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Five Southern African Countries Kick-Start Elephant Census

Five southern African countries, with more than half the continent’s elephants, are conducting a first-ever aerial census to determine the elephant population and how to protect it.  Light aircraft will fly simultaneously across the plains of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe — in a conservation area known as the Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) — in an exercise that will run until October 20. KAZA is home to an estimated 220,000 elephants, and the five countries are keen to know the exact figures and the animals’ distribution patterns.  More …


Australia to Permit Offshore Wind Farms 

Offshore wind farms are to be permitted for the first time in Australia. The Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen has declared part of the Victoria coast an offshore wind zone and a 60-day community consultation process will soon begin. The Australian government has designated the country’s first offshore wind zone, which gives developers permission to increase their planning and consultation for wind farm projects. Australia currently has no offshore wind generation, which was seen as too expensive and hard to build compared to onshore wind or solar projects. The Climate …


At Least 100,000 Expected for NASA’s Moon Launch

Sold-out hotels. Excitement that seems to grow by the day. The potential for hundreds of thousands of visitors, support staff, and more. These are just a few of the factors being calculated into preparations for Artemis I, the first launch of NASA’s moon-focused Space Launch System rocket slated for Aug. 29. Standing 322 feet tall, it promises to be the biggest, most powerful rocket to launch from the Space Coast in years – bringing with it a level of excitement to match. All told, Space Coast officials are expecting at …


‘Synthetic Embryo’ Breakthrough but Growing Human Organs Far Off

Stem cell scientists say they have created “synthetic embryos” without using sperm, eggs or fertilization for the first time, but the prospect of using such a technique to grow human organs for transplantation remains distant. The breakthrough was hailed as a major step forward, though some experts said the result could not fully be considered to be embryos and warned of future ethical considerations. In research published in the journal Cell this week, scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel said found a way to have mouse stem …


Spain Leads Europe in Monkeypox, Struggles to Check Spread 

As a sex worker and adult film actor, Roc was relieved when he was among the first Spaniards to get a monkeypox vaccine. He knew of several cases among men who have sex with men, which is the leading demographic for the disease, and feared he could be next.  “I went home and thought, ‘Phew, my God, I’m saved,’ ” the 29-year-old told The Associated Press.  But it was already too late. Roc, the name he uses for work, had been infected by a client a few days before. He …


Milk Use and Lactose Tolerance Didn’t Develop Hand in Hand in Europe

Early Europeans drank milk for thousands of years before they evolved the ability to fully digest it as adults, scientists say. New results published in the journal Nature suggest that being able to digest the lactose in milk wasn’t usually much of an advantage for ancient people in Europe. Instead, the new study suggests that famine and disease made lactose intolerance deadly. The new discovery challenges the long-standing assumption that dairy farming spread through ancient populations alongside the genetic quirks that prevent adults from losing the ability to digest lactose. …


Washington Lightning Toll Rises to 3; Experts See Climate Warning 

Scientists say that climate change is increasing the likelihood of lightning strikes across the United States, after lightning struck at a square near the White House, leaving three people dead and one more in critical condition.  The hot, humid conditions in the U.S. capital on Thursday were primed for electricity. Air temperatures topped out at 34 degrees Celsius, 3 C higher than the 30-year normal maximum temperature for August 4, according to the National Weather Service.  More heat can draw more moisture into the atmosphere, while also encouraging rapid updraft, …


US Declares Monkeypox Outbreak a Public Health Emergency

Amid criticism he has been slow to adequately respond to the fast-spreading outbreak of the monkeypox virus, a top U.S. health official Thursday declared an emergency response. “I want to make an announcement today that I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, told reporters on a conference call. “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously.” The emergency declaration came after a similar …


Long-COVID Symptoms Affect 1 in 8, Study Suggests 

One in eight people who get coronavirus develop at least one symptom of long COVID, one of the most comprehensive studies on the condition to date suggested on Thursday.  With more than half a billion coronavirus cases recorded worldwide since the start of the pandemic, there has been rising concern about the lasting symptoms seen in people with long COVID.  However, almost none of the existing research has compared long COVID sufferers with people who have never been infected, making it possible that some of the health problems were not …


Life Expectancy in Africa Increases Nearly 10 Years

Life expectancy in Africa rose by nearly 10 years between 2000 and 2019, from 46 years to 56 years, according to the World Health Organization’s State of Health in Africa report released Thursday. However, WHO officials note that is still well below the global average of 64 years. WHO Assistant Regional Director for Africa Lindiwe Makubalo warned the life expectancy gains could easily be lost unless countries strengthen and make greater investments in the development of health care systems. Speaking from the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, she said Africa …


Biden Seeks to Federally Protect Abortion as States Vote on Issue 

President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order that the White House said would protect access to abortion care, part of the continuing fallout from a June Supreme Court reversal of its landmark 1973 ruling establishing a right to abortion. With each of the 50 states now free to write abortion laws as it sees fit, an early test came Tuesday when voters in the Midwestern state of Kansas voted decisively to keep that state’s right to abortion. But several states now outlaw the practice, sometimes even in the …