December 08, 2016

France Gets Polluted While The Pope Gets Poetic


Be sure to check out our latest installment of #BlanchedNuts, where we look at the top climate skeptics of 2016.


 Assad Regime Takes Aleppo’s Old City With No Signs Of Slowing Down

Syrian rebels are pleading for a five-day truce to allow the evacuation of civilians in Aleppo’s old city. Rebels withdrew from their last stronghold in the old city yesterday, which means the pro-government forces are now the closest they’ve ever been to seizing entire city. Rebel parties said they would support any initiative to allow civilians to receive medical attention – since government forces destroyed all of the hospitals – but President Bashar al-Assad already ruled out any further ceasefires. Despite the US, Canada, UK, France and Italy releasing a joint statement condemning Russia and the Syrian government for the “humanitarian disaster taking place before our very eyes” in Aleppo, President al-Assad told the daily al-Watan newspaper, “even if we finish with Aleppo, we will continue our war against them.”


 #Trumpdate: China, Trump And Taiwan Walk Into A Bar…

China asked the White House to cancel a trip by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen scheduled for next month, fearful that she will use the opportunity to meet with President-elect Donald Trump. US-Chinese relations got really icy this week after a phone call between Tsai and Trump, the first time a US President or President-elect spoke to the Taiwanese head of state since Richard Nixon. China considers Taiwan – a democratic ally of the US run by a feminist, progressive leader – integral to its territory, akin to how the US views Hawaii, and hopes to unify with it soon. The US, to preserve good relations with China, pretends that Taiwan doesn’t exist while simultaneously providing it with weapons, trade and its military protection. Taiwan’s been long clamoring to get recognized by “big brother” America and hired former US Presidential candidate Bob Dole to the tune of $140,000 to arrange the call with Trump. Some analysts say warmer ties with Taiwan makes sense, as it essentially recognizes the reality that already exists and that this can be used as a lever against China. Others, like Henry Kissinger, argue that America’s long-term strategic interest is with China, and any change to Taiwan policy should be handled carefully, and presumably not on Twitter.

Fun Read From The 90’s: Bob Dole, Lobbyists And A Banana Empire

Malta Is The First European Country To Ban Gay Conversion Therapy

In Malta, parliament unanimously approved a bill outlawing any attempts to “cure” homosexuals of their sexuality. Known as the Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Act, practicing medical professionals who prescribe “gay cure” therapies could face up to €10,000 in fines and even serve a year in jail. It’s a little surprising that this is the first law in Europe to curb this kind of gay conversion treatment, but it’s no surprise that Malta is leading the charge: the small Mediterranean island nation is known for its progressive policies towards LGBTQ communities and several social reforms since its Labor government was elected in 2013. This new law also lowered the age to 16 when an individual can request to change their gender, and states “no sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression constitutes a disorder, disease or shortcoming of any sort.”

It’s Hard To Drive In Paris During A Wave Of Blinding Pollution

You would think with all the office-swapping going in France’s government this week, there would be a few celebrations in the street. But a partial ban on cars in Paris continues due to extreme smog and what experts are calling the longest most intense spike in pollution for at least 10 years. On Tuesday, Paris banned vehicles with odd-number license plates and then banned even-number plates the following day. This style of alternate-day vehicle bans is rarely used and has never been implemented on two consecutive days. But then again, when the Eiffel Tower disappears into a grey horizon, you have to get creative. The spike in visible pollution is expected to continue for at least another day or two.


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Pakistan: Officials confirm that all 48 people on board a Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK-661 plane were killed when it crashed while en route to Islamabad. The cause is still under investigation. Although the national carrier has been accused of safety failures in the past, PIA insists that there were no technical errors on their end. The country also mourns the loss of Junaid Jamshed, the famous pop singer turned Islamic preacher, who was also on board.

Iraq: The US military said they deliberately targeted a hospital in Mosul during an airstrike, claiming that ISIS fighters were inside the hospital complex. This “precision strike” is garnering criticism due to the likelihood of patients and civilians also being present.


 Pope Francis: Fake News Is Like Getting Sexually Aroused By Poop

The always eloquent Pope Francis had some choice words for those media hacks who propagate fake news. He told the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio that spreading fake news is “probably the greatest damage that the media can do.” Although we agree, some people didn’t like his choice of simile. The pope compared the media’s lack of transparency to the “the sickness of coprophilia,” a condition of being sexually aroused by feces and excrement. He then doubled down on this poetic theory, comparing the public’s interest in fake news to “coprophagia,” the habit of eating feces. This is probably the most blunt language Pope Francis has ever slung at the media or any other group. While some people are upset with his crude comparisons, we’re just grateful he blessed us with this new vocabulary.

Yes, I want to sound marginally more intelligent: