Pakistan Loses Power & M&M’s Get Political
January 24, 2023
Pakistan’s Power Problems
On Monday, millions of Pakistanis were left without power after a major outage resulting from a planned energy-saving measure by the government. The outage, which began around 7:00 am local time, lasted over 12 hours in the dead of winter, and is Pakistan’s second major grid failure in just three months.
According to Pakistan’s Energy Minister Khurrum Dastgir, the country “temporarily shut down our power generation systems” on Sunday night as part of its energy-saving policies. When engineers attempted to restart the country’s generators in the morning, the system experienced a “fluctuation in voltage” which “forced engineers to shut down the power grid.”
Experts and officials alike have blamed Pakistan’s faulty power issues on the country’s outdated grid, which requires upgrades the country can’t afford. Pakistan has enough power capacity to meet demand, but lacks the money to keep its fossil-fueled power plants running. Its power sector is also so heavily in debt that it isn’t able to fund any more investments in infrastructure. “We have been adding capacity, but we have been doing so without improving transmission infrastructure,” said one expert. Pakistan has been bailed out by the International Monetary Fund five times in the last twenty years, with another bailout on the way – though it has faced delays. The country has also received $60 billion in infrastructure funding from China as part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative.
Temperatures in Pakistan dropped close to freezing during the outage, with the capital of Islamabad reaching 4 degrees Celsius (39°F) on Monday, and Pakistan’s most populous city of Karachi reaching 8 degrees Celsius (46°F). Water pumps, internet service, and phone lines were all affected by the outage, though hospitals and other businesses were able to provide some services thanks to private backup generators.
- Brazil’s new president works to reverse Amazon deforestation (AP)
- Turning problem sea algae into a replacement for plastic (BBC)
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Impeding The Swedes
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that he would not be supporting Sweden’s application to join NATO on Monday. The announcement comes in response to two protests held in Sweden over the weekend: one anti-Islam demonstration, and another pro-Kurdish protest.
- On Saturday, far-right Danish politician and Swedish citizen Rasmus Paludan burned a Quran in front of Stockholm’s Turkish Embassy, a move that angered people across Turkey’s political spectrum. Erdogan was also angered by the Swedish government allowing pro-Kurdish protests where people showed their support for Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the E.U., the U.S., and Turkey, and has waged a decades-long insurgency in Erdogan’s country.
- “So you will let terror organizations run wild on your avenues and streets and then expect our support for getting into NATO. That’s not happening,” Erdogan said in response to Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Sweden and Finland both appeared close to joining NATO before this incident, as they both dropped their policies of military nonalignment in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Want To Know More?
- Russia’s military reforms respond to NATO’s expansion, Ukraine (Reuters)
- U.S., NATO countries announce massive weapons package for Ukraine (NPR)
- Quran-burning in Sweden exacerbates tensions with Turkey over NATO bid (Politico)
Japan And The Aged, Old Question
- On Monday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida highlighted Japan’s aging population as a pressing issue for his country. Kishida announced that he would be establishing a new agency to combat the problem, noting that Japan would have to respond quickly in order to save its future.
- “Japan is standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function as a society,” he said. “Focusing attention on policies regarding children and child-rearing is an issue that cannot wait and cannot be postponed.” According to the prime minister, Japan’s births dropped below 800,000 last year. His country has the second-highest proportion of people aged 65+ in the world.
- Japan has already moved to address its age problem, implementing government subsidies for pregnancy, childbirth, and childcare. Unfortunately, these policies have done little to bring Japan back to its springtime of youth – experts say that the subsidies have mainly helped couples already planning to have kids, rather than encouraging young couples to start families. Kishida’s new policies, and the new children and families agency, are expected to launch this April.
