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If the world seems irreparably divided, know that there’s hope. Look no further than the recent marriage between country and hip-hop music and the artists driving that surprising confluence. In fact, as you’ll read today, hip-hop’s so cool that even Islamist radicals can’t resist it. Choir music — or ice cream — might work better with vaccine skeptics, though. Or so countries are hoping. Also, check out the latest remote office innovations — your back will thank us. End by testing your “spot the difference” skills and finding answers to last week’s quiz.
Joshua Eferighe, Reporter, and Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor
Freshly declassified documents show that ISIS boss Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi was once an informer on fellow terrorists for the U.S. while he was in prison in Iraq. He outed the terror group’s then second-in-command, who was killed in an American raid weeks later. Later let out, he’s now leading a resurgence of the group. Was his release a blunder or a masterstroke? Vote on Twitter or here. (Source: WaPo)
2. Goldilocks Moment?
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon predicted that the U.S. economy might be in a “Goldilocks moment” with simultaneous inflation and growth sparking a happy median, or pandemic boom, represented by the children’s book character’s search for what’s “just right.” He credited the $2.3 trillion infrastructure package and increasing vaccinations for his rosy prognosis. (Sources: WSJ, FT)
3. To Take or Not to Take
That is the question. Brazil and Mexico will continue using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine even as Europe’s regulator has concluded that the shots can cause blood clots in “very rare” cases but that the benefits outweigh any risks. Meanwhile, Kenya has accused the U.K. of “vaccine apartheid” for adding the country to a travel ban list when several European nations with fresh COVID-19 waves haven’t been included. (Sources: Reuters, Deutsche Welle, CNN)
4. Embassy Exile
Myanmar’s ambassador to Britain has been booted out of his own embassy by his deputy. The ejected envoy had called for the restoration of democracy in in the Southeast Asian nation following the February military coup. (Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC)
Hear Him, Fear Him
Scientists have discovered the remains of a deadly new dinosaur which roamed present-day Argentina 80 million years ago. Its name? Llukalkan aliocranianus. In Mapuche, Llukalkan means “the one who causes fear.”
What’s your favorite wine? We’re pretty sure you haven’t found it yet, but Bright Cellars will pair you with a wine match made in heaven. How do we do it? Take our easy seven-question taste quiz and our sophisticated algorithm will match you up with wines from around the world that you’re sure to love. Take our quiz to find your next favorite. With an exclusive $45 off for OZY readers, find the perfect wine for you.
When Lil Nas X’s record-breaking "Old Town Road" won big at the Grammys in 2019, many wondered if his infusion of country rhythms was a one-off hit. Breland, a soon-to-be 26-year-old New Jersey native, is showing doubters just how wrong they were. His 2020 single “My Truck” has garnered a casual 40 million-plus views on YouTube and is the most certified song in the U.S., firmly establishing him as the heir to the country-rap throne. Now he’s building on that momentum with his new single “Cross Country,” which mixes gospel, country and hip-hop.
If his remix of Roddy Ricch’s “Ballin” at 7 million-plus views isn’t proof enough of the chemistry between rap and country, his music video “Dirt Road,” which has crossed the million-view marker, certainly is. Powered by his 800,000 TikTok followers, the South Georgia country artist uses his buttery smooth vocals to cover hip-hop songs like Drake’s “Toosie Slide” and Lil Mosey’s “Blueberry Faygo.” Now he’s showing off original music of his own. Check out his newest single, “Raised Up.”
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Get a breath of fresh air with the hilarious Amber Ruffin, as she speaks about her Saturday Night Live audition experience, growing up in Nebraska and the time she told Whoopi Goldberg she loved her. Watch later today.
As the radical terror group with a dubious leader takes control of parts of northern Mozambique, we look at the surprising new ways in which its resurgence is playing out.
1. New Targets
Worried that ISIS is targeting its youth (64 percent of the country’s population is younger than 35), Uzbekistan is partnering with India on anti-terror military training. Already, recruits from the Central Asian nation have carried out attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan, which hasn’t witnessed a terror attack since 1999, doesn’t want the threat coming home.
2. Harder to Detect
“Lone wolf” attacks are taking fresh and even more unpredictable forms. Last week, a 25-year-old woman walked into the headquarters of the Indonesian National Police and opened fire. That followed a suicide bomb attack at a cathedral by a couple of newlyweds, also in Indonesia.
Hate can mix with hip-hop too. ISIS is now using SpongeBob Squarepants, Breaking Bad andother facets of American popular culture to entice new recruits. The “Drakeposting” meme, for example, has a jihadi Drake who says “no” to Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the founder of the Al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and “yes” to ISIS.
Winning Over COVID-19 Skeptics
Companies and countries are trying innovative ways to get their employees and citizens to overcome hesitancy and take vaccine shots.
That’s what the popularSouth African choir group Ndlovu Youth Choir is doing, with a new song that encourages fans to take the vaccine. The country has a long history of concerns over Africans being used as guinea pigs by pharma giants.
3. No Dog Whistle
Everyone’s meant to hear this. Amid concerns that almost half of Japanese people in February were reluctant to take COVID-19 vaccines, a newapp featuring a cartoon dog is emerging as Tokyo’s latest public health weapon. No matter how silly your question, it won't bark at you. Instead, it'll patiently clear your doubts.
During the Great Depression, a Kentucky businessman started selling fried chicken out of the tiny kitchen inside his gas station. It would become an American staple. Based on the HISTORY channel documentary series, OZY and HISTORY bring you The Food That Built America. Hear about the bold visionaries behind the planet’s most recognizable food brands. Listen now onApple Podcasts,Spotify orStitcher.
The Next Standing Desk
Even with vaccines, work-from-home is here to stay. These cool innovations will keep you smiling through those long Zoom calls.
This desk system ensures that you get support for your knees while sitting upright. The padded cushions relieve the tension of sitting in a traditional chair and help prevent the hunching that leads to lower back pain.
2. Blue-Blocking Sunglasses
These glasses reduce the amount of blue light — which has been linked to eye fatigue and poor sleep — we absorb from the monitors we stare at all day. And you’ll look cool in these glasses.
Sticky notes have to go. With 50 million pages printed a year, it’s more than time for another solution. This dry-erase surface is designed to fit in between your keyboard and monitor, so you can pen your stream of consciousness down without the carbon footprint.
Spot the Difference
Can you identify the four differences between the images above? Write to us below.
Last week’s answers: The Ever Given ship, the green light, a lamp and the position of the boy in blue. Check here to see if you got it right.
Join OZY editors and writers today at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET for insights on the big news of the week, a chat about your favorite sections of the Whiskey in Your Coffee and more. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe below so we can pull you into the room, and follow him @Eferighe on Clubhouse.
Join the coolest new streaming platform. With CuriosityStream you can dive into history and explore nonfiction films and series. Interested in other topics? They have thousands of documentaries on topics ranging from food to space exploration to animals.