Scientists think this exotic fish hitchhiked from Japan to California in tsunami debris

Divers swimming in the cold, murky waters of Monterey Bay, California, say they’ve spotted a fish that’s a long way from home. It’s called a barred knifejaw, and it’s native to Japan, Korea and China. The distinctive black-and-white striped fish, also known as a striped beakfish or Ishidai in Japan, has been spotted several times … Continue reading “Scientists think this exotic fish hitchhiked from Japan to California in tsunami debris”

Divers swimming in the cold, murky waters of Monterey Bay, California, say they’ve spotted a fish that’s a long way from home. It’s called a barred knifejaw, and it’s native to Japan, Korea and China.

The distinctive black-and-white striped fish, also known as a striped beakfish or Ishidai in Japan, has been spotted several times in the kelp beds at Breakwater Cove near Monterey.”It can’t be mistaken for any local fish,” said Nicholas Ta, who has been diving in the Monterey area almost daily for five years. “Other fish are kind of camouflaged and they kind of match the environment around them.”

    Scientists believe the fish made the 5,000-mile trip across the Pacific Ocean in debris from the 2011 tsunami caused by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake in Japan.

    Debris from a ‘tsunami invasion’

    Read MoreThe tsunami washed huge amounts of material out to sea and created debris fields that became habitats for marine life. When that debris got swept up in the currents that flow around the Pacific, the critters went along for the ride.”These currents circle around and around and then just depending on local conditions the water may move on shore,” said Jonathan Geller, a scientist at California’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.In the last seven years a number of boats, docks and other items have washed up on the western coastline of North America.Geller was one of the co-authors of a paper in Science Magazine documenting 289 living Japanese coastal species that reached the shores of Hawaii and North America over a six-year period.”This fish stands out because it looks quite alien in our water and it’s definitely a species we haven’t seen here before this event,” Geller told CNN, adding that many of the other species found looked like they belong.”Divers or people visiting the beach may not notice anything that looks unusual to the untrained eye,” he said. “But in fact, some of these creatures could have been part of this tsunami invasion event.”

    California divers first spotted the fish four years ago

    Ta first saw the fish in December 2014 but didn’t know what it was. His friend Dennis Lewis helped him identify the barred knifejaw and they looked for it on future dives.There were a few more sightings in 2015 and then nothing until October. Ta shot new video of the fish last month.He said the fish looks pretty healthy and doesn’t have any cuts or torn fins.”It’s most likely the same fish from 2011,” Rick Starr, who’s also a scientist at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, told CNN.Debris, presumed to be from 2011 Japan tsunami, found in OregonStarr said the waters of Monterey Bay are about 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) cooler that what the fish are used to in Japan.Fish from warmer areas can survive the cold, but they often can’t reproduce.”People have seen multiple fish, it’s not just one, but they’re all the same size indicating that they’re not offspring,” Starr said. “We’re not seeing multiple different size classes, so the best guess right now is that these fish are all older fish that haven’t reproduced.”

      Starr said that means they are not likely to become invasive and disrupt the Monterey Bay ecosystem.Ta told CNN he’s only seen the fish swimming alone or schooled with some local opaleye. He doesn’t know if there are other banded knifejaws hanging around, but he’s hopeful. “I want to believe,” he said.

Extreme cold weather turns hot water into ice in China

Rare ice fog gripped the Chinese city of Mohe in the north of the country after temperatures plunged to a bitter -43.5C on December 6, according to Chinese media.

The Mohe authority announced that temperatures fell to minus 41.1 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, minus 42.1 on Wednesday and minus 43.5 Thursday, the South China Morning Post reported. A cold front approached the northern city on Monday, causing temperatures to drop by between 12 and 20 degrees Celsius.

    Authorities were subsequently forced to issue the city’s first-ever red warning for cold weather. The Heilongjiang Meteorological Bureau also issued an orange warning for cold weather for the whole state.Visibility was reduced to less than 100 meters, but the hostile conditions did not dampen the spirits of some brave tourists, who ventured outside to witness the meteorological phenomenon. Read MoreVideos emerged on social media of people throwing water into the freezing air, causing it to turn to ice immediately. Ice fog only occurs in the world’s coldest regions, as water droplets suspended in air can remain in liquid form down to temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius.It forms under specific conditions when high humidity is combined with temperatures no higher than minus 30 degrees Celsius, allowing for ice crystals to form in the air. Mohe is the northernmost city in China and average temperatures remain below freezing for on average seven months of the year. It is a phenomenon regularly witnessed in the Arctic and Antarctic, but can also form at extreme northerly and southerly latitudes, in regions including Alaska and northern Russia. Mohe is located in the Heilongjiang Province bordering Russia, and is the northernmost city in the country.

