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Happy Wednesday! From Agatha Christie to John Grisham, the best-known writers of thrillers have shared a mastery of their craft. They have something else in common too. Their protagonists, almost always, are white. Today, meet the authors reshaping the genre with stunning storylines and diverse characters, before learning about the latest tech copycat: the West. Check out the newest research on attraction. And if love hurts, we’ve got just what you need to ease the pain. Read to the end for winners of last week’s caption contest.
Pallabi Munsi, Reporter, and Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor
Fewer babies were born in the U.S. in 2020 than in any year since 1979, and the birth rate fell to its lowest recorded levels. There’s no such shortage for 25-year-old Halima Cisse, a Malian mother who on Tuesday gave birth to nine children in Morocco — two more than ultrasound scans had predicted — in a rare case on nonuplets that has made her a national celebrity. Do you worry about America’s declining birth rate? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WSJ, Reuters)
2. Yellen From the Rooftops
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen tried to calm investor fears by playing down her own comments from earlier on Tuesday, when she suggested that the Federal Reserve might need to raise interest rates to counter inflation. Her comments had sparked a dip in the stock markets before she clarified that she wasn’t predicting inflationary threats. If she’s left you even more confused, you’re not alone. (Sources: WaPo, FT)
3. Pandemic Profit
Pfizer expects to earn $26 billion from the sale of COVID-19 vaccines this year, the pharma giant has said. Meanwhile, AstraZeneca investors are pushing back against a decision by the company to raise CEO Pascal Soriot’s already enormous bonuses, with one calling the proposal “obscene.” (Sources: Bloomberg, Guardian)
4. Bye Bye Bibi?
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet a deadline to form a ruling coalition, opening the door for opposition parties to try to cobble together a government. But the country’s longest-serving leader is an almost unmatched political survivor. Does he have one more trick up his sleeve? (Sources: NYT, Jerusalem Post)
Take That, Conquistadores
A group of Zapatistas is sailing from Mexico to Spain, hoping to retrace — in reverse — the path taken by Spanish colonizers 500 years ago when they invaded the Latin American nation. But the Zapatistas aren’t looking for vengeance. If they’re allowed to land, “there will be parties, dancing, songs and cumbias,” they’ve said.
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The China-born author always had her own American dream: to write thrillers. Her parents were book dealers so the literary bug bit her early. Yet it took an education in pharmacy and a career in tech entrepreneurship before an inspirational quote helped her decide it was time to break free. An outsider to American culture herself, Yang picked a Chinese-American anti-heroine as the protagonist for her debut book, White Ivy, who’ll lie, steal and seduce to climb in society. But what happens when she finally gets found out? How far will she go? Yang’s is a lens through which you’ve never before seen an immigrant’s America. Peer in.
2. Deepa Annapara
For years, the silver-haired journalist reported on poverty. Now an author, those experiences show in her nuanced yet gripping first novel, Djinn Patrol and the Purple Line. When a child goes missing, his classmates launch a search for him. But soon, other kids start disappearing too, a storyline that has played out in gory detail in real-world India too in recent years. Will this mystery be cracked? Nominated for multiple awards, the novel is a reminder that the best fiction is often rooted in just a little bit of fact.
3. Oyinkan Braithwaite
What do you do when your sister’s boyfriends turn up dead, one after the other? That’s the question at the heart of this British-Nigerian author’s bestselling thriller, My Sister, the Serial Killer, which is being translated into 30 languages and might also be made into a film. She grew up in Nigeria and the U.K. and has worked in Lagos, but Braithwaite is clear she’s not speaking to an imagined common Nigerian experience. What she knows is that she’s just starting out. What we know is that she’s killing it.
Webby in Your Coffee
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Who’s the Copycat Now?
For decades, China has held the reputation of a nation that’s copied technology from the West and Japan. Now the roles are being reversed.
The U.S. e-commerce giant is taking on counterfeits in its stores using machine learning, through an initiative calledProject Zero. That’s great … except Chinese rivalAlibaba built a similar tech fix first. Oh, the irony of copying someone’s anti-copycat move …
It’s appropriate that the platform has called itsTikTok copycat Reels … since it was reeling from the runaway success of the wildly popular Chinese social media app before a ban in India and threats of a ban in the U.S. slowed TikTok’s growth. India-based Chingari is also mimicking TikTok. But can they beat the real McCoy?
OZY Fest Is Back!
The one-of-a-kind festival of entertainment, experiences and conversations is coming to a screen near you on May 15-16. Where else could you hang out with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sevyn Streeter, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell and more? Register now.
Science of Attraction
It doesn’t just happen. Check out the latest science decoding the mysteries of love and relationships.
Parents, listen up. If you thought focusing on your children meant you could ignore your own relationship, you’re mistaken. Anew study by American and Canadian researchers on Nepalese couples shows that kids of parents in a strong, love-filled marriage tend to study more and marry later on themselves.
2. Robot Attraction
The sex toy industry has long been accused of being notoriously ageist — seniors struggle to find devices that serve their needs. Now some researchers are pointing out that the industry is missing out on what will only be a growing industry as the global population ages: seniors with disabilities, who could benefit from sex with robots.
3. Hormonal Kiss
If you’re worried about low libido,Viagra or its equivalents aren’t your only fix. Scientists have now found that injections of the appropriately named kisspeptin hormone might help in not just enhancing the body’s sexual arousal, but in boosting human attraction through signals sent to your brain.
We all know the perils of opioids, even though they’re often essential to manage pain. How about trying some alternatives by going au naturel?
The scientists call it acmella oleracea. That’s a pain to pronounce, but what it does is bring yourelief from toothaches. This traditional Peruvian weed has been used for centuries as an anesthetic by Amazonian communities, long before the arrival of modern dentistry.
Caption Contest Winners
Congratulations to the above winners!
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Investment guru Marc Lasry talks about his childhood, shares his best advice for young investors and gets real about politics. What lessons from the NBA does the Milwaukee Bucks owner take into business? Watch later today.