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Happy Friday! Juneteenth, which falls tomorrow, commemorates the end of slavery in America. And from this year, it’s a federal holiday. But as you’ll read today, the legacy of the country’s original sin lives on in surprising ways … through language. Discover the unlikely roots of the word “zombie,” meet the Brazilian DJ who could be the next David Guetta, read about the scary vaccine divide that’s making Romania seek Dracula’s help and taste some marvelous mushroom dishes. Read to the end for this week’s caption contest!
Charu Sudan Kasturi and Liam Jamieson (with inputs from Joshua Eferighe)
The Supreme Court on Thursday set aside Republican claims that changes to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, made it unconstitutional. It’s a major win for Democrats and has added fuel to efforts to expand the scope of the law. Would you support an expansion of Obamacare? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: NBC, NYT)
2. $3.2B Pill
The U.S. government will invest $3.2 billion to develop antiviral drugs that could help tackle COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci announced Thursday, while insisting that vaccines remain our best defense against the pandemic. (Sources: WSJ, CNBC)
3. Tehran Test
Iran votes for its next president today in an election that conservative Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi is expected to win after several moderate candidates were barred from running. But the outcome is unlikely to hurt ongoing negotiations between Iran and world powers to revive the nuclear deal, Alex Vatanka, senior fellow and director of the Iran Program at the Washington-based Middle East Institute told OZY this week. Still, the election is significant: The presidency could be a stepping stone for Raisi to become the country’s next supreme leader. (Sources: OZY, NPR)
4. TikTok Triumph
India banned TikTok. The U.S. tried to ban it. Still, ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the viral video-sharing app, more than doubled its revenue in 2020 to $34 billion, answering doubters who thought TikTok’s 15 seconds of fame were over. (Source: FT)
5. Bear Blitz
A rampaging brown bear that invaded a military base and broke into an airport in Japan was shot dead Friday morning after injuring four people in the city of Sapporo. (Sources: WaPo, Guardian)
The Nigerian DJ is driving the mainstreaming of Afrobeat in America. She’s produced music for Missy Elliot and Beenie Man, and for broadcast giants like CNN, ESPN, BET Networks, Disney and Showtime. But her greatest legacy lies back home. Back when she started, gig organizers in conservative Nigeria would struggle to believe that she, a woman, was the DJ they had hired. Today she’s inspiring an entire generation of female African DJs, from South Africa to Nigeria to Ghana.
He’s the king of Brazilian bass and he’s on his way to becoming king of DJing globally. The Brazilian with a Sanskrit name (it means “light”) is the second-biggest electronic artist on Instagram (25 million followers), hosts some of the world’s biggest livestreams and is currently ranked fifth in the world by DJMag, the industry’s premier magazine. Perhaps it’s in his genes: his parents were both DJs. David Guetta, watch out.
3. Deena Abdelwahed
In pre-pandemic times, she was the only Arab woman in a lineup celebrating the launch of British live music broadcasting platform Boiler Room in Tunisia — and Abdelwahed killed it, with a 50-minute techno performance that had the crowd chanting her name. She’s part of a wave of women changing the Middle East through musical innovation, recently talking about decolonizing music while exchanging Western scales for Arabic ones. Read more on OZY.
The Rural-Urban Vaccine Divide
Vaccine access and hesitancy have carved out starkly different COVID-19 inoculation rates along socioeconomic, racial and political lines. Now add rural vs. urban to the list.
Differences in vaccine rates between rural and urban counties are drastic, especially among those who are 65 or older. An NPR study from April found that in some states like Nebraska, urban vaccination rates among residents 65 and above were 19% higher than their rural counterparts. As inoculation rates slow, the risk of summer outbreaks in parts of the country lagging in vaccinations is increasingly likely.
Still reeling from the major nationwide outbreak that plagued the country this spring, vaccine rates in India have gone up … but the access gap is widening too. The urbanized state of Kerala has inoculated over a quarter of its population with at least one dose, while capital New Delhi has administered at least one jab to over 30% of residents. Compare that to the countrywide rate of 15%, with only 3.5% of the total population having been fully vaccinated as of June 13.
The eastern European nation has the continent’s third-lowest vaccination rate. In addition to nearly 50% of the population being vaccine-hesitant, nearly half of Romanians live in rural areas, and many won’t make the effort to get to hard-to-reach vaccination sites. In response, the government has expanded vaccination centers to anywhere that may attract visitors as restrictions loosen up, including reopened museums, airports, sporting arenas and even Dracula’s castle.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Juneteenth is a day of celebration, but also an occasion that forces us to take a deep look at our violent past and the systems that continue to uphold racial injustice in this country. Tune in for a special Juneteenth edition today with Carlos and special guests including activist DeRay Mckesson, comedian W. Kamau Bell, acclaimed writer Baratunde Thurston, Harvard professor Jarvis Givens and more. Watch today.
American Words With African Roots
It’s Juneteenth tomorrow. And it’s time for all of America to honor and respect the struggles and victories of its Black citizens. There’s no better way to start than by recognizing how the words we all speak have been influenced by Black America’s African ancestors.
The word is believed to have roots in the Kikongo language of the Congo, in which “zumbi” means “fetish” and “nzambi” means “god.” Now you know why zombies possess supernatural powers and stay in your head.
While some etymologists believe this word is a variant of the Spanish “vaquero,” meaning “cowboy,” others insist it’s actually from the Gullah word “buckra,” which derives from “mbakara” — an Ibibio and Efik word for “white man” in southern Nigeria.
If you like mushrooms, you’ll love this menu of dishes.
Mushrooms have spread across the fake meat food world, perhaps unsurprisingly for a fungus. One recipe: a delectable alternative to calamari. The King Oyster mushroom’s similarity to squid’s texture allows for it to be an easy vegan stand-in. And with “oyster” in the name, you might even surprise your dinner guests that your calamari comes from a spore and not from the sea. Read more on OZY.
2. Mexican Mushroom Chocolate
The mushroom boom has included movements to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms, as mounting research suggests the psychedelic can bring a variety of benefits to humans, including improved mental health. We don’t condone the consumption of shrooms, but if you find yourself eager to open your third eye, mixing them with cacao, a practice traced back to Aztec religious ceremonies, is one way to get the unpleasant-tasting treat down a bit easier.
3. Magnificent Matsutake
Selling at $1,000 per pound with a unique autumn aroma, this Japanese mushroom is not for the faint of heart (or wallet). The luxury ingredient is commonly included in Sukiyaki, a broth that also hosts noodles, beef and a variety of vegetables. But with red pine forests — its habitat — shrinking, the mushroom variety that’s an integral part of Japanese culture might soon be no more. So try it while you can.
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