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what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe


whlw: no. 243

November 2 – 8, 2020

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

Apart from the very obvious good news of last week (which I will tell you about later), here's what else happened last week in short: The very
first school opened for trans students in Bangladesh, people who abuse animals in Greece will now have to go to jail for up to 10 years and a pretty conservative state in Mexico legalized same-sex marriage

Unfortunately, this all happened at the same time when at least 150 people died in Central America due to a very strong hurricane

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

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what happened last week

DEMOCRACY
We voted for the second time ever in Myanmar
There was a general election in Myanmar yesterday. At the time, I am writing this newsletter, the winner wasn’t really clear.
  • Why this matters: 37 million people are allowed to vote. This is the second time the people in this country are allowed to vote after the military was in power for years and years.
Who will probably win?
Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party who have been in power for five years now (together with the military; they automatically get a quarter of all seats in parliament; no election needed). Suu Kyi is especially popular with the older people in Myanmar. And other (90!!) political parties are simply too new or too weak.
 
Is Aung San Suu Kyi a good leader?
Depends on who you ask. She’s censored and put peaceful poets, students and Buddhist monks into jail. Not to mention the many young activists running as opposition candidates who have been put into jail on charges that many just don’t understand. Many politicians are like, ‘we also think the ruling (her) political party hasn’t been doing much to really build democracy in this country. We sacrificed our lives for it though’. To which others say, ‘she can’t do everything in just five years!’.
 
Wait. But what about the claims that there was a genocide against the country’s Rohingya Muslims?
Oh, that. Well, ‘
the military did that; not Aung San Suu Kyi.’ That’s what her supporters say. The country is currently being investigated at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations' highest court. If you have 47 minutes, here’s a Al Jazeera documentary about the Rohingya.
 
What about the Rohingya and Christian minorities? Can they vote?
No. Actually, around 2.6 million people aren’t allowed to vote. The government was like, ‘there’s too much fighting going on in those states. We cannot be sure the votes aren’t being rigged.’ Most of the Rohingya live in refugee camps in
Bangladesh anyway (the Kutupalong camp is the biggest refugee camp in the world) as they have had to leave their homes in Myanmar, after their villages were burnt down by the military. And the ones that stayed? They have no voting rights. The United Nations later called it, ‘the textbook example of ethnic cleansing.’
 
What now?
In January 2020, the United Nations court demanded that the country must do something to protect its Rohingya Muslims. ‘We’re looking into it,’ said the government. ‘Our military may have carried out war crimes, serious human rights violations and violations of domestic law but no genocide.’ Oh, OK.
TERRORISM
We mourned the victims of terrorism in Austria and Afghanistan and fought it symbolically in France
Austria... A terror attack happened. Four people died and 22 got hurt in the capital Vienna. Who did it? A guy who was a big fan of ISIS (yeah, remember them?). They afterwards said, 'this was us.' (To be fair: They do that all the time. Evil people do evil things and then ISIS says, 'this was us'.)

Afghanistan... There was another terror attack at a university in the capital Kabul. 35 people died, 50 got hurt. Three men opened fire at the campus in the middle of the day. ISIS said, 'this was us.' (See the pattern?)

France... No attack happened but... the Turkish ultranationalist terrorist group Grey Wolves was banned. Why? 'They kept attacking the Armenian community in Lyon in the past few weeks. That's not acceptable.'
We have to talk about the possible 'civil war' situation in Ethiopia
Ethiopia started a fight with one of its own states, Tigray, in the north. Why? 'The people ruling there, the TPLF party, attacked the central government's army base.' – 'Nope, we didn't.' At least six people have died so far.
  • Why this matters: Around 115 million people live here. Ethiopia could get into a very, very dangerous mess if this fight really starts – and drag Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia into it, too. This region is one of the continent's most fragile regions and around 9 million people might have to suffer the consequences.
Why would they fight one another? I don't get it. 
The country is not at all united. That's always been kind of the issue. This is also why
around 4 million people in Ethiopia have had to flee their homes and move elsewhere in the country. The many ethnic groups in the country are very distrustful of one another and equally strive for power and protection – both of which they have very little of. It gets worse: last week, in the village of Gawa Qanga in the Oromia region, 54 people of the Amhara ethnic group were murdered by another ethnic group's military, the Oromo Liberation Army. 

But the president got a Nobel Peace Prize for his peace-making skills with Eritrea last year. Can't he solve this?
Yes and no. Abiy Ahmed was elected president in 2018 because he was part Amharic, part Oromo. 'He can best represent us,' said each ethnic group. But, as it turns out, that was an impossible task to begin with for Ahmed. Also, here's a pretty good political analysis by Yohannes Woldemariam at the London School of Economics of
how the country must change in order to bring peace to this multi-ethnic country.

