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Good morning! If you’re loving the fact that working from home lets you walk your dog and tuck the kids into bed, know that some tech workers might have to pay for it — all while a handful of billionaires exercise disproportionate power over their governments. Read about them today, while catching up on the latest in Cuba, weeks after international cameras shifted their gaze away from historic protests there. Then plan a trip to gorgeous places so remote you probably didn’t know they existed. Finally, check out this week’s spot the difference contest.
The temperature in Italy’s Sicily region set a European record of 119.85 F as large parts of the world continue to battle extreme weather that scientists blame on climate change. The death toll from a horrific forest fire in Algeria has risen to 69, and the number of victims from the heat wave in America’s northwest is likely to be higher than previously thought. But U.S. President Joe Biden has asked oil-rich countries to increase production in a bid to lower crude prices. (Sources: CNN, Guardian, FT, Euronews, NYT)
2. Dem Divide
Divisions within the Democratic Party over the $3.5 trillion budget outline approved by the Senate are threatening plans to turn that blueprint into law, with Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona demanding that the price tag be reduced. The budget proposal hopes to finance a historic expansion of the country’s social safety net. (Sources: Reuters, WaPo)
3. Gone in 90 Days
Afghanistan’s elected government might collapse within 90 days as the Taliban defeat the country’s military in city after city, U.S. officials are warning. Meanwhile, in Ethiopia, Amnesty International reports that it’s the army that’s responsible for the suffering, including the sexual abuse of women and girls. But it’s not all bad news. The Indonesian military has announced it will no longer subject new female recruits to mandatory vaginal exams to test if candidates are virgins. (Source: Deutsche Welle, WSJ, Amnesty, CBS)
4. Google’s Next War
No, it’s not with a government, but with employees who work remotely, at least in America. The tech giant plans salary cuts for employees who choose to work from home permanently, ostensibly since they could be working from cheaper cities. Would you take a pay cut to work from home? Vote here or on Twitter. (Source: BBC, Reuters)
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 promising acche din (good days). He has certainly delivered for 59-year-old Adani, his closest corporate ally whose private jets he has used for political campaigning. In 2014, Adani — who wears belts where his initials form the buckle — was worth $7.1 billion and was India’s 11th richest person. Seven years later, the college dropout is worth $54 billion and is the world’s 24th richest person (and India’s second-wealthiest). He’s been accused of receiving preferential treatment from the government, like the lease for six airports without any experience in the sector — which might explain why he’s flying high.
3. Iris Fontbona
The world’s 10th richest woman, Fontbona heads a mining empire that also controls the majority stake of a Chilean conglomerate dealing with beer, banking and manufacturing. She isworth $23.3 billion. But with fortune has also come scandal, and a lot of it. Her husband, the late Andrónico Luksic, was accused of using close political connections to receive preferential treatment from Chile’s national bank, which helped the family develop its fortune.
What’s Next for Cuba?
Because a whole lot has happened since those who took part in the largest protests in a generation – and the international camera crews – went back home.
Hollywood megastar and multiple-Oscar nominee Scarlett Johansson takes us behind the scenes of Black Widow and reveals how she physically prepares for demanding action scenes. As one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, she shares how she overcomes burnout and whom she would love to invite to dinner. Watch now.
Most Remote Cities
Have you been enjoying isolation a little bit too much? Are you dreading the idea of a vacation surrounded by hordes of humans? These ultra-remote cities might be the answer.
Nestled in the Amazon jungle, Iquitos is the planet’s largest city that’s unreachable by road — you must sail or fly to get to it. Dubbed the “Venice of the Amazon,” Iquitos’ colonial buildings (including one reputedly designed by the creator of the Eiffel Tower) speak to its rich past as a rubber producer. Today the city is home to a vibrant community, thousands of tuk-tuks and colorful food markets that sell, among other things, edible bugs!
2. Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
Wait, what? This unpronounceable (OK, give it a try!) village is one of the most remote in the world, with a population of 350, one grocery store, one church and one jail. What’s on the menu? Seal or polar bear in the winter and musk ox and narwhal in the summer. Want to visit? You might want to book soon, because only a few ships arrive every year.
3. Socotra, Yemen
This island and World Heritage Site is, simply put, out of this world. Located on the Indian Ocean some 250 miles south of Yemen, Socotra boasts animals and plants that don’t exist anywhere else on the planet — like the red dragon blood tree, named after the color of its resin, which for many years has been used as paint and medicine.
Spot the Difference
Can you identify the four differences between the above images? Check here for last week’s answers and winners.