All posts by kalikiri vishnu pal sai

26 Stirring Photos That Show What Being a True Dad Is Like

So here at Bright Side we made a compilation of amazing daddy moments that have been shared online and that show what it takes to be a true dad.

1. Dad got a tattoo of a cochlear implant, so his daughter wouldn’t feel different.

26 Stirring Photos That Show What Being a True Dad Is Like

2. A lucky father of daughters

3. This dad, whose son had brain cancer, got a tattoo of his son’s cancer surgery scar on to his own head to help his son’s self-confidence.

4. “How to get your kids to give you a back massage”

5. Being a dad is a full-time job.

6. Here’s how you can keep a baby calm for a photoshoot.

7. Nothing is scary when dad is with you!

8. Peacefully snoozing away

9. This dad got really serious about preparing for Halloween.

10. “Whatever it takes to convince my foster daughter that ballet school will be awesome, I’m in.”

11. Being a dad is never missing a tea party with your daughter.

12. “I submit my friend for father of the year. Here he is ice skating with his daughter who was born with a deadly genetic disease called SMA type 1.”

13. Here’s what happens when you leave kids alone with their dad:

14. A true superhero!

15. This dad seriously makes the best pancakes.

16. Like father, like son.

17. Papa`s beauty salon

18. Dad level: 8000

19. When you`ll do anything for your daughter:

20. “Okay, I get it now, having a girl is a little different.”

21. Go ahead, make yourself comfortable…

22. Being a dad of a girl equals mandatory participation in make-up sessions!

23. Father of the year

24. Papa’s sense of overprotectiveness is a little beyond the limit.

25. Multi-tasking is key.

26. Being a father means you keep on blow drying without waking the kid up.

Have you ever witnessed an example of unconditional love and support from a father? We would like to hear about it in the comment section below!


Eat your fruits and Juice your vegetables

Eat your fruits and Juice your vegetables

Juicing fruit and vegetables is a popular way to get a get a quick ‘health fix’, but does come with the downside that they are less filling than eating the solid foods in the first place.

Eating more fruit and vegetables is the foundation stone of any healthy diet. One popular way to consume them is through juices. The one clear downside from drinking fruit and vegetables compared to eating them is the loss of fibre and other nutrients found in the skin and pulp. Juices though can be a quick, convenient and tasty way to get some of the health benefits of fruit and vegetables which is certainly better than not eating them at all.

One other potential downside to drinking rather than eating fruits and vegetables, is that the juice may not be as filling as eating solid food. It is also easier to drink the equivalent of many pieces of fruit in a few seconds when eating the same amount would take a lot longer, meaning there is more chance of over-consuming unneeded kilojoules.

1. Vegetable juices contain less sugar than fruit juices.   

Fruit juices are tasty because they contain a higher concentration of natural sugars that – although better than artificial sugars – can easily spike your blood sugar. If I’m craving some natural sweetness, it’s better for me to bite into one whole, raw fruit (get your fiber!) than to drink the equivalent of ten in a fruit juice.

2.Vegetable juices retain nutrients that can be lost in the cooking process.

There are certainly ways to cook vegetables in order to retain more nutrients and minerals, such as blanching or steaming. In the home-juicing process, however, applying less heat (most juicing machines produce heat through friction) for a shorter duration of time best encourages nutrient retention…so I can get more “bang” for my buck per vegetable!

3. Vegetable juices allow access to nutrients in “not-so-munchable” veggies.

Eating a carrot or cucumber is enjoyable for me, whereas eating fibrous celery or fennel or a bunch of parsley is not as much. These are vegetables I enjoy juicing, especially since they add wonderful flavor, nutrients, and even beautiful color to my “green juice.”

4. Vegetable juices offer a way to use extra or old veggie parts.

We love to do my best to use all parts of the produce we have, but some days we just don’t feel so creative. When making a vegetable juice, we can easily throw in some extra and/or wilted greens, some not-so-pretty carrots, or a bit of ginger that may be dry. Clean out that fridge!

