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April
2021

UNITED STATES

U.S. government tried to stamp out Ku Klux Klan 150 years ago

With the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Act in 1871, Congress tried to stamp out the white supremacist hate group. The impact was temporary, and the KKK saw a revival in the 1920s. Some 50,000 Klansmen paraded through Washington DC in 1925, and KKK chapters still exist. The Southern Poverty Law Center sees white supremacist violence again on the rise in America, an observation supported by the rioting at the Capitol in Washington DC on Jan 6.

Harry Rogers, a self-described KKK leader, was arrested for allegedly driving his car into a group of Black Lives Matters protesters near Richmond, Virginia, in Jun 2020. Other recent incidents fueled by white supremacy and racism include the 2015 Charleston church shooting; the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where neo-Nazis bearing torches and swastikas shouted racist slogans; the 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting; and the 2019 shooting in an El Paso, Texas Walmart.

Associated Press noted on Jan 14 that years of white supremacy threats culminated in the Capitol riots.

Founded by a group of Confederate veterans in 1865, the KKK rapidly grew from a secret social fraternity to a paramilitary force bent on reversing the federal government’s progressive Reconstruction Era-activities in the South, especially policies that elevated the rights of the local African-American population, according to the History.com account. Then and now, under various new names, white supremacists have employed violence as a means of pushing back against the enfranchisement of African-Americans.

#23680 Updated: 10 MAR FOR DATE CHANGE AND NEW DETAILS

April 21
2021

UNITED KINGDOM

Queen Elizabeth II turns 95 with clues to her longevity an official secret

Queen Elizabeth II turns 95. There will be a midday gun salute, the release of a special £5 coin by the Royal Mint to mark the birthday, and nothing from the Palace that spills the secret to her longevity. The birthday will be celebrated officially in June, when the weather is less inclement.

The new £5 coin depicts the royal cypher, "EIIR," above the words "my heart and my devotion."

The Queen was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of the House of Windsor on the April date in 1926. After the death of her father, King George VI, on Feb 6, 1952, she succeeded to the throne and was known thereafter as Queen Elizabeth II.

At 95, she surpasses the average life expectancy for women in the United Kingdom, which is 81.6 years, by a significant margin. Former Palace employees make up for official reticence about the Queen’s secrets for good health. Former palace chef Darren McGrady has related that unlike Prince Phillip, who "lives to eat," Queen Elizabeth "eats to live." According to the chef, she sticks to small portion sizes, and prefers four light meals to three larger ones.

Citing Palace insiders, Prevention magazine attributes her longevity and apparent health to her food preferences, which include seasonal produce and dark chocolate. Royal Heritage magazine, also citing Palace insiders, ties her health to her daily glass of champagne.

#23841 Published: February 16, 2021

April 22
2021

UNITED STATES

SpaceX launches second operational mission to International Space Station

SpaceX Crew-2 blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station (ISS). This second mission in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is buoyed by the success of the first, which blasted off for the ISS in Nov 2020.

It carries a crew of four. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.

The Crew-2 astronauts will remain aboard the ISS for some six months as expedition crew members, along with three crewmates who will launch via a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The increase to seven individuals on the ISS – over the previous six – will allow NASA to effectively double the amount of science that can be conducted in Space.

SpaceX plans to launch a third crew to the ISS in September.

#23793 Updated: 16 MAR TO CHANGE DATE TO APR 22

April 22
2021

UNITED STATES

U.S. to mark Paris Agreement signing anniversary with climate assembly

The United States plans a Climate Assembly to mark the fifth anniversary of the signing ceremony for the Paris Agreement. The U.S. is again a party to the agreement, which is now seen as inadequate. Washington plans aggressive targets for cutting its share of global emissions, and will work to persuade the other major emitters to do the same.

Experts agree that the Paris Agreement will not be enough to prevent the global average temperature from rising 1.5°C, a level expected to trigger devastating consequences.

The April assembly can be seen as a curtain raiser for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference in the United Kingdom in Nov 2021.

President Joe Biden, who took office on Jan 20, campaigned on a pledge to reach net zero emissions across the economy before 2050, and to eliminate fossil fuel pollution from the electricity sector by 2035. He describes the climate crisis as an existential threat, as well as an opportunity for the economy to grow. The policy is in stark contrast to his predecessor, Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the Paris Accords in 2017, soon after taking office.

President Xi Jinping announced in Sep 2020 that China aims to hit peak emissions before 2030 and for carbon neutrality by 2060. China is the world’s biggest source of carbon dioxide, responsible for around 28 per cent of global emissions, so the announcement is seen as a significant step in the fight against climate change.

#23843 Published: February 16, 2021

April 25
2021

UNITED STATES

Gender parity on center stage at 93rd Academy Awards ceremony?

This year’s Academy Awards, courting gender parity, should see more women with Oscars. The Los Angeles ceremony is later than its usual February because of the pandemic, which benefited the streaming services because of theater closures. Netflix nabbed 35 nominations, followed by Amazon, with 12.

Seventy-six of the 235 individual nominees across all 23 competitive film categories are women, or approximately 32.3 per cent – just ahead of the 31.1 per cent achieved in the 2020 nominations. The Hollywood Reporter notes that for the first time more than one female director has been nominated in the best director category – Chloé Zhao (Nomadland) and Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman).

Competing for Best Picture are: Mank, Nomadland, The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal and The Trial of the Chicago 7.

Netflix’ Mank, a period drama about the writing of the classic movie Citizen Kane, scored a leading 10 nods. It also received nominations for Best Director (David Fincher), Best Actor (Gary Oldman) and Best Supporting Actress (Amanda Seyfried). Favored to win, Nomadland, a bleak but gripping exploration of American economic hardship, received six nominations. They include Zhao’s Best Director nod, and Frances McDormand’s nomination for Best Actress. The win would give her three Best Actress Oscars.

Because of the theater shutdowns, the Academy changed the eligibility rules to allow films to qualify for Oscar consideration without a theatrical release.

#23685 Updated: MAR 16 TO SHOW NOMINATIONS