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“A Plastic Ocean”: The Film focusses on Plastics in the Oceans that is harming Marine Life

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Plastic sludge and garbage, a blight on the world’s oceans.

Eight million metric tons of plastic wind up each year in the oceans, harming marine life and entering the food chain.

A film crew traveled the globe to document the rubbish, producing a new documentary film called A Plastic Ocean that looks at the problem, and its solutions.

Julie Andersen of the Plastic Oceans Foundation said what is seen is just the tip of the problem.

“Half of the waste actually sinks to the bottom, some plastic sinks to the bottom, and what remains on the surface actually breaks down,” Andersen said.

The filmmakers found trash in ocean gyres, the circulating currents that trap large concentrations of pollution in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, home of what some have called a plastic island.

“What we found in the center of the Pacific was not a floating island of plastic. What we found was a plastic smog that permeated all the water,” Andersen said.

The debris infects the food chain, sometimes visibly, and more so at the microscopic level, where the plastic particles interact with other pollutants.

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Adam Leipzig, producer of A Plastic Ocean, said, “Heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, industrial runoff. It acts like magnets. These toxins hitchhike on the plastic, and when seafood ingests the plastics, those toxins offload into the fatty tissues.”

Those fish are then consumed by other sea life and by people.

China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are the worst plastic polluters. The United States, although a leader in recycling, is in the top 20, since it produces and consumes so much plastic.

There are efforts around the world to address the problem, including at this newly opened recycling center in Lebanon.

But Andersen said there is more people can do.

“Cut back on single-use plastics, straws, plastic cups, plastic water bottles, plastic bags and find alternatives like reusable materials,” she said.

She said healthy oceans are essential to our survival. (VOA)

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Exclusive: Documentary ‘The Absent House’ talks about the Need of Sustainable Development

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‘The Absent House’
A still from the documentary ‘The Absent House’
  • The movie is directed by Ruben Abruna and was showcased by CMS Vatavaran at India Habitat Centre
  • The documentary is based on how Fernando got the idea of doing more with less from Buckminister Fuller and built a house that has no roof
  • In the times of climate change happening so fast, ‘The Absent House’ delivers a message that we can live without harming the environment 

June 29, 2017:

Is there a need at all to show some accountability for sustainable development? How will it affect the modern world? Well, needless to say, we have to do lots to save up resources for the future generations and not wasting them. NewsGram got in touch with CMS Vatavaran on the film “The Absent House”.

What is sustainable development?

Well, sustainable development is one such form of development that consists of usage of energy resources that can be used again and again without harming the environment so that the planet can be saved for the future generations to come. The term sustainable development came into being when people understood the fact that the resources they are using are not environment-friendly and they need to save the planets for their future generations to come and perish on this planet just like we did.

Nowadays, a lot of discussions are going on for sustainable development in India and CMS Vatavaran is one such foundation which works for the environment. It showcased its documentary film ‘The Absent House’ from the annual film festival at the India Habitat Centre on 19th June 2017. The film is based on the Puerto Rican architect Fernando Abruna Charneco who made his home without roofs and giving priority to our very own mother nature. People called him crazy for being a visionary on the making a house without a roof but they didn’t understand the purpose behind it but when they understood about the project, many people have started considering him as a true visionary towards climate change.

The documentary is based on how Fernando Abruna Charneco got the idea of doing more with less from Buckminster Fuller, who invented the Dymaxion Car and Geodesic Dome. The house that Fernando built has no roofs but that is for the room to be properly ventilated and being lit most of the time. So that is would not be wasting energy. He also made the house in a way that it doesn’t require any water or electricity. All the water is stored from the rainwater and the electricity is supplied by the sun so that the resources do not contribute to pollution of the environment. Even the toilets are water free so that the water isn’t wasted.

In the times of climate change happening so fast, ‘The Absent House’ delivers a message that we can live without harming the environment by sustainable development and can leave the earth and resources for the future generation.

The movie is directed by Ruben Abruna and was showcased by CMS vatavaran who is going to host their 9th edition of CMS vatavaran film competition and the organisation CMS (Centre for Media Studies) is a non-profit development research and facilitative think tank which works towards responsible governance and equitable development.

– Reported by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

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Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)

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Satellite sends First Quantum Signal to Earth

This is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them

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Micius
Micius satellite. wikimedia
  • An orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth
  • It is a big step towards achieving a secure and developed way to encrypt communications
  • They can not be cracked by ever-improving computer algorithms

June 18, 2017: It was reported by scientists today that an orbiting satellite has sent the first entangled pair of photons to Earth. It is a big step towards sending quantum keys from satellites — an approach that has been heralded as a secure and developed way to encrypt communications because ever-improving computer algorithms can not crack them.

A laser on China’s Micius satellite, which was launched last year and is dedicated to researches related to quantum satellite communications, spit out pairs of entangled photons from its position, 500 km above Earth. Then two telescopes on Earth – about 1200 km apart — had 5 minutes each day to look for them as the satellite passed over both telescopes. It was found that paired photons survived the journey through Earth’s atmosphere. They detected 1 entangled pair per second out of the 6 million sent in that time.

So how exactly does all this work?

A quantum key needs to be generated first by two people who are looking to communicate. Then, one person receives one of the entangled photons in the pair, the other person receives the other. When the received photons have measured the photons, they obtain bits of information strung together to create a key that they both have. That key can be used to encrypt and decrypt a message. The users can also share a portion of the key publicly to check if it has been compromised. In case if someone tries to intercept the communication at any point, they would then notice a difference between their strings.

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There is a certain set of problems as well. Caltech’s John Preskill believes even though it is an important proof of concept, the feat doesn’t address one of the biggest problems with quantum communications. Currently, these messages can’t be sent long distances. Photons, using an optical fiber to carry a quantum signal, can only make it about 100 km before the dissipation of the light.

Quantum systems are similar to optical telecommunications here on earth and need repeaters that are able to amplify the message so it can be passed long distances. But amplifying a quantum message in the same way optical ones are done would effectively result in the destruction of the information. That is why satellite-based communication are being eyed by researchers. The reported 500 km from space is an improvement over optical. Quantum signals were measured in another study published today from a satellite 38,000 km away to a single point. But in deploying a global network which would likely be able to combine optical fiber and satellites, the repeater problem still stands.

Preskill has predicted that it is more likely we will first come up with another form of encryption for communication. “There will be other ways of doing classical public key cryptosystems that we won’t know how to break with quantum computers,” he added.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang