Ebola outbreak in Congo has spread to city of one million people

The latest Ebola outbreak in Congo has moved from the rural area in which is was first discovered to Mbandaka: a city home to approximately one million people. That the disease has spread to an area with such a dense population is extremely troubling all on its own. Add to this the fact that Mbandaka is a major transportation hub with an airport, river traffic and direct transport options to Kinshasa, Congo's capital city, and you've got a scenario with the potential to keep World Health Organization personnel awake at night.

From the BBC

Forty-two people have now been infected and 23 people are known to have died.

Confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola have been recorded in three health zones of Congo's Equateur province, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

The WHO's Peter Salama said health workers had identified 430 people who may have had contact with the disease and were working to trace more than 4,000 contacts of Ebola patients, who had spread across northwest Congo.

As part of efforts to stem the spread of the often deadly disease, drug manufacturer, Merick, shipped 4,000 doses of an unlicensed Ebola vaccine to Congo that was proven to have been effective in a previous outbreak of the disease in West Africa. There's just one problem: the vaccine needs to be stored between -60 and -80 Celsius. In a first world country, that mightn't be an issue--we've the facilities and infrastructure to make chilling the vaccine to those temperatures a piece of cake. Read the rest

Nigerian government shutters cough syrup manufacturers in an effort to stem an epidemic of codeine addiction

A few years back, I had a cough that was so bad that I ended up dislocating a rib from hacking away. My doctor prescribed me a cough syrup laced, heavily, with codeine. The stuff worked, easing my pain and letting me sleep. There were only two side effects from it: I felt too groovy to work for hours at a time and found it pretty hard to poop.

According to The BBC, a lot of people see the side effects of codeine laced cough syrup as a feature, rather than a problem. Nigeria's National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (Nafdac) was recently forced to shutter three of the country's largest pharmaceutical companies after it was discovered that the cough syrup they were producing was being sold on the black market, in massive quantities, to a growing number of codeine addicts in the African nation.

The forced closure of the companies comes as the result of a BBC investigation into the use of cough syrup containing codeine by many Nigerian youths as an easy conduit to a quick high. The crappiest part of it all is that the drug companies knew that this was the case. In an under cover interview with an executive from the Emzor pharmaceutical company, an executive was caught bragging about how he could sell one million bottles of the elixir in a week on the black market.

Codeine's a dandy painkiller, when used as prescribed by a physician. But it comes with a number of serious issues that crop up when used for long periods of time. Read the rest

The used cars that Europe sends to Nigeria are filled with illegal, toxic e-waste

EU and Nigerian law both ban the export of e-waste to Nigeria, but a new study jointly authored by scholars from UN University and the Basel Convention Coordinating Centre for Africa found that exported used cars represent a smuggler's bonanza for the illegal dumping of toxic waste. Read the rest

Zimbabwe's nurses went on strike this week and got fired by the government as a result

On Monday in Zimbabwe, thousands of nurses went on strike, demanding better salaries. The strike came hot on the heels of the country's doctors returning from their own weeks-long strike, which took place for similar reasons. With no nurses standing by to assist doctors or to see patients, hospitals in the African country have been forced to turn away people looking for care. Instead of negotiating with the nurses or passing legislation that would send them back to work, Zimbabwe’s vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, apparently decided to fire them all.

Because doing that always calms things down in a country that's facing growing labor unrest.

According to The Guardian, vice-president Chiwenga believes that the strike actions undertaken by the country's doctors and nursing staff are politically motivated and stated that his "...Government has decided in the interest of patients and of saving lives to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect." Yep – ensuring that healthcare professions are never allowed to return to their jobs of you know, saving lives, is definitely gonna be in the best interest of any patients they might have treated.

Chiwenga called the strike “deplorable and reprehensible," citing the fact that the government had released £12m to boost their pay and allowances. There's no word, however, on how much this amount would increase the state of each nurse's wages, or when the money would actually come into use.

But don't worry Zimbabwe, there's good news! The government plans on hiring any unemployed or retired nurses that it can find to fill in the massive hole that your government just created in your country's healthcare system. Read the rest

Man gets swallowed by hippo and lives to talk about it

Ok, show of hands: who here's been eaten by a hippo? Anyone? No? Then you'll want to keep reading, because Chris Broughton has and his story is frigging horrific.

While he was in his twenties, Broughton ran a business that saw him guiding tourists down the Zambezi river, near Africa's Victoria Falls. During the years that he worked this gig, Broughton had made it a habit to avoid a particularly grumpy male hippo while he and his clients were out on the water. Hippos, you see, are wicked territorial. The beast had launched a couple of half-assed attacked against him and his customers in the past. No damage was done, but it was enough to make him wary of pissing the hippo off.

On one occasion, Broughton took a group of tourists out on the water along with three apprentice guides that he was showing the ropes to. One of the apprentices was attacked by the hippo, flinging him into the air. Broughton ordered the other two guides to get the tourists to safety while he went after his apprentice. What happened next, told in Broughton's own words, is absolutely insane.

From The Guardian:

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.

I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry.

Read the rest

Watch a cheetah jump into vehicle during a safari

"A cheetah decided to explore our vehicle on a safari I was leading for Grand Ruaha Safaris (in the Serengeti National Park," wrote wildlife photographer Peter Heistein on Instagram. "Another one jumped up on the hood and was staring at us through the windshield. They were just curious, we kept calm and let them go about their business. Quite a thrill to be this close!

