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And also... War-torn Syria in tourism drive; Koala survives train smash; Greenland fossil discovery

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And also... War-torn Syria in tourism drive; Koala survives train smash; Greenland fossil discovery

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Every Friday journalists from euronews’ various language teams choose a selection of stories from Europe and beyond which did not reach the international headlines

Barack Obama creates the world’s largest marine reserve

A few months before the end of his mandate, the US President has formalised the creation of the world’s largest marine reserve. The area located northwest of the Hawaiian archipelago spans over 1.5 million km2 (twice the size of Texas). Barack Obama made the decision, following the recommendations of a group of scientists, to protect the biodiversity of this vast expanse. Papahanaumokuake Reserve hosts over 7000 marine species (black coral, turtles, blue whales, etc.) some of which are considered endangered.

The place is also considered sacred in traditional Hawaiian culture as a territory for spirits after they return from the dead. Commercial fishing will be banned in 60% of the territorial waters around Hawaii, as well as mining and drilling in deep water.

President Obama has in fact quadrupled the size of this sanctuary created by his predecessor George W. Bush.


Syria, an « always beautiful » country

Despite Syria’s devastating civil war, the country’s Ministry of Tourism has launched a campaign to promote what it calls the “always beautiful” country, in an attempt to attract more visitors. A video of the coastal city of Tartus has been produced promoting fun in the sun, busy beaches, jet-skis, palm trees and lounge chairs. The resort is located near the Russian naval base in Tartus and is under permanent protection.

According to a recent post on facebook, Syria’s Ministry of Tourism said the number of visitors to the country had increased by 30% in 2016 compared to the previous year…


Earliest traces of life discovered in Greenland

Life on Earth could be older than first thought! Australian geologists have discovered fossils in Greenland which suggest life on Earth began 3.7 billion years ago, more than 200 million years earlier than previous estimates.

Scientists discovered the fossils on rocks on the island of Isua, located in southwest Greenland. The fossils are only visible after the snow melts. The technique of isotopic dating was used to determine the age of the lifeforms trapped in the rock, micro-organisms called stromatolites.

The finding has still not been scientifically verified but may open the door to another discovery. Experts believe the conditions on Earth and Mars 3.7 billion years ago were similar, raising the prospect that life also developed on the red planet.


The French army warns against Pokemon Go

For the French Defense Ministry, the case is serious. In a note from one of its departments, the military has said Pokemon Go poses a threat to its facilities.

The document highlights the potential presence of ‘virtual objects and creatures’ in highly sensitive areas.

The concern is that wrongdoers could infiltrate military installations by masquerading as players.

The document, published in the satirical newspaper “Le Canard Enchaîné”, also stresses the game could be problematic for military personnel as “the game can generate addictive phenomena detrimental to the individual and collective security of the defense staff “.

France: 370kg of cocaine found in a Coca-Cola plant

Special delivery! Opening a container from South America, company employees in Signes, South of France, found no less than 370kg of cocaine. The drugs were hidden in bags inside the container and are estimated to have a market value of 50 million euros.

An investigation has been opened by France’s justice department. The discovery is one of the largest seizures of drugs on French soil.


A very lucky koala!

One koala in Australia is very lucky to be alive. Hit head-on by a train at the beginning of August the bear suffered a broken nose, impaired vision and bruising. Named Mortal, the Koala is said to be recovering well and scampering about.


Orca surfers

The captain of container ship crossing the Strait of ‘Boundary Pass’, the maritime border between the US state of Washington and British Columbia in Canada witnessed an incredible scene. During his voyage he was surprised to see a group of around a dozen orcas surfing the waves generated by his boat. He captured the remarkable display.


10 years later, the Coca-Cola-Mentos cocktail is back

Remember, it was ten years ago. Matthew Fiedler and his brother were behind one of the first memes on the web. In a video posted on YouTube they showed the ‘explosive virtues’ of mixing diet coke with Mentos sweets. This month, they recreated the scene in the same basketball court in New Jersey. The results are still impressive!


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