Global plastic waste on track to triple by 2060

A world severely blighted by plastic pollution is on track to see the use of plastics nearly triple in less than four decades, according to findings released Friday. Annual production of fossil-fuel-based plastics are set to top 1.2 billion tonnes by 2060 and waste to exceed one billion tonnes, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Even with aggressive action to cut demand and improve efficiencies, plastic production would almost double in […]

Vietnamese police net biggest bear bile haul

Vietnamese police have arrested a bear owner for the first time after netting a record haul of hundreds of bile bottles in Hanoi, a wildlife protection organisation said Friday. The communist country is a major hub for the illegal trade in wild animals and bears are kept to drain the bile from their gallbladders for use in traditional medicine. Authorities outlawed bile extraction in Vietnam in 2005, but bear farms were allowed to keep the animals […]

Ecuadoran frogs Rocket and Harlequin taking on mining industry

  by Paola Lopez Agence France-Presse  JUNIN, Ecuador (AFP) — On the banks of a crystalline waterfall, biologist Andrea Teran lets out a yelp. She holds in the palm of her hand one of two frog species at the center of a legal battle against Ecuador’s mining industry. Teran, 37, is a specialist in the fragile existence of a creature called the Resistance Rocket Frog, which does not yet have a scientific name, and the […]

Elvis wedding crackdown leaves Las Vegas all shook up

  by Andrew Marszal Agence France-Presse LOS ANGELES, United States (AFP) — Every year thousands of visitors to Las Vegas can’t help falling in love — at least long enough to get married by an Elvis impersonator. But the company that controls the rights to the King’s likeness has sparked outrage in Sin City by cracking down wedding chapels offering Elvis-themed nuptials. Authentic Brands Group, which bought a controlling stake in Elvis Presley’s estate in […]

Unprecedented water curbs kick in for drought-hit Los Angeles

  by Laurent BANGUET Unprecedented restrictions on water usage went into effect Wednesday in the Los Angeles area, which like most of California is in the grip of severe drought for the third consecutive year. More than six million customers are affected by the new measures, which limit watering gardens to one day a week and only during the coolest hours, under penalty of a fine and reduced water flow. The goal is to reduce […]

Depp wins out in bitter Heard defamation trial

  FAIRFAX, United States (AFP) — A US jury Wednesday found both Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard liable for defamation — but sided more strongly with the “Pirates of the Caribbean” star following an intense trial riding on bitterly contested allegations of domestic abuse. The verdict capped a bitterly-fought six-week trial riding on lurid claims and counterclaims of between the Hollywood celebrities. The seven-member jury in Virginia awarded the 58-year-old actor $15 million […]

Key Facebook force Sheryl Sandberg steps down

by Glenn Chapman Agence France-Presse SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) — Meta’s second most powerful executive Sheryl Sandberg made the shock announcement Wednesday she will leave after a 14-year tenure that included helping steer scandal-prone Facebook to advertising dominance. Sandberg, 52, has been one of the most influential women in Silicon Valley and her departure comes as the social media juggernaut faces an uncertain future and fierce competition. Her exit from Facebook parent Meta will […]

Estimated 2 million have long Covid in UK: official data

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — An estimated two million people in the UK, which represents around three percent of the population, have reported experiencing so-called long Covid, official statistics showed Wednesday. Around 1.4 million of them said they first had Covid-19, or suspected they had the virus, at least 12 weeks previously, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It also found 826,000 of them first had coronavirus at least a year earlier, […]

Turkey black rose producers chase sweet smell of success

by Anne Chaon Agence France-Presse HALFETI, Turkey (AFP) — To the naked eye, the delicate velvet roses in southeastern Turkey appear black and overwhelm the senses with their irresistible sweet smell. The rosebuds are just as dark, and when fully developed, the flower takes on the color of an intensely rich red wine. These black roses, known as “Karagul” in Turkish and thornier than others, can only grow in the town of Halfeti with soil […]

Monkeypox cases could be ‘peak of iceberg’: WHO

  GENEVA, Switzzerland (AFP) — The World Health Organization cautioned Friday that some 200 monkeypox cases found in recent weeks outside of countries where the virus usually circulates could be just the beginning. “We don’t know if we are just seeing the peak of the iceberg,” Sylvie Briand, WHO’s epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention chief, acknowledged in a briefing to countries on the “unusual” spread of the virus. Since Britain first reported a confirmed […]

More than 200 cases of monkeypox worldwide: EU disease agency

  STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AFP) — The number of confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide has reached 219 outside of countries where it is endemic, according to an update released by the European Union’s disease agency. More than a dozen countries where monkeypox is unusual, mostly in Europe, have reported at least one confirmed case, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in an epidemiological note released Wednesday night. “This is the first time […]

The Arctic’s tricky quest for sustainable tourism

  by Pierre-Henry Deshayes © Agence France-Presse  Longyearbyen, NORWAY (AFP) — Home to polar bears, the midnight sun and the northern lights, a Norwegian archipelago perched high in the Arctic is trying to find a way to profit from its pristine wilderness without ruining it. The Svalbard archipelago, located 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the North Pole and reachable by commercial airline flights, offers visitors vast expanses of untouched nature, with majestic mountains, glaciers and […]