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The latest news from Business Insider

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    iPhone XR

    Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday.

    1. Apple is planning three new iPhone models in 2019, including a successor to the iPhone XR. One of the new models will include a triple camera, while the others will include a double rear camera, according to the Wall Street Journal.
    2. Wang Weijing, an executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, has been fired following charges of espionage in Poland. It's the second arrest of a Huawei executive in two months after Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer and its founder's daughter, was arrested for violating US sanctions in conducting business with Iran.
    3. Chinese tech giant Tencent has unveiled a Siri-like digital assistant for the WeChat app, which is huge in China. The new assistant is called Xiaowei and will plug into other apps like Tencent's music service QQ.
    4. Apple plans to launch its HomePod smart speaker in China. It will be available from January 18th, the company said.
    5. Epic Games has waded into the weird feud between game engine firm Unity and British cloud gaming service Improbable. Epic said it would partner Improbable on a $25 million fund to compensate game developers affected by Unity booting Improbable.
    6. Workplace chat service Slack is planning to go public through a direct listing rather than an IPO. Spotify made waves when it chose to bypass a traditional offering and pursue a direct listing.
    7. Instagram has completely replaced TV as the most important way for advertisers to reach young people, according to analysts at Cowen. Cowen surveyed major US ad buyers, and it found that for new branding campaigns, the buyers would overwhelmingly pick the Facebook-owned Instagram as their first choice.
    8. SpaceX is laying off 10% of its workforce, according to the LA Times. SpaceX has more than 6,000 employees and has been working rapidly to build and start testing a prototype of its brand new rocket system.
    9. Verizon is quietly testing its own cloud gaming service, according to The Verge. Verizon has been quietly recruiting gamers to test Verizon Gaming, which will eventually make its way to Android phones.
    10. Apple's long-awaited AirPower wireless charger might be in production, according to tweets picked up by MacRumors. Chinese manufacturer Luxshare Precision has reportedly started production of the charger. 

    Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for "Business Insider" in your Alexa's flash briefing settings.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I went on Beyoncé's 22-day diet — and I lost 15 pounds


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    Egga

    • A humble egg has become the most-liked Instagram post of all time.
    • It has racked up more than 24 million likes, beating a post by Kylie Jenner.
    • No, we're not yolking.

    An egg, just a humble chicken egg, has cracked Instagram by becoming the most-liked post of all time.

    No, we're not yolking.

    Posted with the sole intention of snatching Kylie Jenner's Instagram throne, the picture achieved its aim on Monday, surpassing 24 million likes at the time of writing.

    Here is the egg, now the most famous in the world:

    It's the only post from the account @world_record_egg.

    The caption accompanying the image says: "Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this."

    Read more: The Japanese billionaire who booked a place on Elon Musk's moon voyage has now posted the most retweeted tweet of all time

    The account's bio now reads: "Official world record holders of the most liked picture on Instagram." And, with a question for Instagram, it adds: "Now where’s our blue tick?"

    @world_record_egg has not so much as beaten, as whisked the previous record for the most liked photo on Instagram. Posted by Kylie Jenner in February last year, it features her daughter Stormi Webster.

    stormi webster 👼🏽

    A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Feb 6, 2018 at 1:14pm PST on

    Jenner responded by posting a video of her cracking an egg on tarmac, which was recorded some time ago. "Take that little egg," she said.

    Take that little egg

    A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on Jan 13, 2019 at 6:04pm PST on

    It's the second time in a matter of days that a social media record has been smashed. Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa surpassed a chicken-nugget-loving US teen by posting the most retweeted tweet ever this month.

    His post, celebrating Maezawa's clothing company, Zozotown, making 10 billion yen ($92 million) in sales over Christmas, has been retweeted nearly 5.3 million times.

    The record was previously held by Carter Wilkerson, a US teen who in 2017 asked Wendy's how many retweets he would need to be awarded a year's supply of free chicken nuggets. He racked up 3.5 million retweets.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 7 science-backed ways to a happier and healthier 2019 that you can do the first week of the new year


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    day of the dead hat

    • Libor, linked to about $350 trillion worth of financial products, will be replaced by an alternate pricing benchmark for everything from mortgages to credit cards. 
    • Replacing Libor will be lengthy and problematic, and is one of the key themes to look out for in 2019 as financial services and asset managers start transferring to new systems. 
    • Thousands of existing contracts will need to be renegotiated causing a huge operational and financial burden that will consume legal teams for months. 

    Libor, the rate that banks agree on when lending to each other, was problematic from the beginning. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be widely rigged, and some of the biggest and most notorious banks had gotten tangled up in the Libor rigging scandal. Some criminal charges were brought against low-level traders, and huge fines were levied against some of the banks.

    Another big thing that came out of the scandal was the realization that Libor, crucial to the credit-based economy and to hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivatives, had to go. It is due to die by the end of 2021.

    "This is a material change in one of the most important numbers in finance," said Sandie O'Connor, chief regulatory affairs officer at JPMorgan Chase in New York.

    Short for the London Interbank Offered Rate, Libor underpins everything from credit card loans to mortgages to the more arcane derivatives and syndicated loan contracts. Millions of financial products use the benchmark. 

    Upending Libor has become key in 2019, meaning that this is the year to start worrying about the thousands of contracts that need to be renegotiated as the financial world shifts to new systems. 

    "Operationally, the amount of work needed to make changes is tremendous," said Kevin McPartland, head of market structure at Greenwich Associates. 

    The new benchmarks 

    Enter new alternate benchmarks SOFR (the secured overnight financing rate) will be introduced in the US and will be secured against US Treasuries. Europeans will be served by Sonia/Eonia (Sterling/Euro overnight index average) instead.

    Where Libor relied on a system of individual banks submitting their figures for lending costs each day — making it ripe for manipulation— SOFR will be calculated using real transactional data. Banks paid $9 billion in fines following the rigging scandal, with new rates introduced to reduce human error, and even outright fraud. 

    Referring to SOFR, JPMorgan's O'Connor said: "We need to leverage financial infrastructure to get people trading on this benchmark, because just having a rate does not make a market."

    It's complicated

    There's another catch for replacing a 35-year old system. Libor and SOFR represent different levels of risk, so swapping out one system for the other will be a lengthy, and potentially costly, process for some contracts. 

    Similarly, SOFR needs significant trading volume in order to build up enough data to determine value for one month, three month, and six month rates.

    From a documentation and interest rate perspective, things get more complicated still. In June, The Bank of England pointed out that in the previous 12 months the stock of Libor-linked sterling derivatives stretching beyond 2021 had grown.

    Significant runway is needed

    Market structure experts cite the need to amend existing contracts to include "fallback" clauses which which specify what happens when Libor disappears.