      The city is often referred to as “China’s Arctic town,” and is one of the few locations in China to have a subarctic climate. Winter in the city beings in early to mid-October and lasts until late April, and average temperatures stay below freezing for roughly seven months of the year.

Japan has so many vacant homes it’s giving them away

Four years ago, Naoko and Takayuki Ida were given a house. For free.

It’s a spacious, two-story home nestled amid trees on a winding country road in the small town of Okutama, in Tokyo prefecture. Before moving, the couple and their children — two teenagers and a five-year-old — were all living with Naoko’s parents.”We had to do a lot of repair work (on our new home), but we’d always wanted to live in the countryside and have a big garden,” said Naoko, 45. .m-infographic{} .d-photo{display:block;margin:30px auto} .d-photo:after{visibility:hidden;display:block;font-size:0;clear:both;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:15px} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:100%;margin-bottom:20px} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto}@media screen and (min-width:48em){ .d-photo:after,.d-pullquote:after{visibility:hidden;content:” “;clear:both} .d-photo{display:block;margin:40px auto} .d-photo:after{display:block;font-size:0;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;padding:0;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo .d-caption–ptaha-studio-copy{width:50%;margin:auto;padding-top:10px} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:30px} .d-photo .half,.d-photo .vh-horz,.d-photo .vh-vert{margin-bottom:20px;float:left} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:49%;margin-right:2%} .d-photo .half:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-vert{width:29.45%;margin-right:1%} .d-photo .vh-horz:last-child,.d-photo .vh-vert:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-vert img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-horz{width:67.5%;margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-horz img{width:100%;height:auto}}

Naoko Ida converted an old Japanese-style house into a cafe.

It’s a popular stop among bikers.

Ida opened her cafe in September 2017.

A free house may sound like a scam. But Japan faces an unusual property problem: it has more homes than people to live in them.In 2013, there were 61 million houses and 52 million households, according to the Japan Policy Forum. And the situation is poised to get worse.Read MoreJapan’s population is expected to decline from 127 million to about 88 million by 2065, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security, meaning even fewer people will need houses. As young people leave rural areas for city jobs, Japan’s countryside has become haunted by deserted “ghost” houses, known as “akiya.”

    It’s predicted that by 2040, nearly 900 towns and villages across Japan will no longer exist — and Okutama is one of them. In that context, giving away property is a bid for survival.”In 2014, we discovered that Okutama was one of three Tokyo (prefecture) towns expected to vanish by 2040,” says Kazutaka Niijima, an official with the Okutama Youth Revitalization (OYR) department, a government body set up to repopulate the town. .pg-special-article .zn-body-text h3 { text-align: center; font-weight: bold; clear:left;}Vacant houses are a common sight across Japan as the country’s population shrinks and many young people move to urban areas.

    Akiya bank schemes

    Okutama is a two-hour train ride west from Tokyo prefecture’s dense, neon-soaked center.In the 1960s, it boasted a population of more than 13,000, as well as a profitable timber trade. But after the liberalization of imports and falling demand for timber in the 1990s, most young people left for the city. Today, Okutama has just 5,200 residents.In 2014, it established an “akiya bank” — or vacant house scheme — which matches prospective buyers with aging homeowners and empty properties. While akiya banks are now common across Japan, each town sets its own conditions.For example, Okutama subsidizes home repairs for new akiya residents, and encourages akiya owners to relinquish their vacant properties by offering up to $8,820 per 100 square meters (1,076 sq feet).However, it stipulates that those who receive a free home or renovation assistance must be aged under 40, or be in a couple with at least one child under 18-years-old and one partner aged under 50. Akiya applicants must also commit to settling in the town permanently and invest in upgrading second-hand homes.But even giving away homes is tough in a country where people prefer new builds. .m-infographic{} .d-photo{display:block;margin:30px auto} .d-photo:after{visibility:hidden;display:block;font-size:0;clear:both;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:15px} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:100%;margin-bottom:20px} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto}@media screen and (min-width:48em){ .d-photo:after,.d-pullquote:after{visibility:hidden;content:” “;clear:both} .d-photo{display:block;margin:40px auto} .d-photo:after{display:block;font-size:0;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;padding:0;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo .d-caption–ptaha-studio-copy{width:50%;margin:auto;padding-top:10px} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:30px} .d-photo .half,.d-photo .vh-horz,.d-photo .vh-vert{margin-bottom:20px;float:left} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:49%;margin-right:2%} .d-photo .half:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-vert{width:29.45%;margin-right:1%} .d-photo .vh-horz:last-child,.d-photo .vh-vert:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-vert img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-horz{width:67.5%;margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-horz img{width:100%;height:auto}}

