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With a COVID-19 curfew enforced in my city of Paris, stepping out isn’t much of an option. So I’m breaking in my winter shoes by wandering around our apartment in heels. I’m sure my downstairs neighbors are thrilled. Want to go one better? Try on some of the shoes I introduce today (I wouldn’t dare walk in them), dream of a house on Mars, taste rare black apples and smile at San Francisco’s tongue-in-cheek name for a serious piece of hate crime legislation. But first: Have a listen to OZY’s Hump Day Playlist.
Never mind the sky-high unemployment rate and the pandemic-flattened economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging President Donald Trump to put off signing any stimulus bill until after the election, amid concerns that a deal with the Democrats could divide Republicans trying to push through Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court next week. Speaking of money, it turns out the president, who has tried to paint Joe Biden’s family as strongly connected to China, reportedly has a bank account there.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports America has suffered nearly 300,000 more deaths in 2020 than a typical year — though it’s unclear if they were caused by COVID-19 or involved people not getting treatment for other diseases while hospitals were overloaded. Pharma firm AstraZeneca is expected to restart late-stage vaccine trials previously paused to investigate a participant who got sick. But it’s not the only game in town: Brazil, which will use AstraZeneca vaccines once they’re ready, has also agreed to buy 46 million doses of China’s CoronaVac vaccine.
A member of the Breonna Taylor grand jury has now won a court battle to go public with the fact that jurors weren’t given the option to charge the officers who shot her with the killing, contradicting claims made by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Police brutality is also under scrutiny in Lagos, Nigeria, where witnesses say authorities opened fire on protesters demonstrating against such violence. Meanwhile San Francisco has approved the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act, aka the CAREN Act, making it a hate crime to target people of color with frivolous 911 calls — and allowing victims of such actions to sue.
Goldman Sachs has admitted its role in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, meaning the company will likely have to pony up $2 billion to the U.S. Department of Justice on top of already-agreed-upon payments to Malaysian authorities.
We’re all for bankers being asked to eat the cost of their mistakes. But we draw the line at cute animals.
Last year, several of the iconic deer that roam the city of Nara, Japan, died after eating trash bags. Now local companies have developed an alternative — no, not cloth bags, don’t be silly! — of recycled paper specifically designed to be safe for deer to munch on.
How do you navigate your cash flow? How can you adapt to today’s economic challenges? What are successful businesses doing right now? JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Sekou Kaalund shares details on Advancing Black Entrepreneurs by Chase for Business, a free toolkit for business owners to improve everything from supply chains to vendor relationships.
The Department of Justice is suing Google for allegedly abusing its monopoly power, which could unleash a flood of antitrust suits aimed at big tech.
1. Vitamin C
It doesn’t boost your immunity against charges of price fixing. In fact, it can leave a sour taste in trade relations. Ask China. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 ruled against Chinese companies accused of colluding to set prices for vitamin C, exposing them to up to $148 million in fines. Since then, of course, the countries have locked horns on myriad trade disputes. Perhaps they need a different vitamin supplement.
This isn’t a game of chicken — it’s one of ganging up against the consumer, using chicken. Brazil’s JBS and BRF, two of the world’s largest meatpacking companies, are facing an antitrust suit from the country’s regulators for allegedly conspiring to pass a 30-percent price hike in corn — used for chicken feed — onto consumers in the cost of meat they sell.
Which are the other big firms that you’d like to see probed for monopolization? Vote on Twitter.
On Their Heels
Can you walk in shoes made by these avant-garde designers? Probably not. Good thing that in 2020, none of us is doing much walking around outside — so maybe it’s the perfect time to get into weird footwear.
This Japanese designer has described shoes as “more like statues” than items of clothing. And it shows — his fantastical creations, enriched by animal aspects like huge plumes or coiled snakeskin, have featured in multiple museums.
2. Thom Browne
The American designer’s Spring 2020 collection was a madcap explosion of seersucker and Marie Antoinette wigs, but his giant dolphin-shaped shoes were definitely the silliest (and thus best) part.
3. Iris van Herpen
A Dutch visionary, Van Herpen was one of the first haute couture designers to use 3D printing for a collection. But she’s out on the forefront with shoes as well, covering her creations with carbon fiber fangs in 2012 but switching to glow-in-the-dark heels for her Spring 2019 show.
How Would This Celeb #ResetAmerica?
Songwriter and producer Finneas is behind some of your favorite songs from Selena Gomez, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber and, of course, his younger sister Billie Eilish. Today on The Carlos Watson Show, he argues how Gen-Z creativity and the speed of our news cycle will force us to Reset America. Watch and share your own ideas using #ResetAmerica.
NASA has tasked Nokia with setting up 4G on the moon — but there are plenty of aspects of daily life on Earth that are changing the way we think about space.
They’realready a reality in Mexico and the Czech Republic. But NASA wouldn’t be NASA if it simply settled for the Earth. It concluded a four-year competition last year to come up with a viable way of doing the same thing on Mars. The winning design, a sort of giant egg, would use material drawn from Martian rocks and bioplastics, allowing the houses to be built on site.
2. Mental Health
This year, almost everyone in the world has had to face the mental health challenges of isolation — but astronauts were doing it first. Still, some of the same tricks can work in space and in your apartment, according to astronaut Scott Kelly, who recommends talking to a professional about your feelings and thinking of yourself as part of a common human mission.
3. Criminal Courts
Last year saw humanity dealing with the first alleged space crime, when astronaut Anne McClain was accused of illegally accessing her ex-wife’s bank account from the International Space Station. The accusations turned out to be false, but the implications are real: As humans spend more time in space, we’ll need to establish a new legal jurisdiction for Out There.
Personally, going to Mars is my worst nightmare — especially when Earth is so beautiful and varied. This of course is apple season — check out these weirdo varieties from around the world.
These fairy-tale fruits are actually dark purple, and if you want to see them you’ll have to go all the way to remote Tibet. For an American knockoff, you could try the Arkansas Black.
2. Malus Sieversii
We usually think of primal fruits as less delicious — after all, they weren’t bred to the specifics of human taste buds — but these sweet wild apples grown in Kyrgyzstan are one of the modern fruit’s main genetic precursors.
3. Api Étoilé
In French, “étoile” means “star,” which should give you a clue as to what’s special about this rare European apple: It’s star-shaped. Well, sort of, but it’s still impressive for a fruit.