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Hunger in Niger, prisons in Haiti, Maoists in India. How much do you know?

I went three for six. See how you do. And no, this won’t affect your final grade!

Take the Weekly Quiz from AlertNet.


Renaissance in African art spurs booming market

The Johannesburg Art Fair recently showcased the works of 400 African contemporary artists, attracting more than 10,000 visitors. Organizer Ross Douglas there had been an explosion of interest in African art in recent years.

“Africa has always had a strong tribal art and a strong craft component, and that will always stay,” he said.

“But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a contemporary market existing alongside that, and if you look in South Africa at the contemporary market in the last four or five years, it’s absolutely exploded.  If you look at the number of young black artists doing well, making a living, it’s extraordinary. Five years ago it just didn’t exist,” Douglas said.

Read more from CNN.

UNCF: Yemeni child bride dies of internal bleeding

 A 12-year-old Yemeni bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after she was married off to an older man, the United Nations Children’s Fund said.

The death is the latest in a series of child marriage cases in Yemen, where the minimum age for marriage  is still under debate.  The girl was married to a man at least twice her age, said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

The girl’s death is “a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon,” Kaag said.

Read more from CNN.

UC prof says factory farming will reduce GHGs from livestock

In 2006, The UN’s Food and Agriculture organization published “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” a much-criticized report suggesting that livestock accounted for more greenhouse gases than the planet’s entire motor fleet.

Now, a University of California professor has published a study suggesting the FAO overstated the impact of meat and dairy production on Climate Change. Dr. Frank Mitloehner says more efficient production methods — i.e. factory farming and feedlots — will reduce greenhouse gases from livestock.  

He adds that less industrialised countries should be helped to satisfy their populations’ growing demand for meat and dairy by adopting western-style factory farming.

“My concern is not to feed more meat to people in the developed world but to make nutrition available to people who are undernourished,” he said. “The current systems in Brazil, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are very land-hungry because they are so extensive. We have the tools to show them how to do it using less resources.”

The FAO is doing a “Son of Livestock’s Long Shadow” report that should be completed next year.

Read more in The Ecologist.

Word of the Day: Interlard

The stuff between pigskin and innards? A picturesque Swiss town specializing in fried foods? Particles emitted by an exploding star?

Not really.

Look here for the true meaning of  interlard.

Bangkok under emergency rule

Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand‘s prime minister, declared a state of emergency in Bangkok today, handing the army broad powers to restore order after anti-government protesters broke into a parliament building.

As a Black Hawk helicopter with five soldiers armed with M-16 rifles flew ministers to safety, other politicians scaled the compound’s walls to escape the most chaotic protest occurring in several weeks of demonstrations.

The protesters want Abhisit to dissolve the government and call elections within 15 days. Read more in the Guardian.

Brazil’s politicians blamed for floods that killed 105

RIO DE JANEIRO — As the torrential rains began to recede over Rio de Janeiro today, following the state’s worst floods since 1966, one question was stamped onto every newspaper front-page in Brazil: Why?

Why was Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s second largest city and one with a history of tropical rainstorms and flooding – not better prepared for the catastrophe that struck on late Monday and Tuesday this week, when an estimated 11 inches of rain crashed down onto the iconic city and and its neighboring towns in just 24 hours?

With rescue attempts continuing in several of Rio’s hillside slums, the city’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, tried to duck questions about why the floods, which have officially claimed at least 105 lives and which brought much of the city to a standstill on Monday night and Tuesday, caused such havoc.

But urban planning specialists and environmentalists have been quick to react – blaming Rio’s politicians for decades of poor spending, confused housing policy, and even outright corruption.

“This was an tragedy foretold,” says Sergio Ricardo, a leading Rio environmentalist. “To this day, the city does not have any kind of alert or prevention system – something that is common in other cities that are as vulnerable as Rio.” Read more from the Christian Science Monitor.