13 PEOPLE TO WATCH IN 2021

Or, at least, to watch today….

1. GOLFER PHIL MICKELSON

Phil Mickelson, at 50 years old, is a major champion once again. 

Mickelson took the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina with a 6-under performance that made him the oldest player to win a major, surpassing Julius Boros who won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48. The win was Mickelson’s sixth career major and second PGA Championship, making it a stunning chaser to a career that was already one of the most successful in the sport’s history. 

“This is just an incredible feeling,” he said afterward. “I just believed that it was possible.” (Wall Street Journal)

What to watch for next: Endorsements, interviews, fountain of youth appearances.

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2 through 4. THREE WUHAN INSTITUTE OF VIROLOGY RESEARCHERS

Three researchers from China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology became sick enough in November 2019 that they sought hospital care, according to a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report that could add weight to growing calls for a fuller probe of whether the Covid-19 virus may have escaped from the laboratory. (Wall Street Journal)

What to watch for next: Team Biden coopting the Red position going after Red China via the WHO on accountability. 

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5. MAINE SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS

Regarding the House’s 1/6 bill:

What to watch for next: Collins, by her own account, is talking directly to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, trying to break the 1/6 commission logjam. If Collins brokers a deal, it could unlock bipartisanship on a range of issues; if she fails, well, whatever the opposite of that is.

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6. PRESIDENT JOSEPH R. BIDEN

What to watch for next: The Washington Post and New York Times both essentially roundup the status of those bipartisan talks, suggesting that the commander in chief has to step forward as the first among equals in trying to develop a strategy to keep his legislative agenda from crashing down.

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7. BELARUS OPPOSITION LEADER RAMAN PRATASEVICH

Associated Press:

A prominent opponent of Belarus’ authoritarian president was arrested Sunday after the airliner in which he was traveling was diverted to the country after a bomb threat, in what the opposition and Western officials denounced as a hijacking operation by the government.

Raman Pratasevich, who faces charges that could bring 15 years in prison, was aboard the Ryanair flight from Athens, Greece, to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius when it changed course to head for Minsk.

Max Boot:

Which brings us to the Ryanair incident Sunday. An Irish airliner flying from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was intercepted by a MiG-29 fighter aircraft over Belarusian airspace and forced to land in Minsk. The Belarusian regime claimed there was a bomb on board. But no bomb was discovered. This was a transparent ruse by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko to arrest one of his most influential critics — opposition journalist Roman Protasevich, who was aboard the flight. Now Protasevich faces 12 years in prison on specious charges of terrorism.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is right: “[The] hijacking of a civilian plane is an unprecedented act of state terrorism. It cannot go unpunished.” The need to hold Belarus to account is all the greater because we have been seeing the norms against international aggression steadily eroding in recent years.

What to watch for next: Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s upcoming three moves on this one.

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8 through 10. WHOEVER RITA ORA, TAIKA WAITITI, AND TESSA THOMPSON ARE

What to watch for next: No idea.

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11. TESLA’S ELON MUSK

When Elon Musk speaks, bitcoin investors listen.

The Tesla chief executive’s often-cryptic messages have sent bitcoin’s price on a roller-coaster ride this year. Prices soared nearly 20% one January morning when he added “#bitcoin” to his Twitter biography. They jumped 16% in a single day the following month after Tesla Inc. revealed it bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency.

Then, he tweeted earlier this month that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin as payment for its vehicles. Investors widely blame the tweet for starting bitcoin’s most punishing selloff of the year, a rout that has shaved hundreds of billions of dollars off its market capitalization and has erased gains made since late January. After peaking in mid-April near $65,000, bitcoin prices have fallen some 50%, including roughly 40% since Mr. Musk’s May tweet. (Wall Street Journal)

What to watch for next: Anthony Scaramucci versus Barry Diller, as refereed by Andrew Ross Sorkin.

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12. FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP

Essential reading is this Washington Post story about the state of the Republican Party in the post/current Trump Era.

What to watch for next: Lindsey Graham says he and Trump have “been working on drafting a new policy agenda for 2022.” Right.

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13. HUMAN WILLOW SAGE HART

What to watch now:

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