Bait Crisis Could Take the Steam Out of Lobster This Summer

The boom times for the U.S. lobster industry are imperiled this year because of a shortage of a little fish that has been luring the crustaceans into traps for hundreds of years. Members of the lobster business fear a looming bait crisis could disrupt the industry during a time when lobsters are as plentiful, valuable and in demand as ever. America’s lobster catch has climbed this decade, especially in Maine, but the fishery is dependent on herring — a schooling fish other fishermen seek in the Atlantic Ocean. Federal regulators are imposing a steep cut in the herring fishery this year, and some areas of the East Coast are already restricted to fishing, months before the lobster season gets rolling. East Coast herring fishermen brought more than 200 million pounds of the fish to docks as recently as 2014, but this year’s catch will be limited to less than a fifth of that total. The cut is leaving lobstermen, who have baited traps with herring for generations in Maine, scrambling for new bait sources and concerned about their ability to get lobster to customers who have come to expect easy availability in recent years. “If you don’t have bait, you’re not going to fish. If the price of bait goes up, you’re not going to fish,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “We have to take the big picture, and make sure our communities continue to have viable fisheries.” The cut in the herring quota stems …

Cameroon NGO Struggles to Protect Waters from Invasive Plants

The spread of invasive water hyacinths in and around Cameroon’s port city of Douala is causing problems for residents. The hyacinths’ stubborn growth hampers shipping, reduces fish catches, blocks streams and invades houses. But local NGOs are working to clean them up and artists are finding new uses for the hyacinths. Moki Edwin Kindzeka narrates this report by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu from Cameroon’s port city of Douala. …

Some Conservative States Easing Access to Birth Control

Several Republican-led state legislatures are advocating for women to gain over-the-counter access to birth control in what they say is an effort to reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions. State legislatures in Arkansas and Iowa, for example, are working on legislation that would allow women older than 18 the ability to receive birth control from a pharmacist rather than going first to a doctor for a prescription. The measures are seeing bipartisanship support in those states and come after similar laws have passed in nearly a dozen other states. ​Arkansas legislation Arkansas state Representative Aaron Pilkington, a Republican, said he started working on the bill after seeing “about a 15 percent decrease of teen births” after other states passed similar legislation. Arkansas consistently has one of the highest birth rates among teenagers in the country. Pilkington said support for the bill “in many ways, it’s very generational. … I find that a lot of younger people and women are really in favor of this, especially mothers.” According to the Oral Contraceptive (OCs) Over the Counter (OTC) Working Group, a reproductive rights group, more than 100 countries, including Russia, much of South America and countries in Africa, allow access to birth control without a prescription.  Women are required to get a doctor’s prescription to obtain and renew birth control in most of the U.S., much of Europe, Canada and Australia, according to the reproductive rights group. Pilkington, who identifies as a “pro-life legislator,” said he brought the bill forward partly as an …

Neonatal Cuddlers Help Babies Get a Good Start

The environment in a neonatal intensive care unit can be overwhelming, as staff care for infants who are ill or were born premature. Many exhausted parents and loved ones can’t be with their newborns around the clock, but at one Long Beach, Calif., hospital, trained volunteers are stepping in to help. Known as NICU cuddlers, they give infants the human touch that is so vital to every baby. For VOA, Angelina Bagdasaryan visited the hospital and has this story, narrated by Anna Rice. …

Eiffel Tower, Other Sites Go Dark for Earth Hour 

The Eiffel Tower was plunged into darkness late on Saturday as the city of Paris switched off the lights on its best-known tourist attraction to mark this  year’s Earth Hour.  The 13th annual edition of the global event, organized by environmental group World Wildlife Fund to push for action on climate change and other man-made threats to the planet, called for nearly 200 major landmarks around the world to be unplugged at 8:30 p.m. local time. They included New York’s Empire State Building, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil and the Sydney Opera House. Ahead of the Eiffel Tower shutdown, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Junior Environment Minister Brune Poirson appeared at the foot of the 130-year-old edifice for a public discussion on global warming and declining biodiversity.  Earth Hour has grown steadily since the first event in 2007 and is now marked in more than 180 countries and territories, according to its organizers. …

