WEEKLY ROUND UP: Truancy, Green Deal and Emojis

Image by Antonio Perricone

A little truancy goes a long way

On Friday, thousands of British school kids are going to be on ‘school strike’ to protest against the government’s stoic resistance to effectively combating climate change. A plethora of other countries, including Australia, Belgium and The Netherlands, have already seen widespread protests of a similar vein. Together with the popular UK movement Extinction Rebellion, the striking pupils will be part of a Europe-wide shift towards climate protest based on civil disobedience and mass mobilisation. And should it not be? – considering the apocalyptic scenario we are faced with. Prospects still look bleak: a third of the Himalayan ice-caps are now guaranteed to melt indefinitely, putting 2 billion people’s lives at risk. Regardless, come on you kids!  Jorrit

ISIL final push by U.S. backed Kurdish rebels

U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian forces say they have begun the final push to defeat ISIL. Spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces Mustafa Bali says that this is the push to end the military presence of ‘Daesh terrorists’. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that since the SDF began its offensive against ISIL in the area on September 10, some 1,279 ISIL gunmen and 678 SDF fighters have been killed. 401 civilians, including 144 children and teenagers, have also been killed since then. Despite the controversies surrounding Western intervention, let’s hope that this final push is successful and that the bloodshed caused by Daesh can finally come to an end. With Brexit and US 2020 dominating our news, sources like Al Jazeera and BBC World News are more important than ever. Leela

Baffled by Brexit? So are we.

Brexit is supposed to actually happen in about a month and a half – and yet, we still have no deal and the Irish border question hasn’t been solved. Theresa May has been accused of “running down the clock”, filibustering until Parliament has no choice but to accept the deal she proposes. MPs will be offered a vote on non-legally-binding alternatives on the 27th. What’s most telling about all this in my mind is that the BBC news website now has a “brexit jargon guide”, where you input words like “withdrawal agreement” and it tells you what they mean. I rather wonder if the whole situation is so confused that when we do finally leave the EU we won’t notice because we’re all so baffled.  Louis

Green New Deal 

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Thursday released a broad outline for the Green New Deal, a wide-ranging, ambitious plan to battle climate change, as well as economic and racial injustice. Fittingly, as a recent government report estimates that the financial damages to the U.S. from climate change could double those of the 2008 Recession, the plan evokes Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Depression-era mass government mobilization plan, calling for universal healthcare, guaranteed jobs and free higher education. The exact details remain to be worked out. The wildly ambitious plan outlines a massive program of investments, aiming to transform no less than the entire economy. It remains to be seen whether its supporters — including almost 70 federal legislators and several Democratic presidential candidates — will be able to channel its momentum into the broad national movement it deserves.

Read Kate Arnoff’s brilliant description of what the US might look like in 2043 under the GND here and the full text of the (short) resolution hereJason

Guaido officially recognised as Venezuelan president by European Allies 

A few weeks ago, Juan Guaido, the 35-year-old leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled national assembly, took a public oath to swear himself in as interim president.  He cited Nicolas Maduro’s ‘usurption’ of power as having left the presidency vacant according to the Venezuelan constitution. This legal loophole provides a potential solution to the years of corruption and the current crisis of power in Venezuela. In the last week, Guaido was recognised as Venezuela’s official leader by the UK and its european allies Spain, Austria, Sweden and Denmark, following the example set by President Trump in the US, while China, Turkey and Russia continue to support Maduro. As it stands, we’ll have to wait and see in the next few days how the country’s two presidents will become one. Antonio

Sari, falafel and flamingo… emojis? 

Apple have acted on criticism that their emoji selection fails to represent the experience of all users. The 230 new emojis that were launched this week include accessibility-themed images such as a hearing-aid, prosthetic limb, guide dog and wheelchair. The period emoji has also been introduced thanks to campaigning from Plan International UK. The emoji which represents a drop of blood was chosen by the charity after the image of blood-stained underwear was rejected by the Unicode consortium. Other notable inclusions are a sari, falafel and a flamingo. Sophie 

Words by Jorrit Donner-Wittkopf, Leela Jadhav, Jason Liu, Louis Davidson, Antonio Perricone and Sophie Coe. Image by Antonio Perricone.