    A view over Okutama, 1955. (Okutama Town)

    Constructions for Ogouchi dam in 1945. (Okutama Town)

    Second-hand homes

    Niijima leads the way into a vacant, box-like house with a blue roof and white walls that was built 33 years ago. Though sturdy on the outside, the musty smell inside hints at the decade it has sat empty. The kitchen is in need of a makeover, and the tatami floor is faded.

      “It will suit someone who likes DIY,” Niijima said with a grin. There are 3,000 homes in Okutama, and about 400 are vacant — only half of which are believed to be salvageable. The rest are either too dilapidated or were built in areas at risk of landslides.In the 20th century, Japan experienced two major population spikes: the first after World War II and the second during the economic explosion of the 1980s. Both created housing shortages which led to cheap, mass-produced homes that were quickly erected in densely populated towns and cities. .m-infographic{} .d-photo{display:block;margin:30px auto} .d-photo:after{visibility:hidden;display:block;font-size:0;clear:both;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:15px} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:100%;margin-bottom:20px} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto}@media screen and (min-width:48em){ .d-photo:after,.d-pullquote:after{visibility:hidden;content:” “;clear:both} .d-photo{display:block;margin:40px auto} .d-photo:after{display:block;font-size:0;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;padding:0;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo .d-caption–ptaha-studio-copy{width:50%;margin:auto;padding-top:10px} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:30px} .d-photo .half,.d-photo .vh-horz,.d-photo .vh-vert{margin-bottom:20px;float:left} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:49%;margin-right:2%} .d-photo .half:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-vert{width:29.45%;margin-right:1%} .d-photo .vh-horz:last-child,.d-photo .vh-vert:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-vert img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-horz{width:67.5%;margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-horz img{width:100%;height:auto}}

      These Okutama locals regularly meet to play gate ball.

      Fujiko Masuda runs a popular Japanese-style pub.

      They remember when the timber trade boomed.

      Many of those properties were poor quality, said Hidetaka Yoneyama, a senior researcher at the Fujitsu Research Institute. As a result, about 85% of people opt to buy new homes. Japanese laws also don’t help things.In 2015, the government passed a law designed to penalize those who leave houses empty, in a bid to encourage them to either demolish or refurbish their properties. However, akiya owners are taxed more for empty plots of land than for having an empty property, according to real estate expert Toshihiko Yamamoto. This is a deterrent to razing a vacant home.Urban planning regulations are also weak in Japan, said Chie Nozawa, a professor of architecture at Toyo University in Tokyo, meaning developers can keep building houses despite the glaring surplus. Kazutaka Niijima inside one of the akiya that Okutama will give away for free in 2019.

      Making rural areas alluring

      In Okutama, revitalization official Niijima has found families for nine vacant houses so far. They’ve come from places including New York and China — the akiya scheme is not limited to Japanese citizens.

        Filipino-Japanese couple Rosalie and Toshiuki Imabayashi, who live in central Tokyo with their six children, will move to the town in early 2019.”It was getting too cramped for us in Tokyo and we liked that Okutama was within the same prefecture but surrounded by nature,” Rosalie said. Overgrown vegetation surrounds a vacant house in the Yato area of Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Empty homes are an issue across the country. For most newcomers, though, free homes are not enough. Depopulated areas like Okutama also need a sustainable economic development plan — and community-building activities between locals and newcomers — if they are to thrive.”If people can find a way of engaging in productive economic activities and supporting themselves, they will come and stay in rural areas,” said Jeffrey Hou, an architecture professor at Washington University. Kamiyama, a town in southern Japan, added more people than it lost in 2011 after IT companies set up satellite offices there, attracting workers keen to escape city life. .m-infographic{} .d-photo{display:block;margin:30px auto} .d-photo:after{visibility:hidden;display:block;font-size:0;clear:both;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:15px} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:100%;margin-bottom:20px} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto}@media screen and (min-width:48em){ .d-photo:after,.d-pullquote:after{visibility:hidden;content:” “;clear:both} .d-photo{display:block;margin:40px auto} .d-photo:after{display:block;font-size:0;height:0} .d-photo .d-caption{color:#8C8C8C;font-weight:300;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;padding:0;margin:10px 0} .d-photo .d-caption span.bold{font-weight:700} .d-photo .d-caption–ptaha-studio-copy{width:50%;margin:auto;padding-top:10px} .d-photo.full-width{width:100%} .d-photo.full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .full-width{margin-bottom:30px} .d-photo .half,.d-photo .vh-horz,.d-photo .vh-vert{margin-bottom:20px;float:left} .d-photo .full-width img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .half{width:49%;margin-right:2%} .d-photo .half:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .half img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-vert{width:29.45%;margin-right:1%} .d-photo .vh-horz:last-child,.d-photo .vh-vert:last-child{margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-vert img{width:100%;height:auto} .d-photo .vh-horz{width:67.5%;margin-right:0} .d-photo .vh-horz img{width:100%;height:auto}}

