crocodile

United Nation Reports Global Wildlife Trafficking Is Causing ‘Untold Harm Upon Nature’

A report from the United Nations has warned that more than 4,000 species of animals around the world are currently being targeted by traffickers, which is causing an unknown level of “harm upon nature.”

Crimes and trafficking involving wildlife are driven by demands for medicine, pets, bushmeat, ornamental plants, and trophies, according to reports. Of all the animals currently being trafficked, 40% are on the “red list” of threatened or near-threatened species. 

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The wildlife trade is active in more than 80% of countries around the world, according to the report which came from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

“Despite gaps in knowledge about the full extent of wildlife trafficking and associated crime, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that this remains a significant global problem far from being resolved.”

Researchers for the report looked at more than 140,000 wildlife seizures that took place between 2015 and 2021. They found that Corals, larger reptiles like crocodiles, and elephants had the largest number of individual seizures. 

These crimes are also actively driving extinction rates in species of rare orchids, succulent plants, reptiles, and fish, according to UNODC. 

“About 16,000 tonnes of goods were seized. Actual wildlife trafficking levels are of course far greater than the recorded seizures,” researchers say in the report.

“Wildlife crime inflicts untold harm upon nature, and it also jeopardizes livelihoods, public health, good governance and our planet’s ability to fight climate change,” said Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UNODC.

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Separate research has found that specific populations of spider monkeys and Baird’s tapir have declined up to 99.9% due to the illegal wildlife trade exclusively. Researchers want the world to know that this illegal trading can lead to global extinctions of multiple species, which would also impact the overall environment. 

“Much wildlife crime is linked to large organized crime groups. Corruption plays a critical role in undermining efforts to stop wildlife trafficking, from bribes paid to inspectors, to government officials allowing fake permits,” the report says.

“An absence of seizures of a particular commodity or at a certain location could reflect lack of enforcement, rather than evidence that illegal trade was not taking place,” researchers said

It is estimated that the illegal wildlife trading industry could be worth around $23 billion annually, with over 100 million plants and animals being trafficked every year. While the UNODC has the goal of ending all trafficking of protected species, it seems unlikely that they’ll reach that by 2030 as they initially planned. 

“To address this crime, we must match the adaptability and agility of illegal wildlife trade,” said Waly.

jamaica

US State Department Issues Travel Advisory For Jamaica Amid Crime And Health Concerns 

The US State Department has issued a travel advisory for Jamaica among an influx of crime and health concerns. The department issued the advisory last week, stating the following: 

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“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts. Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.”

The State Department also added to their advisory that in the event of an emergency, “high level or specialized” healthcare options may not be available throughout the entire island nation, and patients would likely be required to pay for medical care. 

Travelers are only being asked to reconsider visiting Jamaica, especially with Spring Break and the summer season coming up quickly. While they have not advised Americans to avoid the nation altogether, they did outline specific high-risk areas in which certain US government personnel are prohibited from traveling due to its risk of crime. 

Montego Bay, downtown Kingston, part of St. Ann’s Parish by Ocho Rios, and certain neighborhoods in Negril are some of the areas mentioned in the advisory to be cautious of visiting, according to USA Today

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Americans who will be traveling to Jamaica and/or the previously mentioned areas specifically, are being advised to always be aware of their surroundings, keep a relatively low profile while you’re there, and avoid public transportation, walking, and/or driving at night. 

Situations where one may find themselves secluded increases their risk of being potentially robbed or susceptible to other violence. If one does find themselves in a dangerous situation, the best thing to do is comply, especially in cases of robbery. 

The State Department is also encouraging Americans who are traveling to Jamaica to enroll in the department’s free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, and to plan emergency contingency plans in case something were to happen. 

“We strongly encourage you to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica,” the advisory added in bold font to emphasize the importance of these procedures. 

Insurance and medical evacuation insurance is especially important, as the Department warned that many health care providers overseas will not accept US health insurance, and neither Medicare nor Medicaid benefits apply overseas.

vietnam

Vietnam Opens New ‘Kissing Bridge’ As A Selfie Hotspot 

Last week, a new hotspot opened in Vietnam called the “Kiss Bridge” to give couples a chance to share a romantic moment with the beautiful Vietnamese sunsets. 

