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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It’s always nice to realize that no matter what you do, this little planet will keep spinning, in an unforgiving, emotionless way, determined purely by physics. Remembering that we are moving over 107,000 kilometers per hour without even feeling it in the slightest can be a peculiar feeling. Compared to that fact, what really matters? But I digress. This is the Maastricht Diplomat’s Sunday Summary, and I present to you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of this week’s worldwide happenings.  

The Good

In the Netherlands, the most infamous trial of the last decade has seen its conclusion. Better known as the ‘Marengo’ trial, this six-year long trial against Ridouan Taghi and 15 of his associates has pushed Dutch rule of law to the edge. This particular case was in regard to 5 murders, and 4 attempted murders. 4 of these murders were related to drug trade activities in which Taghi is a kingpin, and one was a journalist. However, what made this case especially heavy were the killings of people involved, such as lawyers, family members of key witnesses, and a celebrity criminal journalist, Peter R. de Vries. It has altered the atmosphere of Dutch prosecution heavily, with both journalists and judges being threatened. Taghi received life in prison. 

If you love the outdoors, and if you live in Europe, further good news comes from Brussels, with the EU passing the ‘Nature Restoration Law’. Currently, over 80% of Europe’s ecosystems are in trouble, with biodiversity on a decrease in the past decades. This law aims to combat that, by ensuring at least 20% of ecosystems in need are improved by 2030, and all are improved by 2050. While this is certainly a difficult goal, it is in line with international agreements, and believed to be not only good for the environment, but for the future economy of Europe as well. 

The Bad

One might think that turtles and fish are the animals suffering most from plastic pollution, but it seems that humanity is next on the chopping block. A new study of microplastic content in human placentas found microplastics present in every placenta they tested. The scientists in charge of the investigation find the results extremely worrying, since this would imply that most mammal species on earth could be affected by microplastics. However, as of now, there are no clear health implications for microplastic content, but that is simply because research in this field has not had the time necessary to see what health complications could arise. 

In other health news, we are now a planet with over 1 billion obese people. A large, global study involving the data of over 220 million individuals has found that obesity rates are skyrocketing. Especially among young people, the rate has almost quadrupled in the last 30 years. Compared to a doubling amongst adults, that is worrying. Obesity is a worldwide problem, but especially prevalent in small island nations in the Pacific Ocean, where fresh vegetables are hard to come by. 

And the Ugly

Are memes a form of miracle? Probably not, but if you contemplate how they are able to propagate a new concept, idea, or form of knowledge into the minds of hundreds of millions of people around the world within less than a week, they are kind of cool. That’s what happened this week in Glasgow, where a less-than-successful Willy Wonka Experience was set up. The story behind the meme is not so special- it was simply an overmarketed event, with some terrible planning. But it is interesting to see how it spread so rapidly, not just staying a side story in local Scottish news, but making it into papers like The Guardian and The New York Times in days. 

In other ugly news, Sri Lanka has imposed limitations on Russians and Ukranians staying in the country long-term following the advertising of a ‘white-only’ party. Organizers say it was meant to bring together local expats, but clearly, they could have worded their invitations a bit better. Following massive backlash and controversy, both Russians and Ukranians now have to pay to renew their tourist visas, something they were exempted from since February 2022. 

And to finish off, a small Japanese town will stop celebrating their annual Sominsai Festival, better known as the ‘naked man’ festival, due to demographic constraints. Normally, men would gather once a year to participate in (nude) wrestling competitions, with the goal of expelling evil through certain chants. However, with the Japanese population aging, and young people moving to the cities, not enough local men are able-bodied enough to continue participating. As such, this year’s edition of the Sominsai Festival was the last. But, do not fear, for if you are a lover of naked festivals, Japan has many others on offer.


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