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Every four years, in the fall, the biggest American sporting event takes place. No, not the World Series…we’re talking about the Presidential Elections. This year’s battle is between the Republican candidate, George Bush Junior and the Democrat, Al Gore. While accompanied by the biggest media frenzy to date, this is really quite a boring matchup between two candidates whose policies are virtually identical. Look for George Jr. to take over his daddy’s former bedroom and office at the White House with a comfortable November 7th win.
New Jersey, USA
In a stunning experiment physicists have fired a laser beam through a special gas chamber at 300 times the theoretical speed of light (300,000 km/hr.). Einstein’s Theory of Relativity states that an object that exceeds the speed of light would travel back in time. Scientists stress their belief that while light waves can be sped up artificially, physical objects cannot, so Einstein’s rules are still safe. Others feel this experiment forces a new look at the accepted theories.
Evolution is back. Last year Kansas became the centre of international attention when its state board of education voted to reject the theory of evolution. Instead of Darwin’s common sense (and scientifically accepted) explanations of species evolving over long periods of time, the Kansas teachers received official guidelines to push the story of creation according to the Christian Bible. This fall, changes on the school board will shift teaching back to Darwin.
A civil war continues with rebel forces attacking government forces as well as United Nation peacekeepers in their bid to control the small West African nation. Britain and the U.S. have pressured neighbouring countries Liberia and Burkina Faso into stopping the flow of rebel-mined diamonds. The diamonds, worth tens of millions of dollars are buying the rebels weapons to wage their deadly war. The rebels are infamous for their random brutality, and the use of children in their army.
The animals of Africa are under siege. With several wars ravaging the region, many countries in Africa are struggling with the illegal trade of poached wildlife. Called “bushmeat”, millions of wild animals are being slaughtered to satisfy the growing human appetite.
This summer’s crash of a French supersonic Concorde jet outside Paris raised safety questions about the 25-year old planes. The crash killed all 109 people on board and four on the ground. The Concorde had for years been a national symbol of French technological prowess. This is the first accident involving a Concorde. Built jointly with Britain in the 70s, twenty of the 100-seat planes still fly, cruising at 2250 km/h. A London-New York flight costs $15,000.
Sydney, Australia’s largest city, hosts the 2000 Summer Olympics on Sept. 15th-Oct. 1st. Over 200 nations will send teams to the event that will have 3.7 billion TV viewers worldwide.
One country, however, won’t be there. Afghanistan, fresh from a bloody revolution, has been barred from the games, missing the event for the first time since 1936. The Olympic committee is not impressed by the fact that women are banned from sports under the new Islamic regime.
The Korean war ended in 1953 with the Communist North and the U.S.-backed South agreeing to a cease-fire which never became an official peace. The two Koreas have been staring each other down ever since.
This summer North Korea has apparently chosen to come out of isolation and discover the outside world. The world waits to see if it is for real. Canada, maybe a little too eagerly, rushed to officially establish ties with the North Korean dictatorship.
A group of armed rebels captured several politicians including Fiji’s Prime Minister and held them hostage for weeks on the small South Pacific island. Fiji’s population is split between native Fijians and Indians who have been on the island since the 1870s. Blatantly racist, the ethnic Fijian rebels demanded that Indians be stripped of the right to run the government. The crisis ended when the army stepped in and the rebels were jailed. Fiji’s charm is shattered and the tourist trade is suffering, making life worse for the all Fijians.
Yet again, peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders have produced little final resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat seem unable to compromise on any of the key issues, such as sharing Jerusalem. Mr. Arafat is ready to declare, on September 13th, that the lands of Palestine (currently part of Israel) will become an independent nation, against Israel wishes. There will be serious tension this fall if no deal is reached.