In the last few months, the Middle East and North Africa have seen some of the most dramatic political changes since the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron fist for more than 20 years, was overthrown. Shortly after, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had also been a brutal dictator for decades, stepped down in the wake of massive public protests. As of this writing, similar protests are taking place in Yemen, Oman, Morocco, Iran, Djibouti, Jordan and Libya (where government retaliation to the protests has been particularly brutal). If you’re a CNN junkie like I am, you’ve read all about how these revolutions will affect human rights, international relations, oil prices, and the influence of terrorism in the region. There has been relatively little mainstream media focus on how science will be affected, however.
While we were away on our December blog-cation, sharks were all over the news. Specifically, a series of shark attacks in the resort town of Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt, captured the attention of the media and of beachgoing news watchers worldwide. I normally don’t talk about shark attacks on the blog, but lots of readers have been asking me for my opinion on this incident. Fortunately, even though I was on blog-cation, the rest of the shark blog-o-sphere was hard at work covering this issue.
While it’s difficult to integrate a month’s worth of news stories after the fact, I’ll do my best to provide you with a complete picture of what happened. Please feel free to point out inaccuracies in the comments section.