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Happy Friday! Great coffee needs more than the best beans. It also needs a brilliant brew. Trust us — we should know. Start your weekend by sipping on coffee specially made by a former actress who’s now one of Brazil’s top baristas while you meet one of Africa’s boldest dissidents. Bite into Cameroonian chocolate, try contact lenses that for the first time correct color blindness and stay cool with traditional air conditioning that keeps India’s desert palaces pleasant in peak summer. Don’t forget this week’s caption contest!
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Isabelle Lee, Reporter
A four-decade-old 12-story building north of Miami Beach crumbled Thursday, leaving at least one person dead and 99 missing as questions over what went wrong swirled amid the cries of grief and prayers for the safety of those who haven’t been traced. (Sources: WaPo, CNN)
2. ‘We Have a Deal’
That’s how President Joe Biden announced a $1.2 trillion infrastructure agreement with a bipartisan group of senators. But Biden and the Democrats insist they’ll only sign the deal if Congress also approves “human infrastructure” funding for initiatives like child care support and the fight against climate change that the GOP currently opposes. Will Biden’s efforts at bipartisanship work? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: USA Today, NYT)
3. Worst Yet
A dramatic surge in COVID-19 cases across Africa and the absence of an even remotely adequate number of vaccine shots could make this the most dangerous period yet for the continent’s battle against the pandemic, the WHO has warned. South Africa, Uganda and Congo are worst hit. Meanwhile, Mexico became the latest nation to approve the Pfizer vaccine for children above the age of 12. (Sources: Guardian, Reuters)
4. Toshiba Tremors
It’s the latest show of strength from activist investors. Toshiba’s shareholders removed the Japanese multinational’s chairman from his post amid allegations that he connived with the country’s government to block foreign investors. (Sources: WSJ, FT)
5. No Putin Up With Vlad
European Union leaders have rejected a proposal from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, instead doubling down on plans to step up sanctions against Moscow. (Source: DW)
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Until 2018, no woman had ever reached the finals of the World Barista Championships — the profession’s top annual competition. Rojewska, a three-time champion in her home nation, Poland, didn’t just reach the finals:she won the competition. An introvert, Rojewska has since been propelled into the position of global ambassador for women in coffee — which means she needs to lecture, judge competitions and train baristas around the world. And you’ll never guess where she learned to brew: YouTube.
2. Jooyeon Jeon
Following in Rojewska’s footsteps was never going to be easy. But Jooyeon wasn’t about to wait. TheKorean barista won the world championships in 2019, marking out a future for all women in the profession by underscoring that Rojewska’s success was no flash in the carafe. She’s also a reminder that some of the world’s greatest coffee can be found in unlikely places: like the street cafes of Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city and Jooyeon’s home.
Dive inside the career of actress/producer Christina Hendricks and discover how this former goth punk girl went from a scared young actress in New York City to playing an iconic boss woman in Mad Men. Find out how the Good Girls star built her career like a business … and why she’s obsessed with reality TV. Watch now.
Sneak Peek Into ... Cameroon
A nation divided along linguistic lines. A powerhouse of African soccer. A land of breathtaking waterfalls and pristine beaches. Cameroon is all of these and more.
1. Edith Kahbang Walla
She’s been beaten, hosed and jailed — but the 56-year-old is offering the strongest challenge Cameroon’s authoritarian President Paul Biya has faced in his 39-year-rule. It won’t be easy, but the former management consultant is ready for a long fight, aware that time and democratic ideals are on her side. Read more.
2. Tech Innovation
The pandemic sparked concerns about the spread of the virus through the physical exchange of cash notes, making this a ripe moment to pull more people into digital commerce. It was an opportunity that telecommunications firm MTN Cameroon took, making all transactions under $33 fee-free. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Melissa Bime has dramatically reduced the time it takes to get Cameroonian patients blood — using just a laptop and a network of motorbikes. She’s part of a shift that’s turning West Africa into one of the world’s most cutting-edge laboratories for tech innovations. Read more on OZY.
3. Cameroonian Chocolate
Is shade the secret to stellar chocolate? Cameroonian farmers plant their cacao under trees in the forest, which gives the plants a longer lifespan and promotes soil health. Some experts believe Cameroon’s approach could help promote biodiversity and help stave off deforestation in Africa’s hardest-hit countries. Bitter chocolate would then leave a sweet aftertaste. Read more on OZY.
The long-term health effects of the pandemic and lockdowns are only starting to emerge. Chinese researchers have shown that the youngest school-age students who’ve been forced to sit in front of their computers or phones and study for months are up to three times more likely to get myopia — shortsightedness — than children of the same age five years earlier.
The Thar Desert in India’s Rajasthan state routinely ranks among the world’s hottest places. Yet it’s also home to stunning architectural ingenuity that’s more than 1,500 years old. Installing a baoli, a carefully designed stepwell filled with water, at the base of a building creates the natural cooling effect of an oasis.
3. Caribbean Cool
Architecture in the Caribbean is heavily inspired by colonial influences ... and by the region’s climate. Houses are often laid around an open courtyard with arcades to allow people to move around in the shade. Doors have small windows that — along with the courtyard and vaulted, high ceilings — enable natural ventilation.
Send us your most creative and fun caption for the above image. We’ll pick three winners.