These mysterious ‘devices’ keep washing up on Florida’s beaches. Scientists are concerned.

These mysterious ‘devices’ keep washing up on Florida’s beaches. Scientists are concerned.

Kimberly Miller, Palm Beach Post
Published 9:29 a.m. ET Feb. 28, 2020 | Updated 1:32 p.m. ET Feb. 28, 2020

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PALM BEACH, Fla. – Makeshift contraptions for catching sea life off West Africa are landing on Florida beaches like hobo fishermen, drowning turtles and bashing coral heads in a current-driven journey across the tropical Atlantic.

Called “drifting fish aggregating devices,” or FADs, the sometimes raft-like structures can get sucked into the North Equatorial Current and travel as far as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Florida. One was found on Palm Beach this month.

Often made from refuse – oil jugs or bamboo sticks lashed together – curtains of netting dangle beneath them with a reach that can be more than 300 feet deep. They attract fish that gather for shelter or to feed on whatever grows in the artificially created ecosystem.

The bump of Palm Beach County’s coastline makes it a hot spot for FADs if they get caught in the Gulf Stream, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Thomas Pitchford.

“The presence of these things around the Caribbean is starting to get more attention,” said David Kerstetter, an associate professor with Nova Southeastern University’s Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences. “Things like sea turtles can get entangled in them and the other concern when they break free is all that netting and other material smashes into coral reefs.”

Wayward FADs have been an issue for years as their use grows with better tracking technology. More sophisticated devices have solar-powered beacons and sonar systems so fishermen can see if there are fish underneath them before making a trek to where the device is floating.

Fish under the device are gathered by a “purse seine” – a large wall of netting that encircles an entire area or school of fish with a line that can close the net at the bottom.

Adult tuna, billfish and dolphinfish are the target catch for the FADs, but juvenile fish, sharks and other species also can get caught up in the catch.

The Pew Charitable Trust estimated that 81,000 to 121,000 FADS were deployed in 2013.

“Legal ownership is often unclear, in part, because vessels fish on any FAD they find, whether they deployed it or encountered it by chance,” a Pew report notes. “As a result, fishermen often treat FADs as disposable, so they wash up on beaches and coral reefs and contribute to plastic pollution.”

Diane Buhler, founder of Friends of Palm Beach, said her beach cleaners have found pieces of the devices for years but didn’t know what they were until 2019 when a large, intact plastic FAD was found.

“If they get degraded or if they’ve already cracked into a couple of reefs, it just looks like a pile of trash,” said Kerstetter.

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The recent device, which was made of bamboo, was spotted on the north end of Palm Beach on Feb. 22 and posted to social media by WPTV Channel 5 meteorologist James Wieland.

Kerstetter and graduate student Erin Kimak are collecting information on where lost FADS are landing as part of the Caribbean FAD Tracking Project.

Through reports of strandings and online searches, 191 FADs have been reported in the northwestern Atlantic, with outliers in the Azores, Brazil, Ireland and Scotland. The first report dates back to 1999.

Ten FADs have been reported on Palm Beach since 2013. Statewide, 63 devices have been reported, with the first in Jensen Beach in 1999.

Kerstetter said he hopes to identify which fisheries are losing the most devices.

“If we can figure out who is deploying them we can try to get them to stop putting so much garbage and plastic out in the ocean,” he said. “It’s a complex problem.”

Follow Kimberly Miller on Twitter: @KMillerWeather

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Amazon fails to remove ‘vile, racist’ Nazi propaganda books from sale

Amazon fails to remove ‘vile, racist’ Nazi propaganda books from sale

Amazon has failed to remove “vile, racist” Nazi propaganda books from its online store more than a month after receiving complaints about them.

The e-commerce company did not respond to critism from the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) about antisemitic books on sale including Der Giftpilz (“the poisonous mushroom”), published in 1938 by Julius Streicher, a Nazi who was executed following the Nuremburg Trials for crimes agiainst humanity.

The children’s book uses an offensive metaphor comparing Jews to toadstools, which it says are dangerous but hard to distinguish from harmless mushrooms.

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Streicher was also editor of the virulently antisemitic Nazi propaganda newspaper Der Sturmer.

Former chancellor Sajid Javid called on Amazon to remove the book from sale, along with two others by the same publisher and several more identified as antisemitic.

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Mr Javid thanked the HET for highlighting the issue, tweeting: “Amazon will want to demonstrate that it’s a responsible company by acting quickly and stopping the sale of this vile, racist material.”

The listing for Der Giftpilz on Amazon’s website states that it is a rare picture book “much sought after by collectors”.

Some reviews on Amazon state that the book could have educational value as a historical document of the Nazi regime. Other comments include antisemitic statements which have been flagged to Amazon but which have not been taken down.

Der Giftpilz is also offered for sale on other sites including eBay, Abe Books and the Book Depository.

HET chief executive Karen Pollock, who wrote to Amazon demanding the removal of the book, said: “This book is obscene. It is worrying that distinguished publishers like Amazon would make available products that promote racist or hate speech of any kind, let alone those from the darkest period of European history. 

