Ardern Steps Down & Twitter Auctions Off Decor
January 20, 2023
Kiwi Queen Calls It Quits
On Thursday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she would be stepping down from her role as the country’s leader after more than five years in office. She will leave office on February 7, and her ruling Labour Party will vote for her replacement this Sunday.
“I am human. Politicians are human. We give all that we can, for as long as we can, and then it’s time,” she said at a press conference discussing her decision to leave office. “I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice — it’s that simple.” Ardern was just 37 when she took office (making her New Zealand’s youngest leader in over a century), but she successfully steered the country through its worst-ever mass shooting and the Covid-19 pandemic.
With her election in 2017, she became one of the few female leaders in the world, and in 2018 was the second leader in modern history to have a child while in office. Her forward-thinking policies have also pushed the envelope, including a bill aimed at bringing New Zealand to net-zero emissions by 2050, and a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the Christchurch shooting.
The political situation in New Zealand has become increasingly hate-filled towards Ardern and her government in recent years. The government’s strong Covid-19 policies have come under fire, with widespread protests leading to chaos in the streets, and critics have taken aim at her crime and economic policies. The Labour government has also fallen short of its goals to reduce child poverty and increase the nation’s housing supply. Despite all that, Ardern clarified, “I am not leaving because it was hard. Had that been the case I probably would have departed two months into the job.”
Want To Learn More?
- Jacinda Ardern: political figures believe abuse and threats contributed to PM’s resignation (Guardian)
- Jacinda Ardern: Key moments from the New Zealand PM’s time in office (BBC)
- Jacinda Ardern and Sanna Marin shut down a reporter’s sexist question about their ages (NPR)
- Sexism dogged Jacinda Ardern’s tenure. Battling it is part of her legacy. (WaPo, $)
It’s time to play… Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader (if that 5th grader read a TON of news). Test your knowledge of recent world news with this short quiz. Submissions must be made by 12pm EST Monday, 1/23. The winner, announced Wednesday, will win bragging rights for the week as well as a free Daily Pnut t-shirt.
Tanks In Advance, Germany!
- On Thursday, multiple Western nations agreed to send billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine as the country faces the possibility of a major Russian offensive come spring. The countries also agreed to send German-made tanks to Ukraine, but the tank transfer will only go through with German support – which doesn’t seem to be coming.
- Western allies will resume Ukraine-centered talks today in Germany at Ramstein, the U.S.’s main European air base. Ukraine is asking to be sent German-made Leopard tanks, which are held by multiple NATO nations but require German authorization to transfer. Germany has balked at the idea, saying it will only let its tanks go to Ukraine if the U.S. sends its own Abrams tanks as well.
- “From Washington to London, from Paris to Warsaw, you hear one thing: Ukraine needs tanks. Tanks are the key to ending the war properly,” tweeted Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
Want To Learn More?
- Russia to stay a threat even if it loses war, says top NATO officer (Reuters)
- Ukraine’s president Zelensky addresses Davos forum after fatal helicopter crash (BBC)
- Serbia uproar over Wagner mercenaries recruiting for Russia (BBC)
- According to a new investigation, most forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading carbon standard organization are worthless, and could even be contributing to global warming instead of slowing it. Offsets are credits bought by companies that allow them to reduce their impact on the environment by funding green projects – in the case of forest carbon offsets, those projects are aimed at saving forests, and thereby reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
- The investigation shows that Vera, the global leader in the $2 billion voluntary carbon offset market, has failed to create meaningful change with its offsets. It supposedly funds projects to stop deforestation, and corporations can send it money to essentially “buy” swaths of saved forests. So, if a company funds a project saving 100 hectares (247 acres) of forest, the 40,000 CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) reduced by that forest’s existence are credited to the company.
- According to investigators, 90% of Verra’s rainforest offset credits were “phantom credits,” and didn’t result in actual carbon reductions. Many of Verra’s forest-saving projects have failed to meet their projected results, showing that the company’s system for determining the impact of its projects is broken, and raising questions about the offset credit system as a whole – if the industry leader is failing in such a meaningful way, what’s going on across the rest of the market?
Want To Learn More?
