Arctic On December 3, the world’s major fishing nations agreed to ban commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years. This will allow time to study the marine ecosystem which is becoming more accessible as a result of climate change. ‘There is no other high seas area where we’ve decided to do the science first,’ said Scott Highleyman, of the Ocean Conservancy in Washington.
Nuclear weapons On July 7 the United Nations General Assembly voted to prohibit a full range of activities related to nuclear weapons. The President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, said: ‘It will raise public awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons. It will keep us on track for achieving our goal of a world in which nuclear weapons exist only in movies or books.’ However, Britain, France and the United States said they did not intend to sign or become a party to the agreement.
US elections Spurred by Donald Trump’s dismissive attitude to women and minorities, female candidates have been running for office in the United States in unprecedented numbers. Winners included Danica Roem, a transgender woman elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, and three African-American women who are the first to be elected mayors of Charlotte, North Carolina (Vi Lyles), New Orleans (Latoya Cantrell), and Atlanta (Keisha Lance-Bottoms).
Mattis Though Donald Trump claims that he turned down an offer from Time – denied by the magazine – to be their Person of the Year for the second year running, others have been promoting his defence secretary, the thoughtful ex-Marine James Mattis, as the man who is keeping the world safe in troubled times. Mattis has openly disagreed with the president’s bellicose rhetoric on North Korea and the Iran nuclear deal. ‘But for Mattis we would be sleeping less soundly at night,’ writes Edward Luce, in the Financial Times.
Alzheimer’s disease After 30 years of false starts, researchers believe that advances in neuroscience have raised the possibility of drastically reducing the impact of Alzheimer’s disease. Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, is investing £100 million in dementia research. ‘There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about our chances. Our understanding of the brain and the disease is advancing a great deal,’ Gates said.
Europe The youthful President Emmanuel Macron revived flagging Europhile spirits by sweeping to power in France to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy rather than the Marseillaise. He even endeared himself to the British by writing a poem and sending it as a 13th birthday present to an English girl called Sophie in response to an ode she had written about the Eiffel Tower. He compared Sophie to the filmmaker Jean Cocteau, poet Guillaume Apollinaire and crooner Charles Trenet who have all praised the Paris landmark.