The bridge itself is located in Vietnam’s southern Phu Quoc Island, which is famous for its spectacular beach views. The bridge itself was a collaborative project between luxury tourism developer Sun Group, and Italian architect Marco Casamonti. 

The bridge itself is half a mile long (800 meters) and is made up of two separate halves. 

According to reports, the design of the bridge was inspired by Michelangelo’s classic fresco painting ‘The Creation of Adam’ located at the Sistine Chapel. Casamonti cited that just like the pointing fingers in the painting, the two halves of the bridge aren’t quite touching. 

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The photo opportunity that the bridge provides shows the north and south sections of the bridge meeting with 12 inches of space between them, mimicking the space between the fingers in the painting. One kisser goes on each side, then lean in for the picture. 

The location and distance between these sections of the bridge were also meticulously built so that on January 1st every year, the sun will fall directly in the gap between the two halves, according to the Sun Group. 

The bridge was fully built with romance in mind, and is named “Cau Hon” which is Vietnamese for “proposing marriage,” just in case any visitors want to take the opportunity to get engaged.

Phu Quoc Island’s Sunset Town, where the bridge is located, is in Vietnam’s southern province of Kien Giang, and is known as one of Vietnam’s “best island getaway,” which is often taken advantage of by honeymooners. 

The Sun Group is known for various projects with spectacular views, including the well known “Golden Bridge” near Da Nang, where two giant statue hands “lift up” a shimmering structure; the bridge itself is about 493 feet long.

flights

Virgin Atlantic And British Airways Face Complaints Over Alleged Misleading Sustainability Claims 

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are currently facing formal complaints regarding accusations that the airlines are misleading the public over their sustainability claims and environmental credentials of aviation. 

This past week, a Virgin Atlantic flight took off and was hailed as the first transatlantic flight to be fully powered by “sustainable jet fuel” from a commercial airliner. The jetfuel in question is made up of mainly cooking oil, and was partially funded by the UK government. 

This flight was emphasized as a “potentially guilt-free way to fly” according to reports, however, scientists and professional environmental groups have some issues with the airline’s claims. 

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Leigh Day, a law firm, and Possible, a climate charity, have both filed formal complaints against Virgin Atlantic and British Airways over their claims about sustainability and reducing emissions during flights. 

“The reality is that technologies for cleaner flight either don’t work, or don’t even exist yet. We think that airlines’ misleading claims about their emissions are unfair on people who want to do the right thing when they travel. It’s time for airlines to start being honest about their sky-high emissions,” senior campaigner at Possible, Alethea Warrington, said.

The complaints were filed under the National Contact point mechanism which is run by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. They disclosed that the airlines are misleading their customers over their claims of reducing carbon emissions.

 Recent research from the Royal Society found that the UK would have to devote half of its farmland or double the total amount of renewable electricity supply in order to meet its goal of net zero flying emissions.

BA’s emissions from jet fuel have consistently increased from 2016 to 2019, despite the airlines claims to be  “driving urgent action towards net-zero emissions [with a] clear roadmap to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

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“For fuels derived from biomass, land is not available to produce crops for biofuels in sufficient quantities to power aviation without causing hugely damaging deforestation, which increase emissions and makes biofuels just as bad for the climate as kerosene, if not worse,” Possible said.

A British Airways spokesperson said: “In 2019, we committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and, while there is no single solution to this challenge, as part of our BA Better World program, we have a clear roadmap of initiatives to get there.

“We were the first airline to report our carbon footprint more than two decades ago and were the first airline to voluntarily participate in the UK emissions trading scheme.”

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: “At Virgin Atlantic, we are committed to achieving net zero 2050 and have set interim targets on our pathway to get there, including 10% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

“There are two levers for delivering in-sector carbon reductions in the short to medium term: the fleet we operate and fuel we burn. We already fly one of the youngest and most efficient fleets across the Atlantic. Beyond fleet renewals, SAF presents an immediate opportunity to deliver lifecycle carbon reductions of up to 70% and is something we have been pioneering for over 15 years.”

bugs

The French Government Is Vowing To ‘Protect’ Nation From Bed Bugs Outbreak 

The French government is vowing to take action and “reassure and protect” the public amid the “widespread” rise in bedbug infestations in its capital Paris. 

