Tunisian Women Can Now Marry Non-Muslims

Across the globe, the LGBT community is finally receiving the rights it deserves. In Canada, gender discrimination is outlawed. Taiwan became the first Asian country to recognize same-sex marriage. However, homosexuality remains a crime in many countries. In fact, some traditional marriages aren’t even tolerated due to religious factors. But President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia is shifting views, now allowing Tunisian women to marry non-Muslims.

Until now, a non-Muslim man who wished to marry a Tunisian Muslim woman had to convert to Islam and submit a certificate of his conversion as proof.

Tunisia, which is 99% Muslim, is viewed as one of the most progressive Arab countries in terms of women’s rights.

Non-Muslim marriages were restricted in 1973. The president referred to it as an obstacle to one’s freedom of choice. Baffling was the fact that the law did not apply to men and included minority women who were Jewish or Christian.

Scrapping the decree may not do away with the cultural and traditional obstacles women face with their families in cases of inter-faith marriage, but it now offers Tunisian women greater freedom of choice from a legal perspective.

The battle for women’s rights may be a little worn out, but remains optimistic. A round of applause for Tunisia!

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Map Shows Literal Translation of Country Names

Not everyone who has walked through the beautiful pueblos of Spain knows that the country is named after rabbits. Likewise, you may have revelled in the sun-kissed beaches of Maldives, not knowing that the natives called their place a garland of islands. A beautiful name for a beautiful place, really. In an awesomely nerdy project that indulges our interest in travel, the Australian company Credit Card Compare created a map with the literal meaning of all the country names in the world.

“Learning the etymology – the origin of words – of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favourite travel destinations and the people who first lived there,” the company says. Zooming in on continents and regions, from Europe to South America and Africa, the map offers a different perspective.

Varied reactions sprung up online, ranging from pure fascination to a personal need to verify the facts and study further, but one thing is for sure: the company’s research provides us with valuable insight to see the places we have been and the places we have yet to be in a new light.

“The interest has been enormous far beyond Australia because of some of the unexpected names. People are contacting us with their positive feedback and reasons for some corrections to one or two names. We plan to release even high-def downloads suitable for big poster-sized prints.”

A while ago, I wrote about the many different ways you can maximize your weekend. It could be difficult—though definitely not impossible!—to cram an exhilarating getaway in that two-day window. But sometimes, when you cannot go out there yet and travel, relaxing at home and making discoveries about the places you dream to explore could suffice. Make yourself a hot chocolate or a mojito, cozy up, and start with this map.

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Type of “Exploding Ants” Discovered in Borneo

Sometimes, biological discoveries are inexplicable, except somehow by serendipity — or perhaps how the ecological balance of the world makes way for good things — as seen in the resurfacing of the supposedly extinct crest-tailed mulgara in Australia or the resurgence of the starfish population in South California. Sometimes, much-studied and long-awaited breakthroughs happen, as seen in the unearthing of 215 dinosaur eggs in China.

Other times, scientific research takes a backseat for almost a century due to a lack of progress, until certain individuals bring it upon themselves to finally answer some questions. Such is the case when an interdisciplinary research team did an expedition to Borneo, Thailand, and Malaysia to study “exploding ants” again — the first time since 1935.

The team from the Natural History Museum Vienna, Technical University Vienna, and other contributing institutions published the results of their studies where they were able to identify 15 separate species of exploding ants, including one new discovery.

The new species is called Colobopsis explodens, but the researchers like to call it “yellow goo” on account of its bright yellow grand secretion. The researchers consider C. explodens to be a model species of exploding ant, which means it’ll now serve as a reference point, or an exemplar, for future research. The new species earned this designation because it’s particularly prone to self-sacrifice when threatened.

When threatened, the newfound species of Southeast Asian exploding ants intentionally rupture their own abdomen to release a sticky and toxic substance that can kill the enemy. Called “autothysis,” this suicidal mechanism can only be found in super-social organisms like ants, who work towards the preservation of their colony rather than the life of any individual insect.

