Check out some of these crazy news stories that are happening in 2021! From deer-on collisions to wacky desert weather!
1. It is snowing in the Sahara desert
A rare phenomenon in Ain Sefra, Algeria, caught public attention around the world over Christmas.
A huge snow blanket has covered the Sahara desert, usually one of the hottest places in the world, due to strangely cold winter weather.
The Sahara desert, which covers most of Northern Africa, has gone through shifts in temperature over the past few hundred thousand years, but snow and ice are still pretty rare.
The town of Ain Sefra, Algeria has experienced snow only three other times in 42 years. Once in 1979 and then again in 2017 and 2018.
In 1979, a snowstorm was severe enough to stop traffic; while in 2017, a blizzard caused snow up to pile up to a metre thick. In 2018 there was 40cm (15in) of snow.
2. A US lawsuit is claiming that Subway tuna subs do not actually contain tuna
Subway is under fire again for its sub-par attitude towards its “Eat Fresh” slogan. According to a class-action lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the filling is “made from anything but tuna,” and is instead “a mixture of various concoctions that do not constitute tuna”, but “imitate the appearance of tuna.” Independent lab testing of Subway’s tuna rolls allegedly found no trace of tuna, nor fish at all. Subway is currently being sued for fraud over the allegations.
That takes the cake!
This isn’t this first time that Subway has been labelled dishonest in their ingredient listing. In October 2020 an Irish court ruled that Subway’s famous sub rolls contained too much sugar to be considered bread and must therefore be “classified as confectionary”.
Under Irish tax law, bread cannot contain more than 2% sugar, which Subways rolls have exceeded with their 10% sugar-filled subs.
Subway also came under fire just three weeks ago for their new health-driven “protein bowls,” which customers have said are just “a footlong sub without the bread.” Considering how much sugar is in said bread mind, perhaps in this instance, you can have your cake and eat it too.
3. Scotland sends Haggis into space to celebrate Burns night
In honour of Burns Night, a packet of haggis has been launched into space for the first time.
Scottish butcher Simon Howie worked with space education and research firm Stratonauts to launch two packets of 454g haggis in Perth and Kinross this month.
The haggis was attached to a weather balloon and rose more than 20 miles (107,293ft) above the Earth.
After taking off from the Simon Howie headquarters in Dunning, it travelled over Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills before landing safely in Lauder in the Borders.
Mr Howie said he wanted to start 2021 by “lifting the spirits of the general public” and was thrilled to work with Stratonauts “to take Scotland’s national dish to new heights”.
“Burns Night is one of the most important dates on the food calendar for us and we wanted to mark the occasion by sending the UK’s best-selling haggis, the original 454g, to the edge of space,” he said.
Mr Howie said his company had worked hard to increase production in the run-up to Christmas and now Burns Night, which Scots celebrate on 25 January to mark the life and works of poet Robert Burns.
4. A man in North Carolina has his new car wrecked in a 2-deer collision, then wins the lottery
After an unfortunate run-in with the local wildlife, Mr A. Dowe from Leland, Nc was in no mood to continue his journey to work, choosing instead to turn around and head home for a kip, presumably hoping to start the day again on the right side of the bed.
Luck was definitely on the cards, however, and when Dowe worker up and checked his Mega Million lottery tickets, he was astonished to find he was now $2 million dollars richer.
When arriving to claim his Mega Millions prize on Tuesday, Dowe said in a statement to NC Lottery
I hit two deer with my brand-new car, so, I just got mad, went back home, got into bed and went to sleep. Then I woke up and checked my tickets. I checked the fourth ticket and I saw the “4” and then the next number and the next number and the next number,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Wow!’ It was just crazy.
Regarding his big win, Dowe commented
It just feels great,” I’m just gonna fix things on my mother and father’s house and get my car fixed, pay it off, and pay my niece’s car off.
From a brush with Bambi to a big boatload of cash, it seems that you can’t always judge a day by its cover.
5. Reddit is currently trolling billions from WallStreet and US regulators aren’t having it
When you think of stock or investors you may think of hedge fund managers and movies like Wolf of Wall Street or The Big Short. But today, thanks to various apps like Robinhood and Betterment, people are finding they can invest in the stock market on their own time, without having to pay an investment management company.
This means more people are able to be on the ground floor on stocks and investment, without having to pay a middle man or be willing to drop thousands on shares in order to get a seat at the table.
Retailer Activism, Reddit and GameStop Explained
Reddit is a social media news platform that is built up of hundreds of individual communities, known as subreddits. Topics can cover anything, from world news to woodworking to WallStreet.
Many of the users (known as “Redditors”) on the platform have a deep love for a franchise known as GameStop, a video game, consumer electronics, and gaming merchandise retailer, after having spent their childhood trading in games at their local store before learning how to trade stock online.
Cue the latest and biggest WallStreet scandal to hit newspapers since the 2008 housing crash: Retailer Activism. But this time around it’s not the hedge fund managers that are raking in the dough, but rather a group of internet sleuths on a subreddit known as r/wallstreetbets.
At the beginning of January, users from r/wallstreetbets started buying up shares in GameStop, increasing its value immensely, despite the fact that the brick and mortar chain has practically been chased out of business by the COVID-19 pandemic. The stock price went from $19.94 per share on 11th January, to $325 a share by 29th January.
The Redditors also bought up huge amounts of shares in companies such as AMC Theatres, Blackberry, Nokia and similar noughties underdogs that have been waning in value in recent years. As of the time of writing, the Reddit group currently has its sights set on stocks in cryptocurrency and metals such as silver.
