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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 Friday, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The UK

Deck the Polls with bales of HorseShit

By the time you read this, it’ll all be over, as the UK went to the polls on Thursday in the first winter General Election in nearly 100 years. As is traditional, the polls have been all over the place, but have edged closer to a hung parliament over the last couple of days (Side note – who do these polls actually ask?! There are myriad such surveys, some claiming samples in the hundreds of thousands, and I’m pretty politically active, but haven’t been polled once!). 

After a campaign that has been very closely stage managed, the last week threw some curve-balls at PM Johnson. If you’re in the UK, you can’t have missed it, but for the benefit of our US friends: our Prime Minister refused to look at a photo of a small child with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on the floor of a hospital (presumably since all the beds were occupied by Boomers), taking the proffered phone from a journalist and hiding it in his pocket. Oh and then there was a wonderful moment where he ran away and tried to hide in a walk-in fridge to avoid an interview with Piers Morgan (which to be fair… it was Piers Morgan).

The Lib Dems have struggled to ever gain traction as their conference pledge to unilaterally revoke Article 50 (i.e. abandon the apparently endless national self-flagellation festival known as Brexit), without a second referendum, went down like a solid-lead turd-balloon even amongst remainers. The result was their leader Jo Swinson losing her seat and resigning.

One small sliver of something approximating a silver lining is Zac Goldsmith losing his seat to the Lib Dems, the aristocrat proper represents a malignant growth on the rear-end of democracy. His campaign against London’s first Muslim Mayor (Sadiq Khan, the one and only) featured this gem of religiously targetted vitriol in the London Standard in which Goldsmith appears to do his absolute best to associate Khan with people who commit random acts of horrific violence for political ends.

So what happens now? Well you’ll know more than me as you read this in the future, but it’s most likely we’ll see the Conservatives win a majority, or else close to it and they will have to try to form a messy coalition, although it’s hard to see who with. And then? Well they have promised to leave the UK ‘do or die’ by the 31st of January. Déjà vu much? Except this time, with a resounding parliamentary majority, it looks like a done deal.

(Update Dec 13th) The New York Times write a headline suggesting the British Currency is doing well… as it rebounds to around the same rate against the dollar it stunningly sank to in the wake of 2016’s referendum (it’s still a good 10% or so below pre Brexshit levels) result to leave the EU, as though anyone knew what that meant, or do now.

Labour had their worst result since 1935, symbolically – a time before the NHS existed (founded in 1948). A grim omen indeed for one of the greatest institutions in history.

Failure to (obstruct) Launch

I would like to know though if our dear friends at Extinction Rebellion tried to glue themselves to the private jet Johnson has been using on the campaign trail, just as they glued themselves to the Lib Dems electric battle bus. Thanks guys.

Labour of Loss

Watch this space for thoroughly scathing criticism of all those involved in this torturous continued failure of politics, across parties, ideologies and personalities. For now, please satisfy yourselves with this summary of how Labour completely shat the bed:

“[Corbyn] stood for leader, and the membership [of the Labour Party]—battered by two election defeats and tired of making accommodations with Conservative austerity policies—swept behind him. He triumphed without having the support of the party’s institutions, the trade unions that fund it, or the majority of its members of Parliament.”

And one more

“The Conservative Party did everything it could to hand an election victory to Labour. It gestated Brexit in its womb and then failed to deliver it. It presided over ten years of austerity that strained public services to breaking point. It promoted fanatics while expelling first-raters. Yet Labour has managed its fourth loss in a row and its second under Jeremy Corbyn, and not just any old loss.”

The US

Pigeon Wrangler in Chief

Somebody has been gluing tiny cowboy hats on pigeons’ heads in Las Vegas. I’ve never been to Vegas, but this is exactly the sort of west shit I would expect from the city that lent its title to Fear and Loathing. Whilst on the one hand, it’s clearly pretty callous animal abuse, on the other it’s pigeons with hats on. Awesome. And let’s be honest, I have a little respect for whoever achieved the remarkable task of wrangling pigeons and getting hats on their heads.

The World

Liquid Gold

It says quite something about the international community’s intentions to tackle climate change that the world’s single largest contributor to the disaster just became the world’s most valuable company. Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state oil-producer, floated at a valuation of $1.9tn before touching $2tn as investors clamoured to get a piece of the action. This feeds nicely into my deep-set nihilism regarding the human race’s ability to take action on the climate.

Return to the Motherland

The first peace talks are held regarding the now half a decade old war in Ukraine. France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia had their leader’s sit down for a chin-wag about the unfortunate accidents happening to befall Ukraine’s territory. Ahead of the optimistic attempts to turn the temperature down on the war (which has killed over 10,000 people) both sides agreed to withdraw 1km back from their previous front-line positions. The rebels, ‘little green men’, or Russian soldiers (sans insignia) – depending on one’s likelihood of being killed for telling it like it is – don’t exactly have a habit of playing by the typical rules of engagement. Zelensky, Ukraine’s politically juvenile President (some 6 months into his 5 year term), is earning some criticism for not negotiating very well with the Russian Bear.

This is one of those stories which simulates ego-death as one feels the world is dissolving into itself around them:

Zelensky created and starred in a satirical TV series in which he plays the President of the Ukraine. Zelensky… this show aired from 2016 to (March) 2019… Zelensky became President in May 2019.

Ash Your Service

The Kiwi’s have tasked their military with a daring operation to retrieve the bodies of eight tourists from the White Island Volcano following it’s eruption. The operation is fraught with challenges, from the coating of ash obscuring the landscape to the very real possibility of another eruption. The Volcano has erupted several times over the years. For a master class in elegantly fielding remarkably stupid and tactless questions from a journalist – see this helicopter pilot who helped rescue folks from the White Island Volcano as it was erupting visibly battle with the recent tragedy.


Thanks for reading! We’ll be back next week, get in touch with the authors Will Marshall and Alistair Simmonds on Twitter and let us know what you did and didn’t like.

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