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LA STAMPA (Italy)

Worldcrunch

PARIS - These are not the sorts of "islands" where you'd plan your next tropical vacation. Located in vast areas of the world's Oceans, by some accounts comprising an area twice as big as Texas, they are home to neither human nor animal life.

Instead these islands are instead simply monstrious spirals of trash.

And now, reports La Stampa, to bring attention to this epic example of man-made pollution, the United Nations' cultural and science agency UNESCO will designate the conglomerations of rubbish a veritable territory of its own. On April 11, the world will welcome a new "State" to be named Garbage Patch.

Garbage Patch comprises of five areas of man-made rubbish in the seas: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and Indian Ocean. The largest, discovered in 2009, is called the Great Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex. Marine currents brings the rubbish together, swirling to the surface. The garbage gets broken down, thanks to photodegradation, into smaller and smaller pieces that are consumed by marine life, reentering the food chain.

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National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration

Spain-based Italian architect Maria Cristina Finucci, has led the effort to get the UNESCO, state designation. The official Facebook page declares that Garbage Patch will be a federal state with a population of 36,939 -- tons of garbage. The nation’s flag will be blue, like the oceans it pollutes.

“I found out about the tragic islands made of plastic, but they were treated lightly by the scientific community," says Finucci. "There were no photos and images are necessary to gauge the problem.”

Finucci believes that in creating a state, people will become more aware. “The only things that we can do now is to stop them from getting bigger,” she told La Stampa.

The initiative coincides with 2013 being declared the year of water. There’s a website for the Garbage Patch, run by students at prestigious Venetian University Ca’ Foscari, which aims explain the floating islands through fantastical characters similar to those of Greek mythology. There will also be postcards: “Greetings from the Garbage State” on a deckchair and umbrella.

The inauguration ceremony won’t take place on any of the islands itself, but at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris with a performance meant to recreate the islands: bottle caps on the floor, plastic bags everywhere, and even the sound of waves playing in the background.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Important Things: A Rare Unfiltered Look Inside Russian Schools

In Russian schools, lessons on "important things" are a compulsory hour pushing state propaganda. But not everyone is buying it. Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii spoke to teachers, parents and students about how they see patriotism and Putin's mobilization.

Important Things: A Rare Unfiltered Look Inside Russian Schools

High school students attending a seminar in Tambov, Russia

Vazhnyye Istorii

MOSCOW — On March 1, schools found themselves on the ideological front line of the Russian-Ukrainian war. At the end of May, teachers were told they would have to lead classes with students called "Lessons about important things." The topic was "patriotism and civic education."

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At the beginning of November, we learned about the revival of an elementary military training course for senior classes. In the teaching materials sent to the teachers, it was stated that a "special peacekeeping operation was going on, the purpose of which was to restrain the nationalists who oppress the Russian-speaking population."

Independent Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii asked several teachers, students and parents about their experiences with the school's attempt to instill patriotism and Russia's partial mobilization of citizens.

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