November 12, 2015

Did You Get My Message?


“Cheap” -Iranian officials describing the French offer of breakfast in lieu of dinner after refusing to take wine off the menu for the Iranian President’s visit. Incroyable.


Catalan Parliament To Spain: I Left You An Independence Message

Catalonia, that Spanish Province where your roommate spent a semester abroad and came back with a lisp (think BarTHelona), boasts a strong anarchist tradition as well as recurring bouts of separatist fervor. Earlier this week the Catalan Parliament voted for independence from Spain.

Yesterday, the Spanish Constitutional Court told them to stop and that they may be “committing disobedience” (fighting words). The Catalan Vice-President Neus Munte said they would proceed with independence anyway and that it was the “political will” of the people (independence parties only got 47% of the vote in the last election, so that isn’t really true).  

What does it mean to vote for independence?
Well, to be clear, the Catalan people didn’t vote for independence (it wasn’t a referendum) and even so the rest of Spain doesn’t want to see Catalonia go (it accounts for roughly 20% of GDP and is historically part of the country). Countries don’t usually “break up” peacefully (two notable exceptions to this rule are Serbia-Montenegro and Czechoslovakia, and those were pretty special circumstances). 



Sweden Sets Up Border Controls But Still Very Friendly Country

Sweden is instituting border controls to organize the flow of people into the country. A refugee needs to cross about 10 borders (often by foot) to get to Sweden, so one would think that there would be plenty of opportunities for refugees to find a new home before then. But it isn’t hard to understand Sweden’s allure when other countries are building fences or “encouraging” African countries to take people back.

GOOD READ: Ten Borders (via The NewYorker)


Israelis Condemn New EU Export Labels

The EU voted to label products coming from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as “made in settlements.” The decision is the biggest win to date of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) campaign which has gained ground in Europe. The move drew condemnation from Israelis of all political persuasions, and Israeli farmers in the West Bank said they would find new markets for their products.


Putin To Ministers: Guys We’ve Got To Take This One Seriously

Vladimir Putin responded to allegations of widespread doping in Russian athletics by calling for an internal inquiry. Putin, an alpha athlete himself, responded just 24 hours after Russian officials had called the claims a political “hit job†with his Sports Minister even inviting aliens to check the testing labs. On Friday, the International Athletics Federation decides whether to suspend Russia from international competitions. 


#pnut4prez: John Kasich… The Sensible Republican?

Ohio Governor John Kasich drew conservative boos during yesterday’s debate when he said he would bail out Bank of America if another crisis occurred (objectively the right answer). Rush Limbaugh said he was “running as a Democrat” because of his stance on immigration, and Glenn Beck called him “EPICALLY BAD” on Facebook. Anybody capable of pissing off those two probably has decent policies.  

Keeping Our Eye On…

  • Myanmar Elections: President Thein Sein has congratulated Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition NLD party after they won the vast majority of seats so far declared. 
  • Russia ‘Peace’ Plan: A Russian proposal has been circulated around the UN calling for constitutional reform in Syria followed by presidential elections. It is unclear at this stage who the talks will involve and who the presidential candidates will be.
  • Missouri Death Threat Arrest: Two teens were taken into custody by University of Missouri police charged with making “a terroristic threat” including threats to black students on social media. There have been widespread protests on campus relating to alleged treatment of minorities.  



China’s ‘Singles Day’ Inspires Record-Breaking Shopping Bonanza

November 11 is Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in the UK, but in China it is “Singles’ Day” — a day for singles and apparently an excuse to go on a shopping binge. E-commerce giant Alibaba recorded $14 billion dollars in sales, a 50% increase from last year and roughly equivalent to the GDP of Senegal. The effects of the day were felt globally after Australia reported a shortage of baby food and Frank Underwood even got involved live from the Oval Office.

How did America get a perfect voting system?
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