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Health

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It sounds like a typical melodrama of a movie — a saga about a big family with issues galore. There's the widowed grandfather who desperately misses his wife. The sensitive younger son who dreams of being a musician. And the daughter who's dipping into the family's stash of cash to pay a con artist who pretends to be a faith healer.

Here at Goats and Soda, we're trying something new: We want to know what you want us to investigate. The first topic is girls in developing countries.

Earlier this month, we gathered over 100 questions from our readers. We put three of them up for vote. More than 600 people voted, and this question was the winner:

I would like to know more about about microloans, and if they are in fact helping women start businesses in the developing world.

There's a heated debate in the Arctic Circle. It's about reindeer. Lots of them.

Russian health officials want to cull a quarter million animals by Christmas, The Siberian Times reports. That's enough reindeer to fill about 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Who's in charge of the aid?

That's the question in the hurricane-ravaged southwest of Haiti.

Should politicians hand it out? Or aid groups? Or religious leaders?

Pastor Louis Masil, who lives in the tiny village of Banatte, doesn't think the government should be in control.

"Since the independence of Haiti, the culture was always all governments, all officials only care for themselves," he says. "They only care for stealing the money and not helping the communities."

The World Health Organization has already urged us to cut back on sugar, limiting added sugars to no more than 10 percent of our daily calories.

Today is Fire Festival in northern Ghana. It's a holiday I'd never heard of before I came to live in a village here as a Peace Corps community volunteer. It's incredibly intense. And it's one of my favorite celebrations.

On Fire Festival — Bugim Chugu in the local language — drums beat a quick and pulsating rhythm that summons people to dance in a rotating circle of bodies, large and small, old and young, holding torches of burning grass above their heads. Children covered nearly head to toe in white powder float in and out of vision like otherworldly apparitions.

The Dumont section of Port Salut on Haiti's southwest coast is spread over rolling green hills that used to be rich with coconut, mango and banana trees. But Hurricane Matthew toppled most of those trees. It tore apart the simple concrete and sheet-metal houses in the area. It killed livestock, destroyed crops, smashed businesses.

Emmanuello Charlien is part of a team trying to tally the damage of Matthew here. Charlien points out a pile of metal that used to be a cellphone tower.

Last October, Goats and Soda began a series called #15Girls. The stories explored the lives of 15-year-olds who sought to take control and change their fate — despite daunting obstacles.

It's been a year, and we wanted to check back with the girls we profiled and see how their lives have changed. We weren't able to reach them all, but we did find out how five of the teens are faring in 2016.

This year is not the first the Lemba of Zimbabwe are celebrating the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. They have done so twice before. But Modreck Maeresera, president of the Harare Lemba Synagogue, said past services have been pretty basic. For Rosh Hashana, he said, "it was mainly about blowing the shofar [ram's horn] and eating apples dipped in honey."

Diet and nutrition are now the biggest risk factors for people's health across the globe, even in poorer countries. That's according to a recent report published by the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems Nutrition, an independent group of experts on nutrition and health.

When an 8-year old boy showed up at his school's clinic in rural Haiti with a low-grade fever and abdominal pain, he was told he had typhoid and given medicine to treat it.

But blood tests showed something else: Mayaro, a mosquito-borne virus that may now be circulating in the Caribbean.

The Haitian boy remains an isolated case.

For 15 years, Stephanie Sinclair has taken photos of child brides around the world — from Tahani in Yemen, married at age 6, to 14-year-old Niruta in Nepal, and many more. In 2012, she started the nonprofit Too Young To Wed to raise awareness of their plight.

Now she's given some young women a chance to take their own pictures — a kind of art therapy that she hopes will "help girls deal with their trauma."

In Haiti hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Matthew are still waiting for aid.

The death toll is in the hundreds and is expected to rise. The Haitian president calls the situation in the southwest a catastrophe.

At the Lycee Philip Garrier, a high school in the hard-hit town of Les Cayes that's serving as a shelter, there's growing frustration among people who lost everything to the storm.

Hundreds of people took shelter in the school, sleeping on classroom floors. Most say they now have nowhere else to go.

Only one woman has been allowed to represent Iran in triathlons. Her name is Shirin Gerami, and this weekend the athlete faces her biggest test yet.

First, she'll swim 2.4 miles in choppy water. Then, she'll bike 112 miles. She'll top off the race with a full marathon, on a road that crosses a landscape described as "barren lava fields."

Abdulkhalek Dabaa, one of fewer than 30 doctors left in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, is the only remaining ophthalmologist in the eastern part of the city. Medical supplies are scarce, so he has resorted to making his own eyedrops. His wife, an obstetrician, relies on folk remedies for her patients.

