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Malaysia to ship back hundreds of tons of plastic waste

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Hundreds of tons of imported plastic waste will be shipped back to where it came from, Malaysia said Tuesday, insisting the country did not want to be a global dumping ground.

Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), with much of it ending up in landfill or polluting the seas, in what is becoming a growing international crisis.

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China had previously taken a large amount of waste for recycling, but abruptly stopped last year, saying it wanted to improve its own environment.

Now Southeast Asian countries that stepped in to plug this gap say they have had enough.

“We urge developed countries to stop shipping garbage to our country,” said Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s minister of energy, technology, science, environment and climate change, adding it was “unfair and uncivilised”.

“We will return it back to the country of origin without any mercy,” she said, after an inspection of several waste-filled containers at Port Klang, the country’s busiest port.

AFP / JOSEPH EID Hundreds of millions of tonnes of plastic are produced every year, with much of it ending up in landfill or polluting the seas and beaches

Plastic imports to Malaysia have tripled since 2016, to 870,000 tonnes last year, official data showed.

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The influx has sparked a rapid increase in the number of recycling plants, many of them operating without a licence and with little regard for environmental standards.

Yeo vowed a crackdown on illegal imports and recycling facilities and called Malaysians involved in importing the scraps “traitors”.

“Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world,” she declared. “We cannot be bullied by the developed countries.”

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The ministry said 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste in 10 containers — from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and the United States — will be shipped back.

Port officials said their contents were misdeclared, but did not give a date for the shipment.

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AFP / Mohd RASFAN Around 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year, with only a small percentage recycled

“These containers are filled with contaminated, non-homogenous, low-quality, non-recyclable plastic waste, and are routed to processing facilities which do not have the technology to recycle in an environmentally sound manner,” the ministry said.

Malaysia last month sent back five containers filled with plastic waste to Spain.

Inspections are being carried out on more than 50 other containers brought in illegally.

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Yeo said it will take until the end of the year to fully deal with the problem.

She said 150 illegal waste recycling plants had been shut down.

As little as nine percent of plastic produced between 1950 and 2015 has been recycled.

Pictures of coral reefs smothered in plastic bags and river systems choked with PET bottles have sparked a growing worldwide awareness of the need to deal with the problem.

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Chinese fans grieve for NBA superstar Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

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NBA star Kobe Bryant's death triggered an outpouring of grief on Monday in China, where he was beloved by fans, with a hashtag of the news drawing more than a billion views.

Nine people were killed in a helicopter crash including Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter, Los Angeles officials confirmed on Sunday.

Basketball is arguably the most popular sport in China, and Bryant -- a five-time NBA champion who blogged for Chinese internet giant SINA in 2009 -- was among the first American stars to garner a large fan base in the country.

He remained popular in China after his retirement in 2016, frequently engaging via social media with Chinese fans.

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Bolton’s firsthand evidence puts senators in the difficult position of believing ‘bizarro’ Trump team argument: Legal experts

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Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal and Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe agreed that the recent revelations from John Bolton, puts Republicans in a difficult position. Bolton's manuscript confirmed that President Donald Trump's bribery scheme puts senators in the difficult position of being faced with firsthand witnesses they've tried to block.

Republicans were given multiple opportunities to agree that they would like to hear witnesses and new evidence as part of the impeachment trial in the Senate, but each time, they voted against it. But with the news Bolton released Sunday night, it forces senators to acknowledge they deny even firsthand evidence of Trump's guilt.

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Democratic senator says she gets more ‘disheartened’ every day hearing GOP deny evidence and witnesses

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Day after day, Republicans senators find new excuses to dismiss the evidence they hear that in any courtroom would convict an ordinary American citizen. It was enough to make normally happy Sen. Debbie Stabenow (R-MI) feel "disheartened" by the whole process.

"As somebody from Michigan, we believe in commonsense, and you can't look at all this and say, 'is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?'" said Stabenow. "And you can't look at this and say, 'Is this how somebody would act if they were innocent?' All of this coming out over and over again. I'll never forget Adam Schiff on the floor saying to all of us, 'Nobody's saying, well, gosh, Donald Trump would never do that.' The truth is it's all about will he get away with it? It's all about, are they going to be successful in hiding it and so on?"

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