First News
Volume:7, Number:36
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LIVING ETCETERA
THIS WEEK

More Than 100 Million at Risk of Starvation Globally

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The number of people facing severe hunger worldwide has surpassed 100 million and will grow if humanitarian aid is not paired with more support for farmers, a senior United Nations official said. Dominique Burgeon, director of the emergency division at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said latest studies showed 102 million people faced acute malnutrition - meaning they were on the brink of starvation - in 2016, up almost 30 percent from 80 million in 2015. The hike was mainly driven by deepening crises in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, where conflict and drought have crippled food production, he said.

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Ahmadinejad Who Banned Twitter Joins Twitter

Iran's hardline former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became the latest leader to join Twitter on March 5, despite having been instrumental in getting it banned in the country. Ahmadinejad's first tweet from his personal account was a video in which he called on people to follow him at @ Ahmadinejad1956. "In the name of God Peace be upon all the freedom loving people of the world," he wrote in English. Despite the service being blocked for ordinary citizens, many of Iran's top officials tweet regularly, including president Hassan Rouhani and foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Even the office of supreme leader Ali Khamenei maintains accounts in several languages.

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Scientists Still Divided on Mercury Content in Seafood

Molly Lutcavage, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, hoped to test the theory that selenium, a key chemical found in tuna, prevents mercury from being transferred to the people who eat them and that, therefore, the fish are safe to eat. So she gave her hard-won samples to a colleague, Dr Nicholas Fisher, to analyze in his lab. Two years later, he produced a study focused almost exclusively on his own hypothesis: Lowering pollution emissions from power plants reduced the levels of mercury in bluefin tuna. US Federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health urge caution for some types of fish, especially for pregnant women and young children, as high levels of mercury contamination can cause developmental disorders.

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Sheep Get Horny in Winter Because of Bad Light

The mystery of why sheep get horny in the winter might have been solved, according to new research. It has long been known that changes in animals’ fertility over the seasons is linked to melatonin – a hormone released at night from the pineal gland in the brain. This hormone acts on another gland, the pituitary, affecting the levels of various sex hormones it produces. Now David Bates and colleagues from the University of Bristol say they have the answer. Writing in the journal PNAS, the researchers have found that the form of the protein which blocks the growth of blood vessels, reducing the connection between different regions of the pituitary gland, is triggered during long periods of melatonin production – typical of the winter.

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Arctic Sea Ice May Vanish Even If World Achieves Climate Goal

Arctic sea ice may vanish in summers this century even if governments achieve a core target for limiting global warming set by almost 200 nations in 2015, scientists said on March 6. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, governments set a goal of limiting the rise in average world temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, with an aspiration of just 1.5C. James Screen and Daniel Williamson of Exeter University in Britain wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change that a 2C rise would still mean a 39 percent risk that ice will disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summers, they said. Ice was virtually certain to survive, however, with just 1.5C of warming.

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