Monday, July 26, 2021


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URGENT: Final census data release in just 3 weeks!
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We'll keep this quick because time is running out, Sula. With the final apportionment data being released in just three weeks, we know Republicans are making plans to manipulate the maps. They’ve said so! And they think they can get away with it, but THEY'RE FLAT-OUT WRONG!

That's because we have a massive movement on our side -- the side of fairness -- made up of people like you. Will you show you’re committed to a FAIR redistricting process by pitching in right now at this special link?

Thanks so much,
NDRC Rapid Response Team

A.G. Holder: If the NDRC is successful in undoing manipulated maps, we will be able to achieve a system in which everyone's vote counts.
Since 2017, the NDRC has executed a comprehensive redistricting strategy that shifts the redistricting power, creating fair districts where Democrats can compete. Our victories have been made possible by our strong community of grassroots supporters.
If you want to receive periodic updates from the NDRC on our fight for fair maps, text MAPS to 36787. Text HELP for help, STOP to end. Msg & Data rates may apply. Privacy Policy.

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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Load shedding. That’s what large parts of the world call scheduled electricity cuts. In countries like South Africa, it’s so routine that the state power utility has launched an app to tell you when and for how long to expect to be in the dark — so you know whether to cook dinner early! South Africa, like much of the wider world, looks set to benefit from the global movement away from fossil fuels to clean sources of electrification.

In today’s Sunday Magazine, you’ll learn about one organization that’s doing exactly that. We also look at how solar is taking the rest of the world by storm, from the rise of electric cars in the U.S. to e-rickshaws in Bangladesh to floating solar panel farms in Singapore and Japan’s ambitious plan to install solar panels on the roof of every home. This is certainly solar electricity’s moment in the sun.

Kate Bartlett, Senior Editor, and Emma Foster, OZY Reporter

a new solar system

1. Singapore Shine

Earlier this month, the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore unveiled one of the world’s largest floating solar farms: 122,000 panels spanning an area the size of 45 soccer fields. The game-changing, government-run project could reduce annual carbon emissions by about 32 kilotons while quadrupling solar energy production by 2025. The project will produce enough power to run Singapore’s five water treatment plants. Pivoting from its oil-refining past, with Royal Dutch Shell recently halving capacity there, Singapore is looking to a greener future by positioning itself as a regional hub for carbon trading and sustainable development services.

2. Australia’s ‘Sun Tax’

It’s pretty bright Down Under and almost 3 million (out of 8.3 million) Australian households now boast solar panels, a number that’s expected to double over the next decade. By 2025, the new head of the Australian Energy Market Operator wants the electricity grids to be able to run on 100% renewable energy. But now some Australians say they’re being punished for doing good. Homes with solar panels whose owners export excess electricity onto the public grid could be taxed in an attempt to prevent electricity “traffic jams. ” Authorities say it’s a fair move, but some environmentalists argue homeowners should be rewarded, not penalized, for the clean energy they provide.

3. South Africa’s Solar Shacks

In South Africa, huge numbers of people who live in informal settlements — shacks made from cardboard and tin and erected on any available land — are still living in the dark. One project, Energy 4 Wellbeing, is turning on the lights in the Qandu-Qandu informal settlement in Cape Town by providing solar minigrids. “There’s no running water, no electricity and it's on a wetland. Most people are unemployed . . . it is dirt-poor,” Jiska de Groot, a clean energy expert at the University of Cape Town, tells OZY. De Groot’s team is now building solar towers and connecting them to the shacks. With three towers built so far, residents have lighting at night and can charge their phones, although refrigeration, which requires more energy, is still a problem. Having won last year’s Newton Prize for her work on urban energy transformations, de Groot and colleagues are now working on a new project on solar-powered fridges. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, she says, especially because solar energy is safe. Previously, some shacks were illegally connected to the electricity grid, leading to fires and electrocutions.

