what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 234

August 17 – 23, 2020

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

Hey, remember the Manchester Arena bombing at pop artist Ariana Grande's concert in the United Kingdom 2017? Well, the bomber's brother has been found guilty of every charge he faced having helped his sibling commit ISIS-inspired mass murder.

Also: Rest in power, Jasraj. One of India's music giants passed away last week. Never heard his music? No worries. Here's a Spotify playlist to appreciate. 

I put in a lot of hours and my heart into every issue of whlw. You're welcome to support me on Patreon (like 147 others!) or via PayPal.

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

what happened last week

We created a safe environment for elephants in Kenya
There is an 'elephant baby boom' in a national park (right next to the Mt. Kilimanjaro) and other places in Kenya right now. Kenya's Wildlife Service said, 'we only had 16,000 elephants in 1989. 20 years later, we had around 35,000!!!! <3 <3 <3' What are the reasons that we have more elephants in Kenya?
Two reasons. First, it's
rained a lot more over the past two years (which was also the reason why a lot of people died) and this meant more vegetation and fewer deaths for elephants. Second, Kenya is really serious about its anti-poaching efforts. Elephants are now really safer in the country because people who try to kill them for profit have to pay a lot of money or go to prison
We already spent all of Earth's resources for a year in August
Have you ever heard of Earth Overshoot Day (EOD)? It's the date when we have consumed more of Earth's ecological resources and services in one year than Earth can regenerate.

When is Earth Overshoot Day in 2020?
Oh, you missed it.
It was on August 22.  
  • Why this matters: We are now living on ecological credit. But also, for the first time in many years, EOD has moved back. Last year, it was July 29. Why? Think of all the shut down airports due to COVID-19. *quiet yay*
How do they know what date?
It's a mix of informed assumptions and reliable data.
The international research organization Global Footprint Network, which has been calculating this date since 1970, estimates 1.6 planets are required to support our population's way of life. Here's how August 22 was calculated.

Which countries have the biggest ecological footprints?
So, it's important to say that no nation makes it to the end of 2020 without living on ecological credit. But there are some differences: We only need one planet to support the needs of people in Indonesia and almost two if we were to live like people in Qatar.
We are dying because of too much rain in China
It's been raining pretty heavily in China since June. So much so that the central and southwestern parts of the country are flooded and at least 219 people have died or disappeared. The floods have also caused at least $26 billion in economic losses.
  • Why this matters: Heavy rains are normal in southern China during the summer, but this year’s fell harder and longer than usual.
We are talking about violence in Colombia (again)
Last week was the most terrifying week in 20 years for Colombia. Five massacres happened in different cities of the country – with three in just one day. At least 28 people have died. Why?
All massacres happened in cities where a lot of illegal groups of people with weapons aka former FARC (short for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) live. 

But... wasn't there a peace agreement between the FARC and the government in 2016?
Yes and the deal was... very promising: to end 50 years of armed conflict that killed more than 262,000 and displaced over seven million people. But peace? It is yet to come. There was some success: Around 8,000 Marxist fighters laid down their weapons in 2017. But rebel groups, paramilitaries, and the military are still fighting each other today. At least 196 former FARC members
have been killed since the agreement was signed. The government of current president Iván Duque is being blamed for this. Who is affected the most? 
Afro-Colombian and Indigenous community in Colombia.
We are still dying in the Mediterranean sea because we want a better life in Europe

At least 45 people (migrants and refugees), including five children, have died off the coast in Libya this year. Why? The boat's engine exploded. Some 37 people survived and were taken to prison (!) in Libya.

  • Why this matters: It was the deadliest shipwreck off Libya this year. More than 300 people officially have died trying to cross the sea from Libya to Europe this year. (Warning: The real number might be much higher.)
Who were the people that survived and what will happen to them now?
They were mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana. They're now in prison. A lot of reports say that migrants and refugees in Libya's prisons are treated horribly. Think abuse and extortion.

What is the international community saying?
The UNHCR and International Organization for Migration (IOM) are like, 'we need to step up our search and rescue game, y'all'. *suspiciously looks to Italy and Malta*

We demanded to be heard in Israel, Thailand and Belarus
At least 120,000 people (combined) took to the streets in Israel, Thailand and Belarus to demand that democracy and justice are taken seriously.