Clement Beaune, the French Transport Minister, stated that he would convene a meeting to “undertale further action to reassure and protect” the public from the reporte of multiple surges in the numbers of bedbug infestations. 

French transport operators are diligently working to combat the bedbug problem after some reports of the insect being sighted in public transportation systems, however, those reports have declined in recent days with no sightings. 

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RATP, the operator of the Parisian metro, stated that it’s “extremely vigilant on the matter,” according to reports from CNN

RATP told the news outlet this week that “each sighting is taken into account and is subject to treatment, these last few days, there have been no proven cases of bedbugs recorded in our equipment.” 

RATP also stated that a report of a sighting was made last week, but after an assessment, “no presence of bedbugs were recorded on the train.” 

SNCF, a railway company that operates many trains throughout France, told CNN that “it takes reports of pests very seriously, but to date we have not observed any presence or proven resorts of bedbugs.” 

Deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the phenomenon “widespread.”

“You have to understand that in reality no one is safe, obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home,” he said.

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Three years ago the government launched an anti-bedbug campaign that included an informational hotline and dedicated website for citizens to utilize should the bugs appear. 

“There are 3.6 million people who come into Paris every day, and bedbugs do not stop on the outskirts of the city,” Gregoire stated. 

A spokesperson for Anses, France’s national health and sanitary body, stated “the problem was “an emerging phenomenon in France and almost everywhere in the world.”

“It’s mainly due to the movement of people, populations traveling, the fact that people stay in short-term accommodation and bring back bedbugs in their suitcases or luggage,” Johanna Fite from the Anses department of risk assessment told CNN.

“There’s an escalation in numbers because bedbugs were increasingly resistant to insecticides. We are observing more and more bedbug populations which are resistant, so there is no miracle treatment to get rid of them.”

“Professional companies which intervene in residential areas are telling us that currently the proportion of interventions for bedbugs is atypical compared to normal and is increasing rapidly,” Gregoire said.

wall

Great Wall Of China Damaged By Workers Using Excavator 

Two individuals have been arrested in northern China after they allegedly damaged a section of the Great Wall using an excavator to create a huge gap in the ancient structure, local police said in an online statement

A 38-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, who were construction workers, were supposedly trying to create a shortcut in order to save time going around the world. The police stated that the structure was “severely damaged.”

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“It had been one of the existing complete border walls and beacon towers with important protection and research value,” the county police department said.

China’s northwest Youyu County police responded to reports on August 24th of a gap that had been dug into the structure known as the 32nd Great Wall, a section that’s been standing since the Ming Dynasty. 

“Excavators were used to excavate the original gap of the ancient Great Wall into a large gap, so that the excavator could pass through the gap, which caused irreversible damage to the integrity of the Ming Great Wall and the safety of cultural relics,” the police statement said

The authorities detained the two suspects pending further investigation. The oldest portions of the Great Wall were created more than 2,000 years ago.

The structure is also listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site and is known as one of the greatest creations of ancient human engineering. 

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About 30% of China’s Great Wall has disappeared in recent years due to climate challenges and “reckless human activities,” including stealing bricks to build houses. This damage has eroded the already old structure, causing long term damage. 

The investigation regarding the two construction workers is currently underway, ideally, this news will deter future individuals and groups from messing with the Great Wall and maintain its beauty that makes it such a historical landmark in our world’s story. 

To avoid damage to the Great Wall, in recent years authorities have implemented multiple measures to deter individuals from damaging the structure. 

For example, in April 2020 the Badaling Great Wall tourism site near the capital city of Beijing implemented new regulations that allows them to blacklist tourists and give them administrative penalties depending on their specific infraction. 

In May 2021, two foreign tourists were banned from the Great Wall after ignoring a “no crossing sign” on an undeveloped section of the monument and climbing onto the restricted area, according to reports. In August, another tourist was detained and fined for using a hairpin to carve on the wall.

plane

NASA Planes Could Lead To More Sustainable Air Travel By The 2030s

NASA has revealed plans for two aircraft projects that they are hoping will be the next generation of sustainable flights. 

One of the aircrafts is called X-66A, which NASA and Boeing worked together on as a part of Boeing’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator project, according to reports. The two companies have the goal of building, testing, and flying the planes, which will be emission-reducing, single-aisle aircrafts, within the next decade; by 2030 ideally. 

