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Devastating toxic red tide algae bloom plagues Florida’s Gulf Coast

Associated Press:

The algae turns the water toxic for marine life, and in recent weeks beachgoers have been horrified to find turtles, large fish like goliath grouper and even manatees wash up dead. In late July, a 26-foot long (8-meter-long) whale shark washed ashore on Sanibel Island, which is known for its pristine beaches. In places like Longboat Key, more than 5 tons of dead fish have been removed from beaches. This week, nine dead dolphins were found in Sarasota County, and marine biologists are investigating whether the deaths are related to red tide.

The Florida Wildlife Research Institute says the number of dead and stranded sea turtles is nearly three times higher than average. More than 450 stranded and dead sea turtles have been recovered in four affected counties this year, and the institute estimates that 250 to 300 died from red tide poisoning.

More:

How climate change is making ‘red tide’ algal blooms even worse – Washington Post (paywall)

Florida Declares State Of Emergency As Red Tide Spreads – Huffington Post via Yahoo

Florida’s Gulf Coast Battles Deadly And Smelly Red Tide – NPR

Is Germany running out of beer bottles because of climate change?

NPR:

In Germany, beer consumption is up as temperatures remain unusually high. This is good and bad news for the beer industry.

While the breweries have more than enough beer to go around, they’re running out of bottles because customers are not returning their empties quickly enough.

Germans care about the environment about as much as their beer; that’s why the glass bottles are recycled. Customers pay a small deposit on each one, which they get back when they return it to a store.

Google tracks users even when they turn off location tracking

An Associated Press report has revealed that several Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even after users set a privacy setting that is meant to stop Google from doing so.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed AP’s findings.

Associated Press:

Storing location data in violation of a user’s preferences is wrong, said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau. A researcher from Mayer’s lab confirmed the AP’s findings on multiple Android devices; the AP conducted its own tests on several iPhones that found the same behavior.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Google says it is being perfectly clear.

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

Most expensive cities for expats and foreign employees in 2018

According to Mercer’s Annual Cost of Living Survey:

  1. Hong Kong
  2. Tokyo
  3. Zurich
  4. Singapore
  5. Seoul
  6. Luanda
  7. Shanghai
  8. Ndjamena
  9. Beijing
  10. Bern

New Zealand is banning plastic bags

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said retailers have six months to phase out the single-use plastic bags, or face fines of up to NZ$100,000.

“We’re phasing out single-use plastic bags so we can better look after our environment and safeguard New Zealand’s clean, green reputation,” said Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister.

“Every year in New Zealand we use hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bags. A mountain of bags, many of which end up polluting our precious coastal and marine environments and cause serious harm to all kinds of marine life, and all of this when there are viable alternatives for consumers and business.

More than 40 countries worldwide have now imposed bans on plastic bags.

Could the Peugeot Open Europe program be the best way to tour Europe?

European road trip anyone?

Thrillist:

The best way to get around Europe, we discovered, is to grab a friend, maybe two, and take out a short-term lease on a car. Here’s how you, too, can have a trip you’ll remember for the rest of your life — even if you’re feeling first-world broke.

So long as you’re at least 18, have a valid driver’s license, and live outside the European Union, you can pay for what’s called a buy-back lease through the Peugeot Open Europe program. This gets you a factory-fresh car to call your own and take anywhere within 42 countries, sans mileage restrictions, for up to 175 days — equivalent to returning a January 1 rental on June 24.

Puerto Rico reports Hurricane Maria death toll of 1,427 people

How many lives were lost because the U.S. government refused to act.

NY Times:

The government of Puerto Rico has quietly acknowledged in a report posted online that in all likelihood more than 1,400 people died in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — a figure that is more than 20 times the official death toll.

Should Apple really be your privacy hero?

When compared to the likes of Facebook, Google, and others, Apple are probably doing a better job. But they could be doing more.

Bloomberg Businessweek (paywall):

Bloomberg News recently reported that for years iPhone app developers have been allowed to store and sell data from users who allow access to their contact lists, which, in addition to phone numbers, may include other people’s photos and home addresses. According to some security experts, the Notes section—where people sometimes list Social Security numbers for their spouses or children or the entry codes for their apartment buildings—is particularly sensitive. In July, Apple added a rule to its contract with app makers banning the storage and sale of such data. It was done with little fanfare, probably because it won’t make much of a difference.

When developers get our information, and that of the acquaintances in our contacts list, it’s theirs to use and move around unseen by Apple. It can be sold to data brokers, shared with political campaigns, or posted on the internet. The new rule forbids that, but Apple does nothing to make it technically difficult for developers to harvest the information.

Continue reading

Bankruptcy filings are increasing among Americans 65 and over

Wall Street Journal (paywall):

The study’s authors cited reductions in safety-net programs, including Social Security and Medicare, and the shift from old-fashioned pension plans, which guarantee retirees a set income for life, to 401(k)-type plans, which leave it up to workers to decide how much to save and how to invest.

“Financial risks were shunted off onto individuals,” said the study.

The age at which full Social Security benefits are available has been rising, to 67 for those born in 1960 or later, up from 65 for those born in 1937 or earlier.

In addition, incomes for retirees have stagnated in recent years while the percentage of households with debt headed by people 55 or older has risen steadily for more than two decades …

It’s worst than expected: Half of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is already dead due to climate change

National Geographic:

Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016. Mass coral bleaching, a global problem triggered by climate change, occurs when unnaturally hot ocean water destroys a reef’s colorful algae, leaving the coral to starve. The Great Barrier Reef illustrates how extensive the damage can be: Thirty percent of the coral perished in 2016, another 20 percent in 2017. The effect is akin to a forest after a devastating fire. Much of the marine ecosystem along the reef’s north coast has become barren and skeletal with little hope of recovery.

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