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 08, 2021
Afghanistan’s new government is made up of Taliban stalwarts, including a Haqqani network militant wanted by the FBI, and there isn’t a woman in sight. As Texas tightens abortion restrictions, neighboring Mexico has gone the other way, decriminalizing terminations. And a fowl-mouthed Australian duck has shocked scientists by mimicking human speech.
The Orwellian-sounding Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is back. The Taliban announced the makeup of Afghanistan’s new — all-male — interim government yesterday. Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is wanted by the FBI and headed the notorious Haqqani network, which is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., was made interior minister. Mullah Hasan Akhund, who is on a U.N. blacklist, was appointed prime minister. Others in senior positions include former Guantanamo detainees. The U.S. expressed concern over the “track records” of some members of the new government, warning, “The world is watching closely.” (Sources:Al Jazeera,BBC, CNN, The Guardian)
Abortion Decriminalized in World’s Second-Biggest Catholic Country
As American states like Texas start rolling back access for women seeking to terminate pregnancies, abortion rights activists south of the border scored a major victory. Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a stunning move for the conservative Catholic country. The ruling comes after Argentina legalized abortion last year and it could suggest a domino effect across Latin America. Although the Mexican ruling doesn’t legalize abortion, it does means women arrested for having the procedure can sue to get the charges dropped and those serving prison terms could seek to be freed. (Sources: NYT, Washington Post)
3 - US Climate Crisis
Weather-Related Disasters Will Be More Frequent, Biden Says
“Code red” for climate change. That’s what President Joe Biden warned yesterday as he toured New York and New Jersey, which were badly hit by the remnants of Hurricane Ida last week. Noting that natural disasters are increasing, he touted his massive Build Back Better infrastructure plan as one way to combat their effects. Biden also pointed to fires on the West Coast, saying 1 in 3 Americans live in a county that was affected by a disaster within the past three months. The administration plans to ask Congress for an extra $24 billion to respond to major weather events. (Sources: Washington Post, NYT)
4 - BlackRock Goes to Beijing
Firm First Foreign Company to Run Chinese Mutual Fund
“A tragic mistake.” That’s what billionaire philanthropist George Soros thinks of the American company’s decision to launch the first foreign-run mutual fund in China. Though BlackRock will be allowed to sell to citizens of the world’s second-largest economy, it’ll face competition from the more than 8,300 mutual funds already in China. But BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, raised about $1 billion for the fund and attracted some 111,000 investors ahead of tomorrow’s deadline. Soros, however, has warned the move into China could harm U.S. security interests and risk clients’ money. (Sources: Bloomberg, WSJ (sub)
5 - Also Important …
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a divisive election law, despite Democrats’ opposition. Hong Kong police today arrested several members of a group who organized a vigil in June to mark the Tiananmen Square massacre. And a fire in an overcrowded Indonesian prison has killed more than 40 people.
Coronavirus Update: Anti-vaxprotesters threw gravel at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday as he was out campaigning. Coronavirus cases are surging among teens and children in the U.S. as they restart school.
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He’s not ducking around. Researchers say they’ve discovered the first talking duck, and what he has to say is far from polite. “You bloody fool,” the bird, named Ripper, appears to say repeatedly in a video from 1987 that scientists recently rediscovered. They say the hand-raised Australian musk duck learned to mimic the human expression as well as the sound of a door slamming — something seen before in parrots and other birds, but never in ducks or geese. Ripper usually made the sounds when exhibiting his mating display, but whether or not the ladies found his language attractive is unclear. (Sources: Gizmodo, AFP)
2 - ‘Chivo’ Crypto?
Not Smooth Sailing as El Salvador Adopts Bitcoin as Legal Tender
Not so Chivo. That’s what El Salvador’s government calls its bitcoin e-wallet, local slang for “cool.” But its rollout yesterday was anything but after the app crashed under heavy demand from citizens trying to get a promised $30 bitcoin credit. It was a rocky start as the impoverished Latin American nation became the first in the world to render the controversial cryptocurrency legal tender. Meanwhile, Bitcoin fell 9.9%, its lowest in weeks, and some protesters took to the streets over its adoption. President Nayib Bukele was undeterred, however, saying the government took advantage of the drop to buy more bitcoin. (Sources: WSJ (sub), BBC)
What do you think? Should other countries follow El Salvador’s lead? Take our poll.
3 - Avo-pocalypse?
Climate Change Puts Favorite Foods at Risk
Do you enjoy the millennial staples of vanilla lattes and avocado on toast? Then you should be worried. A new study suggests wild relatives of vanilla and avocado are facing extinction, along with potatoes and cotton. All eight wild species of vanilla orchids found in Central and South America are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, along with 3 of 5 avocado species. Rising temperatures are set to reduce crop yields, threatening food security, researchers found. They recommend preserving wild plants’ diversity in gene banks and implementing breeding programs to help crops adapt. (Source: The Guardian)
4 - Trans Talent
OZY Studios Sign Transgender Chef, Model and Activist
“Pushing culture forward” is what OZY does best, discovering rising stars like Amanda Gorman and examining issues like racial inequality in health care. So it’s no surprise OZY Studios just signed deals with three breakthrough transgender stars: Paxx Caraballo Moll is a celebrated Puerto Rican chef, Dan Eggers is an Alabama-based activist and Rosalynne Montoya is a nonbinary model famous on TikTok and Instagram. “We feel this is an important moment to highlight the complexity of humanity,” said OZY CEO Carlos Watson. “The truly diverse life experiences of these incredible talents are one important way in which we can do that.” (Source: Deadline)
5 - Fierce Fernandez
Breakout Tennis Teen Heads to US Open Semifinal
She’s the “giant killer.” Canada’s Leylah Fernandez beat Naomi Osaka so badly the Japanese star said she was considering taking a break from tennis. In the next round she took down former No. 1 Angelique Kerber. Tuesday she unseated fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina. While Fernandez, who has Ecuadorian and Filipino heritage, has jokingly put her stunning rise down to a patriotic diet of Canadian maple syrup, it’s clear the 19-year-old is one to watch: Even the legendary Billie Jean King is tweeting her encouragement from the sidelines. Next 73rd-ranked Fernandez takes on Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinal on Friday. (Sources: SCMP, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, Twitter)
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