Daily Archives: December 28, 2019

Iran censors internet on the eve of new protests – New York Post

Posted: December 28, 2019 at 11:48 pm

Irans hardline authorities on Wednesday prepared for another round of protests by shutting down mobile Internet access to overseas sites in several restive provinces, an Iranian news agency reported.

Relatives of people killed last month during unrest over gasoline price hikes have called for renewed protests and commemoration ceremonies for the dead on Thursday.

The semi-official news agency ILNA quoted a source at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry as saying the shutdown was ordered by security authorities and covered the Alborz, Kurdestan and Zanjan provinces in central and western Iran and Fars in the south.

According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity, ILNA said.

In November, Iran shut down the Internet for about a week to help stifle the fuel protests which turned political, sparking the bloodiest crackdown in the 40-year history of the Islamic Republic.

The Internet censorship made it difficult for protesters to post videos on social media to generate support and also to obtain reliable reports on the extent of the unrest and government violence.

With Post wires

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AI Censors and 8 Other Things You Didn’t Know About Tencent – Motley Fool

Posted: at 11:48 pm

Many investors recognize Tencent (OTC:TCEHY) as the largest video game publisher in the world; the owner of WeChat, China's top messaging app; and a market leader in the digital-payment, advertising, and media-streaming markets.

When reviewing Tencent's financials, they'll likely focus on its core growth engines -- its gaming, digital advertising, fintech, and cloud businesses. However, those headline numbers only give us a surface-level understanding of the 21-year-old company. Today, we'll examine nine lesser-known facts about the Chinese tech giant.

Image source: Getty Images.

WeChat isn't just a messaging app that serves 1.15 billion usersmonthly. It's an all-in-one "super app" that lets users pay bills, order food, book tickets, hail rides, and more.

However, any messages and images sent on WeChat areautomatically scanned for taboo topics by AI algorithms. Offending messages are deleted, often instantly, to prevent China's cyberspace regulators from cracking down on the platform. This isn't surprising, but it's a controversial tactic that often frustrates the app's foreign users.

Tencent's first product was a clone of the messaging app ICQ called OICQ (Open ICQ).ICQ's owner, AOL, threatened tosue Tencent over trademark violations, and OICQ was rebranded as QQ, which expanded into a broader messaging ecosystem. Roughly 731 million people still use QQ on a monthly basis.

Last year, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) honored 100 individuals fortheir contributions to the country. That list included Tencent CEO Pony Ma, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) CEO Robin Li, and Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) founder Jack Ma. Jack Ma is notably a member of the CPC, but Pony Ma and Robin Li are not affiliated with any political parties.

Chinese regulators crack down on tech companies for myriad reasons, so companies often go to great lengths to stay in the government's good graces. Tencent even launched a game two years ago to coincide with President Xi's speech during the 19th Congress of the CPC. That game, Clapping Hands for Xi Jinping, played a short video of Xi's speech, and players tried to clapas many times as possible within 19 seconds.

However, that fawning gesture didn't prevent China's regulators from suspending all new gaming approvals for nine months the following year and crippling one of Tencent's core businesses.

Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu are clearly subservient to China's government, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Three years ago, the Wall Street Journal claimed that the Chinese government wanted to buy1% stakes in Tencent and other domestic tech giants, gainspecial "management shares," and claim seats on the companies' boards. It's unclear if those plans are still in motion, but they indicate that the Chinese government wants to tighten its grip on its top tech companies.

Image source: Getty Images.

Two years ago, China's Ministry of Science and Technology recruited the BAT triumvirate and iFlytek to lead the development of new AI technologies.

The Ministry assigned Baidu to self-driving cars, Alibaba to smart cities, iFlytek to voice technologies, and Tencent to computer vision applications in healthcare. This complements WeChat's integration into China's hospitals, many of which accept WeChat Pay payments, and the expansion of its cloud business into the healthcare sector.

Tencent is the second-largest cloud platform provider in China after Alibaba, but it still trails far behind market leaders like Amazon and Microsoft in overseas markets. But that could change soon.