4. Land of the Rising Sun

Japan already leads the world in solar capacity per square meter. Now, in order to meet its ambitious 2030 emissions target (reducing its 2013 rate of carbon output by 46%), the roof of every building could be fitted with solar panels. The country, which is about the size of California, plans to have 108 gigawatts of solar capacity online within a decade. How? Half of all federal government and municipal buildings will be fitted with solar panels, while many office buildings and most farms will be required to have solar capacity. But that’s not all: The nation’s trade ministry also says every house and apartment built after 2040 must have at least one solar panel, with countries such as South Korea set to do similarly.

5. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Even as manufacturing in this city and across the Rust Belt collapsed over the past several decades, the U.S. found itself the largest importer of lithium-ion batteries, the power source for electric vehicles. President Joe Biden has set the target of achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035, but doing so would require a solar energy workforce four times its current size — some 231,000 people. If Biden’s American Jobs Plan is passed, it could create a million jobs in renewable energies. The U.S. president has also proposed investing $174 billion to take on China in the electric vehicle (EV) market. That investment would help U.S.-based auto manufacturers to produce the vehicles, establish tax incentives for car buyers and build a national network of EV chargers. The plan also proposes electrifying 20% of school buses and the federal fleet, including U.S. Postal Service vehicles.

the future of footwear is here

Our favorite shoes just got even better! Our friends at Cariuma have made news by announcing their new shoe, made with three times less carbon than the average sneaker. Be a part of history by purchasing your own pair of these cool, comfy and game-changing shoes today. Made with bamboo and easy to slip right on, these will be your new favorites. OZY readers get $15 off with code OZY15!

recharge your batteries

1. Costly Charge

While lithium-ion technology is a step forward compared to the lead-acid batteries of the past, complaints have persisted around the batteries’ durability, transportation difficulties and prohibitive cost. Although prices have fallen by 98% over the past three decades, the batteries are still a major factor contributing to higher prices of EVs. Why? The cathodes in lithium-ion batteries require metals such as nickel, lithium, cobalt and manganese to store maximum amounts of energy. Not only are these metals expensive to mine, they are environmentally costly and ethically questionable. Congolese cobalt mines linked to some EV companies have been exposed for using child labor.

2. Green and Clean

New developments in the world of lithium mining aim to solve some of these issues. Currently, lithium is extracted largely through hard rock mining and from underground reservoirs, processes that can result in serious negative environmental impacts such as contaminated waterways and soil. But that could change very soon. Recently in GermanyCalifornia and England, high-grade lithium deposits have been found in geothermal waters. Extracting lithium from these waters is projected to use less water and land and emit less carbon. Could green lithium be the future of battery tech?

3. Energizing Future

Solid-state lithium batteries could become an important, nay revolutionary, successor to the liquid-based lithium equivalents used to power vehicles today. Rather than depending on the latter’s toxic, often highly flammable liquid electrolyte, solid-state batteries employ a solid electrolyte, which eliminates the need for a cooling element. It also optimizes energy-storing capabilities and battery life. These futuristic batteries could potentially bring down manufacturing costs, making electric vehicles cheaper for customers. Several manufacturers are chasing this holy grail of battery tech — researchers at Cuberg in Silicon Valley, Saft R&D and Harvard University are all working on designing and developing solid-state batteries.

4. China Concerns

So who’s dominating the battery industry? China makes the most lithium-ion batteries in the world, with 93 factories compared to four in the U.S. China also manufactures the most solar panels, contributing 80% of the global supply in 2019. Furthermore, the country has one of the largest solar farms in the world, located in Qinghai province. “But buying Chinese solar panels to reduce emissions is like using gas to put out a fire,” writes Henry Wu, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security think tank. Why? Because to make the raw materials needed to produce the panels, China uses coal-powered electricity. But that’s not even the biggest problem — there are human rights issues too. Last month, the U.S. blocked some Chinese manufacturers of the raw material polysilicon, used in building solar panels, due to allegations the companies were using forced labor. Wu suggests the U.S. should look at changing its supply chains to European producers to avoid reliance on China and to expand its domestic supply of renewables.

meet stalin’s james bond

He was a master spy, a daredevil, a womanizer and a rule breaker. Richard Sorge served as the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond character, infiltrating the Nazis during World War II.

