Hotspots inBangkok, Thailand; Greenland; Tokyo, Japan; Seattle, Washington
Tracking human trafficking; Greenland’s meltwater; Japan on Defense; Seismic Seattle Seahawks.
1. SLAVE TRADE
√ That cheap Thai shrimp we buy at Walmart or Costco is likely to have been caught, harvested, or processed by slaves. Migrant workers from the poorer countries near Thailand are plentiful and ripe for exploitation. In a June 2014 report, the United States ranked Thailand as one of the worst offenders when it comes to human trafficking for sex tourism, garment sweatshops, house servants, and the seafood industry. In an effort to get off that list, the Thai government is installing GPS on fishing boats, establishing minimal work rules, increasing fines and hiring hundreds of anti-corruption staff. Early in January, the foreign ministry said large fishing ships had 60 days to install satellite-based monitoring systems or face 100,000 baht (US$3,469) fines and one-year imprisonment.
January 12, 2015 Reuters: Thailand to adopt fines, GPS to 'eradicate slave trade'
Guardian investigation on Thai slavery:
June 10 2014 The Guardian: Trafficked into slavery on Thai trawlers to catch food for prawns
U.S. Department of State: Trafficking in Persons Report
U.S. Department of Labor: List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor (Thailand)
2. SWISS CHEESE ON ICE
√ Greenland’s melting ice sheet has a leading role in rising ocean levels, and University of California-Los Angeles researchers just found out where most of that water goes. Using highly precise imaging, GPS-equipped buoys, a robotic boat designed by a Jet Propulsion Lab scientist and a helicopter to keep the field team out of danger, they saw networks of rushing turquoise rivers and streams that suddenly disappeared. The land acts like a sponge in part. Mostly, though, it’s like Swiss cheese, the lead researcher said. The island efficiently collects the meltwater and flushes it into the ocean at 23,000 to 46,000 feet per second, double the flow of the Colorado River. See the dramatic video on the UCLA news page.
3. QZSS PLAYS DEFENSE
√ In a historic pivot in January, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe de-emphasized the peaceful uses of outer space and replaced it with military defense, national security, and business development in the administration’s new 10-year Basic Plan on Space Policy. Among many other projects, JAXA and the military will begin a military effort to monitor space debris by 2019, sharing data with the U.S. Defense Department. They also plan six more QZSS launches in the next 10 years to bolster the GNSS regional network now consisting of only one satellite. And the administration intends to increase the value of its public and private space sector industries to ¥5 trillion (US$42.7 billion) in the next decade.
January 9, 2015 The Yomiuri Shimbun: Basic plan on space policy to emphasize natl security
Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (CAO): Basic policy on the implementation of the operational Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) project
√ In 2011, the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network found that what came to be known as the Seattle Seahawks’ “Beastquake” created vibrations that measured between a magnitude 1 and 2 earthquake during a magnificent touchdown run. By the time you read this, the 2015 NFL playoff between Seahawks and Panthers will have delivered more data. PNSN set up three earthquake monitors in CenturyLink Field to register the seismic effects of 67,000 people jumping around. Fans can simultaneously check out a live feed from the game to discover how the Earth is responding. PSNS is testing a web-based monitoring and alert system connected to the regional array of PNSN seismometers and GNSS reference stations and using software that shows vibrations within three seconds. When it’s perfected, scientists hope to give residents a few seconds or even minutes to prepare in a city where a major subduction zone quake is now overdue.
January 7, 2015 University of Washington: How the ‘Beast Quake’ is helping scientists track real earthquakes
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