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Global News Briefs: Around The World, Issue 9


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THE UNIVERSE

The rectangle you see to the right is the official colour of the universe.Astronomers at John Hopkins University have been busy averaging all the colors from the light of 200,000 galaxies. Their research finds that the current color of the universe is a pale turquoise green. Apparently, however, the universe follows trends as well. While this colour is very much in vogue this millennium, over the next few billion years the average colour of the galaxies is predicted to shift towards a reddish hue. Although by then, our own sun will have blown up.

NORTH AMERICA

Environmental researchers have studied the last five years of the continent’s industrial pollution and their results are in. We’ve cut down on air pollution by 25% but we’ve increased our land pollution by 35% and water pollution by 26%. Almost 3.4 million metric tons of toxic chemical waste was produced in 1999. Of this waste, 8% of total releases included chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Ontario was one of the worst polluters, along with Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania. The Great Lakes were shared by many of the key water polluters.

 

UNITED STATES

A major study suggests that some anti-smoking ads actually encourage teens to start smoking. Expert findings and common sense suggest that one of the best ways to attract teens to something is to directly tell them not to do it. Predictably, the preachy “Think. Don’t Smoke” campaign run since 1998 by U.S. tobacco giant Philip Morris has been shown to increase youth smoking, creating more “addicted Philip Morris customers” according to the American Public Health Association. Philip Morris said it would consider the claims.

COLOMBIA

One of the biggest challenges facing newly elected President Alvaro Uribe will be staying alive. With powerful drug lords and armed rebel groups controlling large parts of the country, Colombia is a dangerous place for politicians, judges or journalists who try to stir things up. President Uribe, who was educated at Harvard, is definitely looking to stir things up. He promises to bring law and order back to this South American country. Uribe has a score to settle: rebels murdered his father in 1983 and have tried to kill Uribe several times over the years.

FRANCE

With schoolyard bullying suddenly on the rise, French insurance companies are now offering bullying insurance. They will reimburse victims for everything from shattered eyeglasses to ripped clothes to broken bones. The coverage is now part of the mandatory student insurance that costs about $7 for the year. After years of relative safety, compared to the problems reported in America, school violence has become a serious issue in France, especially in tougher neighbourhoods. Last year, parent protests shut down several schools.

AFRICA

The plague of AIDS continues to devastate the economies of many African nations. As a sexually transmitted disease it is most common among young and middleaged adults: the backbone of the workforce. At least ten countries have more than 20% of their adult population infected. Over 28 million Africans have HIV/AIDS. Most are expected to die over the next decade or so unless a cure is found. As workers grow sick, businesses go under. The huge cost of health care leads to even less money available for these poor nations to grow.

KASHMIR

Things still remain tense here after a summer of minor military conflict between nuclear neighbours Pakistan and India. Both countries claim the mountainous territory of Kashmir as their own, while informal polls suggest Kashmiri residents would prefer their own independence. India has always refused to allow the people of Kashmir to decide for themselves. International efforts have been made to calm the conflict that has been simmering for the fifty years since British-run India was split into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.

TASMANIA

Australian scientists are trying to bring the extinct Tasmanian tiger back into existence. They have been successful in copying small fragments of the creature’s DNA from pickled tiger pups. They admit that they are still a long way off from the real goal of cloning an entire animal. The carnivorous marsupial “tiger” (also known as a thylacine) was hunted to extinction by European settlers. The last known animal died in 1936. Globally, there are several teams trying to recreate various endangered or extinct animal species.


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