Stuff You Should Know

Time for a New Pope

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, resigned on February 28th. This was a surprising announcement. Historically, the popes have remained in this leadership role until they die. The last time a pope resigned was all the way back in 1415. Pope Benedict XVI said that he was leaving because his health is failing and he didn’t believe he could perform his duties to the best of his ability any more. The pope is also 85 years old. The former Joseph Ratzinger became pope in 2005, after Pope John Paul II passed away. The announcement has caused controversy. Some questioned his leadership skills, while others speculated he left to avoid some sort of unknown scandal.

Selecting a new pope is a very secretive process. A group of 115 Catholic bishops called Cardinals meet at the Sistine Chapel in Italy to discuss and then vote on who will become the next leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. This voting can sometimes take many days. Catholic law states that any male who has been baptized is eligible to become pope. There are at least ten serious candidates from all over the world, including Canada, Austria, Latin America, Africa, and the United States.

Dig Deeper–Follow this story. Track the people most likely to be appointed and what newsmakers are saying about them. Who do you think is most likely to become the new pope? Why?

Update on the BP Oil Spill Lawsuit

oil rig fire

The oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico caused lots of ecological and economic damage. How are lawsuits surrounding the incident proceeding?

In November, btw reported on the record fine issued to BP for its involvement in the April 20, 2010, drilling rig explosion that led to a spill of 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. So far, over 130 lawsuits have been filed against BP related to this spill. Prosecutors have accused the oil company of being more concerned with profits than safety on a project that was behind schedule. BP has denied that its cost-cutting measures in the years leading up to the spill had any effect of drilling operations.

The federal government has also filed criminal charges against British Petroleum and some individuals. Last month, a well design expert testified that BP ignored clear warning signs and continued drilling when it shouldn’t have. The expert also showed that the company had a historical pattern of misreporting information. BP has accepted some responsibility for the disaster, but feels that other partners, such as the rig crew company Transocean and its partner Halliburton also share some of the blame. Former BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward is not expected to appear in the courtroom because he didn’t have direct knowledge of the day-to-day operations on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

Dig Deeper–Follow this story. Keep track of which figureheads appear in the news and the final outcomes of as many separate lawsuits regarding this spill. What are the similarities and differences?

Jesse Eisenberg, the Playwright?

You might know Jesse Eisenberg as an actor. He played a fictional version of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the 2010 movie The Social Network. What you might not know is that he is also a playwright. His first play, called Asuncion, was produced in 2011 by the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City. The play was considered an “Off Broadway,” play which means it is a professional production at a smaller venue than the famous Broadway theatres in New York City. The play must still must follow certain union rules and regulations.

Eisenberg’s newest play is called The Revisionists, which is also being produced by the Cherry Lane Theatre. It is about a young American writer in his twenties who travels to Poland and stays with an aging distant cousin, a Holocaust survivor, played by veteran British stage actress, Vanessa Redgrave. The play examines generational as well as cultural and socioeconomic issues. So far, the production has received mostly positive reviews, especially for the acting by Ms. Redgrave. The Revisionist will run through April 21st.

What Do You Think? Have you ever seen a play or movie, or read a book by someone who is famous in another genre? Have you enjoyed the new work? Why or why not?

Oscar Recap

Were you one of the more than 40 million people who watched the 85th annual Academy Awards on February 24th? Seth MacFarlane, creator of the animated series Family Guy, was the host. The event took place at the Hollywood Dolby Theatre. The ceremony included a tribute to music in film, with live performances from Barbara Streisand, Adele, and the casts of the musicals Chicago and Les Miserables.

Argo, a film based on true story of a CIA operation to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis of 1980, took the top prize of Best Picture. It also won Best Achievement in Editing, and Best Screenplay Based on Material Previous Produced or Published. Many of the other eight films nominated for Best Picture were recognized in other categories. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his portrayal in Lincoln, Jennifer Lawrence won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook, Anne Hathaway represented the cast of Les Miserables with her win for Best Supporting Actress, and Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting actor for Django Unchained. Ang Lee won Best Director for the visually stunning Life of Pi. His technical team also won a number of awards for their excellence.

What Do You Think? Did you watch the Academy Awards or any of the many other award shows of the season (Golden Globes, SAG Awards, etc)? How many of the nine Best Picture nominees have you seen? Which did you like the best? Compare your answers with your classmates.