by Tom Bosschaert

Aug. 6, 2013

Tom Bosschaert

UN launches a global campaign for gay rights, Mesopotamian Marshlands are declared Iraq’s first national park and plants take nitrogen from air. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: UN launches global campaign for gay rights

  • The United Nations' human rights office has launched its first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a supporter of the campaign, said that he would choose to go to Hell rather than a Heaven ruled by a homophobic God.

    Lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals are still mistreated around the world: 
    • In South Africa ‘correctieve rape’ is a big problem, the rape of gay men and lesbians to “cure” them of their sexual orientation.
    • Abuse at Ecuadorian ‘gay conversion’ facilities shocks authorities. “They tortured me with electric shocks, didn’t let me bathe for three days, gave me almost nothing to eat, hit me a lot, hung me by my feet”, a former patient said. Authorities say the inhumane practice is a wide-ranging problem.
    • Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe expressed a desire to behead gays: “If you take men and lock them in a house for five years and tell them to come out with two children and they fail to do that, we will chop off their heads."
  • Upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals, according to Psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley. This intriguing video reports on the research.



Energy & Environment: China wants to tackle air pollution

  • China will spend $275 billion to tackle air pollution over the next five years, a state newspaper reported Thursday. The government has begun launching anti-pollution initiatives after mounting public frustration.
  • 50.000 liters of crude oil leaked from a pipeline in the Gulf of Thailand. The oil polluted Koh Samet, a Thai tourist resort.
  • China and the European Union defused their solar panel trade dispute with a deal to regulate Chinese solar panel imports and avoid a wider war in goods from wine to steel. 

Business & Economy: Greece´s unemployed youth

  • Greece's shocking economic numbers. Nearly six years of deep recession have swept away a quarter of Greece’s gross domestic product. Unemployment has reached 27 percent, and is expected to rise to 28 percent next year. Among youth(s), the figure is twice as high.
  • 4 out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream. Survey data points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.
  • China is expected to use twice as much energy as the United States by 2040 (Source: eia’s International Energy Outlook)

Science, Technology, & Design: Plants take nitrogen from air

  • A new technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air. Speaking about the technology, which is known as 'N-Fix', Professor Cocking of The University of Nottingham said: "Helping plants to naturally obtain the nitrogen they need is a key aspect of world food security. The world needs to unhook from its ever increasing reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilisers produced from fossil fuels with its pollution of the environment and its high costs, both energetic and economic”. 
  • A research team has developed a completely new strategy to engineer graphene-based supercapacitors (SC), making them viable for widespread use in renewable energy storage, portable electronics and electric vehicles.
  • Teabags can provide vital information on the global carbon cycle. By burying two tea bags and digging them up after a while. By weighing them data is gathered on decomposition rate and litter stabilization. The idea is to use this method to collect data on decay rates from all over the world to create a database of global soil conditions, and consequently improve global climate models. Join the experiment or read the paper published on the method.



Urban Environment: Iraq´s first national park

  • The Central Marshes of Iraq have now been declared the country’s first national park.
  • This cool map shows monthly average temperatures recorded by approximately 7,280 climate stationsaround the world since 1900.



Unexpected and Intriguing: Meet Burka Avenger

  • Pakistan’s newest TV superhero, Burka Avenger, is the first animated female superhero for the country. Jiya is a teacher by day and wears a burka at night. She uses teaching tools, including pencils and books, to foil her enemies’ schemes and keep the school open for her students.
  • A type of stem-cell alternative approved by the Vatican and other theologians turned out to be a myth, according to scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine. In 2011, the Vatican called a press conference to present Polish stem cell biologist Mariusz Z. Ratajczak, who claimed that he had discovered heretofore unknown stem cells present in adult cells. The trouble is, the cells don’t exist.
  • What's the quality of today's education?  Take the test and try to complete this 101 year old exam for 8th graders (14 to 15 years old).

This bi-weekly digest is assembled from items sent to us by Except members. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

Aug. 6, 2013