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Happy Thursday! Accents are intriguing … so much so that it turns out even Brazilian monkeys can’t resist the temptation to switch between “potato” and “potahto.” Well, sort of. Read more about that today and rewind to the times when the West has done what Belarus is facing heat for: forcing planes down to make arrests. Meet the world’s most innovative drummer and a Colombian innovator reshaping her country’s cocaine-linked image. Check out some heartwarming documentaries on education and take this week’s “spot the difference” quiz.
Joshua Eferighe, Reporter, and Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor
A gunman shot nine people dead before killing himself at a San Jose light rail yard on Wednesday, the latest in a mounting series of mass shootings that have hit America in recent months. President Joe Biden urged Congress to pass legislation to strengthen gun control. “We can, and we must, do more,” he said. (Sources: USA Today, NBC)
2. Biden’s Beijing Jab
The U.S. president has ordered his intelligence agencies to “redouble” efforts to track the origins of COVID-19, including the possibility that it originated from a Wuhan lab. German scientists say they’ve unraveled the reasons behind blood clots caused by some COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser Dominic Cummings accused Health Secretary Matt Hancock of “criminal” mishandling of the pandemic. Cummings described front-line health workers as “lions led by donkeys.” Britain had better bray for the best. (Sources: NYT, CNN, Reuters, BBC, Guardian)
3. Time to Hedge Bets
Hedge fund investors in MGM are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Hollywood studio’s dramatic sale to Amazon this week. Meanwhile, a Dutch court ordered oil giant Shell to diversify its energy portfolio to slash carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, in the latest blow to the fossil fuel sector. (Sources: WSJ, CNBC)
4. My Mind First
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has said she won’t speak with the press during the French Open that starts this weekend, in a bid to safeguard her mental health. Is it OK for public figures to avoid answering questions, and does the media need to reflect on its behavior too? Vote here or on Twitter. (Source: Fox News)
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He was drawing rave reviews a decade ago as arguably New York City’s most exciting drummer. Since then he’s only gotten better, melding physics, art and technology with his raw skill to become a one-man band producing some of the world’s most radical drumming. He uses technology known as “sensory percussion” to turn a regular acoustic drum set into a sophisticated digital interface capable of producing an orchestra of sounds.
2. Famoudou Konaté
The Guinean drummer made the djembe an instrument the world has since embraced. He was djembe soloist in Les Ballets Africains de la République de Guinée, one of Africa’s oldest and most reputed dance companies, for 28 years. Performing since 1948, he has exposed audiences everywhere from Europe to Japan to the magic of West African sounds. He’s now an octogenarian but you can still listen to him.
3. Cindy Blackman Santana
After seeing a drum set for the first time at the age of seven, Cindy Blackman fell in love. She whined and begged her parents until she got one, which I’m sure they’re glad they did. The 61-year-old spent 18 years touring with Lenny Kravitz’s band. She was also the drummer in Carlos Santana’s band when Santana proposed to Blackman on stage. The master guitarist and all-time-great drummer are still married.
Carlos on Colbert!
Need a little laugh? Be sure to check out The Late Show With Stephen Colbert TONIGHT and you might see a familiar face! OZY CEO Carlos Watson will be stopping by to give Stephen an update on all the great things we're up to. Be sure to check it out.
Forced to Ground: Belarus Isn’t the First
Belarus forced a plane to land on Sunday and then arrested a critic of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, sparking global outrage and sanctions from Europe. But this isn’t the first time a country has forced an aircraft to land to make arrests.
1. Snowden Search
In 2013, Bolivian President Evo Morales’ plane was refused entry into French and Portuguese airspace and thenforced to land in Vienna amid suspicions from European authorities that it was carrying former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who was wanted in the U.S. for leaking details of controversial domestic spying programs. Snowden was not on the plane, and the incident caused major diplomatic friction.
2. Hijacker Hunt
For a closer parallel with what happened over Belarus, look back to 1985. Like Lukashenko, the U.S. sent military jets to intercept a plane and force it to land. The Egyptair plane flying to Tunisia was carrying four Palestinian hijackers who had previously attacked a cruise ship. The plane eventually landed in Italy, where the hijackers were convicted and sentenced. But the same aircraft was then hijacked a month later and diverted to Malta, where a firefight with Egyptian commandos left at least 50 people dead.
3. Iranian Intercept
Tehran forced a Kyrgyz plane flying from Dubai to land in the southern Iranian city of Bandar Abbas in 2010 and arrested two passengers, including the leader of a Sunni rebel group. Iranian television proudly showed footage of the country’s hooded commandos offloading the rebel leader, handcuffed, from the plane.
Sneak Peek Into ... Colombia
Coffee, conflict, cuisine and recent clashes might come to mind first when you think of South America’s fourth-largest economy. But there’s plenty else that makes Colombia special.
Yes, the country — ravaged by a long and brutal civil war — has long struggled with drug trafficking. Fabiola Piñacué is helping Colombia create a new identity using the same coca that also goes into making cocaine. She’s relying on the spiritual and medicinal qualities of the plant as the founder of the country’s first company to sell commercial coca-based products. Try her coca tea and you’ll never need energy drinks again. Read more on OZY.
2. Generation Graffiti
A stunning street art revolution is turning the country’s capital Bogotá into a mecca of graffiti. Since tagging was decriminalized in 2011, businesses have been commissioning artists to decorate their walls, creating an entire district of elaborate murals that can be seen throughout the capital city. Now Bogotá’s tallest walls are covered with international artists, its streets a throbbing museum.
3. Never Say Never
Colombians don’t say no. They’re taught to deal with unpleasant situations instead of refusing them. That doesn’t mean they’ll agree to everything — just that you might receive an elaborate explanation instead of a flat-out refusal.
Great Education Documentaries
As schools head back to classroom teaching, check out what “normal” education looks like in different parts of the world with these brilliant documentaries that'll make you smile, cry and hope.
Special education provides a safe space for those with remedial learning. But what happens when you’re diagnosed incorrectly — and that’s done intentionally and to a large number of students? Catch this revelatory documentary on the deep-seated racism that upended the lives of hundreds of Black children in 1960s and 1970s Britain.
2. ‘Girl Rising‘
They come from different countries — India, Egypt, Ethiopia, Peru, Nepal, Haiti, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Sierra Leone. But the nine girls you’ll meet share much in common: in particular, seemingly insurmountable obstacles that they must overcome to get an education, and a hunger for schooling that won’t be denied.
3. ‘Please Vote for Me’
China and democracy might sound incongruous together, but that’s precisely what makes this 2007 documentary on students in Wuhan electing a class representative particularly endearing. It’ll remind you just how much democratic ideals carry a global appeal.
Spot the Difference
Can you identify the four differences between the images above? Check here for last week’s answers and the winners.
Join OZY editors and writers today at 6 p.m. PT/9 p.m. ET for insights into the week’s top news and much more. Write to OZY reporter Joshua Eferighe below so we can pull you into the room, and follow him @Eferighe.
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