September 15, 2016

US And Myanmar Hug It Out And Syrian Ceasefire Is Complicated


Thank you for sharing your ideas for how Obama should deal with North Korea. Some of you were profoundly unhelpful. We’ve compiled our favorites here. Gems include “bombarding NK with Kim Kardashian selfies” and sending them kimchi laced with hallucinogenics. Happy reading.


Sure There’s A Ceasefire, But There’s Still No Food

We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that the ceasefire that began Monday has yielded relative calm in Syria. The deal was brokered by Russia and the US to allow aid to safely reach the places that desperately need it. The bad news is that even though the ceasefire is holding, nobody can bring aid into the country anyway. According to the United Nations, there are lorries with a month’s worth of food for 40,000 people currently stuck at the Turkish border, thanks to the Assad regime, who still gets to whimsically control the flow of aid. President Bashar al-Assad argues that he is concerned about aid coming from Turkey, which supports rebel factions in the city, but doesn’t seem concerned about the 250,000 people who are trapped in eastern Aleppo.

Hopefully all that fire-ceasing won’t be for nothing. The ceasefire will be renewed every 48 hours, provided it holds. And if it holds for a full week – knock on wood – Russia and the US will bomb militant groups together, including ISIS and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, AKA the Nusra Front. That will also buy some time for the aid groups to get food and supplies into the country.

US And Myanmar: Reunited And It Feels So Good

The US decided to lift long-standing trade sanctions against Myanmar, realizing that as it recovers from 49 years of military rule it may need a helping hand. Myanmar’s trade benefits were suspended in 1989 on account of human rights abuses. However, since the beginning of the decade, the nation has slowly but surely pried governance from the military and ushered in a new era of democracy. Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s effective leader, met with President Obama to discuss the removal of sanctions earlier this week. It was her first official visit to the US – which is less surprising given the 15 years she spent in house arrest under the military junta. Suu Kyi argued for the complete removal of any sanctions, however, there remains a blacklist of companies and individuals still being exempted from the deal. The blacklist includes the trade of jade and rubies, as well as various, presumably unfriendly, individuals linked to the military junta.

Myanmar still has a way to go, maybe starting with why Suu Kyi was not appointed president. However, newly elected president, Htin Kyaw, can be remembered as the first president in the country’s history to be elected in a democratic election.


Snowden Wants To Come Home, Presumably Sick Of Russian Food

Two days before the release of the Oliver Stone movie Snowden, which is based after, you guessed it, Edward Snowden, the famous whistleblower made a direct appeal to President Obama asking to be pardoned and saying that he “loves [his] country.” Three years after the NSA contractor exposed the US government’s broad surveillance apparatus, Snowden remains in self-imposed exile in Russia, a country not exactly known for the openness and transparency Snowden champions. He also started making some enemies there, calling out Russia’s “Big Brother” measures and its crackdown on civil society. Snowden claims he still works for the US, they just “don’t know it.” Snowden’s only hope is that Obama pardons him during the lame-duck session, something Bernie Sanders is calling for.

COOL READ: Seven Famous Presidential Pardons

Colin Powell’s Burn Book Exposed

Personal emails from Colin Powell, the Secretary of State under George W. Bush, were leaked this week. Many of them read like entries in a Mean Girls-inspired Burn Book, showing how he really feels about some of today’s biggest political players. At least Powell is an equal opportunity offender, calling Trump “a national disgrace” and writing, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” Powell didn’t make any attempt to distance himself from the emails, and an aide confirmed they were his. Anyone who has ever worked with Powell will be on edge as more and more leaked emails are made public.

Powell on Benghazi: “Benghazi is a stupid witch hunt.”

Powell on Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz: “They are idiots and spent force peddling a book that ain’t going nowhere.”

Powell on retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s primary military adviser: “He has been and was right wing nutty.”

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When The Cat’s Away, The Mice Will Build A Military

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is sick of money being wasted on missions, and that’s why he thinks building an EU military headquarters is a good idea. As part of his annual State of the Union Address – Europe Edition, which is modeled after the US version, Juncker reasoned that the UK always objected to an EU military because of its potential conflict of interest with NATO. But now that the UK is planning their Brexit, Juncker seems eager to show them the door. If created, a common military force in Europe will create greater transatlantic solidarity and would be “in complement to NATO,” he argues. While that sounds nice, each country’s defense resources are finite. His critics fear that if the EU military duplicates any existing NATO activities, that will waste money and send a signal of disarray to their nosey neighbors in Moscow.


The Arctic: Five Russian scientists were besieged by polar bears for nearly two weeks at a remote weather station on Troynoy Island in the Arctic. Relief supplies have finally reached the scientists, who have been surrounded by 10 adult bears and four cubs since August 31.

The Milky Way: After charting the positions of more than one billion stars with stunning precision, astronomers have unveiled the most detailed map to date of the Milky Way. It’s already launching a universe of new mysteries, including the possibility that the Milky Way may contain more stars than the current estimate of 100 billion.

Israel: In a new agreement, the United States will give Israel $38 billion in military aid over a decade, the largest such aid package in US history. Israel intends to use the funding to upgrade most of its fighter aircraft, improve its ground forces’ mobility and strengthen its missile defense systems.

Hillary Clinton: According to her doctor, Hillary Clinton is “healthy and fit to serve.” The Democratic presidential nominee “continues to improve” after her pneumonia diagnosis. We hope everyone is satisfied with this non-story?


Because We Know You’re On The Move…

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Adorable Baby Gorilla Cursed With Name ‘Harambe McHarambeface’

If there is anything to be learned from Boaty McBoatface, it’s that the internet should never be asked for its opinion. Yet again, the naming of an important item was put to a vote, and the internet found the worst possible name possible. This time, thanks to the Jinjua Zoo, there is a baby gorilla that will now forever be known as Harambe McHarambeface. With 93% of online votes, Harambe McHarambeface was the clear winner of the zoo’s poll. The unfortunate name mashes up the humor of Boaty McBoatface with the bizarre sadness of Harambe. There is some hope for our beloved Harambe McHarambeface, at least. The Jinhua Zoo said it would use Harambe McHarambeface as the male gorilla’s English name only, but his Chinese name would be Heijin. Fortunately for Heijin, Harambe McHarambeface is impossible to translate.

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Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: