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It goes without saying that when Americans consider the history of this young nation, one area in which we take special pride is the way we've been a global leader in scientific discovery and technological advancement. In some of our finest hours, the United States has undertaken the pursuit of knowledge as a national mission -- the famed "space race" against the Soviet Union was, if anything, an urgent battle between competing ideologies, with our national security at stake. And even in our worst moments -- like the aftermath of the financial crisis -- we still dreamed of big solutions, like clean energy and bullet trains, as essential components of economic recovery and a restoration of national pride.

Unfortunately for those who think big, the path to lucrative tax breaks and federal grant funding run through legislative committees chaired by old men who tend to be a little bit afraid of clouds and who never learned to set the clocks on their VCRs correctly.

Still, it's not everyday where one of the nation's representatives fumbles the ball on the whole question of "Where do babies come from?" But that's what Todd Akin did this week, when he advanced an odd theory -- sadly, one promulgated by an actual medical doctor -- that posited that women could not get pregnant from a rapist's seed because their bodies had some sort of elaborate, hormonal fail-safe system that had never, ever, ever been observed in the natural world but it sure sounds awesome so, why not?

Well, Akin's outburst ended up completely roiling the 2012 race, as his party's presidential standard-bearer was forced to "distance" himself from the peculiarity of Akin's remarks without completely blowing up the pro-life platform plank Akin was arguing in favor of when he spit his weird theory about female hormones. Meanwhile, the right's ideological army was torn asunder by those who wanted Akin to quit his Senate race so that someone else could take on the Democratic incumbent, and others who stood firm behind Akin and his right to believe whatever he likes.

But all that 2012 stuff? That's really the only thing that made Akin's junk-science enunciation unique. The truth is, in the halls of power, the crackpots have always served alongside the sane, peddling bad science and taking a wall-eyed view of technology. Akin is just the latest and, perhaps, greatest from the former camp. Those who came before him are the subject of this week's Huff Post List.

six pixTHIS OTHER EDEN, THIS DEMI-PARADISE, THIS MASSIVE OIL SPILL: Everyone remember that Deepwater Horizon disaster? Massive explosion, unending oil spill, widespread environmental degradation and sea life death? All the various corporate scofflaws getting off scot-free, because that's America now? Yeah, it's probably ringing a bell by now. But while its peal probably resonates a discordant note in your memory, that wasn't the case for newly minted House Science and Technology Committee Chair Ralph Hall (R-Texas). No, no! The oil industry enthusiast took one look at all the devastation and found his heart swelling with pride, as he told the Dallas Morning News: "As we saw that thing bubbling out, blossoming out – all that energy, every minute of every hour of every day of every week – that was tremendous to me. That we could deliver that kind of energy out there -– even on an explosion." Yes. Even on an explosion that killed 11 people, who basically died as the side-effect of other people's incompetence.

five is thisIS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING SCIENCE STUFF? Every parent harbors understandable concerns about the kinds of things their children could be exposed to on the Internet. And let's face it -- there's troubling stuff out there. Graphic violence. Pornography. Coldplay videos. But Rep. Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), who sits on the House Science and Technology Committee, took things a step further when she introduced an amendment to the (already howlingly stupid) "Better Use Of Light Bulbs Act" that would "prohibit the use of funds for maintaining, developing or creating any Web site which disseminates information regarding energy efficiency and educational programs on energy efficiency specifically to children under 18 years of age." Children by the millions are, obviously, already experimenting with energy efficiency, a clear gateway to other, more advanced vices, like cheaper home heating bills and maybe providing a planet for their own children to live on. (See also: The efforts of one Virginia legislator to attach a partisan definition to "sea level rise.")

okay fourGLOBAL WARMING IS A LITERAL HERESY: It's hard to imagine, but just four years ago, presidential candidate John McCain was the prevailing voice of his party on the issue of climate change, constantly suggesting that even if Al Gore's worst fears never came to pass, it would be beneficial for the nation and its economy to invest in green technology and energy efficiency. Four years later, climate crackpots once again rule the roost, with only the lonely voice of presidential campaign surrealist Jon Huntsman providing support to scientists. Still, most climate deniers can't hold a candle to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who claims that God himself has declared the whole global warming scare to be a "hoax": "Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous." (As Brad Johnson reported, the voice of "God," in this case, sounds suspiciously like a stack of "$1,352,523 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry.")

and here is threeBOBBY JINDAL VS. THE VOLCANO MONITORS: Who can forget that time Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal staggered out in front of a television camera to deliver the first GOP rebuttal to an Obama State of the Union address? Ol' Bobby, he hated him some stimulus package. T'weren't nothin' in that heap a mess worth nothin'. And what's this? "Something called 'volcano monitoring," Jindal said, vocally inflecting the necessary air quotes. Well, one month later, in a far off land known only as "Alaska," Mount Redoubt blew its top, "sending potentially deadly ash clouds north of Anchorage." Per CBS News: "'Without instruments in the ground, we would not have been able to tell you this was coming,' said John Power, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory." "Better luck next time, Bobby," is the same thing people told Jindal after that time he tried to perform an exorcism on a female co-ed in his dorm room.

this is twoMICHELE BACHMANN'S GARDASILLINESS: The human papillomavirus is a very common, sexually transmitted disease that is known to cause deadly cancers. Gardasil is a vaccine that easily immunizes against the disease and its deadly outcomes. Public health officials would like the vaccine to be in widespread use among teenagers. Social conservatives typically oppose it on the grounds that lessening the punitive effects of recreational sex encourages it further. Michele Bachmann, however, took things further than most who oppose using the vaccine when she claimed that a woman she met after a debate in Tampa, Fla., approached her with a story that the HPV vaccine had caused her child to "suffer from mental retardation." This contradicted all known science, as the Centers For Disease Control pointed out, and was a needless scare that threatened public health. As Dr. Rodney E. Willoughby of the Medical College of Wisconsin told ThinkProgress, "these types of false scares have caused vaccination rates to drop for three or four years."

oneDARWIN AWARD WINNER: Social conservatives think they've caught science giving away the game when they refer to the "theory of evolution," believing that this is an admission that Darwin's greatest contribution to the modern understanding of biology is actually entirely speculative, and not merely termed a "theory" because the process -- while backed up to the nines with hard data -- cannot actually be observed in real time. Bill Nye, who correctly points out that evolution is "the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology," recently begged America's Creationists to not inculcate their kids against evolution, because "we need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future." Unfortunately for Nye, Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn't see things the same way. At a campaign stop in the early primary season, he told a child, "In Texas, we teach both creationism and evolution. I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right." Tough news for Nye. But the Texas GOP recently declared, in the 2012 party platform, that it is opposed to teaching critical thinking skills to children on the grounds that it undermines "parental authority," so everything will probably turn out fine.

SIDE NOTE: Yes, Democrats, when it comes to promulgating scientific and technological illiteracy, your recent history has been, by any comparative measure, superior. Take a bow. But don't get too cocky! After all, we still remember that time when Tipper Gore got so worked up over the lyrics to Prince's "Darling Nikki" that she led a crusade against rock music that would shamed all of the prudish scolds that were always bedeviling the protagonists of John Waters' films. At its most wracked and wretched extreme, Gore's efforts looped in beard-innovator and Surgeon General C. Everett Koop for a symposium that posited "that explicit sexual and violent imagery in music videos exerts a dangerous influence on children and adolescents, and could lead to suicide, satanism, and drug and alcohol abuse." Obviously, as the vast majority of Americans are navigating the world of rock music without succumbing in large majorities to these maladies, we can decree that Gore has well-earned her perpetual status as the butt of rock-enthusiasts' jokes. (Though Nickelback does push one close to the edge.)

Also on HuffPost:

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  • 'I Haven't Had A Gaffe'

    Bachmann raised some eyebrows in November 2011 when she claimed she'd never "had a gaffe." "As people are looking at the candidate that is the most conservative and the most consistent candidate, I've been that candidate. I haven't had a gaffe or something that I've done that has caused me to fall in the polls," Bachmann told Greta van Susteren in a <a href="" target="_hplink">Fox News interview</a>. The claim was interesting considering her <a href="" target="_hplink">knack</a> for <a href="" target="_hplink">making</a> <a href="" target="_hplink">misstatements</a>.

  • President Of Iran A 'Hater'

    During a campaign stop in Iowa, Bachmann responded to accusations from Ron Paul that she "hates Muslims." "I don't hate Muslims," Bachman said. "I love the American people. And as president of United States, my goal would be to keep the American people safe, free and sovereign." "The haters are the president of Iran," she said, referring to Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "He stated unequivocally that given a nuclear weapons he will use that weapon to wipe Israel off the map, and he's willing to use it against the United States of America."