        Okutama station was previously called Hikawa station.

        Okutama station, October 2018.

        The ingenuity of new residents is also a boon for fading towns.Certified as caregivers for the elderly, the Idas knew they would have job opportunities in Okutama. However, in September 2017 they tried a new venture, buying and converting a second-hand “kominka” — a Japanese house more than 100-years-old — into a roadside cafe catering to roving hikers and bikers.”The beauty of this place lies in retrofitting something that already exists,” said Naoko, inside the cozy cafe, which brims with vintage objects and local craft work. “Some people like this culture and really like old things but they hesitate about committing to rural life.”

          On their quiet street, there is another empty house and the home of an elderly woman. Before the Idas came, wild monkeys kept eating the woman’s vegetable patch — now the area is busier, the animals keep their distance. Yet while Naoko has found a permanent home for herself in Okutama, she shakes her head when asked whether her children see a future there.”Actually, my eldest daughter says she can’t wait to leave home and rent a place of her own in the city,” she said.

A South Korean train heads North, but sanctions mean it has to carry its own fuel

A South Korean train arrived in North Korea Friday for the first time in more than a decade ahead of a potential rail link up of the divided peninsula, with the team on board carrying their own fuel and supplies to conform with stringent sanctions still in place against Pyongyang.

The trip, which is part of a joint study to inspect the North’s aged railway system, follows a series of summit meetings between the two countries’ leaders earlier this year aimed at encouraging the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program.Any spare fuel left over from the trip will have to be hauled back to South Korea, to avoid the risk of inspectors breaching international restrictions on trading with the North.

    If those restrictions are lifted in the future, a connection between the two Korean rail systems could bring huge economic benefits to the peninsula, linking up North Korean factories with markets in the South, and giving South Korean exporters a faster route to China and Eurasia.South Korean President Moon Jae-in has long dreamed of building a trans-Korea railroad. During a speech last year, he promised that the “severed inter-Korean railway will be connected again,” adding that one day, “a train departing from Busan and Mokpo will run through Pyongyang and Beijing, and head towards Russia and Europe.” South Korea sent rail cars and dozens of officials to North Korea on Friday for joint surveys on northern railway sections the countries hope someday to connect with the South.Read More

    Inspection tour

    A seven-car train left Seoul Station at 6:30 a.m. local time Friday, arriving at the border two and a half hours later. After nukes and summits, can Kim Jong Un reform North Korea's economy? Proceeding slowly and carefully, inspectors are hoping to ascertain the state of the North Korean railways, and just how much money would be required to upgrade them to the point they could carry South Korean trains. According to South Korean officials, North Korea has over 5,226 kilometers (3,247 miles) of railway, compared to about 3,900 kilometers (2,423 miles) in the South. However, most of the North Korean routes operate as single track lines (meaning trains cannot pass each other) with an average speed of 40-50 km per hour (24-31 mph).South Korea’s Korail estimated in 2012 the total cost of repairing the railways in North Korea at $210 million for the eastern line and $96 million for the western line, though these figures may have since grown due to ongoing lack of repair and the effect of sanctions.The trip will be the first time a South Korean train car has ever traveled along the North’s eastern Donghae line from Mount Kumgang to the Tumen River. South Korean inspectors previously visited the North in 2007, to examine the Sinuiju to Kaesong section of the tracks, during a period of rapprochement. The new trip will travel from Kaesong to Sinuiju near the border with China, down to Pyongyang, Wonsan and Anbyon before a trip to the Tumen River and a final return via Wonsan, Pyongyang and Kaesong to Seoul. Im Jong-il, chief of the joint survey team, was also part of the 2007 inspection, which was carried out in the bitter Korean winter. “(It was) very cold. As we rode the train, we had to conduct our survey while occasionally dodging the train coming from the opposite direction, which was difficult,” he told reporters. At least this time, the train is heated throughout, so inspectors can focus on looking at the tracks, rather than focusing on keeping warm. “The team members are experts in this field so they will be able to tell aging by plain sight for the most parts. The result will depend on how much the North Korean officials will show us,” Im said. The state of the North Korean rail system is currently unclear, but may take significant upgrades before it could support regular traffic from the South.

