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Stories from and

ISIS Burning US Food Aid for Syria

Turkish journalist Mete Sohtaoğlu, who is based in Istanbul, reports that ISIS is burning US food aid destined for Syria “because it is not halal” – or Islamically permitted or lawful.

He tweets the following photographs to back up his report:

Fighting Malnutrition in Rwanda With Music

Rwanda’s top musicians King James, Miss Jojo, Riderman, Tom Close, and Urban Boyz join the fight against malnutrition in Rwanda with a YouTube music video. The video is also available with Swahili subtitles.

Paraguayans Share a Delicious Jopará to Shoo Poverty Away

Every year on October 1, Paraguayans prepare a traditional dish named jopará or yopará, stew type broth made out of different kinds of maize with beans and plenty bovine and pork meat, vegetables, sausages, amongo other ingredients.

It's costumary that October is a feared month, the harvesting is over, the sowing has ended and everybiody has to wait until the next harvest. If the individuals haven't been provident enough and haven't saved food, they can have a hard time. That's what author Dionisio González Torres writes in his book, “Folklore of Paraguay.”

According to the tradition, Karai Octubre (Mister October), a short, bearded old man, shows up on that day with his straw hat, a bag and a long rebenque (some kind of whip) to flog all those who haven't a prepared karu guasu (big meal), as González Torres explains.

The old man goes over all the houses and takes a look at every pot with the lunch of the day. If there is little food, he takes out pains and disgraces from his bag for all those who live in that house. If there is plenty of food, the old man just walks by and the family will be safe for the year:

Daily special menu: Yopará so Karai octubre walks by!

All over my homeland you can already feel the scent of delicious Yopará to shoo ‘Caraí Octubre’ away.

So [Mexican communications mogul] Carlos Slim and [American owner of Microsoft] Bill Gates will be poor men for not eating Yopara? Or how does the myth go?

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. 

“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.

Do You Read Ecolabels When Shopping?

Rut Abrain Sanchez on her blog Esturirafi defines and identifies legal and volunteer product labels. Among the latter we find ecologic labels, “so manufacturers show us they are abiding by a series of requirements and for the consumer to be able to identify products environmentally more sustainable”.

There are Type I, Semi-type I, Type II and Type III ecolables. Abrain Sanchez mentions the first two of them, the most common:

Ecoetiquetas (Tipo I). Son sistemas voluntarios de etiquetado ambiental que identifican y certifican de forma oficial que los productos que la llevan tienen un menor efecto sobre el medio ambiente.

A nivel europeo existen sistemas nacionales de ecoetiquetado como el Ángel Azul de Alemania, AENOR Medio Ambiente de España o la Etiqueta Ecológica Europea (conocida como flor europea).

Etiquetado semi-tipo I. Estas ecoetiquetas suelen pertenecer a organizaciones sociales, asociaciones sectoriales, agrupaciones de empresas fabricantes, etc. cuyo principal objetivo es conseguir que la mayor cantidad de productos posibles se certifiquen bajo su sistema, para lograr el mayor reconocimiento posible por parte de los consumidores.

Dentro de este tipo se encuentran las etiquetas de agricultura ecológica, pesca sostenible, consumo energético, uso de madera (FSC, PEFC), productos textiles… Las que solemos encontrar en muchos productos que compramos a diario. A partir de hoy te vas a fijar mucho más :-)

Ecolabels (Type I). a volunteer system of environmental labelling that officially identifies and certifiies that products bearing it have a lesser effect on the environment.

In Europe, there are ecolabelling national systems, such as Blue Angel in Germany, AENOR Environment in Spain or Ecologic Label (known as European flower).

Semi-type I label. These ecolabels usually belong to social organizations, sectorial associations, groups of manufacturing firms, etc. with the aim of having the most possible products certified under this system, to achieve that most consumers recognize the products.

This type contains labels from ecologic farming, sustainable fishing, energetic use, wood (FSC, PEFC), textile products… We find these labels in many products we purchase on a daily basis. From now on, you'll sure look more in depth at labels :-)

Rut has been previoulsy quoted here. Her social networks are Twitter, G+ and Flickr.

This post was part of the thirtieth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on November 24, 2014.

Humanitarian Associations in Burkina Faso Campaign for Revenue Sharing from the Mining Industry with “Just 1%” Hashtag

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso - Public Domain

Bobo Vendors in Burkina Faso – Public Domain

A new hashtag is trending in Burkina Faso online networks: #Justeunpourcent (Just 1 Percent in English). The hashtag refers to a campaign initiated by local NGOs to the Parliament that requests that 1 percent of the mining revenues be shared with humanitarian associations to fight poverty in Burkina Faso. Nadine Kone from Ouagadogou kickstarted the campaign on twitter :

Just 1 Percent: To all the Members of Parliament in Burkina Faso, this is a way to help communities against poverty.

Rooftop Farming in Hong Kong

"Go Green Hong Kong" discussed the benefit of rooftop farming in Hong Kong.

“Go Green Hong Kong” discussed the benefit of rooftop farming in Hong Kong – Green roofs can help reduce three of the four top problems facing the society in the next 50 years: energy, water, and environment.

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 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].

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