Curious to see more? Don’t miss the chance to experience this historical documentary with the adventure of a cinematic thriller on CuriosityStream, the coolest new streaming platform.

Best of all, for a limited time, OZY readers can spark their curiosity and get a full year of access for only $1.25/month using code OZY.

mustang sally goes electric

1. No Greased Lightning!

Now, as concerns over fossil fuel use and climate change take center stage globally, car manufacturers have decided that electric vehicles are the future. Classic American motor brand Ford, for instance, plans to roll out the F-150 Lightning pickup truck next year. And ol’ Mustang Sally’s gone electric too: Ford’s Mustang Mach-E was named this year’s North American Utility Vehicle of the Year, bringing its iconic design into the carbon-free age. It can be charged super fast and has an extended range battery so you can go the extra mile.

2. A Lightbulb Moment

The idea of electric vehicles has been around for some time. The invention of the alternating current motor in the late 19th century even saw some claim to have conceived of a car that ran on “cosmic rays” — though that story is disputed. The real game-changer in making mass-manufactured electric vehicles a reality is the lithium-ion battery. Without them, we wouldn’t even have modern devices such as smartphones. The battery, invented by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Stanley Whittingham in the 1970s, has decades later proved revolutionary for the electric vehicle world: It boasts a greater energy output and weighs less than its lead-acid counterpart. Since the 1970s, Whittingham’s invention has been refined by numerous other scientists who have made versions of the battery that are safer and more practical.

3. E-rickshaws

If you’ve ever visited Southeast Asian capitals such as Bangkok or Jakarta, you’ll have been struck — though hopefully only figuratively — by the huge number of tuk-tuks, motorbikes and rickshaws plowing through the streets. As ever more people in the region move to urban areas and a growing middle class enjoys greater purchasing power for privately owned vehicles, governments are finding that they need to reimagine urban transport systems in order to meet emissions targets. Thailand is one country looking to position itself as an electric vehicle hub, with electric ferries recently launched on Bangkok’s aquatic thoroughfare, the Chao Phraya River. Meanwhile, a team of designers and experts from the Asian Development Bank have helped roll out e-rickshaws, or pedicabs, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in a bid to establish a sustainable source of transport.

4. Formula E Racing

One of the biggest gripes with electric motors centered for years on power. No longer: Though the Formula E motorsport was seen as counterintuitive and even a lesser form of entertainment by petrolheads when it first held races in 2014, as the electric car market revs up, it’s only natural that the racing world has started to follow suit. Technological advances mean batteries can power cars for longer race periods, which in turn leads to a more thrilling sporting spectacle. Formula 1, the marquee international motorsports competition, has itself put forward an ambitious plan to become more sustainable via a net-zero racing emissions impact by 2030.

what’s next for charger installations?

1. From the Sun’s Rays to Your Car Engine

Still, a battery is a battery, meaning someday, whether in your neighborhood or out on the open road, it will run out and need to be recharged. But here’s a cool, clean solution: Solar power could become the cheapest and most eco-friendly way to charge an electric vehicle, even at home. While you’ll need to add extra solar panels to your residential system (experts estimate on average eight to 14 solar panels  are needed to power an EV), the convenience of charging from home could eventually outweigh the initial outlay. Using electricity from the grid to charge your EV, over time, can be more expensive than going the solar route. Not to mention, it’s worse for the environment.

2. On the Road

EVs may be the future of ground transportation, but for people living in rural areas — as one in five Americans do — the choice isn’t yet so clear-cut. For the most part, charging stations are concentrated in urban areas and along interstate routes, and while today there are more than 100,000 across the country, six years ago there were just 16,000. Huge changes, however, are in the works: President Biden’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes building a nationwide network of EV charging stations that will number at least 500,000 by 2030.

