PBS NewsHour’s â5 STORIESâ features the most interesting stories from around the world that you may have missed.
In the following this week:
Painter creates valuable works of art from discarded flip-flops
Ivory Coast painter Aristide Kouame turns waste into art – one flip-flop at a time.
Kouame combs through plastic rubbish washed up on the beaches of Abidjan and looks for discarded rubber flip-flops. He then meticulously carves them to create collages that will sell for more than $ 1,000.
According to the United Nations, more than 14 million tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans every year. Through art, Kouame helps give some of them a second life. “I’m an artist, and by picking up this rubbish, I’m removing this burden on nature,” Kouame told Reuters.
Kouame’s works range from portraits of civil rights activists to abstract depictions of climate change, COVID-19 and wealth inequality. Kouame’s flip-flop artwork has been exhibited in galleries in West Africa and Europe.
Volatile chemicals in household products linked to premature death
Common chemicals in household products could be responsible for up to 900,000 premature deaths each year, according to a July study of atmospheric chemistry and physics. The estimate is more than ten times what scientists previously thought.
Cleaning and personal care products, pesticides, and paints all emit so-called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the air. Whenever you smell a product that you use, it is likely some type of VOC.
The problem is, some of these VOCs can turn into stickier, larger compounds called anthropogenic secondary organic aerosols, or ASOAs. And, according to the American Lung Association, prolonged exposure to particulate matter like ASOAs has been linked to decreased lung function, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
And the solution to the problem will not be solved by removing the products from a single household. The study found that concentrations of ASOA in 11 urban areas around the world correlate with increased use of man-made VOCs in those regions.
Regulations have historically restricted certain types of VOCs, but most regulations only apply to products such as cars and trucks, not household products, which were examined in this study. The scientists behind the new research hope that regulators will start investigating which VOCs in household products should be replaced in order to improve air quality for everyone.
Underwater eruption forms new island
Japan literally grew this month.
When the Japanese Coast Guard observed an underwater volcanic eruption from the air in early August, they discovered a newly formed island.
The C-shaped island, about half a mile in diameter, was discovered about 750 miles south of Tokyo near Iwo Jima.
Since 1904, the same Fukutoku-Okanoba volcano has formed three more islands, all of which eventually sank again under the ocean due to wave erosion. According to the Japanese Coast Guard, an island that was formed after an eruption in 1986 disappeared after only about two months.
Should the new property survive and be recognized as a naturally formed island by international standards, it could be added to Japan’s territory.
Suspicious fake COVID vaccination cards arrive in the US
Earlier this month, workers at the Memphis port flagged a suspicious shipment from Shenzhen, China. The description was simply: “PAPER CARD, PAPER”.
Inside were 51 fraudulent, low-quality COVID-19 vaccination cards – the 15th of its kind marked by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials that night.
During the fiscal year, CBP officials in Memphis confiscated more than 3,000 counterfeit vaccination cards in more than 120 packages. And Memphis is not alone. Another 3,000 were seized in Anchorage, Alaska. All of them are of poor quality and contain typographical and other typographical errors.
According to the FBI, buying, selling, or using a fake COVID-19 vaccination card outside of the black market is a criminal offense that can result in fines or prison terms of up to 20 years. The office also suggests that individuals keep photos of their legitimate vaccination cards off social media to prevent counterfeiting.
Josephine Baker honored posthumously in the Paris Pantheon
Almost 50 years after her death, the singer and dancer Josephine Baker is making history again. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on Sunday that she will be the first black woman to be inducted into the Pantheon mausoleum, France’s highest honor.
The Pantheon in Paris is the final resting place of great writers, scientists, politicians and other famous French historical figures.
American-born Baker will only be the sixth French woman to enter the Pantheon. She received French citizenship after marrying industrialist Jean Lion in 1937.
Baker was best known for her singing and dance numbers, some of which were considered provocative in the 1930s.
But Baker also worked for the French Resistance during World War I, using her celebrity status to gather information about German troop movements before handing it down in notation.
Baker’s body will actually remain buried in Monaco, where it was originally buried, but will be revealed in the Pantheon during a ceremony on Jan.