Short Selling and WallStreet Anger Explained
Hedge funds and others that bet against GameStop have collectively lost more than $5bn, according to data taken from WallStreet analysts.
The investors were using a process known as short selling, where instead of buying a stock share at a low price and then selling it when it goes high, investors sell when the stock is high and then make bets with each other that the stock will continue to fall.
A short sale may occur for a number of reasons. Investors may choose to short sell stock because they feel it is overvalued in the market, causing it to fall so those same investors can pick up the stock again at a lower price.
The practice, while completely legal, is socially considered unethical and often leads to overnight company bankruptcy as the stock value spirals. In short, everyone loses except the first few investors that first chose to sell high behind closed doors.
How Reddit is playing WallStreet at their own game
Except we’re not in the 90s anymore. There’s no such thing as a closed-door when the eyes of the internet are looking through every keyhole. r/wallstreetbets saw that GameStop stock was suffering a short-sell before their very eyes and swiftly decided to take action, calling on the Reddit platform, Twitter and others to buy up GameStop stock in a co-ordinated buying spree. As of 29th January 2021, GameStop stock has risen to over 1,700 percent, a rise from $2 billion in December, to $24 billion at the end of January.
So for the investors, the problem they’re faced with looks a little bit like this;
- Say you have a PlayStation 5 (PS5) and you sell it to me with the idea that you’ll get another PS5 from me later.
- I give you $100 for the PS5 and then sell it for $500 on eBay, making me a profit of $400. But when I go and buy another PS5 to replace the one I already sold, I find that now it is worth $5000 because everyone else has bought all the PlayStations and now there’s a shortage.
- So now I’m in trouble because although I still owe you a PS5 to replace the one I sold, there’s no way I can buy another one because they are suddenly so expensive.
- As more and more people buy PlayStations, they become more expensive, meaning I can theoretically owe you an infinite amount of money for a PlayStation that originally I bought from you at $100.
Robinhood backlash and lawmaker intervention
The bigger and longer-lasting impact over the Twitter coined #memestock fiasco may be on how the market itself operates. Specifically, how companies let in some investors, but shut majorities out.
In the height of the trading frenzy, online stock-trading companies like Robinhood stopped its users from trading stock in GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia and other volatile companies.
The Robinhood app rose to fame after marketing itself as a “Democratic” stock-trading application that allowed “free and fair stock trading.” But after the company halted trading on various different trending stocks, the companies “Let the people trade” slogan took on a more sinister meaning.
A number of Democrats and Republicans jointly spoke out online against the strict limits imposed by Robinhood and other online trading apps.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was seen tweeting;
Gotta admit it’s really something to see Wall Streeters with a long history of treating our economy as a casino complain about a message board of posters also treating the market as a casino.
Senator Elizabeth Warren echoed a similar statement in a news release, saying;
For years, the same hedge funds, private equity firms, and wealthy investors dismayed by the GameStop trades have treated the stock market like their own personal casino while everyone else pays the price. It’s long past time for the SEC and other financial regulators to wake up and do their jobs. With a new administration and Democrats running Congress, I intend to make sure they do.
What happens next?
The battle over GameStop has taken on something of a David vs. Goliath feel, with some US lawmakers seeing it as a reckoning for parts of WallStreet.
History suggests that no stock can go up forever, and over time, stock prices generally reflect the expected future earnings of corporations. But long shots can go on for extended periods if players have enough resources to risk.
There’s no evidence that any of this is illegal, although Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman has said stock exchanges and regulators need to pay attention to the potential for schemes fueled by social media.
Andy Surabian, a Republican strategist, said;
people are “probably underestimating how big of a moment this was,” adding the episode likely “did more to hurt Big Tech in the eyes of people who weren’t already gunning for them, than anything I’ve seen in recent history.
Although this story is still moving at a rapid pace, the legal system will take longer to give its final verdict. Rather like Aesop’s fabled Tortoise and the Hare, “slow and steady wins the race”
6. A man named Adolf Hitler has been elected to local office in Namibia
A man named after Adolf Hitler has won local re-election in Ompundja, Namibia but insists he has no world domination plans on the cards.
Speaking to the German news website Bild, he said his father gave him the name without understanding who the Nazi leader was or what he stood for, stating;
It was a completely normal name for me as a child. It wasn’t until I was growing up that I realized: This man wanted to subjugate the whole world. I have nothing to do with any of these things … My father named me after this man. He probably didn’t understand what Adolf Hitler stood for.
Namibia is a former German colony, so it is not unusual for streets, places and people to have German names.
It was a perfectly normal name for me when I was a kid,” he said. “It wasn’t until I grew older, that I realised that this man wanted to subjugate the whole world and killed millions of Jews. The fact I have this name does not mean I want to conquer Oshana” (the local region).
It’s certainly not unusual for South African children to have names that stand out. Part of the reasoning has to do with the way black people in South Africa choose names. Until the last 20 or so years, black people were required to have an English name in addition to their African names. African names were chosen with care and carried deep personal meanings. English names, likely required so white people could pronounce them, were chosen at random, such as a big celebrity, from the Bible, or simply taken from history.
It’s also important to note that history is taught in different ways around the world. And that the history that doesn’t hit close to home is often just taught as a bunch of facts and dates to be memorised for an exam, and then inevitably forgotten. It is the reason that every European teen knows about the second world war, but probably don’t know who Cecil Rhodes is or what the Apartheid was.