Seven billion: not just a number
The number of people on Earth was expected to reach the seven billion mark on Oct. 31. According to ABC News, a United Nations report said the increase represents a challenge of poverty elimination and environmental conservation efforts. UN experts estimate world population will reach at least 10 billion by 2100, and could be as high as 15 billion if fertility rates vary. The UN Population Fund executive director Babatunde Osotimehin called for a focus on women’s rights and young people to keep global population in check. He drew attention to the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements as examples of people demanding such change. People under 25 make up 43 per cent of the world’s total.
Make way for Queen Kate, Jr.
Females will soon have the same right to the throne as males, once changes to the succession laws of the British monarchy are made official. The changes, approved by the 16 Commonwealth realms during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth, Australia last week, indicate that a first-born daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be ahead of her younger brothers in the line of the succession. According to the BBC, other modifications approved at the meeting include lifting the ban on a monarch marrying a Roman Catholic and loosening the rule stipulating that descendants of George II must have the monarch’s consent before marrying. There have been at least 11 recent attempts to change the laws, which date back more than 300 years. The legislative changes will be introduced at the next session of Parliament, and will apply to the descendants of the Prince of Wales.
Silver and gold, silver and gold
Indian company Gitanjali Group launched the world’s first gold and diamond automatic teller machine on Wednesday. According to Agence France-Presse, the machine was installed at a shopping mall in Mumbai just in time for Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of lights. The festival is considered an auspicious time for Hindus to buy gold and jewellery, although experts predict lower gold sales this year because of high prices. The ATM offers 36 products worth between 1,000 and 30,000 rupees (US$20 and US$600). The jewellery shop chain plans to set up more machines in the next few months. India is the world’s biggest importer and consumer of gold; it consumed 540 tonnes of the metal between January and June of this year, up 21 per cent from the same period in 2010.
Real-life Slumdog Millionaire
A 27-year-old Indian IT worker has won $1 million on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, according to the Times of India. Sushil Kumar is the first person in five seasons of the show to bring home the big bucks. He plans to use the money to repay the mortgage owed on his family’s ancestral home, buy a plot of land for his family and take a course to prepare for India’s civil service exam. The episode, taped Tuesday, will be broadcast next week.