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Happy Monday! I often wait for packages just for the bubble wrap that I then love to pop. It helps me de-stress. But what if your phone could mimic that experience? Check out brilliant new apps today and meet a Nigerian chef whose food is an experiment in racial inequality. Learn about the Chilean future of electric cars, dream of the last unconquered parts of the planet and start your week with a mammoth story of hope. Read to the end for answers to Friday’s quiz.
They’ll be the voice of the Joe Biden administration. The president-elect has picked an all-women team for top communications roles in his White House, including Obama administration veteran Jen Psaki as his press secretary. He is also expected to appoint former Hillary Clinton aide Neera Tanden as director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. No woman of color had led the OMB until now. (Sources: NPR, USA Today)
2. Open and Shut
New York City schools will restart in-person classes for young students and children with special needs this week. Should they open for all students? Vote on Twitter. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is shutting down schools starting Wednesday following a spike in COVID-19 cases. (Sources: WaPo, South China Morning Post)
3. Nuclear Reaction
Once triggered, it’s hard to control. Iran’s leadership has threatened a “calculated and decisive” response to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, for which it has blamed Israel. Iran’s parliament has asked the UN’s nuclear watchdog to suspend inspections of its nuclear facilities, the latest signal of hardening positions that a Biden administration will need to grapple with. (Sources: Times of Israel, Al Jazeera)
4. Bullet Over Ballot
Ethiopian security forces are searching for rebel Tigray leaders after taking control of the region’s capital city Mekele following a military assault. The success of the Ethiopian armed forces is expected to help Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ahead of national elections. Meanwhile, in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s candidates suffered major losses in local elections to lead the country’s biggest cities. (Sources: Guardian, FT)
Song for the Lonely
It might just be the “biggest” hit of Cher’s career. The singer successfully secured the transfer of an overweight 36-year-old elephant from Pakistan’s dilapidated Islamabad zoo — where he was lonely and miserable — to Siem Reap in Cambodia, aboard a Russian jumbo jet on Sunday.
Cancers can be deadly. And when they spread to the brain, they become even harder to tackle for doctors, because of a special membrane that restricts access for drugs. Now researchers are developing potentially pathbreaking therapies that both penetrate that membrane and effectively kill tumors in the brain.
You don’t need to get into the weeds to know that cannabis is a clear winner of the 2020 U.S. election. Five states legalized its recreational or medicinal use. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has promised to decriminalize its use nationally. And the stocks of this leading Canadian cannabis firm have jumped 50 percent since Nov. 3. The high is just starting to kick in.
Get ready to dance to its tune. The Chinese entertainment company released a rap video with its Q3 earnings report earlier this month, its confidence stemming from a 74 percent boom in net revenue earnings year-on-year. The video-sharing and gaming company was until recently seen as an also-ran to giants like Tencent and Baidu. Now it’s emerging as China’s YouTube and Nintendo rolled into one.
They make great food. They’re stirring even better conversations, bringing meaningful change to the world — via your stomach.
If you’re looking for comfort food, don’t bother. This celebrated Nigerian chef wants to serve “discomfort food.” The bespectacled, New Orleans-based Wey asks white customers to pay significantly more than diners of color for the same food, challenging them to question deep-seated racial inequality. Customers across races have queued up for his experiments (white Nashville residents have paid $100 for hot chicken that was free for Black customers). Wey thinks it might not be a bad thing for the country’s food industry to die amid the pandemic, for a fresh rebirth. Too harsh? Maybe. But when Wey speaks, the food industry listens.
2. Palmiro Ocampo
The lemony dessert looks lovely and tastes even better. The best part? The Peruvian chef makes it from the leftovers of the country’s favorite food exports: ceviche and pisco sour. Lima is a global food capital and Ocampo is its future. He’s using his popular 1087 Restaurante to convince Peruvians to end all food waste by 2030. He teaches female prisoners how to turn recycled food into fine dining. He’s not wasting a morsel — or a moment — in his hunger for change. Read more in OZY.
3. Nao Motohashi
Tokyo has 230 Michelin-starred restaurants. Most of them are headed by men — female chefs are uncommon in Japan. Nao’s breaking that mold. She and her husband Kenichiro Motohashi are a two-person team. And at their popular American-themed restaurant Julia, their roles are a reversal of what’s expected in Japan: Nao is the sole chef (customers are surprised when they realize that), while Kenichiro is the sommelier who prepares their drinks.
Would you pay different prices for fine dining based on your race?
The mysterious monolith in the middle of the Utah desert that grabbed headlines last week has disappeared, just as mysteriously. But there are parts of our planet no human or monolith has ever reached, and I’m not talking about the depths of the oceans. Ready for an adventure?
It’s so high it’s illegal to try and summit this mountain in Bhutan. At 24,836 feet, it’s the world’s tallest unclimbed peak, now forbidden to climbers because of a limit imposed by the country’s government in 1994, barring attempts to summit mountains taller than 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) because of local spiritual beliefs.
2. Yucatán Cenotes
I’ve dived deep inside them — and yet I’ve barely skimmed the surface. Divers are still trying to map the vast and largely unvisited network of underground caves and rivers in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, a paradise for those searching for untouched aquatic life in all its vivid colors.
3. Southern Namib
Are they footprints of giant descendants of dinosaurs? Or maybe of Martians who may once have come calling? This part of the Namib Desert — which spans sections of Namibia, Angola and South Africa — is largely unexplored and holds secrets that remain unexplained; none more so than the massive, symmetrical circles you’ll see when flying over this 55 million-year-old desert.
We spend hours on our phones or laptops these days. These apps will help bring a smile to your face in between emails and work calls.
1. Buddhist Heartbeat
Rohan Dixit’s chest patch, Lief Rx, tests the state of your mind in real-time, measures your heartbeat and offers tips to improve your health. It’s inspired by the Dalai Lama’s Buddhist monks in India whom Dixit once worked with. Read more.
2. Pokémon Smile
Don’t laugh — or you might swallow your toothpaste. This hilarious app launched in June, gamifies brushing teeth to make sure you and your kids don’t slip up on that mundane task especially now that we don’t need to step out. Using augmented reality, you earn Pokémons as you brush, while being pointed to areas you’re missing.