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Die spätmittelalterlichen Seuchenzüge der Pest in Mitteleuropa hatten einschneidende demographische und gesellschaftliche Auswirkungen. Im mittelalterlichen Krankheitsverständnis wurden verschiedene Ursachen für die Pest in Erwägung gezogen. An erster Stelle standen oft religiöse Vorstellungen; daneben spielten aber auch Überlegungen zu astrologischen Konstellationen, das Wetter, Naturereignisse, der vom Abfall in den Strassen verursachte Gestank, schlechte Ausdünstungen oder die Beulen von erkrankten Menschen eine Rolle. Die Symptomatik und Folgen der Pesterkrankung waren bestens bekannt und entsprechend gefürchtet. Aus dem damaligen Verständnis wurden verschiedenste Praktiken und Empfehlungen zum Schutz vor der Ansteckung, aber auch zur Linderung der Symptome entwickelt. Erst mit der Entdeckung des Krankheitserregers Yersinia pestis im Jahr 1894 konnten die Zusammenhänge mit den hygienischen Verhältnissen sowie der Übertragungsweg über Flöhe und häusliche Nagetiere (hauptsächlich Ratten) schlüssig nachvollzogen werden. Zwar besteht in Mitteleuropa heutzutage praktisch keine Pestgefahr mehr, doch ist das Bakterium nicht ausgerottet, sondern kommt in Afrika, Asien sowie Süd- und Mittelamerika weiterhin vor. Alte Kräuterbücher erwähnen eine Vielfalt an Pestpflanzen, die zum Schutz vor der Ansteckung, wie z.B. Gemeiner Wacholder (Juniperus communis) , Kleine Bibernelle (Pimpinella saxifraga) oder Arznei-Engelwurz (Angelica archangelica) , aber auch zur Behandlung der Pestbeulen dienten, wie z.B. die Schwarze Tollkirsche (Atropa belladonna) . Dabei spielen innere und äussere Anwendungen (gebranntes Wasser, Salz, Pillen und Pulver bzw. Umschläge, Salben oder Pflaster) sowie Amulette, Räucherrituale oder Kräuterbüschel eine wichtige Rolle.

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Over the course of a professional career that spanned more than 40 years, Tom Petty released a vast amount of material, including 13 albums with the Heartbreakers, three solo outings, two with Mudcrutch and dozens if not hundreds of covers, outtakes, live versions, stray B-sides, Petty songs covered by other artists, and more.

Yet there’s a lot of unreleased music inside the late musician’s vault, and four CDs of it will be coming in a boxed set called “American Treasure” scheduled for release on Sept 28, it was announced on the Petty channel on SiriusXM Tuesday. The set, featuring artwork by Low Cost Online Cheapest Online Hogan Olympia H057 sneakers Blue Manchester Great Sale Sale Online Huge Surprise kBkvh
, will include previously unreleased live and studio material, alternate versions — 60 songs in total, compiled by Petty’s daughter Adria, his wife Dana, longtime Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench and veteran Petty engineer Ryan Ulyate. It dates from thebeginnings of the Heartbreakers to recent years, which presumably would make the set a collaborative release between Universal (which owns the rights to Petty’s early material issued on Shelter or Backstreet/MCA Records) and Warner Music, which released his music from 1994 on. More details will be released Wednesday morning, which was teased by a countdown clock on Petty’s website beginning earlier this week.

The set was previewed on SiriusXM with an unreleased song dating from 1982 called “Keep a Little Soul” (not to be confused with the 1967 hit by the Music Explosion, “Little Bit O’ Soul,” which Petty and the Heartbreakers performed live).

Considering the length of “American Treasure,” it seems likely that it could include the second disc of an expanded version of the 1995 album “Wildflowers” that was announced in 2015 but has not been released. The sessions for that album, the first of three Petty recorded with producer Rick Rubin, spawned a bounty of material that did not make the original album, some of which emerged on the “She’s the One” soundtrack the following year. In 2015 Petty dropped a song called “ Somewhere Under Heaven ” as the lead track for the 20th anniversary double-album expanded edition, titled “Wildflowers: All the Rest.”

Petty died on Oct. 2 of last year of an accidental overdose of a variety of medications, according to a post written by his widow, Dana, and eldest daughter, Adria. According to a statement from the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner, obtained by Variety, the musician was taking several medications, including Fentanyl, oxycodone, Xanax, Restoril, and Celexa. In their statement, Petty’s family named a litany of health problems the musician faced, “including emphysema, knee problems and most significantly a fractured hip.” The hip injury worsened, the family explained, while Petty was on his final tour, which ended just a week before his death.