Additional World News
- Nadhim Zahawi: Investigation into tax row ordered by PM Rishi Sunak (BBC)
- Burkina Faso’s military government demands French troops leave the country within one month (CNN)
- At least five injured after blast at mayor’s office in Mogadishu (Reuters)
- US and Israel launch largest military exercise ever despite concerns over Netanyahu’s government (CNN)
- Russia says Ukraine storing arms at nuclear plants, Kyiv denies claim (Reuters)
- Andrey Medvedev: Russian Wagner mercenary who fled to Norway arrested (BBC)
- UN rights chief condemns killing of activist in Eswatini (ABC)
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” – Charles M. Schulz
Mourning In California (Again)
- Just two days after the tragic shooting in Monterey Park that left 11 dead, California was hit with another mass shooting. At least seven people were killed and one person critically injured in shootings in two separate locations in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal community in central California.
- The suspect, identified as 67-year-old Chunli Zhao, was taken into custody more than two hours after the shootings, and he was believed to have acted alone. One shooting took place at a mushroom farm and another near a trucking facility about two miles away. Governor Gavin Newsom was at a hospital meeting victims of the Monterey Park mass shooting when he was “pulled away to be briefed about another shooting.”
Tinker, Traitor, Business Spy
- Charles McGonigal, the special agent in charge of counterintelligence in the FBI’s New York Field Office, has been arrested for his ties to a Russian oligarch. McGonigal was detained after he arrived at JFK Airport from Sri Lanka over his ties to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire sanctioned by the United States and criminally charged last year with violating them.
- He is one of the highest-ranking FBI officials to be charged with a crime, having agreed in 2021 to investigate a rival Russian oligarch in return for payments from Deripaska. Both McGonigal and a court interpreter, Sergey Shestakov, were charged with violating U.S. sanctions by trying to get Deripaska off the sanctions list and money laundering. McGonigal was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond.
Additional USA News
- Alex Murdaugh goes on trial in 2021 killings of wife, son (AP)
- George Santos’ lies are casting a harsh spotlight on a powerful Republican who endorsed and raised money for him (CNN)
- Florida rejects an advanced placement course covering African American studies (NPR)
- Rep. Katherine Clark’s daughter is charged in police assault (ABC)
- Borrow the opposition playbook? House GOP weighs the ultimate ‘tit for tat’ (Politico)
- What we know about the Georgia 2020 election investigation (ABC)
- Des Moines shooting: 2 students dead, school employee in serious condition, police say (CNN)
Saying Goodbye To Sexy Sweets
- Last year, M&M’s pulled a controversial move, replacing the shoes of its “female” candy mascots – the green M&M’s high heels were turned into flats, while the brown M&M’s stilettos were made into a less-uncomfortable pair of heels. The change sparked some outrage among conservatives, especially Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
- “M&M’s will not be satisfied until every last cartoon character is deeply unappealing and totally androgynous,” ranted Carlson on his show. “Until the moment when you wouldn’t want to have a drink with any one of them. That’s the goal. When you’re totally turned off, we’ve achieved equity. They’ve won.” Well, Mr. Carlson, if that’s the case, then M&M’s has been winning from the very start – at least for normal people who aren’t trying to date cartoon candies.
- This year, M&M’s introduced more outfit changes and a new purple M&M “celebrating women.” More outrage ensued, with another rant from Carlson. “The green M&M’s got her boots back but apparently is now a lesbian, maybe, and there is also a plus-sized, obese purple M&M,” he said. M&M’s responded on Monday, saying that it would take “an indefinite pause” from its “spokescandies,” replacing them with an actual spokesperson: actress and SNL alum Maya Rudolph. Her first ad spot is set for the Super Bowl on February 12, and for now, “the original colorful cast of M&M’s spokescandies are, at present, pursuing personal passions,” said Mars Wrigley North America’s chief marketing officer.
- Istria and the Kvarner Gulf: Croatia’s secret beaches and mini Venices (CNN)
- Turbans or helmets? Indian army purchase revives debate over Sikh headgear. (WaPo, $)
- Trilobites armed with tridents could be the earliest known example of sexual combat (CNN)
- The uphill battle to end puppy mills (Vox)
- Girl asks police to run DNA test on Christmas cookie for evidence of Santa Claus (NPR)
- 2023 ‘Doomsday Clock’ announcement: What to know and expect (ABC)
- Radio signal nearly 9 billion light-years away captured by telescope on Earth (CBS)
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