    Sanctions headache

    But while the two Koreas are steaming ahead in building stronger ties, the North remains subject to stringent international sanctions passed in response to its nuclear and missile testing. The Trump administration has also expressed caution at the prospect of South Korea pushing ahead with inter-Korean projects, maintaining that sanctions provide an important diplomatic tool in holding the North accountable. The team had to receive special permission from the United Nations to carry out the visit, and are under strict instructions to bring any leftover materials back to Seoul with them. The last time South Korean inspectors visited North Korean train stations was in 2007. The sanctions have created a number of problems for the South Korean inspectors, who had to bring their own food, water and fuel, lest they breach sanctions by purchasing any from the North. The inspection team is also wary of the health risks posed by drinking or eating North Korean products.

      “At last survey (in 2007) there was a lot of bellyache. So we are bringing lots of water,” project manager Ji Yong-tae said. A pool reporter who went on board the train before it departed said there were hundreds of bottles of water stacked in one of the compartments, adjacent to the two-meter-long sleeping pods where the inspectors will live for the next few weeks.

Africa’s stunning new UNESCO World Heritage Sites

For the amount of cultural, scientific and historic sites in Africa, it’s a continent underrepresented on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This year’s intake does little to buck the trend, but it does at least include the recognition of three fascinating locations.

The battle to save Libya's World Heritage sites Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, Khomani Cultural Landscape in South Africa, and Mbanza Kongo in Angola have all been added. Another site of African interest, Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in Rio de Janeiro — an important physical legacy of the transatlantic slave trade — is also present.

    Africa now has 138 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For a site to be chosen it has to be considered a place of universal value and meet one of 10 criteria. This includes outstanding human settlements, architecture and natural beauty, among others. At the 41st annual World Heritage Committee session in Krakow, Poland, UNESCO voted to add 21 locations, bringing the global total to 1,073. Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundEritrea’s capital, Asmara, has weathered colonialism and decades of war, and emerged an independent nation with one of the world’s best preserved collections of Futurist and Modernist architecture.Hide Caption 1 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundAsmara’s bounty of Modernist buildings is due in part to the influence of Italian architects, who took a 1913 city plan and created a Futurist playground during the 1930s.Hide Caption 2 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundFuturism, which held up modern technology and rejected the past, was a concept created in the beginning of the twentieth century, but later fell out of favor with Italy’s fascist government. As a result, some architects could experiment with Futurist ideas only on the fringes of the Italian colonial project.Hide Caption 3 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThough some cities have sections that have been given over to Modernist architecture, Asmara is rare in that it has been designed in its entirety as a Modernist creation. Hide Caption 4 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe most famous building in the city is the Fiat Tagliero, a car service station. Its shape is evocative of an airplane — a typical Futurist motif. Though not in current use, the building is in good working order after having been renovated in the early 2000s.Hide Caption 5 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundA “uniquely protracted” post-colonial situation prevented Eritreans from resenting their colonial heritage, argues Edward Dension, a lecturer at the Bartlett School of Art. He suggests that this is due in part to the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Hide Caption 6 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundToday Eritreans are proud of their Modernist heritage, and Dension, working under Medhanie Teklemariam at the Asmara Heritage Project, is bidding for the city to become the nation’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.Hide Caption 7 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe heritage movement started in 1996 in an unlikely way: through ex-prison inmates who petitioned against the demolition of their onetime detention center, Caserma Mussolini. Hide Caption 8 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundIn 2001 the Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project was instigated. Funded by the World Bank, it began documenting the city’s rich heritage, unknown to most of the world due to Eritrea’s turbulent and secluded past.Hide Caption 9 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe initiative was succeeded by the Asmara Heritage Project, which submitted it’s application to UNESCO on February 1. It will be 18 months before the team behind the bid finds out if they were successful.Hide Caption 10 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playground”Africa is underrepresented on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and also in Modernist history,” Dension argues, suggesting that “Asmara’s bid is just one of many that will increasingly try to redress this imbalance.”Hide Caption 11 of 11A few countries, like Somalia, are unable to receive World Heritage status for any potential sites having not ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention. (Although the East African nation did register its intentions to do so in 2016.)Read More

