Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Happy Thursday! Here’s a question for sports fans: Do you remember every play your favorite team made last season? Today you’ll meet soccer’s quirkiest coach, who’s just crazy enough to make him one of the best in the sport. Read about surprising societies that are going cashless, get stunned by all the ways the year 1954 still impacts us today and remove the irritants in your life with a whiff of lavender. Take the latest spot-the-difference quiz … and don’t forget to vote for our Webby nomination if you haven’t already!
Joshua Eferighe, Reporter, and Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor
U.S. President Joe Biden has lent his support for waivers on COVID-19 vaccine patents under pressure from the World Health Organization and leading developing nations like India and South Africa. The move could speed up access to shots in poorer countries. But the pharma industry is pushing back, arguing that it could hurt innovation. Meanwhile, Moderna said the booster shot of its vaccine was effective against the South African and Brazilian variants of the virus. (Sources: NYT, AP, FT, CNBC)
2. Facebook Faceoff
Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, lashed out at Facebook after an independent board at the social media giant upheld a ban on the ex-president. “It’s a total disgrace and an embarrassment to our country,” Trump said. Do you trust social media firms as the arbiters of what should be allowed online? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WaPo, WSJ)
3. Tax Terror
Dozens of Colombians were injured Wednesday as security forces clashed with protesters amid mounting anger over a controversial tax reform bill that has provoked street marches for days now across the country. (Sources: Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera)
4. Fishing for Trouble
The U.K. has sent two warships to defend the island of Jersey against a potential blockade by French fishing vessels amid tensions over maritime access to the British dependency’s waters. (Source: Guardian)
No Prince Charming
Animal rights activists have accused an Austria-based Liechtenstein prince of killing 17-year-old Arthur, Romania’s — and possibly Europe’s — biggest bear. Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein, a trophy hunter, now faces a probe.
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He shakes athletes’ hands and kisses them on the cheek. Then he makes them test the limits of human endurance, as they train for the world’s most competitive marathons by running up 10,000-foot-tall Mount Entoto, which overlooks Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. It works. Adilo has built one of the world’s most stunning factory lines of champion distance runners. They include Kenenisa Bekele, a three-time Olympic gold medalist who is considered by many to be the greatest distance runner of all time, and Lelisa Desisa, the 2019 marathon winner at the World Athletics Championships. Read more on OZY.
3. Becky Hammon
Deny her an opportunity and she’ll find one anyway — ignoring the barbs that come her way. In 2008, she was accused by the U.S. national women’s basketball coach of betraying America after she played for Russia at the Beijing Olympics. In reality, the U.S. national team hadn’t expressed interest in her — and Russia did. Today, she’s broken through generations of gender barriers, becoming the first woman to perform the role of head coach for an NBA team, the San Antonio Spurs, in December.
Webby in Your Coffee
Whiskey in Your Coffee has been nominated for the prestigious Webby Awards in the best email newsletter category!!! Vote here for your favorite newsletter and spread the word. Voting closes at midnight Thursday.
Surprising Cashless Societies
The pandemic has accelerated the global move away from cash. But you’ll be surprised by some of the countries and territories leading the charge.
The self-declared republic on the Horn of Africa is rapidly emerging as a society of paperless financial transactions, a move driven by East Africa’s mobile-banking expertise and the pain of carrying large wads of cash due to a heavily devalued currency. COVID-19 has disrupted traditional cash-based remittance-transfer systems, so more and more of Somaliland’s expats are now also sending money back digitally, with some platforms recording a doubling in transactions.
The first country in the world to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is also on a high when it comes to moving toward a cashless society. In 2014, Uruguay introduced a law that encourages people to dump cash and use cards instead, offering them tax rebates and other incentives. It’s worked. The number of card transactions has grown multifold since then. On a continent where cash is still largely king, Uruguay is paving a different way.
3. South Korea
China might be driving Asia’s shift toward cashlessness, but it’s South Korea that has the more established infrastructure needed for a seamless transition. More than half the country’s bank branches don’t accept cash withdrawals or deposits.
OZY Fest is Back!
Where else can you find entertainment, experiences and conversations with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Sevyn Streeter, Condoleezza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell and more? Register now for a virtual celebration of bold change and big ideas, May 15-16.
The Special Shadow of ... 1954
In this occasional series, we'll look back at different years and the surprising impacts they've had. Check out the births in 1954 that continue to shape our world.
1. EU Still Standing
If the European Union is still mostly intact despite a series of crises over the past decade, no one deserves greater credit than German ChancellorAngela Merkel, born in1954. But now as she plans her exit in September, another leader who wants to join Europe could threaten her legacy: Turkey’sPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, born the same year.
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