February 10, 2020
At Daily Pnut we love music and movies. From Vox: Parasite wins Best Picture and makes Oscars history.
Daily Pnut’s Tim saw Parasite on Friday night to see what the fuss is all about. It’s a solid movie, and we’d rate it seven out of ten (we have high standards here). The movie rates nine out of ten until the last 30 minutes. We do love and highly recommend another movie by the Oscar winning irector (Bong Joon-ho) for those above the age of 21 (as it is a violent film and we are conservative when it comes to these suggestions given we have kids): Snowpiercer.
“Five percent of the people think; ten percent of the people think they think; and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
– Thomas A. Edison
It Used To Go On For Niles And Niles
Historically the Nile was considered to be the world’s longest river. It runs 4,258 miles from the mountains of Burundi to its famed and fertile delta fan, where Egypt meets the Mediterranean Sea. For millennia Egyptians were the unchallenged masters of the Nile, and it, the lifeblood of their ancient empires and modern republics.
Today a colossal new hydroelectric dam — scheduled to start filing this summer — is being built on the Nile, 2000 miles upriver in the lowlands of Ethiopia. The $4.5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will be Africa’s largest, with a reservoir the size of London. To Ethiopians the dam symbolizes their ambitions, a megaproject with potential to light up millions of homes and earn billions from electricity sales to neighboring countries.
Egyptians believe the dam threatens their water supply, already constricted by burgeoning population growth and a warming climate. The UN is predicting water shortages by 2025. “Egypt wouldn’t exist without the Nile,” cried an Egyptian farmer as he surveyed his barren, dust-blown field. “Our livelihood is being destroyed, God help us.”
When Ethiopia’s modernizing, young prime minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, he swore the dam wouldn’t hurt Egypt’s water supply. But as its progress continued, squabbling increased between officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan (stuck between the two) concerned the disagreement could lead to war.
In November, as a last-ditch effort, talks moved to Washington for mediation, with President Trump pushing for an accord by the end of February and suggesting his deal-making abilities could earn him a Nobel Prize. Egyptian and Ethiopian officials warned it won’t be that easy.
He Pointed A Gun, Now They Point Fingers
- A 32-year-old Thai soldier, who thought he had been stiffed in a real estate deal, went on a shooting rampage Saturday that left at least 29 dead and 58 injured in Korat, Thailand, an unassuming city of some 166,000. The sergeant began his onslaught by killing a woman, known for selling real estate to military officers, and her son-in-law.
- The gunman then sped to a military base where he shot a third person before stealing a Humvee and an arsenal of weapons. He traveled to the Terminal 21 shopping center around 3 pm, where happy crowds bustled among the stores, movie theaters, and food courts. He shot several people outside the mall before moving inside, where he engaged in an hours-long standoff with police that finally ended on Sunday.
- Before his death the soldier managed to post a photo of bullets on his Facebook page and write: “Nobody can escape death. Rich from cheating and taking advantage of people…Do they think they can take money to spend in hell?”
- Thailand’s prime minister suggested, without evidence, that the gunman had been mentally ill for a long time. But the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division said the shooting was a symptom of underlying tensions. “It’s about the fact that people are really getting desperate — the economic situation is really not going well. A lot of people are very unhappy.” (NYT)
- The silent epidemic of America’s problem with guns (BBC)
Jeff J. Mitchell via Getty Images
Oh Danny Boy, Sinn Fein, Sinn Fein Is Voting
- Vote tallies over the weekend showed the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army, which reinvented itself as the main left-wing party Sinn Fein, had secured the most votes in an election described as a ballot box “revolution.” The nationalist party secured 24 percent of first preference votes, almost doubling its vote from the last election four years ago. That put it narrowly ahead of fellow center-right rival the Fianna Fail party, and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party. A coalition of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail members have led every government since the foundation of the state.
