The only news digest that’ll both inform and delight you.
Wednesday, September 02, 2020
Happy Wednesday! A few days ago, my sister in Singapore told me about a new obsession for plants that’s grabbed hold of her — and many others in the city-state. It’s part of a fascinating farming experiment you’ll learn more about as you sip today’s spirited concoction. Feeling slow this morning? You won’t after meeting the boxer with the world’s fastest knockout punch. Read to the end for a laugh. But start with OZY’s specially curated hump day playlist.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor
1. Deadly Handicap
President Donald Trump Tuesday blamed “reckless far-left politicians” for the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, during a visit to the city opposed by local officials worried about its potential to further inflame tensions. Trump also compared Blake's shooting by an officer to a golfer missing a "three-foot putt," telling an interviewer: “They choke. Just like in a golf tournament.” Par for the president?
2. Yesterday Once More
Russia certainly isn’t choking. The FBI has warned Facebook and Twitter that a Russian group that interfered in the 2016 election to try and help Trump win is at it again, using fake accounts and a website masquerading as a left-wing platform. Meanwhile, border tensions between China and India are peaking again, less than three months after a brutal Himalayan clash that left 20 Indian soldiers dead.
3. Recession … and Rise
Brazil, the second-largest economy in the Americas, has entered recession, its economy shrinking by 9.7 percent between April and June. Yet President Jair Bolsonaro — who has minimized the pandemic — is witnessing a surge in popularity, after launching a cash stipend program for the poor and unemployed.
That’s how R&B singer Akon describes his proposed $6 billion town in Senegal, referring to the technologically advanced, fictional African city depicted in Black Panther. Despite the pandemic, the singer said work would begin next year on the city, whose design is inspired by traditional African sculptures. Back in the U.S., Korean band BTS became the first K-pop group to top the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Can K-pop displace hip-hop’s popularity in the U.S.? Vote on Twitter.
One Japanese theatrical group has decided it isn’t waiting around for a vaccine. It has devised its own unique treatment for pandemic angst.
What's COVID-19 when you have chainsaw-wielding zombies baying for your blood? That's the premise behind a unique Japanese show where you get into a windowed coffin amid spooky music, as actors dressed as zombies dance around you and poke you with fake hands. The idea is to help people get over their fears of the virus — by scaring them even more.
Launches Today! Written and narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author, Jon Meacham, It Was Said explores some of America’s most important, impactful, timeless and relevant speeches in history that have been both mirrors and makers of the nation's manners and morals at key moments in our common life. From the Peabody-nominated C13Originals studio, produced in partnership by our friends at HISTORY®️, It Was Said features the unforgettable words of Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, John Lewis, Hillary Clinton and more, taking listeners back to inflection points ranging from the McCarthy era to our present time through the real-time rhetoric that shaped and suffused America. Available today, wherever you listen to podcasts! Listen Now.
Much of what we eat depends on agriculture, an ancient practice under unprecedented strain from climate change, the pandemic and our changing fads (Read OZY’s latest investigation into how Indonesian and Filipino farmers supporting the West’s coconut craze are suffering because of competition from the palm oil industry). Yet farming is also a theater for brilliant innovation.
Climate change is crushing the yield of our staple crops. That’s prompting researchers to instead use modern technology to revive and mass produce neglected climate-resistant ancient grains such as Ethiopian teff, West African fonio and Indian millets that could feed us in the future. Read more.
2. Singapore’s Seeds
The island nation imports 90 percent of its food — leaving it vulnerable to global supply shocks from crises like the pandemic. That’s why Singapore’s government is now handing out two packets of seeds to every family, asking them to grow their own greens in veranda gardens.
3. AI Pest Patrol
Argentine farmers have started using drones with “brains” that soar over farmland, examining each stalk of wheat for early signs of pestilence. And in Norway, the government might soon deploy cameras powered by artificial intelligence to fight sea lice, which cause fisheries to lose $600 million a year.
4. Food for Thought
Think you know all about food? Here’s a question for you. How much do we depend on wheat, rice, corn and soybeans for our plant-based calories?
a) 20 percent b) 40 percent c) 60 percent d) 80 percent
You don’t need to win a race to win hearts. Japan’s top female swimmer, the 20-year-old spent more than a year battling leukemia. At the world championships last year, her fiercest rivals Sarah Sjostrom, Maggie MacNeal and Emma McKeon sent her a message of support: “Never give up.” She didn’t. Ikee this weekend returned to competitive swimming, breaking into tears as she emerged from the pool.
3. Seniesa Estrada
She started boxing at the age of eight, and would read Sugar Ray Leonard’s biography. Now 28, the Los Angeles pugilist of Mexican descent in July recorded the fastest knockout in the history of women’s boxing, beating the previously undefeated Miranda Adkins in 7 seconds. It took you longer to read about it.
Want to join Carlos as he jokes with John Mulaney, gets deep with Lizzo or learns the inside scoop from AOC? Grab a chance to join a live taping of The Carlos Watson Show by subscribing to our YouTube channel today!
Everything seems “virtual” these days. But these brilliant pieces of wall are as real as they get.
With Argentina’s feminist movement. That’s what this stunning work of street art on the towers of an abandoned grain silo in Buenos Aires’ Puerto Madero district stands for. Just like women’s rights, you can’t ignore it.
2. The Mad Scientist (Dr. Trump)
That’s what this graffiti by Italian artist TV Boy is called. It’s about the race to get a coronavirus vaccine, led by President Trump.
3. Coptic Clues
The Coptic Christian minority Zaraeeb community keeps Cairo clean by collecting the Egyptian capital’s trash. This colorful graffiti art project, titled “perception,” quotes a 4th century saint to fight the “dirty” stigma that comes with that vocation.
What’s your favorite wall mural? Tell us on Twitter or below.