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Sep 14, 2021
Since the Taliban seized power, a dearth of aid to Afghanistan has put 14 million people at risk of starvation, the U.N. has warned. Polls show Gavin Newsom is set for victory over Larry Elder as California holds a recall election. And pop stars, and even politicians, wowed at the Met Gala in New York.
UN Sounds Alarm Over Possible Economic Collapse, Starvation
Afghanistan is at dire risk of humanitarian disaster, according to the U.N. Donors yesterday pledged more than $1 billion to help the country, which fell to the Taliban last month. Despite this, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has warned of its possible “economic collapse.” The World Food Program says 14 million Afghans are near starvation after aid money dried up following the Taliban takeover. China and Pakistan have already offered help. While Western countries have not recognized the new government, Guterres said it was important for the international community to “engage” with the militant group in order to provide humanitarian assistance. (Sources: Al Jazeera, Washington Post)
Today’s D-Day for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who faces being removed from office in a recall election. The Democrat is facing pushback for his handling of the pandemic and lockdowns, a homelessness crisis and a summer of wildfires. His opponent, Larry Elder, is promising to lift California’s mask and vaccine mandates. Republican talk radio host Elder is the front-runner among some 46 replacement candidates. Yesterday, President Joe Biden campaigned for Newsom, linking Elder to Trump. In a heavily Democrat state, the GOP is hoping for its first statewide victory since 2006. However, polls show Newsom is likely to win. (Sources: AP, CNBC )
3 - Norway Elections
Center-Left Wins After Vote Dominated by Oil, Climate
It’s a blow for the oil industry. Norway’s left-wing opposition party yesterday won the Scandinavian country’s general election in a landslide. Led by Labor Party head Jonas Gahr Støre, it unseated the center-right coalition that’s been in power since 2013. Støre, a 61-year-old millionaire, is now likely to replace Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Norway is Western Europe’s largest oil and gas producer, and environmental issues dominated the election. All parties actually called for a transition away from fossil fuels to varying degrees. Støre is now likely to have to negotiate with the Socialist left, which has stronger environmental policies. (Sources: Al Jazeera, The Guardian )
4 - A Taxing Question
Democrats Release Income Tax Increase Details
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Tax the Rich” dress gave the short version of the House Democrats’ tax plans, but the devil is in the detail. While focusing on raising tax rates on income, it steers clear of wealth gains and inheritances. The party wants to pay for President Biden’s massive social and climate change packages through tax increases of more than $2 trillion, but the mega-rich are likely to remain mostly unaffected. Criticism was swift with Democratic chairman of the Finance Committee Ron Wyden saying: “It would be a monumental mistake for Congress to pass a bill that really exempts billionaires.” (Sources: NYT, WSJ )
5 - Also Important …
Hurricane Nicholas has made landfall on the Texas coast, bringing heavy rains and a risk of flooding. Julius Jones, an Oklahoma death row inmate who has maintained his innocence for 22 years and for whom Kim Kardashian has advocated, could walk free after being recommended for commutation. And Yemen’s Houthi rebels are threatening to gain control over the government’s last stronghold in the war-torn country’s north.
Coronavirus Update: Five children in California, including a newborn baby, have been orphaned after their parents both died of COVID-19. And a coronavirus outbreak in China's Fujian province that’s linked to a school is spreading, with more than 100 people now infected.
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Pop Stars, Sports Icons, Politicians Wowed at the Met Gala
It’s been a long time since the stars of the world got to put on their glad rags and hit the red carpet. The fashion at last night’s Met Gala in New York more than made up for it though with outfits ranging from the sublime to the bizarre. Singer Billie Eilish ditched her staple baggy pants for a baby pink Oscar de la Renta gown that channeled old Hollywood, while Rihanna wrapped herself in puffy black Balenciaga couture and accessorized with a matching beanie. Naomi Osaka swapped her court gear for Louis Vuitton, while Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quite literally wore her politics on her sleeve … or rather her back, with a classic white gown saying “Tax the Rich.” (Sources: Vogue, WSJ)
2 - A Mammoth Task
Could Scientists Return an Extinct Creature to Siberia?
It could be a Colossal mistake. A new company called Colossal just announced ambitious plans to resurrect a creature that’s been extinct for about 4,000 years: the woolly mammoth. The bioscience firm has raised $15 million in initial funding and plans to edit together elephant and mammoth DNA in the hope of producing embryos and returning the creature to Siberia. The question of whether it’s possible, or ethical, is the elephant in the room. Some worry their release into the wild could change the ecosystem in unforeseen ways. The scientists behind the idea say their presence could actually help against climate change. (Sources: NYT, AFP)
What do you think? Should scientists try to bring back woolly mammoths? Take our poll.
3 - Bad Apple?
How Hackers Have been Exploiting a Flaw in iPhones
You need to update your iPhone. Now. Apple is advising users to do so in order to fix a bug that likely enabled governments to install Pegasus spyware on the phones of political dissidents, journalists and others. The spyware, developed by an Israeli company, can steal data and even activate your phone’s camera. The updates are also necessary on iPads, Apple Watch and MacOS in order to fix the problem that the tech giant says “may have been actively exploited.” The iOS update advice yesterday came just before today’s much-awaited launch of the new iPhone 13. (Sources: The Verge, TechCrunch)
4 - College Cannabis
Pandemic Sees Students Ditching Booze for Blunts
It’s been a notably tough 18 months for college students with classes going online and rite-of-passage partying canceled. So how have they been coping? With Marijuana apparently. A National Institutes of Health study found that, while alcohol use has fallen among students, the number taking to the wacky baccy has increased. Some 44% of college students reported smoking weed in the past year, a jump of 6% since 2015, while only 56% said they’d consumed alcohol, a 6% drop compared to 2019. There was also less binge drinking but higher psychedelic use. It will be interesting to see if that changes as campus life resumes.(Sources: The Hill, Forbes)
5 - A Marathon Effort
British Runners Get Extra Mileage After Measurement Mistake
If you’ve ever run a marathon you’ve likely been counting the miles until you reach the end. Unfortunately for participants in England’s Brighton Marathon, they had to run an extra 500 meters (0.31 miles) due to “a basic human error in laying out a cone line,” organizers, who apologized, said. The news is sparking debate on social media, with some suggesting that the runner who first crossed the real marathon threshold at 26.2 miles should have won. In fact, he was overtaken in the last extraneous 200 meters (0.12 miles). (Sources: CNN, 7News)
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Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: Get ready to laugh out loud with Cedric The Entertainer. Today, one of the OG Kings of Comedy joins Carlos and opens up about his big break, how he got his iconic name, and staying humble through it all. The soon-to-be Emmy host discusses what his new show The Neighborhood has taught him about race relations and reveals his wild call with Michael Jackson.
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