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World

Nigeria's women's bobsled team has qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The three-member team — which was only formed in 2016 — is the first to represent Nigeria at the winter event, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February next year.

Driver Seun Adigun, brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omega, qualified for the event over five races held in Utah, Whistler and Calgary.

In 2012, Adigun competed in the women's 100 metre hurdles at the summer Olympics.

She told ESPN that the qualification is a "huge milestone for sports in Nigeria".

Adigun hopes that the bobsled team will help create opportunities for winter sports to take place in Nigeria. abc.net.au
An experienced South Korean surgeon operating on a defector from North Korea has described his shock upon finding dozens of unusual parasites inside the man’s stomach, suggesting widespread health issues among the population of the secretive state.

The patient, who has not been named, was critically injured as he fled North Korea under a hail of bullets fired from his former comrades through the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border area between the two countries on Monday.

“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” doctor Lee Guk-jong said at a press briefing following a three-and-a-half-hour operation on Wednesday, quoted in the Korea Biomedical Review.

The doctor described the patient as been 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 132 pounds, suggesting he may suffer from malnutrition.

The longest parasite found in the North Korean soldiers' stomach measured 27 centimetres (10 inches), local media reported – among the parasites was a species of roundworm that can be contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human faeces or, more generally, in areas with poor sanitation.

Experts say that many North Koreans could be infected with the same kind of parasites. newsweek.com
Global civil society organizations are calling for a tax on fossil fuel supplies to fund support to people hit by climate change impacts.

Polluters should pay for homes and livelihoods wrecked by rising seas and increasingly extreme weather, campaigners argued in a statement issued alongside UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Expressing frustration with slow progress made on “loss and damage” in formal negotiations, more than 50 groups and individuals backed the “climate damages tax” idea.

“We need a solution to climate change damage for my island on the front line of sea level rise and for coastal cities and communities around the world,” said signatory and Seychelles ambassador Ronny Jumeau.

“A key part of the solution is loss and damage finance – we need new sources of finance to cope with the impacts.  

A climate damages tax could provide a new source of finance, at scale, and in a fair way.  This concept deserves to be taken forward.” climatechangenews.com
An Iranian weightlifter has put his Rio 2016 gold medal up for auction to raise money for the victims of last week's deadly 7.3-magnitude earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border.

Kianoush Rostami, 26, announced the news on his Instagram page.

More than 400 people were killed and close to 10,000 injured in the quake.

The western Kermanshah province is the worst-affected area, with hundreds of homes destroyed and some residents sleeping outdoors in the cold.

Mr Rostami, himself from Kermanshah, said he was "taking a step, however small" to help those devastated by the tremor.

"I am returning my Rio 2016 Olympics gold medal - which actually belongs to them - to my people," he wrote in a widely-shared Instagram post yesterday, adding that he had not slept since the incident. bbc.com
Germany has replaced the US as the country with the best "brand image," according to a new study of 50 countries released Thursday.

The Nation Brands Index (NBI) survey, carried out by German-based market research firm GfK and the British political consultant Simon Anholt, measured public opinion around the world on "the power and quality of each country's 'brand image.'"

Germany moved up to first place after coming in second in 2016.

The US dropped from top to sixth, with France, Britain, Canada and Japan taking spots two to five.

The study calculated the final NBI score by researching how well people viewed a country across six categories: its people, governance, exports, tourism, investment and immigration, and culture and heritage.

The land of sausages, Merkel and "Made in Germany" was in the top five for all but one category – only in "tourism" did Germany fall outside the top five, coming in 10th. dw.com
Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands have joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, delegates said.

The alliance aims to have 50 members by the next U.N. climate summit in 2018 to be held in Poland’s Katowice, one of Europe’s most polluted cities.

But some of the world’s biggest coal users, such as China, the United States, Germany and Russia, have not signed up.

Powering Past Coal comes just days after U.S. administration officials, along with energy company representatives, led a side event at the talks to promote “fossil fuels and nuclear power in climate mitigation.” reuters.com
The total wealth in the world grew by 6% over the past 12 months to $280 trillion, marking the fastest wealth-creation since 2012, according to a new report from Credit Suisse.

More than half of the $16.7 trillion in new wealth was in the U.S., which grew $8.5 trillion richer.

But that wealth around the world is increasingly concentrated among those at the top – the top 1%  now own 50.1% of the world's wealth, up from 45.5% in 2001.

There are now 36 million millionaires in the world and their numbers are expected to grow to 44 million by 2022.

The U.S. still leads the world in millionaires, with 15.3 million people worth $1 million or more, Japan ranks second with 2.7 million millionaires, while the U.K. ranks third with 2.2 million.

China ranks fifth with 1.9 million millionaires, but its millionaire population is expected to hit 2.8 million by 2022. usatoday.com