Senior Catholic nuns abusing power, says report in Catholic journal

  VATICAN CITY (AFP) — Some senior nuns are abusing their power, including by denying sisters healthcare and warm clothes, a report in a Catholic journal said on Friday. The Jesuit review Civilita Cattolica said that the problem of abuse of power by nuns “has not so far had sufficient attention.” The abuse “mostly does not take the form of sexual violence and does not concern minors,” the journal noted. Some mother superiors cling to […]

Jobless and desperate: the post-lockdown reality for many

  by Deborah Claude and Marie-Pierre Ferey in Paris Agence France Presse Many workers’ lives have been abruptly upended by the coronavirus pandemic, as job losses in tourism, air travel, food and drink or other industries hit those both on fixed contracts and in the informal sector. From employees making a comfortable living, to others just scraping by, people around the world are confronting anxiety over how to feed their families and shame at being […]

Tiger, pangolin farming in Myanmar risks ‘boosting demand’

YANGON, Myanmar (AFP) — Conservationists have warned a sudden change in Myanmar’s law allowing the commercial farming of tigers, pangolins and other endangered species risks further fuelling demand in China for rare wildlife products. The Southeast Asian nation is already a hub for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, a trade driven by demand from neighbouring China and worth an estimated $20 billion worldwide. In June, Myanmar’s Forest Department quietly gave the green light to private […]

Japan begins charging for plastic bags

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Retailers in Japan began charging for plastic bags Wednesday, a move aimed at curbing Japanese consumers’ love for packaging and finally bringing the country in line with other major economies. Shops including the ubiquitous convenience stores can decide how much to charge customers for the bags, with a common price being three yen (around three US cents). The new rule seemed to be having some effect, with one shopper telling public […]

A vanishing way of life in Danube Delta’s natural paradise

by Mihaela RODINA / Ionut IORDACHESCU Agence France-Presse SFANTU-GHEORGHE, Romania (AFP) — As the “last rower” left in one of the villages dotting Romania’s Danube Delta, Iosif Acsente is all too aware of how the traditions and vistas of the region are slowly disappearing — an issue brought into sharper relief by the coronavirus pandemic. Acsente has been plying the Delta with his wooden boat for more than four decades now from his home village […]

Senegal capital fights shoreline developers

by Emmet LIVINGSTONE Agence France-Presse DAKAR, Senegal (AFP) — It took one morning in late May to cut a large chunk from the side of a seaside volcanic hill in Senegal’s capital Dakar, to make way for a hotel. A man had turned up with permits and diggers got to work, according to Mamadou Mignane Diouf, an official from a local campaign group called Forum Social, who fought against the development. “No one should build here,” […]

Australian outback station turned into national park

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A slice of the Australian outback almost the size of greater London will be turned into a national park to help protect threatened species, authorities said Saturday, in a move welcomed by green groups. Narriearra Station, a 1,534-square kilometre (592-square-mile) property in northwest New South Wales, is the biggest purchase of private land for national parks ever made by the state government, Environment Minister Matt Kean said. It stretches across floodplains, […]

YouTube hit with discrimination suit by black video artists

  SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — A lawsuit filed this week in federal court accuses YouTube of discriminating against African American video makers and viewers by factoring in race when it comes to filtering or monetizing content. The suit filed in a courthouse in the Silicon Valley city of San Jose on Tuesday seeks class action status and names as defendants the leading video sharing platform and its parent companies Google and Alphabet. “Under […]

Robots: allies during virus crisis, enemies later?

by Pierrick YVON Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — When human contact needs to be kept to a minimum, robots can save lives and factories. But when the coronavirus crisis is over, will they amplify job losses? It may be a mechanised arm pulling beers in a Seville bar, a dog-like dispenser of hand sanitiser in a Bangkok mall, a cooler on wheels that delivers groceries in Washington, or a vaguely humanoid greeter at a […]

US approves first ‘digital therapeutic’ game for ADHD

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — US health officials have approved the first game-based treatment for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, part of a trend toward “digital therapeutics” or software to address certain conditions. The Food and Drug Administration said Monday it approved the sale by prescription of the game EndeavorRX from health tech startup Akili Interactive for children aged 8-12 who have been diagnosed with ADHD. The FDA said this was the first digital […]

Over 100 arrested after violent disorder at far-right linked UK protest

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Police in London said they arrested more than 100 people on Saturday after far-right protesters holding a counter-demonstration against anti-racism activists clashed with officers. Thousands of people defied the coronavirus restrictions to assemble in and around Parliament Square, in the centre of the capital. That required “major” policing operation the Metropolitan Police Service said, adding that they had encountered “pockets of violence directed towards our officers”. Television footage showed some […]

Germany eyes ‘world number one’ spot in green hydrogen

by Tom BARFIELD Agence France-Presse FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany (AFP) — Germany on Wednesday said it aimed to become the world’s “number one” in green hydrogen technology, betting the fuel produced by renewable energy sources can both reduce carbon emissions and stimulate Europe’s top economy. “For reasons related to our competitiveness but above all to reach our ambitious climate goals”, ministers have agreed to pump nine billion euros ($10.2 billion) of government cash into the technology, Economy […]