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Happy Thursday! Some headaches are cured with an aspirin. But others are symptoms of something far more sinister. Check out some of the world’s most dangerous new weapons today and meet the Brazilian meatpacking brothers whom law enforcement and hackers both have a beef with. Learn Australia’s new Indigenous language of hope and get to know the world’s most creative independent film festivals. Read to the end for this week’s spot-the-difference quiz. It’ll dispel any headache and leave you with a smile instead.
The firm behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, meant to ferry oil from Alberta, Canada, to America’s Gulf Coast, has dumped the project amid growing criticism and setbacks to its cross-border ambitions from the Biden administration. Should other major oil pipelines, including ones in Virginia, Minnesota and Montana, also be scrapped? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WSJ, WaPo)
2. 500M Vax Promise
President Joe Biden is expected to announce today that the U.S. will buy 500 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines at not-for-profit rates and donate them to 100 poorer nations, as America plays catchup in a vaccine diplomacy race where it initially declined to help others. African nations like Tanzania, Burundi and Eritrea are yet to receive a single vaccine dose, while Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, has inoculated just 0.1 percent of its citizens. (Sources: NYT, Reuters, Voice of America)
3. TikTok Triumph
Biden has reversed an executive order issued by his predecessor Donald Trump banning popular Chinese platforms TikTok and WeChat, instead asking for a broader review of apps in which nations adversarial to America have stakes. (Sources: NPR, CNBC)
4. Bitcoin Boost
El Salvador’s tech-savvy millennial President Nayib Bukele has convinced his country’s parliament to approve the use of Bitcoins as legal tender, making the Central American nation the first in the world where the cryptocurrency can be used at par with the national currency, the U.S. dollar. (Sources: Bloomberg, Guardian)
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The Brazilian brothers whose family founded and runs the world’s largest meatpacking company, JBS S.A., don’t hesitate to go for the kill when they want something — laws be damned. They’ve both been arrested for insider trading and have admitted to paying bribes to 1,900 politicians as part of Latin America’s biggest corruption scam, the Car Wash scandal. After being barred from holding formal management positions in the parent company of JBS, they were allowed by a court to return to those posts last year. Through all the churn, their personal wealth has grown meat-eorically: from $1.3 billion each in March 2019 to $3.5 billion now — though the company had to shell out $11 million as ransom to hackers who recently targeted its systems.
2. Shelly Stayer
She knew she was going to someday head Johnsonville, America’s largest sausage maker — her husband and then chairman Ralph had told her so. But Stayer decided she needed to learn the ropes of the business thoroughly, so she went to the factory and started by figuring out how to put boxes together and how animals were slaughtered. Fifteen years later, in 2019, she took over the company, a rare woman at the top in a male-dominated industry. And she’s leaving a mark beyond the world of business too. In May 2020, amid the pandemic, she launched a shelter for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence.
3. Abhay Hanjura
His Bangalore-based startup,Licious, promises fresh, neatly packaged gourmet meat to urban Indian homes and is rapidly on its way to becoming India’s unlikely next unicorn. With a $30 million investment in 2019, he was ready to meet the pandemic era’s demand for safe, fresh food supplied at home. The result? Licious saw a delicious 300 percent increase in business from May 2020 through January 2021.
Dangerous New Weapons
They’re mysterious, in some cases even for the world’s most sophisticated militaries.
No one is quite sure who has them and whether they’re in use. What is known is what portable microwave weapons can do: silently and invisibly barrage the heads of unsuspecting victims with waves that cause brain damage. It’s better known as “Havana Syndrome” after U.S. officials posted in the Cuban capital suffered from inexplicable headaches five years ago. But recent weeks have revealed more than 130 such incidents right in Washington too. Have Russia and China developed a worrying new weapon?
2. Eyes in the Seas
If you see something quietly swim by you then disappear underwater, only to bob up again and vanish, don’t scream. It isn’t the Loch Ness Monster — but it might be a maritime drone. Scientists are designing sailing drones to monitor remote parts of the oceans without having to be there. But these drones could also help in maritime espionage and in the future could be used to shoot at enemy ships. Read more on OZY.
3. Bluetooth Goggles
They could be out of a sci-fi novel but they’re real, and the U.S. military is testing them. Built with an Integrated Visual Augmentation System, they let soldiers monitor maps as well as their weapon’s reticle — all transmitted before their eyes through Bluetooth technology. These bad boys could be with the military as soon as this year.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Crossover musical icon Jody Watley talks about overcoming insecurity and fear on the 34th anniversary of her solo debut — with tips on why she still feels just 34 years old. She might be the most down-to-earth musical superstar on the planet. Watch later today.
They’re the voice of the past and the future for often-ignored communities.
Pre-colonization, continental Australia was home to as many as 300 languages. Those numbers have dwindled to fewer than 60. But younger Indigenous groups are combining traditional languages with modern English to spur a new surge in linguistic diversity, with such amalgamations like Kriol spoken by tens of thousands across Australia. Read more on OZY.
2. Gullah Geechee
Slaves from West and Central Africa were brought to North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia to work on rice, cotton and indigo plantations. But because these plantations were relatively isolated, the slaves could maintain their unique culture. And a key expression of that is the Gullah Geechee language, a one-of-a-kind creole spoken only by descendants of these slaves. It’s the only African creole language in America.
Across the Americas, the languages of former European colonizers are pushing native tongues toward extinction. Not in Paraguay. In fact, Paraguayan Guaraní — a melange of several traditional Indigenous languages — is currently spoken by 7 out of 10 people in the country, including overwhelmingly by non-Indigenous people.
Great Independent Film Festivals
The Tribeca Film Festival started yesterday. Check out some of the world’s other great film festivals focused on independent movies.
There’s nothing “safe” about the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre festival. As the Argentine event’s name suggests, it’s all about blood and gore. Latin America’s premier film festival dedicated to horror, fantasy and science fiction, it’s perfect if you enjoy screaming.
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