5. Vegetable juices are generally more alkaline than fruit juices. 

Vegetables serve us better in balancing our body’s pH, which requires more alkali-forming foods for the purpose of fighting off disease and other stressors. As always, there are exceptions to this, as lemons and limes, melons, mangos, and apples also have high alkalizing properties. A juice of purely the aforementioned fruits would be very high in sugar, but adding a few of these fruits into a juice with more vegetables is ideal, not to mention delicious!

Juicing vs Eating

To see if juices can lead to differences on appetite and later food consumption compared to solid food, 34 healthy lean and overweight people took part in a 21-week study. At different stages in the study, each person consumed a similar amount of fruit and vegetables (1680 kJ in total) daily in either solid (raw) form or as juices. No other changes to the participants’ diets were made.

When tested in a food laboratory, people who were overweight reported being significantly hungrier after a standard meal when consuming the juice in the lead up to it, compared to when they ate whole fruit. The post-meal hunger feelings of people of a healthy body weight where unaffected by the form of the fruit they consumed.

Having fruit in either solid or juice form before a meal though did mean less of the following meal was eaten, which is to be expected. Where it gets interesting though is that significantly less food was eaten in the meal by people who ate solid fruit before the test meal compared to those that had the juice.

Surprising Health Benefits of Veggies for Youthful Glow

Surprising Health Benefits of Veggies for Youthful Glow

cent study found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit a day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who eat less than one portion—and vegetables have the greatest impact.

But vegetables can also benefit you in some surprising ways. Did you know that certain vegetables can help reduce bloating, and others can give your skin a more youthful glow? They can even improve how you handle stress—and adapting to stress is critically important to your mental AND physical health.

Could Vegetables Be the REAL Comfort Foods?

Move over mac-and-cheese… vegetables are the REAL comfort foods, with nutrients that actually improve your resilience to stress. Eating vegetables helps replenish your magnesium and vitamin C, which can be depleted by stress.

Vegetables also provide you with omega-3 fats and B vitamins, proven to help reduce anxiety and depression. The vitamin K in veggies helps reduce inflammation in your body, which stress can aggravate.

Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, are loaded with magnesium, which helps balance your cortisol, one of your “stress hormones.” Magnesium and potassium relax blood vessels, helping keep your blood pressure low.

Magnesium also plays an important role in calcium absorption, helping you maintain good muscle and nerve function and a healthy immune system. Low magnesium levels have been linked with anxiety disorders and migraines, both of which are typically aggravated by stress.

Avocados are one of the best stress-busting foods you can eat, replete with potassium, glutathione, healthy fats, and more folate than any other fruit. Folate is extremely important for your brain. Asparagus is also rich in folate.

Vegetables benefit your skin and bones by supplying highly bioavailable nutrients that work together synergistically for optimal health and beauty

Besides slowing down cellular aging and helping to prevent disease, vegetables can benefit your health in a number of surprising ways

Vegetables provide nutrients that help you adapt to stress, such as B vitamins and folate, omega-3 fats, magnesium, potassium, and glutathione

Tips are given for “supercharging” your veggies, including ideas for how you can sneak more of them into your diet

Vegetables can also help reduce gas and bloating if your digestive tract is healthy, but may actually worsen bloating if your gut flora is not optimal

Fiber May Be Friend or Foe, Depending on Your Gut

You have probably heard that fiber is important for good health, but it is important to realize that eating a high-fiber diet with a damaged intestinal lining can lead to serious health problems. If high-fiber foods make you feel bloated, then it may indicate your digestive tract is in need of healing.

Your digestive system is not designed to break down fiber. It is actually because your body can’t digest fiber that it plays such an important part in digestion.

Soluble fiber, like that found in cucumbers, blueberries, beans, and nuts, dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down your digestion. This helps you to feel full longer and is one reason why fiber may help with weight control.

Insoluble fiber, found in foods like dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, celery, and carrots, does not dissolve at all and helps add bulk to your stool.

This helps food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination. Many whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, naturally contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

If your gut flora is healthy, i.e. dominated by beneficial, probiotic species, then these microbes will feed on the undigested fiber in your bowel, allowing it to thrive and proliferate.