3. Soaring Demand

But will that suffice? California Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. As a result, the California Energy Commission reports the Golden State will need 1.2 million EV charging stations by 2030 to support the expected surge in electric car ownership. And California isn’t the only one set to implement major change. Electric automaker Rivian is planning to install chargers in all 56 of Tennessee’s state parks and in rural areas of Colorado, while other manufacturers are set to open charging stations to electric vehicles of all stripes.


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Good morning! Every four years, I set my alarm clock to wake up often at unearthly hours to catch a glimpse of the summer Olympics. This time, I had to wait five years but it’s already proving to be worth it. Starting today, we’ll bring you a daily Tokyo Tracker on the big news from the Games. Meet Brazil’s richest woman as she transforms that nation’s retail landscape with a bit of heart, check out radical shifts in birth control science, figure out why Taiwanese are flocking to Guam and try a royal Burmese sunscreen.   

Charu Sudan Kasturi, Senior Editor


1. Arab Spring Turns to Fall

Tunisia’s president has dismissed the country’s prime minister and suspended Parliament amid growing protests over the nation’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, sparking joyous scenes on the one hand and allegations of a coup on the other. In 2011, Tunisia lit the fire for the Arab Spring and became the only affected country to truly adopt democracy. A decade later, those gains are unraveling. (Sources: BBCAl Jazeera)

2. Taliban Test

The U.S. is ready to continue airstrikes on the Taliban even after its ongoing formal withdrawal from Afghanistan, said Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, who leads American forces in the region. The United Nations has warned of “unprecedented” Afghan civilian casualties as the Taliban’s offensive intensifies. Should the U.S. stop airstrikes too? Vote here or on Twitter . (Sources: WaPoFrance24)

3. Teaching a Lesson

You might be teachers, but the Chinese Communist Party knows best. That’s the message from Beijing, which is now cracking down on the country’s booming tutoring industry through new regulations unveiled over the weekend, which have sparked a selloff in stocks of affected companies. (Sources: WSJFT)


Japan’s Momiji Nishiya and Brazil’s Rayssa Leal, both 13-year-olds, won the gold and silver in the inaugural women’s skateboarding street event. Team USA won the 4x100-meter men’s freestyle relay gold led by Caeleb Dressel, but 2016 star Katie Ledecky finished second to Australia’s Ariarne Titmus in the women’s 400 freestyle. Halfway into Monday, China, the U.S. and Japan are the top three in the medals tally. But the biggest talking point so far might just be Team USA’s masks, which resemble the face cover worn by Batman villain Bane. Here’s today’s schedule.


If you missed them the last time around, the sneakers we can’t get enough of are back — the perfect transitional sneaker as summer rolls around! These all-season low-tops are OZY’s favorite look for dressing up or down. But don’t wait around — these comfy kicks fly off the shelves and won’t be here for long.

Get $15 off your pair of Cariumas with code OZY15, before they sell out again!


Walmart and Amazon might be the biggest names in the sector, but look beyond America and you’ll find some of the world’s boldest and most innovative founders building the future of retail.  

1. Luiza Trajano

Immense wealth, care for public health, and a fire in the belly for justice can all go together. Trajano, Brazil’s wealthiest woman, has turned a shop started by her parents in 1957 into a giant retail chain, Magazine Luiza, with 30,000 employees and a market cap of $28 billion. All while taking on Brazil’s deep seated culture of violence against women. After a store manager was killed by a former partner, Trajano set up an internal hotline for female employees to reach out to trained professionals for help, including with relocation where necessary. She has launched training programs specifically for Black Brazilians, often victims of systemic racism. And amid a pandemic that Brazil’s leaders have underplayed, she’s at the helm of a private sector effort to speed up vaccination.

2. Jess Anuna

This 28-year-old Amazon alumnus with a hearty laugh is doing what the tech giant won’t: integrating Africa into global e-commerce delivery networks. At the moment, Amazon doesn’t deliver anywhere on the world’s second-most populous continent. Anuna’s Lagos-based online fashion retail startup Klasha has developed its own payment and delivery solutions, which it’s integrating into the systems of global brands so African consumers can have goods shipped from across the Atlantic faster than DHL.

