We hope you enjoyed this episode! Here is a deeper dive into some of the topics discussed.
Brexit is the name for the now successful movement to remove the United Kingdom from the European Union, and it has actually been a long time coming, stemming from years of frustration the UK has had over its contribution to the agreement. But let’s back up a bit.
The European Union is a geopolitical and economic union, which originated in 1957 in the form of European Economic Community (EEC) in the aftermath of World War II. The UK was originally vetoed by France (twice) but was finally allowed entry in 1973.
In 2011 David Cameron became the first Prime Minister to veto an EU Treaty. Around this same time, the anti-EU party named the UK Independent Party (UKIP) was beginning to gain mass support. On top of this, economic unrest and the migrant crisis fostered the growth in popularity of British exit of the EU – AKA Brexit. In 2016 then-Prime Minister Theresa May formally announced the UK’s intent to leave the European Union.
This history behind Brexit is told in further detail here. The United Kingdom held a referendum to decide what they would do — and the results were extremely close: only 52% voted to leave. However, a somewhat disheartening fact is that day after the election, the second top online search in the United Kingdom was “What is the EU?”
This push to leave the EU has largely been from the Conservative party. The proponents for staying in the EU argued that the Conservatives (across the Pond is not only a political orientation, but an actual major party, known colloquially as the Tories) misled the public about the costs and benefits of Brexit and that they actually didn’t have a plan to leave.
Research done by RAND Corporation concluded that the UK was likely to lose money in most of the possible trade negotiation outcomes after the Brexit vote. This is primarily due to the trade rules of the EU which would likely limit the UK’s ability to trade with countries in the Union and lead to economic shortfalls. The study found that the best possible outcome for the UK would be to work openly with the EU to reach “some sort of open trading and investment relationship post-Brexit.”
An analysis done by Steve Brozak, a contributor for Forbes Magazine, argued that a ‘hard brexit’ would negatively impact the UK’s healthcare system through drug shortages, no longer being able to rely on foreign medical professionals, and the fact that it would likely decimate the National Health Service workforce. Read the full article here.
Complicating matters further, Scotland, one of the four countries in the United Kingdom, had held its own referendum in 2014 and decided to stay a part of the UK by narrow margin (55% vs 45% of voters) at least partially because they were keen on the continued EU membership. In fact, 62% of Scots voted against Brexit. So last year they proposed another referendum about Scotland’s independence — and the Queen’s headaches may never end.
It’s now been four years, and although the transitional period is slated to end on Dec. 31, not much has been resolved. It is important to acknowledge that not all of the blame for a long and muddled process lies with the British pro-Brexit politicians. The European Union is obviously unmotivated to make it easy for the UK to leave, lest other members decide to partake in similar misbehavior.
For further reading, click here.
COVID-19 Sample-Stealing Monkeys
This is one of the more laughable moments of 2020. A group of monkeys ambushed a lab technician at Meerut Medical College in Uttar Pradesh, India as they walked across campus carrying vials of blood samples from patients believed to be infected with coronavirus. The monkeys stole the samples and ran off into the city and into trees which was partially caught on video.
Clearly this caused panic in India that the virus would spread more rampantly than it already had now that it was in the hands of monkeys which roam the area frequently. Thankfully, officials were able to track down the monkeys and regain the samples which were still fully intact. The lab technicians did have to take new samples though… ugh, so annoying.
Read the full story and watch the hilarious video here.
Poland Invaded the Czech Republic
How exactly does a country “accidentally” invade another country? Well, Poland accomplished it by crossing the Polish-Czech border (thankfully without starting a war). Polish troops that were guarding the border as part of COVID-19 measures, briefly crossed into the Czech Republic near a chapel and stayed for several days.
Several witnesses saw the soldiers prevent Czech visitors from entering or even getting near the chapel which was in Czech territory, and some even said they saw soldiers point guns at those who attempted to approach.
Nevertheless, Poland says that everything is resolved and it was just a misunderstanding on the part of the soldiers. However, the Czech Republic said they have yet to hear an explanation so…
Read this article for the full story.
Officially known as the Sturmabteilung (Literal translation: “storm detachment”) but commonly known as the Brownshirts, they were members of an early Nazi militia founded by Hitler in the 20s, with brown uniforms resembling that of Mussolini’s Blackshirts.They really helped Adolf Hitler come into to power through bullying and vigilantism. They operated outside of law and intimidated Hitler’s opponents, unleashing particularly vicious violence on Germany’s leftists and Jewish population. Their membership eventually ballooned to 3 million people and wreaked havoc on anyone they deemed as their enemies.
In 1934 Hiltler felt their leader, Ernst Röhm, became too out-of-control (not because of too much violence, it was a simple power struggle – Röhm was plotting a ‘second revolution’ against conservatives and the existing German Defence Force) and orchestrated the Night of Long Knives. Almost overnight all the leaders of the Brownshirts were arrested and executed, paving the path for SS to take over. The irony was that Brownshirts had been obsessed with killing their enemies with long knives.
Proud Boys & Militia Groups
The last four years have seen the rise of various white supremacy groups and militias. One of these groups which has been gaining quite a bit of attention lately is the Proud Boys, a far right hate group that has a habit of protesting CDC guidelines, brandishing semi-automatic weapons and just recently seem to be delving into violent extremism as some members have been busted attempting to kidnap and likely kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.
Although the Proud Boys has disavowed misogyny, anti-semitism, islamaphobia, and white supremacy, members have continuously allied with known white supremacists. Stay tuned for the future episodes covering this topic in further detail.
Read more here.
MAGA Hat Manufacturing
One of the less consequential controversies recently has been the origin of the infamous, red Make America Great Again (MAGA) hats which have become popular among President Trump supporters. Much to the disappointment of liberals and lovers of irony everywhere, the official merchandise has actually been proven to be manufactured in the United States.
Although, there’s still a flourishing market for the knock-off hats and other MAGA merchandise made in China and other countries with cheap labor and there are only so many hipsters willing to buy the merchandise “ironically” – so it is likely that some of the Trump supporters do in fact support Chinese manufacturing going against their own America-first persuasion.
This blog post was written by Celeste Sharp and Nassya Sol.