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.
Oct 29, 2021
President Joe Biden departs for the G20 summit in Rome without reaching his desired agreement on the $1.75 trillion dollar overhaul bill, undermining his plan to show a clear U.S. commitment to combat climate change at the global meetings. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, announces Meta, an ambitious restructuring of Facebook, which creates a new entity designed to build out virtual and augmented reality spaces. And in a global effort to curb the pandemic, former world leaders propose an immediate plan to have richer countries airlift much needed vaccines to poorer countries, a strategy that supports the World Health Organization's goal of reaching 70% global immunity.
1 - Biden Abroad, Plan Stalled
Democrats miss crucial deadline before global summits
Democrats missed their deadline to give President Biden the parting gift of a fully agreed-upon policy proposal, forcing Biden to depart for the G20 summit in Rome empty-handed. This is a big weekend for Biden and for our global future; both the G20 and the subsequent U.N. climate summit in Glasgow will be largely dedicated to discussing how to stop the pandemic, boost economic growth, and coordinate efforts to address climate change. Biden had hoped that, by showing a finished $1.75 trillion government overhaul bill, he could show foreign leaders that the U.S. is unified and serious about addressing climate change. It would also show the world that American democracy is still intact, at a time when many are questioning the divided government’s ability to function at a basic level. (Source: AP, WaPo, NYT)
2 - Enter the Metaverse
Zuckerberg officially announces a name change for Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook, has announced an ambitious business restructuring. Meet Meta, the new name for the holding company formerly known as Facebook, whose subsidiaries are now Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and a plethora of other apps and businesses. Meta is a nod to Zuckerberg’s new vision for the future of his company, which is less as an app conglomerate and more as a new frontier for human interactions. He envisions a metaverse: a complex system of virtual and augmented reality spaces in which people can work, play and socialize. Many see this pivot as a way to put distance between Facebook and the Facebook Papers, a massive leak of internal documents that have rocked the company with scandal. (Source: WaPo)
3 - Vaccines For All
Over 160 former world leaders call for a vaccine airlift
The U.S., E.U., U.K., and Canada will have 240 million unused vaccines by the end of this month. In an open letter organized by former prime minister Gordon Brown, the international group of leaders proposes that these rich countries immediately begin airlifting these vaccines to countries most in need of the vaccine. If that plan could be sustained, the letter says, 1.1 billion vaccines could be transferred over four months, which would bring the world significantly closer to the World Health Organization’s goal of a global vaccination rate of 70 percent by next Spring. The letter is addressed to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi who will be hosting the G20 summit in Rome this weekend. (Source: BBC)
4 - Oil Execs Get Burned
U.S. lawmakers interrogate top oil executives on climate change
In a six-hour session Thursday, firms like BP, Shell, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil faced intense questioning from Congress. This was the first time in history that oil bosses faced questioning publicly and under oath. “For far too long, Big Oil has escaped accountability for its central role in bringing our planet to the brink of a climate catastrophe,” is how committee chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney introduced the session. Democrats are trying to hold these corporations legally culpable for the environmental damages to which their fossil fuel production has contributed. (Source: BBC)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Misdemeanor sex crime charge levied against Andrew Cuomo. The former governor of New York resigned after a public sexual harassment scandal and now he has been formally charged with groping the complainant. (Source: NYT) Florida sues Biden. The state of Florida is suing the Biden administration over its vaccine mandate for federal contractors, as announced by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis Thursday. (Source: NPR) Oklahoma executes man, ends six-year execution moratorium. John Marion Grant, 60, was executed for the 1998 slaying of a prison cafeteria worker. He convulsed and vomited as he died, which is rare. (Source: AP)
WATCH LaLa Milan
This comedian and personality keeps us laughing as she spills the tea on her rise to success and lessons in love.
1 - Virgin Birth
California condor birds don’t need males to reproduce
Scientists have recently surveyed a condo of critically-endangered California condor birds and found that two of the birds had been produced without any genetic contribution from the birds that should have been their fathers. According to a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Heredity, the birds came about due to facultative parthenogenesis—or virgin birth, a trait common in reptiles and fish but not in birds. Just thirty years ago, there were only 22 birds alive. Now, established breeding programs have since boosted that number to over 500, but the animals remain at the brink of extinction. (Sources: NatGeo, The Atlantic)
2 - Stay Out of Texas
NAACP urges athletes to avoid Texas over abortion and voting laws
The civil rights organization, NAACP, has called on players across all major league sports to boycott signing with any Texas team after its recent controversial laws. In an open letter to the NBA, NFL, the MLB, and the WNBA, NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson cited the state’s near-total abortion ban, new restrictive voting rights laws, lack of mask mandates and vaccine requirements in their demands for change. (Sources: NPR, ESPN)
3 - A Progressive Pilot
Chicago pilots universal basic income program
The city of Chicago will send $500 to $5,000 to low-income families as part of a pilot universal basic income program. According to The Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has said it is the largest universal basic income program in the country. Applicants for the Chicago program will be chosen at random, but must earn less than $35,000 a year to qualify. Officials and experts have been torn over the effectiveness of the program. Many have hailed it as a necessary step to "lift" people out of poverty, but critics have targeted the programs as an example of policies that discourages work amid a labor shortage. (Sources: NPR, TheHill)
4 - Book Review
Lawmaker targets 850 femme books that make students feel uncomfortable
Texas lawmaker, Rep. Matt Krause (R), sent a letter on Monday to the Texas Education Agency and superintendents of school districts around the state, asking each official to confirm whether their schools possess any books on his 850-item long list. Krause explained he is targeting materials that "might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex." The unusual move also requested schools to provide a detailed accounting of the location and costs of the targeted books Though Krause did not follow up with any immediate next steps, the request mentioned recent efforts to remove books from libraries and classrooms, if the topics focused on issues from transgender identity to critical race theory. (Sources: CNN, NPR)
5 - Solving A 100-Year Old Mystery
Scientists discover new facts from 4,000-year old mummies
Over a century ago, Hundreds of naturally preserved mummies were discovered in the Xinjiang region of China, a desert area that is known for being "one of the most hostile places on Earth.” Since then, the mummies have been a mystery to archaeologists. Some thought the remains were from migrants, who had brought farming practices to the area. But now, a genomic analysis suggests that they were indigenous people who may have adopted agricultural methods from neighboring groups. It's believed that they were buried in the area starting 2,000 or more years ago. (Source: CNN, Nature)
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