    This is comparatively easy for loans, but for derivatives, swaps, and options, amending existing contracts could potentially lead to legal battles. 

    That's why 2019 is a crucial year.

    "Loan documents, systems and practices will need to evolve to accommodate SOFR,” said Meredith Coffey, executive vice president of the Loan Syndications and Trading Association. "Significant runway is needed to restructure, given the magnitude of the issue and the thousands of deals that will need to be converted."

    London is behind

    Some companies haven't got their act together quite yet. A survey conducted by JCRA, an independent financial risk management consultancy, and Travers Smith, a London law firm, has found that a large majority of firms with exposure to Libor are yet to start making preparations for its discontinuation. 

    Beyond that, prospectuses and technology will need to be changed and new futures contracts will need to be drawn up. CME has launched SOFR futures, ICE did the same last October, LCH (The London Stock Exchange's clearing unit) cleared its first SOFR swap contract last July and CME followed a few months later.

    SEE ALSO: Once big banks crack the code of how to win millennials, star fintech unicorns will be crushed

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Bernie Madoff was arrested 10 years ago — here's what his life is like in prison


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    cornwall england unsplash George Hiles

    • A little over a year after David Attenborough warned in Blue Planet II that marine habitats are being destroyed, the UK government's "blue belt" initiative shows progress in protecting endangered waters.
    • The scale of the project is vast, aiming to protect over four million square kilometres of British waters from fishing and pollution by 2020.

    LONDON — A little over a year ago, the broadcaster David Attenborough issued a stark warning to humanity. Detailing how plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change are destroying ocean habitats, he said "We are at a unique stage in our history: Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet." He added: "The future of humanity and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us."

    Awareness about how humans are destroying the oceans — primarily through overfishing, climate change, and plastic pollution — has been on the rise ever since, with the likes of actor Stephen Fry, model Cara Delevingne, and celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tweeting their support for ocean protection. However, a recent UK government initiative could be the key to saving the oceans.

    Launched in 2017, the so-called "blue belt" is a programme which aims to safeguard the coastline of the UK and its overseas territories. In Britain itself, that includes an area of coastline nearly eight times the size of greater London.

    Screenshot 2019 01 08 at 17.05.16

    But the majority of the blue belt lies beyond British shores in the UK's 14 overseas areas, from huge penguin colonies in the South Atlantic and tropical rainforests in the Caribbean to tropical rainforests in the Caribbean.

    In those overseas territories, some 85% of the critically endangered species the UK is responsible for are found.

    The scale of the project is vast, aiming to protect over four million square kilometres of British waters by 2020.

    So what is the blue belt?

    Chinstrap penguins, Half Moon Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

    The blue belt is a series of marine conservation zones around the UK and UK territories' coastline. Any new activities which harm wildlife — such as dredging, or any significant building projects — will be banned in those areas.

    Commercial fishing is also being banned in large parts of the blue belt. As part of the blue belt initiative, the government announced that commercial fishing would be banned from one million square kilometres around British overseas territories. 

    It also created marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including an 840,000 square kilometre area around Pitcairn, and a 445,000 square kilometre area around St Helena, which is home to rare whale sharks and humpbacks. 

    The UK government also plans to designate two further protection zones, one each around the south Atlantic islands of Ascension by 2019, and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

    Fishing is banned in all of Pitcairn's zone — except for "sustainable" local fishing — and will be banned in half of the Ascension's 445,000 square kilometre areas. Fishing is allowed in the other areas, but activities such as oil drilling are prohibited.

    In overseas territories, it helps protect the vast amount of coastal wildlife: Breeding grounds for endangered turtles, one-third of the world's albatrosses, and one-quarter of the world's penguins are all located within British Overseas Territories, according to Defra.

    Along Britain's coastline, it is important for the purposes of protecting rare and endangered British species such as the short-snouted seahorse, the stalked jellyfish, and the peacock’s tail seaweed.

    There are many other types of marine protected areas in the UK too, which are designed to protect rare or nationally important habitats, meaning a total of 209,000 square kilometres of British coastline are protected in total. That's two-fifths of Britain's entire coastline, according to Defra.

    Will the blue belt be enough?

    earth oceans water space=station iss nasa ISS040 E 12110.JPGIt's too early to tell in the UK's overseas territories, where the success of the project will not be known before it is fully rolled out in 2020.

    But it certainly appears to be helping in the UK.

    The Wildlife Trust announced in December that 2018 had been a good year for British wildlife thanks to the help of conservation action in Britain's coasts, with increasing sightings of marine wildlife. The organisation said seahorses, little terns and crawfish are among the creatures making a comeback in UK seas, with dozens more animals being spotted in greater numbers: nudibranches (sea slugs) and curled octopuses were all spotted in greater numbers too. Basking sharks were seen in Cardigan Bay, Wales, for the first time in three years.

    However, there is still a huge amount of work to do before our oceans are clean and our species are protected. Plastic - mostly from fishing rope - is now found in almost 100% of gannet nests, posing a big risk to the iconic birds and their chicks.  On one estuary in Kent alone, nearly 3,000 kilograms of rubbish were collected in a clean-up drive, the Wildlife Trust said. Dr Lissa Batey, senior living seas officer at The Wildlife Trusts, said in a statement: "This review of sightings and action from across the UK has given a glimpse, a mere taster, of the wonders of our marine wildlife – delightful species that everyone has the opportunity to encounter and learn more about.

    "But it has also shown us the problems that remain and the challenges that our sea life faces.

    "It’s not too late. We are already seeing recovery in some of our marine protected areas, but we don’t yet have a fully functioning network of nature reserves at sea, where wildlife has the opportunity to thrive."

    Protecting our oceans in the long-term will require even greater public awareness, co-operation with key industries such manufacturing and fishing, and significant investment. But the recent recovery of dwindling species offers a glimpse of what marine conservation efforts can achieve.

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world's oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    SEE ALSO: Theresa May to finalise Brexit deal in talks with EU

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: MSNBC host Chris Hayes thinks President Trump's stance on China is 'not at all crazy'


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    James Blunt 486 Edit1H USE

    • James Blunt is best known as a singer, but he's also an outspoken advocate for ocean conservation.
    • Business Insider asked him to be our editor for a day, and he assigned a package of stories on the crisis of sea pollution.
    • In this exclusive editorial, James talks about his passion for sustainable fishing and why he is a spokesperson for the Blue Marine Foundation. 

    I was delighted to be asked to become Business Insider's "editor for a day" for an underappreciated cause.

    Over the past year, I’ve been amazed at how the BBC's Blue Planet II has led millions of people and thousands of companies to consider the impact of plastic in our oceans. But Blue Planet II also raised a second issue – the need for a "Blue Belt" that protects our oceans, the same way green belts protect forests and parklands – a cause backed by the amazing Blue Marine Foundation.

