Hope you all had a better weekend than Chris Rock! An Oscars moment we will never forget leads our newsletter this morning.
Everything we know so far on the Academy Award slap heard round the world as Will Smith attacked Chris Rock, including what the LAPD is saying.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine is going on one month and counting and Ukrainian President Zelensky is ready to talk.
Speaking of which, the White House is still trying to clean up President Biden's ad-libbed snafu
Amazon workers vote on whether to unionize
March Madness Final Four is set
Shanghai, China's largest city, shuts down amid Covid "stealth omicron" surge
Crews gain ground in fighting Boulder, Colorado wildfires
See you tonight at 9pmET on my regular Mondays with Mosh Instagram Live, where I take all your questions.
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Remember when revealing the wrong winner was considered the "most shocking moment" in Oscar history? Well, 2022's show would like you to hold its beer.
What Happened: Chris Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, while presenting the award for best documentary. Rock said, “Jada I love you, ‘G.I. Jane 2,’ can’t wait to see it.” Demi Moore sported a shaved head in the original 1997 G.I. Jane film.
The camera cut to Pinkett Smith, who rolled her eyes and looked upset. She has been open about her struggle with alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that leads to hair loss, and has posted about it on her social media. In fact, she wrote in December that "mama's gonna need to take it down to the scalp." Will Smith initially appeared to laugh off Rock's joke. ~ Screenshot below
But seconds later, Smith walked onto the stage and struck Rock in the face. The comedian responded, "Will Smith just smacked the sh** out of me." Smith returned to his seat and shouted twice, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f***ing mouth!” Rock replied, "I'm going to! OK?"
Video: The exchange was bleeped out on American television but aired uncensored on Australian and Japanese TV feeds, according to multiple tweets. WATCH
Aftermath: Later in the broadcast, Smith won Best Actor for his performance in "King Richard," portraying Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars, Serena and Venus Williams. Smith used his speech to apologize to the Academy and "fellow nominees." Notably, he did NOT apologize to Rock. Other speech highlights:
"Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father, just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."
“Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family. In this time in my life, in this moment, I am overwhelmed by what God is calling on me to do and be in this world....I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do, you got to be able to take abuse. You got to be able to have people talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you. And you got to smile and you got to pretend like that’s okay.” VIDEO
Variety reports: After the incident with Rock, Smith’s publicist Meredith Sullivan, Oscar producer Will Packer and Denzel Washington spoke to Smith during the commercial breaks (video here). In his speech, Smith revealed: “Denzel said a few minutes ago, ‘At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.'"
Family Reaction: Will and Jada's 23-year old son, Jaden Smith tweeted, "And that's how we do it," following the incident.
🚨What the LA police are saying:
Rock Not Pressing Charges: “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program. The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.” ~ABC News
😮 Twitter lit up with a range of reactions, from those making light of the incident....to those who said the joke was out-of-line...but that it still didn't excuse the violence:
🍿Now back to the ceremony. There were several notable winners:
Jessica Chastain won the best actress Oscar for her performance as televangelist and queer icon Tammy Faye Bakker in the biopic “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” She used her speech to call out legislation recently passed in Florida.
Troy Kotsur became the first deaf man to win an Academy Award for acting, collecting the trophy for best actor in a supporting role in CODA. His costar, Marlee Matlin, was the first Deaf actor to win an Oscar back in 1987, receiving the best actress award for Children of a Lesser God.
Ariana DeBose made history as first Afro-Latina, openly-queer actress to win an Oscar. DeBose won in the best supporting actress category for her performance as Anita in Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story."
The Hosts: Amy Schumer, Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes are getting high marks for their performance.
Our favorite one-liners:
"I watched that movie three times and I'm halfway through it." -- Wanda Sykes on Best Picture nominee "The Power of the Dog"
“I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio, what can I even say about him? He’s done so much to fight climate change and leave behind a cleaner, greener planet for his girlfriends." -- Amy Schumer
“If you’re Aaron Sorkin, how do you make a movie about the most iconic female comedian and not one laugh? It’s brilliant! It’s like making a biopic about Michael Jordan and just showing the bus trips between games.“ -- Amy Schumer on 'Being the Ricardos'
Other controversies: Bob Saget was left out of an In Memoriam segment. And after the Academy debated how to handle the war in Ukraine, they ended up having Mila Kunis allude to it in an intro to a Reba McEntire performance of a song about "resilience." They then displayed some graphics with text asking the audience to help Ukraine however they can. The attempt got its share of criticism on social media.
Diplomacy Latest: Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia, according to Reuters. In a 90-minute video call with Russian journalists, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals.
Zelensky: "Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point."
If Ukraine took a "neutral" stance, it would not be able to join NATO.
He also said he wanted to reach a "compromise" over the eastern Donbas region, held by Russian-backed forces since 2014. Russia is demanding those provinces become independent Republics.