How dangerous is this?
Very. Tigray's army is pretty big and has a lot of weapons. Also,
Eritrea (the old enemies) might join the fight, too. As of right now, they're not talking to one another even though the United Nations and African Union have told them to do so.
JUSTICE
We are forcing leaders to take responsibility for their actions in Kosovo and fighting for lifetime immunity for leaders in Russia at the same time
Hashim Thaçi, Kosovo's president, quit his job last week because a special court in The Hague, Netherlands (still is part of Kosovo's judicial system) accuses him (and three other men) of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war between Kosovo and Serbia in the late 1990ies.
  • Why this matters: The relationship between Kosovo and Serbia is still very tense – even 21 years after the war has ended. In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia – something that Serbia still doesn't accept. Attempts to talk to one another haven't been too successful.
  • Did you know that most of the people who died in the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo were ethnic Albanians, and 1,641 people are still unaccounted for?
Wait, what did Thaçi do?
He was a guerilla leader during the country's war for independence from Serbia. More than 10,000 people died back then. The court is like, 'you are responsible for 100s of murders from at least March 1998 through September 1999'.

After the war, Thaçi created the Democratic Party of Kosovo and has been foreign minister, deputy prime minister and prime minister, and now president since April 2016.

Why did he quit?
"To protect the integrity of the presidency of Kosovo". *cough Benjamin Netanyahu cough* A parliament speaker named Vjosa Osmani is now president. The 38-year-old woman is the second female president of post-war Kosovo's six presidents. 

What does the country say about this?
'We had to do what we had to do. No one is allowed to judge our fight for freedom. Also, everybody knows Serbia attacked us first. We had to defend ourselves.'
Albania's prime minister Edi Rama even was like, 'I support him, too.'

--
In the meantime, presidents in
Russia aren't allowed to be prosecuted while in office and now, the country's parliament wants to grant ex-presidents lifetime immunity from prosecution, too. Should they really, really, really f*ck up, however, the parliament can still take away their right to be free from having to bear the consequences of their actions. It is not a law yet but it is very likely that it soon will be.
SOUTH AMERICA
We now have a new president in Bolivia and the country can't stop dancing in the streets
Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca are now officially  the new president and vice president of Bolivia. You should see how people are celebrating; the mood is immaculate. What’s next?
Arce
promised to work on the somewhat broken relationships with Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela. Jeanine Áñez, the woman in charge before for a year, kind of f*cked that up. He also wants to do business with Brazil even though the country’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro is so far away from him politically. The real challenge, however, is: How does Bolivia recover from one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks? In Bolivia, more people died (relatively) than in the United States or Mexico.
 
Also, people there are really looking forward to November 11. That’s when Evo Morales, former president, will come home from exile in Argentina (
800 cars will bring him home!). He’s the country's first indigenous president, the leader of the same political party as Luis Arce and the guy who wanted to stay in power way too long. Some are saying, Arce must now find a way to keep him out of the government. ‘I just plan to stay for five years and no more. We need new faces in our government.’
 
How is he going to help Bolivia recover?
Experts say, ‘
he’s probably going to have to introduce some unpopular laws to save money.’  He’ll need that money because, oof, the economy isn’t doing well at all. 30 percent of the country is unemployed.
NORTH AMERICA
We most likely kicked Donald Trump out of office
The media called it: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the new president and vice president of the United States. Dozens, if not hundreds, of videos went viral on that day. My favorites are this, this and this. And of course, there was an endless stream of memes like this and this.

But... this might not be quite the end. 

What everyone is still worried about:
In short, let's wait until January 20, 2021.

What the international community learnt from this presidential election:
SCIENCE
We discovered two new mammals in Australia and a mysterious signal from inside our galaxy
Every week, we find new answers to age-old questions or just, quite literally, new shiny stuff in our galaxy.

First, scientists found
two new animal species in Australia. One of them looks like this in their profile pictures for social media and like this in real life.
  • Why this matters:
    "Australia's biodiversity just got a lot richer. It's not every day that new mammals are confirmed, let alone two new mammals," said overly enthusiastic scientists.
Then, in the same week, scientists also discovered that a fast radio burst signal came from inside our very own (!) Milky Way galaxy – for the very first time. Where it comes from? Probably a magnetstar.
  • Why this matters: So far, scientists have had trouble tracking down from where and, really, what they are because the signals are so short, unpredictable and seem to come from very far away. ‘They could be from alien technology, for all we know.’ This new discovery now could help answer this age-old question, ‘where the f*ck do fast radio bursts come from?!?!’.

On a funny note

Scientists in Japan built a robot (called 'Osampo Kanojo', roughly translated to 'My Girlfriend in Walk') that holds hands with lonely people
  • "The Osampo Kanojo is designed to squeeze your hand back and even release liquid through pores in its flesh-like outer layer, an approximation of your partner-in-hand-holding getting sweaty palms, SoraNews 24 reports."
Ladies, there will be a male model, too. #ByeTinder

Also, Thailand banned P0rnhub (and 190 other sites like it).
The end,
Sham.
FOR THE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS NEWSLETTER, LISTEN TO THE WEEKLY PODCAST
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