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OH YES THEY DID: Scientists Name A Parasitic Worm After President Obama

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Nobel Peace Prize, Move Over: Meet baracktrema obamai, the two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm. it’s a type of blood fluke that infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia.

President Obama, Commander in Chief and a Nobel Peace Prize winner, can add another honor to his resume: namesake of a new species.

Granted, the species is a parasitic flatworm. But in the scientific community, the act is considered *coughBaracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.cough* an honor all the same.

“I have named a number of species after people I admire,” Thomas Platt, the parasitologist who discovered and collected the new species, said, with a straight face.

[Baracktrema obamai, a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm, was named in honor of President Obama. Image by Roberts et al., 2016, The Journal of Parasitology.]

The move is meant to be a permanent tribute, he said. “Baracktrema obamai will endure as long as there are systematists studying these remarkable organisms.”

Platt and three other American researchers proposed Baracktrema obamai as both a new genus and species in The Journal of Parasitology. The two-inch-long, hair-thin flatworm — a type of blood fluke — infects the lungs of black marsh turtle and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia. The team used genetic testing and morphological analysis of the worm’s body and genitalia to determine the new species. Their proposal marks the first new genus of turtle blood fluke in 21 years.

The find was the last that Platt — a turtle parasite expert — named before retiring from Saint Mary’s College. Platt named 32 species during his tenure and was inspired to name Baracktrema obamaiafter discovering that he and the president share a common ancestor, he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Honeymoon Murder Suspect Dewani Not Looking Forward to His Appearance in Western Cape South African High Court

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Extradited British millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani is due in court in South Africa Monday on charges of ordering his Swedish wife’s murder during their 2010 honeymoon in Cape Town.

honeymoon-dAfter losing a three-year extradition fight in Britain, Dewani, 34, was remanded in custody at a psychiatric hospital when he arrived in South Africa last month.

“Dewani has been accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife. He allegedly ordered local men to carry out a hit on his wife and make it look like a fatal carjacking incident.”

He will appear at the Western Cape high court for a pre-trial hearing, at which the judge will assess the readiness of the prosecution and defence teams to start the trial.

“A substantial amount of money was paid for the hit.”

Dewani, who returned to Britain shortly after his wife’s murder, had fought his extradition, claiming he had mental health problems, including depression and post-traumatic stress. He has been undergoing tests at the Valkenberg hospital in Cape Town to see if he is fit to stand trial. If he is not found fit to face court within 18 months, he will be returned to Britain under the terms of his extradition.

 In this Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011 file photo, Shrien Dewani, the British man accused of having his wife murdered during their honeymoon in South Africa, arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court in London. Shrien Dewani has spent years fighting extradition over the death of his 28-year-old bride Anni. She was found shot dead in an abandoned taxi in Cape Town's Gugulethu township in November 2010. Lawyers for the 34-year-old businessman say he suffers from post-traumatic stress and depression and is unfit to stand trial. But last month Britain’s High Court rejected his grounds for appeal. He is expected to be put on a flight to Cape Town Monday, and South African officials say he will appear in court there Tuesday. The dead woman’s brother, Anish Hindocha, said the extradition brought them “one step closer” to justice.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

In this 2011 photo, Shrien Dewani, the British man accused of having his wife murdered during their honeymoon in South Africa, arrives at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London. Shrien Dewani has spent years fighting extradition over the death of his 28-year-old bride Anni. She was found shot dead in an abandoned taxi in Cape Town’s Gugulethu township in November 2010. Lawyers for the 34-year-old businessman say he suffers from post-traumatic stress and depression and is unfit to stand trial. But last month Britain’s High Court rejected his grounds for appeal. He is expected to be put on a flight to Cape Town Monday, and South African officials say he will appear in court there Tuesday. The dead woman’s brother, Anish Hindocha, said the extradition brought them “one step closer” to justice. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

On his arrival in South Africa Dewani was formally charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and defeating justice by the country’s elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks. Read the rest of this entry »