Madrid, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Protesters have disrupted traffic in downtown Madrid where the new conservative city council is scrapping bans and fines for polluting vehicles.
Activists with banners sat down in the street during the morning rush-hour Monday around the Madrid Central part of the Spanish capital where the pollution-reducing measures had been in place for the past seven months.
Ending the traffic restrictions was a campaign pledge of the administration of Popular Party mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida, which took office last month.
The city council says it is imposing a three-month moratorium on the vehicle bans and fines while it reviews the system.
Thousands of people demonstrated against the new policy over the weekend.
Other European cities have also introduced vehicle restrictions in downtown areas in an effort to improve air quality.
Tokyo, July 1 (Xinhua/UNB)-- A new Japanese law which bans indoor smoking at public venues took effect on Monday to prevent the spread of passive smoking.
The revised health promotion law aims to reduce the health risks posed by second-hand smoke.
The banned places include schools, hospitals and offices of central and local governments. The law allows these units to set up outdoor smoking areas and post no-smoking signs on premises.
Managers of these facilities could face fines of up to 500,000 yen (4,600 U.S. dollars) if they fail to comply fully with the new rules.
People can be fined up to 300,000 yen (2,700 U.S. dollars) if they smoke in a restricted area and ignore warnings from those in charge of the facilities.
Smoking will be banned from restaurants and businesses in Japan from April 1 next year.
Wellington, July 1 (Xinhua/UNB)-- Single-use plastic bags were officially banned for all New Zealand retailers from Monday.
As stipulated by the Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018, which came into force on Monday, New Zealand retailers including stores, supermarkets and restaurants will no longer be able to sell or distribute any single-use plastic shopping bags.
Single-use plastic shopping bags are defined as any plastic bag which has handles and is less than 70 microns thick. Plastic shopping bags in the fruit and vegetable section and other areas of supermarkets are the only exemption.
New Zealand Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said that the ban on single-use plastic shopping bags is a step towards healthier oceans and giving nature a hand.
“New Zealanders are proud of our country’s clean, green reputation and want to help ensure we live up to it. The plastic shopping bag ban is one step to tackle New Zealand’s waste issues. We also need to recharge our materials recovery and recycling systems and shift to a circular economy,” Sage said.
Mainstream supermarkets have already made the change away from single-use plastic shopping bags. Businesses were given six months ahead of the ban to phase-out single-use plastic bags.
Anchorage, Jul 1 (AP/UNB) — Sea ice along northern Alaska disappeared far earlier than normal this spring, alarming coastal residents who rely on wildlife and fish.
Ice melted as a result of exceptionally warm ocean temperatures, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The early melting has been "crazy," said Janet Mitchell of Kivalina. Hunters from her family in early June traveled more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) by boat to find bearded seals on sea ice. Bearded seals in the past could be hunted just outside the village but sea ice had receded far to the north.
"We didn't know if we'd have our winter food," she said. "That was scary."
The hunters ran out of gas after harvesting eight seals and a walrus. They were able to call other residents to deliver fuel, Mitchell said.
Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment & Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, posted on social media last week that the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas are "baking."
Sea surface temperatures last week were as high as 9 degrees (5 Celsius) above the 1981-2010 average, reaching into the lower 60s, he said, with effects on the climate system, food web, communities and commerce. Kotzebue and Norton sounds were warmest but the heat extended far out into the ocean.
The warmth is weeks ahead of schedule and part of a "positive feedback loop" compounded by climate change. Rising ocean temperatures have led to less sea ice, which leads to warmer ocean temperatures, he said.
The last five years have produced the warmest sea-surface temperatures on record in the region, contributing to record low sea-ice levels.
"The waters are warmer than last year at this time, and that was an extremely warm year," Thoman said.
Lisa Sheffield Guy of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States oversees an online platform that allows Alaska Native walrus hunters to share tips on sea ice, weather and hunting. The need for reporting ended May 31 because coastal sea ice had melted.
"When we started in 2010, we would go until the last week of June," she said.
Guy is a seabird biologist who studied birds on St. Lawrence Island south of the Bering Strait. She's worried that warmer temperatures will make it harder for seabirds to find the tiny seafood they eat, she said. The heat might push their prey deeper or away from the area.
Warmer ocean temperatures come as hunters report large numbers of dead seals off Alaska's western and northern coasts, Thoman said. An unusually large number of dead gray whales have also been found off Alaska's southern coasts, where sea surface temperatures are also unusually high, Thoman said. It's not known whether the warm water has contributed, Thoman said.
"Certainly it's all happening at the same time," he said.
In March, the high temperatures were blamed for a large ice shelf breaking from the coast near Nome in March, dragging tethered crab pots. Nick Treinen lost two crab pots and others lost more.
"It was unprecedented for March," he said.
The ice also swept away gold mining equipment, forcing a helicopter rescue for three miners who unsuccessfully tried to save it.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will conduct an unusually extensive fish survey in the Bering Strait this summer, Thoman said. It could provide clues for possible impacts to Bering Sea fisheries, he said.
Dhaka, June 30 (UNB) - As a recipe developer, I am always on the lookout for interesting ingredients – ones that are healthy and not extremely popular. Black rice posed as an inspiration when I started reading about its versatility and health benefits. Being a north Indian, I had to search for this distant cousin of white rice. Thanks to online shopping sites. I could connect with a seller in north east India where it is organically produced, The Indian Express.
When it arrived in my kitchen, I instantly fell in love with its colour and texture. And when it was cooked like a normal rice dish, its rich taste, purplish hue, sweet nuttiness and chewy texture inspired me to try out this Black Rice Tart recipe.
Although black rice is ideal for dishes such as puddings, desserts or risotto, I tried to bring in the tart dough kind of consistency by clubbing it with sorghum flour (jowar ka aata), a millet that has huge amount of macronutrients and dietary fibre.
Black Rice Tarts with Mango-Chia Seed Topping recipe
Yield: 12 Tarts
½ cup – Black rice (washed and soaked overnight)
½ cup – Sorghum flour
¼ cup – Salted butter or ghee
A pinch of salt
Water to knead
-To begin with, cook the soaked black rice with double the amount of water. Once done, let it cool down to room temperature. Now add sorghum flour, butter (or ghee), salt and start kneading. Try to bring in the dough kind of consistency. Add water only when required. Once the dough is ready, cling wrap it and let it rest for a while.
-Roll out the dough and cut circles with the help of a round cookie cutter or a small size steel bowl. Spread them on greased tart moulds. You can choose any shape.
-Adjust them on a baking tray and bake at 150 degree celsius for 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven.
-Once baked, let them rest and demould only when completely cooled.
- For toppings, I chose something that’s seasonal, quick and easy. Mango chunks with loads of chia seeds. You can also add fruit cream, chocolate ganache, lemon curd, custard, caramel or just a dollop of whipped cream.
Health benefits of black rice:
Black rice is a powerhouse of nutrition. It’s incredibly healthy, and was primarily consumed by Chinese royals for the smooth functioning of stomach, liver and kidney. It has powerful antioxidant properties that are beneficial for people with diabetes and heart disorders. Moreover, it’s loaded with Vitamin E, which improves skin and hair.
If you wish to eat something low on calories, but tasty, serve yourself a platter full of black rice, which is rich in dietary fibre and iron content. You will love it.