- Davos 2023: Greta Thunberg accuses energy firms of throwing people ‘under the bus’ (Reuters)
- Parts of Greenland now hotter than at any time in the past 1,000 years, scientists say (WaPo, $)
- Shell to spend $450m on carbon offsetting as fears grow that credits may be worthless (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Peru: growing outrage over protest deaths as president urged to resign (Guardian)
- Messina Denaro: Second Mafia boss bunker found by Italian police (BBC)
- Three children among six killed during Indian kite-flying festival (Guardian)
- South Africa’s energy crisis deepens as blackouts hit 12 hours a day (CNN)
- Macron vows to proceed with pension reform, despite protests (AP)
- ‘Ridiculous’: Greta Thunberg blasts decision to let UAE oil boss chair climate talks (Guardian)
- S. Korea, Iran summon each other’s envoys over Yoon comment (ABC)
- Israeli Supreme Court revokes appointment of senior minister Aryeh Deri (Axios)
“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem
Barge-ing Into Your Territory
- In a news release issued on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said they are monitoring a Russian ship seen in waters near the Hawaiian Islands they believe is being used to gather intelligence. Foreign military vessels can travel in the “U.S. economic exclusive zone” – portions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans where the U.S. and other coastal nations have control over natural resources.
- However, “foreign-flagged military vessels” like this one “have often been observed operating and loitering” in what’s called District 14. It’s the bureau’s “largest area of responsibility,” covering more than 14 million square miles of land and sea where units “ regularly perform missions in maritime safety, protection of natural resources, maritime security, homeland security, and national defense.”
- The Coast Guard is currently working with the Department of Defense to monitor the vessel and determine how best to enforce the maritime laws of the area. They also released a short video clip of the rather massive boat, so if the goal is to be inconspicuous, they’ve failed dramatically.
We’ll Let You Take It From Here
- The State Department announced Thursday that they’ve figured out a better way to welcome refugees into the country – and they’re enlisting all of us to help. Welcome Corps will allow everyday Americans to sponsor refugees from abroad and help them resettle in the U.S.
- Historically, this was the duty of refugee resettlement organizations, but during the previous administration, they saw massive funding cuts. “The Welcome Corps is the boldest innovation in refugee resettlement in four decades,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
- Groups consisting of five or more private sponsors will help refugees find housing and work, and show them how to navigate their new homes. The majority of refugees who are approved to resettle in the U.S. have been displaced from a relatively small number of countries – mainly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Additional USA News
- This is the evidence investigators used to help their search for the suspect in the Idaho student killings (CNN)
- Gallery owner who hosed homeless woman in San Francisco arrested (BBC)
- N.Y. Governor Hochul’s pick for top judge rejected by Senate panel (Reuters)
- Rep. Greg Steube injured in 25-foot-fall from ladder (Politico)
- Donald Trump prepares for his return to Facebook and Twitter (NBC)
- Trump mistook rape accuser E Jean Carroll for ex-wife, deposition shows (Guardian)
- Immigration records contradict Santos’ claim his mother was at World Trade Center on 9/11 (CNN)
- South Dakota governor’s grocery tax repeal hits GOP pushback (AP)
A Bird In The Hand Still Won’t Save Your Company
- With Tesla stock in a downward spiral, a securities fraud trial, and questions being raised about his cars’ deadly autopilot features, Elon Musk is off to a terrible start to the year. Twitter, his newly-acquired social media company, is also having a rough time – advertisers are avoiding the platform, and the company has resorted to mass layoffs (with more on the way) to cut costs. Twitter has also closed some of its offices, even turning to auctioning off office supplies to recoup its losses.
- On Wednesday, the company held an auction for supplies from its San Francisco headquarters. Among the auction’s top sellers were a large statue of the Twitter bird logo (which sold for $100,000) and a 10-foot neon bird logo sign (which went for $40,000). Other items up for auction included industrial kitchen equipment and plenty of chairs, desks, and screens. Luckily for any vigilant auction hawks, many items went for below market value. (Writer’s note: the 4-pack of chairs I was looking at went for around $1,200, also below market rate – too bad I woke up late for the auction!)
- Ross Dove, the president of the company that owns the auction house which held the fire sale, told the New York Times that the auction had over 20,000 people registered to bid. He estimated that the sale netted Twitter about $1.5 million. Considering Musk bought the company at a $44 billion valuation, not a great return on investment.
- British actor Julian Sands identified as missing hiker (CNN)
- Harvard reverses decision on role for Israel critic after outcry (Guardian)
- Italy’s Friuli region is one of Europe’s best kept secrets (CNN)
- 10 Mummified Crocodiles Emerge From an Egyptian Tomb (NYT, $)
- Warning issued over ‘dragon’s breath’ viral video trend (CNN)
- Indian diamond heiress becomes child nun, following in family tradition (Guardian)
- Netflix offers pay of up to $385,000 for flight attendant (BBC)
- Alec Baldwin faces involuntary manslaughter charge over fatal “Rust” shooting (CBS)