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Sensemaker: Troppo Bello

Sensemaker: Troppo Bello

What just happened

Long stories short

  • Police in Haiti announced the arrest of a key suspect in President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination: Christian Emmanuel Sanon, a 63-year-old Haitian doctor based in Florida with “political motives”.
  • Scientists at Imperial College London said they found antibodies in the blood of a small sample of people with long Covid that could lead to a test for the condition within 18 months.
  • Serbian tennis champ Novak Djokovic won his sixth Wimbledon title. “I was a seven-year-old boy in Serbia constructing a Wimbledon trophy from improvised materials I could find in my room,” he said. “And today standing with a sixth Wimbledon, it’s incredible. Amazing.”

Troppo Bello

So, Italy beat England in the Euro 2020 football final at Wembley yesterday. It was England’s first major men’s final in 55 years and, commentators said, a close match. England scored in the first two minutes. Italy scored in the 67th minute, sending the game to a penalty shootout, which it won 3-2. 

A dramatic ending and a narrow victory, but the game always belonged to the Azzurri:

  • Italian players attempted 820 passes between themselves – with 88 per cent accuracy, compared with England’s 74 per cent – allowing them to get and keep close to England’s penalty area.
  • It was this penetration into England’s territory, amounting to a ball possession rate of 66 per cent, that gave the Italians countless opportunities to strike.
  • They took those opportunities. Of their 19 shots on goal, six were on target. England attempted six shots, only two of which were on target.

It’s a testament to England’s defence that the game went all the way into extra time and penalties. There’s now a lot of post mortem agonising over whether Gareth Southgate, England’s popular manager, chose the right players for the penalty shootout. 

Just before extra time ended, he had sent on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho specifically as penalty-takers. They missed, as did the team’s last penalty-taker Bukayo Saka. The three players are young and Black, and now the target of appalling racist abuse.

England’s team may not be able to celebrate football victory, but its composition – most players have parents or grandparents born outside the country, according to the Migration Museum – stands for something more important. It’s a microcosm of a nation whose identity is more tolerant and diverse than its politics suggests.

Belonging identity, society, beliefs, countries

Vaccinate the young
America’s Covid vaccination campaign hit an unexpected bump. Adding to the vaccine hesitancy among Republicans and Trump-Supporters, it’s now young adults – 18- to 29-year-olds – who are registering hesitancy. Some 38 per cent of young adults received at least one vaccine dose, which is the lowest rate among any age group eligible to get immunised. Many don’t see the urgency to get vaccinated because of the low risk of severe disease among young people, and many are scared by misinformation on social media. “It’s a problem because young people are out and about and social,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, told the Wall Street Journal ($). “They’re more likely to be interacting with more people than a 75-year-old” and could spread the virus if they aren’t vaccinated.

New things technology, science, engineering

Billionaire Richard Branson finally made it to space aboard a winged rocket ship from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism vanity project. In case you thought Branson would now stop speaking about himself going into space, on his return to Earth he said: “The whole thing, it was just magical.” The plan is for Virgin Galactic to start taking paying customers into space next year for upwards of $250,000 a ticket. Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos also has space-tourism plans, and for all the suggestions to the contrary by one speaker at our Sensemaker Live ThinkIn on Friday, has, let’s face it, been engaged in a space race with Branson. But he was magnanimous. “Can’t wait to join the club!” he said after Branson touched down in New Mexico. Tech note: Branson’s VSS Unity space plane just barely left the atmosphere, flying to 80 km above sea level, but it’s probably the most innovative spacecraft ever built, with wings that feather on re-entry like a shuttlecock.

The 100-year life health, education, living, public poliCY

Covid orphans
India’s springtime Covid wave orphaned more than 3,000 children. Indian state governments have announced compensation of about $7 to $68 per month for each orphan, in addition to food and education, but many of the children are finding it difficult to obtain their parents’ death certificates, which they need to qualify for government benefits. The New York Times ($) reports on the case of Kahkashan Saifi, nine years old, who lost her parents and her home. Nearly every day, she calls her mother’s phone and pretends to talk to her: “Mother, when will you come?”

Our planet environment, natural resources, geopolitics

Southwest wildfires
A heatwave is intensifying wildfires triggered by lightning strikes that are burning across the southwest United States. Firefighters said the air in the region is so dry that much of the water they dropped by aircraft on the flames evaporated before it reached the ground. The region registered its hottest June on record. Las Vegas matched its record high temperature of 47.2C on Saturday. In the north of Nevada, near the state’s Californian border, communities were evacuated from their homes. A few weeks ago, a heatwave hit the northwest and claimed hundreds of heat-related deaths. Climate researchers said the northwestern heatwave was “virtually impossible” without climate change.

Wealth investment, fairness, prosperity

Chinese slowdown
China’s sharp economic rebound from Covid was first seen as a sign of hope for other countries. But its economic recovery is now slowing and becoming a warning sign for the rest of the world: post-pandemic economic recoveries may not be durable. China’s economic growth rate was always expected to level off after its initial bounce back, but economists say the softening has come sooner than expected. “There is no doubt that the impact of a slowing China on the global economy will be bigger than it was five years ago,” Rob Subbaraman, head of global markets research at investment bank Nomura, told Bloomberg ($). “China’s ‘first-in, first-out’ status from Covid-19 could also influence market expectations that if China’s economy is cooling now, others will soon follow.”

The week ahead

UK: 12/07 – Boris Johnson gives press conference on English Covid restrictions; Welsh government gives press conference on Covid restrictions in Wales, 13/07 – Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee session on Greensill Capital; Royal Shakespeare Company opens an outdoor theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, 14/07 – CEO of HS2 to give evidence at committee session on HS2 progress; UK Consumer Price Index updated, 15/07 – Department for Work and Pensions releases statistics on Universal Credit; Northern Ireland Affairs Committee session on Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol; Golf Open Championship begins at Royal St George’s, 16/07 – Welsh Parliament goes on summer recess, 17/07 – Rugby League Challenge Cup Final

World: 12/07 – French president Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on Covid; John Kerry, the US climate envoy, visits Russia; New state of emergency begins in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics, 13/07 – First qualifying round of the UEFA Europa Conference league begins; EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager to speak to Mark Zuckerberg, 14/07 – Court hearing on Britney Spears’ conservatorship; US House committee hearing on Covid-19 outbreak investigation; British and Irish Lions play South Africa ‘A’ in Cape Town, 15/07 – Joe Biden and Angela Merkel meet at White House, 16/07 – Ursula von Der Leyen visits Ireland; EU releases inflation statistics, 17/07 – Palme d’Or award for best film presented at the Cannes film festival, Hajj begins in Saudi Arabia

Thanks for reading, and please share this around.

Paul Caruana Galizia

Ella Hill

Photographs Virgin Galactic, Getty Images

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