Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
“Officer Friendly” is a designation that’s rarely used as a compliment for the police. And now, in addition to racism allegations against the police, some officers are being probed for crossing over to the wrong side of the thin blue line and taking part in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Read on about how the consequences can be fatal when the police go rogue. Which is why you'll need all the “mystery” muscles you’ve got. I’ve also got my least-loved bedtime stories for you. And if they keep you awake? I’ve got you some hidden film industry gems.
China on Friday unveiled fresh measures to curb democracy in Hong Kong, declaring that only those it deems “patriots” will be allowed to run for office there. The announcement at the National People’s Congress — the annual meeting of its rubber stamp parliament — came even as Beijing asserted that China’s economy would grow at more than 6 percent in 2021 after recovering from the pandemic faster than most nations. (Sources: Deutsche Welle, SCMP, Nikkei Asia)
2. Poverty Pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis could set Latin America’s efforts to reduce economic inequality back by more than a decade, the United Nations has warned. A stimulus package is likely necessary to counter growing economic hardship in the U.S. too, and on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris used her vote to allow the Senate to start debating a $1.9 trillion relief bill. (Sources: FT, Reuters, NY Post)
3. WHO’s First?
The European Union has blocked the export of COVID-19 vaccines to Australia as its member countries try to plug shortages in their own supplies. African nations, from Kenya to Ghana, meanwhile rejoiced as they received vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX effort to supply doses to developing nations. But there’s little to cheer about in Brazil, where scientists publicly called for a 14-day national lockdown to stump a surge in cases. (Sources: Al Jazeera, CNN, Guardian)
4. Inflation Fears Deflate Markets
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged a wait-and-watch approach to the economy, refusing to raise interest rates that could lead to inflation. But the stock markets decided they’ve waited long enough, with key indexes plummeting Thursday following Powell’s comments. (Source: WSJ)
It tastes great. It can also save lives … of turtles. Israeli scientists are feeding mayonnaise to turtles affected by the horrific recent oil spill in the Mediterranean, because it helps to flush out tar from their gut.
It started with an argument over noise in December, north of Manila in the Philippines. When the dust cleared, Sonya Gregorio and her son Frank were lying dead. Nuezca, an off-duty officer, had shot them in the head in front of his own daughter, according to charges brought against him. Critics are pointing to President Rodrigo Duterte and the shoot-first environment he’s created. But Nuezca is no stranger to this situation: He also faced homicide allegations in 2019.
She left a long shift, walked into the wrong apartment, and thinking it was hers and she had stumbled on an intruder, shot and killed the rightful (Black) resident. Did race play a part? The jury came back with a guilty verdict and Guyger drew a 10-year sentence. Her appeal’s hearing has been set for late April.
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You realize how amazing the body is when you learn that scientists are only getting around to really mimicking us now. Until recently, artificial muscles have needed to be artificially heated or cooled to maintain their temperature. A global team of scientists led by Australian researchers now believe they’ve figured out a way for robotic muscles to work almost as well as human ones.
2. What Most of Us Don’t Have
Muscles can also serve as an evolutionary map. In 2016, scientists found a “new” muscle in the leg we didn’t know about. But what’ll really make you special is if you have the palmaris longus, a forearm muscle only 15 percent of humans have and that’s useful if you like hanging from trees like lemurs and orangutans. This test lets you see if you have it.
3. Flex Mentallo
It’s one thing to emulate human muscles. How about being able to bend reality by flexing one’s muscles like comic creator Grant Morrison’s Flex Mentallo character? What could be cooler?
While we’re on muscles, here’s a quiz: Which creature can lift up to 5,000 times its body weight?
We’re meeting the Rule Breakers — change-makers defying the odds. Today, rising music superstar Saweetie reveals to Carlos her dream to build a billion-dollar multi-industry global brand. She shares the story behind her relationship with fellow rapper Quavo, her grandmother’s influence on her career — and politics — and why sports is her first love. Watch here.
Bitter Coffee: Scary Bedtime Stories
Tuck yourselves in and “enjoy” some of my least-loved bedtime stories!
1. Mommie Dearest
We talk a lot about the welfare of our children. But when in peril, they often have to fend for themselves. So is it surprising if after years of abuse a kid decides to protect his younger sibling the only way he knew how? Via matricide. Read more on OZY.
2. When Crack Attacks
She had the looks, brains, talent, Swedish noble blood and a Ph.D. Then she traded her tenure-track university professor gig for crack and prostitution. Read more on OZY.
3. Dog Doo-ings
A quiet afternoon, a little father-and-dog together time on a trip to the dog park — and then a riot. This is the tale of a man and his furry son trying to escape a murderous mob. Sleep tight!
Hidden Film Industry Gems
If you can’t shut your eyes after those terrifying tales, dive into these lesser-known film industries — and movies that you don’t want to miss.
Spanish cinemaisn’t only about Luis Buñuel and Pedro Almodóvar. Northern Spain’s Basque region is churning out classics too. Start with Lur Olaizola Lizarralde’s Zerua Blu and Zuri Goikoetxea’s 592 Metroz Goiti (Above 592 Meters in English). See them online at the Berlinale film festival this week.
The city known for its music is now becoming a film hub. Could it be the 25 percent film tax credit? Or the raw talent? Phillip Youmans won the Founders Award for his 2019 flick Burning Cane when he was 19, and Garrett Bradley won a best director deal at Sundance last year. Either way, Hollywood’s hitting it up as a venue, whether it’s Ben Affleck (Deep Water) or Regina King (One Night in Miami).
Who Else Got Feb. 26’s Quiz Right?
Yesterday I listed the first set of OZY readers who got that spot the difference puzzle right.
Denny D., Michael M., Bret K., Linda A., Jonathan V., Jim C., Rico L., Cathay L., Carolyn B., Dani L., David S., Danny O., Jane L., Cindy G., Joel J., Rudy, Brenda F., Ron H., Lesley S., Austin H., Becky Z.M., Julie R., Barbara H., Howard J.K., Herbert F., Mary L.K., Arturo V., Adele K., Anne B., Laurel S., Leah Z., Janet L., Deni S., Leroy K., Elena T., Paul L., Philip H., Stevie G., Jackie T., Graesson B., Laura W., Lynne Y., Nancy J., Mari H., Gene C., Bob. O., Sharu O., Elizabeth L., Ken W., John F. — you got it right too.
The answer, of course, is the wheels, the dice, the martian and the flying saucer. Check on Monday for the final set of those who got it right.