Vegetables May Reduce Bloating—But Increase Them Gradually

Once your digestive tract is working optimally, the fiber in vegetables will help flush out waste and gastric irritants, thereby minimizing bloating by keeping things moving along. When changing your diet, do so gradually, because suddenly eating lots of vegetables, or radically increasing your dietary fiber when you’re not accustomed to doing so, can be a shock to your system.

The microbial environment in your gut is accustomed to certain conditions, and changing this too abruptly can result in gastric distress, bloating, and other GI symptoms. Whenever making changes to your diet—even beneficial ones—take care to acclimate over time. If you introduce new foods and experience a problem, back off a bit and see if it helps.

According to Dr. Wayne Pickering, improper food combining is another major factor behind gas and bloating, as well as heartburn and upset stomach. If the food you eat is not digesting properly, not only can these symptoms arise, but your body will also be deprived of critical nutrients.

The two foremost rules of food combining are: 1) No proteins and starches at the same meal, and 2) No fruits and vegetables at the same meal.

Veggies for That Youthful Glow

Vegetables hydrate your skin, which can help reduce wrinkles. Not only are some vegetables 85 to 95 percent water, but they also contain a plethora of phytonutrients that help guard against aging by preventing cell damage from stress, ultraviolet light, and environmental toxins.7 Vitamin C, abundant in tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, broccoli, and others, aids in collagen formation. 

Brightly colored red and orange vegetables such as carrots, peppers, and winter squash, give you beta-carotene and help protect your skin from sun damage. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which acts as a natural sunscreen. A Scottish study involving college students suggests that fruit and vegetable consumption may even increase your attractiveness! Researchers found that the pigments (carotenoids) in many fruits and vegetables impart a warm glow “sufficient to convey perceptible improvements in the apparent healthiness and attractiveness of facial skin.”8 Translation: vegetables make you appear more healthy and beautiful!

Vegetables Build Healthy Bones

Fresh vegetables are like rock stars when it comes to bone health. They offer highly bioavailable forms of calcium, magnesium, silica, and a host of other minerals that work synergistically to build strong, healthy bones. One of the fat-soluble vitamins playing a critical role in bone health is vitamin K2, as its primary function is to move calcium into the proper areas (teeth and bones). Vitamin K2 also helps direct calcium away from areas where it can cause problems, such as your arteries and soft tissues.

One of the best sources of vitamin K2 is fermented vegetables made with a special starter culture designed to optimize this nutrient. Fennel is also very good for your bones—the seeds in particular. Research has shown that eating the seeds of the fennel plant has a beneficial effect on bone mineral density, as well as bone mineral content. Researchers found that fennel seeds show potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Tips for Selecting the Best Vegetables

If you want your vegetables to have the highest nutritional density, take a look at my list of powerhouse fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, the greener the vegetable, the more nutritious it will be. I strongly advise you to avoid wilted vegetables, because they lose much of their nutritional value. It is wise to eat a variety of dark green leafy vegetables, plus other vividly colored veggies (purple, red, yellow, and orange) to make sure you receive a broad range of those powerful plant nutrients.

Eating Watermelon

Eating Watermelon

Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that’s also good for you.

It contains only 46 calories per cup but is high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and many healthy plant compounds.

Here are the top 9 health benefits of eating watermelon.

1. Helps You Hydrate

Drinking water is an important way to keep your body hydrated.

However, eating foods that have a high water content can also help.

Interestingly, watermelon is 92% water (1).

A high water content is one of the reasons that fruits and vegetables help you feel full. The combination of water and fiber means you’re eating a good volume of food without a lot of calories.

BOTTOM LINE: Watermelon has a high water content. This makes it hydrating and helps you feel full.

2. Contains Compounds That May Help Prevent Cancer

Researchers have studied lycopene and other individual plant compounds in watermelon for their anti-cancer effects.

Although lycopene intake is linked to a lower risk of some types of cancer, the results are mixed. The strongest link so far seems to be between lycopene and cancers of the digestive system.

Lycopene appears to reduce cancer risk by lowering insulin-like growth factor (IGF), a protein involved in cell division. High IGF levels are linked to cancer.

