November 2014 in pictures: Comets, riots and marches...oh my!

November 2014 in pictures: Comets, riots and marches...oh my!
Remember, remember, this mad month of November! 'Twas not a single day one could miss...from Al-Aqsa rage to Ferguson flames; volcanoes, monsters, and more. ‘Twas a month of comet landings! The pics are outstanding! So sit back and see what’s in store!

Okay, so a bit of rhyming in honor of Guy Fawkes Day was in order, seeing as how the standard bearers of the infamous gun powder plotter have managed to hold onto the headlines in one way or another for the entire month.

Pro-democracy protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks pose in central Brussels November 5, 2014, on the day marking Guy Fawkes Nigh (Reuters / Francois Lenoir)

If the guys and gals from the hacktivist collective Anonymous weren’t making waves with their annual Million Mask March in honor of Guy Fawkes himself, they were declaring war on the Ku Klux Klan in Ferguson.

Speaking of Ferguson, in a month where the United States’ northeast was buried in snow of epic proportions, a Missouri grand jury’s decision to reject charges against Darren Wilson over the death of Michael Brown generated enough heat to deice a Siberian tarmac.

The temperatures in Igarka were 52C below zero (Screenshot from

The decision prompted thousands to protest from coast to coast – sparking looting, riots, over 400 arrests, and the deployment of the National Guard to stem the tide of chaos in the low-income Saint Louis suburb.

Protesters attack a police car during clashes following the grand jury decision in the death 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014 (AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

While Thanksgiving managed to calm things a bit (though crazy uncles across America with an AM radio fetish did their best to break the peace), the ‘Black Lives Matter Friday’ event and actual shopping mall blockades on America's most conspicuous day of shopping offered an inauspicious start to the holiday season.

Ferguson, of course, wasn’t the only place to see generations of tensions spill over onto the streets.

A masked protester holds a flare during a demonstration, following the grand jury decision in the Ferguson, Missouri shooting of Michael Brown, in Oakland, California November 24, 2014 (Reuters / Stephen Lam)

In Jerusalem, access to the Al-Aqsa mosque – Islam’s third holiest site – was closed to Muslim worshipers for the second time in a week due to intensifying clashes in the city. The first closure was prompted by the shooting death of a right-wing Jewish activist who had called for greater access to the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism where Al-Aqsa sits – along with the much revered Dome of the Rock.

The shooting was only one in a series of murders, kidnappings, and retaliatory acts of violence that have turned the holy city into a tinderbox.

An Israeli border policeman runs during clashes with Palestinian stone throwers following a protest against what organizers say are recent visits by Jewish activists to al-Aqsa mosque, at Qalandia checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah November 7, 2014 (Reuters / Ammar Awad)

These events, in line with tensions throughout the world, lay in stark contrast to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – the 20th century’s most evocative symbol of division.

Balloons from the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) are released in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. (Reuters / View)

In a truly inspiring display, Berliners lit 8,000 balloons along the length of the long-since dismantled city divider.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was given a hero’s welcome in the city for helping to bring an end to decades of division. Sadly, as the senior statesman marked the end of the Cold War, he warned that the world was on the brink of another.

The last ruling President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev leaves his handprints in plaster cast bolted onto an original Wall piece from former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing on November 7, 2014 in Berlin. (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)

Those chilly tensions between Russia and the West were made most explicit when Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott threatened to shirtfront Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two met during the G20 summit in Brisbane.

Luckily, when the two leaders actually met Down Under, the world’s cuddliest mediators applied a soft touch that left both leaders all warm and fuzzy inside.

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin as they meet Koalas before the start of the first G20 meeting in Brisbane.(AFP Photo / Andrew Taylo)

And if it wasn't enough that humans the world over are getting bent out of shape, the world itself seems to be absolutely fuming.

On the Japanese island of Kyushu, Mount Aso spewed up a pillar of ash and rock, forcing nearly 50 flights to be canceled.

This handout picture taken by Fukuoka Local Meteorological Observatory on November 26, 2014 and released by Japan Meteorological Agency on November 27 shows smoke rising from Mount Aso at Kumamoto on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. (AFP Photo/Japan Meteorological Agency)

On the other side of the world, Mexico’s Volcano of Fire lived up to its name, sending out a five-kilometer high tower of ash, which covered towns up to 25 kilometers away in a blanket of finely pulverized lava.

Colima Volcano (Reuters / Bernardo de Niz)

Taking the hat trick in November volcanic activity, President Barack Obama was forced to declare a state of emergency after a slow-moving lava flow from the Pu'u O'o vent of the Kilauea volcano started eating everything in its path on Hawaii’s big island.

Smoke rises from the Pu'u O'o vent on the Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. (Reuters/Marco Garcia)

And if the world wasn’t spitting flames, it was literally collapsing into depressions, as a massive 65x98 foot sinkhole threatened to swallow up a town in Russia’s Urals.

Image courtesy: Uralkali press service

In a slightly less spooky chasm which mysteriously appeared in the heart of Siberia, Russian scientists have begun exploring the gaping Yamal crater. With a bit of luck and a lot of guts, they hope to shed light on a spot which locals appropriately call ‘the end of the Earth.’

Image from by Vladimir Pushkarev / Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration

Speaking of scientists exploring untold depths to discover new mysteries of the world, what on God’s Earth is that???

Still from YouTube video/MBARI

Apparently, this creature which scours the depths of Monterey Canyon off California’s coast is known as a black seadevil – because Jesus, did you see that thing?

Sea monsters, racial and religious strife, new Cold Wars, volcanoes, gaping craters, and general malaise. If so little good can be found on Earth (apart from that koala), perhaps it’s time to look to the stars.

Of course in Russia, you don’t come to space – space comes to you (Editor’s note: Yakov Smirnoff jokes are so 1986). And while lightning may not strike twice, meteorites apparently do, as a ball of orange light burst over Russia’s Sverdlovsk region. Some say it was an asteroid, others say it was some sort of space launch. All can agree it was pretty damn incredible. Just don’t let the jaded dashcam footage fool you.

Still from RT video

Yes, this was a truly amazing month for our intrepid space watchers, with those incredible images of Saturn’s Titan moon.

image from

Oh, and did you see the ‘revolutionary’ image capturing the birth of planetsaround a star some 450 light-years away. Wow, just wow...

Screenshot from

And in a truly game changing event that could potentially rewrite everything we know about the origins of man, the European Space Agency miraculously managed to land its Philae robotic space lander on a comet – the first such landing in human history.

Data collected by the little lander could yield vital clues about the very origins of life on Earth. Awesome.


Back on Earth, a lot of people were more obsessed with Matt Taylor’s shirt than the fact that his history making team had just navigated a lander onto a comet. That, and Kim Kardashian’s...what, do I really need to tell you?

Seriously, beam me up Scotty.

Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (L-R), Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, his wife Peng Liyuan and U.S. President Barack Obama arrive for a dinner hosted by the Chinese President at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, November 10, 2014 (Reuters / Mikhail Klimentyev)