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‘We are finally free’: Senegal hails new anti-establishment president

Just 10 days before being elected president of Senegal, Bassirou Diomaye Faye was in prison.

Years of political turmoil have left the west African state’s democracy teetering on the brink of collapse, with deadly uprisings and the jailing of opposition figurescommonplace.

But Faye’s victory, secured in the first round of voting, has left the population, particularly its youth, feeling energised by the his promise of radical change.

“I feel free. We are finally free. Senegal is free,” said Elhadji Thiam, 27, a merchant and staunch supporter of the Patriots of Senegal (Pastef), Faye’s anti-establishment party, which was banned in July.

Faye, a former tax inspector, pitched himself as a pan-Africanist intent on steering Senegal toward economic sovereignty and away from French colonial relics such as the west African CFA franc, a currency pegged to the euro.

He has also pledged to overhaul the government, weed out corruption and increase transparency. At 44, Senegal’s youth regard him as a relatable figure whose values have been informed by a traditional village upbringing and a devotion to Islam.

His main rival, the governing coalition’s Amadou Ba, conceded defeat after failing to woo voters on a promise of continuing the status quo. It was the first time since Senegal’s independence from France in 1960 that an opposition candidate won in the presidential election’s first round.

A smooth election is particularly notable for Senegal, a nation on the peripheries of west Africa’s “coup belt.” Neighbours such as Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger have experienced a series of military takeovers that have highlighted the precarity of democracy in the region and raised fears Senegal could follow suit.

Faye was not his party’s first choice of candidate. He was selected to run in place of the former presidential hopeful Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from running due to a defamation conviction – charges his supporters say were politically motivated. Sonko captivated Senegal’s youth with his sharp critiques of political elites and achieved a martyr-like status for serving prison time over a myriad of charges.

Thiam said: “When you see someone who’s willing to give their life for their country it’s impossible not to support them. Sonko has done everything for Senegal.”

His popularity was transferred on to Faye with the help of Sonko’s wholehearted endorsement as well as through the oft-recited party slogan: “Sonko is Diomaye, Diomaye is Sonko.”

Critics of Pastef have condemned the party for promoting what they say are reckless policies that could sink Senegal’s economy, most notably its budding oil and gas industry, and inciting “insurrectional movements”.

Faye will serve as Senegal’s fifth democratically elected president, replacing Macky Sall , who has been in power since 2012. Sall has also been criticised for prioritising foreign interests and businesses over local entities, and opponents blame him for high youth unemployment rates and a related migration crisis, which has reached record highs in recent years. More than 60% of Senegal’s population is under the age of 25.

Sall’s popularity among Senegalese youth sunk to new lows during his second term when he began jailing opposition members. His ambiguous stance about whether he would step down at the end of his mandate fuelled violent clashes between protesters and gendarmes. More than 60 people have died in protests since 2021, according to rights groups.

Haiti gang boss will take part in talks if invited - but warns foreign forces will be treated as 'invaders'

The head of one of Haiti's most powerful gangs, and the de-facto head of a consortium of gangs that have brought Port-au-Prince to a standstill, has told Sky News he would consider a ceasefire and talks on the political future of the country if they were included.

But Jimmy Cherizier, known universally as "Barbecue", has predicted that more violence is imminent, adding that a recent halt in the fighting is purely a technical pause.

"There is nothing calm, but when you're fighting you have to know when to advance and when to retreat," he said.

"I think every day that passes we are coming up with a new strategy so we can advance, but there's nothing calm.

"In the days that are coming things will get worse than they are now…" he told me sitting in an alleyway in his stronghold.

Political parties in Haiti, overseen by CARICOM, the Caribbean economic union of countries, are trying to form a transitional council that will take over the running of the country after the Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who is currently in the United States, stands down.

Cherizier has said they "respect CARICOM a lot" but dismissed the process as unrepresentative of the needs of the ordinary people and a smokescreen to allow "corrupt politicians" and what he calls "corrupt oligarchs" to continue running the country.

The only way the situation can move on, he insisted, is if the peace process includes him and his gang coalition.

"If the international community comes with a detailed plan where we can sit together and talk, but they do not impose on us what we should decide, I think that the weapons could be lowered," he added.

"We don't believe in killing people and massacring people, we believe in dialogue, we have weapons in our hand and it's with the weapons that we must liberate this country."

