October 04, 2016

Colombia Shrugs Its Shoulders, While Syria Tries To Become A Tourist Destination


Congratulations to Yoshinori Ohsumi, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Stay up to date on Nobel Prize announcements by following their Facebook page – and while you’re at it, follow us too!


Russia And US Are On A Bad Break

The last time the relationship between the US and Russia was this bad Trump had been paying his taxes. Russia kicked off the week saying it was suspending a plutonium deal with the US that was intended to destroy weapons-grade plutonium and limit the number of nuclear weapons that each side has. The deal was signed in 2000, back when Putin was still a fresh new leader for Russia and George Bush was busy staring into his eyes. Russia claims that the US has been cheating under the deal and hasn’t actually been destroying the Plutonium. The US denies this.

In related news, the US suspended bilateral talks with Russia over the future of Syria. John Kerry finally reached the conclusion that they weren’t going anywhere and that Russia, along with its Syrian ally, was doing whatever it wanted anyway. Unfortunately for the civilians of Syria, those talks were the best chance they had at a reprieve in the five-year civil war. It seems we will all have to wait until the US is done deciding which presidential contender will be responsible for invading Syria/Iraq/Libya before another crack at peace can be had.

Colombia Shrugs When Asked ‘Now What?’

If there is one takeaway from the politics of 2016, it’s to never assume voter turnout. Whether it’s Brexit supporters shocked by a Brexit win or Hungary reeling from supporter laziness, 2016 has already been chock full of electoral surprises. Colombia had its own historic upset this week when voters rejected the peace deal that would have ended the conflict with FARC. Now the government must scramble to respond in order to salvage something from those four years of hard negotiation with the FARC militia. President Juan Manuel Santos was already practicing his Nobel acceptance speech and never got around to creating a plan B, so nobody really knows what happens next.

Why did Colombians vote ‘no’ to peace?

During Colombia’s 52-year conflict with FARC, roughly 220,000 were killed and another five million were displaced. FARC also had a reputation of extortion, drug trafficking, kidnapping and training child soldiers. That still doesn’t sit well with a lot of people and the communities directly affected were among those that found the peace deal insufficient at punishing FARC.


 Thousands Of Women Go On Strike Across Poland

Women from over 60 cities in Poland decided not to show up to work or class yesterday, to protest the proposed law that would criminalize all abortions. Poland already receives criticism for maintaing some of the most conservative reproductive laws in Europe. However, the new law would criminalize all abortions regardless of trimester, fetal abnormalities, threats to the mother’s health or even cases of rape or incest. Not only that, but the women who receive DIY abortions could face up to five years in prison and any doctors involved would also be liable for prosecution.

Beyond the obvious reasons why this is problematic, critics of the proposed law speculate that it could affect other aspects of women’s health as well. Doctors might avoid giving routine procedures to pregnant women as they can be accused of facilitating that woman’s future choices, and even miscarriages could put a woman under criminal suspicion. Demonstrators wore black and waved black flags to mourn the loss of their reproductive rights.



#pnut4prez: Your Charity Is No Good Here

The state of New York doesn’t even want Donald Trump raising funds for charity within the state, ordering the Donald J Trump Foundation to cease any fundraising activities effective immediately. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a “notice of violation” to the charity after it was revealed that it never had proper registration. The Trump campaign responded with its usual eloquence and deftness calling Schneiderman “a partisan hack.”

The missing 7A article is required for any charity soliciting more than $25,000 a year. Any sum above that – say maybe a humble $5 million from WWE power couple Linda and Vince McMahon – would be illegal, though it is reasonable to assume that Trump interpreted illegal as smart. Perhaps it would have been smart if the Trump Foundation was funded by Trump himself, but the foundation hasn’t received any money from the Trump Organization since 2008, though Trump did recently use $250,000 from the foundation to settle persisting law suits. The foundation has been ordered to provide the appropriate legal documents as well as audited financial statements and annual reports within 15 days or face accusations of fraud.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL: Taxes, millennials and SNL in this week’s #Pnut4Prez

Greek Pensioners Prove To Be A Rowdy Bunch

Greek pensioners, tired of seven years of economic depression, took to the streets of Athens on Monday to protest against further cuts to their pensions by the left-wing government of Alexis Tsipras. Their pensions are now 45-75% their pre-crisis levels and recent negotiations between Athens and Greek creditors indicate that they are up for more cuts despite promises made by Tsipras during his election campaign that he wouldn’t impose more austerity. The retirees were met with tear gas and riot police when they tried to topple police buses and break through police lines. Tsipras is certainly feeling the heat, with bailout talks deadlocked again and his government sinking in the polls.

GOOD READ: The Greek Analyst’s 30 Lessons From The Greek Crisis


Estonia: After several failed rounds of Estonian elections, Kersti Kaljulaid will become the country’s first female president. The former member of the European Court of Auditors was the sole candidate in the race, where 81 of of the 101 MPs cast their votes in her support.

Afghanistan: The Taliban launched a major assault on the strategically important city of Kunduz on Monday. Members of the Afghan parliament are calling on NATO to help end the ongoing battle to prevent Kunduz from slipping back into Taliban rule.

Bookshelves: Indian author Arundhati Roy announced that she will be publishing her second novel in 2017, one that fans have been anticipating for the last 20 years. Roy won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction for her first novel, The God of Small Things.


 Syrian Regime Still Thinks Tourism Is An Option

If you ever felt bad about your seemingly worthless job, remember that Syria still has a Ministry of Tourism. The country has rightfully been absent from most people’s travel wish lists, considering there are already 250,000 people trapped in Aleppo who are desperate to leave. Yet, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime thought it would be a good idea to release a promotional video of idyllic beaches and landscapes in an effort to boost the country’s tourism. And just when you thought the idea couldn’t get more tone-deaf, the promo uses the opening music from HBO’s Game of Thrones. Sure, civil war and barbaric bloodshed are popular on the fictional TV show, but that doesn’t mean we want to see what the world would be like if King Joffrey lived to become President of Syria.

Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: