadi sect that identifies with Islam, the exile was lured back to Pakistan by a Facebook contact, who then denounced him as claiming to be a messiah. Another Ahmadi, 25-year-old Siraj, heard fintech colleagues speak admiringly of the assassin, prompting him to quit his job. A decade ago, sect members found comfort in social media as a place to argue for their rights. Now, Siraj fears that befriending former colleagues could lead to his outing and doxxing — threatening a fate similar to Naseem’s. (Source: Rest of World)
4 - The Other Pandemic
Long COVID Still Isn’t Getting Much Respect
We knew about this last summer. Yet the medical establishment was painfully slow to recognize long-haul coronavirus sufferers, laments The Atlantic’s medical writer Ed Yong. More than a year later, the condition is widely recognized, but researchers still quibble over how to define it and whether it deserves special attention. And despite earlier assertions that the young and fit had little pandemic worries, many long-haulers come from those demographics, and experts are at a loss to predict who’s susceptible to the condition. Even the vaccinated have developed long-term symptoms. But one thing is clear, Yong writes: Those with the most knowledge are the patients themselves, and if doctors want to lick this thing, they’d better start listening to them. (Source: The Atlantic)
5 - Dance With Death
Ballet and Murder in the Heart of Trump Country
They loved God, guns and choreography. Dancer Ashley Benefield and her businessman husband, Doug, came off the GOP campaign trail to launch their dream of building the American National Ballet. The Charleston, South Carolina-based company hired a multiracial and international ensemble that even welcomed dancers too tall for other companies. But the dream disintegrated in 2017 with the Benefields’ marriage. As Alice Robb writes for Vanity Fair, the saga took a dark turn in November when Ashley was arrested in the fatal shooting of her husband in Florida, leaving jilted company members wondering if their parts in the tragic drama were part of an elaborate fantasy. (Source: Vanity Fair)
More on OZY
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger joins Carlos to share the “real real” on what went down when then-President Trump called to ask him to “find” 11,780 votes for him. Cited in Trump’s second impeachment, that infamous arm-twisting was never going to change the outcome, says Raffensperger, because “there were no votes to find.” For a wide-ranging conversation from the legacy of the 45th president to today’s battles over voting rights, tune in now.
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