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A fine for WhatsApp, an “extreme” ban on abortion, a welcomed reunion, and a tribute to the legendary Steve Irwin.
WHAT’S GOING ON?
Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, announced he will be stepping down and would not seek re-election. Suga has only been in the position since last September, when he took over from Shinzo Abe, who resigned due to health reasons.
Why is this happening? As Reuters noted, Suga’s tenure has been “marred by an unpopular COVID-19 response and rapidly dwindling public support”. The decision to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics amid a surge in cases was also widely unpopular in Japan.
- In New Zealand, six people were injured following a stabbing spree at a supermarket. The suspect - who prime minister Jacinda Ardern described as a “violent extremist” that was “under constant monitoring” - was shot and killed by place within “roughly 60 seconds of the attack starting”. According to BBC News, of the six injured “three are critical, one is in a serious condition and two are in moderate condition”.
ON TODAY’S AGENDA…
British rapper Dizzee Rascal is expected in court today on charges of assaulting a woman.
The 36-year-old, whose real name is Dylan Mills, was charged with assault after police officers visited an address in Streatham, London, on June 8th 2021. A woman at the property had suffered minor head injuries, but did not require hospital treatment.
- British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, will visit Pakistan later today in a visit expected to last two days.
Drake releases new album “Certified Lover Boy”.
The long-awaited album had been due in January this year, but had to be postponed due to Drake’s knee surgery. ‘Certified Lover Boy’ is Drake’s first album release since ‘Scorpion’ in 2018.
- In Ireland, more than 60,000 students are expected to receive their Leaving Cert results today. RTÉ News notes “grades are up by an average of 2.4 percentage points compared to last year”.
KEEPING AN EYE
Still no word on the formation of a new Afghan government under Taliban rule. Al Jazeera reported it could be announced today after Friday prayers. The time in Kabul is three-and-a-half hours ahead of the UK and Ireland.
Anyway, journalist Paraic O’Brien ended a piece with a powerful quote we wanted to share;
“At the moment, the eyes of the world are on Afghanistan. The most telling clue will come, when they’re not.”
Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph have a report saying Prince William personally intervened to help an Afghan interpreter and his family evacuate to Britain. Prince William allegedly knew the interpreter from his time at the military academy, Sandhurst, and organised for calls to be made on his behalf.
WHAT HAPPENED WHATSAPP?
Well, the company was slapped with a fine. A pretty hefty one. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined the company €225m/£193m.
Why? For not telling its users how it shared their information with Facebook, its parent company.
Worth noting: This is the largest fine ever from the Irish DPC, and the second-highest under EU General Data Protection Regulation rules. Only Amazon has been fined more, in a claim that is still being contested in court.
Helpful context: The Financial Times notes Ireland’s DPC originally suggested a fine of €50m, but quickly came under pressure from other European countries “pushing for a stiffer penalty”.
How did Whatsapp react? The company disagrees with the decision and will appeal.
LET’S TALK ABOUT TEXAS
Texas now has a ban on abortions after six weeks, the strictest legislation on abortion across America. Given there have been more than 1.5 million tweets about this, we wanted to break down some of the key points for you;
Role of the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court voted, by 5-4, to uphold the ban. All three justices appointed during President Trump’s sided with the ban. The court’s chief justice, John Roberts - who was appointed by another Republican president, George W Bush - sided with liberals on this.
Important context: As this report states, “in a particularly divisive twist to the law, Texas state officials cannot enforce the ban, rather private citizens stand to make at least $10,000 if they successfully sue anyone who provides, or aids and abets an abortion after six weeks”. A White House statement described this as “outrageous”.
Abortion statistics in Texas: According to a Channel 4 News report, 85% of abortions in Texas happen after six weeks.
White House reaction: President Biden has condemned the “extreme law,” vowing to continue to protect and defend a woman’s right to choose. In a somewhat heated exchange, Biden’s press secretary, Jen Spaki, defended Biden’s position on abortion in spite of his Catholicism.
What is Roe v Wade? Back in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favour of a woman’s right to have an abortion under the 14th amendment to the constitution - the right to privacy. According to CNN, this landmark ruling impacted the law in 46 states. Some analysts are now saying this most recent decision by the Supreme Court not to block the Texas ban could be a significant step towards the Conservative goal of overturning Roe v Wade. At the moment, six of the Supreme Court’s nine justices were appointed by Republican presidents.
- BBC News: ‘Tax rise for £25m’ and ‘dithering’ over boosters
- The Guardian: Gareth Southgate calls for protection for his players after abuse in Hungary
- The Financial Times: WhatsApp fined €225m for not telling users how it shared data with Facebook
- Al Jazeera: Taliban close to forming government as civilian flights resume
- The Irish Times: Leaving Cert results climb to record high as number of students getting top grades soars
Hurricane Ida and its aftermath of record-breaking rain has left at least 46 people dead across a number of east-coast states. The majority of deaths - 23 - occurred in New Jersey.
THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC
Abba is back, with new music, and an upcoming virtual concert.
Abba “Voyage” - which includes ten new tracks - will be released in early November. Two of those tracks, including the one below, were released on their Youtube channel on Thursday.
- Beyonce’s 40th birthday - when it hits you that she was 18 at the time of ‘Say My Name’ releasing 🤯
ON A LIGHTER NOTE…
Tomorrow marks 15 years since the death of legendary crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin. If you were ever wondering how best to react when bitten by a snake in the neck - and you’ve definitely wondered - look no further.