World News Quick Take


Sat, Sep 21, 2019 - Page 6


Insect named after Frodo

New Zealand researchers have named an insect after J.R.R. Tolkein’s famous hobbit character Frodo Baggins. Like the famous literary character, the insect is smaller than its relations and is found in New Zealand’s South Island, the location where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. The Psylla frodobagginsi was identified by Francesco Martoni and Karen Armstrong, who examined the psyllid insects during research for Martoni’s doctorate, with the New Zealand’s Bio-Protection Research Centre. During their research, the pair also solved an 87-year-old mystery about why there was so much variation in what is called the kwhai psyllid. There are two distinct varieties of psyllid: the Psylla apicalis and the slightly smaller Psylla frodobagginsi.


Outrage over proposed laws

A proposed new criminal code that could see state critics and people who have extramarital sex imprisoned is causing uproar in Indonesia. In the past 24 hours more than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for President Joko Widodo to step in and stop the draft penal code from being passed. The draft — which is expected to be put forward next week — will apply to everyone in Indonesia, including foreigners, although it is not clear how it would be enforced in holiday hotspots such as Bali. Among a series of contentious provisions are articles that would outlaw de facto relationships and extramarital sex — an article activists fear would in effect criminalize same-sex relations — while insulting the president would also be punishable by 3.5 years in prison.


Pesticide linked to attacks

Fumigation against mosquitoes in Cuba and not “sonic attacks” might have caused about 40 US and Canadian diplomats and family members in Havana to fall ill, according to a new study commissioned by the Canadian government. The incidents took place from late 2016 through last year, causing US President Donald Trump’s administration to charge that diplomats were attacked by some sort of secret weapon. The study by a team of researchers affiliated with the Brain Repair Centre at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Authority studied Canadian victims. The researchers said they had found different levels of brain damage in an area that causes symptoms reported by the diplomats and concluded that cholinesterase, a key enzyme required for the proper functioning of the nervous system, was being blocked there. Some pesticides inhibit cholinesterase, the report said, and during the period when diplomats became ill normal fumigation in Cuba was stepped up due to the Zika epidemic.