Canals: Crowded waters | The Economist

Canals: Crowded waters | The Economist.

Hewn out of the land during the Industrial Revolution, they were once Britain’s main arteries of trade. The rise of railways and roads made them redundant and many were left to moulder, alongside the old industrial areas of many cities. But, as those grimy zones have been spruced up, so have the 4,800km (3,000 miles) of canals that remain.

The former towpaths are hike and bike trails.  Houseboats and sightseeing boats float through the locks.  And actual commercial traffic is up:

the number of containers transported on the Manchester ship canal increased from 3,000 in 2009 to an impressive 23,000 in 2013.

The canals are being refurbished thanks to changes in government policies.

 In 2012, as the government sought to slash budgets, it offloaded British Waterways, the state corporation which ran two-thirds of the canals, from its books. The Canal and River Trust was set up.

Various sources of funds now involve the public in funding and managing the canals.  And the canals have gone from garbage infested eyesores to useful again.

Canals: Crowded waters | The Economist

Merry and Bright

You Can See Our Holiday Lights All the Way From Space | WIRED.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas is possible to see the difference holiday lights make from outer space!

[… ]major cities such as Dallas, Washington D.C. and Phoenix were between 20 and 50 percent brighter during the holiday season.

There’s definitely a pattern to the brightest spots: suburbs!

“Where are the green areas? They are in the suburbs and the exurbs and the periphery,” Roman said. “People are leaving work for the holidays and they’re turning on the lights.”

You Can See Our Holiday Lights All the Way From Space | WIRED

The US isn’t the only place that lights up.  Ramadan, celebrated by Muslims around the world, also lights up the night sky.

You Can See Our Holiday Lights All the Way From Space | WIRED

Why Are There Deserts?

Don’t Get in This Water

BBC News – Brazil Olympics: Super-bacteria found in Rio sea waters.

Researchers in Brazil have discovered a drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

70% of Rio de Janeiro’s sewage is untreated and is dumped into the bay.  The superbugs are resistant to most antibiotics.  Treating infections caused by the bacteria requires hospitalization and toxic drugs.

In its Olympic bid, Rio promised to reduce pollution in Guanabara Bay by 80%.

But in June Rio Mayor Eduardo Silva admitted the target would not be met.

Watch out.

The woman who walked 10,000 miles – The Week

The woman who walked 10,000 miles – The Week.

ON JUNE 20, 2010,Marquis’ 38th birthday, she set out to walk from Siberia through Asia and, once back in Australia, trek to her beloved tree. The video of Marquis at her starting point in Irkutsk feels like the setup for a horror film. “So here we are,” she said just before turning away from the camera. “Time to go now!” On her back is a 75-pound pack, and trailing behind her, overflowing with gear secured by bungee cords, is a custom-made cart that looks like a cross between a wheelbarrow and a giant roller bag — her dry-land sled. It weighed 120 pounds.

You’ll have to click the link to find out what happens.

Here’s a short video

Another Oil Spill

Bangladesh oil clean-up begins amid fears of ecological 'catastrophe' | Al Jazeera America

Bangladesh oil clean-up begins amid fears of ecological ‘catastrophe’ | Al Jazeera America.

Bangladeshi fishermen, using sponges and sacks, have begun cleaning up a huge oil spill in a protected area that is home to rare dolphins, after environmentalists warned of an ecological “catastrophe”.

The area is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to many endangered species including river dolphins.

Rubayat Mansur, Bangladesh head of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, said most of the oil appeared to have already leaked out.

“I visited the sunken trawler this morning. Only few hundred liters of oil remain inside, so almost all the oil has spilled into the Sundarbans,” he said.


The “New” Cold War Heats Up

BBC News – Russia Baltic military actions ‘unprecedented’ – Poland.

5 September: Abduction of an Estonian security service operative

INCIDENT: Estonian security service operative captured by Russian agents on Estonian territory in a raid involving communications jamming and smoke grenades. Incident took place immediately after Obama’s assurances to the Baltic States.

CATEGORY: High Risk. Incursion into NATO member state’s territory. Had the Estonian official or his colleagues resisted, fatalities on either side would have been a catalyst for further escalation.

This and other high- risk incidents have become more common as tension over the Ukrainian situation deepens.  Most of the activity has occurred over international waters, but contact between military airplanes is increasing.

Several incidents have been reported in the region this week:

On Tuesday the Norwegian military said one of its warplanes had a “near miss” with a Russian fighter which had ventured too close, north of Norway

The Finnish air force said that there had been “unusually intense” Russian activity over the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland, with most flights involving bombers, fighters and transport planes heading between the Russian mainland and the Kaliningrad enclave, between Lithuania and Poland

Nato said on Monday the alliance’s jets intercepted Russian planes repeatedly in the Baltic, and reported more than 30 types of Russian military aircraft in the area.

What does all this activity mean?  Could be nothing, or it could be Russia testing NATO capabilities.  Time will tell.

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