    As a musician, I once set out on a shaky inflatable to cross an ocean of people, but today our oceans carry us in our billions every day. We think of the oceans as our store cupboard, yet many current methods of fishing are exhaustive and destructive and 90% of the world’s fish stocks are now listed as being fully exploited, over-exploited, or depleted.

    In 2019, we need to press for a sea change in how we think about the seas; promoting more sustainable fishing and setting aside marine reserves that preserve the abundance of the natural resources we’ve learned to rely upon.

    If you need convincing, read some of the great coverage of the issue in the accompanying articles, written with the help of the diligent Business Insider team.

    That's why I am keen to support Blue Marine Foundation's aims to put 10% of the world’s oceans under protection by next year and 30% by 2030.

    I had a conversation just before Christmas with Julian Dunkerton, the founder of the SuperDry clothing line, who has donated £1 million ($1.3 million) to the Blue Marine Foundation.

    He told me about the fate of Lyme Bay in the UK, where a ban on bottom-towed fishing (where trawlers drag the bottom of the ocean, destroying everything as they catch fish was implemented in 2008. Since then, local fisherman have signed up to a sustainable conservation code, brokered by Blue Marine Foundation, which gave them freezers to keep their catch fresh and ensures higher prices at market for their fully traceable fish. The result has been an increase in the catch from Lyme Bay along with a recovery of its flora and fauna.

    He says the town is recovering too. Tourists are turned away by giant industrial fishing ports, but they flock to fishing villages with small boats, scallop divers and lobstermen. So hotels and restaurants are returning to Lyme Bay, too.

    julian dunkertone superdry

    "The smaller fisherman, a lobster fisherman, a scallop diver, a recreational fisherman, a bass fisherman, they're all thriving actually, which is very interesting. We're not just talking about turning the stocks around. Two-and-a-half-times the amount of lobsters are caught now compared to 10 years ago. Scallops are up, lobsters are up, flatfish are up. The species are up," Julian told me. "It's about giving life back to those communities. Scallop divers are earning five, six hundred pounds per day [about $800]. That is actually quite good. How many people could that one reservation actually sustain? We've already had an 11% increase in employment by the fishing industry in Lyme Bay ... You're then talking about restaurants, hotels, a rebirth of an area that essentially has been dying, I suspect, for 30 to 40 years since the industrialisation of fishing."

    I recently sat down with Jim Edwards, Business Insider's UK editor-in-chief, to talk about why ocean conservation and management is so important. Watch the video below:

     

    Full transcript:

    James Blunt: 90% of the larger fish in the ocean are gone. We've taken them through overfishing, unsustainable overfishing.

    Jim Edwards: You're known as a singer obviously, and a surprisingly dangerous and funny presence on Twitter. But you're less well known for your interest in fish, how did you first become interested in ocean conservation?

    James Blunt: My father was based in Cyprus, he was in the army and so I grew up on and in the Mediterranean. I live in Ibiza now and have done for 14 years and I call it my home, and as such I can really see the changes that have happened there over my lifetime. I think anyone who goes on holiday in the Mediterranean will ask the same question as me when you jump in the water, which is where are the fish? I mean there are so few now compared to when I was a child I think people really recognise that plastics are a problem, we go into our supermarkets now and I hope that we're all more aware that by purchasing goods covered in plastics it will end up with them being in the ocean. But I think people have realised that is just the tip of the iceberg of the problem. The problem is not just plastics, but climate and also our huge amount of overfishing in an unsustainable manner. 

    Jim Edwards: What is the single worst thing that's happening in the sea right now?

    James Blunt: I don't think you have to look very far, in Dogger Bank which you will have heard about from the weather reports. Dogger Bank is where we're supposed to have one of Europe's largest marine conservation areas and instead what's going on there is this remarkable thing, this terrible thing called pulse fishing, where they literally send a pulse down into the seabed. In doing so that snaps the spines of larger fish, kills up to a quarter of the young cod and indiscriminately kills all marine life on the seabed, in the mud and is destroying an ecosystem. 

    Jim Edwards: So they're literally just electrocuting the sea?

    James Blunt: Absolutely and it sounds as bad as it is.

    Jim Edwards: So who's at fault for all this, who's doing this type of fishing?

    James Blunt: Well I think we're not talking about small fishing boats in the English Channel, we're talking about large-scale industrial fishing which is literally going with enormous great nets and taking everything they can out of the ocean. 

    Jim Edwards: So shouldn't we just eat less fish?

    James Blunt: Well I think if we continue to in the way that we have there simply won't be any fish at the end of it but I think the answer for us is to question where our fish is coming from and ask, is it from sustainable sources, is it locally-sourced? 

    Jim Edwards: So, who's standing in the way of this?

    James Blunt: I don't think anyone's standing in the way of it, it's just about action or inaction. Sometimes we can be focused on other things we just need to focus our minds and focus our pressure on ourselves, on business, on governments to act on this.

    Video produced by Charlie Floyd

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    SEE ALSO: This Michelin Star restaurant recycles every scrap of food waste — here’s how

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The worst thing people do to wake up in the morning, according to a sleep scientist


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    punta prima menorca

    • Menorca is a protected nature reserve whose diverse species of seaweed, fish, and shellfish make it the Mediterranean's equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef.
    • But while the land on Menorca is protected, the sea around it is plagued by unregulated fishing, tourism, and pollution.
    • According to the Blue Marine Foundation, 90% of fish stocks are overexploited in the Mediterranean, and 90% of large fish have also disappeared from the oceans since 1950.
    • Large fish eat jellyfish, but because most of them are gone the jellyfish population has exploded — making many beaches in the Med unswimmable.
    • Charities are working to preserve marine life in places like Menorca. But there are some simple things ordinary visitors can do, too.

    With canyons, woodlands, plenty of wildlife, 216km of coastline, white sand, and sparkling blue water, the small island of Menorca is a beach-lover's dream. Menorca's waters, known for their bluefin tuna, are considered to be one of the last unspoiled areas of the Mediterranean, with a diverse range of species of seaweed, fish, and shellfish living there. Its stunning abundance of sea creatures and plants make it the Mediterranean's equivalent of the Galápagos Islands or the Great Barrier Reef.

    The island is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. It's home to five natural reserves and parks, including a marine reserve off the north coast. Development on the island is highly restricted.

    But while the land on Menorca is protected, the island's waters are threatened by unregulated fishing, tourism, and pollution.

    aerial view of boats in Menorca

    Rory Moore, Senior Projects Manager for the Blue Marine Foundation, a charity which aims to create marine reserves and models of sustainable fishing, told Business Insider: "It's important to remember the Mediterranean was once one of the most productive seas on the planet, with a huge amount of biodiversity from habitats to fish."

    However, he added that over the last 50 or 60 years we've fished the sea heavily, and that the Mediterranean has suffered badly because of the number and size of countries that border it.

    "There's a huge amount of human influence and pressure on the Mediterranean, and 90% of all fish stock are unsustainably fished," he said. 

    According to the Blue Marine Foundation, 90% of large fish have also disappeared from the oceans since 1950.

    'You don't see any fish because there's hardly any left'

    menorca fish

    Moore said many people visiting the Mediterranean "don't have a good understanding of what's there in terms of the marine environment."

    Despite the fact that at least hundreds of marine species are still present, he said: "You swim around and you don’t see any fish because there’s hardly any left."

    With a huge demand in the Mediterranean for fish, the most traded food commodity on the planet, according to Moore, he added that "anything targeted by fishing boats" is at risk, including lobster, grouper, octopus, and sea.

    fish market menorca

    The Mediterranean sea is also the most important bluefin tuna fishery in the world, according to the WWF — but the animal is endangered due to overfishing.

    Moore said that while stocks of bluefin tuna have rebounded since a quota was set by the EU on the amount that can be caught each year, they are still under threat as the quota is increasing.

    Meanwhile, most other species of fish don't even have a quota, and rely on fishermen themselves "fishing sustainably," he added.

    To try to counteract overfishing, particularly by big companies, the Blue Marine Foundation has launched a number of projects in the Mediterranean, including Project Menorca, a collaboration with Sunseeker International.

    "We're trying to engage with small-scale fishermen," he said. "In the Med about 70% of fishermen are small-scale, low impact, but they only catch about 20% of the fish. Other big commercial boats use tons of diesel, have a high impact, and catch most of the fish."

    He added that smaller, local fisheries tend to support marine protection because they "see that within a few years the fish come back."

    Protecting the waters

    boat mediterranean sea fish

    Menorca's status as a Biosphere Reserve means its plant and animal habitats have been protected since 1993, when it was given the nomination due to its diversity of species and ability to use its resources to benefit the island.

    Moore said that the current protection exists in one area in the north of the island, with a new area planned in the south in 2019.

    However, as part of its Project Menorca initiative, the Blue Marine Foundation is trying to extend the current protection to 12 miles offshore, which would include the marine area, hopefully allowing it to be better managed by regulating fishing.

    "The problem seems to be, the local fisherman are out-competed by fishermen in Spain who can fish in these waters," he said. "There's no exclusivity for them. The biosphere has the capacity to manage the waters."

    The seabeds are shallow, and are home to coral which makes snorkeling a popular pastime.

    However, the seagrass beds, which absorb 35 times more CO2 than a rainforest, are also being impacted.

    The seagrass is a plant which creates and preserves the sand, protecting the beaches and keeping the water transparent, according to Spain-Holiday.com.

    "It's a nursery area for small fish, and what generally happens in the Med, either pollution or anchoring of boats are the two main damages to seagrass," he said, adding that the grass is "dragged up" by anchors and wiped out.

    "The pollution side is slightly difficult to tackle, [but we're working on] putting down eco-moorings. People can attach their boats to these moorings so people don't have to put anchors down on the seagrass."

    He added that the moorings are supported by an app which provides information about the environment.

    Other initatives Project Menorca is behind include replacing fish packaging with paper instead of plastic, removing "ghost" fishing nets, beach cleanups, and distributing recyclable bags across the island.

    It's not just Menorca

    jellyfish

    It's not just Menorca that's suffering.

    Hordes of jellyfish in the waters of southern Spain are proof that both climate change and human impact is destabilising the ecosystems, according to international German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW).

    Earlier this year, beaches on the island of Mallorca and the seaside town Benidorm were closed due to a plague of jellyfish-like creatures.

    Their abundance is partly due to unsustainable fishing practices, with overfishing depleting the jellyfish's natural predators, like sea turtles, swordfish, ocean sunfish, and Atlantic bluefin tuna.

    Chemicals also play a role, since the water that makes it into the Mediterranean is often polluted and full of nitrates which are key to phytoplankton growth, which means more food for jellyfish, DW reported.

    In a study by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) published last year, scientists warned that the pressures on the Mediterranean Sea "might push the ecosystem beyond the point of no return," emphasising the need to "act now."

    Outside of the Med, the global impact of overfishing and pollution on the oceans is also well documented.

    An analysis by the Wildlife Conservation Society released in July and published in the journal Current Biology found that just 13% of the world’s oceans remain untouched by the damaging impacts of humanity, and just 5% of the remaining ocean wilderness is within existing marine protection areas.

    "The vast majority of marine wilderness could be lost at any time, as improvements in technology allow us to fish deeper and ship farther than ever before," Kendall Jones, at the University of Queensland, Australia, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, said.

    Meanwhile, in February 2018, new maps revealed half of the world’s oceans are now industrially fished. 

    'Know where your fish is coming from'

    menorca beach

    While charities like the Blue Marine Foundation are working to preserve the marine life in places like Menorca, there are also some simple things tourists can do to help prevent the situation from worsening, according to Moore.

    "Know where your fish is coming from," he suggested. "Ask if it’s local, when was it caught, who caught it. Read up on what's there, what's good for that season.

    He added that the charity is currently designing guides for each area for tourists can read about what's being caught when, and how it's being caught.

    "There are restaurants serving up fish from all over the world, [and] it doesn’t allow local fishermen to have local value for their catch, which there should be awareness of," he said.

    He added that other "obvious things" involve not eating endangered species, or not dropping plastic on the beach.

    "Awareness of seafood is important," he said. "There's not enough understanding of what the sea once was."

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com.

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Your Christmas tree could be a big fire hazard — take these steps to stay safe


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    Oysters Blunt

    • Oysters play a large role in keeping the sea clean and full of life.
    • Just one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons (227 liters) of water a day, removing pollutants and chemicals.
    • But the populations of oysters around the world have collapsed.
    • Now scientists are looking to reintroduce them in areas like the Solent, an area of sea off southern England that has had its population devastated.

    Oysters play a big role in removing pollution from the sea, preventing erosion and helping other sea life to flourish — but a global population collapse has transformed the oceans. 

    Around the world, 85% of oyster beds and reef habitats have been lost since their historic highs, according to a major study. It makes them the world's most endangered marine habitat.

    The stark collapse of their populations means that their rejuvenating effect on the oceans is being lost, at a time when water pollution is a more acute problem than ever.

