Read, contemplate, comment, discuss
More and more students are refusing to dissect dead animals in biology classes. Supported by many animal groups, these students argue that computer dissection simulations can teach anatomy basics as well as the real thing. The Humane Society estimates that 6m animals, most often frogs, fetal pigs and cats, are dissected annually in American schools. Science teacher associations are asking members to be sensitive to students’ objections but insist that no computer simulation can substitute for the actual experience of dissection.
The Recording Industry Association of America has recruited big stars to speak out against online trading of music files. Artists ranging from Britney Spears to Nelly appeared in a TV campaign hoping to convince Americans that downloading free tunes from the Internet is bad. At the same time a print campaign featured Eminem, Madonna and Elton John. After crushing Napster the record labels are gearing up to fight the numerous file-sharing programs like Kazaa and Morpheus that now exceed Napster’s high levels of MP3 sharing.
Satellite photographs show the Sahara desert is shrinking in size. Significant areas of new vegetation are appearing along the southern edge of the Sahara. The trend seems to have started in the late 1980s but only recently has this been confirmed by satellite imagery. Poor farming practices and severe droughts in the 1970s and 1980s saw the desert expand southward. The increased rainfall and the new greening trend is definitely being welcomed by thenations bordering the Sahara that often face long and crippling food shortages.
The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, was stabbed this fall as he walked around a public festival he was hosting. He has recovered after a serious stab wound to the abdomen. His attacker was a former mental patient who claimed that he was a devout Muslim and attacked the mayor because he hated homosexuals and politicians. The openly gay mayor fits both descriptions. Earlier in the year another man was stopped from trying to assassinate the French President at a public holiday appearance in Paris.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The war against illegal poaching of wild animals is reaching a new level. A small private army of 400 men is being assembled to combat the large groups of poachers that cross the border from Sudan. The government of this African nation has authorized the antipoaching militia, run by an American, to shoot and kill any poachers they encounter on sight. The poachers have been regularly raiding the Florida sized savannah grassland. Populations of elephants, giraffes, lions and crocodiles have been reduced by 95% in the area.
Keiko, the star of the movie Free Willy seems to prefer the company of humans to killer whales. This summer, after 20 years in captivity, Keiko was set “free” in Iceland. He then swam straight to Norway, the only country in the world that hunts whales. He has decided to hang around for the winter near villages full of adoring fans. Still craving human interaction and begging for fish, the $30m project to prepare Keiko for a life in the wild seems to be failing. To force Keiko to become independent authorities have made it an offence to go within 50m of him.
Toronto’s CN Tower could lose its title as the world’s tallest freestanding structure. A group in Tokyo has presented a proposal for a new tower to be built that would be 600 metres high, beating out the CN Tower by 50 metres. The tower would serve as a much-needed broadcast and communications tower and would also become a major tourist attraction in the city’s depressed Ueno district. The tower would dwarf the existing 333 metre “Tokyo Tower,” built in 1958. The Japanese government now must decide whether the tower actually gets built.
After six years of negotiations, the Martu Aboriginal tribe has won back control of their ancestral lands. The tract of land, mostly desert, is slightly larger than the country of Greece and is the largest piece of land ever given back to an Aboriginal tribe. The tribe can live, gather, hunt and fish on the land but do not own the valuable underground mineral deposits. The British settled Australia in the late 18th century and took complete possession of tribal lands. Over the last ten years, several tribes have regained control oftheir tribal territories.