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Good morning! I’ll never forget the time when hackers stole my wife’s credit card information and used it while we were at a boozy party. We’re all vulnerable (as you’ll read in the news). In this Monday’s mix, you’ll meet a boating enthusiast who’s the world’s most dangerous cyber criminal and the Tanzanian healers revolutionizing mental health; check out your fellow readers’ responses to a provocative OZY question and binge-watch the best adaptations of the late John le Carré’s spy novels.
The first COVID-19 inoculations in America are expected to take place today after U.S. regulators green flagged the vaccine over the weekend. But the crisis is far from over: Eswatini in southern Africa lost its prime minister to the virus, Germany has imposed strict restrictions ahead of Christmas and experts are worried that Brazil’s delay in buying vaccines could add to the country’s death toll. Is the worst of the pandemic behind us? Vote on Twitter. (Sources: CNN, Reuters, DW, Guardian)
2. Moscow Menace
They got too cozy for comfort. Russian cyber intelligence groups with cutesy names such as “Cozy Bear” have hacked into U.S. federal departments. Officials have previously accused Russia of trying to help President Donald Trump. It might be too late this time though: The Electoral College could today formally seal the deal for President-elect Joe Biden. (Sources: WaPo, NBC)
3. School Horror
More than 300 male students are missing after gunmen attacked a Nigerian secondary school. No group has claimed responsibility yet but the incident bears parallels with Boko Haram’s 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls. Meanwhile, in Indonesia a bombmaker has been arrested on suspicion of masterminding the 2002 Bali bombings that left 202 people dead. (Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, Sky News)
4. Too Good to be True?
That’s what some companies are wondering, delaying their IPOs to understand what’s really behind last week’s stunning stock market debuts by DoorDash and Airbnb. There’s no hesitation with China though, where foreign investors have bought $150 billion worth of stocks and bonds this year. (Sources: WSJ, FT)
Raise Your Hands
It’s scent-illating brand placement. Australia’s cricket authorities have teamed up with deodorant brand Rexona to promote ads in the armpits of umpires, who frequently lift their arms to signal runs or declare a player out. Now they have a reason to hold that pose.
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Across the world modern medicine has long looked at traditional practitioners as quacks, never mind centuries of anecdotal evidence. Now, healers in the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar are partnering with their erstwhile enemies, directing serious mental health patients — who mostly first reach out to them — to trained therapists and melding their local credibility with modern science. Read more on OZY.
2. Zoom Boon
Alcohol and drug addictions have soared amid the pandemic — but so have online initiatives modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, which are now holding more online meetings than ever before. They’re seeing record attendance. Sure, that’s a nod in part to the scale of the crisis. But it’s also a reflection that people are seeking help and finding it. Read more on OZY.
3. Freeing the Mind
Indian jails have had recidivism levels as high as 80 percent. Cognitive psychologist Beena Chintalapuri is breaking that cycle of crime and punishment by turning prisoners into therapists who can then help their peers. Her novel approach is driving down recidivism rates - to 1 percent in India. Should the world follow her? Read more on OZY.
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While U.S. agencies try and unravel the true scale of Russia’s latest cyber attack, these hackers are already building — or fighting — the next threat.
He loves boating and often sails along the Black Sea. But when the Russian phishes, it’s your computer — not some catfish — that’s at the end of the line. Bogachev’s botnet has hacked millions of computers. The FBI’s $3 million bounty on him is the largest ever for a cybercriminal. But Bogachev is hiding in Russia, and apparently has a valuable friend: President Vladimir Putin.
America’s southern border wall could soon be irrelevant. A growing band of Mexican and Brazilian hackers is cooking up code specifically targeted at Latin American and U.S. banks and ATMs. And at a time of growing border restrictions, experts fear the region’s big criminal gangs that previously smuggled drugs across the border might embrace these hackers to loot millions digitally, instead of risking physical capture of drugs or assassins. Read more on OZY.
Your Voice: Food for Thought
Recently, we profiled Tunde Wey, the celebrated Nigerian chef who charges white customers more than Black diners as part of a social experiment. I know it’s a provocative initiative. And we appreciate your thoughts about it. Here’s a snapshot from you, our Whiskey in Your Coffee family:
I'm inspired by Tunde Wey's approach ... I'm the epitome of white privilege, other than that I'm female, so I'm all for having to pay more … But there are many white folks in poverty … It's clear that Wey is a great thinker and that there's a lot of context with his choices. We do need bold ideas to move forward, and Wey is pretty damn bold.
2. D. Rene Jones
A white customer should not be asked to pay more than a Black customer ... If anything … it should be that the customer(s) should increase the tip amount so that it goes directly into the pocket of the server.
3. Jon Scheihing
I think chef Wey has a brilliant perspective on something as basic as food insecurity, systemic racism, white supremacy … and asking them to put their money where their mouth is!
4. Michael Kowalski
This is an example of “two wrongs don’t make a right.” Racism is racism, it’s never right, and it never serves a purpose.
On a different note, this week, OZY CEO and co-founder Carlos Watson is interviewing musician Swizz Beatz — who launched the Verzuz musical challenge — for The Carlos Watson Show. Who would you like to see on Verzuz next?
From Egypt to Switzerland, England to Spain and Syria, and back to Egypt, Tom Hiddleston, as the hero, and Hugh Laurie, as a villainous arms dealer, will have you on the edge of your seat throughout this six-part BBC drama.
2. ‘The Tailor of Panama’
He’s played James Bond but this — to me — is Pierce Brosnan’s finest performance as a spy, one where he gets to use his charm to fool his bosses to earn millions, almost sparking an invasion of Panama in the process.
3. ‘The Spy That Came in From the Cold’
There are no fast cars or bikini-clad women, just thrilling Cold War spycraft. A British spy must infiltrate East Germany to trace trapped colleagues. But who’s a friend and who’s the enemy? Watch to find out.
What's your favorite John le Carré screen adaptation?