    A single oyster can filter 50 gallons (227 liters) of water a day according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This timelapse footage shows how effective they are:

    They remove pollutants and release cleaner water in which life can more easily develop. Tiny animals also live in and on the shells, which in turn attract more animals and underpin entire ecosystems.

    Oysters are being driven to annihilation by pollution, non-native species, and overfishing — and when they disappear, so does the sea life which relies on them.

    Ecosystem engineers

    Oysters act like the ocean's kidneys, filtering out pollutants and leaving behind clean water.

    They remove chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus, which get into the ocean from industrial activity.

    A 2014 Stanford University study tested the effect.

    oysters

    Researchers put clams, mussels, and oysters into a tank filled with contaminated wastewater found that, within 72 hours, the shellfish had removed up to 80% of some contaminants, including herbicides, pesticides, and flame retardants from the water.

    Oysters also make the water clearer as they clean. Clear water lets in more sunlight, and helps more plants grow on the seabed, encouraging life there.

    Supporting new life

    Oyster shells also provide a home for invertebrates, giving them shelter from weather and predators. Some of these creatures "depend on the existence of the shell to grow,"according to researchers from the University of Maryland.

    Luke Helmer, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth working on oyster restoration, told Business Insider: "The humble oyster is so much more than just 'a rock-like shell that doesn't really move'. Their importance can be compared to that of coral reefs and in fact they do support some of the 'more charismatic' species."

    Seahorses were discovered off the coast of Scotland thanks to new oyster cages, he said. 

    Jacob Kean-Hammerson, the project coordinator for a large-scale restoration project in the Solent, a body of water in southern England, described oysters to Business Insider as "ecosystem engineers" which create new life in the areas they live.

    Oysters BluntThey act like coral reefs, providing a safe nursery for other species like shrimp, herring, anchovies, and crabs, which in turn attract more creatures. 

    Helmer said: "The marine environment impacts every single living organism (including humans) on the planet and a healthy ocean results in a healthy planet. Our climate, food supplies and survival are all reliant and interconnected to the oceans in some shape or form."

    "Oysters are what are known as ecosystem engineers, their shells provide a rough irregular surface that is perfect for the settlement of many other species."

    "Not only can a single oyster provide a habitat, but the diversity of life they support becomes immense once they begin to form complex three-dimensional structures such as reefs or banks."

    Some of those species that oysters support also help to clean the water further:

    The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that "oysters are a crucial component of global ocean health, providing food, jobs, and habitat." They also note that oysters help prevent erosion and create a barrier that protects the land from storms and tides.

    NOAA says that the restoration of oyster reefs is a "conservation priority." 

    A chance for new life

    Conservationists who want to rescue the oyster population are looking at the Solent, an area of water between southern England and the Isle of Wight.

    The Solent was once largest oyster fishery in Europe. But oyster fishing was banned there, after the annual harvest fell from 200 tonnes in 2008 to just 20 tonnes in 2013.

    The national fishing and conservation authority said that oysters were "failing to reproduce".

    Solent Blunt

    The population collapse mirrored larger trends across Europe, where beds have been vanishing since the middle of the 20th century.

    Helmer, the Portsmouth oyster researcher, said the impact can be seen in the declining water quality and number of fish in the water. This is turn has an economic impact on the area, and threatens the cultural heritage of fishermen.

    Scientists are desperate to stop conditions in the Solent from deteriorating further, and authorities have designated ita special area of conservation.

    Separately, a five-year project backed by the Blue Marine Foundation aims to return millions of oysters to the area, which marine biologists believe could have a phenomenal impact.

    One million oysters will be introduced every year for five years starting in 2019, with the aim of restoring the vast reefs that one covered the area.

    Kean-Hammerson, the project director for the Solent, told Business Insider: "In 1978, 15 million oysters were removed a year from the Solent."Their loss means that around 600 million gallons of water went unfiltered, he said.

    The lost filtration "managed to offset some of our pollution, so we need to try and restore some of that habitat that has been almost entirely lost."

    Born in the USA

    The Solent project is instead inspired by projects like the oyster restoration project in the Chesapeake Bay. Oysters had almost disappeared from the strait between Maryland and Virginia before restoration projects in the 1990s started to bring them back.

    Helmer said that those involved in the Solent "look to projects further afield, such as those in the Chesapeake Bay, for guidance and as an indication of the scale that the project should be working towards."

    Oysters Blunt

    At peak trade, around 1875, 20 million bushels of wild oysters were taken from the bay each year, the New York Times reported. Bushel is an imprecise measure, but the total equates to around 450,000 tonnes.

    By the late 1990s, the total had fallen to 20,000 bushels, one-thousandth of the historic high.

    "Native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay are thought to be at levels that are less than one percent of their historic population levels," Sean Corson, the acting director of NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Office, told Business Insider.

    "It's fair to say by any measure the current populations are a shadow of their former selves."

    Groups like NOAA have partnered with the Chesapeake Bay Program, which is aiming for large-scale oyster restoration. The 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement calls for oysters to be restored in ten tributaries — five in Maryland and five in Virginia — by 2025.

    oysters maryland

    A necessary project

    Corson says such a project is needed if we want any of the positive effects that oysters can bring.

    He said: "You can't have lumber or forest wildlife without healthy stands of trees. The same is true of oysters. If we want to enjoy the benefits they provide, they need to have some places to thrive."

    Those involved in these projects see them as necessary and urgent.

    As Helmer, the Portsmouth oyster researcher, noted: "We have already lost 85% of oyster reefs and beds globally, with many that remain in a sorry state. If projects such as ours don't take place then there is a high risk that an entire ecosystem will be lost."

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    electric pulse fish skitch

    • Some fishermen in Europe have been using the controversial technique of electric pulse fishing.
    • The method involves pulling a net loaded with electrodes across the sea to produce an electric field in the water.
    • This shocks fish up from the sea floor — making them easier to catch.
    • The electricity stuns all fish in its vicinity, and can break the spines of, or even kill, other fish.
    • A recent investigation found fishermen using electric pulse fishing in Dogger Bank, a conservation area off the UK coast.
    • British fishermen reportedly said the North Sea looked like a graveyard after people used electric pulse fishing.

    Electric pulse fishing is permanently damaging marine life, but some fishermen have been found using the controversial method anyway.

    The controversial fishing technique involves pulling a net loaded with electrodes across the sea to produce an electric field in the water. 

    It then shocks fish on the sea floor, making them float up and easier for fishermen to catch.

    The method has been observed taking place in some of the world's most protected marine areas.

