1. Beijing Deals Blow to Hong Kong at Party Meeting
Only “patriots” will be welcome in Hong Kong’s legislature, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Friday at the opening of the National People’s Congress, the annual session of China’s parliament. Likewise, Beijing would “resolutely guard against and deter” interference by external forces in Hong Kong’s affairs. China’s latest moves to stifle dissent include an overhaul of the electoral system — despite the official “one country, two systems” policy in place since Britain handed back control of Hong Kong in 1997. Last year Beijing bypassed its legislature to enact a controversial national security law, following months of pro-democracy protests.
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2. Eritrea Accused of Atrocities in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region
More reports of atrocities in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region are surfacing, with a rights group reporting Friday that forces from neighboring Eritrea shot dead hundreds of civilians, including children. The Human Rights Watch report comes a day after the U.N. accused Eritrea — sometimes dubbed Africa’s North Korea for its secretive and repressive regime — of possible crimes against humanity in the region. The conflict, which began in November after the local Tigray government defied Addis Ababa, threatens to tarnish the reformist image of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019.
3. Pope on Historic Iraq Visit Amid Security Threats
Pope Francis will meet with members of Iraq’s persecuted Christian minority Friday as he begins the first papal visit to the war-torn nation amid virus concerns and security threats. The pontiff will meet Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s highest Shiite authority, as well as the prime minister and president. Since 1999, the Christian population in Iraq has fallen from 1.4 million to 250,000 after Christians were persecuted during the Islamic State’s occupation. About 10,000 security personnel will protect Francis, who says he hopes his visit will contribute to building peace and religious tolerance.
4. Jay-Z’s Wealth Surges on Tidal, Champagne Brand Sales
The billionaire rapper, entrepreneur and husband of Beyoncé saw his net worth skyrocket 40 percent after selling the majority stake in his Tidal music streaming service as well as half of his champagne brand, Forbes reports. Payments firm Square Inc., co-founded by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, bought two-thirds of Tidal for $297 million in cash and stock. This comes after Jay-Z sold half of his Armand de Brignac champagne brand to LVMH in a deal that valued the luxury liquor company at about $640 million. As his lyrics boast, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”
At least 20 migrants trying to get from Djibouti to Yemen have died after smugglers threw 80 people overboard. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has told his citizens to “stop whining” about COVID-19, which has killed more than 260,000 Brazilians. And a hunt is on for an unknown number of crocodiles that escaped from a breeding farm in South Africa’s Western Cape.
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This week on The Carlos Watson Show we're remembering the Rule Breakers — change-makers who break barriers and defy the odds. Today, meet the next Rihanna. Rising music superstar Saweetie reveals to Carlos her dream to build a billion-dollar multi-industry global brand. The woman behind “Icy Grl,” “My Type” and “Tap In” shares the story behind her love affair with fellow rapper Quavo, how her relationship with her grandmother continues to shape her career — and her politics — and why sports is her true first love.
Nine great apes — five bonobos and four orangutans — have become the first nonhuman primates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The animals at San Diego Zoo received a shot originally designed for dogs and cats as a precautionary measure after a troop of gorillas got coronavirus in January, the first great apes known to get infected. The gorillas suffered some flu-like symptoms but are now on the road to recovery. They are not the first animals to catch the virus, however, with minks and tigers also known to have been infected.
While Twitter has banned former President Donald Trump for life, YouTube’s CEO says he will be allowed back on the platform, but only when the “risk of violence” has decreased. The video-sharing site temporarily suspended Trump’s account a week after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. CEO Susan Wojcicki said if the former president’s account is revived, he’ll be subject to a three-strike policy: If he violates the company’s policies three times in a 90-day period, he’ll be banned for good. For its part, Facebook is still deciding whether to make its block on Trump permanent.
3. Outcry in India After Judge Tells Rapist to Marry Victim
Thousands of people are calling for India’s top Supreme Court judge to resign after he advised an accused rapist to marry his teenage victim to avoid jail time. “If you want to marry [her] we can help you. If not, you lose your job and go to jail,” said Chief Justice Sharad Bobde. More than 5,200 people have signed a petition insisting he step down over the remarks. The defendant is accused of stalking, abducting and repeatedly raping the schoolgirl in 2014-15, and threatening to attack her with acid, burn her or kill her brother.
4. Nabokov’s Rejected Superman Poem Finally Published
After The New Yorker rejected it in 1942, Vladimir Nabokov’s “The Man of To-morrow’s Lament” didn’t see the light of day until now. The poem, written 13 years before Lolita, is from the perspective of a dejected Superman, frustrated by his inability to have children with girlfriend Lois Lane — and contains some risqué lines, including how Superman’s metaphoric “blast of love” could kill her. The Russian writer’s English-language superhero verse was gently turned down by poetry editor Charles Pearce, who told Nabokov that “most of us appear to feel that many of our readers wouldn’t quite get it.”
At 118, Japan’s Kane Tanaka has lived through two world wars, twice survived cancer and is now weathering her second global pandemic, but that’s not slowing her down. The supercentenarian, who keeps her mind active with math puzzles and board games, has a new pair of sneakers to wear when she becomes the oldest person ever to carry the Olympic torch when it passes through Fukuoka in May. While her family will push her in a wheelchair for most of her 100-meter leg, Tanaka wants to walk the last few steps and pass the torch to the next runner.