what happened last week


Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. I got so much positive feedback on last week's music video recommendation that I decided to try out a new 'section' called 'Music video of the week' at the end of the newsletter for a couple of weeks (or until you politely tell me to stop). I'm a 90s kid, so naturally, music videos make me really happy. Because you're reading what happened last week, expect the most trending music videos from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Issue #314 includes al-Shabab in Somalia and the political situation in Haiti. Plus, resources on how to survive a crowd surge like the one in South Korea, a huge ProPublica investigation that sh*ts on Google, a reminder why the first non-White British Prime Minister is not a huge deal, very good statistics for female business owners in Angola, Mexico's 'Love is love' moment, another innocent Guantanamo Bay prisoner was released to Pakistan, a climate database for all you Global South observers, a Netflix rom-com recommendation from Brazil and a very, very funny note from China.
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Two cars exploded and killed at least 100 people died in Somalia

Two cars exploded in Mogadishu, Somalia last Saturday; one in front of the education ministry, another near a school. At least 121 people have been killed, 300 are wounded. (AP, Somali National News Agency, short SONNA)

Why this matters: Al-Shabab is a huge problem. The jihadist group has killed thousands of people in Somalia, Uganda, Kenya and elsewhere in East Africa in the past decade. Saturday's attack has been the deadliest in five years.

Tell me more
The whole country is in shock. "Our people who were massacred … included mothers with their children in their arms, fathers who had medical conditions, students who were sent to study, businessmen who were struggling with the lives of their families," President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said after visiting the site of the blast. (
SONNA) Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre named a 'National Committee' to take care of the victims (the government has promised US$1 million). (Voice of America Who did this? 
Nobody claimed responsibility for the attack, but odds are that this is the work of the armed group al-Shabab. In 2017, in the same area, al-Shabab was responsible for an attack that killed more than 500 people. (
Al Jazeera) Plus, in another city, in Kismayo, the group last week carried out an attack at a hotel. Nine people died and 47 others were injured. (Al Jazeera)

Tell me more about al-Shabab
Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen, or short al-Shabab ("the youth" in Arabic), is an Islamic fundamentalist Salafi jihadist group which is based in Somalia and active elsewhere in East Africa.
It is not clear how many fighters the group has; some say about 7,000, others about 12,000 (United Nations). Their annual income is probably around US$120 million. (The New York Times) The group has been fighting in Somalia for more than a decade and wants to bring down the government and establish its own rule based on a very strict interpretation of Islamic law. Think public stoning or amputations for people who have stolen stuff or cheated on their partners. The group is 'close friends' with al-Qaeda and has killed people in Uganda and Kenya, too, as Chrispin Mwakideu explains in Deutsche Welle.

What is the government doing about al-Shabab?
Fight it, or at least, talk about fighting it. President Mohamud is pretty passionate about it. On October 1, he said that there is no room for neutrality in the war against terrorism. "You're either with us or with al-Shabab." (
SONNA) Mohamud, with support from the United States and other armed groups, has launched an offensive against the group. However, results have been limited. (Al Jazeera) Last week, even before the attack, the Somali government was like, 'Hey U.S. military, we want you to get more involved. What do you think?' (The New York Times) Other countries are also involved in the fight against al-Shabab. Members of the African Union have about 18,000 peacekeeping forces in Somalia. Turkey, the European Union, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are also involved.


A famous politican was killed in Haiti. Now, there's talks of foreign military intervention.

A famous politician, Éric Jean Baptiste, was killed last Friday outside his home in the capital Port-au-Prince, Haiti. His bodyguard was also killed in the attack. No one has been arrested so far. (Le Nouvelliste, French)

Why this matters: You might have read or seen news from Haiti in international news outlets when the country is not in its best shape; for example the huge 2010 earthquake or the murder of the country’s president last year that is still (!) unresolved. A year later, Haiti is back in international news as yet another famous politician has been murdered. This event could lead to an important turning point in Haiti. Some higher-ups are calling for foreign military intervention because they believe that this is the only way to ‘take back control from criminal gangs in Haiti’. Many activists and a large part of civil society are against it. It’s important to talk about this news as it affects the lives of some 12 million people in this rather small country in the Caribbean Sea. 

Okay. Let’s start with last week’s murder then.
Éric Jean Baptiste was killed in Laboule 12, a richer part of Pétion-Ville, Port-au-Prince. A lot of violent crimes, killings and kidnappings have happened here in the past few months; it used to be safer. However, today, Laboule 12 is controlled by an armed group named Ti Makak. It is led by Carlo Petit-Homme, alias Ti Makak. (
Le Nouvelliste, French) The group is fighting with another group, the Toto gang, for control of territory. Laboule 12 is pretty close to Pelerin, where President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his private residence in July 2021. (CBS)

Who was Baptiste? 
Baptiste was a former presidential candidate and the leader of a (center-left) political party in Haiti, the Rally of Progressive National Democrats Party (RNDP). Baptiste also owned "Pere Eternel," one of the biggest lottery companies in the country. It’s not clear if he was murdered on purpose or not. Again, no one has been arrested yet.