      Asmara’s inclusion on the list makes it Eritrea’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was recognized for its futurist and modernist architecture, a product of the era of Italian colonial rule. Angola’s was also awarded its first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mbanza Kongo is a town in the north of the country and is the former capital of Kingdom of Kongo, which ruled much of Southern Africa from the 14th to the 19th centuries. South Africa now has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

How London will become the world’s first National Park City

With its traffic-clogged streets and polluted air it may seem like an unlikely choice, but the bustling metropolis of London is set to become the world’s first National Park City.

But the UK capital won’t be swapping its skyscrapers for forests. Instead, the National Park City status aims to change how people think about green spaces in urban areas.It’s the brainchild of former geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison. He hopes that re-imagining London as an urban national park will encourage people to conserve the natural environment and help make it greener.

    “London is not just a city, it’s a landscape,” he said. “It’s a landscape that’s home not just to nearly nine million people, but there are as many trees. We share this city with 15,000 other species of wildlife and I don’t think that urban life is worth any less than that life that we see in maybe those more distant places from cities.”Related content: Creating bubbles of clean air in London .m-html5-video–1543340167026 { display: block; margin: 0 0 1em; position: relative; width: 100%; } .m-html5-video–1543340167026 video { display: block; width: 100%; } Read MoreRaven-Ellison’s idea started off five years ago with a single blog post, and after several years of advocacy grew into a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised more than £32,000, and eventually a partnership with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.Last August, Khan announced plans to make the capital a National Park City, and Raven-Ellison confirmed that it will gain this title by July 2019.One of the main aims of the National Park City vision is to make more than half of London’s total area green by incorporating more green roofs and walls covered in grass and plants, as well as “rain gardens” to prevent flooding, and habitats for wildlife.Around 47% of Greater London is already physically green — including areas such as domestic gardens, golf courses and natural habitats — and 18% of the capital is public parks. .m-infographic–1543332178430 { background: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/11/27/london_green_spaces_375px.png) no-repeat 0 0 transparent; margin-bottom: 30px; padding-top: 96.26666666666667%; width: 100%; -moz-background-size: cover; -o-background-size: cover; -webkit-background-size: cover; background-size: cover; } @media (min-width: 640px) { .m-infographic–1543332178430{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/11/27/london_green_spaces_780px.png); padding-top: 65.25641025641026%; } } @media (min-width: 1120px) { .m-infographic–1543332178430{ background-image: url(//cdn.cnn.com/cnn/.e/interactive/html5-video-media/2018/11/27/london_green_spaces_780px.png); padding-top: 65.25641025641026%; } } <!– As a National Park City, Khan says London will be greener in the long-term while protecting its core network of parks and green spaces.Related content: Can plastic roads curb waste epidemic?

    Will it work?

    London has a serious problem with pollution — one that is costing £3.7 billion and more than 9,000 lives each year. The city’s air has repeatedly exceeded the legal requirements set by the EU for nitrogen dioxide – mostly caused by road traffic.While Khan has introduced measures to clean London’s air, and green the capital, the National Park City status is not necessarily about changing policy, said Raven-Ellison.It is about encouraging Londoners to celebrate nature in the city. “When I started off, a lot of people just thought that I was a bit bonkers,” he said. “But whether it took five seconds, five minutes, or five months, people have really awakened to this big idea that could really improve life in London.”Robert Cowley, lecturer in sustainable cities at King’s College London, said that the initiative wouldn’t radically transform London, but was more to do with branding it as a green city.Related content: The Philippines is building a green, disaster-resilient cityIn good weather, Regent’s Park is one of the most popular parks in central London. “I think if you look at their particular targets they’re not so different to what we’ve got already in terms of the amount of green space and access to greenery,” Cowley told CNN.”It will probably improve some places incrementally, but on the other hand, you never know what new initiatives are going to spark a wider effect. It’s worth trying.”

      The National Park City Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to support the National Park City idea in London, has expressed interest in extending this movement to other cities like Adelaide, Glasgow, and San Francisco. Raven-Ellison said any city could potentially be a National Park City, as long as it has a strong civic society and regional government that is actively doing everything it can to make the city greener, healthier, and wilder.

