News in Brief

Australia

Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalize the use of medical marijuana. On April 12, the Access to Medicinal Cannabis bill passed in Parliament. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corp., children with severe epilepsy will be the first to legally use the drug in 2017. An Office of Medicinal Cannabis will be created to regulate the production of the marijuana as well as educate citizens and members of the medical community. In the United States, state medical marijuana legalization efforts began in 1996. Cannabis is currently legal for medical use in 23 states and Washington D.C.

Bhutan

The World Wildlife Foundation claims tiger populations are increasing for the first time in a century. “According to the most recent data, around 3,890 tigers now exist in the wild — up from an estimated 3,200 in 2010,” wrote the WWF on their website. Bhutan, along with Russia, India and Nepal, was listed as one nation where the feline species is growing. Last July, The Guardian reported there were 103 tigers living in the wild, following the first nationwide survey ever conducted. Governments in Southeast Asia pledged six years ago to double the wild tiger population by 2022.

Israel

Researchers from Tel Aviv University have uncovered new evidence on when the Bible may have been written. The authors of the study published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and used an interdisciplinary approach to investigate 16 Hebrew inscriptions from 600 B.C. The results indicate literacy may have been more prevalent in ancient Judea than previously thought and that biblical texts could have been written before the 587 B.C. Siege of Jerusalem. Earlier research on the topic indicated that high levels of literacy in the area were not attained until 200 B.C.

Nigeria

The terrorist campaign of Boko Haram continues to elicit shock in Western Africa. Since May of 2013, the group has displaced 2.3 million people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Last year, Boko Haram conducted 151 suicide attacks, 89 in Nigeria alone. The conflict’s impact on children is massive. Children account for over half of all uprooted individuals. According to a recent UNICEF report, many “are killed, maimed, abducted and recruited to armed groups.” From 2014 to 2015, the number of child suicide bombers used by Boko Haram rose from four to 44.

United States

Many are rejoicing as the Chesapeake blue crab population has reached its fourth-highest level in two decades. An annual survey  estimated over 550 million blue crabs live in the Chesapeake Bay. While the news is good, officials urge that overfishing could undo the progress that has been made. “Continued conservative management of the fishery and improving water quality by implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint are the keys to a building and sustaining a healthy crab population,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Scientist Chris Moore to The Baltimore Sun.