    Here's what it looks like, according to French marine charity BLOOM:

    A giant net — or pulse trawl — laden with electrodes is attached to a fishing boat.

    electric pulse fishing net

    Here's a closer look at the cables attached to the net.

    electric pulse fishing electrodes

    The boat then drags the net along the water.

    electric pulse trawl

    These graphics from BBC Newsnight show the net passing along the sea floor ...

    electric pulse fishing netelectric pulse fishing fish

    ... and stuns fish from the bottom of the seafloor. The larger the fish, the more shock it gets.

    electric pulse fishing stun fish

    The technique also has nasty side effects. The net's electric field stuns all fish in its vicinity, and can do damage to other sea animals.

    Scientists say the electric current can break the spines of fish like cod, haddock, and pollock. It can reduce the hatching rate in cod eggs, and kill 25% of young cod, according to the Blue Marine Foundation.

    BBC reporter James Clayton, who touched the electrodes as part of his investigation, said being electrocuted was like feeling "pins and needles."

    Pim Visser — the director of Dutch group VisNed, which lobbies for the right to use electric pulse fishing — also told Politico earlier this year: "It's just a little tickle ... The only purpose of the pulse is to have the sole [a type of fish] contract its muscles so that it starts swimming."

    electric pulse fishing caught

    The alternative

    Electric pulse fishing is an alternative to beam trawling, a method in which fishing boats drag massive chains along the seabed to force bottom-dwelling shrimp and flatfish from under the sand.

    Beam trawling is a costly and carbon-intensive technique, as fishermen require a huge amount of diesel to power the dragging boat.

    It is also considered one of the most environmentally dangerous fishing methods because the chains can hurt other types of fish and damage the sea floor in the process.

    beam trawling sea floor

    Turning the sea into a graveyard

    Electric pulse fishing is technically illegal in areas including the EU, US, and China.

    The EU banned it in 1998, but in 2006 allowed members to use electric fishing to fulfil their fishing quota in the North Sea in the name of "research."

    Eighty-four Dutch vessels and a smaller number from other member states — including 12 from the UK — were allowed to experiment with the new technique, The Guardian reported.

    According to The Times of London, British fishermen likened the North Sea to a graveyard after electric fishing.

    dogger bank map

    In October, an investigation reported by the Times found that fishermen had been using the technique in the Dogger Bank, an EU-designated special conservation area in the North Sea between Britain and Northern Europe.

    Jerry Percy, director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, said in a statement: "It is a travesty that powerful vessels, using a fishing method that is banned in many parts of the world are not only permitted under a dubious derogation to use this gear to fish in UK waters but also in marine protected areas."

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus), also known as the Seawolf, Atlantic catfish, ocean catfish, wolf eel (the common name for its Pacific relative), or sea cat, is a marine fish, the largest of the wolffish family Anarhichadidae.

    • This extremely ugly fish is in danger.
    • The population of Atlantic wolffish has dwindled dramatically, and it's going to be hard to recover.
    • Despite their unattractive visage, wolffish are remarkable creatures and have an important role in their ecosystem.
    • They're particularly threatened by bottom-trawling vessels that unintentionally scoop them up as bycatch and destroy their habitats.

    The Atlantic wolffish (pictured above) is not an attractive beast.

    Its appearance is characterized by its large, fang-like teeth (where it earns its name), which are used to crush prey like crabs, lobsters and sea urchins. Its throat is also peppered with more serrated teeth.

    It may come as a surprise then to hear that their numbers have dwindled relentlessly over the last century partly as a result of overfishing.

    • In the US, catches of Atlantic wolffish declined from over 1,200 tons per year to around 30 tons per year between the 1980s and the 2000s.
    • In the UK, wolffish have declined in English and Welsh trawl fisheries by 96% since 1889.
    • In the Baltics, the fish's population has been classed as endangered, meaning it has a high risk of extinction in the wild.

    But we don't eat them. So why are they being overfished to the point of extinction?

    Why are their numbers in decline?

    An Atlantic wolffish,is seen at a Portland, Maine, fish store, on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. The Conservation Law Foundation asked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday to list the Atlantic wolffish as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

    The causes of decline in the Atlantic wolffish population are predominantly three-fold: overfishing, "bycatch" and habitat disruption via bottom-trawling vessels.

    Wolffish are particularly prone to overfishing because of their size and relatively late breeding age, which means it takes a long time for their stock to recover.

    Wolffish are no longer targeted by commercial fishing vessels, though you can still purchase the fish in some places. However, this doesn't mean they escape our fishing nets.

    The species prefers colder water temperatures: between 0.5 and 3 degrees Celsius, Fisheries and Oceans Canada say, and so are generally found towards the seabed, between 100 and 500 meters below the surface.

    Wolffish are, therefore, often caught as bycatch (fish or other marine species that are caught unintentionally in the hunt for certain target species). They're killed via bottom trawling, whereby a large net with heavy weights is cast underwater and dragged along the seabed, scooping up everything in its path.

    "Atlantic wolffish live and feed on the seabed and also 'nest' there in the sense that the eggs are laid in a specific place and then guarded by the male," Chris Middleton, who runs Britishseafishing.co.uk, told Business Insider in an email.

    "These can then easily be destroyed by any trawlers operating in the area."

    According to the Marine Conservation Institute, bycatch can sometimes amount to 90% of a trawl's total catch and is extremely damaging to seafloor ecosystems.

    "Given the widespread destruction of seafloor habitat in the Gulf of Maine, the habitat available to sustain Atlantic wolffish populations has been greatly reduced,"wrote marine scientist Dr. Les Watling who co-petitioned for endangered species protection for the Atlantic wolffish in New England in 2008.

    "Absent some action to reduce or eliminate the destruction of seafloor habitat in the few remaining areas of United States waters that harbor remnant populations of the Atlantic wolffish, it is probable that it will be faced with extinction in those waters in the near future."

    The wolffish therefore faces the worst of all worlds: It is being hunted to extinction by accident, and — unlike the tiger or the panda or the snow leopard — isn't cute enough to have attracted any humans passionate enough to save it.

    Why should we care about this ugly fish?

    A seawolf or Atlantic wolffish (Anarrhicas lupus), circa 1797. Engraving by J. Pass.

    It won't win any beauty pageants, but the Atlantic wolffish is actually a remarkable creature.

    In order to survive the cold depths of its habitat, wolffish secrete antifreeze proteins, which keep their blood moving fluidly.

    Its characteristic teeth, worn down by the violent grinding and crushing of hard-shelled prey, are replaced every year. For a few months, the fish either fasts or eats soft-bodied animals until its teeth are regrown and ready for action.

    Furthermore, Atlantic wolffish play a crucial role in their ecosystem because of their unique diet. They regulate the population size of prey species like sea urchins and green crabs, which, if left unchecked, could have dramatic ramifications on their environment.

    They are also an important indicator of the health of Atlantic cod, which similarly dwell in the ocean's depths.

