What in the World – Week of March 4th


Jamaica. Jamaican Parliament voted to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of marijuana last Tuesday. The act made it legal for residents to carry up to two ounces of marijuana and authorized the creation of a licensing agency to regulate marijuana distribution for medicinal and scientific purposes. Additionally, citizens may now grow and maintain up to five cannabis plants. Foreigners who have medical marijuana prescriptions may soon have the ability to purchase marijuana in Jamaica as well. According to officials, Jamaica’s governor general will soon sign the legislation into law.

New York Times

Outer space. Scientists at Peking University in China discovered a black hole 12 billion times more massive than the sun Wednesday. It is estimated to have formed when the universe was 900 million years old but is so big that it is challenging theories about how fast black holes can grow. Black holes grow by absorbing mass, which heats up and creates radiation pressure. This pressure pushes the mass away from the black hole, which scientists say puts a limit on how fast it can grow. The discovery of this most recent black hole is forcing scientists to reconsider their predictions about growth. The scientists at Peking University plan on continuing their research and expect to find more black holes in the near future.


Canada. After actor Leonard Nimoy—who is renowned for playing Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series—died last week, saddened Canadians began drawing on currency bills in his honor. They added a bowl haircut to the image of Sir Wilfred Laurier, former prime minister, whose face appears on the Canadian five dollar bill. Sir Laurier held office from 1896 to 1911 and is said to look similar to Mr. Nimoy once thick eyebrows and 1960s-style sideburns are added. In response to claims about the legality of these illustrations, the Bank of Canada said Monday that it was not against the law to Vulcanize Sir Laurier on the banknotes.


Somalia. Somali pirates released four Thai fishermen they had captured nearly five years ago. According to UN reports, the four hostages were taken from their fishing boat in April 2010. The Somali kidnappers asked for several million dollars from their families as ransom. It is unconfirmed whether the releases are due to ransom payments. There have been some reports that the pirates were exhausting resources and no longer wanted to feed and care for the hostages and decided to free them instead. Nicholas Kay, UN special representative for Somalia, stated the Somali pirates are still holding 26 people hostage.



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