World Turns Off Lights for Earth Hour 

The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Brandenburg Gate, the Acropolis and many more iconic landmarks went dark at 8:30 p.m. local time, Saturday night, for Earth Hour, an annual call for local action on climate change. Earth Hour is the brain child of the World Wildlife Fund. “By going dark for Earth Hour, we can show steadfast commitment to protecting our families, our communities and our planet from the dangerous effects of a warming world,” said Lou Leonard, WWF senior vice president, climate and energy. “The rising demand for energy, food and water means this problem is only going to worsen, unless we act now.” Individuals and companies around the world participated in the hour-long demonstration to show their support for the fight against climate change and the conservation of the natural world. WWF said Earth’s “rich biodiversity, the vast web of life that connects the health of oceans, rivers and forests to the prosperity of communities and nations, is threatened.” The fund also reports that wildlife populations monitored by WWF “have experienced an average decline of 60 percent in less than a single person’s lifetime, and many unique and precious species are at risk of vanishing forever.” “We have to ask ourselves what we’re willing to do after the lights come back on,” Leonard said. “If we embrace bold solutions, we still have time to stabilize the climate and safeguard our communities and the diverse wildlife, ecosystems and natural resources that sustain us …

Ebola Treatment Center in Congo Reopens After Attack 

An Ebola treatment center located at the epicenter of the current outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo has resumed operations after it was attacked last month, the country’s health ministry said Saturday. The center run by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in the district of Katwa was set on fire Feb. 24 by unknown attackers, forcing staff to evacuate patients. It reopened Saturday, the ministry said in a statement. “For now it is managed by the ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF,” it said, referring to the U.N. children’s fund. Aid workers have faced mistrust in some areas as they seek to contain the Ebola outbreak, which has become the most severe in Congo’s history. The WHO has said the distrust is fueled by false rumors about treatments and preference for traditional medicine.  Another MSF center in Butembo was also attacked in late February but reopened a week later.  MSF has pulled out from the area since the two attacks and has not said when it might resume medical activities.  The current Ebola epidemic, first declared last August, is believed to have killed at least 561 people so far and infected over 300 more. …

Lyft Shares Soar on Nasdaq Debut After IPO

Lyft Inc shares on Friday opened up 21.2 percent at $87.24 in its market debut on the Nasdaq after the company was valued at $24.3 billion in the first initial public offering (IPO) of a ride-hailing startup. On Thursday, Lyft said it priced 32.5 million shares, slightly more that it was offering originally, at $72, the top of its already elevated $70-$72 per share target range for the IPO. After a few minutes of trading, shares were up 18.6 percent at $85.42. Instead of celebrating the first day of trading at the Nasdaq in New York, Lyft opted to mark the occasion at a defunct auto dealership in downtown Los Angeles. A couple hundred people – Lyft staff, family and friends, stakeholders and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti – gathered before dawn for the kick-off event. Lyft has recently bought the facility to turn it into a driver services center, the first of several it plans to open across the U.S. in the coming months, where drivers can get discounted services like help with taxes or charging electric vehicles. …

Гривня дещо зміцніє щодо долара в понеділок – НБУ

Національний банк встановив курс гривні на понеділок 1 квітня. Офіційний курс становитиме 27,2 гривні за 1 долар США. Курс гривні 29 березня становить 27,24 гривні за долар. Таким чином, згідно з даними НБУ, на початку квітня гривня дещо зміцнішає після кількатижневого падіння. За даними профільного сайту «Мінфін», торги на міжбанку 29 березня почалися з курсу 27,21-27,26 гривень за долар. Протягом дня курс послабився до 27,26-27,31 гривень за долар. Пікового значення 28,39 за курсом НБУ впродовж останніх місяців долар сягнув 30 листопада 2018 року. На 12 березня 2019 року офіційний курс становив 26,31 гривні, це найвищий курс гривні від липня 2018 року. …