Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

The 212 Defend Islam Action Alumni — One year ago this week, hardline Muslim groups that want to transform Indonesia into an Islamic state governed by Sharia law succeeded in defeating the ethnic Chinese and Christian former Jakarta governor and having him thrown in jail. Those same groups commemorated their achievement this week with a large rallyattended by the governor they supported as his replacement. Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, remains popular and a defender of secular and inclusive government, but we’ll keep watching to see if these groups challenge him more directly in 2018 ahead of national elections in 2019.


Yemen — The killing of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh will provoke more violence and create more misery in a country that’s already home to an enormous humanitarian crisis. The war in Yemen has killed about 14,000 people and forced 3 million from their homes. More than 1 million are afflicted with cholera. The UN estimates that more than 20 million Yemenis need humanitarian help.

The HJK Helsinki football club — Two events were booked at the same time in the Tukkutori market in Helsinki. The first was a torchlight march of far-right Finnish nationalists to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Finland’s independence. The second was a children’s group that wanted to mark the same occasion with rabbits and alpacas. Local officials ruled that the guys with torches applied for the permit first. The HJK Helsinki football club then offered the kids, bunnies, and alpacas the use of its stadium. #Suomi100

What We're Ignoring

Early ANC voting — Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly opened a lead in the battle to decide who will lead the ruling African National Congress into South Africa’s next election in 2019. We’re ignoring preliminary results. We’ll be watching closely (and writing about) the actual outcome of the vote later this month. Its significance is historic, but much can change between now and then.

The color yellow — Here’s another story you can ignore until later in the month. Spain’s electoral authority has ordered officials in Barcelona to remove yellow lights from public fountains around the city because they fear the color yellow, associated with Catalan identity, will encourage separatist sentiment. Catalans will vote in regional elections on December 21. Even if separatist parties win there will be no sudden moves toward independence, but demand may again begin to grow. That won’t be because of yellow lights in public fountains.

The Yulin City Zoo — Dear Finnish kids, please do not send your bunnies and alpacas to the zoo in Yulin, China, where the featured attractions are inflatable penguins, some roosters, and a “longevity turtle.” This is not China’s first zoo scandal. According to The Straits Times, “In 2013, an ‘African lion’ in a zoo in Henan was revealed to be a Tibetan mastiff when it barked.”

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world, but that means it creates a lot of waste in the form of cups and used coffee grinds. Every year, we drink out of 600 billion single-use plastic and paper cups, most of which end up in a landfill or our environment. Could coffee also contribute to a more sustainable future? A German company is now recovering leftover coffee grounds from bars, restaurants and hotels, and it's recycling them into reusable coffee cups. In other words, they're creating cups of coffee made from coffee.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

What technology was used to assist Eliud Kipchoge's historic sub two-hour marathon time?

A lot. If you watched the video of him, you saw that he was within a pace group, a whole bunch of runners in front of him cutting the wind. Some runners behind him, actually improving his wind resistance by having people behind him. There was a green laser showing him exactly what time he had to run. He had really high-tech gels that he took, these Maurten gels. I actually like those a lot, too. But the main thing were the shoes. These are the early prototypes of the shoes or the first version. He's now in the third version. But what's most important is there is a carbon fiber plate. You cannot bend this thing. So, Nike introduced these shoes, I don't know, two years ago. Now, there's a new generation. It's very controversial.

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Will the Catalonia question be a big issue in the Spanish election coming up in November?

You bet it will. Passions have been further inflamed now, and the question that has been difficult from the very beginning, by the very heavy prison sentences that was given to those that are accused of sedition, that is organizing the independence referendum. So, passions are heating up. It will be a difficult issue for the entire Spanish political system to handle for years to come.

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You'd think, being the relatively hopeful person that you are, that the nauseating anguish of Brexit would be more or less over now that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally reached a deal with Brussels on how to extricate the UK from the European Union.

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