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Good morning! Whether it’s in the movies or in the news, most spies we read about belong to a handful of countries. But the best spooks are the ones who go unnoticed. Get to know the deadly African spy agency with trigger-happy tentacles around the world today, meet doulas who’re rethinking childbirth, check out academic journals where researchers don’t want to be published and watch the year’s best music-themed movies.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Isabelle Lee, Reporter
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen has called for a universal basic level at which corporates should be taxed, to avoid a race among countries to lower taxation in a bid to woo investments. The Joe Biden administration has proposed a sharp raise in corporate taxes to help fund its $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan. (Sources: WSJ, AP)
2. Rap From the Chief
Police Derek Chauvin “absolutely” violated policy in pinning George Floyd’s neck to the ground when he was no longer resisting, Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department Medaria Arradondo told the court Monday. Chauvin is accused of killing Floyd, 46, last May. (Sources: NBC, Al Jazeera)
3. No Shot at Health
Haiti is yet to receive a single COVID-19 vaccine dose even as nearby America now inoculates up to 4 million people in a single day, underscoring a gulf that’s spawning humanitarian crises at the same time as some become healthier. Meanwhile, North Korea has pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics, worried about its athletes picking up the virus in Japan. Should the Olympics simply be canceled? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: Guardian, BBC)
4. Bears Beat Bulldogs
It was an anticlimax. The Baylor Bears comfortably beat the previously undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs 86-70 to win the NCAA men’s championships for the first time yesterday. (Source: CBS)
‘Beloved’ is Back
You know her as Thandie Newton. Now the actress has reclaimed the original spelling of her name, Thandiwe, which means “beloved” in Zulu. “I’m taking back what’s mine,” said Newton, the daughter of a Zimbabwean mother and English father.
In times like these, no one wants to spend time picking an outfit for a 30-minute Zoom meeting or deciding if grocery stores require “real pants.” Our friends at Outerknown found a solution that solves all these problems: the Station Jumpsuit. This best-selling jumpsuit is the perfect winter-to-spring transition piece, and with just one zip you’ll have a complete, fashionable look. An effortless, go-to outfit so comfortable that you’ll never want to take it off. Could it get any better? With code OKOZY, you can get Outerknown’s Station Jumpsuit with an extra 20 percent off!
Becoming a dad is scary. And while becoming a doula can sound scarier, it’s also the smartest way for men to transition into fatherhood. That’s the thinking inspiring Aidar, a male doula who is leading a gender revolution within the profession in Senegal by heading a group of male doulas called Bajenu Gox (godfathers). The country has among the world’s highest maternal mortality rates. Can male doulas help change that?
2. Neha Misra Multuru
She holds an MBA and spent years in marketing. Then, the birth of her own children inspired her to give up that career and launch a new one … as a doula-preneur. A trained doula herself, her birthing consultancy firm BirthSense teaches the craft to others, holds workshops for expecting mothers in India — and is bringing professionalism to an ancient practice that has largely operated in an unorganized manner.
3. Latham Thomas
America’s approach to childbirth is all wrong — so believes this New York-based birthing professional who wants the country to reevaluate a health care system that she says “gaslights” mothers in trouble and underplays their pain and struggles. If you’re a woman of color, it’s even worse — so it’s little surprise that America has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. To change that, Thomas’ organization Mama Glow trains doulas to not only help women through birth and motherhood, but to also advocate for mothers’ rights to a better health care model. Watch on OZY.
Deadly Spy Agencies You Don't Know
You think Russia or China are the only nations with threatening intelligence networks?
Opposition leaderAbdallah Bamporikiwas driving his car in Cape Town, where he lived in exile, when he was yanked out one day in February and shot dead with a single bullet. South African officials claimed it was a robbery, but the killing was strikingly similar to a spate of assassinations of Rwandan dissidents abroad. FromBelgium toSouth Africa andAustralia to Uganda, governments are waking up to an unlikely new espionage threat: Rwanda, which is building one of Africa’s boldest international spy networks to track down overseas critics of President Paul Kagame.
For years, the country's notorious Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI in Spanish) has operated almost unchecked. In 2015, the then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchnerdisbanded the AFIafter the mysterious death of a prosecutor who was probing the 1993 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires. But the conservative government of Mauricio Macri that succeeded Kirchner resurrected the AFI. Now, with Kirchner's party back in power, the AFI is being probed for allegedlyspying on hundreds of opposition politicians, journalists and even thefamilies of a missing submarine crew. Could this be the end of the AFI, finally?
3. North Korea
How do you get everyday folk to assassinate someone for you? Ask Pyongyang. In February 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the dissident half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur International Airport by two women who thought they were playing a prank being recorded for a television show. In reality, they were pawns who hadsmeared Kim's face with a nerve agent. The half-brother, it turned out, had been aCIA asset. North Korean spies are spread across the world, withVienna a key gateway to the West.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
They broke the internet during the COVID-19 lockdown with their “Verzuz” Instagram livestreams pitching Alicia Keys against John Legend, DMX against Snoop Dogg and many other virtual matchups. Now music producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland are bringing it to The Carlos Watson Show. Watch here.
Surprising Academic Journals
You likely won’t find Nobel Prize-winning work in these publications. That’s the whole point.
1. Better Be Boring
That’s the benchmark you’ve got to meet to get published in theSeries of Unsurprising Research in Economics. And it’s a deadly serious, well-respected publication. The idea? Most academic journals compete to publish the most fascinating or path-breaking research findings. But unless someone publishes the mundane research too, other economists would never know someone’s probed that area and would end up repeating that work.
2. Failed Experiment
Even boring doesn’t make the cut for the Journal of Negative and No Positive Results. You’ve got to have positively failed in getting the results you had hoped for from your research. Apart from ensuring that such research is publicly available as context for other researchers, the aim is to encourage scientists to present their findings honestly and worry about the process rather than get tempted to sex up their data or language.
3. Don’t Be Cynical
Not if you want to get published inIdealistic Studies. The journal is all about research in streams of philosophy with roots in Idealism — such as Neo-Kantianism, Historicism and Existentialism.
OZY is working on a deep-dive on friendship for an upcoming Sunday Magazine, and we’d love your thoughts on a few questions here.
Great New Music Movies
Mix powerful movie-making with a storyline on singers, and you have a recipe that's hard to beat.
The great jazz singer spent a year in jail on drug charges — but was it her politics, and the iconic anti-lynching anthem "Strange Fruit" that really upset the American state? Andra Day ismasterful as Holiday in this must-watch.
2. 'Sound of Metal'
What happens when apunk-metal drummer starts losing his hearing? British Pakistani actor and singer Riz Ahmed rocks the lead role — he’s great at pretty much everything he touches — in this power-packed movie about musicians, their vulnerabilities and how they deal with them.
3. 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'
It's at the bottom of this email only because we save the best for the last. The late Chadwick Boseman and the great Glynn Turman (watch him on The Carlos Watson Show) behind her on stage, Viola Davis takes you back to the golden years of Chicago's jazz scene ... and a Black star's battle against racism. Davis already holds one Oscar. With this film, she's a strong bet for a second one.
What’s your favorite music-themed movie of all time?