by Tom Bosschaert

Jan. 25, 2016

Tom Bosschaert

China ends one-child policy, pollution lobbyists discuss exploiting the Syrian refugee crisis and a Canadian city completely eradicates homelessness. Read all about it in this Wormfood.

Global News: China's two-child policy

  • No more one-child policy for China, couples will now be allowed to have two children, according to a statement from the Communist Party. It is estimated that the policy has prevented about 400 million births, but concerns at China's aging population led to pressure for change.

  • The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM). “A law must now be enacted and properly implemented to ensure that every girl at risk is properly protected”, according to Mary Wandia, FGM program manager at Equality Now.

  • Guinea, the only country still fighting the recent Ebola outbreak, may soon be declared free of the virus after the last known infected patient was released from a treatment center. Unfortunately, celebrations have been tempered with the latest victim of Ebola dying in Liberia, as fresh cases emerged three months after the nation had been declared Ebola free.

  • The Paris climate talks start next week:

    • Pacific islands make last-ditch plea to world before Paris climate change talks.

    • Tibet’s glaciers are melting, and the world needs to notice. Its permafrost is degrading, and the world needs to care. Tibet is suffering from massive deforestation and damming projects, and the world needs to act.

    • A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The statistics in the paper show that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria's jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war.

Energy & Environment: Major glacier comes undone

  • Burying dead bodies takes its toll on the environment. Toxic chemicals from the embalming, burial, and cremation process leach into the air and soil, and expose funeral workers to potential hazards. And maintaining the crisp, green memorial plots is extremely land-and-water-heavy.

  • More than half the world's primates, including apes, lemurs and monkeys, are facing extinction, international experts warned as they called for urgent action to protect mankind's closest living relatives.

Business & Economy: Exploiting the Syrian refugee crisis

  • Leaked recording: pollution lobbyists discuss exploiting Syrian refugee crisis to get a rider inserted into a pending bill that would kill the EPA's Waters of the United States rule, which protects America's waterways from pollution.

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that dolphin-safe tuna labeling rules — required by U.S. law, in an effort to protect intelligent mammals from slaughter — violate the rights of Mexican fishers. As a result, the U.S. will have to either alter the law or face sanctions from Mexico. “This should serve as a warning against expansive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would replicate rules that undermine safeguards for wildlife, clean air, and clean water,” said the Sierra Club’s Ilana Solomon in a statement.

  • The price of drug prescribed to infants in Canada with a rare and potentially dangerous form of epilepsy has jumped by 2,000 per cent practically overnight. The global pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt says it increased the price because of a change of manufacturing.

  • Volkswagen's emissions scandal has spread from diesel to petrol models as the brand admits CO2 figures for more than 430,000 cars are "implausible".

Science, Technology & Design: Post-antibiotic era looming

  • The world is on the cusp of a "post-antibiotic era", scientists have warned after finding bacteria resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed.

  • Stanford students begin 'indefinite' sit-in over fossil fuel divestment. They demand that their University accelerates plans to divest parts of its $22.2bn endowment fund out of fossil fuels.

  • China's planning to build the world's largest particle collider, twice the size of the LHC.

Urban Environment: Iran overrules husband of footballer

  • Iranian authorities overruled husband of football captain to enable her to leave the country to participate in a 2015 Futsal World Cup event in Guatemala. While Ardalan was only granted a one-time exemption from authorities, she is hoping that this sets a recurring precedent and eventually leads to a change in the law that prevents women from leaving their homes, let alone the country, without permission from their male guardians.

  • Canadian city completely eradicates homelessness by giving homeless people a home. "This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people," according Mayor Ted Clugston.

  • Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the US presidential campaign. Most made their fortunes in finance and energy.

Unexpected and Intriguing: Castaway returns home

  • Lost at sea: the man who vanished for 14 months.

  • Taiwanese beauty queen suspended for refusing to wear ‘Chinese Taipei’ sash.

  • Archeologists in Croatia announced their discovery of a 3,500-year-old sunken town in Adriatic Sea near Zadar, a southern coastal city.

  • Obama: I didn’t appreciate how weak the presidency is until I was president.

If you come across news items suited for the Wormfood, or a theme you would like to see a newsletter being dedicated to, please let me know and we'll do our best to make some magic happen.

Jan. 25, 2016