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Living in a plastic world

Though it is a relatively new product, plastic is all around us, sometimes for good, but more often as toxic waste. But its uses are many and varied.
 
It insulates electric wiring and makes it safe. Most light switches and plugs are made of plastic and it is also used to make pipes that transport our drinking water and sewage.
 








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Funding from Saudi and distorted Islam springboard for Marawi siege

On May 23 this year, Marawi City in the southern Philippines was put under siege by a Muslim jihadi group known as the Maute that has pledged its loyalty to the rebellion of the Islamic State.
 
Over 1,000 people have died in the subsequent five months, the vast majority of them Muslims from Marawi.
 
The complete population of the majority Muslim city has fled and the Maute wrote on a jihadist website, “If you can’t reach Syria, go to The Philippines!”
 








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Swapping global leadership for a myth

A decision by the president of the United States of America (US), Donald Trump, to withdraw his country from the Paris Accord on climate change weakens US global leadership.
Responses from the leaders of the G7 countries were negative. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was highly critical of Trump’s decision, calling it “extremely regrettable and that is putting it mildly.”
 








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Volvo makes brave move on electric cars

In July this year, the Swedish automobile manufacturer, Volvo, announced it will cease putting internal combustion engines in its cars in 2019 and will only make fully electric or hybrid models.
 
This is the boldest commitment by any automotive company so far in the development of electric or hybrid cars. But other manufacturers are also moving in that direction and this year, General Motors launched the Chevrolet Bolt, which is a battery powered car.
 








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Computer chaos or human dithering at the bottom of job crisis?

Modern technology is indeed having a big impact on human employment patterns. History tells us that technological progress over the past two centuries has changed the composition of employment, moving workers from agriculture to artisan shops, to manufacturing and clerking, and service and management occupations.
 








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Across the board religious concern for creation

July 2016 was the hottest month since records began in 1880. Jos Lelieveld, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute, has warned that large areas of the planet could become so hot that they would be virtually uninhabitable for humans.

This would trigger an exodus of hundreds of millions of refugees. Lelieveld maintains, “The July temperatures must underline the urgency of the crisis.”








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A New Year resolution

I finally kicked smoking on 1 January 1972. It was a huge struggle, as nicotine is as addictive as heroin, but it was my New Year resolution and I was able to stick with it. 








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Good and bad news on plant species

I made my first visit to Kew Gardens in London in the early 1980s. It is a beautiful and highly scientific place and in May this year, it produced an extraordinarily important report on The State of the World’s Plants.

The good news is that the staff now believe that there are 390,000 species of plants on earth. The director of science at Kew Gardens, Kathy Willis, spoke to Damian Carrington of The Guardian about the importance of plants for humans.








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China contributes to Vatican consultation on environment

VATICAN (SE): “The long term task of building a harmonious society and the understanding that to be truly and enduringly harmonious, the harmony must not only extend beyond the borders of China and include all peoples of the world, but above all, it must include harmony between humans and nature,” Hu Deping, the head of a delegation from China to a consultation prior to the Conference of Parties 22 on the environment held at the Casina Pio IV at the Vatican, said.

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