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Locusts Invade Madagascar's Capital City

Twitter and Facebook users from Madagascar's capital city, Antananarivo, have posted several photos of locusts invading the city. Locust invasions are not unusual in Madagascar, especially after tropical storms, but they are very uncommon in larger cities. Locusts can have a devastating effect on crops, especially in a country that has struggled with bouts of famine in past years.

Clashes After an Attempted Theft of 450 Cattle Leaves 15 Dead in Madagascar

Armed forces and dahalos (highwaymen in Malagasy) clashed in Amboasary Sud in the southern region of Madagascar on Aug. 15 over a theft of humped cattle (Zebus), a type of domestic cattle with a fleshy hump on their shoulders. Thirteen Dahalos and two members of the armed forces died during the clashes. Official reports states that 450 Zebus were stolen by about 90 armed thieves when authorities intervened.

PHOTO: Crowds Outside a Cairo Liquor Store

A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:

Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.

Sparrows in China Died From Eating Too Much Rice? Chinese Netizens Are Skeptical

A large number of sparrows died after eating rice spilled on the ground from a shipment at a dock in Yichang city, Sichuan province. A local food security expert said that the sparrows probably just ate too much and burst. Fauna from ChinaSMACK translated the news as well as Chinese netizens’ responses.

The Story of Famine Refugees from Niger in Eastern Algeria

In the past few weeks, hundreds of Sub-Saharan immigrants from Mali or Niger have migrated to Algerian cities by the Eastern border. Liberté Algérie narrates the stories of those who made the choice to immigrate and why [fr] :

Les conditions de vie au hangar de la cité Bourroh sont inhumaines. A l’intérieur du hangar, les Subsahariens ont dressé des tentes, une soixantaine environ. A l’intérieur de chaque tente, trop exiguë, vivent, serrés les uns contre les autres, tous les membres d’une même famille. [..] Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Avec leur mère, elles ont fui leur pays d’origine, le Niger, à cause de la pauvreté. “Nous avons quitté notre pays, parce que nous n’avions plus quoi manger. Meriem et Aïcha sont deux sœurs âgées respectivement de 10 et 12 ans. Egalement originaires du Niger, Sakina, sa fille Asma et ses deux petits-enfants s’étaient réfugiés à Aïn Guezzam, dans la wilaya de Tamanrasset, à l’extrême sud du Sahara. Dans un arabe approximatif, notre interlocutrice nous apprendra qu’ils font partie d’un groupe qui a fui la faim au Niger.

The living conditions in the shed of the city of Bourroh are inhumane. Inside the shed, Sub-Saharan immigrants have pitched about sixty tents. Inside each (very small) tent, they all live together, tight against each other, all members of the same family. [..] Meriem and Aisha are two sisters aged respectively 10 and 12. With their mother, they fled their country of origin, Niger, because of poverty. “We left our country because we did not have enough to eat’ Meriem says. Also from Niger, Sakina, her daughter Asma and her two grandchildren are refugees in Ain Guezzam in the wilaya of Tamanrasset, at the extreme south of the Sahara desert. In a hesitant arabic language, Sakira tell us that they are part of a group who fled the rampant famine in Niger. 

An Entrepreneur Rewarded for his Innovative Healthcare Work in Cameroon

Mr. Petsoko et son prix - avec sa permission

Mr Petsoko being awarded his prize – with his permission

 The curtain has just come down on the tenth “Positive and Winning Africa Oscars”, held at the Hilton Hotel in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon. This year, the event organised by the NGO “Positive and Winning Africa” rewarded Cameroonian Clément  Petsoko for his innovating healthcare projects. For a decade now, sponsor Hervé Mba and a jury made up of a dozen public figures to award prizes to African personalities whose innovative projects could help the progress of the African continent.

The Golden Oscar for Man of the Decade was presented to Clément  Petsoko, PDG of the Morgan and Wilfried laboratories. The jury rewarded Petsoko for “his capacity to overcome the numerous difficulties he has faced in recent years”. As he was awarded his prize, the happy winner stated:

 Je voudrais que mon prix serve d’enseignement à la jeunesse du monde qui doit  intégrer dans son vécu quotidien  le dicton qui selon lequel : « le pont qui mène au succès est fragile » et qu’il faille allier courage, abnégation et détermination dans l’atteinte de ses objectifs.

I want my prize to serve as a lesson to young people around the world, who should remember the saying “it's a rocky road to success,” and that achieving your aims requires courage, self-sacrifice and determination.

