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.
Nov 19, 2021
In regional news, President Joe Biden met with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday for a meaningful North American summit, reviving the tradition after 5 years. Meanwhile, Julius Jones, whose case was a landmark in humane juvenile justice practice, has narrowly avoided the death sentence. In Brazil, a new report on deforestation raises international alarm. Finally, the US House of Representatives prepares for an early morning vote on President Biden’s government overhaul bill, after being delayed on Thursday night by an 8-hour speech on the House floor. Read all this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - North America, United
After a five-year break, North American leaders revive summit
U.S. President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador met on Thursday to declare that their union is strong, even as they work-through their major differences. While the leaders accented their congenial relationships with each other, there were clear points of contention. For the U.S. and Canada, there is some disagreement over how Biden’s government overhaul bill could affect auto-manufacturing that involves both countries. For the U.S. and México, there is the ever-tumultuous, ongoing debate over immigration visas and illegal border crossings. (Source: AP)
2 - Julius Jones Spared
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt commutes Jones’ death sentence to life
In a last minute move, Oklahoma Governor commuted the sentence of a man many believed to be wrongfully convicted. Julius Jones was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Paul Howell, a businessman from a suburb of Oklahoma City, during a carjacking over 20 years ago. Jones maintains his innocence, and alleges being framed by the real killer, his high school friend and co-defendant who testified against him. His case drew significant national attention and support after the Viola Davis-produced documentary “The Last Defense,” in 2018 and the subsequent support of other celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Baker Mayfield, a quarterback for the Cleveland Brown. Now, instead of the death sentence, Jones faces life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (Sources: AP, NYT)
3 - Deforestation Nation
Brazil’s Amazon forest increases deforestation rate to 15-year high
During the COP26 climate summit, Brazil and other nations pledged to combat deforestation by 2030, with continual reforestation. Yet, yesterday’s report by Brazil’s space research agency, Inpe, showed a trend in the wrong direction. This year, Brazil experienced a 22% increase in deforestation, the highest amount of forest lost in a year since 2006. The Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has encouraged agriculture and mining activities in the Amazon, leading to a huge increase in deforestation under his administration. Bolsonaro did not attend the COP26 summit himself, but said on tour in Dubai this week that the attacks are “unfair.” (Source: BBC)
4 - House Set to Pass the Big One
House vote delayed on Biden’s Build Back Better Act until today
The multi-trillion-dollar economic bill will hopefully go to the U.S. Senate this morning, after being delayed on Thursday night by a record-breaking speech on the House floor by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader. Democrats have little doubt the bill will pass the U.S. House, but are prepared for a more difficult reckoning in the Senate. Speaker Pelosi’s office called the speech a “temper tantrum,” maintaining that the “House Democrats are preparing to pass landmark legislation to lower costs, fight inflation and make big corporations and the wealthiest pay their fair share. But McCarthy is welcome to keep getting facts wrong on the House Floor.” (Source: CNN, NYT)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Facebook tries to crackdown on the LAPD. The Los Angeles Police Department has extensively used fake Facebook profiles to help solve crimes. Facebook, which prohibits that practice, sent a letter demanding the LAPD cease immediately. (Source: BBC) Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law that protects unvaccinated workers from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The law imposes fines on companies that require a COVID-19 vaccine as a prerequisite for employment. (Source: Axios) Modi Backs Down. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises to repeal three controversial farm laws that farmers have been protesting en masse for over a year. (Source: Reuters)
LISTEN TO FLASHBACK
The birth of Hollywood owes a surprising amount to the untimely demise of a single Frenchman
1 - LOL! Animals
Prepare for laughs with the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Since 2015, the Comedy Wildlife Awards has been gathering a collection of the funniest wildlife comedy from around the world, with animals really just being themselves. These hilarious photos feature animals in all kinds of humorous situations, from three gossipy racoons to an almighty prairie dog. British photographer Ken Jensen snapped the top photo, appropriately titled Ouch!, of a visibly uncomfortable monkey in China. Check out the photos of the animals who can’t help but make us crack a smile! (Sources: NPR, CNN)
2 - A Legend in Space
First Black woman to join International Space Station crew
For the first time in history, a Black woman will be joining the International Space Station crew. Though other astronauts of color have visited the space station, Jessica Watkins will be the first person of color to stay for an extended period. Watkins will join NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Robert Hines as well as astronaut Samantha Christorforetti of the European Space Agency on the trip to the station in April 2022. The astronauts are scheduled to launch aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission, known as Crew-4, is expected to last six months. (Sources: TheRoot, NYTimes)
3 - Boozy Stream
Hawaii stream discovered to have 1.2% ABV
A stream on the island of Oahu was found to be literally flowing with alcohol. Described as smelling like “a beer pub that hadn’t opened its doors for three or four days,” the aptly nicknamed “Party Stream” was discovered to have an ABV percentage of 1.2%, nearly a quarter of the strength of a Corona and definitely enough to feel a slight buzz. Environmentalist Carroll Cox alerted the Department of Health after a hiker informed him of the bizarre smell. Officials discovered that the scent was coming from Paradise Beverages liquor whose runoff had been contaminating the stream. (Source: WaPo)
4 - Fugitive Frauds
Couple convicted of stealing $20M in COVID relief funds, flees
The Los Angeles couple who attempted to steal $20 million in COVID-19 relief funds remain at large after FBI officials say they removed their electronic tracking bracelets in August. Richard Ayvazan and his wife, Marietta Terabelian, fled after being convicted for their role in the massive fraud scheme leaving behind their three children. The fugitive couple left a note for their kids saying, "We will be together again one day. This is not a goodbye but a brief break from each other." Despite evading the police, both parties were sentenced in absentia with Ayvazyan receiving 17 years and Terabelian receiving six years. (Sources: NYTimes, CNN)
5 - Faking It
Antonio Brown accused of obtaining fake vaccination card
Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Antonio Brown is being accused of seeking out a counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination card to be eligible for training camp. Brown’s former live-in personal chef, who spoke out after the two had a dispute about unpaid services claims that Brown’s girlfriend, model Cydney Moreau, asked him to seek out a fake card for Brown. The chef was unable to secure a card for the player but claims the player may have procured one nevertheless. (Source: ESPN)
Grace and Gratitude
As we enter the holiday season, we’d love to hear what you’re grateful for or what makes you smile. We’ll be sharing your thoughts in our Grace and Gratitude Corner.
“I just keep remembering what Maya Angelou offered for advice to us all: let's start by saying Good Morning! At the time I felt it was sort of silly, but in these incredibly ugly times of confrontation, violence, politicians insulting each other with degrading verbal attacks, lies and disinformation, I cherish her words. We have become uncivilized in our daily lives. So I am thankful for poets, artists, writers, who show us wisdom, beauty and reality. I am thankful that we have a choice in how to behave and dream that those "better angels" will thrive again. I believe there are millions of them out there.” - Lu
What do you think? Want to share your thoughts on what makes you grateful this season in a 15-20-second video? Please share your video or email with us at OzyCommunity@Ozy.com.
What’s your thought on the best caption for the photo of the week? Share it with us at OzyCommunity@Ozy.com. We will share the best responses received in our follow up next week.
OZY is a diverse, global and forward-looking media and entertainment company focused on “the New and the Next.” OZY creates space for fresh perspectives and offers new takes on everything from news and culture to technology, business, learning and entertainment.