Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Money is both the root of all evil and at the heart of today’s newsletter. So from lesser-known corporate crooks to the science behind drugs and narcotics, we’ve got you covered. Check out maps that’ll make you question how you’ve seen the world all along and taste some of the world’s most unique salts. Read to the end for this week’s caption contest!
It wasn’t just Russia, China and Iran. Federal prosecutors in the U.S. are now investigating whether former and serving Ukrainian officials tried to influence the 2020 election by amplifying fake news through Rudy Giuliani. Not that Moscow’s sitting idle. Microsoft said Thursday that the Russian group behind the SolarWinds hacking operation is now targeting government agencies, nonprofits and think tanks. The revelation comes weeks before President Joe Biden is scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva June 16. Should Biden call off that meeting? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: NYT, Reuters, CNBC)
2. Silent Sorry for Genocides
They won’t openly apologize, but two of Europe’s biggest powers have come closer than ever to acknowledging their responsibility in horrific 20th century genocides. French President Emmanuel Macron admitted his country stood “by the side of a genocidal regime” during the Rwandan massacre of 1994, for which it bore an “overwhelming responsibility.” And Germany has agreed to pay $1.34 billion to fund projects in communities impacted by the Herero-Nama genocide in present-day Namibia. German soldiers shot, tortured and starved tens of thousands of Namibians between 1904 and 1908 in response to a rebellion against their colonial rule. (Sources: CNN, Guardian)
3. California Cash
America’s most populous state is fittingly offering the biggest prize of all: $1.5 million each to 10 winners of a lottery for those who’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, Japan is extending a state of emergency as it tries to curb cases ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start late July. (Sources: Forbes, Japan Times)
4. Just Do It
Nike did. The sportswear brand severed ties with Brazilian soccer star Neymar last year after an employee accused the player of sexually assaulting her. The company has never publicly explained why it ended its contract with Neymar. (Source: WSJ)
For 14 years, Calibri has been Microsoft Word’s default font. Now the software decided on a hard turn away from the typeface, instead creating five new fonts, one of which will replace Calibri.
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Believed to now be in Hong Kong by way of mainland China, 57-year-old Jie Dong is no Bernie Madoff. While the famous fraudulent financier Madoff bilked people out of $64.8 billion, Dong’s only bitten the unwary for approximately $800,000. But unlike Madoff, he’s alive and possibly still robbing people by offering items on auction sites, collecting cash for the winning bids and absconding.
2. Jorge Iglesias
Over a span of seven months starting in August 2007, the 59-year-old Cuban used the cover of a medical services company to fleece Medicare out of $1.1 million in Puerto Rico, through 354 fake claims for prosthetic limbs. The FBI’s still looking for him. Given that he previously duped the federal government an average of almost twice a day, they’ll likely be searching for him for a while.
3. Isabel dos Santos
But Dong and Iglesias are small fry compared to the woman widely seen as the queen of corruption. Africa’s richest woman is the daughter of former Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, under whose reign she ran the oil-rich country’s state-owned energy behemoth, Sonangol. She and her husband are accused of having milked Sonangol and other firms of more than $1 billion. A court has frozen her assets, but she’s fighting the allegations from exile in Dubai. And her boldest move might be yet to come: Some experts believe she might run for Angola’s presidency next year.
And speaking of The Carlos Watson Show, we have your weekend fix ready. Watch WWE wrestler CJ Perry talk about her journey from a Soviet ballet school to dancing for Rihanna. And catch Princeton professor Eddie Glaude Jr. later today on his work to keep the legacies of Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson and James Baldwin alive.
If science is getting high on getting high, it’s time you know why.
1. Open Up
Don’t listen to the hippies. But do listen to the scientists. And new research shows that LSD actually lowers the brain’s barriers that otherwise make us hold back our thoughts, thus enabling us to embrace new ideas.
2. Get Treated
Club drugs like MDMA and nonclub drugs like psilocybin are increasingly gaining traction as useful tools in treating mental health disorders. Top universities such as Johns Hopkins and University of California, Berkeley, have launched centers to study psychedelics. And growing evidence suggests they are useful in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Most of us have grown up with what is known as the Mercator map. It’s seriously misleading and is a product of the colonial era. Perhaps these other — more accurate — maps should become our mainstream cartographic tools?
The Mercator map exaggerates the size of the Earth near the poles and compresses it near the equator. The result? Greenland appears as big as Africa, even though the continent is actually 14 times larger than the Danish territory! The Peters Projection — also known as the Gall-Peters Projection — fixes that, showcasing all continents with the correct sizes relative to each other. Boston’s public schools recently embraced the Peters Projection. Will others follow?
2. South Up
We’re conditioned to think of north as up and south as down. But there’s no scientific or geographic reason it must be so: The laws of physics work the same at both poles. Is it a coincidence, then, that almost all of the developed world is in the “Northern Hemisphere” and poorer nations in the “south”? Upturning the map, so that “south” goes “north” would help redress that bias. And it wouldn’t be entirely radical: Early Chinese compasses were oriented to the south, as were 12th century Arabic maps.
Maps also shape our language. East Asia is still at times referred to as the Far East, a nomenclature that places it at the fringe of the world map even though it’s the planet’s most populated and economically important region today. And Europe sits at the center of world maps. How about reorienting the map so that it’s centered on the Pacific Ocean, with Asia prominent and Europe at the edges?
They say that salt is the most powerful flavor enhancer on earth. And Hawaiian black salt, made from unrefined sea salt, volcanic clay and activated charcoal is, for our money, the best. It dissolves slowly and brings a nice crunch to dishes.
2. Maldon Sea Salt
Its specialty — apart from the fact that it costs 10 times as much as regular salt? Maldon Sea Salt is one of the least salty salts around and is shaped like snowflakes. It comes from Essex in England, where it’s been harvested since the Romans roamed those lands.
A great question can ignite innovative thinking that is essential in our globalized, digitized and disruptive world. The six-week Inquiry-Driven Leadership online short course from the MIT Sloan School of Management teaches you to adopt a questioning approach to effectively identify and solve organizational problems. Find out more about the program here.