Haiti has been paralysed by weeks of violence that has seen whole districts burnt to the ground, tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes, while murder, rape, and gun battles are a daily occurrence.

Port-au-Prince is 80% controlled by the gangs and normal life has virtually stopped.

To get to Barbecue we were guided down a now-deserted motorway pockmarked with burnt out sections of tarmac and abandoned and burnt-out vehicles.

It's one of the main economic highways in the capital, and now totally under his control.

We were told that their snipers were watching us, and to drive slowly, and follow our guide's every move.

We then turned off the main road and drove through a warren of backstreets, to a meeting point where we were greeted by a group of armed gunmen in balaclavas.

I've met Barbecue before, and I knew where we were going, but everything was different this time - that deserted highway was free flowing the last time I was here. Now it is a barricaded battlefield.

Another difference is that last time we met, he wasn't too keen on us filming his armed guards, but now he positively wanted us to see them, and was carrying two weapons himself.

The reason is simple. He is at war, and he wants the authorities and his enemies here to know that it is a war.

He's not responsible for all the violence sweeping across Haiti's capital but, be under no doubt, he is at the centre of it and his fighters are never far away.

Barbecue sees himself as a revolutionary for the people, and he rails against corrupt politicians and oligarchs.

He has dismissed all the efforts under way here to form a transitional council that will govern Haiti.

"We believe in dialogue, we are for dialogue, but this political class that is here now is not here for dialogue, the reason is that they don't carry Haiti in their hearts the same way that we do.

"The political class say they are excluding bandits, that men with guns are not in it, but this is a way for them to revive the same system, because the system has reached its end.

"The divide between rich and poor is too vast, in the whole world there is a divide between rich and poor, but the way it's done in Haiti is indecent," he told me.

He suggested though, that he is open to some form of negotiations as long as they're represented.

"We are ready for all solutions as long as Haitians are at the table, we are ready to sit and talk with everyone, because we are not proud of what is happening in this country…"

I asked him if he accepts that if they want to have talks, they'll have to put down their weapons.

"The weapons will be lowered when they need to be lowered," he replied.

"At the moment we haven't got to the point where we should put down our weapons, because the people here don't want to listen to reason.

"We have been hearing about dialogue for more than two or three years.

"We've been asking for everyone to sit down and talk to the people with guns, and no one heard us. Today we have reached the point where we are advancing and our objective is clear."

Surrounded by well-armed gunmen, Barbecue took me for a walk around some of his newly acquired territory.

He took us through the roadblocks of buses they've put in place to stop police raids here.

He says the last major police assault was eight days ago and he's not sure when there will be another.

Inside his territory, despite the poverty, life is relatively peaceful and organised.

Barbecue said we should see food distribution taking place inside his community.

And unlike what we have seen in other parts of Port-au-Prince, the queues for the food Barbecue gets brought in are orderly.

The essential difference is the people waiting in line know there's enough food and water supplies for the whole community. They just need to wait.

The issue here though is whether a poor area, controlled by a gang boss, is getting better treatment than poor areas controlled by the government.

This is the source of Barbecue's strength.

Cherizier, a former policeman, sees himself as a sort of revolutionary freedom fighter in the style of Che Guevara, and a Robin Hood type figure for his community.

For much of the international community though, and many in Haiti, he is a criminal gang leader.

Watched on by his well-armed and battle-hardened soldiers, Barbecue says plans for an international force led by Kenya to impose peace in Port-au-Prince will lead to more violence, whoever is in charge.

When I met him last in January 2023 I asked about foreign forces. He said at the time innocent people would die if they came in. I wondered if he still held the same view.

"I believe that just like I said, if the Kenyans come, first of all they will come to commit massacres in the poor communities, because the oligarchs and the corrupt politicians are going to tell them where to go on the pretext that they're coming to eliminate gangs and bandits, and they're going to enter the poor communities to commit massacres," he said.

"We at this moment who have weapons in our hands are not going to allow this.

"It's evolving. If the Kenyan military or Kenyan police come, whatever, I will consider them as aggressors, we will consider them as invaders, and we do not have to collaborate with any invaders that have come to walk over our independence."

Barbecue is not only leader of the G9 group of gangs, he is now also the leader of Viv Ansanm (Living Together) revolutionary group, a newly formed gang alliance.

He said he's trying to reign the more violent gangs in, and that they need to change their ways or risk losing their revolution.

