Piotr Naskrecki is a entomologist and photographer at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology but, after his recent encounter with a giant spider, he'll probably look into another field, or maybe another planet. Yes, Naskrecki says he was taking a walk in Guyana when he heard something scuttling underfoot. He turned his light on it, expecting to see a small mammal but instead, "couldn't quite understand what I was seeing," That's because human eyes were never meant to rest upon the South American Goliath birdeater—a spider that measures one foot across, with a body the size of your fist and two-inch fangs. Yes. This is not a nightmare. This is real life, and there is no waking up from it.
Naskrecki says that the spider's bite doesn't have enough venom to kill you, but why would anyone even want to go on living after something like that? ... Discuss
New reports of violence by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram have tragically raised doubts as to whether the militants will release the more than 200 schoolgirls they kidnapped back in April. Last week, the Nigerian government said that they had reached a ceasefire deal, and Boko Haram leaders had agreed to free the girls whose abduction gained international attention and started the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Over the course of the last four days—including the same day the ceasefire was announced—Boko Haram militants reportedly attacked several towns, sparking new rounds of fighting with the military. The violence casts doubts over the Islamists' initial promise to release the girls as part of a ceasefire agreement. For months Boko Haram has wage a brutal campaign of violence in northern Nigeria which has even spilled in to neighboring countries, killing hundreds. The Islamic terrorist group has raided villages, burned Christian churches, targeted fellow Muslims whom they disagree with, kidnapped children, car-bombed urban areas and indiscriminately murdered civilians. The kidnapping of the girls—and threats to sell them into sex slavery—sparked international outrage and military intelligence aid from several countries, including the United States. Despite the attention and international efforts, little has been done to stop Boko Haram’s on-going terrorism or to actually secure the release of the girls ... Discuss
In an open letter she read on the BBC, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf pleaded for assistance as her country continues to battle the spread of the Ebola virus, saying, "It is the duty of all of us, as global citizens, to send a message that we will not leave millions of West Africans to fend for themselves." The Liberian president said, “Ebola is not just a health crisis. Across West Africa a generation of young people risk being lost to an economic catastrophe." According to recent estimates, 9,000 people have been infected with the potentially deadly virus—almost all of them in West Africa. So far, Ebola has killed 4,500, though that number continues to grow. The BBC says that despite an international call to raise $988 million for aid groups and UN agencies, just $377 million has been donated ... Discuss
It's been nearly seven months since Boko Haram kidnapped roughly 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria, launching the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag. Today, Nigerian officials announced they had reached an agreement to secure their release and implement a ceasefire between the Nigerian military and the terrorist group. "Commitment among parts of Boko Haram and the military does appear to be genuine," a Nigerian security official told Reuters. "It is worth taking seriously."
Boko Haram raided Chibok boarding school in northern Nigeria in April, taking nearly 300 schoolgirls with them when they left. Some 50 girls managed to escape early on, and the rest have been trapped ever since. While the news of their freedom is very good news, experts have warned that the emotional, physical and sadly likely sexual trauma will take time and effort to mend ... Discuss
Groups of police officers in Hong Kong tore down tents, used batons, pepper sprayed crowds and forced protestors out of a prominent commercial district today as the tension between government authorities and pro-democracy activists continues to heighten.
The clash between protestors (many of whom are students) and authorities comes just a day after a top government official offered to discuss demands with members of the Occupy movement. A member of the Federation of Students told the crowds, “They said they want to resume talks, but then they swept away the streets today. If [the government] continues to clear protest sites gradually under the disguise of removing barricades, it would only provoke more people to take to streets" ... Discuss
According to a new report on global wealth by the group Credit Suisse, if you have $3,650, you are among the wealthiest half of the people on the planet. As the Telegraph notes, “This is net wealth—so, once debts have been subtracted.” Their research found that though global wealth has grown at a record pace over the last year—by 8.3%, totaling $263 trillion—most of it is in the hands of a very select few. Half of the entire population (more than 3 billion people) own less than 1% of all the global wealth. The top 1%, those who have at least $798,000, owns 48.2% of all of the planet’s money. The problem of income inequality grew worse in 23 countries in the last year alone ... Discuss