Pilot falls asleep and overshoots island destination by 30 miles

The stakes were extremely high in this case of sleeping on the job.

A small freight plane overshot its Australian destination by nearly 30 miles because the pilot fell asleep in the cockpit, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in a statement. The pilot, who has not been named, flew the aircraft on November 8 from Tasmania to King Island, off the southwest coast of the country.

    Flight tracking data from that day shows the Piper PA-31 plane, operated by Vortex Air, leaving Devonport Airport at 6:21 a.m. and passing over King Island before turning around. It landed on King Island at 7:21 a.m. “During the cruise, the pilot, who was the only person on board, fell asleep, resulting in the aircraft overflying King Island by 46 km (28.6 miles),” ATSB said in a statement.Read MoreAuthorities are now investigating the “serious incident” of “pilot incapacitation.” It is unclear when the pilot woke up. According to Vortex Air’s website, it runs charter flights for “groups, corporates and leisure travelers to destinations around Australia.” All passengers and crew survive Air Niugini Boeing 737 crash in sea off Micronesian islandIt told CNN’s affiliate Yahoo7 that it is investigating the “extremely rare occurrence” and said it was the pilot’s first flight after returning from a period of leave.Colin Tucker, the Managing Director of Vortex Air, said the company’s pilot “unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft.””The issue became apparent when Air Traffic Control was unable to contact the pilot in-flight, and the aircraft traveled past the intended destination point while operating on autopilot.”The pilot safely landed the aircraft at King Island airport.”The charter company said it was the first scheduled flight for the day and subsequent flights were not affected.The Piper PA-31 plane can cruise at a maximum speed of 270 mph and can carry up to 10 passengers, according to the aviation interest site Airlines.net.

      ATSB said it will interview the pilot, review the operational procedures and release its investigation’s report sometime at the beginning of 2019. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is conducting a separate investigation reviewing the fatigue management practices of the charter company, Yahoo7 reports.

Pilot falls asleep and overshoots island destination by 30 miles

The stakes were extremely high in this case of sleeping on the job.

A small freight plane overshot its Australian destination by nearly 30 miles because the pilot fell asleep in the cockpit, Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in a statement. The pilot, who has not been named, flew the aircraft on November 8 from Tasmania to King Island, off the southwest coast of the country.

    Flight tracking data from that day shows the Piper PA-31 plane, operated by Vortex Air, leaving Devonport Airport at 6:21 a.m. and passing over King Island before turning around. It landed on King Island at 7:21 a.m. “During the cruise, the pilot, who was the only person on board, fell asleep, resulting in the aircraft overflying King Island by 46 km (28.6 miles),” ATSB said in a statement.Read MoreAuthorities are now investigating the “serious incident” of “pilot incapacitation.” It is unclear when the pilot woke up. According to Vortex Air’s website, it runs charter flights for “groups, corporates and leisure travelers to destinations around Australia.” All passengers and crew survive Air Niugini Boeing 737 crash in sea off Micronesian islandIt told CNN’s affiliate Yahoo7 that it is investigating the “extremely rare occurrence” and said it was the pilot’s first flight after returning from a period of leave.Colin Tucker, the Managing Director of Vortex Air, said the company’s pilot “unintentionally fell asleep while in command of the aircraft.””The issue became apparent when Air Traffic Control was unable to contact the pilot in-flight, and the aircraft traveled past the intended destination point while operating on autopilot.”The pilot safely landed the aircraft at King Island airport.”The charter company said it was the first scheduled flight for the day and subsequent flights were not affected.The Piper PA-31 plane can cruise at a maximum speed of 270 mph and can carry up to 10 passengers, according to the aviation interest site Airlines.net.

      ATSB said it will interview the pilot, review the operational procedures and release its investigation’s report sometime at the beginning of 2019. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is conducting a separate investigation reviewing the fatigue management practices of the charter company, Yahoo7 reports.

Holy cow! Giant steer ‘Knickers’ stands head and shoulders over herd

This is one farm animal you wouldn’t want any beef with.

“Knickers,” an enormous Holstein-Friesian, is making headlines after his owner declared him — unofficially — Australia’s biggest steer. The 7-year-old stands at a whopping 194 centimeters (76 inches) tall — almost as tall as NBA legend Michael Jordan — and weighs 1.4 tonnes (3,086 pounds), its owner says.

