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Madagascar faces ‘catastrophic’ hunger after 3 cyclones

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By Associated Press

MANANJARY, Madagascar: Battered by three intense cyclones in the space of a year, southeast Madagascar is experiencing the knock-on effect of those climatic disasters: “catastrophic” hunger in remote, inaccessible areas that is gaining little international attention, humanitarian groups say.

Cyclone Batsirai hit in February 2022, followed two weeks later by Cyclone Emnati. Then, Cyclone Freddy made landfall on the Indian Ocean island in February of this year. The combined impact left 60%-90% of farming areas in the southeast badly damaged and food crops largely destroyed, according to a report by UNICEF and Madagascar’s National Office for Nutrition.

The suffering is felt by people like Iavosoa, a desperate young mother whose 10-month-old daughter, Soaravo, was at risk of not living to see her first birthday because of acute malnutrition. Iavosoa, who only gave her first name to protect her privacy, also has a 3-year-old son suffering from moderate malnutrition.

A team from the humanitarian organization Doctors of the World brought her children and two other badly malnourished children, both under age 2, to a hospital in the city of Mananjary on Madagascar’s east coast last month after a group of parents and their children were found walking through the bush to try to reach the nearest health center.

At the hospital, Soaravo moaned weakly as her mother rocked the baby in her arms to soothe her. The child weighed barely 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) and had the appearance of an infant born prematurely, her eyes almost too big for her tiny skull. At her age, she should weigh four to six times more, doctors said.

“If my daughter is in this state, it’s because we don’t have enough food where we live,” Iavosoa said. “I had dysentery for two months. I had almost no milk. I was exhausted. The first basic health center is three hours’ walk from my village. I could not treat myself. … I was unable to travel such a distance.”

“And then she (Soaravo) got sick, too. And then Cyclone Freddy came. (It) ravaged our village and completely destroyed our house,” she said.

Iavosoa, who said she wasn’t sure of her own age but thought she was between 21 and 24, wore a torn T-shirt and a piece of fabric wrapped around her waist. She had no shoes. Everything she owned was wrapped up in a cloth bundle on the hospital floor. She is a single mother.

With a look of dismay on her face, Iavosoa glanced at her little girl. “She just turned 10 months old,” she said.

The families found walking about 30 miles from the hospital were discovered by chance when a Doctors of the World team went to evaluate the state of health facilities in areas outside Mananjary, said Joaquin Noterdaeme, a coordinator with the group known by its French name, Médecins du Monde.

Soaravo was treated for an infection and diarrhea and received a special milk formula to address the malnutrition. Doctors said she would have to stay in the hospital for at least a month. Her mother and brother lived with her there because they had nowhere to go.

More than a quarter of the population in the southeastern region of Madagascar, approximately 870,000 people, don’t have enough food and are at risk of hunger, according to the Feb. 28 report by UNICEF and the National Office for Nutrition.

Soaravo and the other hospitalized children are a drop in the ocean, aid groups say.

“This is a nutrition emergency clearly,” Jean-Francois Basse, the UNICEF representative in Madagascar said, calling the situation in rural areas “catastrophic.”

The hospital where doctors worked to save Soaravo’s life also bears the scars of the cyclones. Some of its buildings are little more than a shell. The walls were just about standing, but parts of the roof were gone. Some patients were treated in a tent outside.

In and around Mananjary, which took the brunt of the cyclones roaring in from the Indian Ocean and where Freddy made landfall, few trees stand upright. The cyclones ripped them out or left them lurching at 45-degree angles, revealing the force of the wind the storms carried.

Homes were destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again.

People living in remote districts like coastal Nosy-Varika and the mountainous region of Ikongo were extremely vulnerable to hunger before the cyclones, and children across southeast Madagascar experienced chronic malnutrition, according to Brian Willett, head of mission in Madagascar for Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières.

“But with the repeated climate shocks of the past year, their resilience has been exceeded,” he said. “Today, 1 in 4 children is acutely malnourished. Without medical support, these children are at risk of dying.”

Mothers who couldn’t feed their children might engage in “acts of desperation,” Willett said, referring to reports that some were selling their children in hopes of saving them from hunger.

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😬 Darren Bent & Andy Goldstein REACT To VAR’s CONTROVERSIAL Decision To Disallow Luis Diaz’s Goal🤔 – talkSPORT

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UMjabulisi The Poet pens poem on umjolo – Chronicle

UMjabulisi The Poet pens poem on umjolo

Mthabisi Tshuma, [email protected]

Fast-rising poet Zwelithini Dlamini, also known as UMjabulisi The Poet, has written a poem that examines the ever-expanding hashtag umjolo, which is short for “dating.”

 The fad has ruled social media streets and actual life for the past couple of years.

 UMjabulisi, who debuted on his digital channels last Thursday, The poet explained that the project—a poetry video—came about as a result of an online inspiration.

 “I came across a video on Facebook of a middle aged guy who was being harassed by the so called umjolo. A spark of inspiration went straight into my mind and then l decided to do a poem about Umjolo

 “I love listening, reciting and writing poems not forgetting the fact that it is a special kind of art that lives deep within my soul l write and speak what l see in my surroundings and beyond,” said UMjabulisi The Poet.