Tencent already operates data centers in the U.S., Canada, Singapore, India, and Germany, and it believes that it canmore than quadruple its overseas cloud revenue this year. It faces an uphill battle, but it could be an appealing choice for overseas companies that want to tether themselves to Tencent's ecosystem of social, advertising, and gaming services in China.

Tencent has invested in a long list of companies overseas, including Activision Blizzard, Epic Games, Tesla Motors, Snap, and nearly 50 unicorn start-ups. That massive investment portfolio now generates over a quarter of Tencent's profits -- and results in big gaps between its GAAP and non-GAAP earnings.

Lastly, Tencent's largest stakeholder is South African internet group Naspers (OTC:NPSNY), which invested $32 million in the company in 2001. It sold someofits shares since then, but it stillowns a 31% stake -- which is worth about $150 billion today. Pony Ma ranks second in ownership with a 9% stake.

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Dear 2020: Piyush Mishras open letter to the coming year – Hindustan Times

Posted: at 11:48 pm

Dear 2020,

The Censorship Vs Creative freedom debate is possibly one of the longest running ones and it will not end any time. But I absolutely dont agree to the view that creative freedom should be absolute. Censorship is important because without that anyone will be putting out anything in the public domain under the garb of creative content. Without censorship, it will become a jungle raj, a free-for-all! In fact, I am already seeing something similar happening in the web series space. Things are increasingly taking a bizarre turn. There are web series that are misusing the lack of censorship and putting out random nudity, sex scenes, and extreme violence in the name of hard-hitting content. But often these are only used to grab eyeballs and serve no other purpose in the story. In fact, there is one such web series that I have sang the title song for, I had no idea that it will turn out to be a compilation of rural sex stories.

There are countries like Sweden that have no censorship. But our ground realities are very different from them. Censorship and its mandate should be based on the norms and values of the country and updated as the society progresses. Advocating the total abolishment of censorship is no less dangerous than the smothering censorship during Emergency period. The world does not work in extremes, there needs to be a middle path. The censor board needs to be formed with the right kind of people and should represent a cross section of the society.

Also, I dont think there is some serious attack on creative freedom in India today. A film like Udta Punjab (2016) was eventually passed with just one cut. This would be unthinkable 10 years back. I think we are far more liberal today. Also, there are ways to say the same thing in a different manner. Look at the cinema of Raj Kumar Hirani, apart from PK (2014), which got into trouble with the censor board for nudity, none of his five films got the snip and yet all were bold commentaries on the society. The problem is that today most people want to create controversial content just to get some easy publicity. Also, you dont need to be derogatory to prove a point. If you simply want to be blatant and offensive then you are on a very wrong track to begin with.

Having said that, political content can land you in some trouble but that is nothing new, it has been the same under every regime.

So, in 2020 I want artists to become more responsible and not use their creative freedom to peddle soft-porn, especially on the OTT platforms, and I also hope for a well-represented, accountable and standardised censor board.

(As told to Ananya Ghosh)

Naseeruddin Shahs open letter to 2020. Read here

Makarand Deshpandes open letter to 2020. Read here

Faezeh Jalalis poem for 2020. Read here

HT Brunch cover story: By the people, for the people, of the people Four thespians write down their wishlist for 2020. Read the entire article here

From HT Brunch, December 29, 2019

Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch

Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch

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Sara Lee Responds to SNLs Sexually Charged Sketch, Reverses Instagram Censorship: We Are Taking It in Stride – Sunriseread

Posted: at 11:48 pm


Regardless of briefly hiding Instagram feedback after showing in a sexually charged Saturday Night time Dwell sketch, the Sara Lee Company says its taking the SNL fame in stride.

On the NBC sequence Nov. 16 episode, host Harry Kinds appeared in a Sara Lee-centric skit during which he performed Dillan, a social media supervisor who was known as into a gathering to talk about off-brand exercise on the corporates Instagram account. Dillan had used the @SaraLeeBread deal with to go away sexually suggestive feedback on a number of posts, together with Wreck me daddy and Destroy me king on a Nick Jonas picture.

