Three times during his seven-hour swim, Omar Jabr thought that he was not going to make it. The only thing he could hear was his pounding heart, a sound he tried to drown out with silent prayers. He was helped by the sounds of his exhausted body as it fought its way through the water.
When the boat capsized, he had volunteered to do the swim. After all, he was the best swimmer on board, and he judged the visible stretches of the Greek shore to be just about one hour away. While the remaining 20 people from the boat treaded water somewhere in the Aegean Sea that separates Turkey and Greece, he swam. For their lives and his own.
For the 30-year-old father of five, the water marked the difference between the hopeless situation in his native Syria and a future in the safety of Europe. He knew he couldn’t return to Syria, but he had no idea where he should seek refuge. He did not care either. For the time being he was more than preoccupied with staying alive.
By David Meffe
This story was originally published on the New African magazine.
In the post-2015 development era, many stakeholders are expected to play a role in the implementation of sustainable development in Africa, including the Nordic countries. But David Meffe asks whether all such engagement has had a positive impact.
Chu nibbles at an unripe mango.The hard chunks quickly disappear in his tiny mouth to later end up in his round belly, distended by hunger. His fragile five-year-old body seems even smaller when he stands in front of the dark green meter-high tea plants that cover a field behind his back. It is February in the Mulanje region in the South of Malawi. Every centimeter of land seems to be covered by growing crops. The next local market, a one-hour walk away, is bulging with vegetables, fruits and dried fish. Still, Chu is chronically hungry. He does not run as much as other children his age and even smiling sometimes is hard for him. Often, a small portion of Nsima, a white watery maize porridge, is his only meal.
Half of Malawi children under 5 are like Chu – stunted: too small for their age. His organs and brain capacity may not develop properly. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 842 million people are undernourished worldwide – more than the population of the U.S. and Europe together. Every six seconds a child is dying due to the consequences of undernourishment, a quarter of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. They don't make it to the headlines or evening news. Thankfully the times of disastrous famines that alarmed the world society, like Ethiopia in the 80s, are over. Today’s hunger is quiet. It is a daily misery in a world of abundance, hidden in regions like Mulanje, far from electricity and Internet. Despite horror scenarios of a growing world population and upcoming food shortage, today we have more than enough. The existing food is enough to feed the world’s population twice, the FAO scientists calculate. Why is Chu hungry then?
Michael LaCour had a successful career ahead of him, it seemed. He received a PhD in political science from UCLA in spring this year. Prestigious scientific journals published his papers. His CV lists a dozen awards and fellowships. Conference presentations, teaching experience, coverage in The Economist: it is all there.
The study he co-authored with a Columbia researcher, Donald Green, was dubbed one of the most important political science studies in 2014. It found that gay canvassers could change people’s attitudes on gay marriage through door-to-door campaigns, which contradicted findings of previous studies. All the major newspapers in the USA covered it. Meanwhile, LaCour announced on his Facebook profile that he received a professorship offer from Princeton.
Then, a turnover. Graduate student David Broockman wanted to conduct his own research based on LaCour’s study. In the process, Broockman encountered peculiarities that he couldn’t explain. "Some small part of my head thought, 'I wonder if it was fake,'" Broockman told the New York Magazine. The evidence pointed to a single conclusion: LaCour was lying. And now, he is being accused of misconduct in his previous studies as well.
It is hard not to conclude that research misconduct has gotten worse, a recent New York Times editorial stated. Indeed, in the last five years, numerous high-profile cases of scientific fraud occupied headlines of newspapers around the world. The problem stretches across borders, from biology to sociology, from the Netherlands to Japan. False studies provide a false basis for making important decisions, such as how to cure illnesses. They reduce the trust in scientists and hinder the functioning of the wheel of science. But why do scientists cheat?
By Jialu Zhang
When Darren Porgieter was the section manager at Niassa National Reserve in the north of Mozambique, he was known as "pilot conservationist", combating poachers with aerial surveillance. "Yes, I’ve seen countless elephant corpses," he admitted, "even piles of corpses, sometimes over 50, 60 all together."
