World roundup: December 13 2023
Stories from Israel-Palestine, Armenia, Mauritania, and elsewhere
I apologize, but due to an unforeseen complication I will once again have to forego our usual Wednesday voiceover. Please use Substack’s text-to-speech function if needed. Thanks!
TODAY IN HISTORY
December 13, 1577: Francis Drake begins the expedition that would eventually take him around the world, returning to England in 1580. Although Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the Earth first, roughly 60 years earlier, he managed to get himself killed along the way. Drake has the distinction of being the first person to command a voyage around the world from start to finish.
December 13, 1937: The Imperial Japanese army defeats the Chinese National Revolutionary Army and captures the city of Nanjing. What followed became known as the Nanjing Massacre, as Japanese soldiers spent the next six weeks slaughtering prisoners and civilians in the city. Estimates of the death toll vary widely, but most scholars believe it was somewhere between 40,000 and the official Chinese count of 300,000.
The United Nations COP28 climate summit finally ended on Wednesday, just a day later than scheduled, after attendees agreed on a final statement calling for a “transition away from fossil fuels.” This was apparently more acceptable to major energy producing governments than the initial draft that called for “phasing out” fossil fuels and more acceptable to everyone else than the previous draft, which seems barely to have mentioned fossil fuels at all. In that sense, even this watered down statement is a milestone in that it marks the first time (believe it or not) that a COP summit has ended with an explicit link between fossil fuels and climate change. That’s a pretty low bar to clear but at least the summit did clear it, right?