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New Zealand puts cap on offshore oil and gas exploration - no new permits granted

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New Zealand bans all new offshore oil exploration as part of 'carbon-neutral future'
The New Zealand government will grant no new offshore oil exploration permits. The ban will apply to new permits and won’t affect the existing 22, some of which have decades left on their exploration rights and cover an area of 100,000 sq km.
The prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, said her government "has a plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future, one that looks 30 years in advance”"
The Labour coalition government was elected last year and made tackling climate change one of the cornerstones of its policies, committing to transition to 100% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2035 and making the economy carbon neutral by 2050.
Last month Ardern accepted a 50,000-strong Greenpeace petition calling for an end to offshore oil and gas exploration.

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Image courtesy 123RF / Radio New Zealand

2018 Winter Games. Shirtless flag-bearer turns up Olympic heat in sub-zero temperatures

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It was very, very cold in Pyeongchang for the opening ceremony. Pita Taufatofua did his part to heat things up.
Two years after stealing the show as Tonga’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, Taufatofua was back glistening beneath the fireworks in Pyeongchang on Friday. For the Winter Olympics. Again, he carried the Tongan flag in the opening ceremony. Again, he was shirtless.

With frigid temperatures in South Korea on Friday, people in the stands for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics were given a raincoat, a blanket, a knit cap, a warm seat cushion, and multiple hand and feet warmers. Meanwhile... "Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatafua is once again shirtless & glistening w/coconut oil, just like in Rio when he went viral. BUT IT’S 17 DEGREES HERE."

After needing four Olympic cycles to become Tonga’s first Olympic taekwondo competitor in Rio, the Australia-born 34-year-old pivoted to cross-country skiing in time for Pyeongchang. He is Tonga’s sole athlete at the 2018 Olympics.

There were nearly 2,800 athletes representing 90 countries around the world, but it was the shirtless Tongan flag-bearer that everyone's talking about. In Pyeongchang, temperatures were well-below freezing for the opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics.  read more »

Winter Olympics. Traditional dance: stunning; S and N Korea athletes march as one entering ring as unified team sharing flag

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2 Koreas Make History Marching Under Unified Flag In Olympics Opener
The nations, split by war, are using the Winter Games as an opportunity to seek a rapprochement.

North Korean and South Korean athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics marched as one during Friday’s opening ceremony, gleefully entering the ring as a unified team sharing a flag.

Spectators were visibly moved, HuffPost Korea reported, with some in the audience tearing up at the sight. The unified flag shows the Korean peninsula in blue, set against a white backdrop.

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Photo courtesy @HuffPost

2018. Year of the Bird. Stunning video: Christian Moullec flying with birds to save them since 1995

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2018 - Year of the Bird
2018 marks the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the most powerful and important bird-protection law ever passed. In honor of this milestone, nature lovers around the world are joining forces to celebrate the "Year of the Bird"” and commit to protecting birds today and for the next hundred years.

Stunning Video Shows a Man Flying With Birds
What started as a conservation effort in the 1990s now puts tourists into the air, soaring alongside geese and cranes.
When Christian Moullec saw that lesser white-fronted geese were struggling with their migration from Germany to Sweden in 1995, he took to the skies to help them. Today, weather permitting, he soars with birds on an almost daily basis.

A meteorologist by trade, the 58-year-old Frenchman didn't start out as a pilot. But inspired by an Austrian zoologist known as "the man who walked with geese," Moullec adapted a two-seater ultralight aircraft to fly alongside the vulnerable species to guide them on a safer migration route. Now, from March through October, he takes tourists up to fly with birds.  read more »

Germans outraged as historic twin towers built by locals, consecrated in 1891, was ripped down for coal mine

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The demolition of a historic German church to clear the way for the expansion of an open-cast mine this week has outraged locals as politicians moot giving up their own clean energy targets.

Built in large part by local people and consecrated in 1891, St Lambertus church in Immerath, North Rhine-Westphalia state, was ripped down by diggers' hydraulic arms on Monday and Tuesday, leaving a heap of rubble where the neo-Roman nave and twin towers once stood.

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Photo courtesy Yahoo / AFP

Got a boat? Cars float in Boston's 15ft flood of ice chunks, once-in-a-generation storm surge


Boston : Sea ice floats in Boston Harbor, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018, in Boston. After a week of frigid temperatures, a major winter storm is predicted for the region on Thursday. /AP-PTI


A Boston firefighter waded through floodwaters from Boston Harbor on Long Wharf in Boston on Thursday.


Boston firefighters waded through floodwaters from Boston Harbor in front of the Marriott Long Wharf hotel Thursday.


A flooded car is stranded on Central St. near Commercial Wharf as the storm surge floods the waterfront. Herald photo by Dan Atkinson


Boston firefighters help a pedestrian into a rubber rescue boat at Atlantic and State Streets as seawater from the storm surge floods the coast. Herald photo by Dan Atkinson


Boston Fire Rescue One save a man from his flooded car on Commercial Wharf during the storm on Thursday,January 4, 2018. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane

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Medieval cities, miraculously preserved: UNESCO World Heritage sites Goslar and Quedlinburg in the Harz Mountains


Goslar


Quedlinburg

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The small 1,000 year old city of Goslar is a UNESCO World Heritage site as is the vast Rammelsberg silver mine, the source of the city’s great wealth. Silver was discovered here in 968 and although it’s no longer an active mine going down into its bowels is an fascinating tourist experience.

The medieval city seems miraculously preserved since the days when it was the treasure chest of the Holy Roman Empire (1039 to 1339).

The highest mountain in the Harz region is the Brocken, famous in Germany for where Goethe’s Faust was taken by the devil after selling his soul. It’s an eerie place, shrouded by mist for most of the year. There are several steam trains pulling vintage carriages and its possible to stand on the open air platforms that connect carriages for the full coal smoke experience. Rising to 3,690 feet the train gradually passes through deeper snow, with fairy tale smothered fir trees, until the top.  read more »

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