Taking a break from covering headline news as we normally do, this week’s Catchup will feature the uplifting and zany news that you might have missed. We hope that it will provide some much-needed respite from the ever-tumultuous state of global affairs. You’re welcome!
Iraqi government forces are currently overseeing the city’s daunting reconstruction efforts after recapturing Mosul from Islamic State (IS) last month. Amid the ruins of the maternity hospital, seven newborn babies—whose chances for survival would have been grim only a couple of weeks earlier—are optimistic symbols of a future free from the suffering experienced under the draconian IS regime. Although still facing massive shortages of just about everything, Mosul’s citizens are glad to finally hold their fate in their own hands.
Somalia celebrated its third polio-free year with an event honoring the wide range efforts of parliamentarians, medical professionals, and volunteers combating the crippling disease. Applauding the milestone, experts say continued caution is necessary to prevent reinfection given the nation’s precarious security situation and largely inaccessible pastoral population. Additionally, expanding polio-prevention infrastructure would create critical vaccination networks that could be used to treat other serious disease outbreaks.
United Nations observers removed the last of the weapons once in possession by Colombia’s largest rebel army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The move was carried out under the provisions of a peace deal reached by the rebels and the government last year that put an end to a more than five decade long conflict. Leaders from all sides attended the ceremonial fastening of the final weapons container and promised to uphold peace above all else.
In the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a tweet by Barack Obama denouncing racism quickly became the most liked ever. The former U.S. president, quoting South African President Nelson Mandela, wrote: "No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion."
A Swedish man on the look out for the ever-elusive white moose managed to capture the majestic beast on camera. Out of a population of 400,000, an estimated 100 moose in Sweden are mostly white. Though some have albinism, others hold a recessive gene that causes white fur. Researchers say that as hunters choose to let more white moose live, the gene will be more likely to be passed down to more future offspring.
The Belgian town of Malmedy honored its 22-year-old tradition of making a giant omelet by cooking 10,000 eggs in a pan four meters wide. The event came in the wake of a scare over fipronil—an insecticide that can cause organ damage—that led to millions of eggs being pulled from European supermarkets. Nonetheless, the organizer of the giant omelet ceremony insisted that the dish was safe to eat.
Russian President Vladimir Putin became the center of an online media campaign after he was photographed shirtless on vacation in southern Siberia. The #PutinShirtlessChallenge had men, women, and children from across Russia post pictures of their own chiseled torsos. Putin’s press team frequently release macho pictures of the president in order to cultivate a picture of a powerful leader.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau photobombed a newly wed couple while kayaking in Gulf Islands National Park in Sidney, British Columbia. The groom told media that the pictures were "a nice addition to the photo album." Back in May, the 45-year-old politician did a similar stunt when he jogged through a high school prom photo.
A small group of unorthodox musicians in the Long Island Vegetable Orchestra have been delighting audiences of all ages with their harmonious vegetable instrument performances. The group’s founder says that the difficult-to-make instruments have inspired the interest of students who were not musically inclined by challenging traditional conceptions of what orchestras should be like.
While campaigning for re-election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed during a live interview on YouTube that her favorite emoji is the smiley. She went on to say that on good days she prefers to use emojis with a heart, while on particularly bad days she sticks to pouty ones.