What a Wonderful World

Robberies involving knives in the United Kingdom have jumped 60 percent over the past year; muggings involving knives increased 72 percent over the same period. (The Guardian/United Kingdom)

On Aug. 8, businesses and residents all around Hong Kong turned off their lights for three minutes at 8 p.m. local time to protest the city's energy consumption and the resulting blanket of smog. (The Standard/Hong Kong)

India recently announced plans to invest $1 billion in oil production and mining in Ivory Coast. The West African nation is still recovering from a civil war that ended in 2003. (BBC)

The market price for African-grown herbal rooibos tea is so high that South African farmers are plowing up acres of veldt to sow it, endangering several other species of indigenous flora. The government agencies that issue and enforce permits for such plowing are overwhelmed; fines are so low that it is reported farmers will likely continue regardless. (Cape Argus/Cape Town)

The Chinese government recently began selling the right to hunt and shoot wild animals, including several endangered species, ostensibly as part of a conservation program. Shooting one of the remaining 15,000 yaks in the wild goes for $40,000; endangered red deer cost $6,000; wolves top out at $200. (The Guardian/United Kingdom)

Vultures, which are close to extinct in the Indian subcontinent, may get a new lease on life thanks to drug companies withholding a drug rather than administering it. Vulture populations crashed from more than 40 million to a few thousand over the past 10 years, in large part due to the use of diclofenac, a pain reliever given to cattle; the drug poisoned vultures that ate the flesh of dead livestock. Drug companies in India and Nepal plan to switch to the less-toxic-to-vultures meloxicam. (New Scientist)

Japanese researchers recently celebrated the birth of several broods of baby mice whose embryos were fertilized by sperm from male mice who had been frozen solid, some for as long as 15 years. (BBC)

More than 1 million Africans are now receiving anti-retroviral treatment for HIV, more than 10 times the number under treatment just three years ago. Nonetheless, more than 70 percent of those infected globally who are still not receiving treatment live in sub-Saharan Africa. (United Nations News Service)

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