PBS NewsHour’s “5 STORIES” feature the most interesting stories from around the world that you might have missed.
In this week’s episode:
Painter creates precious works of art from destroyed flip flops
Ivorian painter Aristide Kouame turns waste into art, one flip-flop at a time.
Kouamé combs plastic waste washed up on the beaches of Abidjan in search of abandoned rubber flip-flops. He then meticulously sculpts them to create collages that sell for over $ 1,000.
According to the United Nations, more than 14 million tonnes of plastic waste is dumped into the world’s oceans each year. Through art, Kouame contributes to giving a second life to some of them. “I am an artist and by collecting this waste, I take this burden off nature,” Kouame told Reuters.
Kouame’s works range from portraits of civil rights leaders to abstract representations of climate change, COVID-19 and wealth inequality. Kouame’s flip-flop works of art have been shown in galleries in West Africa and Europe.
Volatile chemicals in household products linked to premature deaths
Chemicals common in household products could be responsible for up to 900,000 premature deaths each year – this is the finding reported in a July study on atmospheric chemistry and physics. The estimate is more than 10 times higher than scientists previously thought.
Cleaning and personal care products, pesticides, and paints all release what are called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the air. Anytime you smell something you are using, it is probably some kind of VOC.
The problem is that 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 fine particles like ASOA is associated with reduced lung function, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
And solving the problem will not be solved by removing the products from one house. The study found that ASOA levels in 11 urban areas around the world correlated with the increased use of human-made VOCs in these areas.
Regulations have restricted certain types of VOCs in the past, but most of the rules only targeted products like cars and trucks, not the household products examined in this study. Scientists behind the new research hope regulators begin to study which VOCs in household products should be replaced to improve air quality for all.
Underwater eruption forms new island
Japan has literally grown this month.
When the Japanese Coast Guard went to observe 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 under the ocean due to wave erosion. According to the Japanese Coast Guard, an island created after a 1986 eruption disappeared after just about two months.
If the new piece of land survived and was recognized as a naturally formed island according to international standards, it could be added to Japanese territory.
Suspicious fake COVID vaccination cards arrive in the United States
Earlier this month, workers at the Port of Memphis reported suspicious cargo arriving from Shenzhen, China. Its description was simply: “PAPER CARD, PAPER”.
Inside were 51 low-quality fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards – the 15th such shipment reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials that night.
During this exercise, officials at CBP Memphis seized more than 3,000 fake vaccination cards from 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 spelling mistakes and other typos.
Buying, selling or using a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card on the black market is a crime that could result in fines or jail terms of up to 20 years, according to the FBI . The office also suggests that individuals keep photos of their legitimate immunization cards off social media to discourage tampering.
Joséphine Baker honored posthumously at the Panthéon in Paris
Almost 50 years after her death, singer and dancer Joséphine Baker is making history again. French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed on Sunday that she would become the first black woman to be inducted into the mausoleum of the Pantheon, France’s highest honor.
The Pantheon in Paris is the last resting place of great writers, scientists, politicians and other famous French historical figures.
Baker, of American origin, will become the sixth Frenchwoman to enter the Pantheon. She obtained French nationality after marrying industrialist Jean Lion in 1937.
Baker was best known for her song and dance numbers, some of which were considered provocative for the 1930s.
But Baker also worked for the French Resistance during World War I, using his celebrity status to gain information about German troop movements before transmitting them written down on sheet music.
Baker’s body will in fact remain buried in Monaco where he was originally buried, but a plaque noting his enthronement will be installed in the Pantheon in a ceremony on November 30.