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.
Into the Boris Glass
Let’s be honest, it was never just going to be ‘business as usual’ with Britain’s answer to Trump now well-established with a ‘legitimate’ (on this more below) mandate at the helm of the sinking ship Britannia. Parliament hadn’t even reopened and we’d already seen Nicky Morgan made a ‘life peer’ so that she can serve as a Cabinet Minister despite not being an MP, and Boris forcing his most enthusiastic lackeys to chant his (well-debunked) lies to the cameras.
Early legislative moves by Johnson are set to include a £33bn boost for the NHS, and more alarmingly, amendments to the Brexit Withdrawal Bill to make any extension of the implementation period past the end of 2020. Combined with virtually everybody claiming that a comprehensive trade deal with the EU is impossible in the time frame, it makes a no-deal Brexit look frighteningly likely once again.
The election results have fueled fresh calls (as come every election) for electoral reform. The scale of the ineffectiveness of ‘first past the post’ becomes apparent when you consider how many votes each party had to get for each seat, and Labour’s wipe-out suddenly looks a lot less severe.
Zac Goldsmith, who we’ve met (before), is granted a peerage (‘That’s Lord “malignant growth on the rear end of democracy” to you!’) such that he can keep his position in government (as minister of the Environment and International Development, which he is doing about this well with) despite losing his seat in the election by ~8,000 votes to the Liberal Democrats. Similarly horrifying and yet somehow less ominous – here’s a fantastic review of that scary new movie, Cats.
In Soviet Russia, land sail boat
An old Russian cargo ship that ran aground in Cornwall a year ago, has been moored to a buoy nearby for the past year as people figure out what to do with it. Naturally, a Singaporean firm has bought the ship for just north of $1 million. This follows her being arrested by the admiralty on account of her owner’s debts. The old hammer and cycle of the soviet flag are visible underneath the firms logo, a painted on Polar Bear.
The Greatest. Impeachment. Ever. Nobody else does impeachments as good as Trump does
The seemingly inevitable impeachment of President Donald J. Trump was met globally by more of a resigned sigh than celebration. Becoming the 3rd president to ever be impeached is certainly a black eye for Trump (and clearly pissed him right-off) but the incredibly partisan process [c.f. This video of a republican comparing Trump’s plight to that of Jesus Christ himself] will undoubtedly see him acquitted by the Republican-led Senate. If this was the case after a long and involved trial it would be more acceptable, but the total lack of interest in justice or process is pretty shocking.
More shocking was Trump’s 6-page diatribe addressed to Nancy Pelosi, signed off in Sharpie, in which he has what can only be described as an extended, written temper-tantrum.
Andrew Yang offers a respite of sanity, when asked about the perceived inability of U.S. citizens to agree about impeaching Drumpf, observing that “we’re getting our news from different sources”.
Do Androids dream of electric memes?
The president of the United States is busy retweeting old crap from (likely bot augmented) troll-accounts… Meanwhile, the dude who built Indonesia OneSearch (which is essentially Google for public information, as might have been, hence, confined to Universities and Libraries – yeah, you know the one….) is now developing Software for tracing misinformation campaigns to their sources and measuring their impact.
Sometimes the Earth itself moves faster (as in the collapse of this volcano into the sea causing a Tsunami in 2018, see this visualization based on new data) than internationally cooperative policy.
The UN climate talks stall and yield lukewarm results. A pretty descriptive metaphor for the consensus of those nations in attendance is helpfully presented by the hundreds of climate activists kicked out of the event for staging a sit in.
Always look on the bright side of life (du doo, du doo du doo du doo)
It’s incredibly easy to get sucked head-first into the shite-wind, but hidden amongst all the nonsense of the last year, plenty of great stuff happened. Things like Ethiopia planting 353 million trees in 12 hours and Taiwan becoming the first Asian country to make gay marriage legal make Future Crunch’s list of 99 Good News Stories You Probably Missed.
Here’s a Mighty Boosh sketch come alive.