U.S. AND CANADA
The number of breeding North American birds has plummeted by approximately 1.5 billion over the past 40 years, according to a new report. Forty-six species have lost at least half their populations—primarily through urbanization and habitat degradation.
Representatives from more than 100 countries signed an agreement in Johannesburg to forbid international trade in pangolins. The armored mammal's scales are used in traditional Chinese remedies, and researchers estimate that at least one million have been illegally traded since 2000 despite previous scattershot laws.
A new law bans all plastic kitchenware, requiring that alternatives be compostable. It follows on the heels of a similar national law that prohibits plastic bags in supermarket produce sections, taking effect in January.
An announcement from Chinese officials seemed to confirm that the country's space agency had lost control of its Tiangong-1 space station, which has been in low-Earth orbit since 2011 and was last occupied in 2013. The 8.5-metric-ton spacecraft will most likely fall to Earth in late 2017; experts predict it will largely burn up on reentering the atmosphere.
The Kenyan government is set to deliver 1.2 million laptops to the country's 23,000 primary schools by the end of this year—an effort to prepare students to be competitive in Kenya's emerging economy, in which officials hope technology will play a large part.