Tag Archives | Africa

How A Human Virus Is Killing Endangered Gorillas

Mountain Gorilla

Photo: FlickreviewR (CC)

Alasdair Wilkins writes in io9:

There’s fewer than 800 Mountain Gorillas left in the entire world, and their survival depends in part on people willing to pay money to go see them. But all this human interaction is bringing gorillas into contact with dangerous diseases.

Although humans are most closely related to chimpanzees, gorillas rank a very respectable second, sharing about 98% of their DNA with us. The current zoological consensus is that there are two distinct species of gorillas, western and eastern, and these are further divided into two subspecies each.

While all the gorilla species are to some degree threatened, the population levels vary wildly. There are at least 100,000 Western Lowland Gorillas in the wild, and 4,000 in zoos, while fellow western subspecies, the rarely seen Cross River Gorilla, is thought to have a remaining population of just 280. As for the eastern subspecies, the Eastern Lowland Gorilla has a relatively healthy population of about 4,000.

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Rwanda To Run Vasectomy Campaign To Curb Population Growth

Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

Photo: Rwanda soilders singing anti-AIDS songs. All soilders are counseled and tested for HIV.

An interesting tactic in controlling population growth, but how does one come up with a slogan for a campaign supporting both vasectomies and HIV prevention? Stop the spread of disease and babies? BBC News reports:

Rwanda’s government has said it wants to encourage men to have vasectomies in a bid to stem the small landlocked country’s growing population.

It would be done along with its HIV prevention campaign to encourage all men to be circumcised.

Health officials would take the opportunity to talk to men about the birth-control method at the same time.

A BBC reporter in Rwanda says vasectomies are uncommon in the country and the move may meet resistance.

[Continues at BBC News]

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Oil Profits Soar Even In Crippled Economy

Site editor’s note: This post from DJ Pangburn originally appeared on death + taxes.

What a joy it is to see some businesses doing well as the corpse of capitalism slowly re-animates…

ExxonMobilVery few industries bloom in harsh economic times, but the oil and energy industries are doing just fine. Did anyone expect anything less?

Exxon-Mobil reported a 55% surge in third quarter earnings compared to last year. The U.S. oil giant posted $7.4 billion in earnings, which translates to $1.44 per share. It’s annual revenue rose $13 billion to $95.3 billion, much of the credit going to the demand coming out of China attempting to feed its unstoppable economic engines.

In a statement, ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson commented on Exxon-Mobil’s profits:

“Despite continuing economic uncertainty, we had strong quarterly results and continued to advance our robust investment opportunities.”

Royal Dutch Shell’s quarterly earnings also rose significantly, even as the company divests itself of some of their oil-producing facilities in Nigeria.… Read the rest

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Two-Thirds of the West African Nation of Benin is Underwater

BeninVia BBC News:
The UN refugee agency is to start an emergency airlift of tents to the West African nation of Benin this week, amid the worst flooding there in decades. Some 3,000 tents will be flown in from Denmark to provide shelter for some of the estimated 680,000 people affected. Two-thirds of Benin has suffered from months of heavy rain, and about 800 cases of cholera have been reported. It is the worst flooding to hit the country — one of the poorest in the world — since 1963. Areas previously thought not to be vulnerable to flooding have been devastated and villages wiped out.
"There are huge areas that are covered in water so people are living on the tops of their houses, because people try to stay near their homes," Helen Kawkins of the Care aid agency told the BBC.
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African Newspaper Purposefully ‘Outs’ Gays, Suggests Hanging

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

This is quite a shocker, reported by Godfrey Olukya and Jason Straziuso for AP, especially as it seems to have been instigated by American Christian fundamentalists:

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The front-page newspaper story featured a list of Uganda’s 100 “top” homosexuals, with a bright yellow banner across it that read: “Hang Them.” Alongside their photos were the men’s names and addresses.

In the days since it was published, at least four gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to rights activist Julian Onziema. One person named in the story had stones thrown at his house by neighbors.

A lawmaker in this conservative African country introduced a bill a year ago that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others. An international uproar ensued, and the bill was quietly shelved.

But gays in Uganda say they have faced a year of harassment and attacks since the bill’s introduction.

