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The World

Burmese Days

Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s representative to the UN General Assembly made an impassioned plea to the international community for assistance defending and restoring democracy by “any means necessary”. He has since lost his position, by order of the Tatmadaw (the army). 

The situation has gone from bad to worse as 18 people were killed when the police opened fire on protestors over the weekend. If the people of Myanmar can oust their military and demand further progression along the path to democracy, then they will break millenia of armed rule under monarchies or similarly despotic rulers. 

Our Man in Havana

Cuba is taking steps to modernize its economy and leverage network edge resources such as entrepreneurs. The previously intensely restrictive rules, describing what sovereign individuals could get up to without acting on behalf of the state, are being bartered for a far more permissive landscape. With the exception of 124 (very specific, we know) sectors, such as healthcare, the press and education, private enterprise is now less restricted in Cuba (if you can believe it). 

In Mother Russia, Diplomats Scoot to You

We can all but guarantee, this week provided more laughter from a group of Russian diplomats than has ever been witnessed before. The event that brought about the hysterics was their mode of transport whilst leaving their posting in North Korea. The country has completely closed its borders during the pandemic, meaning usual road or rail transport was unavailable. So the diplomats were provided with a hand-pushed rail trolley, on which to scoot themselves, their families, and their luggage across the bridge back into mother Russia. The optics of the diplomat ladened trolley can perhaps best be described as “methamphetamine-infused Wes Anderson” vibes. 

We can’t help but think this news probably won’t go down well when it reaches Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un, as hand-pushed railway carts for diplomats are rarely associated with the sort of burgeoning, successful, and powerful countries that North Korea would like to portray itself as.

The US

Returning Normality

As the general process of running a superpower returns to boring, old normality (and the US gets back to their diplomatic normalcy of blowing people up on the other side of the earth), life is looking decidedly unsettled for Trump as he settles in to what could be years of civil and criminal litigation.

The Manhattan District Attorney has finally taken possession of the ex-president’s tax returns after a series of legal battles as Trump’s lawyers sought to shield them from view. This doesn’t mean that we proletariat will get to see them yet (or ever), but DA Cyrus Vance can now enact a grand jury subpoena allowing them to be combed over by a crack team of white-collar crime lawyers. The DA is seeking fraud charges relating to the Trump Organisation’s alleged artificial inflation of property values to secure large loans, as well as alleged hush-payments to women who Trump is alleged to have had affairs with.

Trump is likely severely pissed-off, having stacked the deck at the Supreme Court in his favour, only for it to emerge that the justice’s would actually, frustratingly, enact the law.

How Does He Sleep at Night? Ep. 5

Okay, okay, we promise this will stop… as soon as Mike ‘Crack-Addict-Turned-Pillow-Magnate’ Lindell stops doing mad shit! 

Dominion Voting Systems finally announced this week that it’s suing Lindell for $1.3Bn in damages relating to his repeated slander of the company. The suit alleges that he continues to “maliciously spread lies” about Dominion and its employees, whilst also profiting from them, by using discount codes for his MyPillow website such as: “FightForTrump” and “QAnon”.

Lindell joins an all-star lineup including Rudy Guiliani, Sidney Powell and Fox News who are all being sued for billions of dollars by Dominion. Although the payouts are likely to be considerably smaller than Dominion demands, legal experts agree the lawsuits will swing their way due to, y’know, overwhelming amounts of recorded evidence.

Bulk Altruism

The retailer Costco announced this week that it’s raising its starting wage to $16 per hour, more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The interesting bit of the story was their justification: Costco made it very clear, this is not altruism, they’re not virtue-signalling, it makes business sense. They want to minimise employee turnover and maximise productivity, and think that this will put them at a considerable advantage as an employer over their competitors.

This sets a remarkable example and puts a hefty dent in the Republican argument that raising the federal minimum wage will harm the economy. 

The Internet

Revolutionary Fashion

The internet has whipped up a storm over a pair of slippers owned by Michael Collins, the leader of the Irish Republican Army during the war 1919-1920 War of Independence. The rather striking, vibrantly-blue, plush, wool-lined footwear features a grey wolf on each foot with piercing green eyes. Whatever you think of the man’s tactics in war, it seems we can all unanimously agree, he had fine taste in slippers.

The UK

A Hot, Steaming Pile of Poop. Sounds Good.

Thames Water is developing an innovative district heating scheme for a new housing development in south-west London. The process of treating human waste can create a considerable amount of heat, which is usually wasted in the process water which is flushed as (clean) effluent into local watercourses. Their new system will use a heat-exchanger to capture much of the waste heat, which will be used to heat local homes, leading to a saving of 105,000 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years.

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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