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Aug 18, 2021
Good morning! “For every buyer, there is a seller,” as the saying goes. When it comes to wildlife trafficking, sadly, there are plenty of both. Today you’ll meet the “Pablo Escobar” of the illegal wildlife trade — who’s still alive and free. Get the latest update on the Taliban in Afghanistan and their dodgy promise to women. Then, learn about a unique video game designed so that the Armenian genocide isn’t forgotten. And if the coffee’s getting too bitter this Wednesday, we’ve got some great meditation music to soothe you. Read to the end to check out the winners of last week’s caption contest!
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The Taliban on Tuesday promised that women would be allowed to participate in public life — albeit under strict Islamic laws. In their first press briefing since taking Kabul on Sunday, the group added that they would not engage in retribution against former opponents. But the Taliban’s attempt to portray themselves as more conciliatory than when they last ruled isn’t convincing many Afghans. Kabul storefronts have been painting over images of women without burqas. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in Kabul, signaling the group’s grip on power. (Sources: Al Jazeera, Vice News, BBC)
2 - What’s in Your Wallet?
Retail sales in the U.S. dropped in July amid a spike in cases of the delta variant of COVID-19. Restaurants and bars were spared, with their sales going up 1.7% over the month. As Walmart’s sales growth slowed, Amazon has eclipsed it in the race for the most profitable retailer in the world, now just behind China’s Alibaba. (Sources: WSJ, NYT)
3 - Go Home
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are imposing new restrictions on movement in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Japan has extended its state of emergency, while large areas of New Zealand and Australia have entered fresh lockdowns. Meanwhile, in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott, a vocal opponent of mask mandates, has tested positive for the virus. (Sources: WSJ, CNBC)
4 - Torture in Bolivia
A new report commissioned by the Organization of American States has accused the former interim Bolivian government of Jeanine Áñez of torture and executions of protesters and political opponents. Áñez rose to power in 2019 after a disputed general election triggered mass protests and former President Evo Morales’ exile. Since then, Morales’ party has returned to power after fresh elections, while Áñez is in jail on charges of sedition and terrorism. (Source: WaPo)
5 - Untape the Passenger, Please
United Airlines has told its flight crew to avoid using duct tape to restrain unruly passengers. That’s after a rise in reports of violent incidents as planes have returned to the skies in recent months. Is the company overreacting? Vote here or on Twitter. (Source: The Guardian)
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A middle-aged Chinese woman, Yang isn’t what you’d imagine her to be: an ivory-smuggling kingpin. If Wong is Lizard King, Yang is “Ivory Queen,” smuggling over 700 elephant tusks worth $2.5 million to the Far East while working with Tanzania’s most notorious poacher Matthew Maliango. It was one of Africa’s biggest ivory smuggling rings. In 2019, Yang was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Tanzania.
3 - The Jefwa Brothers
Criminal Kenyan duo Samuel and Nicholas Jefwa have been on the run since 2015, after allegedly conspiring to smuggle 440 pounds of rhino horns and 10 tons of ivory from East Africa to buyers in Southeast Asia and America. They each earned a spot on Interpol’s most-wanted eco-criminals list in the process. The brothers have also been linked to the notorious West African ivory cartel boss and trafficker Moazu Kromah. And unlike Yang, they’re still free.
Sneak Peek Into … Armenia
In November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan arrived at a peace deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin after six weeks of bitter fighting that left thousands dead. Armenia had to give up large parts of a disputed region. Now it must grapple with the aftermath of that loss.
Indie game designer Garabed Khachadour had just 48 hours to craft a video game about freedom for a tournament. So the Lebanese-Armenian millennial drew inspiration from his great-grandparents — the only two of their entire village to survive the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Titled Mayrig(meaning mother in Armenian),the game places the player into the role of a woman fleeing from genocide. Khachadour is part of a new generation of developers that wants to use gaming as a tool for education and change as much as for fun. Read more on OZY.
2 - Cost of Peace
Under the peace deal, Azerbaijan has gained control of large chunks of the largely Armenian, landlocked enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Now historians and conservationists around the world, including UNESCO, are worried that Azerbaijan might target the historic Armenian churches and monuments there to erase evidence of an inconvenient legacy. Will Armenia lose its history along with disputed land? Read more on OZY.
3 - Bottoms Up
The world’s oldest evidence of winemaking goes back 6,100 years to the rich soil, luscious valleys and optimal climate of Armenia, which make it a hub for some of the finest reds and whites around. Under the USSR, Armenia focused on making brandy. But Armenia’s post-Soviet generations are reclaiming the country’s winemaking legacy. Cheers, or as the Armenians say, Kenatsy! Read more on OZY.
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