Week in Review

New work on F&O this week includes a column by Chris Wood about an aspect of climate chaos that is often ignored: the extremes that kill, compared to averages of which climate scientists speak. The average, writes Wood in Natural Security, is a mathematical fiction that obscures dangerous realities.

The recent death of gun inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov had international columnist Jonathan Manthorpe thinking about his own close encounters with the infamous AK-47, and the global impact of the “The real weapon of mass destruction,” the title of one column. In another column, Arab Spring still waiting to blossom, Manthorpe holds out some hope that the region’s revolutions may yet lead to democratic reform.

© Deborah Jones 2014

In news reported elsewhere Canada’s Supreme Court agreed to revisit the issue of euthanasia: a civil liberties group will argue that criminalizing doctors who help “competent, seriously ill individuals who wish to hasten death” violates the country’s constitution. F&O published a previous piece recapping recent developments internationally, and arguing in favour of euthanasia, Death with Dignity.

Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first elected prime minister of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Speculation continues about the murky roles played in his death by the United States and United Kingdom spy agencies, and Belgium. An American historian wrote that Lumumba’s death, by a provincial firing squad, was “the most important assassination of the 20th century.” The comment suggests a case of amnesia —  the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria did, after all, spark World War I — but the point about the importance of great powers assassinating a democratically elected leader is taken.

And last but not least, I offer some small thoughts on the end of a large and venerable tree.

— Deborah Jones