News In Focus:
From Hot Water To A Shark Attack

News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

UK: Queen Elizabeth II was not amused when the Sun newspaper released last weekend — without her royal sanction — a 17-second grainy black-and-white footage showing members of the Royal Family giving the Nazi salute.

The family film was shot in 1933.  The Queen, who was then a young princess of about six to seven, was seen with the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Queen’s uncle, Edward VIII in the grounds of Balmoral Castle, the monarch’s private residence.

It was believed that the Queen’s father, George VI, held the camera, although some suggested that the film was shot by a friend of Edward VIII or the Bowes-Lyon family.

The Queen was upset by the Sun’s infringement into her privacy and copyright of the footage, which is supposed to be locked up in her personal archive.

But the footage roused a wider furor in the nation about the sympathetic stance of the Royal Family, and King Edward VIII in particular, towards the Nazis.

The footage is shown in this CBS Evening News report:


South Africa: Three-time world surfing champion Mick Fanning escaped the jaws of an advancing shark on Sunday after he punched it in the back.

The 34-year-old Australian surfer was waiting his turn during the finals of the JBay Open in Jeffrey’s Bay in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, when a shark attacked his board.

Mick at first tried to swim to the shore, but decided to defend himself by punching the shark in its back.  The dramatic battle was televised lived and stunned viewers.

Mike Fanning was soon rescued together with another Australian surfer Julian Wilson.  They were unharmed, though Fanning’s board was bitten and and his leash snapped.

The World Surf League, organizer of JBay Open, cancelled the competition, and awarded the prize money to both Mike and Julian.

Here’s footage of the attack, courtesy of the World Surf League:


Climate: Climatologists say this June is the hottest Earth has experienced since records began 136 years ago.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculated that the world’s average temperature in June hit 16.33 degrees Celsius, breaking the old record set last year by 0.12 degree Celsius.

This scale of increase over a relatively short period is said to be unusual.

Scientists attribute the sharp rise in global temperature partly to the return of a stronger El Niño phenomenon, an irregular worldwide weather pattern caused by a warming of the central Pacific Ocean.

While most areas are scorched by the heat wave, some countries enjoy a brief interlude of cooler summer.  Scandinavia, for example, recorded lower than average temperatures.

El Niño may have some benefits, including bringing more rain to drought-stricken California this winter, scientists said.

How do you remember the difference between El Nino and La Nina? The Science Channel is here to help:


Science: Five years ago, Cambridge cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned against contacting aliens who might be advanced enough to conquer and colonize Earth.

But the professor took a U-turn on Monday when the Silicon Valley tech investor Yuri Milner launched his US$100 million project, Breakthrough Listen, a hunt for alien life in the universe, at the Royal Society in London.

This time, Professor Hawking said it’s time to search for life beyond earth.

The Breakthrough Listen will team up with 9 million volunteers around the world to share their computer capacity to gather data from a million nearby stars, the galactic center, and the entire plain of the Milky Way.

Accompanying this ambitious project is the Breakthrough Message: a competition to create messages to welcome any alien neighbor in space.  The winners will receive a prize totaling US$1 million.

Also participating in this project are the UK astrophysicist and cosmologist Lord Martin Rees and Frank Drake of Cornell University, the grandfather of the yet successful Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program that began in 1960.

Our message for aliens? Play nice, space crime doesn’t pay…

Clip Courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Video


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Lead-In Image (shark stock photo): pling /