In addition, cucurbitacin E has been investigated for its ability to inhibit tumor growth.

BOTTOM LINE: Some compounds in watermelon, including cucurbitacin E and lycopene, have been studied for their potential to prevent cancer.

3. May Improve Heart Health

Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide.

Lifestyle factors, including diet, may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Several nutrients in watermelon have specific benefits for heart health.

Studies suggest that lycopene may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It can also help prevent oxidative damage to cholesterol.

According to studies in obese postmenopausal women and Finnish men, lycopene may also help reduce the stiffness and thickness of artery walls.

Watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may increase nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps your blood vessels expand, which lowers blood pressure.

Other vitamins and minerals in watermelon are also good for your heart. These include vitamins A, B6, C, magnesium, and potassium.

BOTTOM LINE: Watermelon has several heart-healthy components, including lycopene, citrulline and other vitamins and minerals.

4. May Lower Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Inflammation is a key driver of many chronic diseases.

Watermelon may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage since it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C.

In a 2015 study, lab rats were fed watermelon powder to supplement an unhealthy diet. Compared with the control group, they developed lower levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) and less oxidative stress.

In an earlier study, humans were given lycopene-rich tomato juice with added vitamin C. Overall, their markers of inflammation went down and antioxidants went up. Watermelon has both lycopene and vitamin C.

As an antioxidant, lycopene may also benefit brain health. For example, it may help delay the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

BOTTOM LINE: Lycopene and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory antioxidants found in watermelon. Inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases.

5. May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Found in several parts of the eye, lycopene helps protect against oxidative damage and inflammation.

It may also help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This is a common eye problem that can cause blindness in older adults.

Lycopene’s role as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound may help prevent AMD from developing and getting worse.

BOTTOM LINE: Lycopene may help keep eyes healthy and protect against AMD through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions.

6. May Help Relieve Muscle Soreness

Citrulline, an amino acid in watermelon, may reduce muscle soreness.

Interestingly, watermelon juice appears to enhance the bio-availability of citrulline.

One small study gave athletes plain watermelon juice, watermelon juice mixed with citrulline or a citrulline drink. Both watermelon drinks led to less muscle soreness and quicker heart rate recovery, compared to citrulline on its own.

The researchers also conducted a test-tube experiment, investigating the absorption of citrulline. Their findings suggest that citrulline absorption is most effective when it’s consumed as a component of watermelon juice.

Other research has also looked at citrulline’s potential to improve exercise endurance and performance. So far, citrulline doesn’t seem to improve exercise performance in the amounts studied, but it’s still an area of research interest.

BOTTOM LINE: Watermelon juice has some potential as a recovery beverage after exercise. Citrulline may be partially responsible for its effect of easing muscle soreness.

7. Is Good for Skin and Hair

Two vitamins in watermelon — A and C — are important for skin and hair health.

Vitamin C helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin supple and your hair strong.

Vitamin A is also important for healthy skin since it helps create and repair skin cells. Without enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky.

Both lycopene and beta-carotene may also help protect your skin from sunburn.

BOTTOM LINE: Several nutrients in watermelon are good for your hair and skin. Some help keep skin supple while others protect against sunburn.

8. Can Help Improve Digestion

Watermelon contains lots of water and a small amount of fiber — both of which are important for healthy digestion.

Fiber can provide bulk for your stool, while water helps keep your digestive tract moving efficiently.

Eating water-rich and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, can be very helpful for promoting normal bowel movements.

BOTTOM LINE: Fiber and water are important for healthy digestion. Watermelon contains both.

Watermelon is a low-calorie, hydrating fruit that is a natural high antioxidant food, plus a source of vitamins and minerals that can help fight inflammation, free radical damage and prevent a number of serious illnesses.

The benefits of watermelon include containing a high amount of lycopene, a certain type of carotenoid that is currently of great interest to researchers because of its known antioxidant capacity and various potential health benefits. Lycopene is responsible for giving many fruits and vegetables, including watermelon, their deep red or pink color. While researchers have always known that tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, recently watermelon has also moved into the spotlight as another wise food choice for supplying this critical nutrient for fighting free radical damage.

