What are they even doing? It’s a valid question when most Japanese oppose holding the delayed 2020 Olympics that began yesterday amid a wave of contagion. But the Games are happening, and the world seemed ready to enjoy Japan’s tennis superstar Naomi Osaka lighting the Olympic flame and even laugh at the Armani-designed Team Italia Pac-Man jackets. There’ll be old favorites, like American marathoner Abdi Abdirahman, 44, running in his fifth Games, and new events like surfing, where Kanoa Igarashi will compete on Osaka’s team, at the nexus of his Surf City birthplace and his bona fide samurai ancestry. (Sources: Vulture, Yahoo, CNN, Outside)
2. Story of the Week: Will the South Rise Against the Virus?
They’re taking up arms. Resisting health officials’ inoculation entreaties has been a political calling card across Southern, heavily Republican states. But surging cases spurred by COVID-19’s Delta variant have softened that stance. After stopping vaccination outreach to adolescents, Tennessee is resuming it. On Thursday, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey declared, “I want folks to get vaccinated,” adding, “it’s the unvaccinated folks who are letting us down.” She’s got a point, considering that 97 percent of U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are among that demographic. But with new weekly cases more than doubling, it will be too late for many. (Sources: The Hill, Politico, USA Today)
3. US Delegation Exits Haiti After Tense Funeral
Solemn it wasn’t. The sound of gunfire marred Friday’s funeral of assassinated Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, sending a U.S. delegation home prematurely. Cries of “justice for Jovenel!” also rang out from protesters gathered outside the service, as Moïse’s wife, Martine, said goodbye with a sling supporting an arm injured in the June 26 assault. Authorities have arrested 18 Colombian soldiers among 26 suspects, and say they’re seeking others. In a sign of the tension that grips the impoverished nation, the former first lady said after the funeral that the killers “are here looking at us. They are not even hiding.” (Sources: NBC, ABC Australia)
4. Dow Hits Record Days After Sell-Off
Nothing to see here, folks. Wall Street cruised to new highs on Friday, with the Dow stock index topping a record 35,000. It was a striking recovery from anxiety over COVID-19’s recent surge, which sparked a 2% Monday slide. But human illness was no match for healthy corporate earnings, which helped investors shrug off Monday’s misery. Still, “the momentum is with the variant rather than the vaccines,” offered one London analyst, while inflation threatens to boost interest rates, so bond-buying is outpacing stock acquisition, and many investors are seeking the relative safety of larger company shares. (Sources: WSJ (sub), Bloomberg)
5. Also Important …
President Joe Biden has approved as much as $100 million in emergency funds to cope with the influx of refugees fleeing Afghanistan, including thousands of interpreters slated for evacuation to military bases to await visa processing. The search has ended for victims in the Surfside, Florida, collapse of Champlain Towers South, with 97 people confirmed dead, while one missing resident’s remains haven’t been found. And thousands of anti-lockdown protesters have hit the streets of several Australian cities.
Today on The Carlos Watson Show, get inspired by Chaunté Lowe, a four-time Olympian and the mom of three who survived both cancer and COVID. As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics kick off, discover what makes this high jumper tick — and how she came back from giving birth, a double mastectomy and chemo to return to a globally competitive physical condition. You don’t want to miss this — click here to watch now.
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A funny thing happened after U.K. officials lifted pandemic restrictions just as the Delta variant raged and soccer fans cheered England. Pinging commenced from the National Health Service’s pandemic app, telling hundreds of thousands of users they’d come within two meters of an infected person. The pinging, amid 50,000 new daily infections, has created worker and supply shortages while sparking panic buying and clearing supermarket shelves. So the government will exempt vital workers, who'll be able to clock in with a negative COVID test if they’re vaccinated. And while one in five users are believed to have removed the app, new downloads are increasing. (Sources: MIT Technology Review, CNN, Evening Standard, CNBC)
He cultivated a dream. Mehmet Aydın created a Farmville-type game app called Farm Bank in 2016 that captivated half a million users, mostly in his native Turkey. Like Farmville, it let users raise pretend livestock, then went further, allowing 132,000 people to invest money in what would be touted as actual agricultural investments. Real Farm Bank-branded farms, products and stores sprang up. But then Aydın vanished with $80 million in 2017, surfacing in South America living high on the virtual hog, Rest of World reports. This month, he turned himself in, reportedly penniless, to face the public’s wrath and Turkish justice. (Source: Rest of World)
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3. US Election ‘Fraud’ Goes Global
It’s said that lies circle the globe before truth can grab its shoes. And while former President Donald Trump verifiably lost in November, his election fraud “truth” marches on as officials from Lima to the Levant throw shade on election results, exemplified by Myanmar’s generals rationalizing their February coup, observes OZY’s Butterfly Effect. Next up? Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro is behind in the polls for 2022 elections but sowing doubts about the process. He too has military backers. It’s the sort of talk that undermines democratic traditions while providing opportunities for Russian and Chinese autocrats to pick up the pieces. (Source: OZY.)
4. Next on Discovery: Polish Media Clampdown
Which side of history will they end up on? Discovery, the biggest U.S. investor in Poland, is defending its ownership of the country’s top news outlet, TVN24. The populist Law and Justice Party, cited by the European Commission for “reducing media pluralism,” wants to slash foreign media ownership with legislation that would force Discovery to sell its stake in TVN, valued at more than $1 billion. The U.S. State Department has warned Polish officials that if they succeed in legislating Discovery out of their country, they’ll be chilling other U.S. investments too. (Sources: Variety, Reuters)
5. Cleveland Ditches Offensive Team Name for ‘Guardians’
They’re no longer off-base. Since 1915, Cleveland’s big-league baseball franchise has been the “Indians.” And it will remain so in 2021. But the American League team announced Friday that it’s trading its name objectifying Indigenous Americans for the “Guardians.” The name derives from colossal art deco statues that bookend the Hope Memorial Bridge near the team’s stadium. It’s already been criticized as boring by a local sportswriter and “politically correct” by a former president, but the team, announcing the name change in a video narrated by Tom Hanks, hopes it’ll bring them through a new century. (Sources: ESPN, Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Hill
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