Why is an armed group in control of parts of the capital? 
The United Nations believes that there are some 150 to 200 "gangs" aka armed groups in Haiti, actively fighting each other. Why? "At the root of the conflict, it is a dispute over land," writes Jacqueline Charles for the Miami Herald; a dispute that, according to the International Organization for Migration last Friday, has forced more than 113,000 people to leave their homes in Port-au-Prince between June and August this year, with nearly 90,000 of them due to "urban violence linked to inter-gang, gang-police, and social conflicts." And it’s getting worse.

What about the government?
"Well, what about it?", some would say. The thing with the government in Haiti is a little tricky; Prime Minister Ariel Henry isn’t very popular in Haiti. After all, there hasn’t been any elections since 2016. People now demand that he resigns, ‘the price of fuel is too high, there is more and more inflation and too much crime. You are not doing a good job,’ they say. Plus, at least 1,700 people have caught cholera (half of them children) and some 40 people have died from it. (
ReliefWeb) People blame the government for it. Things got even messier last month. 

How so?
One of Haiti’s most powerful armed groups took control of a key fuel terminal in Port-au-Prince, forcing gas stations and key businesses to close. On Sunday, journalist Romelson Vilcin was killed, another one, Roberson Alphonse, survived an assassination attempt. (
Miami Herald) The government in October requested help from the international community, ‘we can’t handle this alone anymore’, to which it responded with armored vehicles and other equipment to pimp the national police force. Prime Minister Henry wants to go a step further, ‘we want foreign troops.’ The United Nations Security Council has yet to make a decision. (ABC) ‘We will call democratic elections if you send in troops,’ said Haiti’s Ambassador to the U.S., Bocchit Edmond. ‘But first, we need to restore law and order,’ he told CNN’s Sara Sidner

Foreign troops in Haiti? That sounds like a dangerous idea.
A lot of people in medical organizations and civil society groups in the country agree. They’re like, 'are you kidding me? How is this a good idea?' (
The Guardian) Louis-Henri Mars, the director of Haitian peacebuilding non-profit Lakou Lapè (which means "courtyard of peace" in Haitian Creole), said: "We have had foreign intervention in 1915, 1994, 2004 and yet here we are again today in the same situation. Every time there’s intervention the same system stays in place."

Some voices from outside Haiti agree, like Claire Antone Payton, a scholar of 20th-century Haitian history, "And while past foreign interventions in Haiti have often been launched in the name of stability and democracy, they have not proved capable of providing either." (
The Conversation)

In Foreign Policy, John D. Ciorciari, another scholar, suggests "The United States and its partners should use the prospect of security assistance to push the Haitian government to engage earnestly with opposition groups and civil society leaders on a transitional framework and path to elections." Former U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Dan Foote has warned that sending armed military into Haiti would be a "predictable catastrophe." (The Intercept) In contrast, The Washington Post’s Editorial Board (an important opinion-maker) has called for intervention.

Is there anything else going in Haiti at the moment?
Yes, the country is excited about November 3 as the winner of the Prix Goncourt 2022, an important literature prize in
France, will be announced. Makenzy Orcel, a Haitian writer, is nominated for his novel "Une somme humaine" (which he presents in this YouTube video; in French). He also wrote "Les Immortelles", a novel about what happened in the days following the 2010 earthquake that shook Port-au-Prince with the same destructive force as the bomb in Hiroshima, Japan. (Le Nouvelliste)

Disclaimer: whlw is late because it took me several days to figure out disinformation from propaganda, from opinion from fact. If you read this, and you are from Haiti and/or have studied the politics and history of Haiti and disagree with what I focused on, please feel free to disagree and reply to this email.