Lycopene found in watermelon is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it has the ability to fight free radicals in the body that can damage cells. Additionally, benefits of watermelon include providing vitamin A (beta-carotene) and vitamin C, both known for having remarkable antioxidant and anti-aging properties that can ward off diseases. Excessive free radical damage has been linked to the onset of serious diseases, including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and many others. In fact, the buildup of free radicals in the body is large to blame for the aging process and the toll is taken on the body.

Adding antioxidant, nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory foods like watermelon to your diet is one way to limit bodily stress, keeping DNA damage to a minimum and slowing the aging process. Even if you are young and healthy, watermelon benefits include helping to relieve pain, improve exercise recovery, keep skin healthy and youthful, and help with detoxification.

Why Fruits & Vegetables Are So Good for You

Why Fruits & Vegetables Are So Good for You

The 2010 dietary guidelines recommend that all Indian’s eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Government guidelines aside, you surely grew up with your mom telling you to eat your vegetables. Or maybe you even hear it now from your doctor.  
When you’re new to adopting a healthy diet, you may wonder: What’s so good about fruits and vegetables anyway? What kind of benefits will I see if I eat more?  Here are four good reasons to be like Bugs Bunny and chomp away on more fresh produce. 

  1. Fruits and vegetables contain key vitamins and minerals. Folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, C and K are just a few of the all-stars you’ll find in fresh produce. All of these nutrients play different roles in health and fruits and veggies are some of the best ways to get them.
  2. Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber. Fiber has many important effects in the body. It keeps your digestive system healthy, can help keep you full (especially important if you are cutting calories for weight loss), and prevents numerous health conditions while also promoting a healthy heart.
  3. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals. These nutrients reduce inflammation which can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Molecules in the body      called “free radicals” cause damage to our cells all the time, but antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables actually neutralize these molecules, slowing down the aging process. So you won’t just look younger, your body will be healthier from the inside-out!  
  4. Fruits and vegetables help with weight loss. Because they’re naturally low in calories while being rich in fiber and nutrients, eating more fruits and vegetables helps to fill you up without consuming a lot of calories.

To gain the most nutritional benefit, select whole (unprocessed) fruits and vegetables when possible. Buying local or in-season produce also increases the chance that the food you are eating contains maximum nutrients per bite (since food that is picked and then has to travel long distances is losing nutrients every hour, day or week that goes by). Other forms such as frozen, canned, cooked, and dried fruits and vegetables, as well as juice are also acceptable and affordable options when keeping some cautions in mind:

  • When selecting juice, select 100% juice without added sugar. Although 100% fruit & vegetable juices (or smoothies) provide nutrients in their natural state, they lack fiber and some of the nutrients that are found in whole fruits and vegetables, which are important for satiety and caloric balance.
  • Frozen vegetables are preferable to canned vegetables if fresh is not available. If canned vegetables are used, select low sodium varieties or rinse regular canned options before use to limit added sodium to the diet.
  • Select frozen fruits without added sugar and canned fruit in 100% fruit juice over options canned fruits with sugar or syrup.
  • Remember that dried versions of fruits are more concentrated in calories than their fresh counterpart so proper portion control is important.
  • People with carbohydrate metabolism conditions such as diabetes or PCOS can enjoy fruits in their diet.  Portion size, calories and carbohydrates differ for all types of fruit, especially if the fruit has been altered from its whole, unprocessed state. If controlled carbohydrate meal plans are necessary, learn proper portion sizes for a single-carbohydrate serving (15 grams) of various fruits along with their glycemic index.

France records its hottest ever temperature

France has recorded its hottest ever temperature of 44.3 degrees Celsius, as Europe sweltered in an early summer heatwave already blamed for several deaths.

With France, Spain, Italy and parts of central Europe particularly badly hit by the high temperatures, officials urged people to take common sense precautions — complaining that this was not always the case.

France records its hottest ever temperature

Girls wearing swimsuits sit along the Canal de l’Ourcq in Paris. Picture: APSource:AP

The record temperature of 44.3 degrees Celsius was recorded in France’s southeastern town of Carpentras.