  • HPV Claims

    Early in the Republican presidential race, Bachmann attacked rival Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that young girls receive the vaccine against HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that is the leading cause of cervical cancer. She even made the claim that the vaccine could cause mental retardation. However, she <a href="" target="_hplink">distanced herself</a> from the statement after receiving criticism from medical professionals who believe the vaccine is very safe. "I didn't make that claim, nor did I make that statement," Bachmann said. "Immediately after a debate a mother came up to me, and she was visibly shaken and heartbroken because of what her daughter had gone through. I only related what her story was."

  • Many Scientists Believe In Intelligent Design

    In October of 2006, before Bachmann emerged as a superstar of the conservative movement, the Minnesota congresswoman raised eyebrows when she <a href="" target="_hplink">suggested</a> that a sizable portion of the scientific community discredits the theory of evolution. Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">said</a>, "There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design." More recently, Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">discussed</a> her views on the matter at this year's Republican Leadership Conference. "I support intelligent design," she told reporters at the conservative gathering, <a href="" target="_hplink">according</a> to CNN. "What I support is putting all science on the table and then letting students decide. I don't think it's a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides."

  • Warning Of 'Sex Clinics'

    During the long road to health care reform in the fall of 2009, Bachmann took to the House floor to warn members of congress that <a href="" target="_hplink">"sex clinics"</a> could result from passing legislation that was under debate at the time. The Tea Party favorite suggested that if reform were to pass, schools might begin offering abortions to students given her interpretation that the measure was designed to bring Planned Parenthood into educational facilities: <blockquote>The bill goes on to say what's going to go on -- comprehensive primary health services, physicals, treatment of minor acute medical conditions, referrals to follow-up for specialty care -- is that abortion? Does that mean that someone's 13 year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus that night? Mom and dad are never the wiser.</blockquote> Section 2511 of the health care bill referred to by Bachmann, makes no mention of abortion and stipulates: <blockquote>(i) "SBHC services will be provides in accordance with Federal, State, and local laws governing-- (I) obtaining parental or guardian consent; and (II) patient privacy and student records, including section 264 of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and section 444 of the General Education Provision Act;</blockquote> The nonpartisan PolitiFact rated Bachmann's statement <a href="" target="_hplink">a "Pants On Fire" falsehood.</a> <blockquote>We see no language in the three main versions of the bill that would allow school-based clinics, which have a long history of providing basic health services to underprivileged students, to provide abortions. Nor would the clinics even be new they have been around for three decades. So we rate the claim Pants on Fire!</blockquote> Nevertheless, Bachmann within weeks <a href="" target="_hplink">went on to issue the same warning </a>once again.

  • 'A Weapon Of Mass Destruction'

    Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">criticized</a> the country's current tax code as "a weapon of mass destruction" in a speech she delivered to local Republican activists in South Carolina back in February, the <em>Spartanburg Herald-Journal</em> <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> at the time. According to the local outlet, the Tea Party favorite called for the system to be abolished. "We need a radically different system," she stressed to a crowd of nearly 200 guests.

  • The 'LensCrafters Of Big Abortion'

    After Bachmann derided Planned Parenthood as "the LensCrafters of big abortion" earlier this year, it became <a href="" target="_hplink">clear</a> that the Tea Party darling's comparison <a href="" target="_hplink">left</a> the prescription eyewear company less than pleased. Roll Call <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> in April of this year: <blockquote>But LensCrafters didn't like the comparison. A company spokeswoman tells HOH that it contacted Bachmann's office Tuesday asking that she stop using its name. "She's using our name without our knowledge or permission," says Julie Maslov, communications director for Luxottica Retail, LensCrafters' parent company. She didn't cite any legalese but rather says that the request was made "in the spirit of the fact that we have nothing to do with these parties or the debate."</blockquote> According to <em>Roll Call</em>, a spokesman for Bachmann said the congresswoman would avoid referencing LensCrafters going forward, calling the request "perfectly understandable."

  • Beware Of 'Gangster Government'

    During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" back in March, Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">addressed</a> an eyebrow-raising allegation she had previously made against the Obama administration. "I don't take back my statements on gangster government," she said, referring to a <a href="" target="_hplink">charge</a> she made during the debate over health care reform. "I think that there have been actions taken by the government that are corrupt." <em><a href="" target="_hplink">Click here</a> to read more about what the conservative favorite had to say.</em>

  • Getting Lei'd

    HuffPost's Jason Linkins <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> in November of 2009: <blockquote>Minnesota Republican Michele Bachmann made the acquaintance of some hula dancing Teabaggers from Hawaii, and they brought her a lei, which Bachmann herself could obtain at the airport in Hawaii, were it not for the fact that she believes planes cannot fly over water without the use of witchcraft. Anyway, <a href="" target="_hplink">she told Congress</a>, "I'm reminded that the one who created this lei also created our freedom. Are we so insensible to the high cost our forebearers paid to purchase our freedom?" So, the Hawaiian Bureau of Tourism created our freedom? I guess this is not supposed to make much sense.</blockquote>

