african inspired

Kenya’s new government faces serious challenges

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WHEN the final results of Kenya’s presidential election were announced on the evening of August 11th, many feared the worst. Hours previously the opposition, led by Raila Odinga, a perennial presidential candidate, had walked out of a meeting with the electoral commission. James Orengo, one of Mr Odinga’s closest allies, said that the announcement was a “charade” and that the commission was in cahoots with the government. “Kenyans always rise up,” he went on. As he spoke, an ominous silence descended on Nairobi, the capital, as people stayed inside. Yet in the end, the uprising was relatively subdued. In Mr Odinga’s strongholds, in the slums of Nairobi and in Western Kenya, protesters blocked roads and burned tyres. The police responded with typical brutality, firing tear gas and live r

Israel has a gas conundrum

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LONG a resource-poor country, Israel now has more natural gas than it knows how to use. Even by conservative estimates, the fields discovered off its Mediterranean coast since 2009 hold enough energy to meet domestic needs for 40 years. The government hopes to earn a windfall by selling the excess abroad; the owners of Leviathan, the largest field, have earmarked 9bn cubic meters (bcm) for export each year. Jordan has already signed a deal to buy some. Israel wants to send the rest farther afield—offering it to Europe as an alternative to Russian supplies. But geography and politics make that difficult. An overland pipeline would have to cross either Lebanon or war-torn Syria, neither of which recognises Israel. The shortest underwater path, to Turkey, is also problematic, because it wo

A battle over language is hampering Algeria’s development

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FOR most countries, language is as simple as ABC. Not Algeria. Its kindergartens are a linguistic morass. The republic’s official language is standard Arabic, but few children grow up speaking it, so they often feel lost on their first day of school. Berber, the tongue of perhaps a quarter of Algerians, was officially recognised last year—but no one can agree on which of its six dialects to teach. Algeria’s French-speaking elite prefer their old masters’ lingo. The education minister, Nouria Benghebrit, advocates the introduction of a fourth language: Darija, which fuses the other three and is the mother tongue of most Algerians. An increasing number of Anglophiles want to wipe the slate clean with English. The choice goes to the heart of Algeria’s sense of identity. The French banned A

The MPLA’s grip on Angola is weakening

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But will he make Angolans smile? IT IS fitting that the black-and-red flag of Angola is hardly distinguishable from that of its ruling party. The People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has led the country since independence from Portugal in 1975. At the parliamentary election in 2008 it won 82% of the vote; in 2012 it won 72%. Few doubt it will win again when Angolans go to the polls on August 23rd. Many Angolans credit the MPLA with bringing peace to the country after nearly three decades of civil war that ended in 2002. The party then presided over an oil-fuelled boom, with annual GDP growth averaging 7.2% between 2003 and 2015. New roads, railways and other infrastructure won it the support of voters. But just in case, the party is also accused of beating opponents, br

Hizbullah’s armoury is growing

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FROM a rocky outcrop overlooking a limestone quarry in the desolate valley below, a fighter from Hizbullah surveys what just days before had been territory controlled by militants linked to al-Qaeda. “There were snipers behind every rock,” recalls the young man with a wispy moustache. The operation to drive the jihadists from their mountain lair on Lebanon’s north-east border with Syria began on July 21st. It took only a week for Hizbullah to defeat its militant rivals, adding yet another victory to its growing list of military achievements since war broke out in Syria six years ago. Along with Russian air power and Iranian military aid, Hizbullah’s ground units have kept the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s blood-soaked president, in power. The cost has been high. About 2,000 of the

Kenya’s election may turn nasty as the opposition disputes the count

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IN KIBERA, a slum in the south of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, the tyres were burning by mid-afternoon. Across the country five people had been killed in protests and other violence. Several of them were shot by the police. A day after Kenyans voted for president, this was a hint of the menace that often lurks beneath the country’s elections. “It seems clear that somebody hacked this election,” said Kennedy Mhando, a 34-year-old clothes seller. “We want the actual results...If they are credible, we will accept them.” If not, “we will get the directives from our leaders.” On August 8th some 15m Kenyans voted in an election to fill 1,882 positions. A few hours after polls had closed, provisional results released by the election commission showed that Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent president,

Mode of action of the vaccine adjuvant flagellin in fusion proteins has been clarified

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Fusion proteins consisting of antigens and the bacterial adjuvant flagellin are promising vaccine candidates. They have the potential to induce immune responses in a targeted and reliable manner, thus conveying protection against infectious diseases. In addition, they can favourably influence misdirected immune reactions, for example as part of a treatment against allergies. Researchers from the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have now clarified the mode of action of such a candidate for the treatment of birch pollen allergies. In its edition of 05 September 2017, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reports on the results of this research.To induce sufficiently strong immune responses during vaccination, either the antigen itself against which the immune response is directed at (for examp...

Reproducing the computational environments of experiments

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Experiments increasingly rely on high-performance computing software that plays a crucial role in producing and interpreting data. Differences in software environments can cause problems when those experiments need to be reproduced – so scientists at the MDC in Berlin are helping find a solution.Reproducing experiments and results is a cornerstone of science, but researchers acknowledge that actually achieving this feat can be tricky. Specific...Powered by WPeMatico

Diverse Landscapes Are More Productive and Adapt better to Climate Change

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Ecosystems with high biodiversity are more productive and stable towards annual fluctuations in environmental conditions than those with a low diversity of species. They also adapt better to climate-driven environmental changes. These are the key findings environmental scientists at the University of Zurich made in a study of about 450 landscapes harbouring 2,200 plants and animal species.The dramatic, worldwide loss of biodiversity is one of today's greatest environmental problems. The loss of species diversity affects important ecosystems on...Powered by WPeMatico

First Detailed Decoding of Complex Finger Millet Genome

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Finger millet has two important properties: The grain is rich in important minerals and resistant towards drought and heat. Thanks to a novel combination of state-of-the-art technologies, researchers at the University of Zurich were able to decode the large and extremely complex genome of finger millet in high quality for the first time. This represents a fundamental basis for improving food security in countries like India and parts of Africa.For many poor farmers in India and Africa, finger millet is a major staple food. The crop species is not only a rich source of minerals like calcium, iron,...Powered by WPeMatico