Germany's Voters Shift Left. Will the Government Follow?
Mon, Sep 27
Germany's Voters Shift Left. Will the Government Follow?
Sat, Sep 25
Canada, China Swap Prisoners With US Approval
Fri, Sep 24
Will Kim’s Sister Stop Korea’s Endless War?
Thu, Sep 23
When Your Pool Fills With Lava
Wed, Sep 22
A Fascinating Tail
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.
Sep 27, 2021
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party suffered its worst election results ever yesterday, but it still has a chance to eke out a governing coalition instead of the victorious left-leaning Social Democrats. Authorities are investigating this weekend’s deadly crash of an Amtrak train in Montana. And safety officials are worried about other accidents as Tesla rolls out the beta version of its autonomous driving software.
Angela Merkel’s Conservatives Lose German Election
They’re already missing her. Merkel remains caretaker chancellor after her conservative Christian Democrats suffered their worst election results ever, narrowly losing the plurality to left-leaning Social Democrats. The loss was particularly painful in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Merkel’s political base. Her successor, Armin Laschet, proved a hapless campaigner and was caught on video laughing during a press conference on deadly July flooding. But he still has a chance to vie against Social Democrat Olaf Scholz to form a governing coalition, trying to coalesce the leftist Greens with business-friendly Free Democrats to achieve a parliamentary majority, something Scholz hopes to accomplish by Christmas. (Sources: DW, NYT, BBC)
Read this OZY examination on how barriers still linger in a divided Germany.
One passenger described how it “threw me into one wall and then threw me into the other” when the Chicago-to-Seattle Empire Builder train carrying 141 passengers derailed in rural Montana Saturday afternoon. Three people were killed and seven injured. “We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow,” said Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn, who added that the railroad is cooperating with National Transportation Safety Board investigators who are trying to determine what caused eight of the train’s 10 cars to derail near the junction of two tracks. Experts suggest it might have been a switch issue or rail defect. (Sources: AP, KXLY)
UK Gives Drivers Visas to Ease Fuel, Poultry Deficits
Chickens are coming home to roost — but they’ll need stamps in their passports. The British government is reluctantly distributing up to 10,500 temporary visas to foreign truckers and poultry workers to alleviate Brexit- and pandemic-related shortages. British Petroleum said 30% of its stations ran out of fuel Sunday, though the government insists panic buying is to blame. The other chicken-and-egg issue involves actual birds: With a worker shortage threatening supermarkets devoid of poultry before Christmas, 5,500 visas are being offered to extra meat processors. If that isn’t enough sad tidings, oft-imported Christmas trees may also run out. (Sources: CNN, Reuters, BBC, Forbes)
4 - Red Handed?
For One California Fire, a Smoking Lighter
While the origins of ever-more-common California wildfires can prove elusive, authorities think they know how the Fawn Fire in the northern county of Shasta originated. Police have arrested a 30-year-old woman after quarry workers spotted a trespasser shortly before the wildfire ignited Wednesday, sending thousands fleeing and scorching more than 8,500 acres. Their suspicions increased when she emerged from the underbrush asking firefighters for medical assistance — and carrying a lighter in her pocket also didn’t help. She’s now charged with setting the fire, which mercifully has become easier to fight thanks to cooling temperatures. (Sources: Washington Post, LA Times)
5 - Also Important …
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is planning a vote on a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill she expects to pass, but she hasn’t set a date for a $3.5 trillion spending bill amid divisions over its cost and concerns of a government shutdown and default. After a difficult year of Broadway theater closures, last night’s Tony Awards crowned Moulin Rouge! as best musical and The Inheritance as best play. And Russian fighter jets reportedly scrambled to escort a U.S. B-52 strategic bomber when it approached Russian airspace over the Pacific Ocean.
