SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Engineers are deploying a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.
The 2,000-foot long floating boom is being towed from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas.
The system was created by The Ocean Cleanup, an organization founded by Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old innovator from the Netherlands who first became passionate about cleaning the oceans when he went scuba diving at age 16 in the Mediterranean Sea and saw more plastic bags than fish.
“The plastic is really persistent and it doesn’t go away by itself and the time to act is now,” Slat said, adding that researchers with his organization found plastic going back to the 1960s and 1970s bobbing in the patch.
The buoyant, U-shaped barrier made of plastic and with a tapered 10-foot deep screen, is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in that gyre but allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.
Fitted with solar powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the cleanup system will communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land where it will be recycled, said Slat.
Shipping containers filled with the fishing nets, plastic bottles, laundry baskets and other plastic refuse scooped up by the system being deployed are expected to be back on land within a year, he said.
BASRA, Iraq (AP) — A sense of calm returned to Iraq’s southern city of Basra after a week of violent protests over unemployment and poor public services that left at least 15 people dead and threatened stability in the oil-rich region.
Troops sent from Baghdad have reinforced police, and government offices and markets reopened after a quiet night. Municipality workers were out in force cleaning up the streets and carting away debris from the clashes.
The oil-rich region and other cities in Iraq’s southern Shiite heartland have been convulsed by the most serious protests in years, with residents complaining of power outages, filthy tap water and soaring unemployment.
In recent days, protesters have attacked government offices, political party headquarters and the Iranian consulate. Many blame their woes on neighboring Iran’s outsized influence on Iraqi politics and are calling for radical change.
A spokesman for an alliance of powerful Shiite militias, many of them backed by Iran, vowed to respond against “those who are carrying out acts of arson and sabotage.” The local commander, known as Abu Yasser al-Jaafari, said the lack of response thus far should not be taken as a sign of weakness.
BEIJING (AP) — China’s trade surplus with the United States widened to a record $31 billion in August as exports surged despite American tariff hikes, potentially adding fuel to President Donald Trump’s battle with Beijing over industrial policy.
Exports to the United States rose 13.4 percent to $44.4 billion, ticking up from July’s 13.3 percent growth, according to customs data. Imports of U.S. goods rose 11.1 percent to $13.3 billion, decelerating from the previous month’s 11.8 percent.
That could help reignite U.S. demands that Beijing narrows its trade gap, which has temporarily been overshadowed by their clash over complaints China steals or pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.
The two sides have imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of each other’s goods. The Trump administration is deciding whether to extend penalties to another $200 billion list of Chinese imports. Beijing says it will retaliate.
With no settlement in sight, the spiraling conflict between the two biggest economies has fed fears it will chill global trade and economic growth.
The Commerce Ministry expressed confidence that China can maintain “steady and healthy” economic growth despite the trade pressure.