“We hope that there will be no point of no return.” That was the caution from Moscow’s U.N. ambassador this week, responding to the drumbeat that followed the Syrian government’s alleged April 7 chemical attack on Douma. Today, U.S., British and French forces launched precision strikes against suspected chemical weapons facilities in what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said was a “one-time shot.” Now, with Russian and American troops and aircraft in Syria, along with Israeli warplanes and Iranian and Turkish boots on the ground, that “point of no return” seems closer than ever.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Next Thursday, Cuba’s parliament is expected to choose Miguel Díaz-Canel as Cuba’s new president. The country’s prospective leader was born one year after the revolution that put Fidel Castro in charge of the Caribbean nation, beginning a socialist dynasty that will end with his surviving brother Raul stepping down. That makes way for the country’s “lost generation,” who followed the orders of their graying leaders as their children left the country in search of better opportunities. As the new leadership asserts itself, those younger Cubans will be watching.
Calm has prevailed in Northern Ireland since the historic Good Friday agreement was signed 20 years ago this week, ending the violence known as “The Troubles,” which claimed more than 3,000 lives from 1968 to 1998. But political stability remains elusive: Belfast hasn’t had a governing executive since January 2017, while social, political and religious divides persist among the population. Now, Brexit threatens to undo the celebrated peace accord, in part because it could re-establish border controls between the EU’s Republic of Ireland and the British north.
Hinduism’s Dalits, once called “untouchables,” face oppressive discrimination in Indian society, with little help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party. These caste members, which make up about 20 percent of the country’s population, have taken to the streets to protest their treatment. Some are converting en masse to Ambedkarite Buddhism to escape their lowly designation, with one group of public flogging victims planning to do so today. Seven million strong, these converts are getting attention from Modi’s party, which has even deployed Buddhist monks to campaign for next year’s presidential elections.
The Week Ahead: On Sunday, organizers will mark the fifth anniversary of the 2013 terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon — a day before the competition’s 122nd start. James Comey, the FBI director fired by President Donald Trump, will release his memoir Tuesday. And on Friday, the 19th anniversary of Colorado’s Columbine school massacre, students across the U.S. will walk out of their classrooms to protest gun violence.
Know This: Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets of Damascus today in a show of defiance against U.S., British and French strikes on their country. Prosecutors say the months-long criminal investigation into President Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, is focused on his “personal business dealings.” And shortly after Trump denounced Comey as a “slime ball” over his upcoming book, dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster said its website clocked a 60,000 percent increase in searches for the word.
Get up to Speed: Will the new Cold War turn hot? The OZY PDB Special Briefing will tell you what you need to know about the crisis in Syria, where U.S.-led forces have punished the Syrian regime for an alleged chemical April 7 chemical attack, while Syrian ally Russia warns of a wider conflict. With carefully curated facts, opinions, images and videos, this latest Special Briefing will catch you up and vault you ahead.
White-minority-ruled Rhodesia, which became Black-governed Zimbabwe in 1980, is making a comeback. An industry has cropped up selling Rhodesian swag to white supremacists as mementos of military history. Social media has provided fertile soil for this glorification, which has included shares of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a white soldier and a Black beating victim with captions that obscure the brutal reality. Dylann Roof, who killed nine Black parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 was a Rhodesian romanticist, making some wonder what other horrors the fad might encourage.
Wellness doesn’t spring from these wells. Though petrodollars have turned Nigeria into Africa’s biggest economic engine — crude provides 70 percent of the nation’s revenue — there are major downsides to drilling. One is the health effects: In Nigeria’s oil regions, spills are devastating the environment and food supply, killing fish and mangrove forests. In the country’s petroleum-rich and conflict-torn Niger Delta, life expectancy has dropped to more than 20 years below the national average. Nigeria has begun cleanups, but they may take 30 years to complete.
After convincing about 1,000 investors to “join the global real estate revolution,” entrepreneur Maksim Zaslavskiy allegedly defrauded them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through initial coin offerings. Ostensibly raising cash for his projects, Zaslavskiy never provided any digital assets to investors — or backed them with real estate or diamonds as promised. Now, court cases against him could provide precedents for regulating other suspicious initial coin offerings. And after last year saw $6 billion raised through such offerings, regulators are preparing to probe multiple claims that sound too good to be true.
Are his superpowers depleted? Stan Lee created Spider-Man, the X-Men and Black Panther, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe features him in a cameo in nearly all of its movies. But a court document has emerged in which the 95-year-old says his daughter and others are conspiring to snatch his estimated $70 million fortune. They’ve reportedly asserted control over Lee since his wife’s 2017 death — yet a new video features the comic book creator saying everything’s fine. Still, some wonder if Mr. Marvel needs rescuing.
The community of Humboldt in Saskatchewan, Canada, is still reeling after a bus carrying its beloved Broncos Junior Hockey League team crashed last week, killing 10 players, two coaches, and four others. The town, province and nation responded to the tragedy immediately: Emergency responders who’d never seen a mass casualty event rushed to the scene alongside Syrian war volunteers, triaging and airlifting victims. While investigators still puzzle over the cause of the accident, Humboldt must now move forward, coping with autopsies and funeral arrangements as it attempts to heal.