"Viv Ansanm is a collective leadership - I can't force them. If I use force against them it will be an endless fight, we will never be able to accomplish what we want to against the people who have created this situation," he explained.

"But every day every day we talk seven or eight times on the phone, and each time we hear on the news that they kidnap someone or something bad is done.

"I always call the guys on the phone to see how together we can correct this, and even they who have been doing it are starting to be conscious that this is bad and that they're not going to do it anymore.

"But me I just assure myself that I continue talking to them for them to stop and not continue to do it.

"I think in time we will find a solution with a country where there are no kidnappings, without raping and killing people, and in the end we will chase the corrupt politicians and the corrupt oligarchs out of the country."

As we were getting ready to leave Cherizier paused to fly a kite.

It's an early Easter tradition here. He laughed and joked with his people. He's an unlikely hero but here in his territory he is.

In truth no ordinary society needs people like Barbecue, but Haiti isn't normal.

How or when it achieves normality is impossible to predict.

Okay, I know this is serious.

But it's also very funny.

Everyone in Japan will be called Sato by 2531 unless marriage law changed, says professor

Japanese citizens will all have the same family name in 500 years’ time unless married couples are permitted to use separate surnames, a new study has suggested as part of a campaign to update a civil code dating back to the late 1800s.

The study, led by Hiroshi Yoshida, a professor of economy at Tohoku University, projected that if Japan continues to insist that couples select a single surname, every single Japanese person will be known as “Sato-san” by 2531.

Yoshida conceded that his projections were based on several assumptions, but said the idea was to use numbers to explain the present system’s potential effects on Japanese society to draw attention to the issue.

“If everyone becomes Sato, we may have to be addressed by our first names or by numbers,” he said, according to the Mainichi. “I don’t think that would be a good world to live in.”

Sato already tops the list of Japanese surnames, accounting for 1.5% of the total population, according to a March 2023 survey, with Suzuki a close second.

Some social media users wrongly assumed the study, first reported on Monday but published in March, was an April fools’ day prank, but Yoshida said he wanted it to give people pause for thought.

A nation of Satos “will not only be inconvenient but also undermine individual dignity,” he said, according to the Asahi Shimbun, adding that the trend would also lead to the loss of family and regional heritage.

According to Yoshida’s calculations, the proportion of Japanese named Sato increased 1.0083 times from 2022 to 2023. Assuming the rate remains constant and there is no change to the law on surnames, around half of the Japanese population will have that name in 2446, rising to 100% in 2531.

Couples in Japan have to choose which surname to share when they marry, but in 95% of cases, it is the woman who changes her name.

However, the picture would be different if Japan’s government submitted to growing pressure to allow married couples to use separate surnames.

The study contained an alternative scenario extrapolated from a 2022 survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, in which 39.3% of 1,000 employees aged 20 to 59 said they wanted to share a surname even if they had the option of using separate ones.

Under those circumstances, Yoshida, whose study was was commissioned by the Think Name Project and other organisations that want to legalise the opportunity to select your surname, projected that by 2531, only 7.96% of the Japanese population would be named Sato, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.

You can use separate surnames now but any children will take the mother's surname.

Andrew Tate's ideology driving sexual harassment, sexism and misogyny in Australian classrooms

For Grace*, 2023 should have been the pinnacle of her teaching career.

Five years after graduating university, she was settling into a full-term contract at her "dream job" on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, teaching at the high school she had attended growing up.

"I'd travelled around, I'd come back, and I'd settled in a nice spot. So I thought it was going to be a really good thing for me," the 30-year-old told 7.30.

But by the middle of the year, Grace's teaching career was over.

According to Yoshida’s calculations, the proportion of Japanese named Sato increased 1.0083 times from 2022 to 2023. Assuming the rate remains constant..

Seems legit. In related news, based on current trends by the year 2500 I will weigh just under 800kg.

fenomas wrote:
According to Yoshida’s calculations, the proportion of Japanese named Sato increased 1.0083 times from 2022 to 2023. Assuming the rate remains constant..

Seems legit. In related news, based on current trends by the year 2500 I will weigh just under 800kg.

Yeah. Straight line projections in the 1980’s had Japan becoming the world’s largest economy. Now they say that of China. And I’m sure they will say it of India next.

They've been saying it of Russia since 1917... For sufficiently Nomenklatura-oriented definitions of "They".