3. Colin Huang

When you’ve earned $25 billion in six months, you can afford to retire at the age of 40. The son of factory workers left his e-commerce giant Pinduoduo last year and has since emerged as China’s most generous philanthropist. But the retail model he built continues to rack up such fast success that Pinduoduo already has more users than behemoth Alibaba, though its market capitalization — $122 billion — is much smaller than Alibaba’s $572 billion. Pinduoduo’s secret sauce? It gamifies e-commerce with prizes and discounts.


The birth control pill enabled the sexual revolution. Now a new wave of contraceptive advances is making sex safer, easier, healthier than ever before — and is even easing its painful aspects.  

1. Hormone-Free Gel

Traditional contraceptive pills rely on the release of hormones that react adversely in the bodies of some women. Enter Phexxi, a first-of-its-kind non-hormonal contraceptive gel that was approved by the FDA last year. It’s applied in the vagina right before sex. Instead of slowing sperm, as traditional “spermicide” does, it changes the pH level — a measure of acidity — of the vagina to a level where sperm can’t survive.

2. Reversible Vasectomy

Sujoy Kumar Guha has been working on a male contraceptive for four decades. Now the veteran Indian scientist is on the cusp of a game-changing breakthrough: his injectable, non-surgical vasectomy treatment is one of two male contraceptive solutions that are under clinical trials globally. The injection effectively plugs the path of the sperm using a polymer Guha has developed. A solvent injection can reverse it. Read more on OZY.

3. Once-a-Month Pill

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been working on an oral contraceptive that women need to take just once a month to stay safe from pregnancy from unprotected sex. It’s been shown to be as effective as the daily pill in pigs. Will it prove just as effective in humans?


Laugh out loud with German internet sensation Flula Borg. The comedian and musician shares how being true to himself and keeping it “loosey goosey” helped him land breakthrough roles in Pitch Perfect 2 and the star-studded Suicide SquadWatch today.


Most countries and territories won’t let tourists enter unless they’re fully vaccinated. But some are embracing those who haven’t been inoculated — and vaccinating foreign visitors. 

1. Guam

Hundreds of tourists from Taiwan are flying into this U.S. territory, which has fully vaccinated 75% of its population against COVID-19 and is now offering extra vaccine doses to visitors in a bid to revive its post-pandemic tourism industry. Taiwan, an early success story in controlling the virus, has so far inoculated only 0.2% of its population.

2. Russia

Fly to Moscow, visit Red Square, walk along the Moskva, take a train to St. Petersburg and enjoy its stunning architecture. Oh, and while you’re in Russia, get both shots of the country’s Sputnik-V coronavirus vaccine. Russia is planning to launch a vaccine tourism program — three-week package tours cost between $1,500 and $2,500, including inoculation.

3. UAE

But while Guam and Russia require visitors to pay for their vaccines, the United Arab Emirates is going one step further to lure tourists: Abu Dhabi is offering free COVID-19 shots to incoming travelers. They can choose from between the Pfizer jab or doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine.


And if you’re planning to travel this summer, check out these traditional sunscreens so you only get a tan when you want one. 

1. Thanaka

For centuries, Burmese royals and farmers alike have slathered their faces with this thick, light-yellow paste made from tree bark to protect themselves from harsh sun rays. But like all great natural treatments, it carries side benefits too: it keeps your skin soft — and repels mosquitoes!

2. Red Ochre

Widely used in rituals across Kenya, Namibia and Ethiopia, this natural pigment’s properties as a sunscreen are believed to have helped early humans to travel long distances 65,000 years ago.

3. Aloe Vera

If you don’t want to give your face a colored hue, you can always rely on aloe vera. Originally from the Arabian desert and now a global cosmetic favorite, it acts as an active ingredient that you can use to make DIY sunscreens at home. What’s more, if you forget to apply cream, applying aloe vera helps to treat sunburn too.  


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