Scores rescued from ice floe
Emergency services rescued 675 fishermen on Sunday from an ice floe that was drifting out to the Sea of Okhotsk. None of the rescued ice fishermen required medical treatment, the emergency services on Sakhalin Island said. About half of the 675 fishermen were picked up by helicopters and the others by boat. Ice fishermen routinely get stranded on ice floes in the country, especially in the spring as temperatures rise. Sunday’s operation was unusual only in the high number that had to be rescued. One of the rescued fishermen, Vladimir Vasilenko, said they should have known better than to go out on such a day. “Of course the wind was blowing from the shore. We should have thought that something could happen,” he said in a televised interview. “We also heard on the radio that it was the last chance for fishermen, and so we went fishing.”
Minimal interest in elections
Three weeks before the presidential election, a record number of voters are thinking of abstaining, testimony to widespread frustration with a lackluster campaign. An IFOP poll on Sunday said a record 32 percent of voters could abstain in the first round, up 3 percentage points from two weeks ago. Political analyst Vincent Tiberj, writing in Le Monde daily, said that voters seem to be bored with the campaign that had “failed to live up to its promises.” Neither President Nicolas Sarkozy nor Socialist Francois Hollande has excited much passion. With neither candidate likely to win an outright majority in the first round of voting, a second round, with just two candidates, will take place on May 6.
High oil prices stunt growth
Developing countries in Africa received less in overseas aid last year than they paid for oil imports, International Energy Agency (IEA) figures showed yesterday. Sub-Saharan Africa received about US$15.6 billion in overseas development aid last year, but this was outweighed by the US$18 billion cost of importing oil. Even though overseas aid has increased, poor nations are effectively “running to stand still” in development terms, because they are paying so much for energy imports. With oil prices likely to remain high, the only answer is for developing countries to move to cleaner renewable sources of energy, IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said. When industrialized economies were developing, oil was the equivalent of US$13 a barrel, but now developing countries must pay US$120 to US$130, which leaves developing countries “hamstrung,” Birol said, adding that clean energy was imperative if more people were to be lifted out of poverty.
Skin cancer on the rise
Skin cancer is on the rise among young adults, according to a study published yesterday that suggests indoor tanning beds and childhood sunburns may be to blame. Between 1970 and 2009, the rate of melanoma among women increased eightfold and it quadrupled among men, according to the research by Mayo Clinic experts who studied all medical records for a county in Minnesota over that timespan. However, death rates from melanoma fell during the same period, suggesting that early interventions may be helping to save some lives, the researchers said. Although the study did not focus on reasons for the increase, lead investigator and Mayo Clinic dermatologist Jerry Brewer said other researchers have found that people who use indoor tanning beds are 74 percent more likely to get melanoma than non-tanners.