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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.
May 23, 2022
President Biden said the U.S. military would defend Taiwan if China invaded. Australia’s new prime minister was sworn in — just in time to meet the Quad in Japan. A scathing report documents how Southern Baptist leaders covered up decades of sex abuse. And the World Economic Forum kicks off in Davos. All this and more in today’s PDB.
Biden Pledges US Would Defend Taiwan if China Invades
President Joe Biden said Monday that America’s military would intervene if China were to invade the self-ruled island. Asked about the hypothetical U.S. response at a news conference in Tokyo, Biden replied, “Yes. That’s the commitment we made.” Though the White House insisted Biden’s comments didn’t reflect a policy shift, it was an unusually forceful statement in support of self-governance. Under the “one China” policy, the U.S. does not recognize Taiwan as a separate state, and the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act doesn’t require the U.S. to defend it. Biden’s comments are expected to draw a sharp response from Beijing. (Sources: NYT, USA Today, The Hill)
New Australian PM Sworn in After Voters Prioritize Climate
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was sworn in today as his Labor Party returned to power after nearly a decade of conservative rule. Saturday’s election saw Australian voters shift dramatically to the left, with unprecedented support for the Green party and climate-focused independents, as well as Labor. The rebuke to former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s halfhearted climate policies comes as the country is increasingly plagued by fires, floods and droughts. Albanese is hitting the ground running: He’s set to fly to Tokyo for a meeting with the Quad, an informal alliance between Australia, the U.S., Japan and India, on Tuesday. (Sources: SMH, Reuters, CNN)
Report Details How Southern Baptist Leaders Covered Up Sex Abuse
A seven-month investigation has revealed that leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention covered up allegations of sex abuse and ignored, stonewalled and even “vilified” survivors over the course of two decades. The 288-page report from Guidepost Solutions — which was commissioned by SBC’s Executive Committee after delegates to last year’s national meeting pushed for an independent probe — details how America’s largest Protestant denomination routinely deflected accusations and resisted calls for abuse prevention while keeping a secret database of offenders. SBC President Ed Litton said, “I pray Southern Baptists will begin preparing today to take deliberate action to address these failures.” (Sources: AP, WaPo)
Davos Day 1
Zelenskyy Addresses World Economic Forum in Davos
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its economic and political effects will top the agenda at the annual five-day gathering in Davos, Switzerland. While delegates will meet in person for the first time in two years, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the forum virtually on Monday. Russia will not participate — and Ukrainian artists have turned “Russia House,” the prominent venue where Moscow’s delegation normally meets, into “Russian War Crimes House.” WEF founder Klaus Schwab described this year’s event as “the most timely and consequential annual meeting since the creation of the forum over 50 years ago.” (Sources: NYT, The Guardian, DW)
Here are some things you should know about today:
It’s a cover-up. The Taliban’s Vice and Virtue Ministry has begun enforcing a rule requiring female news anchors to wear face coverings on air. (Source: Al Jazeera) Stormy weather. At least eight people died and nearly 1 million homes lost power as severe thunderstorms and high winds struck Ontario and Quebec, Canada, over the weekend. (Source: BBC) Emergency landing. A military shipment of 35 tons of baby formula imported from Germany arrived in Indianapolis on Sunday to help address America’s nationwide shortage. (Source: CNN)
Iceland Will Get Horses to Write Your ‘Out of Office’ Email Replies
How can you say neigh to this? A tourism board in Iceland reports that 55% of survey respondents check their email every day while on vacation. But it’s devised an ingenious way to put an end to that: getting Icelandic horses to walk across enormous keyboards to generate “out of office” emails. Visit Iceland invites potential tourists to choose from horses including Hrímnir from Hvammi (“Assertive. Efficient. Shiny Hair.”) and Litla Stjarna from Hvítarholti (“Types fast, but might take a nap.”). “They are trained in corporate buzzwords,” the Outhorse Your Email campaign insists. “Your boss will never know the difference.” (Source: IFLScience)
Ancient Skull From Minnesota River Returned to Sioux Community
When two kayakers on the Minnesota River fished out a chunk of human skull — exposed after a monthslong drought — they called the Renville County Sheriff’s Office. It didn’t match any local missing persons cases, so the county sent it to the FBI. It turned out the skull dated to Minnesota’s Archaic period, and carbon dating put it at 8,000 years old. But members of the Upper Sioux Community found it “unacceptable and offensive” to learn about their ancestor’s remains via the sheriff’s office Facebook page. The post has since been removed and the skull returned to the Upper Sioux Community. (Sources: Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, WaPo)
That Tingling Feeling
London Museum Hosts First ASMR Exhibition
“Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR,” a new immersive exhibit at the Design Museum in London, is designed to simulate the multisensory experience of the wildly popular online videos. ASMR — Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response — is a mildly euphoric form of paresthesia, an unexplained skin sensation that can include tingling, prickling, burning and numbness. Curator James Taylor-Foster explains, “It’s risen out of a world of speed and anxiety, proving slowness is important and provides an intimacy that’s needed.” The exhibit features works by “ASMRtists” like YouTube star anoASMR as well as “unintentional ASMR” creators like painting instructor Bob Ross. (Sources: ArtNet, Vogue)
That’s No Moon
Concept Artist Behind ‘Star Wars’ Spacecraft Dies at 90
Colin Cantwell, the designer responsible for creating the X-wing Starfighter, TIE fighter, Star Destroyer and Death Star, died Saturday at his Colorado home. While he was most famous for his Star Wars ships, Cantwell had a fascinating career both in and out of Hollywood. He was the first UCLA student to get a degree in animation, he was personally invited by Frank Lloyd Wright to attend his School of Architecture, he created educational programs for NASA during the space race, and during the 1969 moon landing, Cantwell fed updates from the astronauts to Walter Cronkite during the historic TV broadcast. (Source: The Hollywood Reporter)
Fight of His Life
At War With Ukrainian MMA Champ Yaroslav Amosov
This month, the 28-year-old expected to be defending his world welterweight Bellator title at London’s Wembley Arena. Instead, he’s defending his hometown of Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv. When Russia invaded, Amosov moved his family to safety and joined the territorial defense. “I don’t consider myself anyone special,” he explained. “I am just a regular citizen of this country as all the other guys that are at war right now.” Amosov, who recovered his world championship belt from the rubble of his mother’s house, is continuing his training when he can, though he doesn’t know when he’ll return to MMA. (Sources: MMA Junkie, CNN, Yahoo Sports)
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