In Israel... over 10,000 people (the call themselves members of the Black Flag movement) protested against the country's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. 'He must quit!! We don't think he's doing a nearly good-enough job!' It's gotten tense. Some 30 people were arrested. Police officers have started beating people even. The prime minister himself is like, 'I'm not going to step down lol. These protests are the work of leftists and the media.'

In Thailand... around 20,000 people (most of them young) demanded that a lot of things change in the country, 'the entire parliament must resign, parts of the constitutions have to be rewritten and oh yeah, just let us exercise our fundamental human rights.' They even criticized the role of the monarchy in politics and society (something that is much more taboo than discussing female sexuality in Western society even; hint hint). Basically, young people want Thailand to have a more democratic form of government with the monarchy under the constitution. 

Belarus... around 100,000 people (from all parts of society) kept protesting against the country's president Alexander Lukashenko who has, since the last election on August 9, been basically lying, saying 'I won!!' but people and evidence said 'he didn't'. The situation is getting creepy: More and more people end up hanging from trees or dead in rivers. The people now want him out of the picture, new elections that are fair and for the violence against the protesters to stop. The defence ministry is like, 'calm down or else, we're going to bring in the military.' Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – who will probably become president if Lukashenko leaves office – has fled to Lithuania.
We will start giving 1,200€ to 120 people in Germany – for free
Starting last week, 120 people in Germany will get €1,200, or about $1,400 every month for three years – for free. 
  • Why this matters: Universal basic income is something that has been on our minds for the past few decades and we need more scientific evidence to see if it's worth a shot or not. This is a study that will test if we can build a more just and healthy society if people didn't have to worry about having to make money to live a decent life.
  • Catch up: Universal basic income is the idea that a government should pay money to each of its citizens, usually once a month, no matter if they have a job or not.
How does the study work exactly?
Well, a group of people (120) will get money, another group (1,380) won't. Then, researchers will compare both experiences.

Where does the money come from for this study?
140,000 private donations.
We are paying closer attention to where we store our ammonium nitrate in Senegal, Egypt and Romania
After some 2,750 tons of unsafely stored ammonium nitrare exploded at the port in Beirut, Lebanon two weeks ago, ports around the world have searched for dangerous chemicals – some of them didn't like what they found. 

Senegal... they found and asked to remove almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate from Dakar's port. 

Romania... they found around 9,000 tons of (illegally stored) ammonium nitrate at the Black Sea port of Agigea and elsewhere in the country. Oh, and the country's Maritime Ports Administration issued a press release late last week saying that 26.000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate are currently stored in the Black Sea port of Constanta, Romania’s largest port. That is ten times the amount that caused the explosion in Beirut.

Egypt... 'we actually got rid of large quantities of abandoned and neglected and dangerous materials that were in the ports,' said the country's finance minister last week. 
We forced the entire government in Mali to step down
Last week Mali was like a real-life political thriller. The government of Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (also called IBK) in Mali has been removed by the country's people and military. And by removed, I mean, the (democratically-elected) president was arrested and forced to step down.
  • Why this matters: This is a security test for the country and the entire region aka the Sahel zone. Some jihadi groups are up there in the northern part of the country and people are worried that they might take advantage of this lack of political leadership right now.
  • Do you know where Mali is? Don't worry. Test your knowledge on
How did the people in Mali react? 
They celebrated. 'IBK has failed,' they say. But are also worried that the military will stay in power now. 

And the international community?
'Put IBK back on the job,' said West African leaders and 'Free whoever you put in prison,' said the European Union.

What's next?
The people who organized the whole coup said they are talking to opposition parties about a transitional president, who – they said – could be civilian or military.

On a funny note

There’s rarely a dull moment in Ireland these days. Last week, Ireland came under attack from ‘extremely aggressive’ seagulls spreading the harmful bacteria E.coli. 

Now, pest control provider Rentokil has issued a warning for the public, saying 'be careful this month!!!!'

2020, what else? What. else. 
The end,

If you like what I do every week, yay! I put in a lot of hours and my heart into every issue. You're welcome to support me on Patreon (like 147 others!) or via PayPal.
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