In a press release to the New York Put up on Sunday, Sara Lees mum or dad firm, Bimbo Bakeries USA, stated, We didnt take part in creating the skit and its content material doesnt align with Sara Lee Breads model. However everyone knows SNL pushes the envelope for laughs and were taking it in stride.

After the episode aired, although, the precise @SaraLeeBread Instagram account was flooded with feedback referencing the sketch, together with a number of Wreck me daddy replies to the corporates newest submit. On Sunday afternoon, feedback on the submit had been hidden, prompting SNL forged member Bowen Yang to name out the corporate for its censorship.

Sara Lee disabling and deleting IG feedback, he tweeted. Wow they actually might have been THE bread for f*gs.

As of Monday morning, nevertheless, feedback on the submit have returned, and Bimbo Bakeries USA defined the social media technique in a separate assertion.

We didnt delete any feedback however did quickly cover them till we might learn via and perceive what occurred, the corporate instructed HuffPost. All feedback are actually seen, and we will probably be monitoring for any that violate Instagram requirements.

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Mr X tries to censor reports of sexual assault allegations – The Times

Posted: at 11:48 pm

Sean ONeill, Chief Reporter

A multimillionaire at the centre of a police investigation over sexual assault allegations is trying to censor newspaper reports, though he is referred to only as Mr X.

The businessman, protected by court orders and reporting restrictions, claims that reports by The Times in which he is anonymised are a threat to his privacy and a breach of his human rights because they allegedly contain identifying information.

He has enlisted defamation lawyers and a reputation management firm to further restrict coverage by The Times of the police inquiry into allegations made by a former employee.

The articles Mr X wants censored do not identify him, do not say where he lives and do not refer to his type of business.

The campaign group Index on

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YouTube Censoring Crypto-Related Videos Crypto.IQ | Bitcoin and Investment News from Inside Experts You Can Trust – CryptoIQ

Posted: at 11:48 pm

December 24, 2019 / by Crypto.IQ

YouTube, the most popular social media website for videos, is apparently censoring cryptocurrency-related content. Without any warning, crypto videos from the popular content creators Chris Dunn, Crypto Tips, The Cryptoverse, and Node Investor have been removed.

Even worse, those content creators received a one-week ban and a stern warning that if they continue to produce similar content they will be permanently banned.

Apparently most of the deleted crypto-related videos have been classified as harmful or dangerous content, although one content creator reports that their deleted videos were classified as sale of regulated goods.

It seems that fairly benign videos that simply discuss crypto market analysis are being classified as harmful or dangerous content and being deleted. Chico Crypto claims that one of the deleted videos was simply asking users if they have ever heard of Bitcoin (BTC).

It seems that YouTube is classifying cryptocurrency in general as harmful or dangerous content. It is possible that this is simply an overreaction to crypto scams, and that YouTube is blanket deleting crypto videos instead of taking the time to weed out the crypto scam videos. If this is true, this move would be similar to how Google Ads and Facebook Ads banned all crypto-related advertising in the past rather than filtering out ads which were crypto scams.

YouTube has yet to clarify the situation, and at this time YouTubes terms of service do not yet indicate that crypto-related content is banned.

In the worst case, the crypto community could start using blockchain-based alternatives for video sharing such as Steemit, DTube, and DLive.

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Japan to send warship, aircraft to Middle East to protect vessels – Reuters

Posted: at 11:47 pm

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will send a warship and patrol planes to protect Japanese ships in the Middle East as the situation in the region, from which it sources nearly 90% of its crude oil imports, remains volatile, Japans top government spokesman said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force's P3-C Orion surveillance aircraft flies over an oil tanker as the plane takes part in an anti-piracy operation at the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, in this photo taken by Kyodo August 1, 2015. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

Under the plan approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abes cabinet, a helicopter-equipped destroyer and two P-3C patrol planes will be dispatched for information-gathering aimed at ensuring safe passage for Japanese vessels through the region.

