what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 230

July 20 – 26, 2020

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

This planet is where it's at. The anti-government protests in Russia are going strong for the third weekend straight, New Zealand changed its relationship status with Hong Kong and Brazil is finally talking very loudly about racist police violence. These are all developments I am closely watching. In this issue, expect to read about the Uighurs, wildlife conservation around the world as well as LGBTQI+ rights in the Middle East.

I put in a lot of hours and my heart into every issue of whlw. You're welcome to support me on
Patreon (like 133 others!) or via PayPal. I actually do this full-time.

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

what happened last week

We have to talk about the Uighurs in China
  • Catch up: The Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim group and around 11 million live in (and are indigenous to) the north-western part of China, in the Xinjiang province. They speak their own language (not Chinese) and have a very distinct culture.

    But the Chinese government wants the Uighurs removed from the face of Earth and have started a very aggressive 'let's-force-them-to-become-other-people-than-Uighurs' campaign. They have put about a million of them in so-called re-eductation camps aka de-facto prisons. Some say, 'you could even call it a genocide.' Others, 'it's ethnic cleansing at least.'
What's happening now?
China is facing more and more criticism from all over the world.
I want to learn more about this. Where should I start? 
We decided that the prime minister must step down in Somalia
Hassan Ali Khaire is no longer prime minister of Somalia. Why? The country's parliament decided last week that 'he did a bad job at keeping us all safe.' The vote was backed by 170 lawmakers, with only eight others saying 'na, let's keep him.'

What's next?
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (who is known as Farmaajo) said he welcomed the decision. Khaire must now appoint a new prime minister. We're all waiting.
  • Did you know that Khaire is a dual Norwegian citizen who once worked as a primary school teacher in Norway and also for the Norwegian Refugee Council before joining the British energy explorer, Soma Oil and Gas?
Why this matters: Khaire had led the eastern African country since March 2017. A new election was planned for 2021.

This piece on Somalia was written and researched with me listening to Ahato Noo Ahatay on repeat. 
We sent new rockets to Mars
China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have all joined the space marathon to Mars. Last week China sent its first rocket to the red planet. The journey will take seven months and we'll talk about this again in February 2021. Why? Landing on Mars is a challenge. But if all goes well, Tianwen-1 will look for underground water and if there was any sign of life on the planet before.
  • Why this matters: This isn't China's first try. Don't talk about the year 2011 to Chinese space explorers; it'll bring up bad memories.
  • Did you know that Yang Liwei was the first Chinese astronaut in 2003?
In the same week, the United Arab Emirates, too, sent a spacecraft named Al Amal or Hope to our mysterious neighboring planet. Two others will follow this summer. Hope, too, will arrive Mars by February 2021. It wants to collect all the information it can get about the planet's atmosphere.
  • Why this matters: This is the Arab world's first Mars mission. NASA (aka the 'Americans') tweeted like, 'yo, we see you. So cool! See you there soon!'
  • Follow this historic journey on Twitter.
This week, it's the Americans' turn. The United States will very soon (this Thursday) also send a $2.7-billion-rover named Perseverance to Mars. It's got the best aka the most precise Martian maps ever created aboard. It also wants to look for ancient life and collect some samples, too. 

Recommended read: Some scientists are already thinking one step ahead, 'why are we going there again? Let's explore the rest of the solar system!' Read this interview with Rebecca Boyle and David W. Brown on The New York Times.
We are on our best way to ban the very nasty 'gay conversion' therapy in Israel – a first in the Middle East
A bill (not a law yet) in Israel wants to make it illegal for psychologists in Israel offer the so-called 'gay conversion therapy'. 
  • Why this matters: Israel has the most progressive attitude towards the LGBTQI+ community in the Middle East. They are protected by anti-discrimination laws, have adoption and same-sex inheritance rights, and have been allowed to serve in the military since 1993. The country also has a record number of openly gay members of parliaments and last year appointed its first openly gay minister.
What's 'gay conversion therapy'? 
It's basically 'therapy' or treatment that some doctors use to change a person's sexual orientation – by telling them 'your sexuality is a sickness'. 

Okay, when will it become a real law? 
The bill must still pass two more readings before it becomes law. Religious groups aren't happy about it. 
We found out that the fires in Australia killed, hurt or displaced three billion animals
A new report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) took a closer at the last fires in Australia and said: 'it was one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history.' Around three billion animals were killed, hurt or displaced. How do we know how many animals died in the fires?
You take an area where you already know how many animals lived there before and then you multiply that by the amount of land hit by the fires. Professor Chris Dickman, an expert on Australian biodiversity at the University of Sydnes,
explained this in a BBC interview.

What's next?
The government
promised to make available $35m to wildlife and habitat recovery, but environmentalists are like 'just strenghten the conservation laws'. Australia is also holding a royal commission inquiry into the fires. A lot of scientists are like, 'we think the fires in Australia have a lot to do with climate change.' We'll find out more in October this year. 
We punished nine people in Malawi for destroying wildlife
Nine people who are members of one of Southern Africa's most dangerous wildlife trafficking gangs were jailed in Lilongwe, Malawi last week. Why? They had ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales on them. 
  • Why this matters: Illegal wildlife trade (experts shorten it with IWT) is one of the world’s largest transnational organised crimes, alongside trafficking in drugs, arms, and human beings. And Malawi, unfortunately, is one of the bigger 'hubs' for ivory and other illegal wildlife 'products'.
  • Did you know that not even COVID-19 will stop global wildlife trafficking? The Basel Institute on Governance published a new report talking about why this economy is so... efficient.
We helped reopen the case of Elijah McClain with the help of a petition
After the death of George Floyd, people are now taking a closer look at older cases in which others have been killed by police and loudly ask, 'why did he or she die?'. Rightly so.

Get to know the story of Elijah McMclain.

Who is Elijah McClain? 
A 23-year-old young man who was killed by the police in Aurora,
United States last year.

Yeah. Why did he die?
He was walking home from a convenience store on August 24, 2019 when someone called 911, saying he 'looked sketchy' and was wearing a ski mask and waving his arms. After the police put him down on the ground, he started vomiting a couple of times, 'I can't breathe correctly' and on his way to the hospital, his heart just stopped.
To this day, people still don't know why exactly that happened. 

What did the Black Lives Matter movement do for Elijah McClain?
People donated $1.5 million to the GoFundMe page created by Sheneen McClain, his mother, and more than 3 million people signed 
an online petition demanding that the officers involved be taken off duty and that there be an in-depth investigation of everything that happened that day. 

And it is now official: the Aurora City Council
adopted a resolution calling for an independent investigation into Elijah McClain‘s death. And Jonathan Smith will lead the investigation. For those of you who don't know: He led the Michael Brown investigation.

On a wtf note

A (Republican) senator in the U.S. state went public and said, 'well, slavery back then was a necessary evil'. His name is Tom Cotton. Send a tweet (don't use bad words) and tell him how you feel about that. 
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 133 others!) or via PayPal. I actually do this full-time.
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