news you should know about

newsmongering 06/23 (the “oh hai, Internet is back!” edition)

with one comment

> Sorry, lemmings, was out of town (and more tragically, mostly out of internet. Sorry about the frantic texts, guys. You know who you are) for a few days. Somewhat relatedly, if you ever, ever get the chance to visit the Smokey Row and adjacent Book Vault in Oskaloosa, Iowa – run, don’t walk.

> The marriage equality bill will the last item on the agenda tonight in the New York Senate and allegedly a surplus of votes needed to pass the bill are confirmed. You can follow updates from Albany throughout the day here, and should hopefully (hopefully) be able to follow the vote when it happens here (warning: I’m pretty sure this is the site generating the music that has me ready to tie my laptop to a railroad trestle). And a clerk in NYC is allegedly preparing gender-neutral marriage license applications. Just, y’know, in case.

> Japan has issued a tsunami warning after a 6.7 earthquake hit yesterday morning. The quake most affected –  of course – the area hardest hit by the March 11 quake/tsunami.

> The death toll in Syria has reached 1,300, and security forces are allegedly searching for refugee camps within the country. So it goes.

> South Korea’s Ban Ki-Moon has been reelected to a second term as secretary-general of the UN. His term will last until 2016.

> Iran is planning to launch a monkey into space! Last year, they launched two turtles, a rat, and a handful of worms – what Jon Stewart, I believed, referred to as the class pets. So this would be an upgrade. One small step for the chimps of the Islamic Republic…

>Geert “Let’s Ban the Koran” Wilders has been cleared of charges of hate speech in the Netherlands. I love this comment: “People aren’t saying that its a victory for free speech because of Wilders. They are saying its a victory for free speech in spite of Wilders.”

> Speaking of our Dutch cousins, on Wednesday the Netherlands became the first country in Europe to make net neutrality part of national law, meaning (among other things) that ISPs cannot restrict access to services like Skype or Hulu.

> Apparently it’s been a busy news week for the Dutch. Anyway, the Dutch government has announced that it is discarding the model of the “multicultural society” and is starting new integration programs for arriving immigrants.

> Toronto police swear that kettling – a controversial crowd control mechanism whereby protestors (and passersbye) are penned into tight crowds surrounded by security forces and often denied access to food, water, toilets, and civility – will never be used again.

>Satellite images suggest that North Korea is expanding its nuclear program in Yongbyon. North Korea evicted UN weapons inspectors from the area in April of 2009. And of course all of this is happening as the Pacific Rim is in the process of throwing a very destructive hissy fit. Oh, this is a bad idea on so many levels.

> Speaking of North Korea, it appears to be fueling China’s growing crystal meth addiction. In a bordering province, the number of registered addicts has jumped from 44 to 2,100 in the last twenty years. Wary of offending its notoriously twitchy neighbor, Chinese reports euphemistically state that the meth is imported from “a border state.” Observers have said that within North Korea, the drug is taken as a medication, not for recreational purposes:

Inside North Korea, observers say, many use meth in place of expensive and hard-to-obtain medicine. “People with chronic disease take it until they’re addicted,” says one worker for a South Korea-based NGO, who requested anonymity in order to avoid jeopardizing his work with defectors. “They take it for things like cancer. This drug is their sole form of medication,” says the NGO worker, who has interviewed hundreds of defectors in the past three years. A former bicycle smuggler who defected in 2009 told NEWSWEEK of seeing a doctor administering meth to a friend’s sick father. “He took it and could speak well and move his hand again five minutes later. Because of this kind of effect, elderly people really took to this medicine.”

> Speaking of drugs, Russia is seeing a massive upsurge of the horrific synthetic “krokodil.” This codeine-derived heroin substitute, often used when the user doesn’t have access to heroin, will quite literally rot the user’s flesh from their bones (I hunted down some pictures. It was the worst idea I’ve had all year). Furthermore, the withdrawal process makes heroin look like a walk in the park:

“With heroin withdrawal, the main symptoms last for five to 10 days. After that there is still a big danger of relapse but the physical pain will be gone. With krokodil, the pain can last up to a month, and it’s unbearable. They have to be injected with extremely strong tranquilisers just to keep them from passing out from the pain.”