  • Her Own State Of The Union Response

    Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">delivered her own rebuttal</a> to President Barack Obama's <a href="" target="_hplink">State of the Union address</a> back in January despite <a href="" target="_hplink">Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.)</a> being tapped to give the official Republican response. Republican party leaders <a href="" target="_hplink">downplayed</a> the move from Bachmann at the time. CNN was the only cable network to carry the Tea Party favorite's speech, but that didn't stop Bachmann from landing in the headlines with her remarks. One video capturing Bachmann's response showed her appearing to look off to the side of the camera while speaking. The <em>Minneapolis Star Tribune</em> <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> at the time: <blockquote>The reason, it appears, is that Bachmann delivered her speech to TeaPartyHD's camera, which had the teleprompter she used. But most of the world -- well, nation -- saw the footage shot by network cameras that were allowed to video the speech. </blockquote> Luckily for Bachmann, TeaPartyHD, which produced the video, <a href="" target="_hplink">made moves to straighten out the footage</a> after it began to stir buzz.

  • Financial Reform = Mussolini-Style Fascism?

    During an online town hall forum in May of last year, Bachmann suggested that proposed financial regulatory reform legislation was reminiscent of Italy under the rule of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. The Minnesota Independent <a href="" target="_hplink">relays</a> what Bachmann had to say at the time: <blockquote>"Let's remember really what this is. This has a lot in common with Italy in the 1930s and they way Italy dealt with economics," she said. "It still continues private ownership of business but government is in control." She continued, "So government control of the private business, while it's private ownership, that's still at the end of the day the federal government virtually having a say over private business. We lose freedoms; we lose economic competitiveness." "And don't forget," she added, "Italy is in tough shape financially, and that's not what we want for the United States."</blockquote>

  • 'I Took Karate, I'm Dangerous'

    Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">said</a> that she could take out President Obama if she were ever caught in the mind-boggling and improbable scenario of engaging the nation's leader in a physical fight in an <a href="" target="_hplink">interview</a> with last year. <blockquote><strong>SHAPIRO</strong>: I want to ask you, speaking of his violent language, and he's been brutal on BP, talking about putting his boot on the throat of BP, talking about how he wants to go down there and kick someone's ass -- frankly, Michele, I think you could take President Obama, off the record. <strong>BACHMANN:</strong> Hey, I took karate when I was 17 years old, I am dangerous.</blockquote>

  • Mangling Revolutionary History

    Back in March, Bachmann told a group of local New Hampshire Republicans, "You're the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord." However, the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired in Massachusetts, not the Granite State. The AP <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> at the time Bachmann made the comments in question: <blockquote>Though Bachmann probably wasn't the first to confuse Concord, N.H., with Concord, Mass., her mistake was striking given her roots in the tea party movement, which takes its name from the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor by angry American colonists in December 1773, 16 months before the Battle of Lexington Green. </blockquote> "I made a mistake; I should've said Massachusetts rather than New Hampshire," Bachmann <a href="" target="_hplink">said</a> amid scrutiny on the heels of <a href="" target="_hplink">making the remarks</a>. "We all know that there's a double standard in the media."

  • The Great Census Conspiracy Theory

    HuffPost's Jason Linkins <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> in the summer of 2009: <blockquote><a href="" target="_hplink">Michele Bachmann has drawn a line in the sand</a>, and will not fill out the Census, and no one really cares because who in America really wants to see government resources allocated to the Bachmann demographic, anyway? Nevertheless, Bachmann is the Neda Agha Soltan of fighting ACORN and the Census. "Why does the government need our phone numbers?" complains Bachmann, making me wonder if she plans on robo-calling her constituents come re-election time. You know I'll be watching for that! Anyway, last summer, Michele Bachmann went on the Glenn Beck Common Sense Comedy Hour to talk about all of this. Understandably, Bachmann is concerned with whether the government should know about its citizens' "mental stability." And here is one of Bachmann's amazing insights: <blockquote>BACHMANN: You know the question that's not on this survey, Glenn? "Are you a U.S. citizen?" This would be your perfect opportunity to find out how many illegal aliens are in the United States.</blockquote> Of course! That is precisely the way this mystery should be penetrated! I can see it now! <blockquote>CENSUS TAKER: Okay, next question...are you a U.S. Citizen? ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: RATS! You caught me! CENSUS TAKER: I shall now deport you, with my ACORN magicks! ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT: And to think I almost got away with it!</blockquote> And that's the incredibly true story of how Mitt Romney had to start paying his gardeners actual money! But here's the revelatory part of Bachmann's conversation: It appears that there actually is a point at which you can even out-bonkers Glenn Beck! Watch as the video gets to about the two-minute mark. That's when Bachmann starts up her "OMGZ! THE INTERNMENT CAMPZ" spiel. Beck starts shaking his head in disbelief, and then just shuts her down, mid-thought! Is that a bridge too far for Glenn Beck, who runs the most realistic Doom Room in Cable news? Maybe! Of course, I can't help but notice that Beck set Bachmann up perfectly to proffer that answer.</blockquote>

