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Good morning! From floods in China and Europe to forest fires in California and Oregon, climate change is sending us near-daily reminders of its force. Yet the fight against global warming is often pitched as opposing economic development. Today you’ll meet a Nigerian economist with the credentials and authority to finally build the economy and our defense against climate change. Read about China’s classroom diplomacy and bizarre private islands before traveling to Mt. Fuji while lying in your bed. Read to the end for this week’s spot the difference contest.
The CDC’s fresh guidance asking fully vaccinated people to also wear masks indoors in places with high COVID-19 rates is rooted in growing concerns that even those who’ve received their shots could carry the virus at the same levels as those who’ve not been inoculated. That would make them dangerous transmitters, but independent experts are asking to see the data that has led the agency to this new — and worrying — conclusion. Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization has warned that Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay continue to have some of the world’s highest death rates from the pandemic. Will you continue wearing masks indoors if fully vaccinated? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WaPo, CNBC, Al Jazeera)
2. Building Bridges
A major $550 billion infrastructure deal passed a critical test in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, with 17 Republicans backing it, marking a win for President Joe Biden’s attempts at building bipartisan alliances to get key plans approved by Congress. The infrastructure package still needs a final go-ahead in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Sources: NYT, NBC)
3. Tunis Takeover
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has dismissed prosecutors and judges, assuming judicial powers days after suspending the country’s parliament and removing the prime minister from office, deepening global concerns over the loss of democratic gains the North African nation has made since the Arab Spring. (Source: Guardian)
Caeleb Dressel, America’s biggest swimming star, won his first individual gold and set an Olympic record in the 100 meter freestyle this morning, soon after teammate Bobby Finke recorded a surprise win in the first ever 800 meter men’s freestyle event at the Games. But in the 4x200 meter women’s relay, China triumphed with a world record despite a final-leg surge from Team USA’s Katie Ledecky. America leads the overall medals tally, followed by China and the Russian Olympic Committee team.
Let your taste buds travel to new destinations from the comfort of your couch! Taste delicious wines from the world’s best wine regions — all handpicked by Bright Cellars’ in-house sommeliers and delivered straight to your doorstep. Passport not required.
For decades, economies have sought faster GDP growth as their central performance metric. Raworth believes it’s time to pivot to an opposite belief: Slower economic growth and even stagnation are signs of success, and are necessary to fight climate change. Instead of ceaseless growth, she’s arguing for the “doughnut model”: a paradigm that advocates for an economy that stays within twin circles, the inner one representing our minimum needs and the outer one our environmental limits. Read more on OZY.
2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
In March,Nigeria’s former finance minister became the first African head of the World Trade Organization. And from that powerful perch, she’s trying to make the climate central to global trade considerations, including through a carbon tax on imports designed in a way that it doesn’t contradict the principles of free trade. This isn’t new ground for her: She’s served as co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate — a leading group of government and private sector leaders that advocate for economic policy that keeps the environment at its center. Now she’s in a position to actually make that difference.
One of the first notable Asian American women of prominence on the American stage, Margaret Cho inspired a generation of performers like Awkwafina and Ali Wong. Today, the comedian joins Carlos to speak openly about the struggles she experienced in her rise to fame, from assault to addiction to finding her identity. Watch today.
China’s Classroom Diplomacy
Big infrastructure projects and military threats aren’t Beijing’s only tools in expanding itsglobal influence. Increasingly, education is a key pillar of its strategy.
Setting up entire university campuses isn’t always the most efficient cultural diplomacy tool. Across Africa and Latin America, China has set up dozens of Confucius Institutes that are embedded within local universities and expose students to Chinese culture while teaching Mandarin. Critics accuse China of using these institutes to shape local perceptions about the country.
Did Oracle founder Larry Ellison see the future when he purchased98 percent of this Hawaiian paradise for $300 million in 2012? Ellison built the island into a high-end wellness retreat, complete with an airline that ferries people from Oahu. Now he has moved to Lanai himself amid the pandemic, working over Zoom.
Madonna wanted it, as did Bill Gates and Giorgio Armani. But the Greek island that was once owned by tycoon Aristotle Onassis (it’s where he married Jackie Kennedy)now belongs to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. It’s price tag? A cool $150 million.
What do you do when you face rape charges but your wealthy followers believe you’re their guide to God? You anoint yourself ruler of a remote island. Controversial Indian godman Nithyananda, accused of raping disciples,owns an island off the coast of Ecuador, where he claims he’s establishing a “Hindu nation” with e-embassies and now, flights to other parts of the world.
Sure you can’t travel to Tokyo for the Olympics, but you can visit some of the city’s greatest landmarks as you soak in the Games … from the comfort of your couch.
Technically, the peak that’s a visual metaphor for Japan sits some 85 miles outside Tokyo. But you can daydream your way up from wherever you are, with stunning live views of the mountain from myriad directions through this network of cameras.
3. Tokyo National Museum
And if you’re more the indoors type, how about a 360 degree tour of this majestic museum, with its offerings of rare antiques and art spanning centuries? Get ready to unpack the history and mystery of Japan.
Spot the Difference
Can you identify the four differences between the two images above? Check here for last week’s answers and winners.
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