Russia is believed to have between two- and six million drug users, more than any other country in the world, and the Russian government has recently launched a “war on drugs” (I discussed it briefly here) in hopes of dealing with the problem. An estimated one in 100 Russians are HIV positive, and over 100,000 die of drug-related causes every year.

> Dissident artist Ai Weiwei has allegedly been released on bail.

> Live in China? Want to see a picturesque Austrian village – say, Hallstat? Then run, don’t walk, to Guangdong province (well, you might want to wait a year or so), where Chinese architects are planning to build a full copy – “including its famous lake,” apparently. As Foreign Policy comments, “Guess those 40 Chinese UNESCO World Heritage sites (including the Kaiping villages in Guangdong, 120 miles from the proposed site for the Austrian transplants) just won’t cut it.”

> Remember the Gay Girl in Damascus? Remember how she wasn’t real? Foreign Policy’s Daniel Nassar discusses how hoaxes like that blog threaten Syria’s real hidden gay community:

MacMaster’s admission on June 12 that the blog was fictional has spurred fears within Syria’s LGBT community of a potential backlash. The media has been targeting minorities who are seen as critical of the current regime, and the LGBT community is an easy target. They don’t need to change people’s opinion of homosexuals; it’s already a negative one.

For my part, I started to cover my online tracks. For years, I’ve been outspoken on Twitter to bring the spotlight to the challenges faced by the LGBT community in the Middle East and Africa. I used to use my real name as a handle and a picture of my face as an avatar. Now, I’ve been forced back into the closet online. Amina’s arrest may have been made up, but now the threat feels all too real.

> Here, go read about the hidden history of homosexuality in the US. While the reviewer voices some problems with the book’s conclusion, I still think it would be a fascinating read.

> The Middle East explained through cow jokes. I love it. I love it.

Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt
You have 10 cows. Neglect to tend to them, but prevent them from fighting Israel in order to get milk from America.

Post-Mubarak Egypt
You have 10 cows who think they now own the farm. There’s still no milk.

> Scientists are projecting mass extinctions in the world’s oceans much sooner than was previously anticipated.

> We may or may not have two suns at some point briefly eventually. Via Riley, who is excellent.

> Engagement rings are problematic, by which I mean they are incredibly expensive (culturally, emotionally, financially) and essentially meaningless constructions of conspicuous consumerism. No, I didn’t mean for that to be alliterative. Via Karissa, who is also excellent (arguably more so)  (game on, Riley).

> Speaking of catastrophic failures, Rolling Stone‘s article on Michele Bachmann is one of the best pieces I’ve seen on her.

Fans of obscure 1970s television may remember a short-lived children’s show called Far Out Space Nuts, in which a pair of dimwitted NASA repairmen, one of whom is played by Bob (Gilligan) Denver, accidentally send themselves into space by pressing “launch” instead of “lunch” inside a capsule they were fixing at Cape Canaveral. This plot device roughly approximates the political and cultural mechanism that is sending Michele Bachmann hurtling in the direction of the Oval Office.

> Studies suggest that the world’s wealthiest people are now richer than they were before the credit crunch.

> Pottermore! Pottermore! YES I AM PSYCHED.

> Oh, and this is excellent.

So he loaded it onto a trolley, but Beyoncé was surprisingly unstable, and the giant 5 foot metal chicken crashed over onto the floor.  And Laura and I were all “CHICKEN DOWN!  CLEAN-UP IN AISLE 3″ but he didn’t laugh.  Then the manager came to see what was causing all the commotion, and that’s when he found the very-conservative salesman unhappily struggling to right an enthusiastically pointy chicken which was almost as tall as he was.  The salesman was having a hard time, and he told everyone to stand back “because this chicken will cut you“, and at first I thought he meant it as a threat, like “That chicken has a shiv”, but turns out he just meant that all the chickens’ ends were sharp and rusty.  It was awesome, and Laura and I agreed that even if we got tetanus, this chicken had already paid for himself even before we got it in her truck.


Written by whackanarwhal

June 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. I am loving that photo. Good Halloween costume for a couple!


    July 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

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