- On Sunday Sinn Fein demanded to be part of the next Irish government; however, ahead of the election both Fine Gael and Fianna Fail consistently ruled out a coalition with Sinn Fein, citing its policies and history. Analysts suggested that resolve may be tested in the coming days, in what many said was a seismic shift in Irish politics away from the century-old, center-right duopoly. (Reuters)
- How drug wars in Ireland led to the murder and dismemberment of a teenage boy (CNN)
Additional World News
- Amid Lebanon’s Economic Crisis, The Country’s Health Care System Is Ailing (NPR)
- Crime, power cuts, poverty: 30 years on, the townships question Nelson Mandela’s legacy (Guardian)
- Germans Unnerved by Political Turmoil That Echoes Nazi Era (NYT, $)
- Turkey threatens to hit back as Assad advances in northern Syria (Guardian)
- China slowly returns to work as coronavirus toll hits daily record (Reuters)
- Meanwhile China’s military doesn’t seem like it’s taking a day off: Taiwan scrambles armed jets as Chinese air force flies around island (Reuters)
‘The Apprentice’ But Everyone Loses
- After his Republican-led Senate acquittal last week on impeachment charges, President Trump wasted no time retaliating against witnesses who testified against him in hearings in the House. Two days after the trial ended Lt. Col Alexander Vindman — and his twin brother, Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, who had not testified — were marched out of the White House by security officers and told their services were no longer needed. Trump also made sure to vilify Vindman by tweeting that he had been “very insubordinate,” and had problems with judgment, adhering to the chain of command, and leaking information, none of which was true.
- Next it was Gordon Sondland’s turn. And despite the ambassador to the EU already being in discussions with senior officials about leaving his post voluntarily, Trump couldn’t wait. A handful of Senate Republicans tried to dissuade the president from firing Sondland, saying it would look bad since he was going to leave anyway. But a vindictive Trump chose to make a point by forcing Sondland out before he was ready to go.
- Other witnesses who testified have quietly left in recent days. Jennifer Williams, a career official working for Vice President Mike Pence, asked to return to the Defense Department. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled after standing in the way of Trump’s scheme to pressure a foreign government to help in his reelection campaign, retired from the Foreign Service. Her acting successor, William Taylor, also returned home.
- Incensed Democrats called the firings a “Friday Night Massacre” aimed at taking revenge against government officials who had no choice but to testify under subpoena about what they knew. (NYT)
- How Trump Blew Up the 2020 Swing-State Map (Politico)
- Trump’s 2020 Re-Election Challenges and Strategy to Win (NYT, $)
- An Unsettling New Theory: There Is No Swing Voter (Politico)
- Rush Limbaugh in His Own Words (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Homelessness in Koreatown: a parallel neighborhood of unhoused people has grown up around the existing community. (Slate)
- Police Offering Drug Recovery Help: ‘We Can’t Arrest Our Way Out Of This Problem’ (NPR)
- What Happens When QAnon Seeps From the Web to the Offline World (NYT, $)
- Bloomberg’s unusual campaign: $10m ads, self-funding and a Super Tuesday focus (Guardian) & Mike Bloomberg will pay you $150 to say nice things about him (Guardian)
I’ll Be Back After I Check my Facebook Feed…
- If you’ve ever taken a short break during your daily work grind to surf the web, you might be contributing to a phenomenon known as “cyberloafing.” Research shows that workers drift to personal email, social networks and the far corners of the internet for anything between a few hours a week to a few hours a day, and it’s something that is reportedly costing businesses $85bn a year through lost time.
- Though it is often presented as a negative, cyberloafing could have benefits if properly handled. However, a large margin of people end up wasting more time and drift toward actual loafing on the job. “There’s a fine line between cyberloafing to refresh the mind and when people are doing it as an escape from the task because they find the task challenging.”
- Studies have found that over eighty percent of females and over ninety percent of males surveyed found cyberloafing to be an acceptable day-to-day activity in the workplace, but limits must be set as to not completely destroy productivity. Employers have begun understanding that the root cause of cyberloafing is unhappiness in the workplace, and many have begun encouraging the short breaks, as long as overall productivity and morale remains high. (BBC)
- The dark shadow in the injunction to ‘do what you love’ (Aeon)
- We have done the former but not the latter: The ancient Japanese practice of forest bathing & Japan’s naked art of body positivity (BBC)
- You Should Be Eating More Canned Fish (Heated) & The Poke Paradox (LongReads)
- Bill Gates orders £500m hydrogen-powered superyacht | Technology (Guardian)
- The endangered wolf that walked 8,712 miles to find love (Guardian)
- The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World. (WSJ, $)
- We are finishing this edition up at the airport and it’s scary how many people are sick and traveling right now (or maybe we are just noticing every cough given how much we’ve been reading about coronavirus): Coronavirus: Amazon pulls out of major tech show (BBC) & How Not to Get Sick While Traveling (NYT, $) & one more reason to love honey: For Kid’s Coughs, Swap The Over-The-Counter Syrups For Honey (NPR)
- We agree with Elon Musk on this: Elon Musk tweets out #DeleteFacebook, adding simply, “it’s lame” (TechCrunch)
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