Keeping up with the news is hard. So hard, in fact, that we’ve decided to save you the hassle by rounding up the most significant, unusual, or just plain old mind-blowing stories each week.
In the future, the defining image of February 2018 will almost undoubtedly be that of a Tesla roadster, floating across the silent gulf of space toward Mars, its own “driver” strapped in the front. Yes, this was the week Elon Musk made history by putting a commercial car in orbit, while also smashing several other firsts. Elsewhere, we had a mixture of good news, worrying news, and just plain weird news. After all this time, what else would you expect?
10. Elon Musk Put His Tesla Roadster car Into Space
Right now, there is a luxury car floating toward the asteroid belt.
That this absurd sentence is nothing more than a statement of fact is thanks to one man. On Tuesday, Elon Musk put the first commercial car in space, blasting off his own Tesla Roadster on the back of SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket. The car came complete with a quote from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” playing on an eternal loop. Whimsy, apparently, is Musk’s middle name.
Arguably, the whole “car in orbit” thing overshadowed SpaceX’s actual achievement: successfully testing its Falcon Heavy.The Falcon Heavy can carry a payload far bigger than any other modern rocket. That means bigger satellites and telescopes will soon be able to reach orbit with ease.
Even more impressively, two of the Falcon Heavy’s three boosters returned to Earth, landing in perfect sync on launch pads like something out of a sci-fi film. The third exploded, but hey, two out of three ain’t bad.
9. The Stock Market Went Into Meltdown (For Non-Scary Reasons)
On Monday, the Dow Jones suffered its biggest fall, by volume, in history. This was followed by a meltdown in Asian markets and then panic in Europe. Sounds like a disaster, right?
Well, here’s where it gets weird. While we’re used to hearing “stock market meltdown” and instantly imagining 1929, most of those in the know suggested that Monday’s seemingly catastrophic fall wasn’t the crash it might have looked like. If anything, this sudden meltdown might have been a good thing.
In the 15 months since Donald Trump won the US election, the Dow Jones has been rising like crazy. At the same time, governments have been slowly turning off the taps on post-recession stimulus. The result appears to have been Monday’s correction, with the market finally snapping back to where it should really have been all along. While this undoubtedly sucks for certain investors, it’s probably better for us regular Joes in the long run.
8. Moscow Suffered The Snowstorm Of The Century
Do you may have any concept how incessantly Moscow calls an official snow day? The reply rhymes with “by no means” as a result of that’s precisely what it’s. The Russian capital is used to freezing winter temperatures and snowdrifts that will paralyze most different cities.
Nonetheless, each every so often, a snowstorm will come alongside that proves the exception to the rule. This week, that snowstorm hit. On Sunday alone, 43 centimeters (17 in) have been dumped throughout Moscow, equal to a complete month’s snow. The end result was gridlock, chaos, and a spate of spectacular snow photos the likes of which we hardly ever ever see.
The snowfall comes after a surprisingly heat winter (by Russian requirements), just like that at the moment afflicting components of the EU. Like Monday’s inventory market meltdown, this snow-splosion virtually looks like a correction to the unseasonably heat climate.
7. The Gambia Rejoined The Commonwealth Of Nations
It’s very uncommon for a rustic to rejoin the 52-member Commonwealth of Nations after leaving. Since its founding, solely three had beforehand performed so: South Africa, Fiji, and Pakistan.
This week, a fourth nation joined this tiny record. In 2013, Yahya Jammeh, former dictator of The Gambia, dragged his nation out, calling the Commonwealth a “neo-colonialist” establishment. There, the story most likely would have ended, had Jammeh not discovered himself on the receiving finish of an armed ECOWAS drive in January 2017, politely insisting he respect the then-recent election end result and hand over energy to winner Adama Barrow. Jammeh fled the nation, and since then, Barrow has been working tirelessly to undo all of the terrible issues his predecessor did.
After a 12 months of negotiations, that record lastly included readmitting The Gambia to the Commonwealth.Whereas the transfer is extra symbolic than something, it does present that The Gambia is slowly stepping out of Jammeh’s lengthy shadow and into a brand new, democratic period.
6. Germany Finally Got A Government (Probably)
It was the longest postwar stretch that Germany spent without a government.
Following inconclusive September elections and a collapse of talks between her CDU/CSU, the Greens, and the Free Democrats, Angela Merkel was forced to go to her former coalition partners, the SPD, begging bowl in hand. Led by Martin Schulz, the SPD had received a drubbing in the election and refused to work with Merkel again. It briefly looked like time was up for Germany’s first female chancellor.
This week, fate threw Merkel a bone. Schulz’s SPD finally agreed to resurrect their governing grand coalition. After five months, Germany now has a government again.
The SPD extracted significant concessions from Merkel, including the key finance, labor, and foreign ministries. This suggests that, if the new coalition goes ahead, it will be more shaped by Schulz’s pro-EU vision than Merkel’s pragmatism. However, the deal is not set in stone until the SPD’s 463,000 members can be balloted on it. Although it’s unlikely, they may reject it.