“We have already raised our concerns about similar issues over the past decade. 

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“As the Holocaust moves from living history to history, our survivors regularly raise the concern that Holocaust denial and antisemitism still persist.

“We urge Amazon to do the right thing and remove this material from sale immediately, audit what else it may be on sale, and review their policies to prevent this ever happening again.”

The book has been on sale on Amazon’s marketplace since July 2017, alongside other antisemitic tracts, The Mongrel and The Jewish Question in the Classroom

An Amazon spokesperson said: “As a bookseller, we are mindful of book censorship throughout history, and we do not take this lightly. We believe that providing access to written speech is important, including books that some may find objectionable, though we take concerns from the Holocaust Educational Trust seriously and are listening to its feedback.  

“Amazon has policies governing which books can be listed for sale. We invest significant time and resources to ensure our guidelines are followed, and remove products that do not adhere to our guidelines. Additionally, beyond our proactive measures, we also promptly investigate all concerns raised.”

Financial optimism highest since financial crash, data reveals

Financial optimism highest since financial crash, data reveals

UK consumers are more positive about their money today than at any time since the financial crash, according to data that shows a growing number of households feel their financial affairs are healthy and expect things to improve in the next year.

Financial wellbeing perceptions hit a record high for February, as more consumers reported higher levels of job security, an improving property market and more manageable living costs, among a range of factors influencing household budgets.

The IHS Markit Household Finance Index, which measures households’ overall perceptions of financial wellbeing in a bid to predict consumer behaviour, found a “notable rise” compared with just a month ago, which experts say could help reassure the more cautious members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which sets interest rates.

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More than a quarter of Britons now expect a base rate cut, the study suggests.

“The report signals a number of developments that should keep the Bank of England doves at bay and build optimism towards the UK’s immediate economic prospects,” says Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit. 

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“Living cost perceptions suggests that a further slowing of inflation in the UK is on the horizon. Household inflation expectations were also trimmed, which bodes well for near-term consumer spending prospects given that nominal wages are still robust. A key driving force in 2019, a continuation of this trend will be crucial in 2020 as well. 

“Housing market data were also upbeat, with current prices perceived to have risen strongly in February and expectations signalling further growth over the coming year,” he adds. “Less concern towards job security, which was heightened by various uncertainties last year, could also help stimulate demand.” 

After more than three years of property market stagnation, new data from Rightmove suggests property asking prices, if not final sale prices, are now just £40 short of “hitting an all-time high” as buyers come out of hibernation prompted by political instability. 

“The uncertainty around Brexit, coupled with three general elections since 2016, has meant that buyers and sellers have long waited to see what happens on the political front,” says Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance.

“Now we have a majority government which has confirmed that Brexit will finally go ahead, which has sparked off a quick frenzy in the market from waiting buyers. 

“The fact that asking prices are rising isn’t surprising, since there are still fewer sellers than buyers. If we look at the trend of when asking prices are at their highest, it tends to be those times when estate agents’ stock is at its lowest levels and demand outstrips supply.”

With the general election now behind us, this level of optimism hasn’t been seen since the IHS study was first conducted in February 2009. More than half of the respondents – just under 53 per cent – expect their financial health to improve over the next 12 months. 

With indicators like personal credit card debt and mortgage arrears both falling, albeit slowly, they may be right.

But the figures, which are calculated by adding together the percentage of positive respondents and half of those who don’t feel their financial position has changed either way, are still below the neutral 50.0 mark when it comes to current circumstances, which shows financial health across the country is still under a lot of pressure. 

What can house prices tell us about the economy?

The Money Charity warns that the average total debt of every UK adult is now almost £31,650, including mortgages, for example. Up by £876 in the last twelve months, that’s the equivalent of more than 110 per cent of a typical full-time gross salary. The study also preceded the news of Sajid Javid’s unscripted departure as chancellor last week, taking with him the anticipation of several measures in the upcoming Budget announcement that would have directly affected consumer finances. 

“One of the key pillars of the Conservatives’ election success was the perception that they could be trusted with the economy, and the country was hoping for a period of stability within Westminster,” says Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning specialist at wealth management business, Quilter.

“This was supposed to be a low-key reshuffle but instead we have yet another key ministerial change. It is really not a good look for the Chancellor to quit less than a month before their first Budget, and it leaves a host of issues hanging in the balance.

“This now throws into doubt the entire contents of the budget that has been reported as possible in the media,” agrees Kevin Brown, savings specialist at Scottish Friendly.

“[The news] brings back fresh uncertainty for savers and investors that was thought gone when the prime minister won his hefty mandate in December.”

Ryan Newman visits his team shop for first time since Daytona 500 crash

Ryan Newman visits his team shop for first time since Daytona 500 crash

, USA TODAY
Published 3:25 p.m. ET Feb. 26, 2020 | Updated 3:25 p.m. ET Feb. 26, 2020

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A week removed from his serious crash at the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman was greeted with a standing ovation when he visited his team shop Wednesday in Concord, North Carolina.

