Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Stuff You Should Know

New Brazilian Leadership

Last month, btw brought you a story of significant conflict within Brazil’s government. Since then, President Dilma Rousseff has been “suspended” from office and faces trial for impeachment. Michel Temer was installed in her place. In a speech he gave during a ceremony introducing his ministers (equivalent to our cabinet), he said, “It’s urgent to seek the unity of Brazil. We urgently need a government of national salvation.”

But the people, in general, are not so easily convinced of his motives. ­Many are critical of Termer’s lack of diversity in his cabinet (for the first time in many years). He was also recently found guilty of violating campaign finance limits, which some believe is a problem of legitimacy. On the other hand, many of Temer’s appointees served in positions during a time when Brazil experienced a commodities boom. This could held rebuild the country’s economy. Regardless of the outcome, the new leadership will point the country in a more conservative direction, after more than a decade of leftist politics.

Dig Deeper Continue to follow the progress of transition of power in Brazil, including the impeachment trial of Rosseff, which is suspected to last six months. Follow the change (if any) to her policies, which many economists call “flawed” as well as any impact to the Brazilian economy.

Canada Wildfires Still Burning

A hotshot crew conducts burnout operations on the Derby Fire. NOAA/NWS/WR/WFO/Billings Montana/Department of Commerce. MHE World.

Trying to control a wildfire. Credit: NOAA/NWS/WR/WFO/Billings Montana/Department of Commerce

On May 1, a wildfire broke out in Alberta, Canada. It began at Fort McMurray, an “urban service area” located in the Athabasca oil sands, known for its large deposits of heavy crude oil. It rapidly swept through the area, causing a mass evacuation of over 8,000 people. The fire has continued to spread south, covering around 500,000 acres. Nearly 2,500 homes and 1.600 buildings have been destroyed so far. The cause has not yet been determined, but a drier than usual winter combined with high winds have created conditions conducive for out-of-control fires.

The situation is being called nprecedented, as this is one of Canada’s largest recorded fires in North America and the country’s biggest national disaster. The fire even managed to jump a river that measures a kilometer wide. The Canadian Armed Forces have been called in, as well as firefighters in the neighboring providence of Ontario. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has, so far, declined offers of support from several countries, including the United States, Australia, Mexico, Israel, and Russia.

Dig Deeper Find out what measures are being taken to contain and put out the fire. What are the biggest challenges?

London’s New Muslim Mayor

The people of London, England went to the polls earlier this month. They voted Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party as their new mayor. More significant than the nine percentage point lead over Conservative Party candidate Zac Goldsmith is the fact that Khan has become the first Muslim mayor of London. The fact of Kahn’s religious affiliation became a prominent talking point in his campaign. He pledged to fight extremists, who use the faith as a license to commit heinous crimes. Kahn also accused his opponent of using scare tactics in his campaign. In turn, Goldsmith said Kahn played the race card.

Kahn, 45, was born in South London to Pakistani immigrants. He credits his school’s headmaster, also a Muslim, for instilling in him the idea that race and ideology didn’t have to be a barrier to success. He studied law and became a prominent lawyer before being elected to the House of Commons (the equivalent to the United States’ House of Representatives). The position of Mayor of London is a relatively new one, created after a referendum in 2000.

What Do You Think? In his acceptance speech, Sadiq Kahn called his win a, “victory for hope over fear.” What do you think he meant by this? Do you agree? Explain your answer.

Cannes Update

Each year, film buffs, industry insiders and socialites alike flock to the south of France for what many consider the most important film festival in the world, Cannes (named for the city where it takes place). Established in 1932, the festival attracts the attention of filmmakers all over the world. Thousands of hopefuls submit their work for consideration and a selection committee selects around 50 features and 30 shorts to be screened during the festival. A jury, made up of nine members distinguished members of the film community around the world, vote on winners in various categories. (The only juror you’re likely to have heard of is American actress, Kirsten Dunst.)

In addition to the films in competition, a number of big budget, big star vehicles made their premiere at Cannes. One of them is the George Clooney/Julie Roberts drama called Money Monster, directed by Jodie Foster. American filmmaker Woody Allen generated headlines for more than the screening of his film, Café’ Society. On the day of its premiere, his estranged son with actress Mia Farrow, Ronan Farrow, published an article in the Hollywood Reporter criticizing the press for not questioning his father about decades old criminal accusations.

What Do You Think? Check out the list of films the screened at Cannes. Do a search of the filmmakers or actors for any you might recognize. Which ones (if any) grab your interest? Write a few sentences on why.