Arts and Culture

Poet Maya Angelou becomes first Black woman to appear on US coin

NEW YORK, United States (AFP) – Poet and activist Maya Angelou has become the first Black woman to appear on the US quarter, in a new version of the coin unveiled by the US Mint on Monday. Angelou, author of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” will also be the first figure commemorated through the American Women Quarters Program, which was signed into law in January 2021. The US Mint “has begun shipping the […]

Chilean zoo jabs big cats, orangutan against Covid-19

by Paulina ABRAMOVICH Agence France-Presse BUIN, Chile (AFP) – Bengal tiger Charly and Bornean orangutan Sandai, both members of endangered species, have received coronavirus vaccines at a Chilean zoo in a Latin American first. Charly, Sandai and eight other animals at the Buin Zoo in Santiago were chosen for the experimental vaccine campaign as they belong to species considered at high risk of contracting Covid-19. The viral disease which has killed more than 5.4 million […]

Jaguar released in Argentina to help endangered species

by Liliana SAMUEL Agence France-Presse BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AFP) – A jaguar named Jatobazinho was released into a national park in Argentina Friday as part of a program to boost the numbers of this endangered species. This was the eighth jaguar freed this year into Ibera National Park but the first adult male, said the environmental group Rewilding Argentina, which is behind the project. Jatobazinho weighs about 90 kilos (200 pounds) and has brown fur […]

Young Iraqi film students tell their own stories from Mosul

by Tony Gamal-Gabriel Agence France-Presse MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) – A budding Iraqi filmmaker yells “action!” as an actress clambers over rubble in Mosul’s Old City, proud students of a nascent film school in the former jihadist bastion. Mosul still bears the scars of the brutal reign of the Islamic State group, who overran the northern Iraqi city in 2014 and imposed their ultra-conservative interpretation of Islamic law. They destroyed everything from centuries-old churches to musical […]

Firm transforms waste as Morocco faces trash ‘time bomb’

by Kaouthar Oudrhiri Agence France-Presse MEKNES, Morocco (AFP) – Recycling in Morocco may be in its infancy, but the North African kingdom is making steady progress, helped by a Swiss firm that specialises in processing organic waste. “Nothing’s thrown away here: everything is transformed,” says Mohamed El Kabous proudly, crumbling a fistful of compost produced by Elephant Vert (EV — Green Elephant) in the central city of Meknes. Established in 2012 as EV’s largest such […]

End of an era nears for Berlin’s coal stoves

by Raphaelle LOGEROT Agence France-Presse BERLIN, Germany (AFP) – Alban Nikolai Herbst’s Berlin apartment is covered in dust, his precious record collection included, thanks to a coal-powered stove he still uses to heat his home like thousands across the city. Germany’s new government is set to extinguish the at-home heat source from a bygone era as part of its ambitious climate plans, as it looks to cut harmful emissions linked to climate change. But Herbst […]

Mayan Train, the president’s pet project exposing Mexico’s cracks

by Alexander MARTINEZ Agence France-Presse CAMPECHE, Mexico (AFP) – A proposed Mayan tourist train in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula has divided residents in one of the country’s poorest regions, known for its indigenous uprisings. “The train will no longer come through here,” rejoiced Guadalupe Caceres, 64, at news that the original route was being modified and would no longer pass through her home. “We’ve lost, goodbye modernity,” responded locksmith Ruben Angulo, 49, who was hoping to […]

Vienna-Paris night train is reborn, empty

by Jean LIOU Agence France-Presse On board the Vienna-Paris night train, Austria (AFP) – The timing could perhaps have been better. With a resurgence of Covid-19 gripping Europe, there were no paying passengers for the maiden voyage of the reborn night train linking Paris and Vienna. A return of night trains to the Old Continent is seen as symbolic of the efforts to shift travel from the air back to rail as Europe seeks to meet […]

Colombian Amazon: casualty of peace

by David SALAZAR Agence France-Presse San José del Guaviare, Colombia (AFP) – In just a few minutes, an enormous century-year-old tree is felled by an electric saw in the middle of a protected national park. The giant collapses, sending a shockwave through the Colombian Amazon. Its executioner is a 40-year-old man with a scarf bound around his face. The purpose of the crime: to plant coca, used to make cocaine — the only means of […]

Russia’s cosmos town, an isolated relic of Soviet glory

by Nikolay KORZHOV Agence France-Presse BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AFP) – Malik Mutaliyev walks by an abandoned amusement park in wintry Baikonur, a secretive town in Kazakhstan’s inhospitable steppe that appeared alongside the eponymous Baikonur Cosmodrome where the Soviet Union’s space programme rose to glory. “Our town has lived through a lot: Perestroika, the fall of the Soviet Union, electricity shortages. We’ve been through it all,” says the 67-year-old former chief architect of Baikonur. The settlement located […]

Thai Supreme Court jails tycoon over wildlife poaching

BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) – A Thai tycoon accused of poaching wildlife in a national park lost his final appeal Wednesday, in a long-running saga that drew public outrage over the elite’s perceived impunity. Construction magnate Premchai Karnasuta was arrested in February 2018 when park officials found guns, animal carcasses — including of a kalij pheasant and a red muntjac — and the pelt of a black leopard at his campsite. Premchai was found not guilty of […]

Sealand: the ‘micronation’ defying the UK and Covid

by Anna MALPAS Agence France-Presse SEALAND (AFP) – It’s a hulking metal-and-concrete platform in the North Sea that has been run as an independent micronation in defiance of the UK government for the last 54 years. But even on Sealand, some seven miles (11 kilometres) off the coast of southeast England, visitors have to show a negative Covid-19 test before being winched up onto the deck. “We have zero Covid cases,” Liam Bates, one of […]