By Julie Ngalle
Happy New Year! Incite is back with your favourite news report of What the Fuck is Going on in Politics. This week, this title is probably more appropriate than ever before as 2020 is off to a shocking, and very chaotic start. Here is a breakdown of all the major events that have flooded all your news feeds and social media for the past 11 days.
Is Brexit finally happening?
The day has come! At this point, many, if not most UK and EU citizens had started to wonder if Brexit was actually real or just a big joke pulled by our leaders. Well, on the 9th of January, our questions were finally answered as it was announced that, 3 years later, after 2 general elections and 5 deals, Boris Johnson’s November deal had finally been approved by the House of Commons, by a majority of 330 to 231. The overwhelming result is due to the fact that Parliament is now heavily dominated by Conservatives following the General Election of December 2019. Therefore, it was finally agreed that Brexit would take place on the 31st of January, under Boris Johnson’s latest deal with the European Union. Although the nation is split between disappointment and support for this, the majority have agreed that it is a relief that a decision has finally been made and that Brexit is going somewhere, and somewhere clear. However, a lot of things still need to be worked out with regards to the terms of Britain’s exit, so the Brexit saga is not fully done yet.
What is Meghan and Harry’s announcement about?
On the 8th of January, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on their official Instagram account that they intend to step away from their royal duties. They explained in this post that they wanted to look at a more “progressive” way of carrying out their role. This means they want to give up their status as “senior members” of the Royal family and therefore all the responsibilities but also advantages that come with it.
But what does this mean concretely? Now firstly, it is important to point out they are not “boycotting” the royal family and their place in British culture. They have themselves explained they intend on splitting their time and the education of their child between the US and UK. They both acknowledge their ties to the Royal Family and this bond is not one they want to break. They simply wanted to re-evaluate the status they have and all that it entails.
For one, the couple want to becoming financially independent, which is one thing that tied them closely to the Royal Family. They also made this decision in order to have more freedom in their professional lives, as well as control over their private and public aspects of their lives. As we know, being part of the Royal Family comes with a series of commitments, protocoles and sacrifices to which neither Meghan or Harry were adjusting very well. They intend on creating a lifestyle mixing “the best of both worlds” in which they can carve a way of life that is suitable to them, without forgetting or dismissing their Royal duties and affiliations. One major issue remains: they will be in the public eye whether they want it or not, and distancing themselves from the Royal Family won’t grant them the peace and quiet they might be seeking.
Could World War III actually break out?
At this point, we’ve all come across memes about the potential outbreak of a third World War. Now, although humour is always a great defense mechanism, many around the world are not actually sure what is going on and if another world conflict could actually erupt. First let’s rewind and summarise the key events of this conflict. Tensions between Iran and the US have been omnipresent for a while but it took a turn for the worst again in 2018 when Donald Trump abandoned Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and imposed economic sanctions on Tehran. These decisions contributed to Iran falling into a heavy period of recession, which sparked protests across the country. After a period of tit-for-tat, indirect confrontation between Iran and the US through their proxies, it was made clear towards the end of 2019 that relations between both countries were not looking to get better any time soon. And this was confirmed on the 3rd of January when a US drone strike in Iraq killed General Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander and very high-profile and respected figure among the Shia community.
Following this event, Iran swore they would seek revenge for the commander’s death and a couple days later, on the 8th of January, missiles were launched at an American military base in Iraq. That same day, a plane crashed near the Iranian capital, killing all passengers on board. Hypotheses, confirmed by Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau but rejected by the Iranian governments, emerged around the possible involvement – intentional or not – of Iran in the accident.
Given all this, we have to ask: is the threat of a third World War actually real? Well, to everyone’s reassurance, it looks unlikely that World War III will break out anytime soon. For one, with the development of nuclear weapons, we have made this option pretty much impossible as another world war would lead to the complete and utter destruction of the planet. Furthermore, it has been expressed from both Iran and the United States that they are not looking to start a world conflict, even though their reactions and behaviours may have hinted otherwise.
The reason this rumour and now ongoing joke started is because technically, both countries have many allies all around the globe. People have made many legitimate comparisons between what is going on now and the outbreak of World War I a little over a hundred years ago. Indeed, one of the major events that led to the outbreak of the first world conflict was the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, which led to, then, Austria Hungary declaring war on Serbia, who both had many allies they could count on. Add to this the many tensions and unresolved issues between several other European countries (France and Germany for example) and what seemed to be a conflict between two countries quickly escalated into a European and later international one. And today, as many have pointed out, the international context does echo to the situation before World War I in many ways.
Thankfully, most world leaders are very aware of the fact that whether it is on an economic, social or diplomatic level, it would not be in their best interest to get involved or support a war between the US and Iran as it would, just like the other two World Wars, have devastating effects on the world at large.
How bad are the fires in Australia?
On the other side of the globe, bushfires have been spreading everywhere in Australia since September, displacing thousands of people and significantly worsening air quality across the country. At this point, the fires have not yet been put out and it has been reported that around 8.4 million acres burnt down, with 26 human deaths and 1.25 billion animals killed so far. In Australia, due to human activity, heat and droughts, every year the country goes through fire seasons from July to October in the North and January to March in the South. This year however, the season started earlier all around the country and has been much more intense than ever before. Earlier this month, temperatures in Perth rose to 49° for example, as Australians experience one record-breaking heatwave after another.
Celebrities, governments and individuals all around the world are making pledges, opening and donating to several charities. This more than ever confirms the emergency and priority that is the climate crisis. Below, we have listed some of the charities and funds opened which you can donate to, and also alternative apps and sites you can visit to help the cause without spending money.
Links to contribute to saving Australia:
- Australian Red Cross: australian red cross
- Support for Animals: https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund
- Support Fire Brigades: https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supporting-cfa
- Support farmers:
https://www.vff.org.au/vff/Resources/Donations/vff/Donations.aspx?hkey=660181a7-acec-4401-a876-ecad98159e93 There is also a (free) App that exists called “Give Action”: https://www.giveactions.com. They support green projects and companies and have launched a campaign dedicated to the Australian bushfires. All you need to do is watch two videos a day and the money generated from these views will go directly to the Australian cause (or any cause you can choose to contribute to in the future).