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Aug 26, 2021
Good morning! If you’re hooked on TikTok, know that the viral platform isn’t only for hilarious and bizarre content posted by young people. Today, meet the nonagenarian world leader betting on TikTok to reach new audiences. With college sports poised to restart, take a look at the next rule changes that could transform the NCAA after a summer that saw student athletes finally win the right to earn. And if the real world isn’t enough for you, check out some classic dystopian movies. Don’t forget to try this week’s spot the difference contest!
As if the Taliban aren’t bad enough, the U.S., U.K. and Australia have now warned of a terrorist threat to Kabul airport and have asked their citizens waiting outside the gates to leave the area. The CIA and U.S. military are using helicopters to pluck out Americans and Afghan allies in and outside the capital. As the Aug. 31 deadline for the pullout of troops looms, U.S. officials are conceding that thousands of Afghan locals who worked with the West would likely be left behind. Meanwhile, Mexico welcomed five members of an Afghan high school all-girl robotics team. (Sources: Al Jazeera, NYT, WSJ, France24)
2 - TV Torture
Forget punishing labor camps. Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to have a new strategy to torment his biggest critics. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny has said he and other prisoners at a high-security facility are being forced to watch state propaganda shows and films for eight hours every day. If guards see a prisoner falling asleep, they shout, “Don’t sleep, watch!” (Source: NYT, Business Insider)
3 - The End of Malaria?
Though a fully preventable and curable illness, malaria still kills tens of thousands of children in sub-Saharan Africa. But scientists have now shown that giving young children a vaccine and antimalarial drugs just before the rainy season helped reduce deaths by 70% in Burkina Faso and Mali, pointing to a new approach that could save countless lives. (Source: WHO, BBC)
4 - Come as You Are
We all come naked. Some become famous for it. Spencer Elden’s photo as a nude baby swimming toward a dollar bill on Nirvana’s album cover for Nevermind is among the most iconic images of the music industry. He’s now suing the band, claiming the image amounted to “child pornography.” Speaking of porn, content subscription service OnlyFans has announced it’s scrapping plans to ban sexually explicit content from the site. Has Spencer Elden actually been wronged? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: AP, CNBC)
5 - Delta Fights Delta
Some companies are paying people to get the COVID-19 shot. Others are charging those who refuse. Delta Airlines will ask unvaccinated employees to pay a $200 health insurance surcharge every month. The move comes as the delta variant continues to spread, with Florida seeing record cases and deaths. (Sources: WSJ, Vox)
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Political punditry became popular on TikTok in 2020, when America was undergoing a reckoning with racial issues after the death of George Floyd. Now mainstream politicians are joining the platform, hoping their careers last longer than a typical TikTok.
California’s 40th governor has nearly 160,000 TikTok followers. And @gavinnewsom makes sure he uses the platform as an effective communication tool, whether on the state’s vaccination program or policy changes like a new state-funded guaranteed income plan. With TikTok emerging as an important medium to target young voters, it makes sense for politicians to be on the platform. Newsom’s leading the way.
2 - Mahathir Mohamad
But TikTok’s not just a young person’s game. This 96-year old former prime minister of Malaysia has drawn more than 250,000 followers on the platform since joining it in August 2020. He goes by the handle @chedetofficial and insists he’s “still young.” His TikTok content ranges from taking on trending challenges to posting book recommendations and promoting Malaysian airports. His posts also feature a mix of English and Malay. Is he young enough to make one more political comeback — this time via TikTok?
Even as NIL laws create lucrative opportunities for collegiate athletes, some are choosing to skip college (and even high school) altogether, in favor of playing in startup leagues. Basketball organizations like Overtime Elite, G League Ignite and the Professional Collegiate League are attracting high profile investors, as well as college-aged ballers who want a direct route to the NBA. These leagues have the money, the media deals and the talent to disrupt the landscape of U.S. college basketball. Will we see startup leagues for other sports crop up in the future?
3 - Transfer Rates Skyrocketing
Earlier this year, the NCAA passed a rule allowing immediate eligibility for collegiate football and basketball athletes who shift schools. Previously, players who transferred couldn’t compete for a year. This rule has a plethora of ramifications for the future of college sports. Transfer rates were already rising in football and basketball before the rule change. Now, some believe we could see the focus shift away from player development, as collegiate athletics starts mimicking professional sports.
While we’re on sports, we asked you yesterday to name the American sportsperson of Laotian descent who recently won gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Gay G. and John P. — congratulations! Indeed, the answer is Sunisa Lee in gymnastics!
Great Dystopian Movies
Now that we know that the real world can actually throw up stuff we thought was only possible in apocalyptic films, here’s a menu of some other dystopian movies that are worth your time.
If you loved The Hunger Games, then this 1965 Italian dystopian thriller might be just for you. In the film, two citizens of an oppressive regime are pitted against each other in 10 rounds of hunter-versus-hunted in a televised match. But the steamy connection between the contestants (one of them is former Bond girl Ursula Andress) makes this film all the more interesting.
2 - The Quiet Earth
After an attempt to build a global electrical grid results in the world’s population disappearing, save one man, things get pretty weird. Why is he the only man left? And what role did he play in the disappearances? This quirky New Zealand film from 1985 is an absolute riot.
3 - Strange Days
While this 1995 movie almost ended director Katherine Bigelow’s career when it came out, it bears viewing in 2021 through a new lens. The film takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles, where people are dealing with discs that allow them to watch increasingly violent, heinous acts. Made during the O.J. Simpson trial era, it’s a commentary on voyeurism and its grip on humanity.
Dr. Anthony Fauci joins us for a candid conversation on everything from coping with working round-the-clock at the age of 80 to the lessons on racial disparities the pandemic brought to light. Plus, his bold prediction of an HIV vaccine. Watch now on Amazon Prime Video.
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