Friends Like These – OZY


IMPORTANT

Walking the Line

Pelosi Stresses Freedom, Connection in Historic Taiwan Visit

Taiwan is “one of the freest societies in the world,” the speaker of the American Congress said in Taipei Wednesday. “Our delegation came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear that we will not abandon Taiwan,” Nancy Pelosi told Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen after arriving unannounced late Tuesday night. Pelosi, the first speaker to visit in a generation, later addressed parliament, pledging her support for deepening U.S.-Taiwan relations. Meanwhile, over 20 Chinese military planes entered the air defense zone Tuesday, according to Taiwanese media. China later announced it would conduct a series of live drills around the strait this week. (Sources: BBC, Reuters)

Game Changer

Kansas Votes to Keep Abortion Legal, 60-40

“Kansans have spoken loud and clear: We will not tolerate extreme bans on abortion in our state,” Rachel Sweet from the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom said. A “yes” vote would have allowed the Republican-led legislature to pursue further restrictions on abortion — a move roundly rejected by voters. It’s a huge win for pro-abortion activists following the overturning of Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court earlier this year. But not everyone is happy: “It’s a terrible defeat, there’s no way around it. And not for us, for the babies,” anti-abortion organizer Troy Newman said in the aftermath. (Sources: WaPo, Kansas City Star)

PM Watch

Hacking Fears Prompt Voting Delays in UK Leadership Race

Members of the ruling Conservative Party will have an extra week to mull their choices after the National Cyber Security Centre identified a range of vulnerabilities to the election. Around 160,000 party members will now have less than a month to return their ballots before counting begins on Sept. 2. Meanwhile, LGBTQ+ members of the party have taken aim at candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss who have used “anti-woke” rhetoric in a bid to win over members. “I just hope that the party remains a center-right party and doesn’t continue its swing towards the far right,” one member says. (Sources: The Independent, The Guardian)

MAGA Country

Primaries Fever: Trump Endorsement Still Carries Weight

Which of the Erics backed by former President Donald Trump won in Missouri? To the delight of many Republicans, Eric Schmitt will be on the ticket for the senate later this year. His challenger — and co-endorsee — Eric Greitens is a former governor, forced from office in 2018 amid a sex scandal. Michigan incumbent congressman Peter Meijer was ousted, losing out to another Trump-endorsed candidate. He is the second of 10 Republican representatives who voted to impeach Trump to lose their spot in a primary election. Results in Arizona will not be known until the postal vote has been counted. (Source: CNN)

Briefly

Here are some things you should know about today: 

Deeper down. Chile’s geology agency confirmed a sinkhole, 82 feet in diameter, has appeared in the Atacama region. Authorities say they haven’t spotted anything but a lot of water inside. (Source: Vice) ‘Race war.’ A 20-year-old German man is facing trial on weapons and neo-Nazi incitement charges. Police raided his home last year and found “unconventional” homemade bombs and a manifesto on “preserving the white race.” (Source: DW) It’s happening. The U.S. Senate will today vote to ratify Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership. Democrat Chuck Schumer and Republican Mitch McConnell are in rare agreement, saying that strengthening the alliance is a priority. (Source: AP)


INTRIGUING

On the Nose

Researchers Find Link Between Sense of Smell and Cognitive Decline

Lost your sense of smell during a bout with COVID-19? Researchers say that may be a strong predictor of future cognitive issues, including Alzheimer’s. Experts from Argentina identified 766 adults aged 60 or above with no history of cognitive impairment, and nearly 90% of those tested positive for COVID-19. For the positive cohort, two-thirds experienced memory issues, and almost half had severe enough problems to impact daily life. Those in the study who did not regain their sense of smell within three months were around 1.5 times more likely to have issues than those who recovered quickly. (Source: New Scientist)

Quarter Down

Crypto Trading Service Robinhood Culls 23% of Employees

The app-based brokerage firm had a less-than-stellar second quarter, with revenue coming in at $318 million, down from the expected $321 million. It is an increase on Q1’s disappointing revenue but well short of last year’s $565 million second-quarter earnings. Robinhood’s stock price has also dropped over the year, down from July 2021’s $85-per-share high to $9.23 on Tuesday. It may signal the end of the pandemic-era trade frenzy. Robinhood was the brokerage of choice for many in the GameStop squeeze of 2021, prompting speculation of strong growth in the years ahead for the app. (Sources: The Verge, CNBC)

Suing

Testimony: Alex Jones Created a ‘Living Hell’ for Sandy Hook Family

Neil Heslin’s 6-year-old son was gunned down at school in 2012. Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of Jesse Lewis, are suing Jones and his media company Free Speech Systems for at least $150 million in damages. They say his comments about the Sandy Hook massacre — including accusing the children and their families of being crisis actors — have led to years of harassment and threats. “I am a mother, first and foremost, and I know you are a father. My son existed … I know you know that,” Lewis said in court. Six adults and 21 children were killed in the massacre. (Source: The Guardian)

Misery

Stephen King Testifies Against Publisher Merger

It could be a corporate version of one of his monsters. The U.S. Department of Justice tapped the best-selling author to testify on the proposed merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster and its impact on writers. Both houses say a merger would not affect competition as they would still bid against each other. That’s “a little bit ridiculous,” King said in court. “You might as well say you’re going to have a husband and wife bidding against each other for the same house.” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland agrees that the merger would be bad news for authors. (Source: BBC)

Waterworks

Dolphins Docked Two Draft Picks Over Tampering Violations

Owner Stephen Ross has also been temporarily suspended by the NFL. It follows revelations from Dolphins coach Brian Flores that Ross pressured him into attempting to recruit “a prominent quarterback,” later found to be Tom Brady, and allegations of racist hiring practices. The coach also said Ross offered him $100,000 for each Dolphins loss in the 2019 season. Dolphins minority owner Bruce Beal has also come under NFL scrutiny. He has been stung with a $500,000 fine and barred from meetings this year for his role in the Brady scandal. The NFL investigation cleared Miami of deliberately losing any games. (Source: SI, Sporting News)


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