Coronavirus Update: A federal judge has ruled that a Wisconsin sheriff’s office violated the free speech rights of a teenager last year when it threatened to arrest her for online posts about contracting COVID-19. Public servants are increasingly balking at vaccination requirements, including Massachusetts state troopers who’ve threatened to resign
The powerful new iPhone 13 Pro is here, and T-Mobile is the place to get it. When you shoot videos with your iPhone, you know they‘re going to be amazing, but the new iPhone is a game-changer. The new Cinematic Mode turns your videos into filmmaking masterpieces. Now at T-Mobile, you can get the iPhone 13 Pro for FREE when you trade in a qualifying device — and that’s not even the best part! Right now, when you get the new iPhone at T-Mobile on the Magenta Max plan, you can lock in the trade-in value of your new iPhone up to $800, so you can upgrade every two years. In other words, you can get a new iPhone now and upgrade forever. Only T-Mobile has an offer like this, and it’s available to new and existing customers. What else is there to say except hurry to T-Mobile today?
It’s a brave new world — for pedestrians. That seems the gist of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board’s concerns about Tesla’s new autonomous vehicle experimentation. While NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy told The Wall Street Journal that “basic safety issues have to be addressed” first, the electric carmaker rolled out its Full Self-Driving Beta software late Friday. Drivers can now request access to things like “autosteer” on urban streets, even though they’re not debugged. Seeming to allay concerns, Tesla says it’ll first grade drivers’ skills before helping them relinquish control to artificial intelligence — and, studies indicate, pay less attention. (Sources: CNBC, The Verge, Science Alert)
What do you think? Would you want to try out new self-driving systems? Tell us by clicking below.
Let’s hope it’s just a blip. Oxford University demographers have found that much of the Western world’s life expectancy has declined because of the pandemic. Looking at death statistics across Europe, the U.S. and Chile, researchers found that life spans shortened in 27 of 29 countries. But the starkest change was among American males, who lost 2.2 years compared to 2019. The overall decline, erasing nearly six years of improvement, is the worst since World War II. But further study is needed, especially in poorer nations, so the study’s authors hope more nations will share mortality data. (Sources: Reuters, The Guardian)
Can it be reversed? Find out what it would mean to live forever on OZY.
The patriarchy strikes back. Celebrations were in order yesterday as early election results showed Iceland’s Parliament had become Europe’s first with a female majority, with 33 of 63 seats, or 52%. Then came the recount in western Iceland, which flipped three seats to men. At 48%, it’s still Europe’s highest female percentage, but it leaves the Continent behind other regions. Rwanda has 61%, and Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico are around 50%. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, a commanding majority of voters approved legalizing same-sex marriage, following what the Netherlands did 20 years ago and many other European nations have since emulated. (Sources: AP, Euronews)
Aria of the South
Spike Lee Collaborator Makes Opera History
Jackie Robinson did it for Major League Baseball in 1947. Barack Obama for the presidency in 2009. But it’s taken until today for a Black composer, Terence Blanchard, to open a production at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The celebrated composer and jazz trumpeter has scored dozens of movies, earning Oscar nominations for two of his 17 collaborations with Spike Lee. When the curtain rises on Fire Shut Up in My Bones, Blanchard tells OZY, he’ll be thinking of the many “talented and qualified composers, musicians and teachers who never had this opportunity,” some of whom may follow through the door he’s opened. (Source: OZY)
Young US Team Wins Ryder Cup in Record Fashion
They’ve only just begun. That’s the outlook for American golfers — notorious for losing nine of the last 12 biennial competitions — after drubbing their European rivals by a record margin this weekend. Winning 19-9 with the youngest team ever, captain Steve Stricker declared it a “new era” since six of the 12 Americans were Ryder Cup rookies and they scored 14 of the points: They could have won even if their oldest teammate, 37-year-old Dustin Johnson, hadn’t gone 5-0. Perhaps to prove he could hang with the youngsters, D.J. vowed to get a victory tattoo on his backside. (Sources: AP, The Guardian, Golf Magazine)
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