Peace in Sudan; Bad News For Banana Lovers

Grind for August 21st
“Common sense is not so common.”
– Voltaire

Good News

The Headline

Sudan: Opposition alliance signs deal with military council

The Grind

A landmark deal signed this weekend restores peace to Sudan, where protestors have been fighting for a return to civilian rule after a council of generals took over the nation’s government.

The military council took control in April following the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir. Since then, clashes between the two forces have resulted in hundreds of civilian injuries and up to 120 deaths.

Keep in mind the military is not a unified force in Sudan.

The Details

The new agreement forms a cooperative governing council of six civilians and five generals who will run the country for three years. The chairmanship will rotate between the team’s members.

The peace deal was signed Saturday by Ahmed al-Rabie (on behalf of the opposition) and by Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan (on behalf of the military).

The deal was also signed by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, a warlord whose Rapid Support Forces have been accused of killing protesters and dumping them into the Nile River.

“We will stick to every single letter we have agreed on,” said Hemeti.

The landmark agreement was signed Saturday in Khartoum, witnessed by the prime ministers of Egypt and Ethiopia and the president of South Sudan.

Bad News

The Headline

Banana industry further threatened as deadly fungus spreads to Latin America

The Grind

You may have heard about Fusarium, the deadly fungus that has been destroying banana plantations in Asia. Two months ago, banana researcher Fernando Alexander Garcia-Bastidas received images of wilted banana plants from plantations in Colombia.

Bananas are Colombia’s third-largest agricultural export.

“I felt this thing in my heart that was like kind of praying for a false positive, or something like that,” says Garcia-Bastidas, who grew up in Colombia.

Lab tests confirmed the plants were infected with TR4, a strain of Fusarium that appeared in Taiwan in the 1990s. From there, TR4 spread to Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Australia, and the Philippines. TR4 was detected in Mozambique in 2014.

The Details

Fusarium is a fungus that lives in soil and invades plants through their roots. Once inside, it prevents the plant from absorbing water and nutrients.

By the time a plant exhibits symptoms, the fungus has been present in the surrounding soil for at least a year.

There is no way to remove Fusarium from soil or to cure an infected plant. Scientists throughout the world are working furiously to genetically engineer a type of banana that can withstand the disease.

“Unfortunately, 80% of the [varieties] that I tested were susceptible,” said Garcia-Bastidas, who has tested more than 300 different types of bananas. “But there is a little bit of hope with the other ones that were not susceptible.”

Colombia declared a national emergency over the disease last week and is using its military in a desperate attempt to prevent it from spreading.

Did you know… In major cities like Brooklyn and London, there are fake townhouses that hide subterranean chimney vents, emergency subway exits, and more.