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Good morning! Have you planned out your New Year’s Eve yet? Here’s a tip: Avoid parties. Instead, whip up a magical meal for a cozy dinner at home. You only need to read on for inspiration. And just in case you think we’re being too safe (aka boring), you might want to check out some bizarre fetishes we’ll introduce you to. The end of the year’s a good time to look back. Read about the greatest unsung heroes of sport. And join us for a deep dive into a country threatening Europe’s unity.
The U.S. has reported its first case of the highly contagious new strain of COVID-19 that’s prompted lockdowns across the U.K. — but since the Colorado man in question has no recent travel history, authorities think he’s probably not the only case. Meanwhile, Britain approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is far cheaper and easier to store than other approved inoculations. And if the U.S. keeps administering vaccines at its current rate, authorities say it’ll take 10 years to get the pandemic under control. (Sources: Washington Post, NYT, NBC)
2. Historic Moment
Argentina became just the third South American nation to legalize abortion — the others are Guyana and Uruguay — late last night after a marathon debate ended in a 38-29 Senate vote. The procedure will now be free and legal on request up to 14 weeks into a pregnancy, which could herald a shift in the continent’s attitudes toward abortion. (Sources: NPR, BBC)
Rescue teams are still digging through the rubble after an earthquake hit central Croatia yesterday. The 6.4 magnitude temblor killed at least seven people, but Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the real number is probably higher. He asked people to avoid the hardest-hit town of Petrinja, close to the epicenter. (Sources: CNN, Al Jazeera)
4. Mitch Ado About Nothing
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to swiftly approve increasing personal COVID-19 stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, saying he’d tie the measure to changing online speech rules and establishing a commission to study election fraud, two priorities for President Donald Trump. (Sources: WSJ, USA Today)
Move It, School!
Shanghai authorities recently told an 85-year-old school to take a walk — literally. Using a unique technology, workers gave the school building, which is older than China’s communist state, dozens of legs to relocate it to make space for a mall.Watch.
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Despite being born into what was then known as the “untouchable” chamaar caste, word of Palwankar Baloo’s incredible bowling skills soon spread. Even when Baloo was selected for India’s national cricket squad, he ate and drank at a separate table from his teammates. Still, in an Indian society going through upheaval at the turn of the 20th century, the talented bowler became a superhero and symbol of the struggles of historically oppressed castes. Read more on OZY.
2. Tennessee Titan
Nera White, an All-American 15 years in a row, dominated women’s basketball during the 1950s and 1960s. The 6-foot-1-inch tall forward could drive to the basket, soar for rebounds and had deadly accurate 25-foot set shots. She’s believed to have been among the first — man or woman — to develop a jump shot and a finger-roll layup. And she led America to a win over the Soviet Union in their first matchup in 1957. Read more on OZY.
3. Brazil’s Second Soccer Son
Garrincha means “wren” in Portuguese, and the poor, undersized right wing who was born with both legs pointed inwards appeared about as far from a soccer specimen as one could get. But Manuel Francisco dos Santos would become perhaps the best dribbler in the sport’s history, even if he was overshadowed by another teammate on Brazil’s World Cup-winning teams in 1958 and 1962: Pelé. Read more on OZY.
Which sporting heroes from the past do you feel haven’t received the adulation they deserve?
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A gift from us to you. Laugh your way into the new year in style. We’re bringing you our favorite funny people from The Carlos Watson Show and want you to tell us who had you giggling the hardest — from Lamorne Morris, the actor rewriting race "rules" in sitcom New Girl, to Aida Rodriguez, the rising stand-up star hoping to unify America through comedy. Check out our comedy extravaganza here, and let us know which you pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
Hungary: Europe’s Problem Child?
From its anti-LGBTQ policies to its recent bickering with the European Union over the latter’s budget, Budapest is locking horns with Brussels with increasing regularity. Get to know the nation that could make or break the future of the EU.
Judit Varga has been called Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s “Charm Cannon,” and the telegenic 40-year-old mother of three relishes her role as the chief global defender of Orban’s authoritarian approach to the rule of law that has Europe worried. You might not be convinced by her defense of a law giving Orban the power to effectively rule by decree during the pandemic, but she’ll keep at it. The former soccer player canjuggle the ball 37 times with her feet and isn’t dropping it anytime soon. Read more on OZY.
2. Graft Guzzling
Hungary has become a master of the Houdini act, causing EU funds to mysteriously disappear without a trace. A 2020 fraud report rated it worst among member nations. And the country’s recent decision to hold up European COVID-19 economic relief because of a provision asking nations to respect the rule of law has baffled many Hungarians, 77 percent of whom supported linking the package to rule-of-law principles.
3. Hollywood Hungary?
Budapest is a rare capital where you can go scuba diving, caving, kayaking and wilderness hiking … all within the city’s boundaries. That natural diversity — plus a 30 percent tax rebate for foreign filmmakers — is a major reason why Hungary has become a favorite Hollywood destination, with everything from Keira Knightley’s Colette to Jennifer Lawrence’s Red Sparrow to Ryan Gosling’s Blade Runner 2049 being shot there. Read more on OZY.
Fancy These Fetishes?
Fetishes are irrational by definition — except to those who have them. How about you? Would these fetishes tempt you?
If sex history is your fetish, you don’t want to miss Prague’s Sex Machine Museum with its eclectic collection of 300 exhibits. From steam-powered dildos to voyeuristic chamber pots and the decidedly less-fun iron corsets and electric anti-masturbation devices, it offers insight into how cultural and technological revolutions have left indelible marks on sexuality. You’ll also see dildos that Chinese royalty gave their many wives to keep them faithful and steam-powered sex machines prudish Victorian men created to treat women’s “hysteria.”Read more on OZY.
2. Meditative Bondage
Sometimes your fetish can also serve as a wellness tool. Tim Murray-Wyles offers “meditative bondage” in his Conscious Therapeutic Kink (CTK) practice in Boulder, Colorado. Murray-Wyles hopes his work will wake people up to what he says is the therapeutic potential in practices like BDSM, which he argues can help clients confront claustrophobia, process the trauma of having been non-consensually constrained in the past — or simply relax.Read more on OZY.
Food Blogs to Binge
Whatever your views on fetishes, there can be little dispute about great food. Check out these brilliant food blogs for inspiration — and for ideas for your New Year’s meal.
Former Wall Street bro Adam Hutcherson now has one of the most drool-worthy Instagrams anywhere. This Black food influencer also just got hired by the Washington Post to develop recipes. Check out his fig, prosciutto and arugula pizza.
2. Betty Liu
Though Liu warns that she’s slacking off on blogging a little these days — no big deal, she’s just training as a surgeon and publishing her first cookbook — you can always head to her Instagram for a little inspiration. Or preorder My Shanghai, a recipe-filled journey through her Chinese American heritage.
3. Matters of the Belly
Egyptian-born Noha Serageldin’s Instagram account is a literal feast for the eyes — dive into her stories for quick and simple recipes. The apple pie is a seasonal fave, but go back a little bit and try her Egyptian-style pickles.