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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 weekend, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Cloudy with a chance of Iguanas
Easily the tweet of the week.
Until last week you might vaguely recognize a picture of the actor Lawrence Fox as a television actor you saw in a trailer for something you weren’t going to watch, now though he has shot to infamy as the premier voice in the UK railing against the ‘wokeists’. The row first broke out on Question Time as Fox clashed with an audience member over whether media treatment of Meghan Markle was racist (see WJH last week). TL;DR: Fox claimed it wasn’t, the audience member (a university lecturer on race and ethnicity) claimed it was, audience member put his opinion down to being a “white, privileged male”, Fox calls her racist.
Fox is of course entitled to his opinion, and shouldn’t be shot down just for being white and privileged, but… it is challenging to see how a white, wealthy, male actor (from a family who are all in the media) knows more about racism than a black, female academic specializing in race and ethnicity.
Even more alarming was the audience reaction to Fox’s comments, and the response afterwards which has seen Fox take the bull by the horns and try to insult as many groups as possible. Prime examples include complaining that black and working class actors only complain about inequality after they become famous (perhaps having something to do with only then having a platform), and complaining of the inclusion of a Sikh actor in Sam Mendes’ WWI epic 1917 as: “kind of racist”. Fox claimed: “…which is great, it’s brilliant, but you’re suddenly aware there were Sikhs fighting in this war. And you’re like “ok”. You’re now diverting me away from what the story is.” For the record: one in six British soldier in WWI were from the Indian sub-continent, of which 20% were Sikh (about 3% of the British Army overall).
If you want to hear something absolutely, truly awful though, just have a listen to Fox performing a song from his recent album (caution is advised, wear hearing protection and do not drive or operate heavy machinery whilst listening, as the sound will force you to find the nearest bridge and drive over the edge to make it stop).
Life of Terry
Wednesday saw the tragic loss of one of the true greats from the world of comedy as Terry Jones passed away at the age of 77. The legendary writer and director helped revolutionize comedy and satire with groundbreaking film and television like Life of Brian, The Holy Grail and And Now for Something Completely Different. But let’s face it, you have true immortality as the person with the infamous line: “He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!”.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, allegedly sent Jeff Bezos malware via Whatsapp. While it’s hard to overshadow the medieval-style dispossession of a Washington Post journalist of his earthly body, it does suggest such fantastically subversive behaviour is potentially commonplace. Jamal Khashoggi worked for the Washington Post, which Bezos bought in 2013 for $250 million in cash (presumably to ensure that the order-fulfillment robots have something worth reading in the warehouses and offer Jeff better conversation than they’re currently able to muster – as they are intellectually sustained on nothing more than miscellaneous snippets of whatever you said in front of Alexa).
It would be a Crime to Forget
Myriad world leaders arrive in Jerusalem for the 75th anniversary of the arrival of Red Army troops at Auschwitz. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is taking a break from trying to delay his corruption trial by calling for sanctions against the International Criminal Court. Netanyahu has certainly taken the Trumpian playbook to heart – mocking folks with speech impediments and decrying the ICC for the travesty of investigating war crimes against the Palestinians.
Poland and Lithuania, meanwhile, have got the hump and are staying at home. The move comes over a war of words between Poland and Russia over whether the Polish state was complicit in causing WWII, whilst President Putin has been invited to speak and Polish leader Andrzej Duda has not.
Here’s a video of Emmanuel Macron berating a security guard and telling him to get out of the (technically French) 12th century Church of Saint Anne.
No sooner than 2020 had seen a couple of weeks pass Hilary Clinton is doing her best to undermine her political allies – Kissinger would be proud Hilary, nice one. Here’s a spot-on excerpt from The Hill’s coverage of this neurotic smack-talking from the person who threw the election to a reality TV star:
“You feel like looking Hillary square in the eye and asking, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ ” said one Democrat who has worked on presidential campaigns. “Donald Trump is president. Bernie on a bad day would be better than Trump on his best day. We need to win.”
All Looking Peachy
The impeachment trial of Donald John Trump has finally got underway in the Senate, with a great sense of pointlessness about the whole thing as votes continue to go straight down party lines, 53 to 47, on everything. Republicans have refused to allow further evidence to be considered whilst Democrats have refused the offer of a ‘witness swap’ whereby John Bolton would be called to testify if Hunter Biden also took the stand.
Trump meanwhile, seems to think it’s all a bit of a giggle, goading the Democrats: “Well things are going very well, we have all the information, and they have none of it.” Of more importance though is the turning tide of public opinion, with 51% of Americans supporting Trump’s removal from office, whilst 63% believe he has ‘probably or definitely broken the law whilst in office’.
A bunch of scared white men gathered in Virginia with their dual-function machines of overcompensation and death. Ostensibly they were protecting the U.S. constitutional amendment ensuring the right to bear arms, as it was coming under *unbearable* assault in the form of common sense gun regulations. Such as only being able to buy one handgun per month (but what about those of us with two hands!?), banning guns from certain public events (but what about my duty to protect the community picnic?!) and ‘red flag laws’ which allow temporary confiscation of guns from those deemed dangerous to themselves and/or others (~22,000 people will kill themselves with guns in the U.S. this year).
Virginia arrested some actual Nazis and declared a state of emergency. Intriguingly, the founder and leader of the online cesspit of hatred and bigotry that nurtured these fine prospective domestic terrorists lives in Russia now. One can’t help but wonder if this is an extension of the well established practice of funding and resourcing agents to sow dissent and motivate civil unrest, to put it extremely mildy.
An aside here, standard partisan tropes come to blind us. Some folks are so ready to attack those they disagree with that they skip right over the details of the story (the actual Nazis portion) and attack left-wingers for labeling everyone they disagree with as fascists. That’s a valid criticism. It’s also totally besides the point while the FBI are arresting actual Nazis.
Edit: We previously incorrectly stated that one in five British soldiers in WWI were Sikh, which we thought sounded high, but that’s what happens when you rush…