45,482.

That is the number of rape survivors treated by Dr. Denis Mukwege and his associates at Panzi Hospital between 1999 and 2015. Some 35,000 of those survivors, who range in age from toddlers to seniors, suffered complex gynecological injuries, inflicted by members of rebel groups and the Congolese military.

Why A Really Big Fish Isn't Always Good For Business

Oct 5, 2016

Water so thick with weeds that boats can't cross. Monster fish that eat everything in their paths. Cattle with blisters that bubble over their mouths.

These are the impacts of invasive species.

More than 16 percent of the world's land may be vulnerable to invasion by non-native plants and animals, new research shows.

PHOTOS: They're All Kings And Queens Of Katwe

Oct 5, 2016

In the far corner of a dead-end dirt lane in Katwe, one of Uganda's most poverty-stricken slums, a small boy sits on a step peering into a cramped room where Robert Katende addresses a group of teenagers.

At the front of the room a large chess board with magnetic pieces hangs on the wall. Beside it is a well-worn whiteboard with a line down the middle. It reads "Compare: Chess Vs. Life."

Under "Chess" Katende has written: "Opening"

Under "Life": "Birth"

Sabrina Chang, 30, didn't know much about the global refugee crisis. "I think I could spit out headlines that I've seen, but that's about it," she says.

She wants to take pictures of happiness.

That's one of the goals that Fati Abubakar set when she started her Instagram feed bitsofborno last year.

Borno is a state in the troubled northeast of Nigeria, where the extremist group Boko Haram began operating. The capital city, Maiduguri, birthplace of the insurgency, is where this 30-year-old nurse lives and works as a project manager for a malnutrition project as well as a documentary photographer.

Just after dawn one morning last month, Peace Corps volunteer Sarah D'Antoni stood on the banks of Lake Issyk Kul, raised her arms in the air and then jumped into the chilly water.

The wind was whipping. The waves were pounding. There was lightning off in the distance. But a little bad weather wasn't going to stop the 24-year-old from swimming the 8.3 miles — to the opposite side of Kyrgyzstan's largest lake. Four hours and 43 minutes later, she arrived with a message she wanted to share.

"I am thirsty," the river complains, "from quenching your thirst. I am tired from the turns along the way."

That's what the 475-mile Cauvery River in India says in a song called "Pyaasi' (the Hindi feminine adjective for 'thirsty'). A young musician wrote the song during a drought in 2009, when the two states through which the river flows were arguing over rights to its water.

Zika wasn't even on Dr. Sankar Swaminathan's mind when he first examined a severely ill 73-year-old man in a Salt Lake City hospital in June. The patient had just returned from a visit to Mexico when he suddenly fell violently ill.

"We were not thinking about Zika at all because Zika usually does not cause severe illness, in fact it almost never does," says Swaminathan, chief of the division of infectious diseases at the University of Utah.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a special travel advisory Tuesday for pregnant women — and those trying to get pregnant.

They should "consider postponing nonessential travel" to 11 countries, the agency says. These countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Vietnam.

It had all the trappings of a typical beauty contest: Contestants in evening gowns strutting before the judges, a talent portion, and of course, a sparkly tiara for the winning lady.

Winter clothes, blankets, food and medical supplies. In an act of humanity, a U.N. aid convoy was carrying these precious necessities to a neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, cut off by war. The convoy never made it.

The Americas Are Now Officially 'Measles-Free'

Sep 28, 2016

The Americas are now free of measles, the first region in the world to achieve that goal, the Pan American Health Organization announced this week. The success is credited to the effectiveness of mass vaccination programs over the past 22 years.

Khaleed Khateeb dreamed of being a photojournalist when he was in high school. As he watched Syria crumble into chaos around him, he wanted to share his country's story with the world.

A shriek went up around the young executives of a start-up company as they made their way to a beaming Bill Clinton. They had just won the million dollar Hult Prize for an idea they dreamed up and launched over the last 12 months.

Det første dødsfald skete om natten den 9. januar.

Det var en lørdag. Pele Kristiansen brugte formiddagen på at sidde hjemme og drikke øl med sin ældre bror, hvilket ikke var så udsædvanligt. Der var ikke meget arbejde i byen. Mange folk drak. Om eftermiddagen hørte de nogen, som bankede på døren og råbte.

"Isbjørn! Der er en isbjørn!"

På den frosne fjord nogle kilometer væk kunne de se isbjørnen. I Arktis er jagt — på bjørne, rensdyr, sæler og fugle — en vigtig del af inuitternes liv, også i dag.

Isbjørnen kom i retning af byen.

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