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Sep 21, 2021
Good morning! We all love a good coffee, but choosing the right maker can sometimes be tricky. Unless you follow James Hoffman, a British author and caffeine fanatic who tries every type of bean and coffee maker so you don’t have to. Welcome to the world of niche reviewers today. Also, meet the dangerous Eritrean general whose troops are turning Ethiopia’s civil war into a broader regional crisis. Not everything is bleak, though. Pay a visit to some of the world’s most surprising art hubs to lift your spirits.
The U.S. will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated travelers carrying a negative COVID-19 test in November. Meanwhile, Pfizer announced its vaccine is safe and effective for children between the ages of 5 and 11. That’s welcome news, as one in every five cases of the Delta variant in the U.S. involves a child. Do you think it’s fair to demand that travelers be fully vaccinated? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: BBC, NYT)
2 - War on Women
At least 10 women and girls are killed across Mexico each day with those responsible rarely brought to justice, according to a new Amnesty International investigation. “Each feminicide has an appalling impact on the victim’s’ families, who, in their search for access to the truth, justice and reparation for the harm done, also suffer revictimization by the authorities,” says Amnesty’s Mexico Office Director, Edith Olivares-Ferreto. (Sources: Amnesty, Guardian)
3 - Horseback Horror
“Horrific.” That’s how White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the images of Border Patrol agents on horseback yelling and brandishing whips at Haitian migrants gathered near Del Rio, a Texan town along the border with Mexico. But Psaki didn’t say much on how the Biden administration plans to tackle this new humanitarian crisis, days after the U.S. began deporting hundreds of men, women and children back to Haiti. (Sources: Politico, Vice)
4 - Putin’s Power
Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated his grip on power after his party won a majority in parliament, amid accusations of electoral fraud. Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s gamble to call an early election amid the pandemic seems to have paid off … narrowly. His party is on its way to forming a minority government. (Sources: BBC, WaPo, Al Jazeera)
5 - Anything for Chicken
Two men in New Zealand were arrested for trying to enter Auckland – where takeaway is banned due to COVID-19 restrictions – with three large buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, an undisclosed number of fries and $70,000. Meanwhile in India, it’s heroin that is being trafficked, with $2.7 billion of the drug from Afghanistan seized at a port. (Sources: 9News, Guardian)
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More cautiously spoken than you might expect for the leader of a rebel group, this former minister has been heading the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since the beginning of a brutal war with the federal government in the mountainous Tigray province last November. Months later, thousands of people are dead, war crimes have been reported and there’s a growing humanitarian disaster. Ethiopia’s current crisis stems from the fact that Tigrayans were long the dominant ethnic force in the country’s politics, but that changed after Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in 2018.
2 - General Filipos Woldeyohannes
Woldeyohannes heads the Eritrean Defense Forces and was recently sanctioned by the U.S. for his alleged involvement in massacres and rapes. He is one of the most visible faces of a crisis that has exploded into a regional conflict, with Ethiopia’s one-time enemy and neighbor Eritrea now involved — on the side of the government. After years of no relations, reformist Abiy won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for rapprochement with the secretive state, sometimes called “the North Korea of Africa.” Now Eritrean troops are spilling across the border into Tigray to help the flailing Ethiopian army with reinforcements.
3 - Meaza Gebremedhin
Her sister disappeared while her family was living in Eritrea some 20 years ago and she believes the very forces wreaking havoc in Tigray today were responsible. Now the U.S.-based Tigrayan activist’s platform Omna Tigray is a leading voice calling for the end of the war and spotlighting mass rapes by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces and other armed groups against civilians. Ethiopia’s women’s minister Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed has acknowledged rapes and says a task force is trying to establish who is responsible.
Yesterday we asked you which nation has had to manage 35 swimming pools-worth of radioactive waste the U.S. dumped decades ago but refused to clean up. The answer: Marshall Islands. Joanne H., Jennifer C. and Robert R. — congratulations!
The Rise of Niche Reviewers
Don’t laugh at them. You might need their advice before buying that coffee machine you’ve been dreaming of.
British author and business owner James Hoffman loves, and really knows, coffee. So much so that nearly 1 million people regularly check his YouTube channel to hear what he has to say about the ancient beans. So who would you ask which coffee maker to buy? Hoffman, of course. The expert’s brutally honest reviews —“This is a stupid coffee machine” — have built him a bit of a reputation … and a pretty devoted following.
2 - Don’t Touch
Hoffman is not alone. He is part of a new tribe of reviewers who specialize in particular products, obsessively getting their hands on every variety of camera, baby stroller or backpack to dissect their assets and faults for an expectant audience. Their success is due partly to the fact that although the world’s shops are at our fingertips, we still need some human-to-human advice.
3 - Can I Do It?
In theory, yeah. All you need is time and a pet interest. No cash? No worries. Many reviewers turn to the crowdfunding site Patreon to raise money to buy the products on trial, while staying independent. The most engaging self-made experts also make a living from the views they generate. More importantly, you really have to love the product. Take Matthew Lock, who started reviewing vacuum cleaners online at age 12 and four years later is still going strong!
Surprising New Art Hubs
Forget about New York, Paris and London, these are the places to check out if the future of art is what you’re after.
The United Arab Emirates city has emerged as a new node on the Silk Road, offering more than just oil and extravagant malls. Instead, it is filled with galleries featuring artists from all over the world, including nations that are difficult to visit, such as North Korea and Iran.
If Accra has competition for the tag of Africa’s art top dog, it’s from this South African city otherwise known for its beach-town vibe and thriving nightlife. While COVID-19 challenged Cape Town’s artists — just as it disrupted art globally — creatives adapted, going online with their work and engaging audiences even amid lockdowns.
Master P is a man with many successes. A music mogul, he has built an empire worth hundreds of millions and even had a short-lived stint in the NBA. Today, the family man shares some of his secrets and the reasons why he thinks financial literacy is essential for the Black community.
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