Rich nations have cornered half of future Covid-19 vaccine supply: Oxfam

  WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — A group of wealthy nations representing 13 percent of the global population have already bought up more than half of the promised doses of future Covid-19 vaccines, according to a report by Oxfam on Wednesday. The non-governmental organization analyzed deals struck by pharmaceuticals and vaccine producers for the five leading vaccine candidates currently in late-stage trials, based on data collected by the analytics company Airfinity. “Access to a life-saving […]

Brown Danube: How Belgrade’s sewers taint Europe’s famous river

by Miodrag SOVILJ Agence France-Presse BELGRADE, Serbia (AFP) — Just down the road from Belgrade’s historic city centre, gates open for trucks to pass to the banks of the Danube, where they dump raw sewage into Europe’s venerated river. It’s not a secret operation, but rather a business nobody likes to mention in the Serbian capital — the only one in Europe to spew all of its unfiltered wastewater into the continent’s second-longest river. A […]

As Brazil’s wetlands burn, rain is ‘only hope’

by Eugenia LOGIURATTO Agence France-Presse PORTO JOFRE, Brazil (AFP) — Lieutenant Silva’s face is grim as he watches his firefighters try — and fail — to control one of the thousands of wildfires ravaging Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s biggest tropical wetlands. “It needs to rain. We’ve got low moisture, intense heat. With that combination, rain is our only hope,” says Silva, even as new flames break out at the spot his team of six firefighters […]

Welcome to the jungle: plants overrun Chinese apartment blocks

BEIJING, China (AFP) — An experimental green housing project in a Chinese megacity promised prospective residents life in a “vertical forest”, with manicured gardens on every balcony. All 826 apartments were sold out by April this year, according to the project’s estate agent, but instead of a modern eco-paradise, the towers look like the set of a desolate, post-apocalyptic film. The problem? The mosquitoes love the plants too. Only a handful of families have moved […]

As Oregon fires burn, smoggy air suffocates Portland residents

by Cyril JULIEN Agence France-Presse PORTLAND, Oregon (AFP) — The deadly fires spreading across three western US states are causing record-breaking pollution and a spate of health woes, from headaches and coughs to impaired vision, that have residents worried about the long-term consequences. Portland, the largest city in Oregon, has been blanketed for days by a dense smog that has sent pollution meters soaring. On Monday, the city ranked second-worst on IQAir’s live global air […]

In Brazil, pandemic forces ‘pink farm’ to get creative

SAO, PAULO, Brazil (AFP) — At a warehouse on the west side of Sao Paulo, fruits and vegetables grow within a tower stacked 10 storeys high with plants, all bathed in an ethereal pink light. This is Pink Farms, the first vertical farm in the teeming Brazilian city of 12 million people, where land is scarce and produce usually has to be shipped in from afar. The farm consists of two towers, each about the […]

Sri Lanka navy plugs fuel leak on fire-stricken tanker

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AFP) — Sri Lankan military divers fixed a fuel leak from the engine of a fire-damaged oil tanker off the island’s east coast, the navy said Saturday, in a salvage operation after the huge week-long blaze. While the navy says no crude oil has escaped the cargo of the New Diamond, leaked diesel fuel had created a two-kilometre-long slick in the Indian Ocean that was visible from the air. The fuel was seeping […]

Turkey says east Med ship will return after maintenance

ANKARA, Turkey (AFP) — Turkey said on Monday that an energy exploration vessel that had pulled out of waters claimed by Greece was only undergoing routine maintenance and would return soon. The Oruc Reis seismic survey ship has been unsettling the strategic eastern Mediterranean region since Turkey sent it along with a small navy flotilla into disputed seas on August 10. Greece responded by staging navy drills with France and several EU allies near ones Turkey […]

Massive chunk of Greenland’s largest glacier crashes into sea

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AFP) — A massive chunk of ice — larger than the city of Paris — has broken off from the Arctic’s largest ice shelf because of warmer temperatures in Greenland, scientists said Monday. The 113-square-kilometre (43-square-mile) block broke off the Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden glacier in Northeast Greenland, which the scientists said had been expected given the rising average temperatures. “We’re observing increasing speed on this largest remaining ice shelf,” Jason Box, professor of glaciology at […]

Tanzania, Uganda, ink deal on $3.5b oil pipeline project

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AFP) — Tanzania and Uganda signed an agreement Sunday to commence construction on a 1,445-kilometre (900 mile) oil pipeline through East Africa that conservation groups say threatens livelihoods and fragile ecosytems. The project focuses on oilfields in landlocked Uganda discovered in 2006 and proposes pumping the crude to the coast via a pipeline across Tanzania at an estimated cost of $3.5 billion. The multi-national plan is led by French petroleum giant […]

New worry over August deforestation in Brazilian Amazon

RIO DE JANERIO, Brazil (AFP) — Last month was the second-worst August on record for deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, according to official figures released Friday, sparking new criticism of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. A total of 1,359 square kilometers (525 square miles) in the Brazilian Amazon — 23 times the size of Manhattan — were lost last month, according to satellite data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE). The figure triggered […]

Greenpeace lifts Swedish refinery blockade

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — Environmental campaigners Greenpeace said Sunday they had lifted a blockade of an oil refinery imposed to protest plans to expand it, after nearly three days of the action. The organization had since Thursday evening been blocking tankers from delivering oil to the plant, which is run by the Preem group at Lysekil, about 100 kilometres north of Gothenburg. After weeks of protests across the country against the project and a 62-hour […]