Ocean surprises: Coral reef recovery and nitrogen-fixing algae species

Along with new science and technology developments around the world in ocean health and malaria prevention, in the U.S. this spring the impact of Emmett Till’s life and death was observed in the performing arts and in federal law.

1. United States

Lynching became a federal hate crime amid wider efforts to honor the legacy of Emmett Till. The Black teenager was tortured and killed by white supremacists in 1955 after a white woman accused him of whistling at her, and his death galvanized the civil rights movement. After over a century of failed efforts to pass similar legislation, President Joe Biden signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act on March 29. The law punishes conspiracy to commit a hate crime that causes serious bodily injury or death with up to 30 years in prison. Legal experts warn that legislation alone is not enough to prevent hate crimes, but many say the law serves an important symbolic purpose.

Why We Wrote This

In our progress roundup are stories about joy following confusion and doubt. As scientists discovering new species and the recovery of a coral reef show us, serious research need not be empty of fun.

The law comes at a time when the impact of Emmett’s death is gaining renewed attention. The Senate passed a bill in January to posthumously award Emmett and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress. The legislation is awaiting approval in the House. In Chicago, where Emmett was born, Collaboraction Theatre Company presented a play called “Trial in the Delta: The Murder of Emmett Till” based on direct transcripts of the trial. And a limited TV series, “Women of the Movement,” centering around Ms. Till-Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her son, is airing on ABC this year.
NPR, NBC News, Chicago Tribune, Garden & Gun

2. Tanzania

Workers look for holes in mosquito netting at the A to Z Textile Mills factory in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2016.

“Mosquito grounding” bed nets lowered malaria rates among children by nearly half in a scientific trial in Tanzania. The addition of the chlorfenapyr insecticide paralyzes mosquitoes, preventing them from finding their next great number. Tanzanian researchers collaborated with scientists from London and Ottawa to test the nets by a randomized trial that included 4,500 children from 72 villages in the district of Misungwi. They found that the nets lowered malaria rates by 43% in the first year and 37% in the second.

Because prevention programs have led to insecticide resistance in mosquitoes, the researchers are proceeding with caution. But in a country where malaria is one of the leading causes of death, especially among children, the results are welcome news. “By essentially ‘grounding’ the mosquito, our work … has great possible to continue control of malaria transmitted by resistant mosquitoes in Africa,” said Dr. Manisha Kulkarni, a scientist at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine.

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