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.
Dec 20, 2021
In a surprise move over the weekend, Sen. Joe Manchin put the kibosh on President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better bill. Dr. Francis Collins stepped down after 12 years as director of the NIH with dire warnings that omicron could cause up to a million new infections daily. Meanwhile, 15 million Americans are in danger of losing crucial health care benefits, as Medicaid coverage extended during the pandemic is set to expire mid-month. And in Chile, leftist politician Gabriel Boric handily defeated the far-right candidate in a sweeping victory on Sunday.
1 - Just Say No
Sen. Joe Manchin once again throws Biden a curveball
In a surprise maneuver, Sen. Joe Manchin put the brakes on President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion Build Back Better bill, which would overhaul social spending and environmental regulations, saying in an interview with Fox News Sunday he “cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation.” But his wording left a ray of hope: If the bill were cut down to a smaller package, it seems he might reconsider. Manchin’s last-minute stunt comes after months of negotiations, as Democrats strive to align their centrist wing with the ambitious spending proposal, knowing they’re unlikely to garner a single Republican vote. (Source: AP)
2 - Avalanche Ahead?
Departing NIH head warns the pandemic may get a whole lot worse
After two years of life with the coronavirus, we thought we’d seen it all. But just before stepping down after 12 years as director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins made a dire new warning, saying the new omicron variant could send the U.S. into an even darker chapter of the pandemic. Collins warned of a possible million new infections a day if Americans don’t start taking COVID seriously. It’s “almost like we’re starting over with a different virus than where we began,” he said, referring to the 57 identified mutations of the omicron variant. (Source: NPR)
3 - Double Trouble
Millions could be left without Medicaid as public health emergency ends
Up to 15 million Americans are in danger of losing crucial health care services, as COVID cases are steadily on the rise. Social safety nets expanded during the pandemic gave Medicaid coverage to millions who would otherwise have been purged from the program’s rolls. But that provision, passed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of March 2020, is set to expire on Jan. 15. While alternative forms of affordable coverage could be made available to those losing Medicaid benefits, experts worry that few will realize they’ve even lost their coverage. Experts project the loss will disproportionately impact communities of color. (Source: NBC News)
4 - Chile Has Chosen
Gabriel Boric glides into office as Chile’s next, and youngest, president
Leftist Gabriel Boric defeated far-right candidate José Antonio Kast in a decisive victory on Sunday. Boric, who ran on a platform addressing income inequality, climate change and long work hours, has supported mass anti-government protests over the last weeks … and years … leading up to this year’s polarized election. The election was called only 90 minutes after polls closed, and with only half the votes counted, after Kast’s early concession. Kast and outgoing President Sebastián Piñera congratulated Boric on his win. At 35, he will be Chile’s youngest president and one of the world’s youngest leaders. (Source: BBC)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker test positive for COVID-19. Both attributed their mild symptoms to having been vaccinated and receiving booster shots. (Source: NBC News) Record low turnout in Hong Kong elections yields sweeping pro-Beijing victories. Only 30.3% of voters showed up in what critics called a huge step backward for democratic Hong Kong. (Source: Reuters) ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’: Despite COVID fears and surging cases, the new superhero movie scored third-best global debut ever this weekend, earning more than $587 million worldwide. (Source: Deadline).
Watch Congresswoman Katie Porter
As She Explains Why Capitalism Needs Guardrails
1 - Defender of Women
Pope Francis takes an uncompromising stance against domestic violence
The pope had strong words for perpetrators of domestic violence on Sunday, emphasizing that acts of violence against women are “almost satanic” and “very humiliating.” The pope made his statements during a conversation in which a woman named Giovanna, a mother of four, identified herself as a victim of domestic violence. During the pandemic, intimate partner abuse has exploded globally as couples are forced into close proximity over long periods. Police records in Italy show about 90 violent acts committed against women daily, 62% of those are cases of domestic violence. Pope Francis has staunchly condemned domestic violence throughout the pandemic. (Source: TheHill)
2 - Hockey Lockdown
The National Hockey League won’t allow cross-border games for now
American and Canadian NHL teams regularly cross borders to play. But as the COVID pandemic surges due to the new omicron variant, the sports organization has shuttered seven teams and will enforce a temporary stop to cross-border games. The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs were the latest teams to be asked to suspend playing. About 27 games have been postponed and 12 more will be rescheduled, as the league struggles to limit the spread of the virus among players and fans. The temporary stoppage will end Dec. 26 after the holiday break and all games will be rescheduled. (Source: AP)
3 - ‘RIP Drakeo’
Drakeo the Ruler dies after being stabbed at Los Angeles music festival
Darrell Caldwell, aka Drakeo the Ruler, was fatally stabbed when a fight broke out backstage just minutes before he was set to perform at the Once Upon a Time in LA festival on Saturday. Police are investigating the incident, but as of yesterday no arrests had been made. The 28-year-old rapper was a rising name, and recently featured on rap star Drake’s single “Talk to Me.” Drake mourned his fellow artist yesterday, writing on Instagram: “Always picked my spirit up with your energy. RIP Drakeo,” while other prominent rappers and writers made their tributes. (Source: BBC)
4 - Crypto for Christmas
Trading apps capitalize on the holidays to lure in new crypto users
The popular retail trading app Robinhood has launched a new feature that allows users to give the gift of crypto to their loved ones, while Cash App made a similar move this week. On Robinhood, users can now send “as little as $1 worth of one of seven cryptocurrencies” to anyone they like, and the recipient will have two weeks to accept the gift on the app. In a similar move, Cash App now allows users to send bitcoins from their Cash App balance. The savvy move is intended to attract newcomers to the crypto-trading space. (Source: Axios)
5 - SNL Stripped Down
Beloved weekly show scales back production in the face of omicron
As New York City contends with its latest surge in COVID cases, protocols from the pandemic’s early days are returning to the buzzing metropolis in full force. On short notice this weekend, Saturday Night Live reinstated some of the precautions initiated earlier in the pandemic to the disappointment of fifth-time host Paul Rudd. The show nixed its usual live studio audience, instead airing prerecorded sketches performed earlier in the week, as many cast and crew members stayed home. Guest stars Tina Fey and Tom Hanks were still on hand to brighten the mood and assist Rudd in opening the show. (Source: NPR)
Join Our Team!
1 - OZY is hiring for the following roles:
Senior Editor — Looking for an experienced, talented and snappy writer and editor to help grow our flagship morning newsletters. Ideally based in Asia, Africa or Europe to capitalize on time zone differences.
Tech Lead — Looking for a superstar who wants to leverage tech to help us broaden our editorial offerings, grow our audience and increase revenue. Must have strong experience and capability with newsletters as well as web, app, social and IT.
Marketing Chief — Looking for a terrific head of marketing with strong social media skills.
If you are interested, please send a resume and cover note explaining why you want to join our team to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.