DPA
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA, "German Press Agency") is a Hamburg-based German news agency. Founded in 1949, it is now Germany's largest news agency as well as a major worldwide operation, delivering news in German, English, Spanish, and Arabic.
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Shrimp Shells Crawl From Dinner Table To Hospital Operating Room

Chitosan fiber in the making â€" Photo: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

At first glance, the thread looks like a run-of-the-mill material. But the glossy white, strong and elastic strand is anything but ordinary.

This antibacterial material can stop the flow of blood and dissolves naturally within the human body. It can be used to produce plasters, dressings, surgical stuffing, surgical textiles and clothing for patients who suffer from skin conditions, like neurodermatitis, the German news agency DPA reports.

But the most fascinating aspect is what it’s made of: the shell of shrimp, crab and other crustaceans.

"It is brilliant to find such a wonderful use for waste material," says Rolf-Dieter Hund, a director at the Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology in Dresden, Germany.

Shell-based waste is a by-product of the food industry. It is pulverized and reaches the institute’s research team in the form of a powder that is dissolved in water and filtered. Trapped air is freed from this concoction under vacuum pressure and then squeezed through small nozzles. The resulting yarn is washed, dried and covered in protective film.

The machine that produces the textile can produce a shell-shocking 30 to 40 meters of the textile per minute. So it’s easy to produce implants, such as those for abdominal wall constructions, cartilage and bone defects, which require little thread.

There’s a catch for this shrimp yarn though: The fiber is very expensive, meaning you'll need to shell out the big bucks.

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Can This Ingenious Catamaran Clean Away Ocean Plastic Pollution?

LÜBECK â€" The scourge of plastic litter in the oceans is measured in billions of floating tons of pollution, estimated to affect some 40% of the world's waterways. But a solution to this massive environmental problem may be coming from a small shipyard in Northern Germany, where an ingeniously designed catamaran is being built to collect litter from the open ocean waters.

German news agency DPA reports reports from the Lübeck Yacht Trave GmbH shipyard where the catamaran Seekuh (“Manatee”) has been commissioned by the One Earth One Ocean association, with plans to start collecting drifting plastic litter this summer.

Floating plastic debris from the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" â€" Photo: Lindsey Hoshaw

One Earth One Ocean CEO Günther Bonin and engineer Dirk Lindenau designed the movable nets that will be suspended between the Seekuh hulls to collect up to two tons of litter per journey. The catamaran will be powered by solar panels, allowing it to go as fast as two knots. The craft can also be dismantled into eight modules to be transported across the globe.

The prototype costs around 250,000 euros, with Bonin already planning to build more vessels like the Seekuh, if it proves to be successful.

Building the Seekuh"s hulls in Lübeck â€" Photo: One Earth One Ocean

Stephan Lutter, Marine Protection expert at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says rapid solutions such as the innovative catamaran design are needed, with estimates that up to 10 million tons of new plastic litter end up in the oceans every year. “It's a danger to birds and marine animals as some can get entangled in the plastic or mistake it for with food and swallow it,” says Lutter.

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Gay Syrian Refugees Victimized By Fellow Muslim Refugees

DRESDEN â€" Thousands of kilometers away from their war-torn home, and yet they still don’t feel safe. Three gay Syrians who say they've been harassed by Muslim refugees in Dresden decided to tell their story to German news agency DPA.

Ahmad Suliman says that if he had come out openly about his sexual orientation in his native Syria, he would have been beheaded. Homosexuals are publicly executed in Syria and in Iraq. It was that reason, as much as the civil war tearing apart the country, that ultimately led the 20-year-old Muslim to flee his homeland.

But when he arrived in Dresden, Germany, he was greeted by the unhappy reality that the city is home to the rising xenophobic group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident (Pegida).

Still, the direct attacks against Suliman and his friends did not come from Pegida, but from other refugees. Suliman, Rami Ktifan and Yousif Al-Doori told DPA that they have been abused and tormented for being gay by other refugees from the Middle East. “At first we tried to hide it, but at some point we simply wanted to live free, in Europe,” says Al-Doori.

Ronald Zenker, head of the CSD (Christopher Street Day, an association in Dresden that organizes an annual gay rights event) rescued the three men from the tent city, and has since arranged to accommodate them privately.

Since 2013, the persecution of homosexuals because of their sexual orientation is a valid reason for asylum in the European Union. But there is no statistical recording of the different reasons of asylum seekers in Germany.

Homosexuality is a taboo in Arabic families. Al-Doori had hoped he could live a different life in Germany: “In my home country I constantly had to pretend. I led a double life.”

But the hostility and abuse followed him all the way to Germany. For now, it is other refugees who give them trouble, and the Pegida movement is instead one big paradox. “People who sympathize with Pegida are also willing to help gay refugees,” says Zenker, “They have their own way of differentiating good versus bad refugees. Gay refugees are part of the "good ones' because they are being persecuted by other Muslims."