A very quiet revolution
Another week, another sign that something historic is unfolding in Iran. After inviting the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog for a visit—a potential breakthrough in a decade-long standoff over Tehran’s atomic ambitions—Iran’s UN ambassador called for the worldwide elimination of “inhuman” nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Culture Minister Ali Jannati said he supports the free civilian use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Actions, of course, speak louder than words. But the mere suggestion that Iranians deserve free speech is a monumental step.
India launched its first spacecraft to Mars, and if its unmanned Mangalyaan orbiter manages to reach the red planet—a gruelling 300-day journey—it will become just the fourth to arrive (after the U.S., Russia and Europe). Which is great news, because, if humans ever hope to discover life beyond Earth, there is a lot of ground to cover. A new study says our galaxy is filled with billions of potentially habitable planets that exist in the so-called “Goldilocks zone”—just the right temperature for life. The biggest question still remains: Have any of those distant planets discovered us?
Handed a petition with 22,000 signatures (including from the likes of Margaret Atwood and Kim Cattrall), Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz said he is “absolutely open” to having a homegrown female face on Canadian money. Since 2011, when the “Famous Five” (who pushed to have women legally recognized as people) were replaced on the $50 bill by an icebreaker, there have been no recognizable Canadian women on our cash. And no, the Queen doesn’t count.
Hundreds of modern art masterpieces that disappeared during the Second World War have been found in a rundown Munich apartment. The haul, which includes works by Picasso, Matisse and Chagall, was discovered in 2011, but authorities kept it quiet as they tried to authenticate the works and trace ownership. By some estimates, the paintings are valued at $1.4 billion, but regaining important works that have been lost for 70 years is truly priceless.
So much for honouring our brave veterans. As Remembrance Day approaches, new figures from the parliamentary budget officer show that impoverished—and, in some cases, homeless—former soldiers are not receiving the dignified burials they deserve. A report released last year revealed that 67 per cent of requests made to the “last post fund” were rejected, largely because a veteran’s annual income had to be less than $12,010 to qualify for funeral costs. The latest stats are equally disturbing: Only $18.4 million of the fund’s $65 million will actually be handed out this year.
Just one day after John Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, visited Cairo and praised the military junta for its tentative efforts to restore democracy, the world was reminded of just how far Egypt has to go. The opening of the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 14 other officials for the killing of opposition demonstrators was a travesty. Journalists in the courtroom chanted for his execution, rival lawyers got into scuffles and the co-defendants insisted they’ve been tortured. There may be order in Egypt, but there’s not much law.
Still need more proof?
A leaked discussion draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next report paints a bleak picture of our future. Worsening droughts, famines, deadly heat waves, animal extinctions and massive infrastructure failures due to extreme weather lie ahead, says the group. And cities, where most of us now live, will be most vulnerable. The evidence and scientific consensus is now overwhelming, which raises the question: When are politicians finally going to take action?
A high school vice-principal in Caledon, Ont., is under investigation for wearing a “Mr. T” costume on Halloween—complete with blackface. In Virginia, a mother encouraged her seven-year-old son to go trick-or-treating in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. And in Michigan, a woman went to work dressed up as a Boston Marathon bombing victim: running shorts, contestant number and fake bloodstains on her legs. It’s hard to decide which costume is most insulting.