Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Good morning! As America grapples with new revelations suggesting that the country’s military top brass was worried about a potential coup attempt by former President Donald Trump, we’ve got a reality check for you today: Undemocratic power grabs don’t need the army’s support. Read about Japan’s experience with a near-coup, visit a mud mosque, meet a newly minted octogenarian billionaire and check out the unlikeliest skiing hot spot … in southern Africa. Read to the end for winners of last week’s caption contest.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor, and Nick Fouriezos, Correspondent
Morocco’s security agencies selected their own king, prime minister, French President Emmanuel Macron and Ethiopian WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as targets for espionage using the Israeli Pegasus spyware. Other world leaders whose numbers were shortlisted for tracking include South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and former Mexican President Felipe Calderón. (Sources: Guardian, Al Jazeera)
2. America’s Life Cut Short
The average life expectancy of Americans dropped by 1.5 years in 2020, largely because of the pandemic. The lifespan plunged particularly sharply, by about three years, for Black and Hispanic people. It’s the biggest fall since World War II. (Sources: WaPo, NPR)
3. Ice Cream War
Israel has hit back at ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s decision to suspend operations in Palestinian territories occupied by the Jewish nation, asking 35 U.S. state governors to act against the Unilever-owned company. These states have laws opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to economically pressure Israel. Do you agree with Ben & Jerry’s move? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: AP, Reuters, FT)
4. Bucks Buck History
They don’t call him the “Greek Freak” for nothing. Giannis Antetokounmpo powered the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971 with a historic 50 points to defeat the Phoenix Suns yesterday. No player has scored as much in a finals game since 1958. Read more on OZY about how the rise of this son of Nigerian parents is making his homeland, Greece, finally embrace sports stars of African descent. (Sources: ESPN, CBS)
It’s a 196-foot plunge and it’s Dubai’s latest architectural statement. The world’s deepest pool aims to artificially create an underwater civilization. You can play chess, foosball or underwater pool — forgetting that you’re actually in the middle of a desert.
Discover automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match. You could turn $150 cash back to $300.*
The optics wizard dropped out of his physics program at Stanford after receiving a $100,000 fellowship funded by billionaire Peter Thiel to pursue a tech entrepreneurship dream. Today, the 26-year-old founder of Luminar, a laser lidar startup that makes sensors for self-driving cars, is worth much more. He became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire last year, worth a tidy $2.4 billion as of April, after Luminar went public via a $3.4 billion merger with the special purpose acquisition company Gores Metropoulos Inc.
2. Prathap Reddy
Atthe other end of the age spectrum, 88-year-old Prathap Reddy became a newly minted billionaire after his Apollo Hospitals chain saw its stock price double while adapting quickly to the COVID-19 threat. But while he might be a late bloomer as a billionaire, the Indian entrepreneur has been laying the building blocks for a while, founding rural elementary schools with health care curricula, nursing colleges and clinics.
3. Whitney Wolfe Herd
A Tinder alumnus — she reportedly coined its fiery name — Herd resigned from the company and sued it for sexual harassment. Then she founded the anti-Tinder: Bumble, the dating app that only lets women message first. The Salt Lake City native, who once ran a business selling bamboo bags, took Bumble public in February in a $2.15 billion IPO, making the 31-year-old the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. For those who’ve bet on her, following the Herd has paid off.
Sneak Peek Into ... Mali
In May, Mali saw its second coup in nine months. But there’s much more than political turmoil to this gold-filled country that was once a great West African empire.
A new generation of digital activists is trying to drive political reform at a time when disillusionment and apathy cloud the conflict-ridden country. These initiatives are now focused on opposing those behind the May coup. But their challenges run deeper, including a 2019 law that could allow officials unfettered access to digital communications data. Read more on OZY.
3. Mosque See
From its minarets to spired walls, the Great Mosque in Djenné is built from sun-baked mud — as is the entire historic town surrounding it — using a tradition dating back to the 14th century. You don’t have to be religious to want to visit it.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright talks about The Plague Year — his new book on COVID-19 in America, released just over a year after his early-2020 novel about a deadly pandemic turned out to be prophetic. Watch now.
Coups Without Militaries
Whether in Mali or the U.S., coups are a real threat. But there are more ways to upend democracy than through the army.
The opposition to Bolivia’s left-leaning President Evo Morales claimed election fraud in 2019, after the incumbent’s substantial lead during the counting of votes suddenly swelled further. The Organization of American States, backed by Washington, issued an analysis supporting the allegations of wrongdoing. Amid political chaos, Morales quit and sought exile. But subsequent, independent analysis by other experts showed the OAS evaluation was flawed — Morales’ lead had grown because areas that supported him were, for demographic reasons, counted later than areas where he had less support. Two years later, Morales’ party won fresh elections to return to power.
The West African nation’s Gnassingbé family has ruled since 1967 by orchestrating coups in violation of the very constitution they’ve ruled by. In 2005, after the death of Eyadéma Gnassingbé — who had led Africa’s first coup 38 years earlier — the constitution demanded that the speaker be made interim president. But the country’s military instead installed Eyadéma’s son Faure, who has since, through constitutional amendments, made sure he can run until 2030. Read more on OZY.
Surprising Southern Skiing
Enough with the scary stuff. Yes, it’s summer for most of the world. But if you’re still craving the thrill of skiing, here’s where you need to go.
Developed and tested by 11-time world champion Kelly Slater on the best waves around the world, APEX Trunks are the highest-performance swimsuits out there. They’re made with 86% recycled polyester and 14% recycled spandex, paired with stitch-free, welded seams and a smooth inside fly to eliminate chafe. APEX Trunks are where performance and sustainability meet. Get 20% off your pair today with code OKOZY!
*Cashback Match: Only from Discover as of April 2021. We’ll match all the cash back rewards you’ve earned on your credit card from the day your new account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days, whichever is longer, and add it to your rewards account within two billing periods. You’ve earned cash back rewards only when they’re processed, which may be after the transaction date. We will not match: rewards that are processed after your match period ends; statement credits; rewards transfers from Discover checking or other deposit accounts; or rewards for accounts that are closed. This promotional offer may not be available in the future and is exclusively for new cardmembers. No purchase minimums.