[I]n addition to documenting the ants’ exploding behavior in more detail, the researchers also studied their eating habits; these insects like to munch on algae, moss, fungi, dead insects, fruit, and fish.

The discovery itself of an interesting species should already be lauded as a great contribution to biology. But what’s more important about the work of these scientists is how they laid the groundwork for future research involving these insects.

We must have missed a lot of scientific opportunities in the past. This is why being very proud of rediscovering them is the farthest thing from making a mountain out of an anthill.

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Authorities Bust Wildlife Smugglers Carrying Pangolins

Thanks to influencers like Leonardo DiCaprio, endangered animals are receiving the rehabilitation they deserve. Still, many involved in black markets will find ways to exploit rare species. Activists are praising Indonesian authorities for rescuing 101 pangolins smuggled on a fishing boat.

“After border protection by the Indonesian customs increased and more than 10 arrests with tons of frozen pangolins happened in the [major] seaports, the traffickers changed their modus,”

The most trafficked animal in the world, pangolins are delicacies in Vietnam and China. Many pay thousands of dollars to pair their scales with other medical treatments. Scientifically, pangolin scales have no curative elements and belong exactly where they are now — on pangolins.

It’s unknown exactly how many pangolins are left in the wild, but scientists have classified the four Asian species as endangered or critically endangered, meaning they face a very high risk of extinction.

Of the 101 rescued critters, 4 bit the dust. National parks are now home to the remainder. Indonesia is a frontrunner in the illegal wildlife trade, exploiting billions of dollars a year. If exploiting a single pangolin earns you five years jail-time and $7,300, poaching may not be the most attractive industry — nor should it ever be.

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Brothers Discover Water Bird Fossil In Japan

Nowadays, it seems the discoveries of prehistoric remains are all happening by chance. It was a nine-year-old who came upon the skeleton of a Stegomastodon. Now, two brothers have found an impressive water bird fossil while on a hike in northern Japan.

The new species, named Chupkaornis keraorum, belonged to a group of ancient birds, hesperorinthiforms, that were flightless, expert water divers during the Cretaceous [period].

Estimates claim the bird was the size of a healthy duck. With sturdy hind legs and tiny forelimbs, it presumably lived mostly in water. Prior, the bird has never been found in Japan.

“It’s really helping us understand the global distribution of a widespread group of birds. And it helps us understand their early evolution.”

Remains of the diving bird have only been present in North America. Contrary to popular belief, fossil discoveries are often made by common citizens. Significant findings don’t always require an active search. Sometimes, a sense of adventure is all anyone needs.

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Kazakhstan Reintroducing Wild Tigers After 70 Years

Wildlife rehabilitation is now going beyond the animal-loving circle. From grand endeavors by Chile to save endangered penguins to household efforts sheltering bats, everyone seems to be in on the action. Latest to join the party is Kazakhstan, which is reintroducing wild tigers back into the country after 70 years.

“Thanks to years of close collaboration between Kazakhstan and Russian conservation experts, we have now identified the best possible territory in Ili-Balkhash for the restoration of a thriving wild tiger population.” [said WWF-Russia director Igor Chestin]

The project will erect a nature preserve and restore forests that initially hosted the wild tigers. If all go according to plan, Kazakhstan will be the first country in the world to restore an extinct population of wild tigers.

“Kazakhstan is moving along the path of green development. We are honoured to be the first country in central Asia to implement such an important and large-scale project, that not only will bring wild tigers back to their ancestral home but also protect the unique ecosystem of the Ili-Balkhash region.”

Kazakhstan saw the end of its tiger community in the 1940s. Worldwide, wild tigers have lost some 90% of their historical range. Now, the country has poachers on their toes. As an animal enthusiast myself, I’m looking forward to anticipating the success of such an ambitious project.

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