It beat the previous national record of 44.1 degrees Celsius recorded in Saint-Christol-les-Ales and Conqueyrac during the notorious August 2003 heatwave, state weather forecaster Meteo-France said.

A dog jumps into the Canal de l’Ourcq in Paris. Picture: APSource:AP

Meteo-France’s Etienne Kapikian said it was “very probable” the record would be beaten again later today as it was still relatively early in the day.

“(The temperature) will continue to climb and, in some places, we could pass 44 degrees Celsius,” he said.

The centre of Carpentras was almost deserted in the middle of the day, with cafe owners contemplating empty terraces which usually would be packed.

“We have never seen this!” one exclaimed.


At least two deaths linked to the heatwave were reported in Spain. After feeling dizzy while helping harvest wheat in the southern Andalusia region, a Spanish teenager collapsed with convulsions when he took a dip in a swimming pool to cool off.

He was rushed to hospital in the town of Cordoba where he later died, the regional government said.

A couple cool down as they stand amid water jets at a fountain in downtown Zagreb, Croatia. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Elsewhere in Spain, a 93-year-old man collapsed and died on the street in the northern city of Valladolid, police said, giving heatstroke as the cause of death.

Heat-related deaths have also been reported in Italy, France and Germany, mainly among the elderly.

A young man jumps to cool off as others take a bath in the river Treska near Skopje. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

France remains haunted by the memory of the devastating heatwave of August 2003 which exposed the shortcomings of emergency services at the height of the summer holidays.

That year, nearly 15,000 people are estimated to have died because of the heat, many of them elderly people at home.

“I want to appeal to the sense of responsibility of citizens — there are avoidable deaths in every heatwave,” said French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

A man uses a hose along the Canal de l’Ourcq in Paris. Picture: APSource:AP

In Montpellier, 81-year-old Suzette Allegre was up early to do her shopping. By 8:00am, “the sun is already burning hot and you can smell the pollution,” she said, saying she was rushing home to barricade herself indoors.

Scientists warn that global warming linked to human fossil fuel use could make such scorchers more frequent.


French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn warned those tempted to plunge into cold water, both young and old, to do so only in designated public bathing areas, adding that four people had drowned since the beginning of the week.

On Thursday, Ms Buzyn complained that despite a barrage of public health warnings on radio, TV and on public transport, some parents were still leaving their children in hot cars and joggers were out exercising in the midday heat.

Also on Thursday, a six-year-old Syrian child was seriously injured in the Saint-Denis neighbourhood north of Paris after being catapulted into the air by water gushing from an open fire hydrant and then crashing to the ground.

In the Italian city of Milan, a 72-year-old homeless man was found dead at the main train station on Thursday after falling ill due to the heatwave.

A day earlier, at least four people died in Germany in bathing accidents.


In Spain, firefighters were continuing to battle a large forest fire in the northeastern Catalonia region.

Catalonia’s forest service said the fire likely began when an “improperly managed” pile of manure at a chicken farm spontaneously combusted in the extreme heat.

A firefighters tries to extinguish a fire near Flix as a forest fire raged out of control in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Hundreds of firefighters backed by troops and aerial water bombers were trying to bring it under control.

They were hampered by roasting 44-degree temperatures and very low humidity according to David Borrell, head of the Catalan fire department.

A helicopter collects water before dropping it over a forest fire raging near La Torre de l’Espanyol in the northeastern region of Catalonia. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

Spain’s northeast was on red heatwave alert denoting “extreme risk”. The stifling temperatures have caused air quality to nosedive in some European cities, prompting local authorities to take anti-pollution measures.

In Paris, Lyon and Marseilles, authorities have banned the most polluting cars from the roads in recent days.

Japan’s plastic problem: Tokyo spearheads push at G20 to tackle waste

Japan's plastic problem: Tokyo spearheads push at G20 to tackle waste

Japanese consumers use 30bn plastic shopping bags each year, but it lags behind major European initiatives on phasing reusing and recycling. Photograph: Koji Sasahara/AP

One of the joys of traveling on Japan’s bullet trains is tucking into an ekiben “station bento”. But it is also a reminder of the country’s addiction to plastic.

