5 stories: Underwater volcano creates new island off Japan, customs officials confiscate thousands of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards and other stories you missed

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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 looks at one of his collages made from recycled flip flops. Screenshot of video footage courtesy of Reuters

Ivorian painter Aristide Kouame turns waste into art, one flip-flop at a time.

Kouamé combs the 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 poured into the world’s oceans every 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 presented 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 conclusion reported in a Study of chemistry and physics of the atmosphere. 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 a product that 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 start researching which VOCs in household products should be replaced to improve air quality for everyone.

Underwater eruption forms new island

An August 15 image released by the Japanese Coast Guard shows the island created by the submarine volcano near Iwo Jima and an ash plume floating in the surrounding ocean. Photo courtesy of the Japanese Coast Guard

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 were to survive and be recognized as a naturally formed island in accordance with international standards, it could be added to Japanese territory.

Suspicious fake COVID vaccination cards arrive in the United States

The seized cards, like those spotted in Anchorage, Alaska, have a poor quality feel and have several typos.

The seized cards, like those spotted in Anchorage, Alaska, have a poor quality feel and have several typos. Photo courtesy: US Customs and Border Protection

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 of poor 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. 3,000 others were seized in Anchorage, Alaska. All of them are of poor quality and contain spelling mistakes and other typos.

According to the FBI, buying, selling or using a fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card on the black market is a crime that can result in fines or prison terms of up to 20 years. 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

Josephine Baker and her ruffled dress

Studio portrait, circa 1933, of Joséphine Baker. Photo by Keystone-France / Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

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 home of great writers, scientists, politicians and other famous French historical figures.

Baker of American origin will become just the sixth french woman 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.


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