Hello! I’m Cara Parks, the new executive editor at Roads & Kingdoms. Each week, I’ll be sending out a collection of the most compelling happenings in food, politics, and travel from across the web. On Tuesdays, we’ll be sending out the best of our own coverage. We hope you like it! You can sign up here.
There’s a lot going on this week—China’s annual plenum! The race to the apocalypse continues!—which made it difficult to decide what to talk about first. That is, until I read about this “elite rat team.” Elite rat team! These hero rats are saving pangolins! In addition to being the prehistoric hedgehog/sloth hybrid of my dreams, they’re also the world’s most trafficked animal—who knew? Now these giant pouched rats—so named because of their puffy cheeks, and I’m not making that up—are going to save them. And “Bart Weetjens, a Belgian rat enthusiast,” is going to help them. Everything here is gold.
— WWF UK (@wwf_uk) October 17, 2016
I could end there and be happy, but where’s the fun in that? Way back in 2003, I sat in a cavernous chamber in the U.N. while Luis Moreno Ocampo was elected as the first prosecutor for the International Criminal Court and was inspired by the lofty rhetoric of a world united under the rule of law fairly applied to all. If you’ve ever revisited political ideals that inspired you when you were younger, you know where I’m headed with this. This week, Gambia resigned from the ICC, calling it the “International Caucasian Court” (which is a pretty solid burn for a diplomatic announcement) and saying that it participated in the “persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans.” Gambia is the latest African nation to resign from the Court; South Africa did so last week, Burundi announced it plans to do so as well, and Kenya’s looking into the matter. These countries argue that the Court unfairly focuses on African abuses while ignoring crimes in other parts of the world; every person the Court has indicted has been African, which is absurd. If only someone had seen this coming! Oh that’s right, people have been talking about the ICC’s “Africa problem” for years.
Speaking of things falling apart, did you notice the internet broke last week? Of course you did, because when the internet breaks it rends the very fabric of our social-media dependent reality. Hackers turned “countless devices,” including routers and security cameras, against their owners. In case that wasn’t scary enough, turns out, robots are going to kill us all. No, really. And technology is already controlling us. (Also, there’s a great line in that piece about a “race to the bottom of the brain stem,” which is how I’m describing the 2016 election cycle from now on.) And to round out your distressing future-is-now dystopian reading, here’s Jacob Weisberg on Facebook and advertising:
“If the written word happens to fall out of favor, or if journalism becomes economically unworkable as a consequence, these results, so far as Facebook is concerned, are unintentional. They’re merely collateral damage from the relentless expansion of the most powerful attention-capture machine ever built.”
On the opposite end of the attention-capture machine equation: the Man Booker Prize was announced today, and an American won for the first time, and still America does not care about the Man Booker prize. Canada dropped from first to 25th in the U.N.’s gender equality ranking, so keep fasting, Justin. “ISIS sent four car bombs. The last one hit me.” You sort of know how the story ends as soon as you hear “music video made by a missionary group.” Why the hell are Flemish nationalists all over my feeds right now? Wallonia HIV’s Patient Zero debunked.
Wednesday was Austria National Day, which celebrates not a martial victory but the day the country decided to be neutral. So let’s go to Vienna and have a spritz! Let’s go to a strip club. Watch this video about the U.S.-Mexico border. Today in things you already knew: people are dicks on airplanes. Hash browns! Junk food as a human rights issue sounds funny but isn’t. Woman on magazine cover is actual human living difficult human life. Squirrels and swingers. And finally, we interrupt this week’s World Series coverage to bring you the second-best baseball team in Belarus. You are welcome.
See you next week for more food, travel, and politics stories from around the web. Tweet me stories you’d like to see here @caraparks, and sign up here to get the newsletter to your inbox.