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Good morning! If you’re into art and looking for the latest masterpiece, know this: The next Picasso might be a Hong Kong-based robot. Meet her and the other unlikely stars of the world’s latest investment craze today, before taking a trip to the countries that are leading the way on trans rights. Figure out why it doesn’t pay to have a big heart in space, take a quiz, read the best of new Scandinavian literature and see if you won last week’s caption contest!
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor and Isabelle Lee, Reporter
U.S. President Joe Biden plans to announce a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2021. But we’ve seen such deadlines before. Will the U.S. finally end its longest war? Vote here or on Twitter, and read OZY’s special series on what to expect next. (Sources: WaPo, NPR)
2. Russia Reset?
Biden pitched a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone call between the leaders Tuesday, amid a buildup of Moscow’s troops along the border with Ukraine. Meanwhile, Iran announced it will raise its uranium enrichment levels in response to a cyberattack on a nuclear facility, likely carried out by Israel. (Sources: NBC, BBC)
3. Stop That Shot
U.S. federal agencies have called for a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single dose COVID-19 vaccine after cases of blood clots in some recipients. South Africa has halted use of the jabs too. (Sources: WSJ, ABC)
4. Cop Out
Kim Potter, the police officer who shot dead 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday near Minneapolis, resigned along with her police chief yesterday. But Wright’s family wants Potter charged as they search for justice. (Source: USA Today, NYT)
5. Justice for Africa’s ‘Che’?
Burkina Faso’s firebrand socialist leader, Thomas Sankara, was to young Africans what Che Guevara was to Latin America. Now 24 years after his murder, a court has charged Blaise Compaore, who deposed Sankara and ruled as a dictator for 27 years, with complicity in the assassination. Forced to quit amid popular protests in 2014, Compaore lives in Ivory Coast. (Source: CNN)
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan received its first COVID-19 vaccines from India in January, but began administering jabs only in late March ... waiting for an auspicious date in the Buddhist calendar. Thankfully, the stars seem to be smiling on them so far: The nation of 800,000 has already inoculated 93 percent of its adult population.
Make your feet stand out. The spring collection at Bombas has sprung, with bright, unmissable colors and patterns you’ll want to wear all year round — including tie-dye, colorful Tri-Blocks and tropical-inspired Wild Wear. Bombas also offers Performance Running socks, designed with Hex Tec, our signature sweat-wicking material to keep you cool and comfortable. If a casual stroll is more your thing, you’ll love our No Shows. Bonus: For every pair you buy, Bombas donates socks to people in need. So far, you’ve helped donate over 45 million pairs.
The French-Cameroonian mixed martial artist is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion. But he recently partnered with digital artist BossLogic to earn even more from the sale of NFTs — $581,038 — than the prize money from his championship title. Ngannou is now the third African-origin MMA champion, part of the continent’s growing dominance in the sport. Could he also lead an African NFT surge?
The celebrity android manufactured by Hong Kong’s Hanson Robotics has decided she’s not missing out on the NFT craze either. Sophia (who also holds Saudi Arabian citizenship — no kidding), just earned $688,888 from digital art she has created using neural networks. And she’s not done. Sophia’s now keen on a music career.
But it’s not just robots who are at the intersection of NFTs and music. Barbados-born Grammy-nominated Shontelle is plotting a comeback using NFTs to grab eyeballs and retain ownership of her music — at a time when singers are increasingly pushing back against an industry that tries to control their work. The highest bidders on her NFTs will find a mention in her lyrics or music videos.
Our favorite shoes just got even better! Our friends at Cariuma have made news by announcing the world’s lowest carbon footprint sneaker. Be a part of history by purchasing your own pair of these cool, comfy, and game-changing shoes today. Made with bamboo and easy to slip right on, these will be your new favorites. OZY readers get $15 off with code OZY15!
Home to the world’s first high school specifically for trans students, Argentina is also leading Latin America in trans-accepting legislation, with a 2012 law letting citizens change their gender identity without needing to undergo surgery. Its Congress is now debating making it mandatory to use gender-neutral language in Parliament. Read more on OZY.
The small Scandinavian country followed Argentina’s approach in Europe, allowing adults to identify their gender without medical reassignment surgery in 2014. Three years later, it became the world’s first to stop classifying transgender people as being “mentally ill.”
Once highly conservative,the Mediterranean island state is now a bastion for trans rights. A 2015 law protects trans and intersex individuals from discrimination and, in a historic worldwide first, bans doctors from operating on intersex individuals without their consent.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson joins Carlos for a tour around the cosmos — and talks through why he fell in love with it at the age of nine. Discover how your daily life is more connected to space than you think, and learn about Tyson’s surprising skills in wrestling and martial arts. Watch now.
Super Space Science
Like Tyson, if you’re mesmerized by the mysteries of outer space, check out the latest that have been decoded.
1. Shrinking Heart
There’s no place for people with a big heart in space. Scientists have found that long stints in outer space can shrink and atrophy the heart, and workouts in zero gravity don’t really help.
The latest space travelers have landed. A dozen bottles of fine French wine, which spent 438 days in outer space before returning this year, are now the subject of detailed study that suggests wine does change in the absence of gravity, taking on more of a brick-colored tint, with floral notes enhanced in the taste.
3. Here Goes the Sun
Yet possibly the most ambitious — and game-changing — example of new space science involves U.S. plans for a mega research program to develop ways to block out the sun completely if we’re unable to stop climate change any other way.
And here’s a little quiz that should be easy for those who’ve been sipping our daily cocktail regularly. Which European nation is building a spaceport for small satellites on its Atlantic islands?
When a would-be bank robber takes eight strangers hostage, they discover that they have plenty in common. Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s bestseller will remind you that we’re more alike than we often assume, no matter our race, religion, gender or choices.
2. The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am
Protagonist Mathea Martinsen decides to live it up, but the more outlandish she gets, the more she discovers just how invisible a person can be. Norwegian writer Kjersti Annesdatter Skomsvold’snovel addresses the angst of looking back on life and wishing we had lived it to the fullest.
Danish poet/writer Naja Marie Aidt’s anthology of short stories centers around themes of love, sex, desire and gender, tied together by a crafty look at power dynamics. The stories all take place within Aidt’s fantastical universe. It’s the first of her books to be translated to English.We’re betting it won’t be the last.
Whiskey in Your Clubhouse
Join OZY editors and writers on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET for insights on the week’s big news, a chat about your favorite sections of the Whiskey in Your Coffee newsletter and more. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe below so we can pull you into the room, and follow him @Eferighe.