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Deadly red tides, passport delays | 5 STORIES

The PBS NewsHour’s “5 STORIES'' serves up interesting that you may have missed. On this week’s episode: France gives 18-year-olds hundreds of dollars to spend on cultural experiences, Florida grapples with a deadly red tide, chefs push back against gas stove bans, a fake island in Maryland shows promise for restoring seabird populations and eager travelers face long delays when renewing passports.

AIRED: July 30, 2021 | 0:05:14
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TRANSCRIPT

Hey, everyone, I'm Deema Zein. Free money, a deadly red tide and travel

delays. Here are five stories you may have missed, starting with:.

Free money.

Imagine the country you live in handing you a few hundred dollars and saying, "have

fun!" Well, that's kind of what France is doing with their new culture pass.

Around 800,000 eighteen year olds can now download an app to get the equivalent

of 365 U.S. Dollars to spend on cultural experiences.

They have two years to use the money on things like movie tickets, concerts, museums,

dance classes, books, musical instruments, art supplies and French media streaming

services.

Hey, anyone listening? I am happy to spend your free money on French culture.

Just send it my way.

While it should help the recovery of French art sectors, the program's creation is

actually President Emmanuel Macron making good on a promise from his 2017 election.

But, not everyone is happy with culture pass.

Critics say it's just a political tactic to win voters, not to mention the 19 year olds

who are just too old to qualify for the dough.

That sucks.

Deadly Red Tide.

Shorelines near Tampa, Florida, are being flooded with dead fish and other marine life

and a red tide is to blame.

Red tides occur when the algae known as Karenia Brevis blooms in large numbers,

releasing toxins that can cause respiratory illness in humans and kill fish, birds and

other sea life. Red tides do occur naturally, but warming waters due to climate change

are making them worse. Scientists believe this bloom is at least partly caused

by more than two hundred million gallons of polluted water that leaked from an old

phosphate plant in April. High concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus are known

to fuel toxic phytoplankton growth.

This particular bloom is the worst since 2018, killing at least sixteen

hundred tons of marine life so far and leaving local beach and fishing businesses

worried about their livelihoods.

Stovetop Battle.

This one is a hot topic.

The battle of gas versus electric stovetop.

Some American cities like San Francisco, Denver and New York have passed or are

considering measures that would ban natural gas fired stoves in new or remodeled

buildings. It's all an effort to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate

change. Proponents say electric stoves don't post carbon monoxide or other air quality

risks and are better for the environment.

But opponents, including many restaurant chefs, are pushing back, saying they

can achieve the same texture and taste in their foods when using electric ranges.

But here's the thing. A 2018 U.S.

Energy Information Administration report found gas stoves account for less than three

percent of household natural gas use in the U.S.

Water heaters use 10 times as much gas and space heaters 20 times more.

So some argue natural gas stoves really shouldn't be the top concern when it comes to

carbon reduction. That said, if you need to replace your stove, it can't hurt to consider

going electric.

Turn turnaround.

OK, so this footage might have you wondering why are there fake wooden birds,

sitting on a square platform floating in the Chincoteague Bay.

Well, along Maryland's Eastern Shore, populations of seabirds known as terns

have plunged in recent decades. The breeding population of common terns has fallen 90

percent since 2003, and the breeding population of royal terns is basically

gone altogether. As our colleagues at NewsHour Weekend reported, tiny islands they

use for nesting are disappearing.

The islands have declined from about 30 to only three in the last twenty five years.

So in May, the state of Maryland, the Maryland coastal based program and the local

Audubon Society teamed up to give them a new spot to land.

They loaded this one hundred thousand dollar artificial island up with clamshells, fake

birds and a solar powered device that plays birdcalls and towed it into the

Chincoteague Bay. And it worked! So far, about 20 pairs of common terns have bred on the

floating island, and there are another dozen active nests with eggs in them.

It's almost like in football terms, the 'Hail Mary' pass.

This is the last ditch effort that we can do until we can

provide sand and create more natural islands.

Passport delays.

Feeling ready to finally cash in your PTO and head on that long overdue

international vacation. Well, some of you might have to wait a little bit

longer.

The State Department significantly reduced passport operations in March 2020,

due to the pandemic, creating a backlog of passport applications.

Now, appointments are hard to get and the renewal process is moving at a snail's

pace. And as vaccines roll out, people are feeling more comfortable traveling abroad.

Cheap flights might be easy to get, but passports, not so much.

Renewals, which normally take six to eight weeks to process, are taking as long as 18

and expedited services that normally take up to three weeks are lasting as long as

three months. To speed up the process some travelers are crossing state lines to get

renewal appointments. But if you are in a real time crunch and can show proof that you're

traveling within 72 hours, you might be able to get a rush appointment, but those

are limited.

So please people, if you have a plan to travel, go home, check your passport

now and start the process early.

For the PBS News Hour and until two weeks from now, this is

5STORIES. Have a great weekend. Have two great weekends!

We'll see you soon.

Click here so you don't miss us too much.

Just kidding, we're going to miss you.

I don't like break ups. It's not a breakup.

We are on a break! Like Ross told Rachel, just a little break.

Just a little break. They were on a break. Who think they- they were on a break!

We're going to take like a week break and we'll be back.

Two weeks. See you soon.

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