News 360

Published: Monday 31 August 2009

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The Great Canary Telescope is the world's largest. Housed in a mountaintop observatory on La Palma, an island in the Canary archipelago of the Atlantic Ocean, it is made up of 36 mirrors that fit together to form a surface of 82 sqm. Its size helps capture the faintest of light from objects and allow astronomers to peer into the darkest and most distant corners of space.
Down to Earth Uganda began to recruit 1,000 health workers on a war footing to address the human resource shortfall in the health sector. The doctor-to-patient ratio in the country is 118,000. Uganda loses 1,400 professionals to foreign countries each year.

Down to Earth Angola is discussing a legislation that could lead to 10 years in jail for those who knowingly pass on HIV. The bill aims to protect the rights of people living with hiv patients. Non-profits say criminalization of aids would dissuade people from coming to clinics.

Down to Earth Residents of five villages in Nigeria's Karo state threatened to relocate to the state capital unless the government takes steps to ease the water crisis in the area.

Down to Earth Satellite images from 1982 to 2002 show the Sahara desert and surrounding areas are greening due to increased rainfall. Meteoro-logists said the transition may be due to the hotter air that has more capacity to hold moisture.

Down to Earth Authorities in China have quarantined the town of Ziketan in the country's northwest amid an outbreak of pneumonic plague. The plague killed three people and sickened a dozen others by the first week of August.

Down to Earth Hundreds of Penan tribals in Malaysia's Borneo island have set up roadblocks to stop logging firms from encroaching a forest reserve in the Long Daloh region.

Down to Earth Floods and landslides triggered by heavy seasonal rains killed at least a dozen people and evacuated 400,000 others in southern Philippines.

Down to Earth Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan agreed to pay for fortifying dams and banks of rivers that originate in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzs-tan. The two countries control 60 per cent of the region's water resources.

Down to Earth The UK launched a US $1.7 billion scheme to create jobs for unemployed youth as interns in social care, education and tourism. The scheme will ensure the country does not lose a generation to unemployment caused by recession.

Down to Earth Scientists from Greenland are working on ways to produce biofuel from the oily flesh of the Greenland shark, whose meat is poisonous. Thousands of the species, caught inadvertently, are thrown back into the sea every year. Scientists say the project can make Innuit villages energy sufficient.

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Down to Earth Italy has approved the use of abortion pills up to the seventh week of pregnancy and said the drug can be administered only by doctors. Abortion pills are available in other European countries, but its approval in Italy was held up by the Vatican, which opposes abortion.

Down to Earth EU ministers agreed to ban the import of seal products following concerns over brutal seal hunting practices. The move has drawn criticism from Canada, the largest exporter, which said the embargo violates international trade rules. It has pledged to fight the ban.

Down to Earth Bolivia became the first country to ban the use of animals, both wild and domestic, in circuses.

Down to Earth Going against public opinion, Venezuela's national assembly has begun deliberating how to end the concept of right to private property. In 2007, 75 per cent of the Venezuelans voted not to dilute the right.

Down to Earth A strain of Tamiflu-resistant swine flu has been discovered along the US-Mexico border, said the Pan-American Health Organization. The resistance was likely due to overuse of the antiviral, it said.

Down to Earth Canada approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) corn SmartStax, developed by biotech giants Monsanto and Dow. Anti-GM groups demanded a withdrawal of the approval until independent tests prove its safety.

Down to Earth Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil reported a big fall in quarterly profits due to the sharp decline in oil prices since mid-2008. Profits of Shell slumped 70 per cent, while that of Exxon declined 66 per cent.

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