Ghana’s ‘witches’ face lifetime of persecution

How many avid soccer fans, well used to the theatrics that are part and parcel of the World Cup, would have anticipated that witchcraft would enter into the discussion of wins and losses? Yet, despite their overall lackluster showing, the Ghanaian Black Stars received support from an unexpected quarter: Ghanaian spiritualist Nana Kwaku Bonsam, who claimed that he used witchcraft to conjure the knee injury that threatened the continued participation of Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo in the World Cup.

While Bonsam's claims may have been an amusing interlude in the World Cup brouhaha, it overshadows a much more serious recent incident involving witchcraft allegations in Ghana, a situation that is misunderstood and has received insufficient and inadequate international attention.

In northern Ghana, where poverty is rampant, witchcraft is a disturbing manifestation of violence against women. Women, and even young girls, can be accused of using supernatural power to harm individuals and bring misfortune onto their communities. These women are ostracized by their families and neighbors, rejected by their communities, subjected to life-threatening assaults and often brutally murdered. Some women are fortunate to find their way to one of the "witch camps" dotted across northern Ghana. These camps provide sanctuary to women persecuted as witches.

On June 18th, the United States Ambassador to Ghana Gene Cretz announced that the United States would collaborate with the Ghanaian government to disband the witch camps in the Northern Region. The reason is the conclusion that the camps are inconsistent with the image of modern Ghana. The Americans have pledged to donate one million cedis ($355,000 C), to support Ghana's Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture to research how best to eliminate the camps.

This announcement was welcomed by Ghanaian governmental authorities, who have been under increasing international pressure to take action against the deplorable persecution of women alleged to be witches.

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New Jersey County Becomes Site of "Bigfoot" Search

It's big, it's hairy and people in New Jersey claim to have seen it. Now, a television series has joined the hunt for the infamous Bigfoot, also known as Sasaquatch.

The Animal Planet network's "Finding Bigfoot" crew came to Sussex County last week to search the rural area for the legendary -- some would say mythical -- creature who has eluded capture despite numerous purported sightings.

The crew held a town hall-style meeting to hear about local sightings before taking to the field. The Daily Record of Parsippany reports that more than a dozen people shared stories.

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Bizarre Sea Creature Caught on Oil Rig Camera

A strange creature  spotted on footage from an underwater oil rig camera in the Gulf of Mexico may be a huge jellyfish.

According to the news blog Zeibiz, scientists think the “large blob” swimming slowly toward the camera is the rarely seen jellyfish known as depstaria reticulum. That’s based on the hexagonal pattern on its skin.

These bizarre jellyfish can be up to 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) wide and are more apt to be found near the Antarctic than in the Gulf of Mexico.

An international team led by the University of Southampton in England has created the first global jellyfish database to map jellyfish populations in the oceans. The project is known as JeDI, for Jellyfish Database Initiative.