This post has been migrated from our original Medium page and was first published on 16/10/19.
Welcome back to this week’s installment of What Just Happened?!, a semi-comical weekly digest of the most important news from the UK, US and the World from Will Marshall, and Alistair Simmonds-Yoo. Look out for us every Wednesday, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
The Met Police finally got so pissed off with the Extinction rebellion protests that they decided to violate the right to peaceful and lawful protest. The Met cleared Trafalgar Square as they declared a London-wide ban. The force cited “continued breaches” of the conditions placed on the protest. A fast-tracked judicial review is likely to follow in the next couple of days, but it does all seem a bit heavy-handed and Hong-Kong-ish. (To play devil’s advocate for a moment, perhaps climbing on top of an aircraft at an active airport, or losing control of a fire engine pumping red liquid counted towards “continued breaches”. Certain acts that endanger the public and emergency services, whilst lauded by the protesters, seem hard to defend. Seriously, an out-of-control fire hose will writhe around like a 5-tonne snake until it knocks you the f*ck down.)
To demonstrate how post-Brexit Britain will be such a powerful empire, Dominic Raab has suspended future export licenses for weapons that Turkey might use in Syria. So basically, we’ll think about maybe not selling the Turkish government guns unless they pinky-promise not to use them to liberate Kurds of their lives (dark). Almost as much of a facade as Turkey’s excuse of creating a “safe-zone” in Syria.
An interlude from the U.S.:
All this while Trump has screwed over his erstwhile Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS (just when he needs Republican support to stave off impeachment). The whole thing is a colossal shit-sandwich and should genuinely worry us all. Exemplified by our having to consider the following: What’s more effective at preventing genocide? An allied military presence, sanctions, Mike Pence’s empty reassurance that this isn’t a green light for an invasion while he vaguely considers traveling to the region upon a convenient moment… or Mother Russia’s intervention?
Back to Britain:
In ever-so-slightly less important news, a mother this week used the voice search on her Sky box to search for ‘Bourne Movies’ and got ‘Porn Movies’. There’s no deeper meaning here, it’s just pretty funny. And lets not forget that all of the Bourne movies were rated 12, and her son was but 10, so is the Sky Box really the criminal here??
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, held by the Natural History Museum in London, awards another winner. The philosophical message behind the winning image is clear: ‘nature, like a fox in the Chinese mountains, is wile and conspiring to eat you’. The photo exhibit is worth seeing and usually includes some impressive photo documentary work (in addition to the many visually stunning images of wildlife) highlighting some of the world’s most pressing conservation challenges.
Focusing for a moment on the height of scientific achievement in this most advanced of ages… turns out painting cows to look like zebras stops them getting bitten. Amazingly, the cost of fly bites to the cattle industry in the US alone is around $2.2bn a year. Japanese researchers discovered painting white stripes on dark cows reduced the bites by around 50%.
Homage to Catalonia’s Protestors and Leaders… The leaders of the year-before-lasts’ independence referendum (aiming to offer Catalans a future without Spain) have been tried in the courts of Spain. The members of government are being given lengthy (decade-ish) prison sentences, as are the grassroots activists heavily involved in the initiative. The Spanish state want the ~7 million Catalans to continue acting as an essential life force of the state (since the ~16% of Spaniards who are Catalans contribute ~26% of Spanish GDP) and have opted for a route to achieve this rather becoming of a country with a history of fascism… as opposed to one of democracy and cooperation. Nothing says unity under a benevolent state like images of riot police beating sitting protestors.