If there are any emergencies, a special order would be issued by the Japanese defense minister to allow the forces to use weapons to protect ships in danger.

Peace and stability in the Middle East is extremely important for the peace and prosperity of the international community including Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference.

Also, it is very important to make sure Japan-related ships can sail safely in the Middle East, the worlds major source of energy.

Friction between Iran and the United States has increased since last year, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran and re-imposed sanctions on it, crippling its economy.

In May and June, there were several attacks on international merchant vessels in the region, including the Japanese-owned tanker Kokuka Courageous, which the United States blamed on Iran. Tehran denies the accusations.

Oil importers and refiners welcomed the government decision.

The Middle East situation remains unpredictable ... We believe the decision, made against this backdrop, will benefit the safe passage of ships in the region, Petroleum Association of Japan President Takashi Tsukioka said in a statement.

Japan, a U.S. ally that has maintained friendly ties with Iran, has opted to launch its own operation rather than join a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the region.

Abe last week briefed visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tokyos plan to send naval forces to the Gulf.

The planned operation is set to cover high seas in the Gulf of Oman, the northern Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden, but not the Strait of Hormuz.

The Japanese government aims to start the operation of the patrol planes next month, while the destroyer will likely begin activities in the region in February, a defense ministry official said.

The government decision is effective for one year through December 26, 2020. A fresh cabinet approval is necessary to extend the armed forces activities in the Middle East.

A European operation to ensure safe shipping in the Gulf will also get underway next month, when a French warship starts patrolling there.

Additional reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Michael Perry

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Oceans and marine life through 2019: 10 positive developments in sea life and global oceans – Firstpost

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Emma Critchley and Douglas McCauleyDec 27, 2019 10:14:48 IST

In 2019, we saw a mixed bag of news stories from oceans, high seas and marine conservation.A fair bit of progress was made toward an international treaty to protect biodiversity on the high seas.An incrediblerebound was witnessed in the western South Atlantic humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) to nearly its pre-whaling population size. Meanwhile, research documenting rapidly unfurling effects of climate change in the ocean painted a dire picture of the present and future ocean. These include accelerating sea level rise, more severe marine heatwaves and more frequent coral bleaching events.

A pair of marine scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, have shared their list of the topten ocean news stories from 2019 that are still worth celebrating.

A glimpse of marine life just beneath the ocean surface.

Climate change impacts on land made almost daily headlines this year: fires, floods, more extreme storms. Equally intense effects are being realized in our seas. This year, more than 100 scientists from 30 countries brought these impacts on the ocean into sharp focus with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)special report on the ocean and cryosphere.

The findings were bleak: Sea level rise is accelerating, marine heatwaves are more extensive and intense and coral bleaching events are occurring with increasing frequency. The reports predictions up the ante on action. Even if we meet the Paris Agreement mandate to keep warming to below a 2-degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial levels, the report suggests thatby 2100 sea levels will rise by 0.3 to 0.6 meters (1 to 2 feet), there will be 20 times more marine heatwaves and the ocean will be 40% more acidic.

Icebergs and melting ice in the Vatnajkull National Park in Iceland.

The urgency for ocean/climate action was happily mirrored at the close of this year with an all-time bump in importance for oceans at the recent UN climate negotiations (COP25) in Madrid, with the event even being billed by some as theBlue COP.

While detailed scientific reports and formal international negotiations are making slow progress, 2019 was the year thatyouth climate activistsstood up to demand a much more rapid response. This includedyouth from the Pacific islandswho are already dealing with the impacts of sea-level rise.

Greta Thunberg inspired millions of students to participate in school strikes, and Fridays for Future marches became a common occurrence in towns and cities across the globe. More than4 million people in over 163 countriesare estimated to have participated in the global climate strike in September. 2019 could be called the year when youth undeniably spoke their mind about climate change, but it remains to be seen how well the world listened.

2019 was a big year for progress on protecting biodiversity on the high seas, the two-thirds of the ocean that lie outside of national waters. The U.N. hosted two rounds of negotiations on a possible new global treaty to better manage and protect biodiversity on the high seas life that too often has slipped through international regulatory cracks. This protection is critical for pelagic populations that have already suffered huge losses due tooverfishingorbycatch.