 Regarding his profession, the aspiring poet characterised himself as a modest and diligent young man who is committed, strong, and bold.

 “I view myself as someone who is unshakable as far as poetry is concerned. The passion all started in my Grade 7 final exam where l preferred to write a poem. Poetry was a magnet to me as it found me loitering in the world of art thus I was attracted during the process eventually.

 “I noticed that it was in my veins unknowingly. Growing up my love for poetry grew. Personally l can’t pin point exactly what inspired me as l was inspired by a lot of stuff, class presentations, poets and head boys in my school, Luveve High,” he said.

 UMjabulisi The Poet mentioned that he has a poetry collection called “Sisempini” that was released last year and includes work from accomplished poets including Thaluso Da Poet.

 He has taken part in poetry slams like the Larfage event.


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Entertainment news

In lucky break for NASA’s Psyche asteroid probe, thruster problem discovered and quick fix found – CBS News

Just two weeks before launch, in what amounts to a lucky break, engineers discovered a potentially-crippling problem with thrusters in NASA’s Psyche asteroid probe. Equally fortuitous, the fix was relatively straightforward and launch of the $1.2 billion mission only slipped a week.

“We really found out by weird chance that the data that had come from the subcontractor about these cold gas thrusters was incorrect, and that we had to change our parameters for how we’re going to operate the mission,” Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton said Saturday.

“Nobody likes to slip, and it always looks like ‘oh my God, you’re in trouble.’ But oh, we are so lucky!”

An artist’s impression of the Psyche probe, its solar arrays extended, in orbit around its quarry of the same name, one of only a handful of metallic asteroids yet discovered. It may be core-like material from a planetary building block that was ripped apart in the distant past when two larger bodies collided


Launch from the Kennedy Space Center atop a powerful SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is now targeted for 10:16 a.m. EDT on Oct. 12. If all goes well, the spacecraft will reach its quarry in the summer of 2029 after a 2.2-billion-mile voyage, kicking off two years of close-range observations.

Psyche’s target is an unusual asteroid of the same name, one of just seven or eight metal-rich bodies in the rocky belt of debris between Mars and Jupiter. It orbits the sun three times farther out than Earth.

Scientists don’t know what they will find when the spacecraft gets there, but long-range observations indicate the potato-shaped body, measuring 173 miles across at its widest, could be a remnant of core material from a planetary building block known as a planetesimal.

Studying Psyche is expected to shed light on how the solar system’s rocky planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars — formed and evolved in the distant past.

The high-profile mission suffered a major delay last year when software development and testing fell behind schedule, in part because of earlier COVID-related policies and work slowdowns. An independent review board also found multiple contributing factors, including poor communications at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and insufficient planning and oversight.

After resolving those issues, the team was back on track for launch on Oct. 5.

But on Sept. 22, two weeks before takeoff, Elkins-Tanton heard about the thruster issue and six days later, after Spaceflight Now reported a one-week slip, NASA confirmed the flight had been delayed to Oct. 12 “to complete verifications of the parameters used to control the Psyche spacecraft’s nitrogen cold gas thrusters.”

The blog post said operating parameters were being adjusted “in response to updated, warmer temperature predictions for these thrusters.” No other details were provided.

The Psyche spacecraft in a clean room near the Kennedy Space Center during final processing for launch.

William Harwood/CBS News

Elkins-Tanton discussed the problem Saturday during a presentation at the Sands Space History Center just outside the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. As far as she’s concerned, the Psyche mission dodged a bullet by discovering the thruster issue before launch, even if it meant a delay.

Quoting Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Laurie Leshin, Elkins-Tanton said “a successful mission is dodging 1,000 bullets, and an unsuccessful one is dodging 999.”

“Thank God, we’ve got this great team and that we found (this problem). And so I have … total gratitude that they found this before we launched. And it was just fortuitous. It’s a good story.”

The issue was discovered during pre-flight tests that showed the settings used to operate the thrusters were incorrect. At the planned 80 percent power level, analysis indicated higher-than-expected temperatures could cause damage.

As it turned out, the fix did not require any hardware or software changes. Just an updated table of parameters used by the probe’s flight computer, instructing it to fire the thrusters at what amounts to a lower power level. Maneuvers will take longer to complete, but that will not affect the mission.

“Right after separation from the rocket, one of the things we need to do after we extend the solar arrays is turn to face Earth,” Elkins-Tanton said. “And that turning is accomplished by firing the cold gas thrusters, of which we have 12.

“In order to keep the temperature low enough … we have to do it at 30 percent duty cycle instead,” she said. “The reason we need that extra week is just to make certain that that doesn’t have some downstream effect that we would need to take care of.”

Asked what might have happened had Psyche been launched “as is,” Elkins-Tanton said the higher temperatures “would probably damage the thruster. It could have had a real mission impact. Thank God, we’ve got 12 of them.”

By catching the problem before launch, the team could “analyze it so that we really understand everything about it and what all the nearby thermal sensors will be measuring and how they relate to the temperature in the thruster and everything else.”

“If this happened during initial checkout, there’s a lot on people’s minds, it’d be much harder to understand it to this level. So (the delay is) really good.”

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