More you might have missed 

The bad
The Philippines: Last week, a tropical storm in the Philippines (they call it Paeng) killed at least 45 people. Some 14 people are reported missing. (The New York Times)
South Korea: At least 156 people died, over 80 injured during a large crowd surge. (The Hankyoreh, Korean) President Yoon Suk Yeol on Sunday declared a weeklong national mourning period, the second in the country's history. The Guardian published an excellent visual explanation of what happened. VICE editor Junhyup Kwon was there himself and describes the surreal moment of seeing the dead, while others partied around them. Tara Parker-Pope for The Washington Post asked experts how to survive a crowd crush: 'Try to stay on your feet, don't let your arms get pinned by your side, and protect your chest.'
Google: ProPublica found out that Google’s ad business in countries outside the West, like Brazil, Bosnia, and many more, made "disinformation profitable." It's the largest-ever analysis of Google's ad practices on non-English websites. (ProPublica)
The 'We'll See'
Lesotho: Lesotho’s businessman-turned-politician Sam Matekane was sworn in Friday as the new prime minister of the southern African country. (AP) Here's a Twitter video of the inauguration.
Britain: The country welcomed its first non-White Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, a practicing Hindu, on the first day of the festival Diwali. Kehinde Andrews, professor of Black studies at Birmingham City University and the author of the book "The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World", wrote an interesting opinion piece for CNN about why you should not fall for the symbolism. "Sunak does not represent racialized minorities in Britain. Migrant histories are far too diverse for any one person to do so."
The good
Angola: More women own and/or manage businesses than anywhere else in the world, with (35%), followed by Guatemala (24.9%) and Burkina Faso (21.2%). according to a new survey conducted by Taiwanplus. Plus, Rwanda is one of the most affordable places for women to start a business. (Business Insider Africa)
Mexico: Same-sex marriage has officially become legal in all of Mexico. Last week, lawmakers in the state of Tamaulipas voted to amend its civil code, becoming the last of the largely Catholic country’s 32 states to recognize same-sex unions. (Yahoo NewsSupreme Court president Arturo Zaldívar tweeted: "Todo el país brilla con un enorme arcoíris. Vivan la dignidad y los derechos de todas las personas. Amor es amor." (Translated: "The whole country shines with a huge rainbow. Long live the dignity and rights of all people. Love is love.")
Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro f*cking lost. The new (and former) president of Brazil is Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva. Vincent Bevins for the New York Review of Books wrote an interesting article about how the movement of Bolsonarismo is bigger than Jair Bolsonaro and could stick around – even after he's officially left office.
Cuba: The United States released Guantanamo Bay's oldest prisoner, Saifullah Paracha, his home country, Pakistan, after almost two decades. He is now 75 years old. Paracha was arrested two years after the 9/11 2001 attacks on the United States and accused of being an al-Qaeda sympathiser. He was never charged. (BBC)
Japan: A group of 178 people all called Hirokazu Tanaka have set a new world record for the largest get-together of people with the same first and last name. The new record-holders — including a three-year-old, an 80-year-old, and a Hirokazu Tanaka who flew in from Vietnam — met up in Tokyo last Saturday. (Kyodo News)


Podcast: "Mattan: Injustice of a Hanged Man"
Seventy years ago, Mahmood Mattan was executed for the murder of shopkeeper Lily Volpert in Cardiff, United Kingdom – a crime which the British-Somali man did not commit. In "Mattan: Injustice of a Hanged Man" from the BBC, the actor, writer and presenter Danielle Fahiya tells the story of Mahmood Mattan, who was accused of the murder of Lily Volpert from Cardiff Bay (formerly called Tiger Bay). Financial Times reviews: "Volpert ran a haberdashery which also sold cigarettes and which she sometimes opened in the evenings for customers she knew. One evening in 1952, a man knocked on the door asking to buy cigarettes; a few minutes later, Volpert was dead. Six months later, following a three-day trial in which his own defence barrister called him a 'semi-civilised savage', Mattan was executed in Cardiff prison and buried in an unmarked grave." Listen here.
The Global South Climate Database
The Reuters Institute last week launched the Global South Climate Database, a publicly available, searchable database of of climate scientists and experts in the fields of climate science, climate policy and energy. More than 400 experts from 80 countries have joined the database so far. Why? "Too many voices are missing from this crucial coverage," explain Diego Arguedas Ortiz and Ayesha Tandon on the Reuters Institute website. "Few issues feel as global as climate change right now. The impacts and solutions are coming fast from all parts of the world. While rescuers battle floods in Pakistan and Trinidad and Tobago, energy experts are devising transition schemes in South Africa and Austria and insurance managers plan for new impacts in Canada and Mauritius. All corners of the world are affected – but impacts are disproportionately high in the Global South. However, the voices narrating this climate story, at least in mainstream media, are less diverse." Listen/watch to the official launch on YouTube.
A Brazilian rom-com: Esposa de Aluguel (Someone Borrowed) on Netflix

Netflix made another non-English film, this time it's from
Brazil, and it has held the No. 1 film position for two weeks now. The rom-com tells the story of a bachelor who hires an actress to play his fiancée to avoid being moved off his dying mother’s will. Watch the trailer here. Personally, I haven't watched it yet but my rom-com-superfan friend did and she loved it. Another non-English TV show that is super popular on Netflix at the moment is Hasta que la Plata Nos Separe (Til Money Do Us Part). Watch the trailer here. It's an adaptation of a popular 2006 telenovela from Colombia. Latin America + Netflix = It works.

Music video of the week

"The Astronaut" by Jin of BTS. The song was released on October 28, 2022, as his debut solo single. Co-written by Jin, British rock band Coldplay, Norwegian DJ Kygo who produced the track with Bill Rahko, and Chris Martin's son Moses Martin, the song is about Jin's affection for and relationship with his fans. As of Sunday, more than 25 million people have watched the music video.

On a funny note

A man in southern China is keeping his 219 million yuan (US$29.9 million) lottery jackpot a secret from his wife and child. Why? "I am worried that the winnings might make them lazy." (South China Morning Post)

The man identified only as Mr. Li went alone to the lottery office in Nanning, in the southern region of Guangxi, to claim his prize. He wore a bright yellow costume that covered his head (
look) in photos showing him accepting the prize.
  • Fun fact: More than 20 years ago, something similar-ish happened in the United States. A woman won US$1.3 million and divorced her husband without telling him. The judge found out during and awarded the husband all the money she won in the lottery. (Los Angeles Times)
That's it from me. 

Have you checked out this newsletter's very own Spotify playlist Go Global Weekly yet?

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