This post has been migrated from our original Medium page and was first published on 27/09/19.
Welcome back to the second installment of the all-new weekly What Just Happened?!, a semi-comical weekly digest of the most important news from the UK, US and the World from myself, Will Marshall, and Alistair Simmonds-Yoo. Look out for us every Wednesday, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Apologies we’re a bit late this week, Ali is up a mountain and I’m editing this in Atlanta airport, with groggy jet-lagged eyes! — WM
BoZo has been forced to make an embarrassing backtrack as the historic Supreme Court case found unanimously against his reasons for proroguing (still not in my iPad’s dictionary, still autocorrects to ‘pro getting’). They stopped short of actually calling him a philandering, scumbag liar, but you could see the truth in their eyes. Parliament automatically resumed on Wednesday morning, having technically never been dissolved, along with all the dropped legislation.
What followed has been been described as “a dark day for parliament”, as BoZo refusing to apologise, said the Supreme Court were wrong, called politicians’ pleas to temper his violent language to stave off death threats “humbug”, and wrapped the shit-sandwich by insulting the memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox. Pretty humdrum day by current standards.
In a potentially refreshing reminder of the valuable role journalists can play in holding power to account the UK government is investigating some ~£100,000 of public funds allocated to an entrepreneur for reasons that have, at least, not been very well communicated thus far. The Times published an exclusive, behind a damn paywall I might add, alleging that a person (who is an ex-model) described BoZo as ‘one of her best friends’ and was given privileged access to trade missions, plenty of money while nobody decided a report on a potential conflict of interest was appropriate. Honestly, at this point, I’m tempted to say that the less public funds in the hands of our (as of late) consistently not-actually-elected representatives the better. While it’s also probably fair to remark that individuals aren’t generally very good at keeping tabs on their own… corruption. Seems like there ought be some kind of watchdog for this, perhaps one built into the Civil Service with teeth sufficiently hardened to call this sort of thing to attention as it happens, but where would the fun be in that story?
One can be hard pressed to remember such concepts as ‘International cooperation’ during the present onslaught of populism and utter self-interest writ upon many national psyches, though it’s still very much a thing — like it or not Middle England. On Friday Polarstern embarked for a year long survey of the Arctic. The €130 million project, surely an epicly conservative estimate, goes by the moniker MOSAiC — which, naturally, stands for — Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of [the] Arctic Climate. Polarstern departed from Norway and will be escorted by a 16,000 tonne behemoth of a soviet era icebreaker (the Akademik Fedorov) which is, of course, still chugging along and making the motherland proud. The Chinese and Swedes will also be providing support in the form of showing the Arctic Ice who is boss by smashing it to pieces with massive fossil-fuel powered ships — ah the march of progress — I love the smell of oil covered Polar Bears in the morning. Wokeness aside, I’m thrilled to hear about 100’s of researchers from 19 countries working together to figure out just how severely we’re disturbing the Arctic’s delicate environment.
The Democratic Party seem to think they finally have some solid evidence of ‘treasonous acts’ by President Trump as they launch an impeachment inquiry. It all centres on a phone call between Trump and the President of Ukraine which the White House has tried damn hard to bury. A whistleblower alleged the President was attempting to have the Ukrainians launch an investigation into Joe Biden (a likely Democrat presidential nominee) and his son Hunter, relating to Biden (alongside with other western states) trying to remove a prosecutor when he was VP because of his lax take on corruption. The now-released transcript seems to show Trump attempting to withhold $400m of international aid to Ukraine until they launched a public investigation.
The whole thing can only be described as an almighty-shitshow, the behaviour of the Bidens may be questionable, but Trump’s attempt to involve a foreign power in mudslinging against a political opponent could prove fatal, along with the damning evidence of an apparent cover-up. Just hours ago, Rudy Giuliani (Trump’s personal lawyer) waded in to the bog, screaming down the phone how he will “be remembered as a hero” and going on to claim he has text messages that will clear his name… of what, we’re yet to find out.
Only a few people turned up in Rachel, Nevada to make a nuisance of themselves in search of Aliens (surely less than 1% of those searching for aliens and irritating their family and friends in the process — “Stan the neighbours are definitely going to report you again if you keep hanging around in the garden with those night vision goggles yelling about the crop circles”). The low turnout probably doesn’t have a lot to do with this remarkable tweet from the ‘Defense Visual Information Distribution Service’ suggesting that the young-folks will be met with an aerial bombing campaign should they cross the line, although the underlying message was no doubt felt.