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 Saturday, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Pokemon Got your data
As we all predicted, Pokemon Go has weaponized the dopamine receptors of children in order to produce remotely-controllable data-farming agents. Inevitable from the beginning. Seriously though, read Surveillance Capitalism.
With the moment of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union looming ever closer, attention has turned to how best to wind up the majority of the country who don’t want it. The Brexiteers are determined that one of the most important aspects of the whole sorry charade must be that Big Ben chimes at exactly 11pm on 31st January (the moment we leave), to quote Farage: “If Big Ben doesn’t bong for Brexit, the world will see us as a joke”.
Given that Big Ben is currently undergoing extensive refurbishment work however, installing a temporary floor in the belfry and replacing the bonging mechanism is set to cost £500,000, or roughly £45,000 per bong, which Boris Johnson wants to raise from public donations. Interestingly, Richard Tice, a multi-millionaire Brexiteer with all sorts of questionable business ties, claimed on Radio 4’s Today Programme that the price had somehow been inflated by Remainers. Luckily, we can all look forward to what has been dubbed “the Festival of Brexit” in 2022, which is set to cost we lucky taxpayers just £120m.
The Environment Secretary pledges that legal barriers preventing the import of some of the U.S.’s gnarliest agricultural produce of the sort only heroic deregulation can manifest… that’s right, I’m talking about the chlorinated chicken and hormone fed beef, will remain in place post-Brexit. The whole Brexit programme is one of deregulation so I see no reason to believe this claim.
Chlorinated chicken has become a bit of a hot topic, with senior Government figures like Iain Duncan-Smith taking time from his day to make lengthy, fact-free speeches on the matter. The reality is, as little as 10% of US chicken is treated this way, and its effectiveness is contested, largely depending on whether the study was funded by the chicken industry. But the facts remain that the rate of salmonella infection in the US is around 7 times that of the UK.
A Kick in the Crown Jewels
The relative non-story that is a millennial couple wanting to move out of their Granny’s house and make their own money has been covered to death, but it would be remiss not to call attention to our blinkered Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming that “I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all”, which is of course, total bollocks. Leaving aside the tabloid press’ racial undertones, Markle has objectively been treated like shit as this comparison in coverage to Kate Middleton makes perfectly clear. And let’s not forget when she posted a picture of avocado on toast and the Daily Mail wrote a full page suggesting she was fuelling ‘drought and murder’.
Obligatory White Christmas
A somewhat alternative approach to the Climate Crisis represented by the fake snow on the streets of Moscow. Oh did I say Climate Crisis? There is no crisis… look at the snow.
Oh yeah, the government is also resigning. Not their leader, as might usually occur, but the rest of the government. Putin is rearranging such that he can (continue to) stay in power, since nonchalant whistling as one shuffles from Presidential duties to an essentially indistinguishable set of tasks as Prime Minister is apparently only viable for so long… Sidenote: there’s a word for this, Tandemocracy!
Off the Radar
It was, as expected, confirmed that Iran shot down a commercial jet. A perhaps thought provoking aside on this bleak event: apps and technology exist that enable consumer smartphones to function as flight trackers – just point the phone at the thing in the sky and see the Flight Number and basic details of a commercial airliner. Had those operating the surface to air missiles had similar tooling they might have realized they weren’t shooting at a cruise missile – which, to this apes surprise, fly at similar speeds to passenger planes. While FlightRadar is a Swedish company, one might wonder if U.S. sanctions against “trade and investment” in Iran don’t exactly help modernization (as they enter their 4th decade).
Everything is free now
Email addresses, phone numbers, criminal records and the like are found served up from a Chinese IP address for a modest 56 million U.S. folks. The information appears to have come from Florida based CheckPeople.com. ‘Florida man’ strikes again, perhaps even out-performing this Oregonian contender for the coveted title of most newsworthy-jackass.