  • Obama 'Very Anti-American'

    HuffPost's Sam Stein <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> back in 2008: <blockquote>In a television appearance that outraged Democrats are already describing as Joseph McCarthy politics, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann claimed in October of 2008 that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn't be trusted in the White House. She even called for the major newspapers of the country to investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America." Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Bachmann went well off the reservation when it comes to leveling political charges against the Democratic nominee. "If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life," she said, "it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are. His attitudes, values, and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We have seen one friend after another call into question his judgment -- but also, what it is that Barack Obama really believes?" Goaded by a Chris Matthews to explain exactly what she was talking about (at one point Bachmann seemed to imply that liberalism was anti-Americanism), the congresswoman waded deeper into the mud. "Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views," she said. "That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values." Matthews later pressed her to name a single member of Congress other than Obama who she thought was anti-American. Bachmann, who initially wouldn't budge, called for a major "expose" into the matter. "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America," she said.</blockquote>

  • Obama Turning U.S. Into 'Nation Of Slaves'

    In July of last year, Bachmann accused the Obama administration of "turning our country into a nation of slaves." The Colorado Independent <a href="" target="_hplink">relays</a> what Bachmann had to say while speaking at an event in Denver: <blockquote>"'We are determined to live free or not at all. And we are resolved that posterity shall never reproach us with having brought slaves into the world,'" Bachmann read from founding father John Jay , ending her reading with the statement, "We will talk a little bit about what has transpired in the last 18 months and would we count what has transpired into turning our country into a nation of slaves." She reiterated her concern more forcefully toward the end of the program.</blockquote>

  • 'Re-Education Camps For Young People'

    HuffPost's Sam Stein <a href="" target="_hplink">reported</a> in April of 2009: <blockquote>Appearing on Minnesota radio station KTLK-AM, (h/t <a href="" target="_hplink">Minnesota Independent</a>) the Republican Bachmann expressed her concern that White House was trying to put in place "re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward." Furthering the Obama-as-autocrat theme, Bachmann said the youngsters would "then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums." The launching point of Bachmann's remarks was the widely popular and bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which would expand national community service programs from 75,000 positions to 250,000. "It's under the guise of -- quote -- volunteerism. But it's not volunteers at all. It's paying people to do work on behalf of government," said the Minnesota Republican. "I believe that there is a very strong chance that we will see that young people will be put into mandatory service. And the real concerns is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums."</blockquote>

  • The 'Global Currency' Threat

    Bachmann issued a warning in March of 2009 on her fear that the United States might wind up <a href="" target="_hplink">abandoning</a> "the dollar for a multinational currency." A <a href="" target="_hplink">press release</a> put out by the Tea Party darling read: <blockquote>"Yesterday, during a Financial Services Committee hearing, I asked Secretary Geithner if he would denounce efforts to move towards a global currency and he answered unequivocally that he would," Bachmann said in the March 25, 2009 news release . "And President Obama gave the nation the same assurances. But just a day later, Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table. I want to know which it is."</blockquote> The Republican congresswoman also <a href="" target="_hplink">expressed</a> her concerns during an appearance on Fox News: "I'm very concerned about the international moves they're making, particularly ... moving the United States off the dollar and onto a global currency, like Russia and China are calling for." Politifact rated Bachmann's statement <a href="" target="_hplink">"false."</a>

  • Flubbing Basic Geography

    During the CNN Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Michele Bachmann flubbed some basic geography while criticizing the Obama administration's foreign policy, <a href="" target="_hplink">HuffPost's Amanda Terkel reported</a>. "Now with the president, he put us in Libya. He is now putting us in Africa," Bahmann said during the debate in October. Libya is, of course, in Africa.