I looked it up and that Sato guy's math is amazing. About like saying that gender ratios changed last year, and therefore by 2750 all humans will be female.

But on the other hand I agree with the point he's trying to make, so meeeehhhhhh.

I dunno, man, everybody being called "Sato" sounds kinda aladeen.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:

I dunno, man, everybody being called "Sato" sounds kinda aladeen.

The aladeen news is that you are HIV aladeen.

I'm sorry, this part is hilarious, and par for the course:

Mr Slater believes much of what's been reported about Mr Tate's views on men and women has been taken out of context.

"So, he says men are superior to women. What he means is like, you know, men should dominate the relationship and help the woman to aspire to what she wants to be," he said.

So, it's pretty much exactly what people have said.

I don't feel like looking for it atm, but I am immediately reminded of that poll from a couple months ago about how there is a major political divide between young men and women right now, that young men are trending more conservative and reactionary across multiple different countries, and young women are trending more liberal.

China's ageing population: A demographic crisis is unfolding for Xi

Ask 72-year-old farmer Huanchun Cao about his pension and he reacts with a throaty cackle.

He sucks on his home-rolled cigarette, narrows his brow and tilts his head - as if the very question is absurd. "No, no, we don't have a pension," he says looking at his wife of more than 45 years.

Mr Cao belongs to a generation that witnessed the birth of Communist China. Like his country, he has become old before he has become rich. Like many rural and migrant workers, he has no choice but to keep working and to keep earning, as he's fallen through a weak social safety net.

A slowing economy, shrinking government benefits and a decades-long one-child policy have created a creeping demographic crisis in in Xi Jinping's China.

The pension pot is running dry and the country is running out of time to build enough of a fund to care for the growing number of elderly.

Over the next decade, about 300 million people, who are currently aged 50 to 60, are set to leave the Chinese workforce. This is the country's largest age group, nearly equivalent to the size of the US population.

Who will look after them? The answer depends on where you go and who you ask.

Pretty solid earthquake in Taiwan.

A powerful earthquake has hit off the coast of Taiwan, rocking the entire island and collapsing buildings in at least one town. I’m Reged Ahmad and I’ll be with you for the next while.

Japan issued a tsunami alert for the southern Japanese island group of Okinawa, according to Associated Press.

Only 9 dead so far, which is frankly pretty surprising, considering some of the pictures.

HUALIEN, Taiwan (AP) — The strongest earthquake in a quarter-century rocked Taiwan Wednesday morning, killing nine people, stranding dozens at quarries and a national park, and sending some residents scrambling out the windows of damaged buildings.

The quake, which injured more than 1,000, struck during rush hour and was centered off the coast of rural, mountainous Hualien County, where some buildings leaned at severe angles, their ground floors crushed. Just over 150 kilometers (93 miles) away in the capital of Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings, and schools evacuated students to sports fields as aftershocks rattled the island nation.

Rescuers fanned out in Hualien, looking for people who may be trapped and using excavators to stabilize damaged buildings. The numbers of people missing, trapped or stranded fluctuated as authorities learned of more in trouble and worked to locate or free them.

Some 70 workers who were stranded at two rock quarries were safe, according to Taiwan’s national fire agency, but the roads to reach them were damaged by falling rocks. Six workers were going to be airlifted on Thursday.

In the early hours after the quake, which struck just before 8 a.m., neighbors and rescue workers could be seen on TV lifting residents, including a toddler, through windows and onto the street. Some doors had fused shut in the shaking.

Taiwan is regularly jolted by quakes and its population is among the best prepared for them. But authorities expected a relatively mild earthquake and did not send out alerts. The eventual quake was strong enough to scare even people who are used to such shaking.

“I’ve grown accustomed to (earthquakes). But today was the first time I was scared to tears by an earthquake,” said Hsien-hsuen Keng, a resident who lives in a fifth-floor apartment in Taipei. ”I was awakened by the earthquake. I had never felt such intense shaking before.”

At least nine people died in the quake, according to the national fire agency. Most of the fatalities were caused by falling rocks, including four people who were struck inside Taroko National Park, according to the state Central News Agency. One died in a residential building that was damaged, the news agency said.

A tsunami warning was triggered but later lifted.

At least 1,011 people were reported injured. Authorities initially lost contact with 50 hotel employees in minibuses in the national park after the quake downed phone networks; three employees walked to the hotel, while the others remained stranded. About two dozen tourists were also stranded in the park, the state news agency said.