"Our guide Alex Mnyangabe... helped us through the encounter with instructions on how to treat the animal 'with respect.'"

Read the rest

Africa is littered with abandoned poorly-planned aid projects

What Went Wrong? is a citizen journalism project started in sub-Saharan Africa to document all the unsustainable aid projects started by Westerners who fail to follow through after their PR blitz. Journalist Peter DeCampo spoke with BRIGHT magazine about the project, where Africans can text reports on local fiascoes and boondoggles: Read the rest

Secrets of the World's Greatest Hitchhiker

After the Argentine economic collapse in 2001, Juan Villarino realized that he was probably going to be poor for the rest of his life; he tried moving to Belfast and working low-waged jobs, but couldn't get ahead there either, so he decided to become a lifelong, professional hitchhiker, and got very, very good at it. Read the rest

This Volvo's door chime plays Toto's 'Africa' in 8 bit

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from the door chime in this Volvo 240. Why? Because it plays an 8-bit version of Toto's "Africa."

This sweet mod was created by Chris NG, a fan of the YouTube channel 8 bit Universe. NG's currently got a Kickstarter going for custom vehicle door chimes.

Need more Toto?: -- Toto's "Africa" playing in an abandoned mall -- Toto's 'Africa,' as performed by a computer hardware orchestra -- The story behind Toto's 'Africa' -- Pop music genres illustrated with Toto's Africa on a lightweight portable keyboard

"I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become"

(reddit) Read the rest

Toto's "Africa" playing in an abandoned mall

Cecil Robert posted this remarkably effective video. It should be inscribed on titanium disks, encoded in the simplest possible video format to decipher, so that future generations may understand the essence of angloamerican culture at the twilight of mankind.

Previously:

Toto's 'Africa,' as performed by a computer hardware orchestra The story behind Toto's 'Africa' Pop music genres illustrated with Toto's Africa on a lightweight portable keyboard Read the rest

The world's worst money launderers are the UK, Switzerland and the USA

The USA has moved up in the Tax Justice Network's Financial Secrecy Index to number two, behind Switzerland; in reality, though, the UK is the world's worst money-laundry, but because its laundering activities are spread out over its overseas territories -- taken as a whole, the UK leads the world in helping criminals and looters hide their fortunes. Read the rest

Here's the winner of Integrity Idol, the reality show for Nigerian government workers

Nuzo Eziechi said, "I am incredibly excited to be honored as Nigeria's Integrity Idol." The show featured government workers competing to be crowned most ethical. Read the rest

Toto's 'Africa,' as performed by a computer hardware orchestra

Toto's got a new greatest hits album and is going on tour which is probably why they are popping up in my feed so much lately. On Wednesday, I posted the story behind their hit song "Africa" as told by the man who wrote it, the band's David Paich.

Today I noticed that the Floppotron (previously) has covered the song. Yes, love it. Everything's turning up Toto! Read the rest

The story behind Toto's 'Africa'

Love it or hate it, Toto's 1982 soft rock mega-hit "Africa" is here to stay. But how did a band from Los Angeles get famous for a song about Africa?

Dave Simpson of The Guardian recently interviewed the song's writer (and vocalist) David Paich and found out:

One of the reasons I was in a rock band was to see the world. As a kid, I’d always been fascinated by Africa. I loved movies about Dr Livingstone and missionaries. I went to an all-boys Catholic school and a lot of the teachers had done missionary work in Africa. They told me how they would bless the villagers, their Bibles, their books, their crops and, when it rained, they’d bless the rain. That’s where the hook line – “I bless the rains down in Africa” – came from.

They said loneliness and celibacy were the hardest things about life out there. Some of them never made it into the priesthood because they needed companionship. So I wrote about a person flying in to meet a lonely missionary. It’s a romanticised love story about Africa, based on how I’d always imagined it. The descriptions of its beautiful landscape came from what I’d read in National Geographic.

Paich told Musicradar in 2013:

"Its first inception came when there used to be UNICEF commercials on TV, showing children and families living in poverty. The first time I saw that it affected me deeply…

"I sat down and started playing and the chorus just came out like magic.

Read the rest

Donald Trump will re-legalize importing endangered elephants' ivory and severed heads

The Trump administration will reverse the Obama-era prohibition on importing taxidermied elephant heads and tusks from endangered wild African elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. Read the rest

African grain silos repurposed into art museum

Cape Town's Zeith Museum of Contemporary Art Africa was built from an old grain silo complex. Read the rest

Rare white giraffes spotted in Kenya

In early June, conservation rangers with the Hirola Conservation Program in Kenya first spotted a white female and baby giraffe. In early August, they were able to capture this footage of the elusive pair.

Like that translucent-shelled lobster that was recently pulled in, these giraffes are not albino but have a genetic condition called Leucism. That means they a partial loss of pigmentation in their skin cells. If you look closely, you can see a familiar, though faded, reticulation on the calf's neck.

A blogger for Hirola writes:

In this very sighting, in Ishaqbini, there was a mother and a juvenile The communities within Ishaqbini have mixed reactions to the sighting of this leucistic giraffe and most of the elders report that they have never seen this before. ‘This is new to us” says bashir one of the community rangers who alerted us when they sighted the white giraffe. “I remember when I was a kid, we never saw them” he added. “It must be very recent and we are not sure what is causing it” he said.

(National Geographic) Read the rest

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