 
Dr Clément Nossupuwo  Petsoko is a homeopath by training. Already awarded the prize for Man of the Year 2013 in Cameroon by Mosaïques International, Petsoko is also active in the community via his weekly newsletter promoting foreign communities, decentralised local authorities, tourism and general information.
In his thank you speech, Petsoko spoke of the fragility of success. And in fact, his journey has encountered many hurdles and controversies. Earlier in his career, Petsoko was accused by Cameroonian health authorities of “leading a huge publicity campaign on local TV channels, in violation of the legal restrictions on advertising medication.” Following these accusations, the distribution of his flagship slimming programme was banned in Cameroon. On 14 November 2013, the Cameroonian government lifted the ban on selling the programme. Petsoko has also suffered setbacks in his personal life. Divorced from his wife Christelle Yameni several years ago, she took Petsoko to court in 2008 for committing indecent acts on minors below the age of 16. The couple was married since 18 December 1998. On 24 March 2010, the Mfoundi High Court in Yaoundé decided to dismiss the case.
 

Should Women Starve Their Babies for Fear of Public Breastfeeding?

Olivia Kidula explains why breastfeeding in public should not stop:

A friend of mine recently gave birth to her first baby girl and is still getting the hang of motherhood. I began to notice she breastfeeds only when no men (besides her husband or father are around) and when she can “comfortably” hide away in a small space. When I mentioned to her that there should be no shame in feeding and nourishing her child in front of anyone, she responded,

“society would rather she starves than look at my breasts.”

The more I thought about the implications of her words the more upset I became. Who would want a child to starve? Who would truly want to deny a child nourishment and comfort at the chest of his mother?

Biofortified Bananas for Beta Carotene Deficiency

Félix Moronta Barrios is a Venezuelan biologist who spreads scientific culture among Spanih speaking community. He recently explained the researches and biotechnologic findongs about transgenic bananas in Uganda and the United States.

The banane cultivated in Uganda has no A vitamin. That's why its modification is necessary. Moronta Barrios warns the skeptical:

Antes de que piensen cosas como “natural es mejor”, “otra vez los científicos jugando a ser dios”, “lo modificado genéticamente es malo malísimo”, etc, etc, etc. sepan que la transgénesis también ocurre naturalmente, como expliqué aquí. Que el plátano, banana o cambur que consumimos hoy en día es un invento humano, tal como explica Ciencia de Sofá en “El oscuro pasado de los plátanos“. Y para que no termine ahí la sorpresa, les cuento que es un alimento radiactivo por su alto contenido en potasio; tanto, que camiones cargados de plátanos hacen saltar las alarmas en algunas aduanas. Incluso hay una unidad de medida al respecto, la dosis equivalente a un plátano.

Before you think of things such as “natural is best”, “again scientists playing God”, “genetically modified is not good”, etc, you better know that transgenesis goes on naturally, as explained here. The bananas we eat are human creation, as stated by Ciencia de Sofá on “The dark past of bananas“. And for more surprises, let me tell you this is a radiactive fruit, due to its high content of potasium. So much that banana trucks start the alarms in some customs control. There even is a measuring unit about that, the dose equivalent to a banana.

For updates about biology and biotechnology by an expert written in Spanish with a simple language, visit the blog by Felix Moronta or follow his tweets on morontafelix.

This post was part of the eleventh #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on July 14, 2014.

Farmers in China's Guangdong Province Are Buzzing About ‘Delicious’ Locusts

Charles Liu from Nanfang.com highlighted a new type of agriculture among farmers in Guangdong province: raising locusts to serve as a meal. Here is his suggested recipe:

1. Remove their wings; boil them in water to remove their excrement, and then deep fry them.
2. Add hot peppers, scallions and garlic with a bit of salt.
3. Enjoy.

Celebrating Russian Crimea with a Candy

A Russian chocolate company in Novosibirsk has released a new candy bar called “The Crimea” with the slogan, “Just try to grab it!” A product announcement shared with the press features a super-hero character wearing the colors of the Russian flag, standing before a map of Crimea, with the following tagline:

Даже в то время, когда страна принимает непростые решения, мы не перестаем улыбаться. Потому что мы—Россияне!

Even in times when the country is making difficult decisions, we never stop smiling. That's because we are Russians!

The company responsible for this new confection, “Chocolate Traditions,” has produced other specially themed sweets. Earlier this year, it announced a fudge bar called “the Viagra.” There are also several holiday-themed candy collections, for Victory Day, Women's Day, and so on. One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of the Crimea chocolates costs 130 rubles (about $4). 

Russian Internet users have showed great interest in the new Crimea-themed candy bar. According to Yandex's blogs search engine, the past few hours have seen over a thousand posts on the subject. Many Russians have noticed that the chocolate bars expire after ten months, leading several bloggers to joke that Russia's occupation of Crimea won't last another year.

The Russian candy “Crimea—just try to grab it” has a shelf life of 10 months. In January, Crimea will become Ukrainian again. 

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