Featured Image Source: CNN

Since absolutely nothing has happened so far in 2021 we’re deciding to just publish a blank newsletter, see you later folks. 

 Is what we would be saying, if we weren’t already off to a rip roaring start to the current (optimistically) less-Rona defined loop around our local star… Here are some of the interesting, novel and downright crazy things we noticed people noticing this week.

The World

Hollowed Out Institutions

*Scene* You’ve just parked your car on your way into work, as you stroll towards across the pavement a hole in the ground appears and grows until it’s 50 metres across and 15 metres deep. 

A massive sinkhole appeared out of nowhere in Naples adjacent to a hospital which then lost power before it’s emergency generators kicked in. While WJH is not capable of pointing to the Napolitano gangsters directly responsibly, because there’s only an (approximately) 70% chance they exist, we will observe the ongoing urgent need for investment in Italian infrastructure. As was evidenced by the collapse of a 200 metre section of the Genoa bridge in 2018 which killed 43 people and would cost $98 million to demolish the remaining portion. In a welcome cause for optimism, said bridge has already been replaced. $220 million has been spent on reconstructing a much sturdier (i.e. the appropriate amount of metal rather than just concrete – we exaggerate slightly but not egregious) kilometer long bridge sitting 45 metres above the valley. Pretty epic stuff. 

Orange Notice

As a consequence of the US assasination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Soleimani in January of last year, Iran has rather optimistically filed an arrest warrant with Interpol for no other than Donald J. Trump. The request will almost definitely be denied as a similar request was in June. Wouldn’t it be entertaining though to see Trump extradited to Iran?

DR Feelgood

The Danish public broadcaster DR has come under fire for its new children’s television show about a man with an extraordinarily long and uncontrollable penis. John Dillerman (literally John Penisman) gets himself in all manner of scrapes at the behest of his tool and works to put them right.

Perhaps understandably, the show is proving somewhat controversial. Many see the show as grossly unsuitable for children, whilst others argue that the story of a man who finds himself out of control at the hands of his member but who always works to correct the situation could, perhaps tenuously, be seen to be a good message.

Triumphant Trees

The Mayor of Paris has approved a €250m plan to transform the Champs-Élysées area into an urban park. For those unfamiliar with that part of Paris, years of neglect has led to it becoming less than salubrious, dirty and heavily polluted, whilst also having some of the highest retail rents in the world, attracting exclusively luxury brands and in particular supercar showrooms. The 12-lane roundabout (traffic-circle) around the Arc de Triomphe is so congested and dangerous that Parisian drivers have to select to pay an additional premium in order for their car insurance to provide coverage to drive on it.

The new plan will semi-pedestrianise a 1.2 mile stretch creating “an extraordinary garden”.

Reports of her Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

A woman has found herself in a three year battle with the French bureaucracy attempting to prove that she is in fact alive.

An aggrieved ex-employee, after a number of failed attempts to sue Jeanne Pouchain for damages, told a court that she had died in order to attempt to get a payout from her estate. The court accepted without any proof that Pouchain was dead and promptly cancelled her identification, bank and health insurance.

Despite medical proof showing that she continues to live, she has been unable to reverse the process.

I expect you’ll be able to see an adaptation of the story, in which Pouchain (Marisa Tomei) inevitably falls for the town clerk (Tom Hanks) but they can’t get married because she’s dead, in most cinemas within the next couple of years.

The US

One Flew Over the Coup-Coup’s Nest

“Well that escalated steadily for 4 years…” from a tweet that deserves every one of it’s 1 million likes. The author even goes on to observe the intimate, symbiotic relationship of the United States with White Supremacism throughout its entire brief and dramatic history. 

To anyone who predicted this headline, bravo: State Lawmaker Charged After Live Streaming From Capitol Riot 

We don’t mean to suggest for a moment that this was impossible or even particularly difficult to predict if one was paying attention to the appropriate signals. It’s just a trip to actually read it and also very, very funny. If a lawmaker makes a riot, is it legal? No you infantile cretin, take the coup attempt seriously (we say to ourselves). 

The first full working week of 2021 didn’t let us down with regards to anticipated dynamism and flare. We saw a half naked man with a deceased rodent adorning his head, equipped with (presumably inflatable) horns, and the American equivalent of Mel Gibson’s Braveheart nationalistic warpaint. 

This man is Jake Angeli, he is 32 years old and a fine example of what Arizona can produce when it consumes alcohol during pregnancy. Jake is sometimes referred to as the QAnon Shaman and exhibits behaviour at public rallies (as he has done regularly for some months) which really ought to get one institutionalized. 

Perhaps you can help the FBI? Last week they made a public appeal for help identifying Jake Angeli (real name Jacob Chansley), despite the fact he is so well known he has a Wikipedia page. Angeli has since been arrested and charged, and is now calling for a Presidential pardon.

The scenes at the Capitol truly resembled those of a zombie film, with officers drawing guns and pointing them at ravenous chomping simpletons on the far side of broken glass with heavy furniture pushed up against the door. 

Look at the Capitol policeman in this image, he’s petrified. 

Perhaps what made this coup so bizarre to watch, almost farcical, in addition to the sort of fancy dress you might expect at Burning Man, was it’s obvious impending failure. At the end of the day, Biden had won and the institutions are stronger than a mob of incensed hicks. Pence confirmed Biden’s inbound presidency after 3am on Thursday January 7th. 

So far it appears the event cost at least 6 lives including a long-serving Capitol police officer who tragically killed himself the Saturday following the riots. After well over a decade of embracing and protecting the symbols of American democracy, the attempted insurrection and the vitriol of the crowds overwhelmed their spirit. As much as we might’ve wanted the story about the chap tazing himself in the balls to be true, it appears to be another good reminder of how poorly Twitter’s structure lends itself to facts. 

