what happened last week


Hey, this is Sham, your very own news curator. I know I have been inconsistent but I needed this summer to be a little less stressful. Mental health is such a delicate matter, and I'm thankful that you show me this much compassion and patience. I hope you are equally loving towards yourself as often as you can.

Issue #308 starts off with good news from Botswana because, oh boy, Myanmar's democracy movement (and allies) are mourning Ko Jimmy and Mexico's got a huge water shortage problem (especially Monterrey). Other than that, I bring to you four more good news from Nepal (more wild tigers yay!), Colombia (hello, very rare hummingbird), science (wowzer technology) and Senegal (a frikkin' peace deal),
and so much more.
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Botswana is almost done with AIDS

AFP reported: Botswana is almost done with AIDS.
  • Btw, do you know where Botswana is on the African continent? No? That's OK. Here's a game that you can play to practice being a person of the world:
Tell me more
The country has met the so-called "95-95-95" goal of the United Nations a couple of years earlier than expected. The agency wanted 95 percent of HIV-positive people to know their status, 95 percent of those diagnosed on medication and 95 percent of those under treatment to show signs that the virus is being suppressed in their blood by 2025. And that, Botswana has not only met but even surpassed it, with a 95-98-98 score. The global average in 2020 was 84-87-90, according to a new study by lead author Madisa Mine, a Botswana government virologist. More than 14,000 people aged 15 to 64 were interviewed and blood-tested for this study. "We have translated a hopeless situation into a situation where now there is hope," he said.

Why this matters: About one in five people in Botswana live with the virus – one of the highest rates in the world, according to UNAIDS. This is huge progress against HIV, and the country might end HIV by 2030 once and for all even.

Zoom out: Worldwide, about 38 million people, including almost two million children, were living with HIV in 2020, and more than 600,000 died from AIDS-related illnesses, according to UNAIDS.

How did Botswana do it?
Basically, a lot of government money and the decision to turn self-testing into something that anybody can do. But there were also some key moments in time, 2002 and 2019. In 2002, Botswana became the first African country to offer free anti-retroviral drugs, which help prevent the disease from infecting others. And in 2019, the country decriminalised same-sex relationships, which (probably) helped to get more and more people into care.

Fun fact:
Eswatini became the first country to reach the UN target in 2020, UNAIDS said. In Germany, we call them Streber, but in a good, loving, congratulatory way.

For my German speakers: I spoke to Jana Münkel from Deutschlandfunk Kultur about this good news (and so much more).
Listen here.


"Rest in power, Ko Jimmy" – Myanmar's democracy movement

Kyaw Min Yum, also known as Ko Jimmy or ကျော်မင်းယု, has been executed, as The Irrawaddy reports. He was a very famous pro-democracy leader and writer in Myanmar.

Why this matters: More than 120 people have been sentenced to death since the military violently took over the country's leadership in February last year and arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Around 54 million people live in Myanmar. 

Wait. Executed? 
Yeah, they still do that in Myanmar.
Myanmar Now reported that Ko Jimmy was one of four activists who were sentenced to death and executed by the military (aka the 'president' of the country) at the Insein Prison in Yangon this January. The others were Hla Myo Aung, Aung Thura Zaw and former hip-hop artist Phyo Zeya Thaw (who co-founded one of the country's first hip-hop groups ACID), who became a parliament member and top aide to Aung San Suu Kyi.

Tell me more about Ko Jimmy
Ko Jimmy was born February 13, 1969, in Myanmar’s eastern Shan state. He was State Enemy No.1 because, oh man, this man could protest. First, in 1988 (against the country's military dictatorship) and then again in 2007 (against higher fuel prices), and last in 2021 (again, against the military coup; he was sentenced to death in January 2022). In total, Ko Jimmy spent more than 20 years in prison for his activism. His influence on Myanmar’s democracy groups was huge – even in prison.

How did he spend his time in prison?
While in prison, he wrote a series of politically themed stories — usually with a protagonist fighting for rights and freedoms — including some published in
Japan under the pen name Pan Pu Lwin Pyin. He also worked on a lot of literary projects, including the novel The Moon in Inle Lake (လမင်းဆန္ဒာအင်းလေးကန် and translated a couple of books, like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code or the English self-help book 'Making Friends' by Australian author Andrew Matthews (I added this edit to his Wikipedia page lol). It was a bestseller in Myanmar for a few weeks and has a 4.2 goodreads rating. I found a PDF online in case you are also interested in learning how to get along with people.

Btw, if you yourself want to write a novel, read about how Ko Jimmy met his wife Nilar Thein. He talked about it to NPR's Snap Judgement producers Anna Sussman and Pat Mesiti Miller in 2014. The story has Nicholas Sparks written all over it.


