Mail & Guardian
Our fave Covid expert steps down
Salim Abdool Karim, the top coronavirus adviser to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and co-chair of the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, will step down as his one year on the committee ended. He served on the committee since its inception in March 2020. “Even under enormous pressure, Professor Abdool
Karim always received everyone with his warm smile and reassuring presence,” Mkhize said. Abdool Karim told Twitter followers he would continue with his HIV research and other academic commitments. Professor Koleka Mlisana takes his post and will co-chair the committee together with Professor Marian Jacobs.
When Nasa’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars last month, the world was in awe. Now space fanatics can once again watch in astonishment as Nasa will launch its Mars Ingenuity helicopter in early April. Like most space equipment, the helicopter will take some days to separate from the rover. Six days to be exact. Then Ingenuity will have 31 days to roam the Red Planet. Carrying no scientific instruments, the helicopter will primarily focus on sending videos to Earth.
Ongoing talks for peace
“Afghans are not just ready for peace: they are demanding it,” said UN special representative Deborah Lyons when she briefed the UN Security Council about the situation in Afghanistan — a country torn by ongoing war with the Taliban. Peace talks, which are not new, are however showing some progress. During a meeting in Moscow a week ago, the Taliban agreed to accelerate peace talks. Russia, the US, China and Pakistan were present at the talks and called on both Afghan and Taliban representatives to end the violence in the Afghan regions. In less than six weeks US troops are set to withdraw from Afghanistan. According to the UN the next meeting between the Taliban and the Afghan government to work towards peace is set for April in Turkey.
More pain for Rohingya refugees
Fifteen people are reportedly dead, 400 missing and thousands displaced. A devastating fire ripped through a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar in south-eastern Bangladesh, that shelters about a million people . The fire destroyed thousands of huts in the densely populated area, injuring more than 500 people in the Balukhali camp. Aid workers and families are still searching for missing victims while the cause of the fire is investigated. Many people, including children, could not flee the fire because barbed wire encircles the camp. The majority of refugees in the camp fled Myanmar in 2017 after similar events to what is happening now — a military crackdown — played out.
Fat-shaming is so last Olympics
The already-delayed Tokyo Olympics have now had yet another high flyer quit over “inappropriate” remarks. Earlier this year former prime minister Yoshiro Mori resigned as chief of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee after sexist comments. The latest resignation is of the chief executive creative director, Hiroshi Sasaki. He was responsible for all the opening and closing ceremonies, always one of the highlights of any prestigious event. But
Sasaki made a really bad suggestion when he suggested a play on words referring to the last three letters of Olympics sounding like “pigs”. On the receiving end was female comedian Naomi Watanabe, who he suggested could dress up as an “Olympig” during the ceremonies, in an apparent fat-shaming comment aimed at the comedian’s body shape. Any bets on the likelihood he would have made such a comment to a male comedian? Ai.
A new dawn for gun control in US?
How many more mass shootings must there be before the US amends its ultra-permissive gun control legislation? The debate on amending the law on gun control is not new in the US and while Democrats and Republicans are politicising the phenomenon, people keep on being killed in mass shootings. In a matter of one week 18 people were gunned down in two separate mass shooting incidents, prompting President Joe Biden to opine that the Senate should pass two critical House Bills and ban assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines. Yes, military-style rifles in America are available — if you have the cash, you can have the gun, legally. But the two Bills might at least lead to improved background checks before purchase. Why is it so hard to implement such rational policies? Because, well, politics.
Iceland’s sleepless problem solved
Iceland’s some 50000 earthquakes were robbing residents in the fishing town of Grindavik of sleep. Well, the problem is solved after the much-anticipated volcano finally erupted to break its 800 years of inactivity. The volcano is not said to pose any threat to people and has in fact led to large crowds gathering nearby to witness the significant lava-spewing mountain — named Fagradalsfjall. As the last volcano to attain international fame in 2010 volcano was a real tongue twister — Eyjafjallajökull — media houses and spell checkers are rejoicing too. Back to the recent volcano. Live footage of the volcano is available on Youtube, while photographer Bjorn Steinbekk managed to film incredible close drone footage of the erupting volcano.