Two young dolphins heading towards the high seas just as the sun breaks through the horizon in Avalon Beach, New South Wales.

Marine scientists from around the world presented results to the UN this year as towhich parts and how much of the high seas should be protected. Considerations include hotspots for migratory marine top predators such as seabirds and sharks, important fish spawning and feeding grounds and areas that may provide a buffer to climate change impacts. Adraft treaty textwas released in November.

With only one more planned negotiating session left this spring in New York, all eyes in 2020 will be on whether the treaty indeed becomes something that matters for ocean life on the high seas.

More than 3 billion people globally rely on healthy marine ecosystems for their livelihoods. However, fish stocks are overexploited, marine pollution is rife and ocean acidification is on the rise. A key target ofUN Sustainable Development Goal 14is to protect 10 percent of marine areas by 2020, a goal also encapsulated inAichi Target 11of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

With several large new protected areas announced in recent years andcurrent ocean protection at around 7.5 percentwe are now close to reaching the 10 percent target, but it remains to be seen if this can be achieved before the next CBD Conference of the Parties in October 2020. Even so, meeting the target does not ensure conservation success.

Hard work remains to be done to ensure that all marine protected areas are effective. This year also saw increasing calls from scientists, conservationists and governments toraise global ambitions and aim to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030, part of which would include high seas waters.

Grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) in the waters of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Image: Kydd Pollock/USFWS-Pacific Region via Flickr

An oil spill detected off the coast of Brazil in late August of this year is estimated at over 7,000 tons of crude oil, covering a 2,700-kilometer (1,680-mile) stretch of coastline. The spill hascontaminated hundreds of beaches, estuaries, reefs and mangrovesand is threatening important biodiversity hotspots and at least 48 marine protected areas.

One of these is Abrolhos Bank, the largest coral reef area in the South Atlantic Ocean. The source of the spill has yet to be identified, but it seems likely to have comefrom a dark ship that had switched off its location transponder. Analysis of satellite data has helped to identify ships that were in the area at the time of the spill, and the Brazilian authorities are currently reviewing the information. Brazils National Contingency Plan was activated late, and citizens whose livelihoods depend on coastal resources were those most impacted by the spill.

Oil tanker at sea. Image: Flickr

An improved response requires a crisis emergency fund and trained personnel to help citizens respond safely to environmental disasters. Further investment is also needed to improve both the science of spills and the technology that will enable a modern satellite monitoring system of ship activity.

Every year it seems we learn more and more about the severity of the plastic pollution crisis. Actions to address the crisis kicked off at the start of the year when the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a group of household-name companies (think Procter & Gamble, Shell and Dow),committed $1 billion to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling. Other recent commitments include theSea the Future initiative from the Minderoo Foundation, which hinges on businesses pledging a voluntary contribution that will make fossil fuel-based plastics more expensive to produce and more valuable to collect.

At the country level, Vietnam released itsNational Action Planon Ocean Plastic Waste Management,Panamabecame the first Central American nation to ban plastic bags, andKenyacommitted to banning single-use plastics in 2020. Awareness has also increased about therole that rivers playin the flow of plastic into the ocean, and innovative solutions are being developed to tackle the problem, such as Baltimore HarborsMr Trash Wheeland The Ocean CleanupsInterceptor.

A special ship designed to clean the oceans harvested its first plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in October 2019, after setting sail from San Francisco in a month prior. Image: The Ocean Cleanup/YouTube

The world moved closer this year to answering a landmark question for oceans:Should we legalize mining of the seafloor?

The International Seabed Authority hopes to finalize the answer to that question next year by completing international regulations on commercial ocean mining in the high seas, but it faces significant political opposition.In 2019 a host of countries, including Fiji, formally called for bans on ocean mining,citing concerns about the possible negative impacts that mining may have on fisheries, carbon storage in the oceans and fragile deep-ocean ecosystems.