The Guardian’s ekiben, eaten en route to this week’s G20 summit in Osaka, contained no fewer than nine individual pieces of plastic, from functional sachets for sauce and mustard to purely decorative slivers of fake grass.

In the run-up to the gathering of world leaders, Japan has vowed to spearhead international efforts to tackle plastic waste – an environmental catastrophe its citizens said they wanted prioritised at the two-day meeting, which opens on Friday.

But campaigners say Japan – the world’s second-biggest producer of plastic waste per capita after the US – must also do more to deal with the rubbish piling up on its own doorstep.

Japanese consumers get through about 30bn plastic shopping bags a year. Osaka Bay, a stone’s throw from the G20 venue, contains an estimated three million plastic shopping bags and six million other pieces of plastic, according to a study by Osaka University of Commerce, cited by Bloomberg.

Japanese consumers get through about 30bn plastic shopping bags a year. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

While the European parliament passed legislation in March to ban single-use plastic in all member states by 2021, Japan, along with the US, failed to sign the G-7 plastics charter last year, which would have committed it to reuse, recycle and collect all plastic products by 2030. Instead, the government has committed itself to a less ambitious 25% reduction in single-use plastic by 2030.

A cultural preference for elaborate packaging is partly to blame – consumers associate carefully wrapped items with luxury and high-end customer service. Aesthetically pleasing but unnecessary packaging in supermarkets, shops and platform bento stands, have left Japan struggling to cope.

Japan once sent a 1.5m tonnes of plastic waste to China every year until Beijing banned the imports in 2017, and is now redirecting it to countries in Southeast Asia that are poorly equipped to handle and process the waste, exposing people to environmental and public health problems.

The proportion of plastic bags among plastic waste is not big, but charging would be symbolicYoshiaki Harada

Determined not to become Asia’s plastic dumping ground, countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines are now turning back the shipments. As a result, plastic waste is building up in Japanese warehouses, and incinerators are at full capacity.

The government will require supermarkets and other shops to charge for disposable bags from next April, a move critics said does not go nearly far enough given that many other countries have already banned plastic bags from supermarkets.

The environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, conceded the measure, which will leave retailers to set the price of a bag, would do little to address the damage single-use plastics are inflicting on the marine environment.

“The proportion of plastic bags among plastic waste is not big, but charging would be symbolic,” of Japan’s determination to reduce plastic waste, he told reporters earlier this month.

G20 environment ministers meeting in Japan earlier this month agreed on an international framework that calls on countries to take voluntary steps to reduce single-use plastics, but stopped short of setting numerical goals.

“Marine litter, especially marine plastic litter and microplastics, is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods, and industries including fisheries, tourism, and shipping, and potentially on human health,” they said in a communiqué.

Local authorities and companies are taking more decisive action. The town of Kameoka, near Kyoto, will ban almost 800 retailers from handing out plastic bags from next year – with violators potentially facing fines – while the village of Kamikatsu is striving to become completely waste-free by next year.

Seven-Eleven Japan said this week it will start selling onigiri rice balls in plant-based wrapping from as early as next month. The firm’s 21,000 stores nationwide sell 2.2bn onigiri a year. It has said it will also replace all plastic shopping bags with paper by 2030 and all plastic packaging with paper, biodegradable or other reusable materials.

Convenience store operator Family Mart now uses recycled plastic for its cold noodle range, while the Chinese restaurant chain Ohsho said it would eliminate single-use plastic straws and spoons at all of its 700-plus restaurants from next month.

“Individuals taking action on single-use plastics is one thing,” said Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan. “But if more businesses did the same the impact would be much greater. But the petroleum industry has been lobbying hard against change.”

Hezbollah sees U.S. war on Iran as unlikely: report

Hezbollah sees U.S. war on Iran as unlikely: report

FILE PHOTO: Lebanon’s Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem casts his vote as he stands next to Hezbollah parliament candidate Amin Sherri at a polling station during the parliamentary election, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah believes a U.S. war on Iran is unlikely for reasons including Iran’s strong defensive capabilities, Hezbollah’s deputy leader said in an interview published on Thursday.

