Americans can breathe easy again. In what U.S. President Joe Biden hailed as a “milestone” yesterday, health officials have said vaccinated people can now go mainly maskless in public. The Centers for Disease Control hopes permission to unmask will encourage hesitant people to get the shot, as only about one-third of Americans have been fully vaccinated so far. Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Washington immediately lifted their states’ mask mandates, while others such as New York said they would first study the CDC recommendations. There are caveats: Vaccinated people must still don masks in hospital settings and on planes, among other places.
2. Israel Weighs Gaza Ground Offensive as Fighting Escalates
Israel intensified attacks on Gaza this morning, the fifth day of hostilities with Palestinian militants that risks turning into a full-blown war. The death toll from this week’s violence now stands at some 119 fatalities in Gaza and eight in Israel. Israel said that while no troops had entered Gaza, it had destroyed a network of Hamas tunnels overnight. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants continued to fire rockets into Israel. Israel’s military has said a ground offensive into Gaza is one option being considered, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday saying Israel would keep up its operation “as long as necessary.”Read an OZY analysis of the situation here.
3. AOC Vs MTG: Pelosi Condemns Greene’s Verbal Attack
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has denounced Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's “verbal assault” of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying the incident might have to go before the Ethics Committee. The QAnon conspiracy theorist turned politician accosted the Squad member outside the House Chamber on Wednesday, accusing her of supporting “terrorists” like Black Lives Matter and Antifa. Responding, Ocasio-Cortez said that she was used to standing up against bullies, noting: “I used to work as a bartender. These are the kinds of people that I threw out of bars all the time.” Greene is challenging the Democrat to debate her on the Green New Deal.
4. Sources Say Ransom Paid to Colonial Pipeline Hackers
Colonial Pipeline paid $5 million in ransom money, or rather in Bitcoin, to hackers who shut down its operations. Sources said the company, which serves most of the East Coast’s fuel needs, paid 75 Bitcoin to Russian-based extortionists DarkSide after they held up its operations through a ransomware attack. The massive cybersecurity breach saw rising fuel prices and panic-buying of gas this week. President Biden yesterday hinted at the possibility of a retaliatory attack on DarkSide, saying the U.S. would pursue “a measure to disrupt their ability to operate.”
Nine people were injured in a shooting in Providence, Rhode Island, yesterday, the largest mass shooting in the city’s history. Vitalik Buterin, who founded digital currency Ether, has donated $1 billion worth of shiba inu coin — a Dogecoin spinoff — towards COVID-19 relief in India. And a painting by African American artistJean-Michel Basquait sold for $119 million at auction in New York this week.
Coronavirus Update: A doctors’ union in Japan has said that safely holding the Tokyo Olympics will be “impossible” in light of the pandemic, urging that it be called off. The B.1.617 variant of the virus, causing havoc in India, is reported to be spreading across the globe, the World Health Organization said today.
Vote for an OZY Genius!! We’re pleased to congratulate the 25 finalists for this year’s OZY Genius Awards! Ten winners will each receive a grant of $10,000. Meet the finalists and vote for your favorite OZY Genius until Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 6 p.m. EST. A jury will select the awardees, but we’ll separately unveil the People’s Vote winners — your voice counts!
Try This! Feeling informed after a week of PDB? Test your knowledge with the OZY News Quiz.
OZY Fest is tomorrow! The one-of-a-kind festival of great entertainment, interactive experiences and the biggest conversations is coming to a screen near you. Where else could you hang out with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sevyn Streeter, Tig Notaro, Condoleezza Rice, Mark Cuban, Malcolm Gladwell and more? Join us for a virtual celebration of bold change and big ideas, May 15-16.Register now.
Be part of it! We’re giving you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask a question of one of our famous speakers. Submit your video question for Dr. Fauci, Mark Cuban and others!
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If I fits, I sits. That’s the tagline to almost every internet image of a cat squeezing itself into a small space. But why do cats love boxes so much? A citizen science study set out to answer this pressing question of our times. Cats don’t only like boxes, it found, they like to sit on anything square — even the outline of a square taped on the floor. Thirty cat owners on Twitter helped with the experiment, which showed felines are susceptible to the Kanizsa illusion, shapes arranged to suggest a square. More research is needed to account for this shape preference, scientists say.
2. Australians Snap Up Seats on ‘Flight to Nowhere’
You’re going nowhere, fast. Qantas’ latest destination-less flight sold out in minutes, as Australians clamor to go anywhere, even nowhere, while the island’s borders remain totally closed. It may seem like a nihilistic endeavor, but the airline’s latest three-hour flight, with economy class seats starting at $499, sold out in under three minutes. Last year Qantas did a flight over the Great Barrier Reef which also proved incredibly popular. This time the trip is set to coincide with a total eclipse and a red supermoon on May 26, with the in-flight menu offering “cosmic cocktails and supermoon cakes.”
Forget the new roaring ‘20s, it’s the ‘90s that are back. Or rather five friends sipping endless coffees at Central Perk. That’s right, Joey, Phoebe, Ross, Monica, Rachel and Chandler return to our screens this month in Friends: The Reunion, after the original show ended in 2004. Despite it being popular before many of them were even born, Friends’ feel-good comedy has proved a hit with Gen Z. There’s also a sparkling line-up of celebrity cameos, including BTS, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber — as well as Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. A teaser dropped yesterday and the show premieres May 27 on HBO Max.
4. Space Cruise: Russia and US Rush to Make ISS Movie
They’re Russian to win. Moscow and Washington are engaged in a new space race: Who will make the first feature film on the International Space Station? NASA has already confirmed Hollywood star Tom Cruise is set to shoot a movie on the ISS, and yesterday Russia said it was also sending a film crew, including popular actress Yulia Peresild, into the cosmos. Cruise has yet to announce the exact date of his voyage, but has said it will take place in October. In what appears to be an attempt to get there first, Peresild’s trip will launch on October 5.
5. After Rome Defeat Serena Williams Heads to Parma
After crashing out of the Italian Open in Rome on Wednesday, Serena Williams has added a new match to her schedule ahead of the French Open. The 23-time Grand Slam champion will now play the Emilia-Romagna Open in Parma, with her coach Patrick Mouratoglou tweeting: “Serena hasn’t been competing for a while, and we want to get as many matches under our belt as possible before Roland-Garros.” At her first match in three months this week, the 39-year-old suffered a shock defeat by Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska. The French Open starts May 30.
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