what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 236

September 14 – 20, 2020

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

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (also known as RBG) died last week. My TL on all of my social media was full of quotes I wish we would learn by heart at school instead of medieval poems. However, next to being sad about it, I'm also kind of worried about what's going to happen next. Until then, what's your favorite RBG quote?

I put in a lot of hours and my heart into every issue of whlw. You're welcome to support me on Patreon (like 155 others!) or via PayPal. Or, honestly, just share this email with friends and the pessimistic people in your life.

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

what happened last week

We are finally writing women's names in children's birth certificates in Afghanistan
'From now on, birth certificates in Afghanistan can also list the child's mom's name – not just the dad's,' president Ashraf Ghani kind of said last week and put a law on it.

Why this matters
For a long, long time, women's names were/are kind of a taboo in Afghanistan. Most people (read: men) in the country believe(d) that using a woman's name in public brings shame on the family. So, women were nowhere to be found on official documents, their own wedding invitations or on their gravestones. But as long as women's names don't appear on IDs, in public records, their identities really don't exist, and a lot of their legal rights don't exist. Does this change anything in the daily lives of Afghan women though?
Oh yes. Until now, basic things — like school registration, getting health care or a passport for their children or travelling with them — have been impossible for Afghan mothers to do without the father present. It's a step toward being your own person and being recognised by your government as being your own person as a woman in Afghanistan.

Who made this happen?
Women. Duh. For three years, women's rights activist and #WhereIsMyName campaign founder Laleh Osmany had been working with other women (and some men aka male allies aka snacks) towards this day. Congratulations!
We are finally talking about genocide and slavery in Colombia – by toppling a statue
People in Popayán, Colombia overthrew the statue of a man who founded the city in 1537. Why? 'He represents five centuries of genocide and slavery, that's why,' they said. The city's mayor was like, 'eh, this is violence?'

Whose statue was it?
Sebastián de Belalcázar's. He came from Spain, explored (read: invaded) South America quite a bit and even founded
Ecuador's capital Quito. 
  • Did you know that Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus? Fun fact: He never set foot there.
Who overthrew the statue?
People from the Misak, Pijao and Nasa community. They're indigenous groups in the city. 'He is guilty of genocide, enslavement, torture, rape and stealing our ancestral lands,' they said. The mayor wants to have it put back. 
  • Why this matters: The Spanish (when they invaded Colombia in the 16th century) killed so many indigenous people there that they had to bring (read: enslave) Africans to replace the 'lost labour' on the plantations and mines. To this day, indigenous people and Afro-Colombians are among the most marginalized communities in the country.
  • BTW, I have another suggestion for a statue: Anderson Arboleda, a Black 24-year-old who was killed by police in Puerto Tejada when he (so the police says) broke the pandemic curfew.
But, like, why now?
First, the Black Lives Matter movement made the whole 'toppling statues of people in history who hurt a lot of people' thing become a thing and indigenous groups feel like 'time has come to talk about this'. But also, there's the whole 'peace agreement between the FARC and the government going wrong' incident that to this day kills a lot of people, mostly from indigenous groups, and the government isn't doing enough to protect them.

Speaking of Black Lives Matter, Breonna Taylor's family got $12 million for the death of their daughter by the police in Louisville, United States. And there will be some police reforms. However, the police officers who shot her aka Brett Hankison, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, have still not been arrested or charged. *Tobe Nwigwe starts to rap*
We have a new prime minister in Japan
Japan's parliament elected Yoshihide Suga as the country's new prime minister
  • Why this matters: You should know about what's going on politically in the world's third-largest economy.
Whatever happened to the guy or woman before him?
First of all, no woman has ever been prime minister of Japan. Second, the previous prime minister Shinzo Abe (who ruled the country for eight years) shocked the country and the world last month when he was like, 'yo, i'm sick, i'm stepping down'.

What does this for Japan?
Suga is BFF with Abe and will probably do whatever Abe wanted to do anyway. His to-do list: protect the Japanese people from the coronavirus, save the economy and find a solution to the very fast ageing society in the country. Oh, and win that general election next year.

Tell me more about Suga
His parents were strawberry farmers aka Suga is very different from the rest of the country's political elite. He's 71 years old and hasn't subscribed to this newsletter yet. But people say he's nonetheless very efficient and practical.
We might have found life on Venus
Scientists said that they discovered signs of what might be life on the planet Venus. 'We found the chemical phosphine in the atmosphere of the planet and we believe that something now alive is the only explanation for this chemical's source,' they said in a pair of papers last week. 
  • Why this matters: Never has anyone said this about Venus. They've focused on Mars, Europa (the moon, duh), Enceladus and other icy moons of the giant planets. *Carl Sagan is like, 'told you so 53 years ago'*
  • Did you know that Venus is called Earth's twin? They're kind of the same size. 
How'd they do it?
Really, really powerful telescopes.

What do other scientists say to this?
Basically, there were three reactions:
  • 'Oh come on. There could be other reasons.'
  • 'Maybe we should have looked more often at this planet... damn it.' and
  • 'This is so f*cking great!!!!'
What's next?
We need to confirm what the scientists think they have discovered. Bring out our telescopes or just send some robots to Venus and keep the lonely Japanese spacecraft Akatsuki some company.
We are spilling dirty secrets of the global financial world
2,657 financial documents were leaked by journalists. This leak is called the FinCEN Files
  • Why this matters: The documents show that a lot of 'dirty' money aka money that is being used to fund terrorism or buy drugs is being laundered through the United Kingdom – at banks regular people like you and I probably use.
Do I have to read all the documents?
No. Basically, they tell the story of how the biggest banks in the world helped terrorists, drug lords and other sc*mbags of humanity move around $2 trillion between 2000 and 2017 and make a tiny profit for themselves and their shareholders.

Why is this leak called FinCEN?
Because the documents were originally submitted to the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.
  • BTW, there is a 5-episode podcast about this. Here's the first episode. Highly recommended.
We are paying attention to the horrible things still happening in the civil war in Syria
Every now and then but regularly, the United Nations Human Rights Council posts a report on what's happening in Syria since the civil war started in 2011. The latest one came out last week. 

Here's what you need to know:
  • Yes, there is less fighting.
  • Yes, there are more and more different 'players' entering the scene.
  • Yes, Turkey is responsible for war crimes happening in the areas it invaded last October and no, they're not stopping it.
  • No, people are still dying. And young girls and women are still being raped. Especially Kurds.
  • No, the international community is not doing nearly enough to help stop this war either.
Why this matters: This is the reason why people flee from Syria: a civil war. This is also the reason they end up and stay in refugee camps in Europe and elsewhere that treats them with little to no respect – in hopes of safety and a life worth living. *looks angrily at European migration policy*

On a funny note

R&B singer Akon is building a 'real-life Wakanda' worth $6 billion in Senegal.

I bet all the streetlights in the city, which he names Akon City, have speakers that only play 'Smack 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 155 others!) or via PayPal.
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