May 24, 2016

Austrian Elections, Suicide Attack In Syria




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Austrians Say Nein To 1930’s Throwback

In an election that was wayyy too close for comfort, Green Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen barely defeated far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in Austria’s Presidential election. Bellen relied on postal votes mailed in by Austrians living abroad to defeat his rival. The Green Party victory temporarily puts to rest fear of a far-right revival in Austria, which has been buoyed by fears of a surge in migration. 

Is something rotten in the state of Austria?

It’s not just Austria. Far-right parties are on the rise across Europe, entering governing coalitions in Greece, Norway, Finland, Poland and Hungary. While part of the rise has to do with the EU’s response to the refugee crisis, the far-right’s growing popularity predates that. The Euro crisis, austerity and trade related dislocations have hollowed out some rural and industrial communities that were long affiliated with mainstream parties, pushing them to the extremes. 

Good Book: Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt


Attacks On Syria’s Coast Leave Scores Dead

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of blasts across two of Syria’s coastal cities, killing more than 120 people. Attacks were carried out in Tartous, which hosts a Russian naval base, and Jableh, 50 miles to the north. ISIS said they were targeting supporters of Syrian President Assad, who has maintained a loyal support base in much of Syria’s northwest coast. Although these two cities have dealt with rocket fire in the past, they had existed relatively unscathed compared to other regions of the country. This is the first time Tartous and Jableh have been targeted with destruction of this magnitude.

Pnut Read: Pnut on the History of ISIS and Pnut on the Syrian Civil War



Obama Isn’t Taking “Lame Duck” Status Lightly

US President Barack Obama kicked things off this week by lifting a decades-old ban on the sale of military equipment to Vietnam. In a joint news conference in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, Obama insisted the move was symbolic of the countries’ strategic partnership – one that China will be sure to watch closely as the next President takes office. If that isn’t enough excitement for a Monday, the Obama administration also began preparing the transfer of two dozen Guantanamo detainees. Aware of his 2017 deadline, POTUS aims to reduce the prison’s population before leaving office. There are currently 80 inmates at Gitmo, the lowest population since the US opened the prison in 2002.


Sugar Is So Scarce In Venezuela, Coca-Cola Leaves

Just when we thought Venezuela’s economic free-fall couldn’t get much worse, the country took another hard hit after it all but ran out of sugar. With the world’s highest inflation rate and dwindling raw materials, the country’s sugar suppliers have ceased operations, forcing Coca-Cola to halt production. The company’s decision follows in the footsteps of Kraft Heinz, Clorox and, perhaps the worst for morale, Empresas Polar SA, Venezuela’s biggest brewer. The local company was forced to stop making beer because they cannot get the foreign currency to purchase malted barley.


India And Iran Walk Into A Coffee Shop… And Don’t Invite Pakistan

Iran and India signed a pact yesterday to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar close to the border of Pakistan. The agreement is seen as a snub to India’s archnemesis, Pakistan, which sits squarely between the two countries. The port agreement will allow Iran to circumvent Pakistan and sell goods directly to Afghanistan and Russia much easier. Fun fact: Iran and India haven’t been this “close” since Nader Shah of Persia invaded Delhi and stole the Koh-I-Noor diamond in 1739.     



Freddie Gray: A judge found Baltimore police officer Edward Nero not guilty for his involvement in the death of Freddie Gray. Nero is the first of what will be six officers to receive a verdict. 

Mount Everest: Four climbers have died in the last four days. Another 30 climbers have become ill this season from altitude sickness. Makes you wonder what makes people make the trek. 

Thailand: Eighteen girls have died after a school dormitory caught fire. The children were between the ages of 5 and 12 and school officials report “chaos” in trying to identify the cause.

Tennessee: Flo Matheson, the 77-year-old woman running for Congress in Tennessee, was caught with more than 180 marijuana plants on her property. Despite her legal problems, she has no regrets.  


Kim Jong-un Is Launching A Matchmaking Contest

North Korean leader and self-proclaimed cupid Kim Jong-un is launching a dating competition to find a husband for his unmarried sister, Kim Yo-jong. Apparently a similar platform was launched back in 2012 but no man lived up to the lofty standards of the Kim family. This time, Jong-un will take control of the vetting process and hand-select eligible men. Hopefully his sister will be able to find a match among the potential suitors. After all, Kim Jong-un is really good at forcing the country to adore him, why can’t he do the same for his sister? 


Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: