Category Archives: Politics

Study: Farmers Need Lower Emissions to Mitigate Rainfall Changes

A radical decrease in greenhouse gas emissions is needed if farmers are to have time to prepare for major changes in rainfall that could decimate crops, researchers said in a report released on Monday.

Already wet areas will see more rain and dry areas will get drier at a pace determined by emissions levels, researchers said in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

These changes will happen regardless of action taken on climate change, but by curbing emissions, countries can buy time to adapt to new rainfall levels.

For this study, researchers looked at wheat, soybeans, rice and maize, crops that make up about 40 percent of the global caloric intake, under different emission scenarios.

“I think it’s worrying,” lead author Maisa Rojas, professor of climatology at the University of Chile told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Even in the low-emission scenarios you see the time of emergence now or very soon.”

“Time of emergence” is the year a region’s normal fluctuations in rainfall shift dramatically.

Most of the crops consumed around the world are produced by rain fed-agriculture, according to the International Water Management Institute, a nonprofit science research organization.

About 60 percent of farmed land in South Asia and 95 percent in sub-Saharan Africa is rain dependent.

If the world meets the goals set out in the 2016 Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to under 2 degrees Celsius, these regions will have 20 to 30 years to prepare and adapt farming practices.

If these standards are not met and emissions continue at the current rate or increase, some regions will see changes as early as 2020.

Rojas noted that poorer, dryer countries will disproportionately feel the negative effects of such changes and may become dependent on imports.

Dry regions like Southern Africa and Australia, which she said are already seeing a decrease in precipitation, need to immediately look into irrigation systems, dams or growing different foods altogether.

Wet regions like India are more of a mystery.

More rain could benefit crops and boost food production. However, more rain in combination with increased heat and certain soil types may lead to flooding, which could wipe out food supplies.

If the Paris Agreement standards are met, the most impacted areas will have until 2040 to prepare for the coming precipitation changes.

They may have time to limit the land area harmed by rainfall changes and prevent hunger or price hikes to food supplies. This study, said Rojas, is a first look at where we can expect those changes to happen and roughly when they will arrive.

“Every time we thought about climate change up to now, we thought, ‘This is something that will happen in the future,'” said Rojas. “We need to hurry up.”

Source: Voice of America

Persons with Albinism Hit Wall When Seeking Justice

GENEVA � The Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism reports people with this condition have great difficulty getting justice or recompense for physical attacks and other harmful practices against them and their families. The expert’s latest report has been under debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Last year has been a particularly difficult one for persons with albinism in southern Africa. UN expert, Ikponwosa Ero says she has received numerous reports of abhorrent attacks against them.

From past experience, she says it is likely the number of reported cases does not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. Over the past decade, she says there have been more than 700 cases of attacks in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She notes these are reported cases. Most, she says, are never brought to light.

Worldwide, Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. She says they are subject to physical attacks and harmful practices related to certain beliefs in magic and witchcraft. However, when they seek redress, she says persons with albinism too frequently are denied access to justice.

Overall, in terms of these criminal cases, inordinate delays are common in prosecuting cases of serious charges such as murder and mutilation. Cases with relatively lesser charges such as threats and possession of exhumed body parts from gravesites are � depending on the country in question � either prosecuted relatively quickly or are not taken seriously at all.

Ero says there are many barriers to access to justice, including lack of knowledge by victims on how the justice system works. She says discrimination from members of the legal community and the inability to pay the costs associated with going to court are other impediments.

The independent expert says specific measures must be taken to improve access to justice for persons with albinism. She recommends victims and their relatives be given protection to encourage them to come forward with evidence of a crime. She says they also should be rehabilitated.

Ero says persons with albinism who are seeking justice should receive legal aid and laws should be amended to take into account the threats targeting this particular group.

Source: Voice of America

Persons with Albinism Hit Wall When Seeking Justice

GENEVA � The Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism reports people with this condition have great difficulty getting justice or recompense for physical attacks and other harmful practices against them and their families. The expert’s latest report has been under debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Last year has been a particularly difficult one for persons with albinism in southern Africa. UN expert, Ikponwosa Ero says she has received numerous reports of abhorrent attacks against them.

From past experience, she says it is likely the number of reported cases does not reflect the true magnitude of the problem. Over the past decade, she says there have been more than 700 cases of attacks in 28 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. She notes these are reported cases. Most, she says, are never brought to light.

Worldwide, Ero says persons with Albinism suffer from discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. She says they are subject to physical attacks and harmful practices related to certain beliefs in magic and witchcraft. However, when they seek redress, she says persons with albinism too frequently are denied access to justice.

Overall, in terms of these criminal cases, inordinate delays are common in prosecuting cases of serious charges such as murder and mutilation. Cases with relatively lesser charges such as threats and possession of exhumed body parts from gravesites are � depending on the country in question � either prosecuted relatively quickly or are not taken seriously at all.

Ero says there are many barriers to access to justice, including lack of knowledge by victims on how the justice system works. She says discrimination from members of the legal community and the inability to pay the costs associated with going to court are other impediments.

The independent expert says specific measures must be taken to improve access to justice for persons with albinism. She recommends victims and their relatives be given protection to encourage them to come forward with evidence of a crime. She says they also should be rehabilitated.

Ero says persons with albinism who are seeking justice should receive legal aid and laws should be amended to take into account the threats targeting this particular group.

Source: Voice of America

Tunisia’s Health Minister Resigns After 11 Newborns Die in Hospital

TUNIS, TUNISIA � The health minister of Tunisia has resigned, following the deaths of 11 newborn babies within 24 hours at a hospital in Tunis, the capital.

Abdel-Raouf El-Sherif resigned Saturday.

The health ministry and state prosecutors have opened investigations into the mysterious deaths.

Tunisia’s pediatric association said in a Facebook post that the infants’ deaths may have been caused by an intravenous product.

The association also noted the precarious conditions in which health professionals work.

Tunisia once enjoyed a reputation for having one of the best public healthcare systems in North Africa.

Tunisia’s healthcare system, however, and other state services have been in decline since the overthrow of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Source: Voice of America

WHO: Pregnant Women Exposed to Ebola Should Get Vaccine

GENEVA � An independent advisory body convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends pregnant women and breastfeeding women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo be vaccinated against the deadly Ebola virus. Latest WHO figures put the number of Ebola cases in the DRC at 853, including 521 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in August.

More than 80,000 people so far have been vaccinated against Ebola in the African country’s conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces during the current outbreak. The vaccine is still in its experimental stage. But since 2015 it has been given to thousands of people in Africa, Europe and the United States.

The studies of the efficacy of the vaccine are not conclusive. However, they indicate the serum is safe and protects people against Ebola. On the basis of accumulated evidence, the group of immunization experts recommends continued ring vaccination for Ebola in DRC.

Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus. WHO spokesman, Tarek Jasarevic says the experts advise pregnant women at high risk of infection and death from Ebola should be given the vaccination.

So, this aim, this vaccinating of women would protect them, provide them with more protection. But we also know that if we use this ring vaccination that women who are in the community that is vaccinated then have a low risk. So, it is really between risk and benefits and we hope that the use of the vaccine in pregnant women will generate some data for the future, Jasarevic said.

The group of experts advise the vaccine be given to pregnant women in their second or third trimester as well as to breastfeeding women and babies under one year old.

The experts also recommend that one or more of three other new experimental Ebola vaccines be tested in areas neighboring the affected regions. They say pregnant and breastfeeding women should be included in these trials.

The WHO says all vaccinated pregnant women will be closely monitored until the birth of their babies to see if there are any adverse effects.

Source: Voice of America