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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 07, 2021
The DOJ has come out guns blazing against Texas' new restrictive abortion laws, with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowing to challenge them. Afghan university students have been separated by gender and pop-art murals are being whitewashed as the Taliban cement power. And Michael K. Williams, who played Omar in The Wire, has died aged 54.
One of New Afghanistan Ministers on FBI’s Wanted List
The Orwellian-sounding Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is back. The Taliban announced the makeup of Afghanistan’s new “acting” government today, some three weeks after taking over the country as U.S. forces pulled out. Mohammad Hasan Akhund was appointed as interim prime minister, the group’s co-founder, Abdul Ghani Baradar, as his deputy and FBI-wanted militant Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani Network, as interior minister. The Haqqani Network is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. Earlier today Taliban militants fired warning shots at a protest in Kabul. The group has promised an “inclusive” government, but no women have yet been named. (Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Tweet, Khaama Press)
The DOJ Vows to 'Protect' Women in Face of Abortion Law
Is there some hope for Texas women seeking abortions? U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland suggested as much yesterday, vowing that the Justice Department would explore “all options” to contest the state’s new restrictive law. His comments came after President Joe Biden urged the DOJ to find ways to challenge the law, which bans abortions after six weeks. It’s been termed a “vigilante” bill because it enables private citizens to bring charges against abortion providers. Republicans in seven states are now considering copycat laws, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for a vote that would enshrine abortion rights into federal law later this month. (Sources: Washington Post, NYT)
3 - The Times They Are A Changin’
Former Restrictions Return as Taliban Consolidate Power
Students are back at university in Afghanistan, some three weeks after the Taliban takeover. But there’s one stark difference: Classrooms have implemented gender divides, with curtains separating male and female students. Other signs of the Islamist group’s agenda are evident on Kabul’s blast walls. Once home to colorful murals, they’re slowly being whitewashed and paintings of famous musicians being replaced by messages praising the Taliban. In the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, women marched against the Taliban yesterday, while there is an internet blackout in the recently conquered rebel province of Panjshir, which is reportedly also facing food shortages. (Sources: Washington Post, Al Jazeera)
4 - Bolsonaro’s Last Stand?
Unpopular Brazilian Leader Calls Supporters to Mass Rallies
Will it be a superspreader event? Maybe, if Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s hoped-for millions turn out at his Independence Day rallies today. The far-right leader wants to re-energize his base as his popularity plummets in the polls amid corruption allegations and a pandemic-hit economy. He's currently on track to lose to left-wing former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in next year’s presidential election. With both pro and anti-Bolsonaro rallies set for today, some are expecting violence in the country’s biggest cities. There are even fears it could lead to an insurrection attempt similar to the U.S. Capitol riot. (Sources: Al Jazeera, The Guardian)
Today El Salvador will become the first country to recognize crypto-currency Bitcoin as legal tender. The government of millennial President Nayib Bukele is installing 200 Bitcoin ATMs, and the controversial currency can now be used to pay for everything from a cup of coffee to home loans. What’s being dubbed “B-Day” will be monitored closely by governments elsewhere and the International Monetary Fund, which has warned against using the tokens as legal tender. But El Salvadoran officials say Bitcoin’s adoption will help the impoverished country, which operates on a largely cash-based economy. (Sources: WSJ (Sub), BBC, BI)
Read more about some of the world’s most interesting economies on OZY.
Thought a coup d’état in West Africa didn’t affect the rest of the world? Think again. After the military seized power in Guinea, the second-biggest producer of aluminum ore bauxite, prices for the substance shot up to their highest in 18 months. Myanmar’s military has freed Wirathu, an anti-Muslim Buddhist monk, throwing out the sedition charges against him. And a three-year-old autistic boy who wasmissing in rural Australiafor three days has been reunited with his family, who are calling his survival “a miracle.”
Coronavirus Update: Vietnam has jailed a man for five years for breaking quarantine rules and spreading COVID-19. And India is preparing for a possible third wave during its September to November festival season.
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Michael K. Williams Dead of Suspected Drug Overdose
“You come at the king you best not miss.” That was the catchphrase of Omar, the facially scarred gay drug dealer antihero of cult TV show The Wire. The actor who played him, five-time Emmy-nominee Michael K. Williams died aged 54 yesterday. Williams got his scar in a bar fight and was discovered as an actor by rapper Tupac Shakur. Since The Wire, a gritty police series set in Baltimore, Williams has appeared in Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five drama When They See Us. The actor had spoken openly about his battles with drug addiction and his death is being investigated as a possible overdose. (Sources: NYT, THR)
2 - Christopher Columbus Canceled?
Mexico Replaces Statue With Indigenous Woman
Old white guys are being toppled all over the world. Maybe not the ones in actual government, but certainly the ones on pedestals. After Mexico City removed a prominent 19th-century bronze statue of Christopher Columbus, it announced that a monument of an Indigenous woman will take its place. Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said civilizations had existed in Mexico for centuries before Columbus’ “discovery of America.” Several statues of the Italian navigator have been removed from U.S. cities since social justice protests prompted a re-examination of colonialism worldwide. The Columbus statue will not be axed altogether, however, and will be resituated elsewhere. (Sources: Reuters, CNN)
What do you think? What’s the best way to deal with statues like this? Take our poll.
3 - China’s #MeToo Flop
Alibaba Manager Accused of Rape Let Off
What exactly is “forcible indecency”? Not a crime, according to a Chinese court which threw out a case against a former Alibaba manager who was accused of rape. His arrest made headlines last month after a female staffer said she was made to drink excessively and then raped on a work trip. The tech giant appeared to face a #MeToo reckoning and fired the man involved, named only as Wang. However, a court in Jinan city said yesterday that while the man had committed “forcible indecency” it was not a crime. Many on Weibo are now railing against a lack of accountability. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
4 - Face to Face
Conjoined Twins Separated in Israel
Two twin sisters can finally look at each other. That’s after the babies, who were born conjoined at the back of the head, were successfully separated in a rare surgery in Israel. Similar operations have only been performed globally about 20 times. “Whenever you have two babies attached together with their brains and the vessels supplying the brains, it makes it even more complex,” said Mickey Gideon, the doctor who led the surgery. The 12-month-olds are some of the youngest conjoined twins to ever be separated, with their skulls and scalps being reconstructed. The girls are now home, though Gideon said their cognitive ability could not yet be estimated. (Sources: NBC, The Daily Beast)
5 - Tennis’ Teen Terrors
Gen Z Players Are Dominating at the US Open
At just 18, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz appears set for tennis greatness. The teenager became the youngest tennis player to reach the men’s quarterfinals in the U.S. Open on Sunday after his shock victory over No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas. He’s not the only teen smashing it at this year’s Open, with Leylah Fernandez, 19, not only beating tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, but also winning her match against former U.S. Open champion Angelique Kerber. Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18, yesterday joined the groundbreaking teen cohort, beating American Shelby Rogers. Alcaraz plays another youngster, 21-year-old Félix Auger-Aliassime, for a place in the semifinals today. (Sources: SuperSport, CNN, Tennis.com)
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