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UN Identifies the World’s Most Expensive Broadband Access

BroadbandIn the Central African Republic, broadband internet service costs 3891% of the average monthly income. Put another way, a month’s broadband service costs more than three years’ average wages in the country,” notes this technology blog, “compared with less than two hours’ earnings in Macau.” (The world’s cheapest broadband access…)

A United Nations’ technology group released the figures in a new report in advance of a September 19 summit on the digital divide in developing countries. (“We are trying to avoid a broadband divide,” said Dr. Hamadoun Toure, the secretary general of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union says in the report.) Their agency noted that the rate for broadband penetration is below 1% in many poor countries, with monthly costs higher than the average monthly income, whereas in the world’s most developed economies, 30% of people have access to broadband at less than 1% of their income.

And the report also estimates that there are 5 billion cellphones in the world — though some people may own more than one.”

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The Genocide Behind Your Smart Phone (Video)

Alan Mascarenhas writes on Newsweek:
It takes a lot to snap people out of apathy about Africa’s problems. But in the wake of Live Aid and Save Darfur, a new cause stands on the cusp of going mainstream. It’s the push to make major electronics companies (manufacturers of cell phones, laptops, portable music players, and cameras) disclose whether they use “conflict minerals” — the rare metals that finance civil wars and militia atrocities, most notably in Congo. The issue of ethical sourcing has long galvanized human-rights groups. In Liberia, Angola, and Sierra Leone, the notorious trade in “blood diamonds” helped fund rebel insurgencies. In Guinea, bauxite sustains a repressive military junta. And fair-labor groups have spent decades documenting the foreign sweatshops that sometimes supply American clothing stores. Yet Congo raises especially disturbing issues for famous tech brand names that fancy themselves responsible corporate citizens. A key mover behind the Congo campaign is the anti-genocide Enough Project: witness its clever spoof of the famous Apple commercial.
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True Blood For African Addicts

At what point do people need a fix so bad that they are willing to inject another person’s blood into themselves? With the constant presence of AIDS related deaths in Africa, and the progressive educational-outreach towards sex workers and addicts, it would seem a foolish thought. BBC reports:

Desperate heroin users in a few African cities have begun engaging in a practice that is so dangerous it is almost unthinkable: they deliberately inject themselves with another addict’s blood, researchers say, in an effort to share the high or stave off the pangs of withdrawal.

The practice, called flashblood or sometimes flushblood, is not common, but has been reported in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on the island of Zanzibar and in Mombasa, Kenya.

It puts users at the highest possible risk of contracting AIDS and hepatitis. While most AIDS transmission in Africa is by heterosexual sex, the use of heroin is growing in some cities, and experts are warning that flashblood — along with syringe-sharing and other dangerous habits — could fuel a new wave of AIDS infections.

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A New African Ocean?

For over the past 5 years, scientific researchers have been observing an ocean in the making.  Scientists at the Royal Society, claim that the African continent will be split in two based on a 60 kilometer crack in the Earth’s surface in Ethiopia.  Tim Wright, the lead researcher, estimates that the process of forming a new ocean will take approximately ten billion years.  The crack is caused by molten rock slowly rising from deep below the Earth’s surface.  Matt McGrath of the BBC goes into detail:

“Dr James Hammond, a seismologist from the University of Bristol – who has been working in Afar – says that parts of the region are below sea level and the ocean is only cut off by about a 20-metre block of land in Eritrea.

“Eventually this will drift apart,” he told the BBC World Service. “The sea will flood in and will start to create this new ocean.

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Albinos Killed in Burundi for Belief That ‘Good Luck’ is Brought by Body Parts

Albino Boy

Photo: Muntuwandi (CC)

Tom Odula writes on the AP:

Attackers in Burundi chopped off the limbs of a 5-year-old albino boy and pulled out his mother’s eye, killing them over the belief that their body parts would bring wealth and success, human rights activists said Friday.

Those deaths and other recent attacks in Tanzania are part of long pattern of violence against African albinos. At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since attacks against them spiked in late 2007, the International Federation of the Red Cross says.

Since then, 57 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi, said Vicky Ntetema with the rights group Under The Same Sun.

The killings are fueled by superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring others wealth and success, Ntetema said.

“Body parts are sought for their supposed miraculous powers,” she said. “Some use them as human sacrifice as advised by witch doctors.”

Read More: AP

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