No Clear Pathway: Ukraine-Russia Talks continue in Turkey today. However, Putin isn't personally involved in the public negotiations and has sent lower-level officials to negotiate.
Nine Words Heard Round the World: The White House is trying to walk back President Biden's remarks this weekend, in which he said Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be the leader of his country. Administration officials stressed that the US is not calling for regime change. ~ Politico
Over the weekend, during a speech in Warsaw, Poland, Biden said in an ad-libbed moment at the end of an otherwise scripted speech: "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power."
The Kremlin's response: “This is not to be decided by Mr. Biden... It should only be a choice of the people of the Russian Federation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who's on a tour of the Middle East and North Africa, said: “As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia — or anywhere else, for that matter.”
The Washington Post reported on how the line came as a surprise to U.S. officials who had to scramble to 'explain' what the President meant.
As the US has now vowed to take in 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, some on Capitol Hill are asking the White House not to forget the thousands of Afghans still waiting to come into the US and suffering under the Taliban.
On the ground: Russia seems to be changing its strategy in Ukraine, focusing on the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, according to a senior US defense official. Russia has suffered heavy losses and thus far has failed to capture the capital of Kyiv. At the same time, Russia continued to target western Ukraine, not far from the Poland border while Biden was on his trip. ~ CBS News
Amazon workers in New York and Alabama are in the process of voting on whether to unionize. We should have the results at the end of the week. The unionization push comes as hourly workers "find themselves with renewed leverage because of the Great Resignation, the wave of workers leaving jobs as a result of the pandemic."
Alabama: The most recent vote in Bessemer, Alabama comes a year after Amazon workers there voted NO on joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. After the defeat, the union argued that Amazon interfered with the vote. Federal officials ordered a new election. ~ CNET
Staten Island: Thousands of workers at an Amazon facility on Staten Island, NY are voting on whether to join the Amazon Labor Union. The warehouse "has been a center of Amazon worker activism since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic."
What workers want: Employers like Amazon have started to pay higher wages (starting at $18/hour) and offer better benefits amid a tight labor market. But some Amazon workers say it's not enough: they want more money, better break policies and working conditions, and longer medical leave options.
Bigger push to unionize: It's not just Amazon workers that are trying to unionize. Workers at more than 150 Starbucks stores in the US requested union elections. Also Google Fiber contractors in Missouri joined the Alphabet Workers Union, and an REI store in NYC joined the RWDSU.
Men's: A historic Final Four will feature four of the winningest programs in college basketball history in New Orleans next weekend. The teams, UNC, Duke, Kansas and Villanova have made it to the Final Four a combined 61 times and have 17 national championships. That includes four of the last six national titles.
ACC Rivals No. 2 Duke and No. 8 UNC have met 256 times in history, but never in the NCAA tournament. They will face off Saturday, as Duke's Mike Krzyzewski looks to make it all the way in his final season coaching. UNC has won six national championships while Duke has won five.
No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Villanova will play in the other game Saturday. Each team has three national championships.
The winners of both games will then face off next Monday night for the championship.
Women's: We are halfway to locking in the Women's Final Four. Overall No. 1 seed South Carolina beat Creighton. And No. 2 seed Stanford beat No. 2 Texas 59-50.
The other two slots will be determined tonight. No. 1 N.C. State plays No. 2 UConn. And No. 1 Louisville will take on No. 3 Michigan.
China's most populous city will launch a phased lockdown to curb an Omicron-fueled Covid-19 outbreak that has hit China with its highest caseloads since the early days of the pandemic, the city government said. (The Guardian)
After fraught discussions, officials decided that another shot might save thousands of lives if a new coronavirus wave hit before the fall. The F.D.A. could authorize the boosters next week. (NY Times)
Called the “Billionaire Minimum Income Tax,” it would assess a 20% minimum tax rate on U.S. households worth more than $100 million. The proposed levy is expected to reduce the deficit by about $360 billion in the next decade, according to the document. (CNBC)
Fire crews gained ground Sunday on a fast-moving wildfire that burned within 1,000 yards of homes a day earlier in Boulder, Colorado. The blaze, which forced 19,400 residents to flee Saturday, was 21% contained Sunday morning, and most evacuation orders were lifted. (USA Today)
As he starts a new streaming show at CNN, the longtime TV anchor reflects on his decision to leave Fox News after 18 years. “I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” Mr. Wallace said in his first extensive interview about his decision to leave. “But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.” (NY Times)
Two Israelis, a man and a woman, were killed and twelve, at least two of them Israel Police officers, were injured in a shooting attack in Hadera on Sunday evening. The Israeli defense establishment believes the attackers may have been connected to ISIS and one had reportedly been previously arrested for trying to join the terrorist group. (Jerusalem Post)
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