World Stories You May Have Missed: August 2018

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World stories you may have missed this month include: an Indian MP’s Hitler costume, a Minister’s cycle ride to give birth in New Zealand, and litter picking crows in France. This series highlights the more bizarre news stories which may have passed you by.

An Indian MP’s Hitler protest:

Indian MP Naramalli Sivaprasad’s previous costumes have included that of a woman, a Muslim cleric, and a Hindu God; demonstrating his disapproval of federal government policy. This time he wore a swastika armband and a moustache, thus seeking to demonstrate that Narendra Modi’s leadership is detached from the interests of his people. Sivaprasad claimed that a refusal to grant the MP’s region with development funds would lead to the Prime Minister’s downfall.

The MP’s outfit did not provoke the same outrage that would be expected in countries which were more greatly affected by Hitler’s rule. Many Indians actually view Hitler as a strong and inspirational leader, with Mein Kampf being sold across the country. Furthermore, there are clothes shops, cafes, ice-cream and merchandise named after the infamous dictator.

A New Zealand Minister cycled to hospital for her baby’s birth:

Credit: Image via Julie Anne Genter Instagram.

New Zealand’s Minister for Women and Associate Minister for Health and Transport, Julie Anne Genter, cycled to a hospital in order to deliver her baby. Despite being forty-two weeks pregnant, Genter found the cycle journey: “put me in the best possible mood“. She used an electric bike on a downhill journey, making the trip slightly easier.

Genter is the second Minister in New Zealand to have a child this year, the other being the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. Ms.in Ardern, who also delivered her baby at Auckland City Hospital, made headlines when she was driven to her family’s car, rather than one supplied by the government.

Australians bombarded their MPs with requests for the Queen’s portrait:

The ‘constituents’ request program’ allows all members of the Australian electorate to request free Australian flags, a recording of the national anthem, a portrait of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. This is taxpayer funded, is not available in the UK or any other commonwealth country. Since the eighth of August, when a Vice’s article drew attention to this freebie, MPs’ offices have been inundated with requests. However, it is worth noting that Republican sentiment is growing in Australia, with many of these requests being made out of jest.

A diplomatic storm in a coffee cup:

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen received a warm welcome with her coffee at the Los Angeles branch of 85°C Bakery Cafe. This chain of cafes originated in Taiwan, spreading across China and the US. Photographs of the Taiwanese President, alongside excited staff and a gift bag, were shared on social media. This prompted anger and calls for a boycott from customers in China who saw this as an endorsement of Taiwanese independence. Some food delivery services disaffiliated themselves from the bakery’s parent company, which reportedly saw its value drop by ninety-four-million pounds.

The company was forced to publish an anti-independence statement on its website. On the one hand, those in Taiwan saw this as bowing down to Chinese pressure. On the other hand, as the apology was only on the Chinese mainland website, this has also been interpreted as insincere.

Fortunately, my occasional trips to the coffee shop do not cause this kind of controversy!

French crows began cleaning a theme park:

Six rooks (Baco, Black, Bricole, Bill, Boubou, and Bamboo) at Puy du Fou park in the west of France have been taught to pick up cigarette ends and litter, to receive a bird food reward. These litter-pickers are able to fill a bucket with waste within just forty-five minutes. Members of the crow family are believed to be as intelligent as the average seven-year-old child, so perhaps the insult ‘bird-brained’ is a bad one.

The World’s oldest cheese was found in an Egyptian tomb:

A few years ago archaeologists discovered a jar filled with a mysterious white substance making up part of a thirteenth-century Egyptian tomb’s ceremonial feast. Upon closer inspection this month, this substance turned out to be one of the oldest cheeses ever discovered, estimated to be 3200 years old and made from cow’s and sheep’s milk. A cheese historian Paul Kingstedt at the University of Vermont claimed that the specimen was “really, really acidy [being]high in moisture; it would be spreadable“. I must warn you that if you do happen to stumble upon ancient cheeses, consumption of it may infect you with a nasty case of brucellosis.

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