DINNER PARTY INTEL: Water on Mars, but not a drop to drink
1. Riches flow out of Africa
Africa loses nearly $89bn a year in illicit financial flows such as tax evasion and theft. This nearly matches the combined annual inflows of development aid and foreign investment, a UN report shows. It is equivalent to 3.7% of Africa’s GDP. The report says nearly half of the $89bn is through the export of commodities such as gold, diamonds and platinum. The understatement of a commodity’s true value conceals trade profits abroad. This deprives developing countries of foreign exchange and erodes their tax base. The outflows are also associated with poor environmental outcomes.
2. Water on Mars, but not a drop to drink
Two years ago, scientists discovered a saltwater lake beneath the south pole of Mars, leading to excitement and some scepticism. Now researchers have confirmed it — and found three more. The discovery, reported in Nature Astronomy, was made using radar data from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft. The data will spark greater research to investigate traces of alien life on the planet. On the surface, the low pressure that results from the lack of a substantial atmosphere makes liquid water impossible.
3. Don’t forget your trash
Thailand’s environment minister has a novel way of dealing with tourists who leave their trash in its national parks. He recently began returning trash to Thai tourists who left plastic bottles and empty packets behind during their visit to the Khao Yai National Park. In a post on Facebook, minister Varawut Silpa-archa shared a photo of a box addressed to the campers with the bagged-up garbage inside. Offenders will be registered with the police. They also face fines and risk being blacklisted from entering the country’s parks.
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