    What's being done for the ugly fish?

    Basically, not a lot.

    "Information regarding Wolffish populations are certainly 'data deficient' and with the species categorised as a 'Species of Concern' there is certainly the need for more research and understanding," Sarah Russell of the Blue Marine Foundation told Business Insider in an email.

    In 2008, researchers filed a scientific petition with the federal government seeking endangered species protection for the Atlantic wolffish in New England, USA.

    In the same year, a recovery strategy was proposed Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which advised the mitigation of human activities in their ecosystem, habitat conservation and increasing public awareness.

    Russell said that Blue Marine Foundation was supporting, collaborating with and facilitating a Voluntary Marine Reserve in Scotland, which protects a number of species — the Atlantic wolffish among them.

    She added that Blue Marine Foundation projects will hopefully get underway in the near future. 

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    James Blunt 906 Edit2H

    • We asked James Blunt to be the editor of Business Insider for a day, and tell us which stories he wanted us to cover.
    • We were not expecting the singer — famous for his mega-hit "You're Beautiful"— to tell us he believes that ocean management and conservation doesn't get enough coverage in the media.
    • He assigned us a package of stories on marine pollution and the damage we're doing to the sea.
    • You're probably not aware of "pulse" fishing, in which trawlers electrocute vast areas of the ocean, killing everything, and sweeping up the mess.
    • You may never have heard of the Atlantic wolffish, either. It's a species we are driving to extinction by accident — and no one cares because the wolffish is extremely ugly.
    • See the full list of stories at the bottom of this article. 
    • Read James' editorial here on why he is so obsessed with saving the oceans.

    James Blunt lives for part of the year he spends in Ibiza. The singer — best-known for his hit "You're Beautiful," and more recently for his hilarious presence on Twitter— grew up on Cyprus where his dad was in the military, and has always been close to the sea. But the idyllic island he calls home is under siege.

    From jellyfish.

    Last summer, crowds gathered on the beach at Ibiza's Cala d'Hort, famous for its view of the cloud-topped island of Es Vedra in the bay. (You have probably seen it on Instagram or in a movie.) But in 2018, no one could go into the water. Sunbathers gathered on the sand but did not enter the crystal-clear sea. They stood at the water's edge, warning their children to stay out.

    Cala d'Hort was surrounded by huge swarms of red jellyfish. If they touch you, it's like being stung by a wasp, and they leave a painful, curved scar on your skin that lasts for weeks. Several beaches on the island were unswimmable due to the out-of-control jellyfish population.

    es vedra cala d'hort

    The reason? The fish that eat jellyfish have mostly been killed. By us.

    The Mediterranean was once Europe's equivalent of the Great Barrier Reef, as far as fish are concerned. For decades, from Greece to Southern France, honeymooners ate at dockside restaurants watching huge schools of fish swimming just beyond their ankles. But most of those fish are now gone.

    Just 10 years ago, a jellyfish was a rare sight on Ibiza. Today you are more likely to see a jellyfish than a dreamfish, the yellow-and-silver porgy that snorkelers see hugging the rocks at the edge of Ibizan beaches.

    Pelagia noctiluca

    According to the EU, 90% of the Med's fish stocks have been over-exploited — meaning that the larger fish have been taken, leaving behind diminutive specimens who may not be old or numerous enough to sustain their populations.

    The Med used to be home to Atlantic bluefin tuna, an astonishing beast that can live for 40 years and grow up to 900 kg in weight (2,000 lbs).

    Tuna eat jellyfish.

    But most of the large tuna are gone from the Med. We have turned them into canned sandwich meat and sushi. And the toxic, inedible, Pelagia Noctiluca jellyfish have bloomed in their place. Their presence is now so threatening to Mediterranean beaches that several websites track their blooms.

    Business Insider learned all this because we asked singer James what he would do if he was the editor of Business Insider for a day. What issues are close to his heart? What stories does he feel the media is ignoring?

    James Blunt 15003

    We gave him free rein to assign our reporters any story he wanted. Each story was James' idea, and each one has been reported independently by Business Insider staff. You can read them all via the links below.

    James chose to assign a package on the fate of the world's oceans. (He is also an ambassador for the Blue Marine Foundation — a charity that works for the preservation and management of ocean wildlife.) We present them here as part of Business Insider's ongoing campaign for "Better Capitalism."

    We think James' assignments are both counterintuitive and vital: It's not news that we're killing our oceans. But most people aren’t aware of the specific ways we're doing it. You’re probably not aware of "pulse" fishing, in which trawlers electrocute vast areas of the ocean, killing everything, and sweep up the mess. You may never have heard of the wolffish, either. It’s a species we are driving to extinction by accident — and no one cares because the wolffish is extremely ugly.

    James Blunt

    If you want to know more about the work of the Blue Marine Foundation — which campaigns for areas of the ocean to be off-limits to fishing — visit their website.

    Here are all the stories James Blunt asked us to write:

    This article is part of a collaboration with James Blunt and the marine conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation. The charity is dedicated to creating marine reserves and establishing sustainable models of fishing, with a mission to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. To find out more visit www.bluemarinefoundation.com

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    china shanghai stock exchange

    • A fresh set of troublingly poor data out of China has investors running for cover on Monday, with all major stock indexes around the world losing ground on the week's first trading day.
    • Trade data showed that the value of Chinese imports and exports fell heavily in the year to December.
    • The news has pushed stocks around the world lower, with futures pointing to losses of as much as 0.9% for the Nasdaq when US markets open later Monday.
    • European and Asian shares have also dropped, with the market further hindered by thin liquidity in Asia as Japanese traders enjoy a public holiday.
    • Follow the latest stock moves at Markets Insider.

    A fresh set of troublingly poor data out of China has investors running for cover on Monday, with all major stock indexes around the world losing ground on the week's first trading day.

    The value of Chinese imports and exports fell heavily in the year to December, adding to a lengthening list of evidence that all is not well in the world's second largest economy.

    According to China's General Administration of Customs, the value of exports tumbled 7.6% from a year earlier in US dollar terms, coming in well below the median economist forecast offered to Reuters for an increase of 5%.

    The year-on-year drop in imports and exports was the largest since the second half of 2016. 

    Read more:China and the US just agreed to a fresh set of trade-war negotiations — but the government shutdown threatens to derail any progress

    "Weaker than expected trade figures are immediately weighing on commodity and equity markets and associated currency baskets," Stephen Innes, head of trading in the Asia Pacific region for OANDA said in an email. "Sorry, no frontloading in this data to hang one's hat on!"

    Stocks were not helped by thin liquidity in Asia as Japanese traders enjoyed a public holiday.