5. German Workers Won The Right To A 28-Hour Working Week
Sticking with Deutschland for a second, one other important story got here out from the Teutonic nation this week. In Baden-Wurttemberg, labor union IG Metall scored a victory for its employees by successful them the precise to a 28-hour working week. The settlement impacts practically 1,000,000 German employees within the automobile and hi-tech sectors and is anticipated to quickly be mimicked by different unions all throughout German business.
The brand new contracts protect employees’ rights to decide on between 28 hours and full time at any level, which means anybody who will get fed up with the shorter week and all that daytime TV can return to common 40-hour work with out being penalized. Because the Monetary Occasions famous, it exhibits younger Germans are shrugging off the “industrious” stereotype and beginning to develop into extra like their strike-happy counterparts in France.
Precisely how this can impact the German financial system in the long term stays to be seen. However there’s no doubting this may very well be the most important shakeup of European labor in years.
4. Pakistan Lastly Prosecuted A Blasphemy Murder
In April 2017, a mob broke into the dormitory of 23-year-old Pakistani student Mashal Khan. The attackers were Khan’s classmates, his roomies, even his own lecturers. They’d heard that Khan had committed blasphemy—a capital crime in Pakistan—and they wanted revenge.
What happened next was horrific. Khan was murdered. He was beaten, stripped, shot, and thrown from a building. His crime? To have spoken out in favor of free speech and against corruption at his university. When police investigated, they discovered the blasphemy charges were false and that Khan’s murder had been orchestrated by another student group.
Such murders are depressingly common in Pakistan, but Khan’s death triggered outrage. This week, 52 members of the mob were put on trial, in a case that was seen as a litmus test for Islamabad. One was sentenced to death. 26 received three years. 25 were acquitted.
The death sentence was a victory for courts often cowed by extremists. However, Khan’s relatives criticized the acquittal of the 25, saying murderers had been allowed to walk free.
3. The ICC Started Proceedings Against Rodrigo Duterte
Since Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte launched his bloody crackdown on drugs, thousands of people have been murdered. Estimates place the number between 4,000 and over 9,000—putting the conflict on a par with the bloody violence in the Central African Republic (CAR).
That comparison isn’t random. The International Criminal Court at the Hague (ICC) is currently investigating CAR for war crimes. This week, they decided Duterte’s reign of terror might be worth examining, too. A preliminary investigation was opened. If it proceeds to a full case, we could yet see the president of the Philippines on trial for crimes against humanity.
The complaint was brought by a Philippine lawyer. Now, the ICC must decide whether there is enough evidence to open a full investigation. If there is, they will be empowered to bring Duterte to trial and hand out sentences to other officials. It should be pointed out, though, that only nine ICC complaints have so far been brought to trial, out of more than 12,000 filed.
2. Bermuda Became The First Modern Territory To Repeal Homosexual Marriage
After a barnstorming 2017 for homosexual marriage, 2018 started with a setback. This week, tiny Bermuda turned the primary territory in trendy historical past to repeal homosexual marriage after legalizing it. The ruling was a blow for marriage equality campaigners throughout the globe.
The precise intricacies of the case are pretty nuanced. In Might 2017, Bermuda’s supreme court docket dominated that homosexual marriage have to be allowed, sparking protests. The federal government rushed to reverse the ruling however was hamstrung by the structure. The ensuing invoice that got here into regulation this week was a compromise: It outlawed homosexual marriage however made same-sex civil partnerships authorized. It additionally protected the rights of any homosexual who married within the interim, which means their marriages will stay authorized.
The invoice brought about bother within the UK, of which Bermuda is a Crown dependency. Technically, Westminster might have stepped in and blocked the repeal of homosexual marriage, however to take action would have been equally as controversial as letting the regulation go. Ultimately, London elected to remain out of it.
1. The Maldives Plunged Into Disaster
A near-invisible speck within the vastness of the Indian Ocean, the 26 coral atolls that make up the Maldives are at the moment dwelling to some loopy political drama. Common readers could recall that final August, the army occupied the Maldivian parliament. This week’s disaster beats even that.
It began when the Maldivian supreme court docket voted to launch political prisoners of Islamist autocrat Abdulla Yameen. This was doubly surprising, because the Maldivian judiciary was completely handpicked by former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who’s Yameen’s half-brother. Yameen reacted by panicking, declaring a state of emergency, having the army occupy the supreme court docket, and having Gayoom’s household chucked in jail.
It’s thought that the ousted Gayoom has made an unlikely alliance with exiled opposition chief Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed had been a political prisoner of Gayoom’s earlier than changing into president after his launch after which getting deposed in a coup by Yameen. With many within the safety forces nonetheless loyal to Gayoom, there may be potential for issues to get ugly, a possible helped by each India and China vying for affect over the island nation. We’ll see how this disaster develops within the coming weeks.