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“It’s our goal that NASA’s partnership with Boeing to produce and test a full-scale demonstrator will help lead to future commercial airliners that are more fuel efficient, with benefits to the environment, the commercial aviation industry, and to passengers worldwide,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in a statement according to CNN

“If we are successful, we may see these technologies in planes that the public takes to the skies in the 2030s.”

The design could potentially reduce fossil fuel consumption and emissions by up to 30% when compared to current aircrafts. 

According to NASA and Boeing, the concept of design is known as the Transonic Truss-Braced Wing, which relies on elongated thing wings that are stabilized by diagonal struts connecting to the wings of the plane, creating less of a drag and thus reducing the fuel that is burned. 

The new designs were shown off at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

“This is an experimental aircraft. This is not a commercial development of an aircraft that passengers are going to fly in today. And the reason we need to do this is because this is high-risk technology. We’re trying to validate technology,”  Bob Pearce, NASA associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, said.

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The first test flight is scheduled to ideally take place in 2028, with NASA hoping that the technology and new design will be used throughout around half of the commercial flight market for short to medium haul single-aisle aircrafts. 

According to NASA, single-aisle aircrafts account for almost half of all aviation emissions around the world. Boeing also predicts that the demand for these single-aisle aircrafts will increase by 40,000 planes between the years 2035 and 2050. 

“The goal is for the technology to serve about 50% of the commercial market through short- to medium-haul, single-aisle aircraft,” Nelson said.

As a part of NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project, the hybrid electric aircraft that GE Aerospace and magniX are developing will also be getting an updated look to include lighter and more efficient motors, and utilize materials that will also improve fuel use to reduce emissions. 

Within the next five years, NASA is hoping to conduct at least two flight demonstrations to show off the new technology, so that ideally the aircrafts can be introduced commercially in the US between 2030 and 2035.

meal

Inside The World’s Smallest Restaurant In Italy, Which Only Takes Two Guests At A Time 

Solo Per Due, “Just For Two” in Italian, is making headlines as the world’s tiniest restaurant, as it only accepts two guests at a time for a truly unique and intimate experience. 

An exclusive meal for two costs over $500, while champagne, wine, and floral decorations cost extra. Diners have an extraordinary view of an ancient Roman villa as they enjoy their meal and each other’s company. 

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The restaurant is open all year for lunch and dinner, and strangely enough, doesn’t have a menu. Instead, the food served is specifically tailored for the tastes and preferences of the clients. The dining room itself is just under 500-square-feet and is part of a rural 20th-century stone mansion located in the north of Rome, adjacent to the village of Vacone. 

The restaurant requires all reservations be made by phone 10 days prior to their dinner, to give the staff time to customize the meal. Visitors are only allowed to come to the restaurant for their reservation, and the meal can’t be canceled at the last minute. 

Guests must arrive at a specific time that the owners agree on, which is key for the overall experience. They must call when they’re on their way 30 minutes prior to arriving, and can’t get there too early. 

Due to its small size, the space is booked months in advance. The owners are a team of three local fine food entrepreneurs who have been running Solo Per Due for 33 years, and they refuse to share their names unless you’ve booked a dinner to guarantee discretion and enhance the mysterious allure of the space, according to them

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“This is not a restaurant – we offer a unique, intimate experience which is at the core of our decades-long reputation. So it’s not about us or who we are – we’re in the shadow. It’s all about the diners,” says “Mr. Remo” one of the owners.

“The people who come here are not mere clients. They’re guests who we take great care of. We coddle them and ensure that this special moment is exactly how they want it to be. Everything is tailored to their needs.”

“Once the booking is confirmed our guests will choose the exact multi-course menu, be it fish or meat, the dessert, the wines, the background music, and any floral decorations. We prepare on site only seasonal, Italian food paired with top-class wine,” said Remo.

He emphasized “the two golden rules: never cancel last minute, and never arrive earlier than your allotted time.

We take care also of the two names to write on the dessert cake which is heart-shaped, of the special phrase to write on the card that will go on the flowers and of the background music chosen by the diners,” adds Remo.

naacp

NAACP Issues Advisory Warning Black Americans And People Of Color Not To Travel To Florida

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson recently spoke with CNN to defend the organization’s decision to issue an official travel advisory to Florida for Black Americans and people of color. 

