This post has been migrated from our original Medium page and was first published on 23/10/19.
Welcome back to this week’s installment of the all-new 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.
Nothing meaningful has really happened in the UK, except Brexit, for oh so long now, and this week was an endlessly tedious parade of bullshit that at any other time might be fascinating, but it’s just so damned wearing! There is a school of thought emerging that this is a deliberate tactic in order to bore the electorate (and parliament) into favouring a rubbish withdrawal agreement, and shockingly, it just might work!
Parliament sat on Saturday for the first time since the Falklands to hear the motion on the ‘new’ Brexit deal Boris has brokered with the EU… Except they didn’t; the Letwin amendment passed, meaning Parliament would not vote on the deal until they had scrutinised the Withdrawal Act, forcing Boris’ hand in requesting an extension as demanded by the Benn act. Boris of course had a temper tantrum, withdrew the motion to approve his deal, and ‘frustrated the law’ by sending the request for an extension to the EU, unsigned, alongside two other signed letters outlining how his Government disagreed with itself. The EU more or less responded by saying “mon dieu, sort your shit out, we’re not doing anything for a few days”.
Meanwhile (the story rises to a fever pitch) the million People’s Vote marchers (or thousands or 2.2 million depending which newspaper you read) outside parliament let out a defiant roar that could be heard inside parliament. Then as the Tories were sent home by the party whips, a handful of Brexiteers shunned the ministerial cars they had arrived at Parliament in in order to let those bloody traitorous, left-wing, anti-democratic scum shout at bit at them as they used about a dozen police each to walk through the crowd, in order to demonstrate the dreadful ‘abuse’ they receive. (I will admit the heckling towards Rees-Mogg in front of his 12 year old was probably a bit much, but maybe just don’t walk through a crowd of people you have repeatedly called traitors for wanting a second referendum (as moggy previously did) with your child??)
MPs were then given the 110 page Withdrawal Act to scrutinise in full overnight on Monday, which many previously supportive members baulked at, refusing to be strong-armed. Whilst the depths of the impact on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK continue to be realised, and the Government refuses to conduct an economic impact assessment, continually eroding the PMs chance of passing the bill.
TL;DR Brexit is a bloody disastrous mess, and virtually anything could happen, even between writing this and it being published. All bets are truly off!
Extinction Rebellion have made a good shot at making themselves extinct as public patience begins to wear thin. A hardcore faction of the group truly shat the bed by disrupting a tube station at rush hour in a solidly working class part of London, causing a collosal erosion of sympathy. The loosely defined collective has little in the way of centralised leadership, meaning control of the narrative has been tricky to wrestle back. For a closer look, read Will’s article from last week.
Members of the Stormont Assembly tried to sit for the first time in 3 years on Monday in order to block changes set out by the UK that would decriminalise abortion in Northern Ireland and extend gay marriage rights. Sitting was suspended after less than an hour after agreement on a new speaker became impossible, meaning the historic changes will pass into law.
My favourite part of this particular item of not-really-news-by-this-point is the tone of the analyst being forced to chime in on it… with the concluding line ‘Mr Trump will push ahead with this plan, regardless of the howls of outrage from his critics — as he has time and time again during his presidency.’ #WeAreAllAnthonyZurcher
Continuing this week’s diary of the innocents — there is nothing quite like bending to valid criticism to back up one’s claim that… the criticism is needless hostility… The G7 meeting will no longer plan to use a Trump resort for the next big event.
Breaching custom in virulently and relentlessly refusing to show anyone the books might seem like an advisable strategy when the alternative is to show the public you’ve been keeping multiple versions of the truth as Trump has — which is a pretty awesome euphemism for fraud.
A story of two judges being shot outside a fast-food chain perfectly demonstrates why America can’t just have casual street brawls.
Madrid’s annual Fiesta de la Trashumancia, literally translated as ‘Day of the Wool’, saw thousands of majestic sheep stride boldly through the Capital. A demonstration which, I’m sure, reassures the Catalonians that the rest of the country is getting down to business.
Don’t build it and they will come… WeWork’s co-founder Adam Neumann joins the recent executive exodus as the company looks set to run out of money by the end of year. Instead of bowing out with an earned sense of having fantastically failed to produce a viable business, he will enjoy a close to $2 billion benefit for the invaluable service of failing to assure that staff and office spaces will have the necessary funds available to keep operating.
Operation Peace Spring…really?! At least Shock and Awe said what it was on the face of it. ‘We’ll stop killing the Kurds for a few days, and onwards so long as they disappear’.
It looked more than a little shaky as Justin Trudeau clung onto power in Canada despite losing his majority. Despite a handful of apparent successes, such as legalising weed, Trudeau is seen by many as the shiny veneer of a pretty ineffective government, marred by ethics scandals, oil pipelines and of course, every politician’s fatal flaw: repeatedly dressing up in black-face. Also, here’s a clip of Justin falling down stairs in an attempt to demonstrate some sort of a party trick…
Wait, is it April?? Nope, the Vatican has genuinely launched an ‘eRosary’. The $109 gadget works with a companion app, tracking a user’s prayer progress when activated by the motion of making a cross. This isn’t the first time the Catholic church has tried to get down with the kids: in 2018 it launched ‘FollowJCGo!’ off the back of the Pokemon game, in which instead of catching Pokemon, you capture saints. Don’t know how that one slipped by me.
Chile finds its major cities under a state of emergency as the military take control and impose ever earlier curfews; this is in response to escalating unrest following cost of living protests. Bands of yellow-vest donning individuals are acting as protectors of local businesses from further looting and/or total destruction. Not least because Piñera has asserted ‘We are at war’, it is dubious that the peaceful protesters adopting this season’s French protest attire will receive the same, admittedly far shy of ideal, protections of their lives and rights throughout the process of taking issue with the state of their state. While the ‘official’ death toll sits at 15 (as WJH go to press) the Chilean Institute for Human Rights count 84 people injured by firearms.
The Royal Consort of the Thai Palacehas been stripped of her previously adorned military titles and perhaps much more importantly the King has taken direct control of two prominent military groups in Bangkok. Due to some of the strongest lese-majeste laws in the world and a potential future where I might want to visit Thailand again, I’m going to leave it there.
Once upon a time in Facebooklandia hate speech was just a fact of the world and taking responsibility for (accidentally?) becoming a dangerously concentrated source of news for hundreds of millions of people was something Zuck didn’t care for. Here’s an excellent tweet from MLK’s daughter on the topic and how such irresponsible proliferation of information was prevalent, to say the least, leading up to her father’s assassination.