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 24, 2021
Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, made an unexpectedly positive statement about peace talks with South Korea today. U.S. frontline workers can get booster COVID-19 shots, but not because experts recommended it. And Europe wants to make it easier to charge your devices.
Kim Yo Jong, sister to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, surprisingly expressed openness today to peace talks if its southern neighbor abandoned “hostile policies.” She appeared to be responding to a recent call by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to officially close out the peninsula’s war, 68 years after its no-treaty armistice. Rather than calling it “premature,” as a lower-ranking official had, she called it “admirable.” Moon has continually pushed for talks, but amid military exercises and weapons tests, relations have deteriorated. It’s possible that the influential sibling wants to take advantage of those offers now — before Moon’s successor is elected in March. (Sources: BBC, AP)
It’s not immune from other considerations. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky is facing criticism for a decision on who should get COVID-19 booster shots that’s at odds with the agency’s panel of experts. The advisory board yesterday agreed with Walensky — and an earlier Food and Drug Administration ruling — that Americans over 65 and those with elevated medical risks should receive Pfizer-BioNTech booster injections. But in a close vote, it recommended that the extra shots not go to frontline workers, while Walensky said that will do the “greatest good.” Many worry that ignoring the scientists undermines the integrity of the process. (Sources: NYT, CBS)
3 - Not Independent
Catalan Separatist Leader Nabbed in Sardinia
The separation may have to wait. On the lam since Catalonia’s unsuccessful 2017 independence bid, the autonomous Spanish region’s former leader is now in custody. Italian border police arrested Carles Puigdemont Thursday in Sardinia. Spanish authorities are seeking his extradition on charges related to the independence plebiscite, which voters overwhelmingly approved, and alleged misuse of funds. His lawyer said he’ll fight the extradition, arguing that his arrest warrant had been suspended. But courts have left him stripped of the immunity that comes with his seat in the European Parliament, so his best hope may be amnesty, granted in July to nine other separatist leaders. (Sources: Euronews, BBC)
4 - Silver and Lead
Beijing Follows Taiwan Trade Move With Warplanes
Call it gunboat economics. After Taiwan dared to apply for membership in a trade pact among 11 other Asia-Pacific nations, China sent a delegation … of 24 warplanes that flew within the island nation’s air defense identification zone. China regards Taiwan as its territory, and joining any international body violates that policy. But this was particularly egregious after Beijing sought membership a week earlier. The pact was originally a hedge against Chinese influence, but after then-President Donald Trump withdrew from it, the remaining nations decided to join anyway in 2018. Now representing 13.5% of the global economy, China would overshadow other members if it gains admission. (Sources: The Guardian, CNN)
5 - Also Important …
Arizona Republicans’ controversial audit of 2020 presidential election results has failed to uncover fraud, as baselessly charged by Trump supporters, instead more decisively affirming President Joe Biden’s victory in the state, a leaked document shows. A gunman yesterday killed one person and injured 14 others at a Tennessee grocery store. And China has been preparing for a “possible storm” in the event that troubled real estate giant Evergrande collapses.
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All tied up in knots with electric cords? The European Commission has your number. Yesterday, the body issued a directive for a regulation to make USB-C plugs and ports the standard for mobile phones, tablets and even headphones. Many consumers, frustrated with an ever-changing charging landscape littered with obsolete cords, are likely to welcome the move. So who’s against it? Apple, with its unique Lightning connector, charged that the proposal “stifles innovation.” The commission estimates it’ll save device users $293 million a year and reduce some of the 12,000 annual tons of European electronic waste if it’s approved by the European Parliament. (Sources: EU Today, AP)
2 - Ballot Bunk
Posts Insist Germany Doesn’t Exist
Did World War II never end? That’s the premise of an online conspiracy theory seemingly aimed at undermining Sunday’s German election. The bizarre SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) theory posits that the victorious Allies never legitimized Germany or Austria. So the theory espoused by the Querdenken (lateral thinkers) movement, which resembles America’s QAnon, is that those who vote are traitors. Further, a mysterious “Cdr Jansen” will reconstitute Germany within prewar borders. While believers are thought to be few, authorities blame online malfeasance for last weekend’s killing of a gas station clerk over masking requirements in a western German town, raising fears of further incitement. (Sources: BBC, AP)
Check out this OZY feature about video games that combat misinformation.
We know plastic is everywhere. But these latest findings may be a bit harder to swallow. Published this week in Environmental Science & Technology Letters, a new study found 10 times more microplastic fibers in 1-year-olds’ poop than that of adults. It’s thought that plastic bottles and toys babies suck on may explain the difference. What one expert called “very worrying numbers” could mean additional exposure to endocrine disruptors and other harmful chemicals found in plastic. That could be aggravated by the possibility that microscopic particles infiltrate membranes and linger in the body, but more research will be needed to gauge such impacts. (Sources: Gizmodo, The Verge)
4 - The Envelope Please
Carlos Watson to Host Documentary Emmys
He’s turning the tables. OZY’s own Carlos Watson will be hosting Wednesday’s Documentary Emmy Awards. An Emmy winner himself, OZY’s CEO and host of the acclaimed Carlos Watson Show said he was “so honored to celebrate the tremendous achievements of these important storytellers” from a “landscape where documentary content is more essential than it’s ever been.” Numerous nominees include iconic figures like David Attenborough and Ken Burns and cover everything from hot button topics like the Islamic State group and election meddling to the compelling careers and struggles of artists like Miles Davis and Linda Ronstadt. Watch the ceremony here. (Sources: Awards Daily, The Emmys)
5 - Shot of a Lifetime
US Olympians Must Be Vaccinated
Every sport has rules. With its CEO writing that “this pandemic is far from over,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee will require anyone trying to qualify for the February 2022 Winter Games in Beijing to be inoculated against COVID-19. Competitors will have until Nov. 1 to present proof of vaccination or obtain a medical or religious exemption by Dec. 1. The Tokyo Summer Games didn’t require vaccination, while about 83% got shots and 28 Olympians tested positive for the virus. The International Olympic Committee still has to rule on requirements for Beijing. (Sources: Washington Post, The Guardian)
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More on OZY
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: You may not know the name Fredrick Brennan, but you’ve felt his impact. Today, the creator of imageboard 8Chan joins the show. Brennan opens up about his difficult childhood in foster care and experience with brittle bone disease, internet “incel” culture and his regrets. Plus, don’t miss his deep dive into the dangerous QAnon, whom he thinks is behind it, why former President Trump fueled the fire and why Brennan expects to see a fascist coup.
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