what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 239

October 5 – 11, 2020

This is Sham, your very own news curator. I stopped reading the news yesterday at 9pm.

Did you know that Taiwan's digital minister is something of an icon? Audrey Tang is even part of Japanese hip hop songs, like Civil Rap Song by Dos Monos

Also, hi, I want to turn this newsletter into a podcast. Do you think this is a good idea? If yes, feel free to support me on Patreon (like 157 others!) or via PayPal so I can focus my entire week on it. If no, why? Reply to this mail and let me know.

Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,

what happened last week

We gave two women the Nobel prize in science at the same time – for the very first time
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in chemistry last week. 
  • Why this matters: This is the only science Nobel prize that two women got, and the sixth and seventh women to win the chemistry prize.
  • Did you know that, unlike the peace prize (which often raises some eyebrows), the science prizes honor achievements that have proven to be for real for real useful? Last year's prize in chemistry recognized research in the development of lithium batteries from the 1980s that included honoring the oldest winner ever.
For what?
The developed CRISPR, a tool that can change the DNA of animals, plants and micro-organisms with extremely high precision.

Gene editing?
Yes. That could change everything in biology and medicine. We could better understand diseases, make sure our crops are always on point or just outright kill pests. 

Sounds cool. Why does it sound dangerous though?
Anything that could change everything deserves to be looked at a bit more closely. Glad you picked up on that. Gene editing is definitely something that people talk about, 'is it even ethical?'. Remember when Chinese scientist He Jiankui was jailed for creating the 
world's first gene-edited babies?

What about the other Nobel prizes?
Ah, right. This year's 
Nobel Prize in Physics was given to scientists Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for their discoveries about black holes. The Nobel Prize in Medicine was given to Harvey J. Alter, Michael Houghton and Charles M. Rice  for the discovery of hepatitis C virus, which led to the development of tests and treatments. Louise Glück got the Prize in Literature and the Peace Prize went to the World Food Programme.
We sent so many Nazis to prison in Greece
Dozens of Nazis were found guilty by a court in one of Greece's most important trials in the past decades. They will now go to prison for up to 15 years. More than 10,000 people partied like there was no tomorrow on the streets of Athens. In the words of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the country's prime minister, it was "a truly historic day for Greece, democracy and the rule of law."
  • Why this matters: Nazis still exist in Greece. Putting some of them behind bars sends a pretty nice 'f*ck you' message to Nazis in the country and elsewhere. Also, this was called the largest trial against a fascist group since Nuremberg.
Who were they?
Members of a 'political group' called Golden Dawn aka a criminal organisation – Nikos Michaloliakos, their leader, too. The group even became a political party at some point – the country's third-largest one in parliament in 2015.

Why were they found guilty now?
It all started in 2013 when famous rapper Killah P aka
Pavlos Fyssas was killed. That's when the police started investigating Golden Dawn. *plays favorite Killah P song in the background*

What now?
This is good but... 'there's gonna be a new Nazi party soon,' people say. 'Nazis are everywhere in Greece,' 76 percent of people
in a poll believed. And they're right. Marianna Karakoulaki wrote a powerful opinion piece about how ideologies don't die with political organisations that represent them and that we must continue fighting against fascists.
We are, once again, talking about police brutality in Nigeria
A man was killed by police in Lagos, Nigeria and someone took a video of it that was leaked to a news site. Thousands took to the streets across the entire country to protest against police brutality. *flashes of memory from June and... George Floyd*
  • Why this matters: 196 million people live in Nigeria. The conversation about how the police treats this many people matters. Also, you can't just vibe to Wizkid and not know about this
  • Did you know that Amnesty International said 'at least 82 times this has happened to mostly young and poor men since January 2017'?
What's happened since then?
The government
promised to break up the special police forces called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS for short. The officers will now join other police units.

I have a feeling this is not enough.
'This is not enough wtf!?!? We want these people behind prison. They've done so many horrible things to us and they could do this again,' say a lot of Nigerians offline and online (by using the hashtag #EndSARS). Now, things are
turning violent between protestors and police officers.
We don't do enough to help people with mental illnesses
It was World Mental Health Day on October 10. Hundreds of thousands of people and one in five children around the world who have mental illnesses probably didn't know that because they are either locked up and chained because they are mentally ill. That's what Human Rights Watch said last week in a report.
  • Why this matters:
    Countries all over the world treat people with mental illnesses very differently. Some of them so bad that people with mental health issues sleep in overcrowded filthy rooms or cages where they eat, sleep, take a piss and go for number 2 in the same place.
Why are people with mental illnesses locked up? 
Their families or communities they lived in thought they might be 'dangerous'. So, they put them in 'special' places. This is usually what happens when there is no mental health staff around and people turn to culture and religion for help – in 60 countries. In
Nigeria, for example, you go to prison if you try to kill yourself.

Where exactly?
Most of them are countries that don't have enough money for mental health like
Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Yemen. Poor people who have gone through war, trauma et al have to find their own 'solutions' there. What should we do now?
Talk about this more often. Put pressure on (your) governments to stop chaining and jailing people with mental health issues, (if you can) make and spread media that make it OK to not be OK and most of all invest in high-quality, accessible and affordable community mental health services. 
We need to talk about the 29 million girls and women in slavery worldwide
Yesterday was International Day of the Girl. That's also when a new report came out, saying that 29 million girls and women are victims of slavery worldwide.
  • Why this matters: 'That's like one in every 130 girls and women,' says Grace Forrest, co-founder of the Walk Free anti-slavery organization. 
What do you mean with 'modern slavery'?
The report (written by Walk Free, the International Labor Organization and the International Organization for Migration) says slavery is when you take away a person's freedom for your own good. Curious? Read the entire report, "Stacked Odds", here.

What about men?
99 per cent of all victims of forced sexual exploitation, 84 per cent of all victims of forced marriage and 58 per cent of all victims of forced labour are women. You can do the math if you want to know about young boys and men. Don't forget about child soldiers.

What now? 
Walk Free and the United Nation's 
Every Woman Every Child program are launching a global campaign so that governments do more to end slavery. Yes, I said slavery and not modern slavery because it is not new.

For my German speakers: Laura Vorsatz and I wrote an hour-long podcast episode on the kefala system in Lebanon that practically 'enslaves' more than 250,000 women from Africa and Asia as domestic workers. We even talked to a former domestic worker for this episode. Listen here.

On a funny note

China told the media in India not to call Taiwan a country. To which Taiwan said, "yo get lost". I have an idea: We should start calling China "Mainland Taiwan" or "Special Administrative Region of West Taiwan" just to mess with them. Who's in?
The end,

I want to turn this newsletter into a podcast. Would you like to help me do it? Feel free to support me on Patreon (like 157 others!) or via PayPal.
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