    The huge ruminant towers over the other beasts in the herd from the farm in Myalup, a town about an hour-and-a-half south of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.Holstein-Friesians are a dairy breed. Mature cows weigh about 1,500 pounds and stand 147 centimeters (58 inches) tall at the shoulder, according to one cattle industry site. Bulls usually stand over 180 centimeters tall and weigh over 2,200 pounds.Read MoreKnickers is significantly heavier and taller than that. Owner Geoff Pearson said that Knickers’ sheer size saved him from the abattoir.

      “He was too big to go into the export plant’s chain,” the farmer told Australia’s ABC News. “We have a high turnover of cattle and he was lucky enough to stay behind.”While he can’t quite stake a claim to be a world-beater, Knickers measures up well against the world’s largest steer, a chianina ox named Bellino who measured just over 2 meters (roughly 79 inches) at a cattle show in Rome in 2010.

Africa’s stunning new UNESCO World Heritage Sites

For the amount of cultural, scientific and historic sites in Africa, it’s a continent underrepresented on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This year’s intake does little to buck the trend, but it does at least include the recognition of three fascinating locations.

The battle to save Libya's World Heritage sites Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, Khomani Cultural Landscape in South Africa, and Mbanza Kongo in Angola have all been added. Another site of African interest, Valongo Wharf Archaeological Site in Rio de Janeiro — an important physical legacy of the transatlantic slave trade — is also present.

    Africa now has 138 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For a site to be chosen it has to be considered a place of universal value and meet one of 10 criteria. This includes outstanding human settlements, architecture and natural beauty, among others. At the 41st annual World Heritage Committee session in Krakow, Poland, UNESCO voted to add 21 locations, bringing the global total to 1,073. Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundEritrea’s capital, Asmara, has weathered colonialism and decades of war, and emerged an independent nation with one of the world’s best preserved collections of Futurist and Modernist architecture.Hide Caption 1 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundAsmara’s bounty of Modernist buildings is due in part to the influence of Italian architects, who took a 1913 city plan and created a Futurist playground during the 1930s.Hide Caption 2 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundFuturism, which held up modern technology and rejected the past, was a concept created in the beginning of the twentieth century, but later fell out of favor with Italy’s fascist government. As a result, some architects could experiment with Futurist ideas only on the fringes of the Italian colonial project.Hide Caption 3 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThough some cities have sections that have been given over to Modernist architecture, Asmara is rare in that it has been designed in its entirety as a Modernist creation. Hide Caption 4 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe most famous building in the city is the Fiat Tagliero, a car service station. Its shape is evocative of an airplane — a typical Futurist motif. Though not in current use, the building is in good working order after having been renovated in the early 2000s.Hide Caption 5 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundA “uniquely protracted” post-colonial situation prevented Eritreans from resenting their colonial heritage, argues Edward Dension, a lecturer at the Bartlett School of Art. He suggests that this is due in part to the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Hide Caption 6 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundToday Eritreans are proud of their Modernist heritage, and Dension, working under Medhanie Teklemariam at the Asmara Heritage Project, is bidding for the city to become the nation’s first UNESCO World Heritage site.Hide Caption 7 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe heritage movement started in 1996 in an unlikely way: through ex-prison inmates who petitioned against the demolition of their onetime detention center, Caserma Mussolini. Hide Caption 8 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundIn 2001 the Cultural Assets Rehabilitation Project was instigated. Funded by the World Bank, it began documenting the city’s rich heritage, unknown to most of the world due to Eritrea’s turbulent and secluded past.Hide Caption 9 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playgroundThe initiative was succeeded by the Asmara Heritage Project, which submitted it’s application to UNESCO on February 1. It will be 18 months before the team behind the bid finds out if they were successful.Hide Caption 10 of 11 Photos: Eritrea's Modernist playground”Africa is underrepresented on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and also in Modernist history,” Dension argues, suggesting that “Asmara’s bid is just one of many that will increasingly try to redress this imbalance.”Hide Caption 11 of 11A few countries, like Somalia, are unable to receive World Heritage status for any potential sites having not ratified the 1972 World Heritage Convention. (Although the East African nation did register its intentions to do so in 2016.)Read More

      Asmara’s inclusion on the list makes it Eritrea’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was recognized for its futurist and modernist architecture, a product of the era of Italian colonial rule. Angola’s was also awarded its first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mbanza Kongo is a town in the north of the country and is the former capital of Kingdom of Kongo, which ruled much of Southern Africa from the 14th to the 19th centuries. South Africa now has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.