Sheikh Naim Qassem told Lebanon’s al-Joumhouria newspaper U.S. President Donald Trump “does not need war”.

“He does not benefit from a war that he can start but whose results he cannot control and which might begin with Iran but may be accompanied by the region being set on fire,” he said.

The leader of Hezbollah, a heavily armed group founded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in 1982, said last month it was unlikely the United States would launch a war against Tehran as it would pay a heavy price.

On Wednesday, Trump said any war between Iran and the United States would be swift, but reiterated his desire to avoid a military confrontation even while blasting Tehran’s leaders.

Indian Defense Ministry Seeks Shipyards Willing to Build Six New Submarines

Indian Defense Ministry Seeks Shipyards Willing to Build Six New Submarines

The Indian Defense Ministry set in motion last Thursday the process of getting six new submarines built under its new Strategic Partnership program, which aims to increase domestic development by partnering Indian firms with foreign ones to produce military hardware.

The MoD sent “Requests for Expression of Interest” (REols) out to Indian shipyards on June 20, inviting bids to produce six Project 75I-class diesel-electric attack submarines for the country’s navy. The shipyards will have two months to respond, and those that make the cut will be shortlisted as Strategic Partners (SP) under the ministry’s new partnership program inaugurated last year, The Diplomat reported Wednesday.

“The Indian companies would be shortlisted based on their capability for integration of system of systems, expertise in shipbuilding domain and the financial strength,” the MoD said in a June 20 statement. “The OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] would be shortlisted primarily based on their submarine design meeting the Indian Navy’s Qualitative Requirements and qualifying the Transfer of Technology and Indigenous Content (IC) criteria.”

Potential foreign partners for the contract include Naval Group (France), Kockums (Sweden), Rubin Design Bureau (Russia) and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Germany), The Diplomat reported.

Procurement of the six Project-75I subs was approved by the Defense Acquisition Council in January, although it’s been in the works since 2007, The Diplomat noted. The new boats are derived from the Kalvari-class submarines, themselves the product of a joint venture between French naval manufacturer DCNS and Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Limited. The total cost of the submarines is projected to be 45,000 crore rupees ($6.5 billion), New Delhi Television reported.

The purpose of the SP program is to create a vehicle for compliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” program, which aims to increase the amount of home-grown technology and manufacturing of Indian arms in a bid to minimize dependency on foreign providers.

Under the program, qualifying domestic companies will partner with foreign firms willing to engage in technology transfer. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approves the deal, and specially constituted Empowered Project Committees (EPC) oversee the entire process, the Press Trust of India reported in July 2018.

“This will give a major fillip towards encouraging self-reliance and aligning the defence sector with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government,” the defense ministry said in July 2018, according to PTI.

Venezuela’s Maduro says authorities foiled opposition coup plot

Venezuela's Maduro says authorities foiled opposition coup plot

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech from Miraflores palace in Caracas, Venezuela May 31, 2019. Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday security forces had foiled an opposition coup attempt that included plans to assassinate him and other top political figures and install a jailed former military officer as president.

A catastrophic economic collapse in the South American nation has fueled malnutrition and disease, prompting an exodus of the population toward Mexico and the United States. The armed forces have continued to side with the ruling Socialist Party despite calls by opposition leader Juan Guaido to disavow Maduro.

“We have revealed, dismantled and captured a fascist band of terrorists that planned a coup against Venezuelan society and Venezuelan democracy,” said Maduro in an evening broadcast.

“They are captured, behind bars, with clear evidence after following this group of criminals and fascists.”

The plan allegedly involved an attack on the headquarters of the Sebin intelligence agency to release General Raul Baduel, a former defense minister who was arrested on corruption accusations in 2009 after falling out with the Socialist Party.

Maduro said the plan involved Guaido as well as political leaders from Chile, Colombia and the United States.

Guaido dismissed the accusations as lies. Maduro’s critics accuse him of fabricating plots for political effect based on coerced testimony of arrested suspects.

Guaido, who in January invoked the constitution to assume a rival presidency, called on the armed forces in April to disavow Maduro in an uprising.