Photographer captures human face of endangered species

by Olivia HAMPTON Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Can you love an animal to death? A new book by British photographer Tim Flach documents some of Earth’s most treasured species pushed to the brink of extinction by manmade crises, from pangolins hunted for their scales to Brazil’s pied tamarin threatened by urbanisation. “Most of the changes in the past have been driven by natural forces, but on this occasion, it seems to be […]

Burn victim saved by skin grafts from identical twin

by Brigitte Castelnau Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — A man doomed to die after suffering burns across 95 percent of his body was saved by skin transplants from his identical twin in a world-first operation, French doctors said Thursday. Consumed by flames while handling chemicals on the job, 33-year-old Franck Dufourmantelle received life-saving grafts from his brother Eric’s skull, back and thighs. “I had a fresco-like tattoo on my arm,” he recalled in a […]

Account by Titanic survivor among precious manuscripts to be auctioned in Paris

PARIS, France (Reuters) — An astonishing collection of papers ranging from a handwritten account from a Titanic survivor to a manuscript written from prison by the Marquis de Sade is set to be auctioned in Paris. The Aguttes auction house acquired the collection from bankrupt French company Aristophil, whose founder Gerard Lheritier was charged with fraud in 2015 after suspicions he ran a Ponzi-like scheme. His company, which acquired some 130,000 pieces, was placed into […]

Edible glass made from seaweed to curb plastic plague

JAKARTA and MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi Province, Indonesia (Reuters) — Jakarta food and beverages retailer Ong Tek Tjan sells ice cream in cups his customers can eat afterwards, instead of throwing them away. The cupsĀ  are made from seaweed and taste like jelly, in flavors from peppermint to green tea. Indonesian start-up Evoware, which makes the cups, as well as other containers, from farmed seaweed free of chemicals, is relying on its biodegradable alternative to plastic […]

Simple water test could prevent crippling bone disease

OLDONYOSAMBU, Tanzania (Reuters) — A fast color-changing test that detects fluoride in drinking water could help prevent the crippling bone disease of skeletal fluorosis in developing countries, say UK researchers. “Fluoride is often added to drinking water, and a little bit is beneficial. It can lead to reduced levels of tooth decay but too much fluoride in drinking water is actively harmful and can lead to a disease called skeletal fluorosis, a devastating, crippling condition […]

Watch: Snake on a train: Indonesian kills serpent with bare hands

    JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — An Indonesian man who used his bare hands to kill a snake that was discovered slithering on a busy commuter train has become an Internet hero. The train made an emergency stop after the reptile was spotted lurking on a baggage rack in a carriage headed to Jakarta from Bogor, south of the capital. Smartphone footage, which quickly went viral, showed the bespectacled man casually snatch the snake’s tail […]

Citizen scientists asked to record rather than repel mosquitoes

CALIFORNIA, United States (Reuters) — When you next hear the high pitched whine of a mosquito, researchers from Stanford University in California, are hoping you’ll reach for your smartphone, not the repellent. The idea is to put mosquitoes under a world-wide surveillance operation using the recording device in nearly everyone’s pocket. Mosquitoes can be differentiated by the frequency of their wingbeats, which is what produces their characteristic whine. The team are calling for citizen scientists […]

Mexico’s ‘heaviest man’ has surgery to halve his weight

GUADALAJARA, Jalisco, Mexico (Reuters) — A Mexican man who weighed more than half a ton had surgery in Guadalajara on Wednesday (November 22) in a bid to halve his weight. Juan Pedro Franco, 33, has been dubbed the world’s heaviest man. Earlier this year he reportedly weighed as much as 595 kilos (1,311 pounds). But after a three-month diet Franco has reportedly shed 175 kilos in a special clinic to allow him to have the […]

Brazil exports murder-tainted illegal logging: Greenpeace

by Sebastian Smith Agence France Presse RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Endangered Amazon hardwood trafficked by a Brazilian exporter allegedly behind the massacre of nine farmers this year is being sold unimpeded around the world, according to environmental pressure group Greenpeace. The group said Tuesday that the purchase of products by importers from as far apart as Japan and the United States illustrates lack of control over a logging industry ravaging the world’s greatest […]

Energy-saving LEDs boost light pollution worldwide

by Kerry Sheridan Agence France Presse MIAMI, United States (AFP) — They were supposed to bring about an energy revolution — but the popularity of LED lights is driving an increase in light pollution worldwide, with dire consequences for human and animal health, researchers said Wednesday. The study in the journal Science Advances is based on satellite data showing that the Earth’s night is getting brighter, and artificially lit outdoor surfaces grew at a pace […]

Skype joins list of apps on China blacklist

SHANGHAI, China (AFP) — Skype has apparently joined the lengthening list of internet communication tools on China’s blacklist, with Apple saying Wednesday it was ordered to clear its download store of apps that violate national laws. Skype is no longer available for download on the China Apple Store or Android sites, with Chinese web-users saying it had been gone for weeks. “We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of […]