Large parts of Mexico is running out of water

Mexico, or large parts of it, is running out of water.

Why this matters: A water shortage can affect you no matter where you live in the world. Everything we do requires water, for drinking, washing, growing food, and for industry, construction and manufacturing. With 8 billion people on the planet (by November 15, 2022), it matters that we stay updated on water news.

Tell me more
According to Mexico's National Water Commission, about 48 percent of the country does not have enough water. Last year, during the same period, that number was at 28 percent.
The North American Drought Monitor has got a good visual of the whole situation. In some places, the drought is so extreme that people have to line up for government water deliveries, and to show their anger, block highways and kidnap (!) government workers to demand more water. 

Where is it really bad? 
It's the worst in Monterrey, the country's second-largest city (in the north); they've been without water for more than two months already.
Maria Abi-Habib for The New York Times writes that, "The situation in the city has gotten so dire, a visiting journalist could not find any drinking water for sale at several stores, including a Walmart." Now that the Cerro Prieto dam also dried up (El Financiero wrote a lengthy article about it in Spanish and NASA got a really worrying bird's eye picture of it), it's not looking too good for the residents in Monterrey.

Why is there not enough water? 
The verdict's not out yet, could be poor planning (as in, industries might be sharing water granted by the government through decades-old permits that sometimes have run unchecked on how much water they are using and how they are exploiting it, as
Marcos Martinez Chacon, a reporter for the Associated Press, told NPR) but scientists are like, 'no doubt that global warming plays a role here. After all, it affects how much rain will fall where, and if it doesn't rain enough, droughts are bound to happen.'

What's the government doing about it? 
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador acknowledged that the situation in Monterrey "is serious" and therefore asked for more support from the private sector, both from those who have water for irrigation and from the soft drink and beer companies. "We must continue to contribute and even stop production and dedicate all the water required to the people," he said.

Zoom out: It's the same for most of the Western half of the
United States. For the region, this period is now the driest two decades in 1,200 years. In Texas, nearly 45 percent of the state is in exceptional or extreme drought. Across the state, 15 million residents are affected by it. (These numbers keep getting more and more absurd each time I read about how bad global warming actually is.)

More you might have missed 

The bad
Uganda and Iran: 24 people were killed by heavy flooding in eastern Uganda. (Reuters) Iran, too, had to deal with deadly floods. At least 53 people died. (The New York Times)
Guatemala: One person is wounded in an assassination attempt on President Alejandro Giammattei. The president is unharmed. (ABC)
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Twenty people are killed after suspected islamists attacked two villages in Ituri. (Reuters)
The 'We'll See'
Kenya: If you're reading the news this week, keep an eye on the presidential elections in Kenya. 22.1 million people have registered to vote. Like many previous elections, this election is set to be a close race between 77-year-old Raila Odinga (former prime minister) and 55-year-old William Ruto (leader of the United Democratic Alliance, the largest party under the Kenya Kwanza coalition). (The Conversation)
Afghanistan: Ayman al-Zawahiri, the 71-year-old leader of al-Qaeda and the co-planner of Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Kabul. "Just finding Zawahiri was an extraordinary break in a decades-long manhunt," writes Shane Harris for The Washington Post. In the same week, there was another bombing in Kabul, killing eight and injuring 18 others near a Shiite mosque. ISIS claimed responsibility. (Al Arabiya)
The good
Science: Researchers using AlphaFold have predicted the structures of 200 million proteins from 1 million species, covering nearly every known protein on the planet. (Nature)
Nepal: The country has nearly tripled its wild tiger population since 2009. (The Kathmandu Post)
Colombia: A rare hummingbird, the Santa Marta sabrewing, has been rediscovered by a birdwatcher in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains after going missing for more than a decade. It is only the third time the species has been documented: the first was in 1946 and the second in 2010, when researchers captured the first photos of the species in the wild. (The Guardian) Also, yesterday, Colombia's first leftist president was sworn into office: Gustavo Petro. He is also a former member of Colombia's M-19 guerrilla group. (NPR)
Senegal: You probably haven't heard of the Casamance conflict (yet) but there's some good news for those who have: The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance signed a peace deal with the government of Senegal, pledging to lay down its arms in order to work towards a permanent solution. (BBC) In the same week, there was a parliamentary election. Basically, President Macky is losing some support, and there is no majority in parliament. This is a first. (Al Jazeera)

On a funny note

Étienne Klein, a celebrated physicist and director at France's Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, shared tweeted this image to his 91,000 followers, saying 'wow, look at this distant star. James Webb Space Telescope took a really detailed photo of it!!!'.

But... the 'distant star' was a slice of chorizo, zoomed in against a black background. 

His intention, according to Klein, was "to urge caution regarding images that seem to speak for themselves."
That's it from me. 

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

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