what happened last week (whlw) | Subscribe

whlw: no. 242

October 26 – November 1, 2020

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

Yes, tomorrow is the election of the year – the presidential election in the
United States. A quick reminder that there other important elections taking place right now – such as the one in Moldova, Tanzania or Ivory Coast. But more on the last two later.

Also, 'congratulations' to Jack Ma who will probably become the richest man in
China after what happened on the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges last week. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, the Chinese financial technology company Ant Group made its debut there and became a public company. It was estimated to be worth $34.4 billion (more than Saudi Aramco!!). And Jack Ma's company backed the debut. I think you have an idea what that means.

Do you like whlw? Feel free to support me on
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Now without further ado, here's what happened last week,

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what happened last week

We decided we want to write better rules for everyone in Chile
Last week, on October 25, the citizens in Chile (with 79 percent of the vote) decided that they want to write their own constitution from now on. Why are they frustrated?
A lot of inequality. This is why,
almost one year ago, on October 14, 2019, people in Chile started mass protests that soon shook up the entire nation. People were like, 'we deserve better lives and opportunities. We need to change the way this country distributes wealth'. They demanded the rules to be rewritten aka a new constitution. Fast forward to today.

What's wrong with the constitution today?
So much. Chile’s now-constitution was written way back when a military dictator named Augusto Pinochet ruled the South American country from 1973 to 1990. It basically made politics really slow; voters didn't have much of a say.

And for a while, the 'slow politics effect' was kind of 'OK' in a way (it really wasn't but you get the deal) because Chile's economy was booming. The poor became a bit less poor, but the rich got richer. So much so that, today, the richest 10 percent of Chileans get almost 40 percent of the country's income. This small country of around 19 million people is even more unequal than the
United States.

Now, people are like, 'we think it's time we set new rules as to how this country is being run.'

For my German readers: I talked about this with Katrin Rönicke and Holger Klein in my weekly column in the podcast Die Wochendämmerung.
We now allow sick people to die if they wanted to
New Zealand decided to legalize euthanasia by November 2021.

Why this matters: Only few other countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Luxembourg and Canada allow this. 

Tell me more
The law basically gives people who have less than six months the opportunity to choose 'assisted dying if two doctors agree to it'.

Why now? 
It's kind of a love story. Matt Vickers wanted to finish what his wife Lecretia Seales started before she died five years ago. She, too, wanted to die (read: end the suffering) after she was diagnosed with brain tumour, got a lawyer to fight for permission and never got it. Her husband
wrote a book about her. 'Other ill people should have the choice that she was denied,' he says. What do people say against this new law?
There was a lot of support for this law but, as with everything, there's also The Other Side. They say things like, 'well, this is just going to make people want to kill themselves' or 'what about people with chronic conditions? We're worried that they'll want to use euthanasia so they can stop being a burden on their families. We can't allow that.'

What do you think?
I will never understand why this isn't legal in every country. Death with dignity should be a human right. Change my mind. Reply to this mail if you disagree.

What's next?
There was also a referendum on cannabis. New Zealand asked its citizens, 'hey do you want to be able to smoke weed without us putting you in jail for it?'. So far, around 53% said no. But this might change by November 6 because not all votes have been counted yet.
We are in the middle of a very exciting election in Tanzania
Tanzania is going through a lot right now. There was a presidential and a parliamentary election last week and the results are, well, not clear to anybody.
  • Why this matters: 60 million people live here. Tanzania is East Africa's third-largest economy. Also, most people living in this country are under the age of 25.
  • Do you know where Tanzania is? Don't worry. Train your African geography skills here.
What's going on in Tanzania?
Well, there's John Magufuli. He's been the country's president for five years now. And apparently, he won the election again – or that's what the country's National Electoral Commission aka the people who count the votes said. But the other candidates said, 'nope, they're making fun of democracy.
We demand fresh elections as soon as possible.' The United States embassy there is like, 'We think they're right. The whole election seemed rigged.'

What kind of president has John Magufuli been so far?

