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Good morning! What comes to your mind when you think of Vienna? Coffee? Baroque architecture? Majestic parks? Before Sunrise? It turns out Austria’s capital has a grayer side to it too. Go undercover today to discover some of the world’s most surprising spy dens, meet the next Usain Bolt, check out stunning new data revealing the extent of America’s racial wage gap and learn how to make a simple but oh-so-good Peruvian salad. Read to the end for this week’s spot the difference contest!
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Eugene S. Robinson, Editor-at-Large
... is in the doing. U.S. President Joe Biden described his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva yesterday as “positive” but “not a kumbaya moment,” underscoring the low expectations from both sides for the tense summit between the global rivals. They agreed to return their ambassadors to each other’s capitals months after recalling them, and took baby steps toward an agreement on cybersecurity and nuclear weapons. But when it’s about the world’s two biggest military powers, words alone matter only so much. (Sources: WaPo, CNN)
2. Inflated Fears?
The Federal Reserve has indicated it might hike interest rates in 2023, suggesting it does not see increasing prices as a broader inflationary threat. But Brazil raised rates for the third time this year to contain inflation, following a very different approach. (Sources: Reuters, FT)
3. Juneteenth Joy
Congress has approved the celebration of Juneteenth, the symbolic end of slavery in the U.S., as the first new national holiday in nearly four decades. President Biden is expected to sign the proposal into law today. It commemorates the June 19, 1865, date when the last slaves in Texas learned that they were free. (Sources: USA Today, WSJ, BBC)
4. Would You Like a Firing Squad?
It’s a choice to die for. A South Carolina court has stopped the execution of two prisoners by electric chair in the absence of lethal injections, ruling that they must have the option of choosing a firing squad if they prefer that. Should prisoners on death row have a choice over how they are executed? Vote here or on Twitter. (Source: Al Jazeera)
Someone really needs to park their car. A Hong Kong resident has paid $1.3 million for a parking slot in the dense city, a record that begs a single question: How expensive is the car?
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Is he the newUsian Bolt? Few athletes have generated the kind of buzz ahead of Tokyo that this 23-year-old American has. The 200 meter world champion has a personal best of 9.86 seconds in the 100 meter. Lyles, a self-described artist and rapper, could be on course to emulate Bolt’s unmatched mastery over both sprints over the next few weeks.
3. Joshua Cheptegei
For decades, Ethiopia and Kenya have dominated distance running, their Rift Valley success elevating their champions to almost mythical status. Now they have a new rival: 24-year-old Cheptegei is helping turn Uganda into the latest athletic powerhouse. He broke the world record in both the 5,000 meter and the 10,000 meter last year and is a favorite to win the double in Tokyo. And he’s inspiring a generation of Ugandans: 21-year-old Jacob Kiplomo could soon follow in his footsteps.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Meet Leyna Bloom, the first transgender Black and Asian model to appear in Sports Illustrated. The star of Pose and new film Port Authority shares insights into the rise of Black Filipinas — a pedigree she shares with Saweetie and H.E.R. — and how her parents helped her thrive through her transition. Watch later today.
State of Black America’s Economy
Ahead of Juneteenth, a new report released today by the McKinsey Global Institute and McKinsey’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility reveals fresh data on America’s dramatic racial economic divide — and how a fix could open up opportunities for everyone.
1. $220 Billion
That’s the annual wage gap between Black workers and the rest of the country's workforce. Disproportionately few African Americans are in better-paying professions like medicine, software development, law or the higher echelons of the corporate world. But even within a profession, they’re often paid lower than their non-Black counterparts, the McKinsey research finds.
2. $1.6 Trillion
That’s the revenue gap between Black-owned businesses and other private enterprises in America — an amount larger than the GDP of Brazil. While African Americans constitute 13% of the national population, Black-owned businesses represent only 2% of private firms with more than one employee.
3. 2.7 Million
That’s the number of African Americans who live in urban consumer deserts, with inadequate access to fresh food, proper health care and affordable housing. But Black America is also disproportionately unhappy with the consumer products that are available, opening up a $260 billion market for companies ready to better understand the community’s needs and wants.
Surprising Spy Dens
Berlin used to be a nest of spies during the Cold War. Today secret agents have found themselves new hot spots to wreak havoc on the world.
Vienna can seem like a throwback to quieter, slower times, with majestic buildings, great art and delightful cafes — but you might also stumble upon North Korean agents. In fact, the picturesque Austrian capital has emerged as the entrance to Europe for Pyongyang’s spies. So sip on that Viennese coffee with care.
It’s what Casablanca must have felt like in the 1940s, with clashing global powers all trying to get an edge. The tiny nation of the Horn of Africa has long been a strategically vital outpost, with the U.S. and Italy following former colonial ruler France in setting up military bases there. But in recent years, China has built a naval port there, while Ethiopia and other neighbors have set up four new seaports. Where there are such deep strategic interests involved, spies always follow. Lots of spies.
Surprise, surprise. Spy activity in America’s friendly neighbor to the north has approached Cold War levels according to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Ottawa blames COVID-19 — and the fact that millions more people are working from home on vulnerable systems — for the spike.
No, you don’t need to turn to those same old boring salads again and again.
Shrimp paste, coconut, shallots and lime juice come together with other ingredients ranging from meat to mango. But the standout element in this Malaysian salad? Papaya flowers that — believe me — are extremely bitter. That we’re still obsessed with kerabu should tell you that it’s not something you want to miss.
This Peruvian solterito depends on the lima bean. Add inonions, tomatoes, corn, diced queso fresco, vinegar, olive oil, olives and seasonings in a bowl — without chopping them much. It’s quick, cheap and healthy. With a fun fact to boot: Solterito is the diminutive of saltero, the word for a single man.
Spot the Difference
Can you identify the four differences between the two above images? Check here for last week’s answers and winners!
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