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“There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.” When Amanda Gorman’s powerful words at President Joe Biden’s inauguration touched millions around the world, we at OZY smiled with pride. The 23-year-old poet is a former winner of the OZY Genius Awards, conferred on the brightest college students in America. We’re thrilled to launch the 2021 OGAs today. If you’re in college and have a game-changing idea, sign up. Also in today’s cocktail: the Scandinavian streaming platform challenging Netflix, new dating trends, the year’s most talked-about films and much more.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Isabelle Lee, Reporter
The World Health Organization has said it is yet to see evidence tying the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to blood clots that have appeared in many people who have taken the jab. But Germany, France, Italy, Indonesia and Spain have joined a ballooning set of nations to “delay” or suspend the use of the vaccine. Should the U.S. approve the vaccine? Vote here or on Twitter. Meanwhile, Brazil has changed its health minister for the third time since the start of the pandemic as it grapples with an explosion in cases and deaths. (Sources: WSJ, Jakarta Post, Al Jazeera)
2. Haaland Makes History
It took 242 years and 46 presidential administrations. On Monday, Rep. Deb Haaland was confirmed as secretary of the interior, the first ever Native American member of the U.S. cabinet. (Source: CNN)
3. China’s Tech Tussle
Beijing has asked fintech and e-commerce giant Alibaba to shed its investments in the media industry amid tensions with the firm’s boss, billionaire Jack Ma. This comes as other Chinese tech biggies like Tencent and ByteDance look for ways around Apple’s new privacy rules so they can stay on its app store. (Sources: WSJ, FT)
4. Sister Act
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, has warned President Joe Biden’s administration not to “cause a stink” in ties, ahead of key meetings between the U.S. and South Korea. Her comments underscore her growing influence in Pyongyang. (Sources: BBC, Deutsche Welle)
An Indian farmer who lost his buffalo six months ago claims to have found it in a neighboring village. But the locals of that village insist it belongs to one of them. Now a DNA test will decide who the buffalo goes to.
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Wheat, rice, corn and soya are responsible for 60 percent of our plant-based calorie intake. But these crops are vulnerable to climate change, which is reducing yields. Ethiopia-born Mechale’s startup, goTeff hopes to popularize products made from teff, the old Ethiopian grain that’s among a set of ancient climate-resistant crops that scientists believe could save us from starving in the future.
2. Kalina Silverman
Conversations with people we’re meeting for the first time can feel forced and shallow. That’s where Kalina’s OGA-winning idea comes in. The California native’s platform Big Talk encourages and tutors people around the world in cutting out small talk and getting to meaty, meaningful conversations that enrich our interactions. So, dear reader, what’s the one thing you absolutely can’t live without?
3. Rohan Pavuluri
The legal mumbo-jumbo aroundbankruptcy can confound the best of us and doing so without the resources to hire legal counsel can be even more intimidating. Pavuluri’s startup Upsolve is a TurboTax-like service for Chapter 7 bankruptcies that’s helping Americans get that help — for free. With the pandemic forcing thousands of small businesses to shut, it’s never been more relevant.
If you’re in college and have a powerful idea, we’d love to see your application. If you know someone else in college who should apply, share this with them. We’re waiting for you!
Makeover: Lee Simmons Vs. France
In anticipation of March Madness, OZY is putting The Carlos Watson Show guests up against each other for our own March Matchups. Today, you need a fashion makeover stat! Are you going to Queer Eye fashion guruTan France or Baby Phat founderKimora Lee Simmons? Watch them both and vote here.
Not Just Netflix
In market after market, local rivals are challenging the video streaming world’s numero uno.
From The Bridge to Borgen, Scandinavian thrillers have riveted the world in recent years. But if you're into binge-watching the genre, you’ll find Netflix runs dry eventually. That’s where Stockholm-based Nordic Entertainment Group retains its edge — one it’s now looking to sharpen globally. The company invested in original streaming content earlier than most, and while others are losing ground to Netflix, Nent is neck and neck in Scandinavia with the U.S. behemoth. And it’s now planning to take the battle to Netflix’s home ground, America, with its unmatched Nordic offerings.
What Nent is doing in Scandinavia, Hong Kong-headquartered VIU is accomplishing in Southeast Asia, where it has more subscribers than Netflix. Its secret sauce? Regional adaptations of big global successes like Pretty Little Liars or My Bubble Tea. The logic is simple: In a globalized world, we're all fascinated by great stories told elsewhere, but cultural tweaks can make those dramas that much more compelling and relatable. And it's working.
3. Globo Play
Local rivals against western multinationals often lack resources to compete against giants. Not Brazil's Globo Play, owned itself by Brazilian TV biggie Grupo Globo. Its pockets are deep enough to compete against Netflix and Amazon Prime locally, so much so that it's offering its streaming content free in Brazil. The result? It has the highest number of viewers of any streaming service in the country.
There was a time when you could just sling a brew down the bar to start a conversation. But romance has gotten a bit more complicated.
If you crave a relationship and feel extra pressure to lock it down ASAP, you may just be “apocalypsing” — treating each partner like they may be your last. Researchers say you’re not alone: Nearly a third of Generation Z singles are guilty.
Close your eyes, plug in your headphones and enjoy — you’re in for the best kind of bumpy ride. The new porn frontier is audio, with companies like Quinn and Dipsea flirting with your earbuds. Just check your Bluetooth before pressing play, or you may accidentally loop your roommates into an audio orgy! Read more on OZY.
What does the American dream really mean for a Korean family in rural Arkansas? The winner of the Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, Minari will challenge your assumptions about the immigrant experience, love and resilience, and will remind you how our greatest strength is often that which we take most for granted: our families.
2. ‘The Mole Agent’
Who do you hire when you’re worried about suspicious behavior at a nursing home? An 83-year-old detective, that’s who. Nominated in the Best Documentary Feature category, this Chilean film is part comedy, but amid the scandals over nursing homes erupting in the U.S., it’ll also hit eerily close to home for many.
3. ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin’
A Syrian refugee lets an artist use his back as his canvas. He realizes it’s much easier to center Europe as a coveted piece of art than as a refugee fleeing a war. This Tunisian satirical drama touches upon the deepest tragedies of our time, yet you’ll also be smiling at its dark humor.
Whiskey in Your Clubhouse
Join OZY’s editors and writers on Thursday for a behind-the-scenes look at our editorial planning and in-depth analyses of the news of the day, here. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe below so we can get you into the room.