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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. 

How Cafe Culture is Destroying Indonesia's Street Food Culture

An Ismanto from Yogyakarta in Indonesia observes how new western-style cafes are edging out ‘plastic tent-covered food carts’ known as ‘angkringan':

…the angkringan is in decline. Students don’t frequent them anymore, preferring to pay at least twice as much to eat, drink and socialise in the stylish surrounds of the kafe. If they think of angkringan at all, it is as something exotic, still a Yogyakarta icon, but a place frequented by people with thin wallets, not classy, rich students. There’s no social prestige for students in that company.

Macedonian Students Campaign Against Unlivable Conditions in Dormitories

Macedonian students demanding better life conditions in public university dormitories published a blog entitled “Operacija studentski” [mk] (“Operation Dorm”) displaying photos of everyday life in the facilities and urging students to contribute. Many of the photos show highly inadequate living conditions in the student dormitories.

The blog and photos have gained much visibility on social networks, as many social media users react to the inactivity of the official student organizations sanctioned by the state. Prompted by “Operation Dorm”, many other students have also taken to social networks to post photos of the horrible living conditions in some of the state university dormitories. Since these dormitories are the only ones in the country, the competition to gain beds in them is fierce and mired with suspicions of corruption.

Dormitory reception with signs "There's no hot water, we are fixing the problem" and "Go to your boyfriends' places to take a bath."

Dormitory reception with signs “There's no hot water, we are fixing the problem” and “Go to your boyfriends’ places to take a bath.” Photo by Operacija studentski.

The following video from A1on article [mk] about the dorms also displays the situation.

Sharing on social networks increased after posting of an imgur English-language photo gallery. This also spawned parodies, such as “an image of Alexander the Great appeared in the mold” [mk] (referring to recent development promoted by politicians), “Hollywood will rent the site to film horror movies” [mk], a comparison with Norwegian prison, and articles in foreign media [hr].

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. 

“We Are Not Paying Enough Attention to Teenagers’ Health”

The latest report from the World Health Organization (WHO) on the health of adolescents worldwide notes that

 The top 3 causes of adolescent deaths globally are road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, and suicide. Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012.

The report also adds that :

Mortality rate is higher for teenagers between the age of  15  and 19 that those between 10 and 14 years old. Although some causes of death are common to both sexes, young boys die at higher rate because of violence while giving birth as a teen is the main cause of death for young girls.    

Some policies are suggested to better respond to the mental and overall health needs of adolescents. Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General for Family, Women and Children’s Health, WHO states that  states that:

The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents. 

 

Lies and Falsehoods Keep the World Go ‘Round in Japan

Twitter user @suzaks1 criticized [ja] the amount of lies and inaccuracies that are making Japanese headlines:

[Japan is a] country covered in lies: fake ingredients on the menu of top Japanese hotels, railway gauges fabricated in Hokkaido, major symphony music by a fraud composer, and falsehoods continues to prevail in the nation's top-level research institute, as well as on doctoral dissertations. It's scary to see how this country is run by continuous frauds. No wonder the nuclear plant exploded. Even if the land ends up contaminated, they can just lie everyone and continue on with life.

8 Things You Can Do With a Mango

Kenyan blogger Yoga David shows you 8 amazing things you can do with a mango:

This is the mango fruit season where mango enthusiasts live for this summery fruit. Maybe it’s that tartness of the fruit, or how perfect it tastes even when it’s just raw.

So here are our 8 Things to do with a mango you might consider doing.

Licuado

A traditional favourite of many, this is perfect for breakfast or anytime. Spoon mango, yogurt, juice, and any fresh fruit into a fruit blender and liquefy it to your preferred thickness. Add in a few cubes of ice and serve it as a chilly drink.

Savoury salad

A savoury salad comes with leafy greens, tomatoes and at times red onion. The salad is made even more flavourful with mango. Instead of salad dressing, top salad with slivers of mango and light oil.

Mango with lime and salt

A favourite treat, mango is prepared with lime and touch of salt, which is tangy and delicious. Cut cubes of mango in a cup; shake the cubes, salt and top liberally with fresh or bottled lime juice

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