With that much happening in the world and our daily lives, many of the world’s more trivial happenings have a tendency to pass us by unnoticed. Here is Wessex Scene‘s roundup of some of the news stories that you may have missed over the past month.
Canada makes national anthem gender neutral
In a sign of Canada’s continuing liberalisation, the country’s Senate has passed a bill to make the nation’s national anthem gender neutral. The well-known O Canada will now swap the line ‘in all thy sons command’ for the new wording ‘in all of us command’.
The move, which needs to receive royal assent from the country’s Governor General before becoming law, was proposed by the late politician Maurit Bélanger. It gained widespread support from prominent Canadians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood.
Mauril’s bill to make O Canada gender neutral passed third reading in the Senate tonight – another positive step towards gender equality. #inallofuscommand
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) February 1, 2018
The move hasn’t received universal approval, however. The bill was passed in Canada’s House of Commons in 2016, but spent 18 months in the Senate, where it was strongly opposed by some members of the Canadian Conservative Party.
Conservative representatives protested both against what they saw as the undemocratic way Trudeau had imposed the change while ignoring ‘legitimate debate’ and the modification of a national anthem which they believed shouldn’t be changed.
— Sen. Denise Batters (@denisebatters) January 31, 2018
Dissappointed to hear the Liberals changed our national anthem. Somethings just shouldn’t change. #cdnpoli
— Bob Saroya, MP (@BobSaroya) February 1, 2018
Chile’s President and First Lady hit the snow
As Chile’s capital, Santiago, was hit with unusually low temperatures in early June, many residents took to the streets to experience the uncommon occurrence. Among those enjoying themselves were Chile’s President, Sebastián Pinera, and First Lady Cecilia Morel. The couple were seen in the grounds of La Moneda (Chile’s Presidential Palace) and proceedings reportedly got rather aggressive…
Ms Morel later tweeted pictures of the event, while urging all those enjoying the low temperatures to ‘look after and protect themselves’. One does wonder if this advice extends to when she is involved in full-on snowball conflicts…
La Moneda se vistió de blanco y con @sebastianpinera no nos quisimos perder este momento único y como todos también jugamos con la nieve. ¡Qué lindo se ve! ¡Todos a cuidarse y protegerse de las bajas temperaturas que vendrán! pic.twitter.com/0qzr4ex4Go
— Cecilia Morel Montes (@ceciliamorel) June 11, 2018
Election victor announced, over two decades after the vote
On 12th June, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari announced by proclamation the results of an election held on the same day 25 years earlier. The Nigerian Presidential election held on 12 June 1993 was meant to be the first free and fair election in the country since before the military coup of 1983.
Although the votes were counted and overall results announced, with Social Democratic Party candidate Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola declared the winner, the results were later annulled by Nigeria’s then military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida. In an interview with Nigerian broadcaster MNet, Babangida later claimed that, although he believed the elections were free and fair, he had annulled the vote due to the existence of security threats to the installation of a democratic government which were present at the time.
In the interview, he acknowledged that the annulment of the elections was ‘unfortunate’, but insisted that ‘the issue of security of the nation was a threat and we would have considered ourselves to have failed, if six months after handover, there was another coup’.
In addition to proclaiming the results of the election, Buhari also declared Babangida and General Olusegun Obusanjo (Head of State in a prior military government and later elected as President of Nigeria in 1999) as enemies of democracy. He also declared June 12th as Nigeria’s Democracy Day in honour of Abiola (who passed away in 1998).
However, while the decision has been lauded by Buhari’s supports, some, including former Chief Justice of Nigeria Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore, have suggested that he has broken the law by declaring the results of the 1993 ballot.
Argentina moves closer to legalising abortion
The traditionally Catholic South American nation moved a step closer to liberalising abortion in mid-June after the Lower House of the Argentinian Congress approved a bill which would allow elective abortion in the first fourteen weeks after pregnancy and permit abortion after fourteen weeks in cases of rape, or if the woman’s life is at risk, or if the foetus had suffered severely and was no longer able to live.
The law will now head to the more conservative senate (Upper House) for consideration and debate. If it’s passed by the country’s congress, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has stated that he will not veto it, in spite of his personal opposition to abortion.
Pro-choice campaigners and supporters of the bill have been heartened by its progression even though it still remains unclear as to whether it will be enacted into law.
Tax cars, not dogs
According to multiple Turkmenistan-based news sites, the country has changed its tax laws to introduce a tax on car owners and abolish a tax formerly levied on those owning a dog.
The ‘dog tax’, previously levied on owners in urban areas, amounted to 20 manats a year (around £8.90). The new taxes which will be implemented on vehicle owners depend on the size and type of vehicle:
- Motor transport — single base value (50 manats)
- Passenger cars — double base value (100 manats)
- Buses — triple base value (300 manats)
- Trucks — six times base value (600 manats)
Public sector organisations, religious organisations and the disabled will all be exempt from the new vehicle taxes.