Darren could never forget the day when he just landed by helicopter and about to rush into bushes and start searching for poachers. Gunfire suddenly broke out. "Following the sound, I saw a male elephant with half of his face cut away, lying on the ground. His trunk was thrown aside, and he was still alive, bleeding," Darren said, "It’s all because of his tusk-- ivory."
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in the last 20 years, around 33,000 elephants were butchered every year, and at this rate, African elephants will be extinct in ten years. Though the direct cause of extinction is arguably the poaching, simply a curb on poaching might not solve the problem. From the half-torn-faced elephant, many more hands are stained with blood.
The shining Sugarloaf Mountain, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, still tries to smile with joy to locals and tourists that wander without a curfew around the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. It is one of the highest-class neighborhoods in town, which will no longer wave back to the Sugarloaf in the same way they did before.
Brazil remains shocked. On Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, 57-year-old Jaime Gold, doctor, left home around 7 pm for a ride around the lagoon. Three criminals stabbed Gold four times, leaving a trail of blood and all for his bicycle.
Why the sino-danish educational collaboration has not become a geopolitical success story.
Joakim Villumsen was thrilled to arrive in China under a clear blue sky, seeing first-hand that his hope of a smog-free Beijing was real. It was summer, late August 2013, and the 25-year-old Danish student was about to start a two-year Master’s program as part of the second ever cohort at the Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research (SDC) - a university center based in China, where Danish universities and a Chinese university offer a range of different master’s programs.
Along with being far away from family and friends, the issue of pollution had been the reason behind Joakim doubting whether to go to China for his masters in the first place. However, convinced by the career prospects of obtaining a Chinese university degree and a personal interest in Chinese culture, Joakim applied and regarded himself lucky to get one of only 15 places offered at the master’s programme of Nanoscience and Technology at SDC.
As it turned out, luck had nothing to do with it. The programme had not received many applications. Only three Danish students started alongside Joakim, and less than a year after he was back in Copenhagen, still enrolled at SDC but finishing his studies in familiar surroundings. Over winter, the smog had returned to Beijing covering the city like an inescapable veil.
The enduring popularity of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
The Key family must have been positively euphoric as they awoke in their plush Parnell mansion on the morning of 21 September, 2014.
The previous night, disappointed Labour-leader David Cunliffe phoned to concede defeat after it became clear John Key had the numbers to serve a third term as New Zealand’s Prime Minister.
In one sense, the victory was unsurprising. A weak Labour party had struggled with in-fighting for much of 2014. Cunliffe had failed to gain traction with the Kiwi public, let alone his own colleagues. All told - the opposition were simply no match for the confidence and perceived stability of a National Government led by Key.
Even so, the margin of National’s victory was a surprise. Throughout the year the Prime Minister and Government had survived multiple scandals and controversies. From the revelation they had illegally spied on giant German playboy Kim Dotcom and other New Zealanders, to the covert use of attack bloggers to undermine political opponents. It seemed as though John Key had expended his political capital.
The New Zealand electorate felt otherwise.
Chinese government’s detention of five feminists may have deeper political concern.
By Muyu Xu
On March 7th, a hazy Saturday in Beijing, Wei Tingting was doing laundry at home when the police came in and took her away. "She did not turn off the machine when she left. Apparently she thought she would come back home in some hours." Fan Popo, a roommate of Wei, recalled. But Wei was not released until April 13th, 37 days later. According to Chinese law, 37 days is the maximum restrain for detainment.
Wei was not the only one who was arrested on that day. Tens of feminists around the country were taken by the police, but they were set free within 24 hours. Only Wei Tingting, Wu Rongrong, Li Tingting, Wang Man and Zheng Churan were arrested and then detained, on the charge of "creating disturbance". The detained five people are all young, well-educated females on the average 27 years old. They are the core members of Chinese new feminism movements and were dubbed as 'Feminist Five'. The Feminist Five were planing to conduct some activities, aiming at raising public awareness of sexual harassment on public transportation, on March 8th - the International Woman’s Day.