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McGill International Law prof Payam Akhavan isn't afraid to take on the big boys, weighing in on the recent arrest and detention of former U of T professor Ramin Jahanbegloo by Iranian authorities. First, the Toronto Star published an editorial by Akhavan in which he chastised the Iranian government for being "an increasingly authoritative regime determined to roll back the impending democratic wave among Iran's burgeoning younger generation." Next up, he was quoted in Le Devoir as saying that, rather than arrest Jahanbegloo, Iran should be enlisting him to help build diplomatic bridges with Western nations. Sounds like good counsel, counselor.
Also out of Toronto, but this time courtesy of the National Post, comes a timely article about the rise of skin cancer among Canadians. The stats are alarming, with one in seven Canadians developing some form of skin cancer over their lifetime. That being said, if caught early enough, the success rate for treatment is 95 percent. Ari Demirjian, a dermatologist at the MUHC, told the Post that self-examination and early detection are critical. Somebody tell the sunbathers on lower campus.
OK, OK, so we all know how humans can really screw up the environment. We pollute, we over-fish, we clearcut rainforests so our McCows can graze. But now the New York Times claims we actually block new species from evolving. A recent article points to the work Andrew Hendry of the Redpath Museum has been doing with Charles Darwin's famous Galapagos Island finches. At one secluded area on the island, the finch population had been naturally evolving into those with very small beaks and those with very large beaks, both of which serve very specific purposes. However, in another area that has been settled by humans, the finch population is rife with hybrid birds with medium-sized beaks. Hendry suggests the survival of these hybrids — or should that be hybirds? — is due to the fact that they are thriving on the seeds and rice humans feed them.
Finally, the Washington Post looks at how a growing number of pregnancies are coming up just short of full term — putting babies at an increased risk of health and developmental problems. Along with the older age of many mothers and the rising use of fertility drugs, the article suggests that births are being induced sooner because doctors are able to better detect problems that could threaten the life of mother or child. However, as Michael Kramer of McGill's department of pediatrics says, the repercussions of these interventions are significant, since "near-term" or "late-preterm" babies are still prone to problems breathing, feeding and maintaining their body temperature.