“The governor has perfected the art of pulling stunts to gain campaign contributions. Unfortunately, this will impact people’s lives,” Johnson said, referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

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“We should not use race or othering as a tool to weaponize against people and unfortunately for a large percentage of Floridians, that’s what he has done. Therefore, we are advising African Americans and others that if you travel to Florida, beware that your life is not valued.”

This past Saturday, the NAACP released a statement saying that Governor DeSantis has been on a quest to “silence” Black Americans, and has made it clear that they’re not welcome in the state. “[The state] devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

“Due to this sustained, blatant, relentless and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP hereby issues a travel advisory to African Americans, and other people of color regarding the hostility towards African Americans in Florida,” the group stated. 

Within the past year alone, DeSantis has signed a multitude of legislative measures that many have argued is discriminatory, and anti-Black. He signed the “Stop WOKE Act,” meant to restrict how schools and workplace address race, has been a major advocate against critical race theory; an academic framework that looks at US history with the understanding of racism and its roots in the nation. 

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DeSantis also banned an Advanced Placement African American studies pilot program from being implemented in schools, and just recently prohibited colleges and universities from using public funding on programs involving diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Johnson stated that DeSantis is “minimizing the quality of education and issuing policies that are harmful to far too many individuals.”

“We are witnessing firsthand how he’s governing, and he’s governing to a small vocal minority of the community, not the majority interest of Florida. Nor is he governing towards a future of Florida, which will not not look like the small minority that he’s speaking to at this moment.”

The governor was recently questioned regarding this specific travel advisory before it was implemented. 

“This is part of the reason why our country, it goes through all these —  we get involved in these stupid fights. This is a stunt to try to do that, a pure stunt, and fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that’s fine. But I’m not wasting my time on your stunts,” the governor said.

airport

Australians Experience 50% Rise In Airfare Travel Costs To Europe 

According to data collected by travel booking site Kayak, Australians looking to travel to Europe are seeing fares around 50% higher than what they cost last year, despite the fact that there’s also been an increase in available seats this summer and fuel prices improving within the past few months. 

Kayak used data from early January, up until this month, to conclude that the average price for return economy airfare from Australian cities to Europe would be around $2,500. This marks a 46% increase on average airfares for 2022, as well as a 63% increase when compared to pre-pandemic pricing. 

In general, this summer travel season is already gearing up to be increasingly expensive as well as busy for many major destinations around the world, but especially in Europe. 

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David Beirman, an adjunct fellow professor at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia who also specializes in tourism, stated that this increase, while jarring, isn’t exactly surprising. 

“Airlines for a long time were making next to no money on international flights, especially for economy passengers. Most carriers were still working to financially recover from the steep losses of Covid, even if some such as Qantas have been posting record profits of late. Those two years of lost revenue is what consumers are paying for now,” Beirman explained. 

“Covid was an extreme lesson in what could happen when things go wrong. So they have been forced to be more realistic about their pricing now, as irritating as it is to the traveling public,” he continued. 

“Sadly what has happened since Covid is that travel has gone from being something very democratic that just about anyone earning even a modest salary could afford to being a plaything of the elite or for people paying huge amounts of money just to see loved ones.”

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“They’ve had to recruit staff and pay them much more money than they used to get. Maybe by 2024 or 2025 people will be a bit more choosy, less eager to travel, and prices will come down but at the moment it’s very much a sellers market and airlines are, rightfully or wrongfully, taking advantage of that,” Beirman said.

Simon Elsegood, head of research at the Center for Aviation, said “while fuel prices have come back down substantially [and] we’ve seen a portion of the leisure market move up to premium economy and other classes, it’s not been enough to compensate airlines from lost business travel.”

“Air fares are a sore point because they are so much more expensive than 12 months ago but I don’t feel like people are getting a raw deal. It’s very difficult to price gouge between Europe and Australia because there are so many route options.”

“It’s just the way the market has to be at the moment. Yes, they’re making money now but they also lost billions during the pandemic. They’re not a charity and they have to make sure their shareholders are also taken care of,” he concluded