First News
Volume:7, Number:40
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THIS WEEK

A UN Force to Be Put Together Soon to Protect Culture

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The G7 group of rich nations committed on March 31 to pursuing the creation of a U.N. peacekeeping force to protect world heritage sites from destruction in conflict, and combating the trafficking of plundered treasures. Destroying antiquities at heritage sites like the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and the shrines of Timbuktu in Mali has increasingly become a tactic of war for groups like Islamic State, both to feed propaganda and profit from smuggling, the United Nations said. The G7 nations -- Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Britain, the United States and Italy -- signed an accord in the Italian city of Florence, cradle of the Renaissance, to strengthen international collaboration to protect cultural heritage.

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‘Penis Seat’ Causes Double Takes on Mexico City Subway

A seat in a subway car in Mexico City's metro system caused a stir earlier this year. There were awkward glances. Visible discomfort. Baffled looks. Some laughs. A seat was changed to look like the lower half of a male's body, including the penis, part of a drive by UN Women and Mexico City to raise awareness about sexual harassment on subways. A sign read, "It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes." The campaign, #NoEsDeHombres (this is not manly) is aimed at men, with the video and print ads showing guys giving lascivious looks with slogans like "this is how your mother gets looked at every day."

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People in Singapore Spend Over 12 Hours on Gadgets Daily

Gadgets have become a key part of people's lives in Singapore as they spend 12 hours 42 minutes on digital devices a day on average. The top gadget is the smartphone, with 95 percent, and almost 80 percent of them check their smartphones when waking up in the morn ing or just before going to bed. Nearly 30 percent said mobile gadgets have negatively affected their sleep, a similar number said there has been a positive impact. About 70 percent have enjoyed a boon in communications with their friends and are better able to complete personal errands and multitask, thanks to smartphones and tablets. The study by consultancy Ernst & Young (EY) polled 1,000 people aged 18 to 69 who have resided in Singapore for at least a year and have had access to the Internet.

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UK Study Finds Pollution in Deep Pacific Devastating Earth

Manmade pollutants have been found in the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean. A study of the Mariana and Kermadec trenches on the seafloor showed high levels of industrial chemicals, including PCBs banned since the 1970s. Pollutants were probably transported by industrial accidents, discharges, and landfill leakages. Non-degradable, they are consumed by amphipods, which are voracious eaters that populate the seafloor. The crustaceans are ideal for such research. Eaten by larger fauna, the polluted contents of their stomachs make their way up the food chain. Contaminants were found inside the stomachs of every amphipod tested. Researchers plan further studies to find how such pollution affects the wider ecosystem.

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Indian Court Grants Himalayan Glaciers Status of 'Living Entities'

An Indian court, in a decision that aims to widen environmental protections in the mountainous region, granted the legal standing to glaciers Gangotri and Yamunotri that feed India's venerated Ganga and Yamuna rivers, which won the status in a landmark judgment in March. The court also extended the status of “living entity” to swathes of the Himalayan environment, including waterfalls, meadows, lakes and forests. On March 20, the same court ordered that both the Ganges and Yamuna rivers should be given “living entity” status to conserve them, in a decision cautiously welcomed by activists who expressed hope that it would signify more than just a symbolic gesture.

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