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Those little plastic straws that you get at virtually every restaurant in America have become a huge problem for the world's oceans and Starbucks is finally doing something about it. The global coffeehouse chain announced on Monday that it will immediately begin phasing out plastic drinking straws from its 28,000 stores worldwide and eliminate their availability almost completely by 2020. Given that the company uses around a billion straws every year, that could make a significant difference to the health of our seas.

Drinking straws are just part of a planet-wide plastic pollution problem. Humans generate around 35 million tons of plastic pollution annually and about a quarter of it -- 9 million tons -- ends up in the ocean, according to a 2015 University of Georgia study published in the journal, . Of that, about 2,000 tons (4 percent) is made up of discarded straws. But since these items weigh on average .42 grams (1/67 of an ounce), we're still dealing with billions of individual units. According to Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox , some 7.5 million straws litter America's shorelines alone. They estimate that as many as 8.3 billion straws can be found on the world's coastlines.

"For every pound of tuna we're taking out of the ocean, we're putting two pounds of plastic in the ocean," Sherry Lippiatt, California regional coordinator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's marine debris program, told the .

Our polluting practices have wrought havoc on the marine ecosystem for years but a call for action went out in 2015 when Christine Figgener, a marine biologist at Texas AM University, posted the following video of a sea turtle having a straw graphically removed from its nostril to YouTube. It's been viewed more than 30 million times since its posting and helped to coalesce public support for banning plastic straws.

"There are several of these single-use items the public is realizing, hey, we don't actually need these," Denise Hardesty, a scientist with Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, told the .

Even so, banning straws should only rectify around 4 percent of the plastic pollution problem, right? "Banning straws is about as important as spitting in the wind," Psychologist Robert Gifford told in July. But the action carries with it a "foot in the door" benefit, he explained. "A lot of social psychology research says that if you get people to say yes to a small request, they are more likely to accede to more serious requests." So by building support for small changes, like banning straws, society should in the future be able to further nurture support for more fundamental environmentally-friendly changes.

In the straws' places, Starbucks is developing a recyclable spouted lid that has been described as an "adult sippy cup." These lids, according the the company , "will become the standard for all iced coffee, tea and espresso beverages." It's already available at 8,000 North American locations for the company's Draft Nitro and Cold Foam drinks. Seattle and Vancouver customers will be the first to see these new lids on all their drinks starting this fall. The rest of the US and Canada will get them by the end of 2019 and the rest of the world will receive them after that.

However, not everybody is entirely enthused with Starbucks' new-found environmental conscience. The disability advocacy group, One in Five, protested earlier this year against MSP Kate Forbes' "Final Straw" campaign to ban plastic straws from the UK, arguing that paper, plant-based and metal alternatives are not always suitable.

"Most paper and plant-based alternatives are not flexible or suitable for drinks over 40C, therefore increases the risks of choking," the group wrote to the MSP in February. "Metal straws can be dangerous for people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson's whereas reusable plastic straws present hygiene concerns to people with specific health conditions."

Here in the US, advocates have fought similar local measures. The city of Berkeley, California in June floated the idea of banning plastic straws . The Center for Independent Living applauded the city's environmental efforts but pointed out in a letter to the City Council, "due to deficits in manual dexterity and various other factors, a significant number of folks require straws to drink beverages. It is important that Berkeley, as it moves forward with any plan, remember the needs of its disabled residents and to accommodate those needs."

Concerns from the disabled community aside, the push to reduce plastic usage has gained steam over the past couple of years. Hyatt Hotels Corp also announced on Monday that it would only give plastic straws upon request at restaurants and bars in its 700 properties starting September 1st.

Starbucks' announcement came a week after Seattle, Washington (where the coffee company is headquartered), implemented its city-wide ban on plastic straws in restaurants. Fort Myers, Florida has already enacted a similar ban and like-minded propositions are currently being considered in both San Francisco and New York. In May, the European Council unveiled a plan to ban 10 plastic items that constitute 70 percent of the pollution in European waterways. What's more, the EC's proposal would shoulder plastic producers with the cleanup costs.

At the start of June, McDonald's announced that it would begin phasing out plastic straws from more than a thousand of its restaurants throughout the UK and Ireland. Back in February, Dunkin Donuts announced that it would phase out polystyrene foam cups from its stores by the start of the next decade. And in March, the European Space Agency said that it would begin measuring plastic pollution levels from orbit to provide a more accurate count than current estimates.

Whether these specific steps taken by a few multinational corporations have any noticeable effect on the Earth's oceans remains to be seen. However, Starbucks' actions set a precedent, allowing it to serve as a role model for other environmentally conscious companies. And when we're facing a problem as ubiquitous as plastic pollution, we've got to start somewhere. Even if the first steps don't solve the problem outright .

Images: Getty Images

We're removing plastic straws in our stores globally by 2020—reducing more than 1 billion plastic straws per year from our stores.

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