Famous opera soprano dies
Montserrat Caballé, a world renowned soprano singer who participated in more than 90 operas and 4000 performances, died in her native Barcelona at the age of 85. She was considered one of the best soprano singers ever, although she catapulted to global fame after performing a semi-operatic duet with Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury – Barcelona, which served as the theme song for the 1992 Olympics in that Catalan city. Her reputation was marred slightly by her indictment for tax avoidance in 2014, although she paid back the more than US$750,000 she owed to the government.
Saudi journalist killed in country’s consulate in Istanbul
The Turkish government has alleged that the mysterious fate of a Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of his native country’s repressive regime, was in fact murder within the consulate building. This has major diplomatic implications and the already strained relations between Ankara and Riyadh, regional rivals in the conflict embroiled middle east, could plummet even more.
Mr. Khashoggi, himself from a prominent Saudi family, focused his fire on the reforms being promoted by Mohammed bin Salman, the young leader of Saudi Arabia, which the journalist claimed were tepid and didn’t go nearly far enough. Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most repressive countries, especially for women, who until June of this year were not even allowed to drive. The west, despite its apparent commitment to human rights, has largely ignored Saudi transgressions given that countries huge petroleum reserves and seemingly insatiable appetite for weapons, the sale of which generates billions of dollars for both the US and the UK.
Brawl at UFC fight besmirches the sport’s already volatile image
A melee broke out in Las Vegas after the victory, by stranglehold, of Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov’s over Ireland’s Conan McGregor. This resulted in withholding the purse of the Russian boxer and a general deterioration in the relationship between the two camps. Nurmagomedov has since apologized, but the fracas tarnishes a sport which is trying to establish mainstream respectability. Ultimate fighting has largely eclipsed boxing in popularity but has been unable to shed its image of being a sport which highlights gratuitous violence and general thuggery. This latest ruckus will do little improve UFC’s reputation.
Mass murderer receiving university education from prison in Norway
Anders Breivik, who in 2011 planted a bomb in Oslo and then went on a shooting rampage that claimed a total of 77 fatal victims, has been taking courses at a Norwegian institution of higher education towards a degree in political science. Many have disputed the appropriateness of this, arguing that the tremendous pain this individual has caused for the families of the victims preclude such a privilege as a college education, especially one financed by the state. Defenders claim that Norway’s tradition of tolerance and encouragement of civic responsibility and should Breivik ever get out of jail, an unlikely proposition, society would be better served if he had a diploma. They also argued that this serves as a kind of closure for an ordinarily peaceful country that was traumatized by the massacre and went through a period of self-examination to try and grapple with the possible motivations for such an atrocity.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh, after a vicious partisan fight, is confirmed to the US Supreme Court
After a bruising confirmation fight, in which Donald Trump’s nominee for the nation’s highest court was accused by sexual assault, judge Kavanaugh, 53, was confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. In the US, such a position is life-long (unlike Brazil there is no forced retirement age for judges) so there is a chance that Kavanaugh could sit on the court for 40 years.
The confirmation process, considered a low point for a senate whose reputation is already somewhat maligned, was bitterly contested between Democrats and Republicans and overshadowed by the questions of sexual violence and a new awareness of this in part due to the influence of the #metoo movement. Kavanaugh’s alleged victim, the university professor and psychologist, Christine Blasey Ford, gave a wrenching testimony about the events of the night during which she feared a drunken Kavanaugh was going to rape her. This, however, failed to convince enough senators. The US Supreme Court has nine members and currently is composed of four considered “liberal” and four considered “conservative.” The entrance of Kavanaugh ensures a conservative majority that could tilt future judicial considerations to the right for years to come. This has implications for women’s reproductive rights (particularly the right to an abortion) as well as policies towards minorities and education.
Bansky painting self-destructs
A painting, Girl with a Balloon, by the enigmatic British street artist Bansky, known for his mysterious anonymity, self-destructed after an unidentified buyer bought it for US$1.4 million at a Sotheby’s auction. This stunned the art world due to the unprecedented nature of this act. The artist had built a shredder within the frame of the picture in case, in his words, “it ever went to auction.” The artists posed this quote from Picasso to justify his act: “The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.” Nobody knows what will happen to the poor soul who bought the painting.
Hugging after a fight can make things better
Scientists have solid evidence that giving the person with whom a conflictual situation has arisen has positive psychological implications for both parties. It reduces any lingering negative feelings and according to the British psychological journal Prima, “that being affectionate with the people we love after a fight has a calming effect on us.” So get hugging!