The quake and aftershocks caused many landslides and damaged roads, bridges and tunnels. The national legislature, a converted school built before World War II, and sections of the main airport in Taoyuan, just south of Taipei, also saw minor damage.

Can’t overstate the benefits of good infrastructure, preparedness, and building safety codes.

Top UN expert warns of deteriorating situation in Haiti: ‘It’s apocalyptic’

The UN’s top expert on human rights in Haiti has warned the Caribbean country is rapidly moving towards becoming “like Somalia in the worst of its times” after a criminal uprising which has displaced tens of thousands of people and largely cut its capital city off from the world.

Just over a month after the gang rebellion began, William O’Neill – an American human rights lawyer who has been travelling to Haiti for more than 30 years – voiced alarm over the rapidly deteriorating situation in Port-au-Prince.

The international airport has been closed since early March because of the violence, foreigners are being evacuated by helicopter, and heavily armed gang fighters continue to sow chaos, launching almost daily attacks on schools, universities, hospitals, banks, businesses and the political heart of the Haitian capital. On Wednesday, the national library was looted.

I know someone who lost half her family to [former dictator] François Duvalier’s execution squads and she said she’s never seen it this bad. Uncles, cousins, brothers killed – and she said it’s never been this bad,” O’Neill said from Geneva.

“I’m running out of words frankly at this point … it’s apocalyptic, it’s like the end of times,” added the UN’s independent expert, who helped set up the resource-starved Haitian police force that is now battling to stem the tide in the mid-1990s. “[There’s] a level of intensity and cruelty in the violence that is simply unprecedented in my experience in Haiti.”

More than 1,500 people have been killed in the first three months of 2024, compared with 4,451 in the whole of last year, the UN said last week.

O’Neill is no stranger to challenging security situations, having worked in hotspots including Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Bosnia, Nepal and South Sudan. But he expressed shock at the almost complete evaporation of Haitian authorities in the face of the gang mutiny, which started on 29 February and forced the prime minister, Ariel Henry, to announce his resignation from abroad. Haiti held its last election in 2016 and has lacked a president since 2021 when Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his Port-au-Prince home. Haiti currently has no elected officials.

“Here, I think what’s different is that the state is virtually absent … There is no state and that’s almost like a Hobbesian world where it’s really the survival of the fittest … and unfortunately the fittest right now are the gangs,” said O’Neill, who thought only a minor miracle was helping Haiti’s outgunned police prevent a total takeover.

So far the bulk of the violence has been confined to Port-au-Prince, up to 90% of which is now estimated to be controlled by Haiti’s powerful, politically connected gangs. More than 53,000 people have fled the capital in recent weeks, according to the UN.

However, O’Neill feared the turmoil could soon engulf other parts of the country, fuelling a massive exodus of refugees to the US and Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. “If it all just completely goes hell in a handbasket and it spreads out of Port-au-Prince to the countryside … [you’ll have] lots of people getting on boats. You’re gonna see [them] … take whatever risk to get out of there.”

O’Neill believed that nightmarish scenario was “weeks [away] at worst, months at best”. “It’s really now descending into something that’s like Somalia in the worst of its times, a 90-minute flight from Miami. We’re not there yet. But we’re perilously close.”

Despite his grim prognosis, O’Neill believed the situation could be reversed. He hoped a Kenya-led multinational “security support mission” of up to 4,000 police officers and troops would be deployed and manage to retake and secure key pieces of infrastructure such as the airport, the port and the fuel terminal.

The upcoming US election meant the Biden administration was unlikely to send troops. But the UN expert believed Washington could severely disrupt the gangs by cracking down on the smuggling of US-made weapons from Florida to Haitian ports.

“I’m amazed that you can’t get food or medicine into Haiti, but you still get guns and bullets coming in … I can’t believe my government can’t inspect those boats leaving from the Miami River and pull out every rifle and bullet because Haiti doesn’t produce any guns or bullets,” O’Neill said, adding: “If the gangs don’t have their guns or bullets, they lose all their power.”

Gang propaganda videos posted on social media in recent weeks have offered a chilling glimpse of their firepower and drawn comparisons with Mexico’s bellicose drug cartels.

Observers continue to debate the precise motives driving the mafia insurrection, which one limelight-seeking gang spokesperson has painted as a popular revolution against Haiti’s corrupt elites.