Depends on who you ask. His political enemies say, 'he doesn't allow anyone to criticize him (You should have heard about journalist Erick Kabendera.) and shuts down media.' One of the other candidates Tundu Lissu was shot 17 times in 2017. Nobody knows who did it and why. The government is like, 'nope, it wasn't me.' To be continued.
  • Do you have Spotify? Ever listened to Tanzanian music? (Also, never call it 'Tanzanian music'. It's called Bongo Flava.) Here's a Spotfiy playlist I have on repeat when I'm in the mood to shake off pandemic anxiety. 
  • Btw, pop stars in Tanzania are also pretty political. Like Diamond Platnumz who remixed his popular song 'Baba Lao' (Swahili for 'being on top of everything', watch the video below) to 'Magafuli Baba Lao'.
Meanwhile on the African continent
The situation in Ivory Coast isn't looking too good. There is a very controversial presidential election going on right now – so controversial that since August, at least 14 people have been killed in protests after the current president Alassane Outtara said, 'I'm going to run for president again.' (At the time I am writing this newsletter, nobody knows who's won.)
We treated the LGBTQ+ community in Taiwan, Nigeria and the Philippines better
It was a great week for LGBTQ+ rights worldwide.

First, there was
Taiwan... Its military organizes mass weddings every year and last week, for the very first time, gay couples took part. Then, around 130,000 people marched at a pride parade in the city of Taipei – one of the world's biggest gay parades this year.
  • Why this matters: Taiwan is the only place in Asia where gay marriages are legal. Some 4,000 gay couples have married since Taiwan made it legal last year.
Then, a court in Nigeria decided to free 47 men who were accused of 'showing affection to members of the same sex' at a hotel in 2018 'because there just wasn't enough proof they did it.'
  • Why this matters: Being gay is a crime in many socially conservative African societies. If they had been found guilty, 47 men would have gone to jail for up to 14 years... because they showed love to their partners publically.
Then, the capital of the Philippines, Manila made it illegal to discriminate against people just because they have a certain sexual orientation or gender identity. They decided to start building neutral toilets, too. And – you won't believe it but – president Rodrigo Duterte is even in favor of same-sex marriage. 
  • Why this matters: The Philippines is Asia's largest Catholic (a religion with a lot of followers; most of them think gay people aren't normal people) nation. Around 2 million people live in Manila.
Not to mention that The Vatican's Pope Francis (the head of the Catholic Church aka the man millions of people worldwide listen to when it comes to moral opinions) said that gay people are normal people (duh.) and they, too, deserve to be in a relationship if they wanted to. Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro was like, 'I think he's right. Let's legalize it!'. Chile is already on it
  • Why this matters: The LGBTQ+ community has very few rights in Venezuela. Very few. Legalizing same-sex marriages would be huge. Also, this is a very big step for the Catholic Church, too.
We (almost half a million people) are trying to change a ban on almost all abortions in Poland
Last week, around 430,000 people came together in 410 protests across Poland to show their anger at the country's decision to ban almost all abortions on October 22. The hashtag #ThisIsWar is trending on Twitter because of this ban and Tiktok teens have been creating protest music videos like these.
  • Why this matters: This is Poland's biggest protest in decades. And here, you already have some of the strictest abortion laws in all of Europe.
Tell me more about the ban
Right now, women are allowed to have an abortion in Poland if the pregnancy threatened the mother's life and health, or if a woman became pregnant because of rape or incest.
(Trigger warning: Death.)
We need to talk about the refugees in the Mediterranean
It's still very dangerous for refugees to look for safety in Europe. Last week, at least 140 people died when their boat carrying 200 people to the Canary Islands, Spain caught fire and then capsized off the coast of Saint-Louis, Senegal. The International Organization for Migration said this is the deadliest shipwreck this year.

In the same week, another four boats capsized, killing at least 31 in the Mediterranean off Libya as well as another in the English Channel off Britain, killing five people, including a family of four with small children of five and eight years old. And another one that's still missing.
We (re)discovered a really rare chameleon in Madagascar, a taller-than-life reef in Australia and water on the Moon
Scientists found things in nature and space last week that we didn't know (still) existed until today.

In Madagascar, we found a chameleon that we saw way back 100 years ago. If you want to feel like a scientist for a quick minute, here's the chameleon that forever won Hide and Seek.

In Australia, we discovered a reef structure in the Great Barrier Reef that is 500 m (1,600 ft)-tall; that's like taller than the Empire State Building. We've never seen anything like it in this part of the world since the 1800s. 

On the Moon, we finally found water in places we never ever thought we would. How? Her name is SOFIA, short for the United States space agency NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. When it first looked at the side of the moon where the sun was shining, it found – against all odds – water. Before last week, we thought water only exists in the dark corners of the Moon. 'Now, we think maybe we've been looking in the wrong places.' *Rihanna starts singing 'We found love in a hopeless place' in the background*

On a funny note

I couldn't decide what was funnier.... this picture of United States president Donald Trump on Halloween or the fact that someone (we don't know who) bought an ancient Roman coin for $3.5 million because on it, it features a portrait of one of the men who killed Julius Caesar. Like Indiana Jones said, that belongs to a museum.
The end,
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