Russia looking for buyers in Africa for stolen Ukrainian grain


Bulk carrier loading grain in Crimea

Russia has bombed, blockaded and plundered the grain production capacity of Ukraine, which accounts for one-tenth of global wheat exports, resulting in dire forecasts of increased hunger and of spiking food prices around the world.

Now, the United States has warned that the Kremlin is trying to profit from that plunder by selling stolen wheat to drought-stricken countries in Africa, some facing possible famine…

The American alert about the grain has only sharpened the dilemma for African countries, many already feeling trapped between East and West, as they potentially face a hard choice between, on one hand, benefiting from possible war crimes and displeasing a powerful Western ally, and on the other, refusing cheap food at a time when wheat prices are soaring and hundreds of thousands of people are starving.

Rock and a hard place come to mind. Especially when feelings in Africa about any warnings coming from two-faced American politicians aren’t exactly welcome…or considered believable.

Going wild in the city

At first glnce, it’s a scene that plays out daily in cities across America. A U.S. Postal Service carrier wearing a royal blue bucket hat steps out of his mail truck and strides across the street, letters in hand. That much is unremarkable. But this postman either doesn’t notice or doesn’t seem to care that a hefty black bear, likely a young male, is sitting on his haunches a few yards away, vigorously scratching his shedding winter coat.

Immediately to the left, Interstate 240 roars behind a chain-link fence, apparently just white noise to the bruin, which eventually lopes down the sidewalk deeper into this neighborhood barely a half mile from downtown Asheville, North Carolina…

While Black Bears have reclaimed about half their former range and now live in some 40 states, coyotes—native to the Great Plains—have taken the U.S. by storm in recent decades. They now can be found in every state except Hawaii and most major cities. The metropolis most synonymous with the urban coyote is Chicago, home to as many as 4,000 of the animals…

Sarah Benson-Amram presented raccoons, coyotes, and skunks with a box equipped with a button or foot pedal that, when pressed, releases food. After the animals figured out how to get the food, the researchers would switch the buttons and pedals, forcing them to tweak their strategy. Most of the raccoons solved the problem on the first night, while only one of six coyotes engaged with the box—and not until the 44th night of testing. Once the coyote was comfortable engaging with the object, it could win the prize just as well as the raccoons and skunks…

Until recently, urban wildlife was mostly ignored in scientific research. This is partly because such species are considered pests unworthy of our attention—or not wildlife at all.

“We live on a planet that’s rapidly urbanizing, and it’s silly for us to say, Oh, we don’t care about animals in urban landscapes,” says Seth Magle, director of the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. “Whether we like it or not, we live with wildlife.”

Time to start learning how to get along with your new neighbors, folks!