The FBI is offering $50,000 for help catching a man suspected of placing pipe bombs in Washington D.C. during the riots. This is where we go from angry mob to domestic terrorism. 

It’s pretty unsettling to watch the rioters casually strolling out of the Capitol, many appearing almost triumphant. People have been beaten senseless by the American state for far less. Countless people have died at the hands of the American state, for committing no crime at all. 

It offends a deep part of us all, that which desires fairness, to see the rioters walk out, rather than being arrested. Many will be arrested in coming weeks though it already seems like too little too late. 

A week after MAGA thugs violently disrupted the democratic process, the images of thousands of national guard soldiers occupying the Capitol resemble an historically significant moment. Much as Trump’s second impeachment is truly groundbreaking shithousery. Reported reluctance of the sitting, wheezing POTUS to call in the National Guard during the riots will hopefully see Trump wheeled off to jail at some point. Miller, the acting defence secretary after Trump fired Esper in November (which is a completely batshit thing to do after losing an election) was left clutching at various ambiguous generalized statements to seek governmental approval for bringing in the guard, due to its being otherwise not-forthcoming. 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a memo to the various branches of the American military reminding them, in so many words, that they are sworn to protect the constitution and that attempts to overthrow the government are very illegal. 

Trump has since been kicked off Twitter in an event many people, mostly those who didn’t pay attention in civics classes, have confused with a First Amendment issue. With no sense of irony or humour we will restate: publicly writing about how an election is fraudulent, with no evidence, is enough to get you in deep shit with nation states just about anywhere on Earth. Governments have never tolerated conspiracies to overthrow them and usually this isn’t controversial. The 1st amendment means you can say more or less what you like without fear of arrest, it doesn’t mean anybody else (including the Twittersphere) has to listen to your shit. The fact of the confusion ought be sufficient to light a small fire under each of our arses representing the urgency of nurturing democracy before we go full facsicm.  

Of course, in the pitch black dead of night, sources of light shine brighter. As is true of the Capitol Police officer who lured a mob away from the lawmakers chambers. Eugene Goodman took his life in his hands as he pushed the violent mobs leader apparent and distracted them from the exposed representatives. There are many reasons this author dislikes the catchphrase ‘All Cops are Bastards’ but none more emphatic than Eugene Goodman. 

The CIA… but Make it Sexy

The United States’ Central Intelligence agency is back with a fresh new look (thank god, I hear you say, we’ve all been thinking for years that the CIA needed a rebrand), alongside the hashtag: #DiscoverCIA. Some may argue that the whole point of spies is to remain un-discovered, but that’s so 2020.

The Urban Outfitters-esque geometric, black and white, bold look was described by one Tweeter as looking like a website for a “hungry independent ad agency focused on their culture as much as their work”.

Watching Tucker Carlson Saves Lives

As virologists worked their asses off to bring us a Covid vaccine, social scientists proved their undeniable value to civilisation by conducting a study on the influence of preference for Fox News hosts on behavioural changes.

It emerged that those who preferred shouty-man Sean Hannity over perplexed-ventriloquist-dummy Tucker Carlson changed their behaviour in response to the growing threat of the novel coronavirus a full 8 days later on average. There was in fact a correlation between watching Hannity and dying from Covid, even controlling for other variables such as rates of health insurance.

The Internet

Parlez-vous fascism?

Turns out the fascist organisation ‘Proud Boys’ are also keen misogynists. Who would have guessed? The group has got its camo panties in a twist as a result of the emergence of regional far-right women’s groups styling themselves ‘Proud Girls’.

One Proud Boy wrote on moderation free social media network Parler: “Hijacking our fraternity because you can’t stand men having their own club is exactly why we created this club in the first place. You aren’t supporting us. You’re hurting us. You’re ruining what we hold dear.” Sounds like a bit of snowflakery to me. 

In the same post (presumably copied from his Tinder bio) the same chap finished: “We beg of you, with sincere love from the bottom of our hearts, get pregnant and get the fuck back in the kitchen.”

That was, of course, when Parler was still available. Following the attempted coup at the Capitol the app was removed from both the Google and Apple app stores for breaching their terms of service by failing to moderate hate speech and incitement of violence. Then at the weekend AWS (Amazon’s hosting and computing services behemoth) withdrew hosting, also for breaching their terms.

Parler now seems to be set to reappear with hosting provided by Epik, a provider known for harbouring hate speech platforms such as 8chan (like 4chan but twice as much of a cesspit) before that led to Epik being booted off their own leased servers.

Rapid work by a hacker known as donk_enby enabled a team to scrape the entire 56.7TB of data from Parler in a few hours on Sunday night before it disappeared, ensuring evidence is still available of the violent crimes that were planned using the service.

The censoring of these platforms will be of questionable effectiveness as users are likely to simply move to other platforms such as Gab, but in fairness to Apple, Google and AWS, they had all given Parler previous opportunities to demonstrate its moderation practices which they failed. Amazon showed examples including “posts calling for the killing of Democrats, Muslims, Black Lives Matter leaders, and mainstream media journalists”.

And again, having your shit removed from the internet is not a 1st amendment issue; if you write stuff on a service that doesn’t belong to you, hosted on servers that don’t belong to you, the people that provide that service are free to withdraw said services pretty much whenever they like for whatever reason they like. Libertarians seem to be having some real trouble identifying the irony in being apoplectic at the lack of regulation telling internet services they have to protect hate speech.

The UK

Human Foot Revealed to be Potato

Following an extensive Police search the potato was eaten by a sniffer dog. That is all.

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.