Roush Fenway Racing shared photos on Twitter of Newman giving a thumbs-up and the caption, “so we had a special visitor today.” 

Newman, the 2018 Daytona 500 winner, had been hospitalized in serious condition following the Feb. 17 crash but was released last week from Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach. Roush Racing said the 42-year-old driver “continues to show great improvement.” He was being treated for a head injury but there are no internal injuries. 

At Daytona, Newman had taken the lead in the final lap when Ryan Blaney’s bumper caught the back end of his car, sending him drifting into the wall. His vehicle flipped and caught fire after it was hit by another car.

Denny Hamlin won the race after two red flags and two overtimes. 

So we had a special visitor today. Great to see @RyanJNewman back at the shop and receiving a standing ovation by all! #RFRDriven 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/e4J6OShWJK

— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) February 26, 2020

Harry Redknapp’s TV show lifts lid on posh Dorset enclave Sandbanks

Harry Redknapp’s TV show lifts lid on posh Dorset enclave Sandbanks

by | Feb 27, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

Laughing all the way to the Sandbanks! Harry Redknapp’s TV show lifts the lid on the exclusive enclave where homes are higher priced than Monte Carlo

By Graham Norwood For The Daily Mail

Published: | Updated:

Sandbanks in Dorset is Britain’s most expensive location to buy, with homes that are higher priced than in Monte Carlo and where the parties are glitzier than in St Tropez. Don’t take my word for it, ask Harry Redknapp.

The former Spurs and West Ham manager, crowned King of the Jungle on I’m A Celebrity just over a year ago, is now the Sultan of Sandbanks as his new ITV show takes you inside his multi-million pound waterside home on this exclusive enclave.

The first of the four episodes of Harry’s Sandbanks Summer aired on Wednesday, giving viewers an inside look at the Redknapp clan, and lifting the lid on Sandbanks.

Sultan of Sandbanks: Football manger Harry Redknapp’s (pictured with wife Sandra) new ITV show takes you inside his multi-million pound waterside home on the exclusive Dorset enclave 

The area is known as The Hamptons of England, and for the past two decades it has claimed to have some of the world’s most expensive real estate when measured on a pound-per-square-foot basis.

To the uninitiated, this matrix of waterside roads close to Poole covers less than half a square mile and may seem just another part of the south coast. But it has been a sought-after location since the 1920s, when plots were sold for the then-sky-high price of £200 each.

In 1965, the first celebrity endorsement came when John Lennon bought a £25,000 bungalow for his aunt, who had given him his first guitar. Today, 55 years on, the bungalow plot is worth about £4 million.

Footballers and managers came next. Harry Redknapp has had two homes there over 20 years, while Wales manager Tony Pulis and Scotland legend Graeme Souness are also residents.

‘It’s the second largest natural harbour in the world and perfect for water sports. Sandbanks is also home to the best beaches in the country and a ferry ride to the Purbeck coastline and world heritage site, part of the Jurassic Coast,’ says Keith Fensom of estate agency Savills (savills.co.uk).

That combination of sea, sand and often sunshine means the Sandbanks housing market has remained strong even when the rest of the country has hit trouble — in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, a 15,000 sq ft home went on the market for £13.5 million.

Hamptons International (hamptons.co.uk) says 803 homes priced over £1 million have been sold in Sandbanks since 2000.

But if you’re looking for a tired bungalow to transform, you may be out of luck.

‘There are few old properties left to be demolished. The ones that remain are like hen’s teeth and are priced stratospherically,’ says James Law of buying agency Stacks Property Search (stacks.co.uk).

Millionaire’s row: Hamptons International says 803 homes priced over £1 million have been sold in Sandbanks since 2000

But even if Sandbanks no longer has doer-uppers ripe for a dramatic makeover, the housing market is active and it’s seen a Boris Bounce at the start of 2020.

‘We had two sales at £4.8 million each within days of the December election,’ says Adrian Dunford of estate agency Fine & Country (fineandcountry.com).

Buyers tend to be multiple home owners who are not deterred by 3 per cent stamp duty for a second property. In addition, the area attracts almost exclusively British buyers, drawn to features such as the annual beach polo tournament, festivals at nearby Corfe Castle, and the fish and chips at a local Rick Stein restaurant.

‘Sandbanks still has a particular appeal to those who have made it big and want to share it with like-minded people. It’s glitzy fun by the sea,’ says Stacks’ James Law.

Another plus is its close proximity to London: it’s two hours by train or road, making it an easy destination for the weekend.

But the key draw is its status, the sailing and the fact that Sandbanks is this country’s nearest thing to a playboy destination.

Nice one, Harry!

On the market: Sandbanks 

There are three bedrooms in this waterfront apartment with views of Poole Harbour. The kitchen has an Aga and the living/dining room has a large wrap-around terrace. n Fineandcountry.com, 01202 076 297

This three-bedroom detached house was built in 1959 and has never been on sale since, so it is old by Sandbanks standards. It has over a third of an acre, a jetty and slipway. n Savills.com, 01202 492502

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