Paralleling the race to mine the seafloor is the race to reduce our dependence on these marine minerals, through both the transformation of battery chemistry away from the reliance on rare metals for example, with potential breakthrough moments in next-generation battery research from labs atMITandBerkeley and the improvement of methods to recycle metals from existing products.

A garden of coral on the Sibelius Seamount at a depth of 2,465 m (8,087 ft). Image: NOAA/Wikimedia Commons

Harmful fisheries subsidiesare contributing to the depletion of marine life globally, with one-third of the worlds fish stocks now harvested at unsustainable levels compared to just 10 percent some 40 years ago.Subsidies are payouts provided to fishers by governments to offset costs, such as fuel and fishing gear, and they can often encourage illegal catch or fishing beyond biologically sustainable limits.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been in negotiations to end harmful fisheries subsidies since 2001, and with talks picking up momentum in 2019, it was hoped an agreement would finally be reached by the end of the year. Unfortunately, that opportunity has now passed, but in early December members agreed onan intensive program of negotiations for early 2020aiming to reach agreement by the next WTO ministerial meeting in June.

Fresh fish sorting from fisheries at sea, destined for a local market in Mui Ne, Vietnam. Image: Duangphorn Wiriya/Unsplash

The appointment of a new chair of the negotiations has injected fresh energy and hope into the talks process, and many voices of influence have joined the call for a swift conclusion to the negotiations, including the WTOs director-general, Roberto Azevdo, and famed British naturalistSir David Attenborough.

Its often quoted thatwe know more about the moons surface than the ocean floor, and even in 2019 the ocean still continues to surprise us. Though weve known about biofluorescence in the marine world for a while,the mechanism for why some shark species emit a green glow was only worked out this year.

Bioflourescent catfish under visible and infrared light. Image: Scientific Reports

Biofluorescence in female (a-d) and male (e-h) catsharks (Scyliorhinidae). Image: Scientific Reports

Researchers discovered a small family of molecules that produce the green glow, which is only visible to other sharks, and the compounds may even offer protection from microbial infection. It can be a challenge to keep up with the changes happening in the ocean, many of which are driven by climate change.The appearance of a go-kart-size hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) washed upon Coal Oil Point Reserve in Santa Barbara, California, caused confusion for locals and scientists alike. This species, which was only discovered in 2014, is usually more at home in the waters of the Southern Hemisphere.

And finally, the so-called Blob,a patch of unusually warm ocean water that formed in the Gulf of Alaska in 2013and spread along the entire North American west coast, continues to leave its mark.

The emerging risks from marine heat waves on a world map. Image: Springer/Nature

While waters cooled in mid-2016, the previous warmer temperatures have been tied to a crash in cod stocks in the Gulf of Alaska, and this monthfisheries managers made the unprecedented decision to close the Pacific cod fishery. Worryingly,NOAA reported in September on the beginning of another marine heatwave covering the same region and extent as the blobwith the potential to further impact marine and coastal ecosystems.

The story has beenadapted from a commentary and edited for style from Mongabay. You can read the original story here.

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Untangling the Problem of Ocean Plastic – Sierra Magazine

Posted: at 11:47 pm

During the past half century, Mary Crowley has sailed nearly 115,000 miles of ocean, as both a crew member and a sea captain. Over the years, she has noticed that all the places she lovesGreece, Italy, Costa Rica, Palau, French Polynesia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Galpagos Islandshave been gradually filling up with plastic debris.

Through her nonprofit, Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI), which is located in Sausalito, California, Crowley organized a 2009 expedition to the North Pacific Gyre to study the problem. She determined that one of the biggest offenders is "ghost nets," which linger long after they are lost or discarded by commercial fishing operations and end up entrapping and killing marine life.

After consulting with marine architects, engineers, oceanographers, and other experts, Crowley began to think about ways that existing ships and maritime equipment could be used for ocean cleanup. Eventually, she developed a plan: to design special satellite trackers and enlist volunteers to attach them to ghost nets so they could be monitored and eventually retrieved. Once the soccer-ball-size devices were ready, OVI handed them out to seagoers, including participants in the Trans Pacific Yacht Race and crews of environmental vessels belonging to Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Ocean plastic kills 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds each year.

In the summer of 2019, a cargo schooner left Honolulu on a mission to collect the tagged debris. Crowley suspected that ocean currents sort out plastic according to size, shape, and density and had a hunch that when the onboard drones located one fishing net, others would be nearby (she calls this her "one tracker, many nets" theory).

In fact, after picking up a tagged net weighing 600 pounds, the crew found two much-larger nets within a five-mile radius. After 25 days, the ship returned to port with 42 tons of nets. Two tons were given to environmental artists, and the rest of the nets were sent to a waste-to-energy power plant in Hawaii.

Now, Crowley is planning a longer 2020 expedition, and she hopes the crew will collect more than 400 tons of ghost nets. She'd like to see fishing boats tasked with picking up smaller "consumer debris," and her institute is developing methods for collecting shredded plastic and microplastics.

Crowley believes that cleaning up the high seas is only one solution to the plastic problem. Getting rid of single-use plastic is another. "We also have to change our habits and our manufacturing," she says. "We've been treating our oceans as our garbage pail for centuries. It's time we stop."

This article appeared in the January/February 2020 edition with the headline "Ghost Net Buster."

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Bradfordians celebrate Christmas at work and on the high seas – Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Posted: at 11:47 pm

WHEN you are sitting down to your Christmas dinner today, spare a thought for those working or having to be away from home over the festive holidays.

The emergency services are on call, hospitals will sill be looking after patients, railway crews are out and about and council and utility company staff are among those also on duty making sure you can celebrate Christmas happily and safely.

And you can't get much more unlike the traditional image of a family round the groaning festive table than the pair of Idle rowers who are taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Chris Nicholl and James Tordoff have left family and friends behind to take part in the gruelling race which started on December 12 and has seen them cover more than 700 nautical miles in the two weeks to date.

Rather than a roast with all the trimmings, socialising or watching the Queen's Christmas message on TV the pair will be in the middle of the ocean eating a rehydrated meal.

Chris said: "We intend to stop the boat and have a hot rehydrated chicken tikka with rice meal for Christmas Day as most of our other meals will be cold.

"We have a Terrys chocolate orange each for dessert. We have some Santa hats to put on and will be playing a Christmas playlist on our Bluetooth speaker.

"We will also call our partners back home.

"It will be tough to be away from our loved ones at Christmas but each day we will be getting closer to seeing them again.

"We will miss our friends, family, and all the festive food and drink.

"Santa will deliver our presents at home and will be waiting for us when we get back. Although seeing our family when we get to Antigua with be the best Christmas present."

Back in Bradford, council staff will be doing their best to help people in need with dozens of workers on duty over the Christmas period.

Bradford Enablement and Support Team and home care staff will be working with vulnerable adults and children while in Extra Care housing schemes staff provide personal care for people in their own homes also including assisting with preparing meals, talking and having fun with service uses and supporting people with health and wellbeing.

There are also childrens homes and care leavers staff while the Safe and Sound service is a 24-hour response service for people if they have had falls or other incidents.

On call over the holidays are members of the Environmental Health department, the Emergency Planning Team, Highways for gritting, winter maintenance the emergency social care services for children and the building control team.

Terry Moore, care manager in Bradford Councils Extra Care Services, said: Christmas Day is no different to any other day. People still have their own care needs.

"We dont have extra staff to cover. Its just like any other day.

Among the locations where Council staff will be on duty is Mary Seacole Court, an Extra Care Housing scheme which has individual apartments for older people who receive personal care at the same time as being able to live as independently as possible.

Bradford Council provides personal care services to these people, but the scheme is run and managed by Housing 21.

Among the communal activities in the run-up to the festivities were a Christmas Party last Friday and a Christmas dinner held on Christmas Eve and staff will be helping entertain residents during the rest of the holiday period.

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Bradfordians celebrate Christmas at work and on the high seas - Bradford Telegraph and Argus

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