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Good morning! When the pandemic shut the world down last year, tourism-dependent nations like Cuba were particularly badly hit. Today, you’ll read about the unlikely export that’s helping the Caribbean country survive. Meet a trailblazing Black female lawmaker who is forcing the Netherlands to look in the mirror, decode why Russia is planting a telescope at the bottom of a lake and salivate about a special 4 a.m. breakfast in Thailand. Read to the end for the winners of last week’s caption contest!
Charu Sudan Kasturi and Nick Fouriezos, Senior Editors
If you’re fully immunized against COVID-19, you can step out without a mask in a small group, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said. But that air of optimism evaporates as you move from the world’s second-largest democracy to its biggest one. India registered a new high of more than 360,000 cases and over 3,200 deaths on Tuesday. (Sources: NYT, Hindustan Times)
2. Crossover Corona
But India’s crisis is no longer just its own. The double mutant strain of the virus, believed to be behind the country’s current deadly wave, has now spread to the U.S. and 18 other nations and territories. India, the major provider of vaccines to Africa, is now also cutting back on exports to meet its domestic needs, potentially sparking a global chain reaction unless nations drop their vaccine nationalism, nearly 150 religious leaders have warned. Should vaccine patents be suspended during the pandemic? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WSJ, Guardian)
3. IPO Avalanche
None of that appears to have impacted the parallel universe that is Wall Street, where companies have gone public at a record speed so far this year. Google’s parent firm Alphabet also reported unprecedented profits in the year’s first quarter. (Sources: FT, BBC)
4. Picasso to the Rescue
Not everyone in business is doing as well. South Korea’s richest family, the Lees who own Samsung, are selling their Picasso and Monet paintings to pay off a $10 billion inheritance tax after patriarch Lee Kun-hee’s death last year. (Source: WSJ)
5. Brexit Done
Europe’s parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of Brexit, formally approving the end of Britain’s stay in the European Union. (Source: Guardian)
A jogger in Germany’s Bavaria called the police after she spotted what looked like an unexploded World War II hand grenade in a forest. It turned out to a sex toy designed to look like a bomb.
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The former education secretary under U.S. President Barack Obama is a leading contender for Maryland governor in 2022. He was a key player in implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act, although the landmark education law has had mixed results. The son of a school counselor, King has fought for more mental health resources and expanded STEM education to under-represented groups.
3. David Mabuza
The South African deputy president calls himself “the cat” after surviving a 2015 poisoning attempt. But he’s not happy being just any cat. Now he’s plotting to become the country’s top cat. He’s navigating the deep divisions in the ruling African National Congress between President Cyril Ramaphosa and former President Jacob Zuma with feline flexibility as he prepares for a presidential bid.
OZY Genius Awards
Are you the next Steve Jobs, Billie Eilish or Amanda Gorman? Help us help you with the OZY Genius Awards. There are only three days left to apply or to nominate a college student for a prize worth up to $10,000.
It’s behind everything from the colors we see to the cars we use. These latest convulsions could fundamentally change our understanding of physics … and the world.
1. Move Over Einstein?
Physicists aren’t known to show their excitement. Yet talk to anyone at the Geneva-based particle physics hub, CERN, and the buzz is palpable. In March scientists found signs of what could be abrand new fundamental particle that could force us to relook at the basic laws of physics — and of nature.
2. Finding Nothingness
Neutrinos sound like nutritious chocolate chip cookies, but these fundamental building blocks of atoms are almost massless so it’s hard to detect them. Except deep underwater, where they’re insulated from cosmic rays. Which is why Russian scientists are planting a massive telescope in the icy depths of Lake Baikal, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lake, hoping it’ll be able to capture elusive neutrinos.
For years, Cuba has sent its doctors abroad to help fight diseases and battle natural disasters. But it’s not all altruism. The island’s high quality health care system means that Cuban medical professionals are highly sought after in parts of the world with a shortage of doctors. That demand has exploded further amid the pandemic. But Cuba charges countries — andbrings in more than $6 million each year for renting out its doctors.
2. Fake Smokes
In Libya, there’s no fire without smoke. The country’s never-ceasing war has killed its traditional oil exports. But a conflict needs money to finance the fighting. The answer? Contraband cigarettes. Libya has emerged as Africa’s leading importer of rolled tobacco. Warring militias use tobacco to manufacture cigarettes with fake branding that are then exported illegally to Niger and Tunisia across porous borders.Read more on OZY.
3. Danger Drug
Its economy devastated by the civil war and sanctions, Syria has turned into a hub for the export of the dangerous narcotic Captagon, which gives a faster high than traditional amphetamine. Banned in America, Captagon is increasingly finding its way to raves in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Qatar and North Africa. For the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad, it’s a smart way to earn critical revenue, while keeping loyalists who engage in this trade happy.Read more on OZY.
If you often go to bed already dreaming of breakfast, these cities — and their foodie secrets — are must-visits.
Egypt’s capital wakes up at a much more leisurely pace than Trang, but once the morning rush hour starts, the only places more crowded than Cairo’s streets are restaurants and cafes serving ful medames — gently spiced fava beans served with hot-from-the-oven bread and fresh greens. Add a cup of Egyptian coffee and you’re set for the day.
3. Guadalajara Genius
There’s no more classic Mexican breakfast than the chilaquiles. And no one does the fried tortilla chips, fresh salsa and egg combo better than the Tapatíos, as the people of Guadalajara are called. Sprinkle feta cheese and drizzle red salsa over the eggs and chips. Let your tongue taste magic.
If you missed them the last time around, the sneakers we can’t get enough of are back — and just in time for spring! These all-season low-tops are OZY’s favorite look for dressing up or down. But don’t wait around — these comfy kicks fly off the shelves and won’t be here for long.