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Aug 31, 2021
Good morning! If you’re finding the world a little stressful (who isn’t, duh), soothing experiences can come in unlikely forms. Like a controversial Twitch streamer who gives you tingling sensations. Meet her today, then hop on to China’s new superfast bullet train. Finally, with the prison population growing everywhere, we visit the world’s fanciest detention facilities, where some of the biggest criminals reside ... but doors are often optional.
The last U.S. military plane departed Kabul airport Monday night, marking an end to America’s longest war, as Taliban fighters celebrated by firing their guns into the sky. Fewer than 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan. The U.N. Security Council has urged the Taliban to allow safe passage to Afghans who wish to leave. Meanwhile, as the Biden administration faces the fallout of a chaotic withdrawal — including from survivors of a U.S. missile strike that reportedly killed seven civilian adults and three children in Kabul on Sunday — the world is scrambling to deal with a major refugee crisis. Developing countries, including Uganda and Colombia, have stepped in to host Afghan refugees temporarily while wealthier nations decide on their fate. (Sources: Guardian, AP, Reuters, NYT, FT)
2 - Ida’s Not Done
Large areas of Louisiana are unreachable after Hurricane Ida flooded the state, with many stranded at home amid rising waters. Although the full scale of the devastation is yet unknown, authorities have warned that power outages could last for more than a month as the storm moves to other states. Across the country in California, a devastating wildfire is threatening the resort city of South Lake Tahoe, forcing evacuations. (Sources: NYT, NPR, WaPo)
3 - Great Gig
Ride-sharing giant Uber has pitched a plan for companies who rely on informal workers in Canada to contribute to a fund to provide cash benefits toward health insurance and retirement plans. But don't get too excited. The company has said such benefits would vary from country to country based on social security and labor laws. (Source: Reuters)
4 - Offline Gaming
Chinese authorities have found a radical solution to get kids off their screens: limit online gaming time by law. New measures issued on Monday aim to tackle rising levels of online addiction by allowing children to play video games only for one hour on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. Do you agree with this new rule? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: BBC, WSJ)
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@broxh_ is a full-time Twitch streamer based in New Zealand with 1.4 million followers who tune into his streams to watch him practice whakairo, the traditional wood-carving art of the Indigenous Maori people, or play video games. His unique use of a video-streaming platform to preserve Maori cultural traditions caught the attention of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who featured in one of his streams last year.
2 - Amouranth
Kaitlyn Siragusa, who goes by the handle @Amouranth on Twitch, is a Texas-based ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) content creator. She makes sounds or speaks in a tone that can generate a physical response in viewers. Along with fellow female streamer Indiefoxx, she was temporarily banned by Twitch’s content-moderation team in June for producing ASMR content from her bed that the moderation team believed was “sexually suggestive.” After three days her account was reinstated — minus the ads. Siragusa remains one of the biggest creators on the platform.
3 - Pacman10154
An ex-professional gamer based out of South Africa, Kyle, aka Pacman10154, played the video game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for the esports organizations WRG.Aspire and PuLse Gaming for most of 2017. After leaving the professional gaming circuit, he turned to the cottage industry of livestream gaming. Kyle currently creates content in partnership with Bravado Gaming. You don’t need to be passionate about video games to enjoy watching him on Twitch, where his relaxed style is almost therapeutic.
And while we’re on gaming, we asked you yesterday which country (other than Finland) formally introduced gaming into its school curriculum during the pandemic. The answer? Poland.
The Next Bullet Trains
Japan’s Shinkanesen system has been the standard-bearer of high-speed trains for nearly six decades, though other nations — including several in Europe — have their own versions. But the technology is changing ... and is finding new homes.
China recently unveiled a new high-speed maglev (magnetic levitation) train in the port city of Qingdao that can race at more than 370 mph, the fastest train the country has developed. This maglev promises to cut the travel time from Beijing to Shanghai in half.
2 - California Dreamin’
California Governor Gavin Newsom recently re-committed to funding a high-speed rail route in the Central Valley from the city of Merced to Bakersfield. The project has been in the works since at least 2008, but its price tag has risen sharply since then. Mismanaged funds, poorly defined project parameters and money committed to less-than-operable segments of railway are some of the other challenges that have plagued the initiative, prompting experts to call it evidence of the downfall of the American bullet train.
3 - But There Is Hope
California’s woes have served as lessons for others. Private firm Texas Central Railway aims to construct high-speed transport between Houston and Dallas, and plans to fund it entirely through the market. Other companies, such as Virgin Trains and Fortress Investment Group, are following this model, with plans to implement bullet trains throughout the United States. Popular potential routes include Los Angeles to Las Vegas, St. Louis to Chicago and Atlanta to Charlotte. Read more on OZY.
World’s Best Prisons
No one likes being behind bars ... but if you had to choose a prison, you’d want to pick from these.
Initially, Suomenlinna had the distinction of being an “open prison.” Though it is sequestered on an island, it has no cells or locked doors, and inmates live in shared housing with private rooms. Eventually, gates had to be introduced: not to keep inmates in, but to keep tourists out.
2 - Sala Prison (Morocco)
If you’re a VIP in Morocco and you screw up, why should you be punished like a commoner would? Sala boasts large single rooms for inmates, cell phones, newspaper-to-cell delivery and so-called “Abu Dhabi” suites. But, as nice as it is, the recidivism rate, as measured a few years ago, fell from 3 percent to 2.3 percent. So if you must go to prison in North Africa? It must be Sala.
3 - Butner Federal Correctional Institution (U.S.)
It’s the “crown jewel” of prisons, which is why the cream of criminals — like financial finagler Bernie Madoff — spend their days here. The low-security facility in South Carolina looks more like a retirement village, though COVID-19 has hit it badly.
For more on these and other “good” prisons, read here.
MORE ON OZY
1 - Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
HGTV’s Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott join Carlos to discuss their twin connection, their paths to getting their hit shows and lessons in love they’ve learned from their partners. Hear the brothers talk about why they have hope in the fight against climate change.
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