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Organized poachers are warring over rhino slaughter in Africa

National Geographic Magazine - NGM.com
AND SO GOES A NIGHT on the front lines of southern Africa's ruthless and murky rhino war, which since 2006 has seen more than a thousand rhinos slaughtered, some 22 poachers gunned down and more than 200 arrested last year in South Africa alone. At the bloody heart of this conflict is the rhino's horn, a prized ingredient in traditional Asian medicines. Though black market prices vary widely, as of last fall dealers in Vietnam quoted prices ranging from $33 to $133 a gram, which at the top end is double the price of gold and can exceed the price of cocaine. Although the range of the two African species—the white rhino and its smaller cousin, the black rhino—has been reduced primarily to southern Africa and Kenya, their populations had shown encouraging improvement. In 2007 white rhinos numbered 17,470, while blacks had nearly doubled to 4,230 since the mid '90s. For conservationists these numbers represented a triumph. In the 1970s and '80s, poaching had devastated the two species. Then China banned rhino horn from traditional medicine, and Yemen forbade its use for ceremonial dagger handles. All signs seemed to point to better days. But in 2008 the number of poached rhinos in South Africa shot up to 83, from just 13 in 2007. By 2010 the figure had soared to 333, followed by over 400 last year. Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, found most of the horn trade now leads to Vietnam, a shift that coincided with a swell of rumors that a high-ranking Vietnamese official used rhino horn to cure his cancer. Meanwhile in South Africa, attracted by spiraling prices—and profits—crime syndicates began adding rhino poaching to their portfolios. . . .

Photo Gallery: Carnival 2012

Carnival looks like every cutscene from every Final Fantasy game ever happening all at the same time. Carnival 2012 - In Focus - The Atlantic

Mass Hysteria grips New York's Le Roy high school

It's textbook mass hysteria: teenaged girls, bizarre symptoms, fast spreading by word of mouth. But none of the parents want to admit it. What's Really Causing Tourettes Symptoms at Le Roy High School? - The Daily Beast
The doctors have tried to tell her every way they know how over the past three months: delicately, constantly, even urgently. But as Heather Parker sips coffee in her weathered clapboard house, she still isn’t buying that the Tourette’s-like twitches that have consumed her 17-year-old daughter, Lydia, since she woke up from an October nap are a product of a psychological disorder, not a physical one. “I just can’t make sense of it, it’s just so obvious that something is really wrong in her body,” says Parker, a single mother with a ponytail and glasses who’s lived all her life around Le Roy, a town of 7,500 near Rochester, where, before a slew of teenage girls started reporting such tics, the only attraction of note was the Jell-O museum. Beside her sits Lydia, an unhappy-looking girl with coal-black dyed hair whose right arm swings like an orchestra conductor’s every five seconds or so. Lydia, a senior, hasn’t been in school since the tics started. She’s supposed to be going to her tutor, but often she can’t get herself out of bed, so now she may have to drop out and get a GED. “She was going to be the first person in the family to finish high school, but because of what’s happened to her health, that doesn’t look good now,” says her mother. When the girls—there are more than 20 of them now, with four new cases last week alone—started reporting similar symptoms, it didn’t take long for the TV cameras to descend. Since January, there have been dozens of crews crowding the counter at places like Java’s on Main, the local coffee shop, clutching tripods and cappuccinos, hoping for footage of the girls and their parents. In the past few weeks, producers from Good Morning America, The Today Show, Dr. Drew, and Anderson Cooper 360 have swooped in, offering anxious moms a chance to go on air with their daughters, to beg for answers. . . .