O’Neill suspected the rebellion was not about seizing power but rather deterring the deployment of foreign security forces and intimidating politicians involved in a transitional council being set up to choose new leaders and restore order. He said Haiti’s almost total lack of government was essential to the gangs’ lucrative illegal activities including kidnapping, gun-running, drug trafficking and extortion.

“I can’t read their minds but it seems as though they’re targeting people or institutions that could be involved in a change – a transition from this catastrophe to something different … They’re not interested in changing Haitian society or good governance or anything like that,” O’Neill said of the gangs.

“I don’t think they want to take over … This is not like the Maoists in Nepal or [Colombia’s] Farc. There’s no ideology here to take over the state and run things. I think they want to keep a very weak, ineffective and largely absent state so that they can fill the void and keep control.”

Saudis Scale Back Ambition for $1.5 Trillion Desert Project Neom

Saudi Arabia has scaled back its medium-term ambitions for the desert development of Neom, the biggest project within Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans for diversifying the oil-dependent economy, according to people familiar with the matter.

By 2030, the government at one point hoped to have 1.5 million residents living in The Line, a sprawling, futuristic city it plans to contain within a pair of mirror-clad skyscrapers. Now, officials expect the development will house fewer than 300,000 residents by that time, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Officials have long said The Line would be built in stages and they expect it to ultimately cover a 170-kilometer stretch of desert along the coast. With the latest pullback, though, officials expect to have just 2.4 kilometers of the project completed by 2030, the person familiar with the matter said, who asked not to be named discussing non-public information.

As a result, at least one contractor has started to dismiss a portion of the workers it employs on the site, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

Representatives for Neom and the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, the main entity that owns and is funding the project, declined to comment.

If you'd like a second opinion, you can find a Saudi official in the replies to the reporter's tweet, saying the article is all lies.

From the frying pan to the fire: green onions ignite voter anger in South Korea’s elections

Yoon Suk Yeol is hardly the first elected politician to appear out of touch with ordinary voters during a cost-of-living crisis. But as South Korea prepares for key national assembly elections on Wednesday, its conservative president has been tripped up by a humble vegetable.

In recent weeks, green onions have gone from a simple staple of Korean cooking to a powerful symbol of voter anger over rising prices in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy.

Its ascent from the kitchen into politics came during Yoon’s recent visit to a supermarket in Seoul that was intended to portray him as someone who understands the financial pressures faced by ordinary families.

Yoon said he had been to many markets and described as “reasonable” the store’s 875 won (51p) price tag for a bundle of green onions.

Observers were quick to point out, however, that the items had been only temporarily discounted thanks to government subsidies, while the supermarket had made a further price cut. The actual retail price is three to four times higher, hovering at 3,000-4,000 won in recent weeks.

Yoon’s People Power party is hoping to take control of the 300-seat assembly from a liberal majority led by the opposition Democratic party but the trip to the shops has added to criticism that Yoon appears aloof.

It has fuelled a surge in support for smaller parties that could upset the balance of power and render Yoon a lame-duck leader just two years into his presidency. His party has already been grappling with low approval ratings before the vote, which is being seen as a midterm referendum on Yoon’s administration.

How much can a green onion cost? Ten dollars?

Remember, Stengah, there's always money in the green onion stand.

I might have committed a little light green onion treason.

This calls for Booker T. and the M.G.'s!

I gotta say that Korea seems to have speedrun democracy, going from black vans and tear gas to purses and onions in a few decades.

Yeah, I watched a doc on PBS a few weeks ago about the Korean War, and among many other things, I did not realize how quickly South Korea went from "Authoritarian state" to "the Prime Minister being tone deaf about groceries might get him punted out of office."

Korea had a serious demographic problem. I think the birth rate is now 0.68 now making it the lowest overall. I heard somewhere that part of the reason is political divergence between the genders. Apparently younger men are getting more authoritarian while younger women are becoming more insistent on rights. As a result, there are far fewer marriages now than in times past. I don’t blame the women. Who the f*ck wants to get stuck with a Korean Ben Shapiro?

Maybe an American Ben Shapiro.
Could we fix like 3 different issues all at once? :O

Apropos of nothing, but looking at Getty images photos of voters in South Korea today, is a good reminder of how KPop and KDramas can warp your idea of what normal, everyday South Koreans (young ones!) look like.