    Here is the roundup: 

    • All major indexes in China witnessed losses close to 1%, with a 0.98% fall from the China A50 index the biggest drop on the mainland. Meanwhile Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost around 1.6% of its value.
    • European stocks have also started on the back foot Monday, with all major indexes in negative territory. Losses are generally hovering around the 0.4% mark, with the Euro Stoxx 50 broad index dropping 0.41% as of 8.45 a.m. GMT (3.45 a.m. ET).
    • Sliding sentiment in Europe and Asia looks likely to impact US trading later when the market opens across the Atlantic later in the day. Futures point to significant falls in all three major US indexes when the New York market opens at 9.30 a.m. (2.30 p.m. GMT).
    • The Nasdaq looks to be the worst declined, set to open 0.9% lower. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones are set to trade around 0.7% down at the open.

    SEE ALSO: China is set to poach the USA's crown as the world's most powerful economy as soon as next year

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    katherine Schwarzenegger chris pratt

    Chris Pratt is engaged to Katherine Schwarzenegger, the actor announced on Monday.

    Pratt and Schwarzenegger have been an item for just seven months since getting together in June last year.

    "Sweet Katherine, so happy you said yes! I'm thrilled to be marrying you. Proud to live boldly in faith with you. Here we go!" Pratt captioned an Instagram post of the pair kissing.

    Sweet Katherine, so happy you said yes! I’m thrilled to be marrying you. Proud to live boldly in faith with you. Here we go! 💍🙏♥️

    A post shared by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on Jan 13, 2019 at 11:12pm PST on

    Schwarzenegger is a published author and the oldest child of actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger and author-journalist Maria Shriver, who reportedly introduced her daughter to Pratt.

    Pratt was previously married to fellow actor Anna Faris— with whom he has a six-year-old son, Jack — for nine years before the coupled divorced in August 2017.

    "Divorce sucks," Pratt told Entertainment Weekly last year. "But at the end of the day, we've got a great kid who's got two parents who love him very much."

    A report suggested that the couple broke up due to differences in their perspectives on family life, but the stars have remained friendly since splitting.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    This is a preview of The Reverse Logistics Report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Returns

    With e-commerce becoming a lucrative shopping channel, retailers and their logistics partners have been primarily focused on how to quickly move goods through the supply chain and into the hands of consumers — a process commonly referred to as forward logistics. However, the opportunities presented by the growing popularity of e-commerce also come with a challenging, multibillion-dollar downside: returns.

    Return rates for e-commerce purchases are between 25% and 30%, compared with just 9% for in-store purchases. Turning reverse logistics — the process of returning goods from end users back to their origins to either recapture value or properly dispose of material — into a costly and high-stakes matter for retailers.

    Not only are retailers experiencing more returns as a result of e-commerce growth, but consumer expectations also demand that retailers provide a seamless process. In fact, 92% of consumers agree that they are more likely to shop at a store again if it offers a hassle-free return policy (e.g. free return shipping labels). Some consumers even place large orders with the intention of returning certain items. 

    And e-commerce sales are only going up from here, exacerbating the issue and making retailers' need for help more dire. However, for logistics firms that can offer cost-effective reverse logistics solutions, this has opened up a significant opportunity to capture a share of rapidly growing e-commerce logistics costs in the US, which hit $117 billion last year, according to Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates. 

    InThe Reverse Logistics Report, Business Insider Intelligence examines what makes reverse logistics so much more challenging than forward logistics, explores the trends that have driven retailers to finally improve the way in which returns move through their supply chains, and highlights how logistics firms can act to win over retailers' return dollars.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • E-commerce is now a core shopping channel for retailers, and it's still growing. US e-commerce sales are set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $1 trillion in sales, according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates.
    • Booming e-commerce sales have driven product returns through the roof. Business Insider Intelligence estimates that US e-commerce returns will increase at a CAGR of 19% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $300 million dollars. 
    • Consumers have high expectations about how returns are handled, and retailers are struggling to find cost-effective ways to meet their demands. Sixty-four percent of shoppers stated they would be hesitant to shop at a retailer ever again if they found issues with the returns process. And retailers don't have the expertise to effectively keep up with how demanding consumers are about returns — 44% of retailers said their margins were negatively impacted by handling and packaging returns, for example.
    • Logistics firms are well positioned to solve — and profit from — returns. These companies can take advantage of their scale and expertise to solve pain points retailers commonly experience as goods move through the reverse supply chain. 
    • Reverse logistics solutions themselves present a lucrative opportunity — but they're also appealing in the potential inroads they offer to supply chain management. The global third-party logistics market is estimated to be valued at $865 billion in 2018, according to Bekryl. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explores the difficulties found in the reverse logistics process.
    • Highlights the reasons why reverse logistics needs to be a key focus of any retailer's operations. 
    • Identifies the specific trends that are leading to growth in reverse logistics, including changes in shopping habits, consumer expectations, and regulatory pressures
    • Pinpoints where along the reverse supply chain logistics firms have opportunities to attract retail partners by offering unique and helpful solutions. 
    • Outlines strategies that logistics firms can employ to capture a piece of this growing multibillion-dollar market.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Bezos Trump 4x3

    • US President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday night mocking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over his divorce, dubbing him Jeff "Bozo."
    • In the tweet, Trump appeared to praise the National Enquirer, the gossip tabloid which published details of Bezos' relationship with former TV news anchor Lauren Sanchez.
    • Trump berated the Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos.
    • The Post published a bombshell report last week about Trump's meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    US President Donald Trump has mocked Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over his divorce in a tweet.

    In a flurry of posts on Sunday evening, Trump seemed to revel in Jeff Bezos' impending divorce from his wife MacKenzie. The president baptised Bezos with a nickname, dubbing him "Jeff Bozo."

    Previously Trump — who has been married three times — told reporters he thought the divorce was going to be "a beauty."

    Read more:Trump wishes Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos good luck with his divorce, says it's "going to be a beauty"

    In his tweet Trump seems to refer to reporting by the National Enquirer, a gossip tabloid which published pictures of Bezos with former TV news anchor Lauren Sanchez, and obtained texts sent from Bezos to Sanchez.

    The Enquirer is a longtime ally of Trump's, and its publisher admitted in December to having bought the rights to ex-playmate Karen McDougal's story of an affair with Trump so that it could quash it using a "catch and kill" deal.

    Trump has also long been critical towards Bezos, who bought the Washington Post — a publication the President has attacked for its agenda against his administration — in 2013.

    The Post published an article last week claiming that Trump was secretive about his meetings with Vladimir Putin, concealing details from senior officials. Trump phoned into Fox News on Saturday night to refute the article, saying: "I'm not keeping anything under wraps, I couldn't care less."

    The president also has a history of animosity toward Amazon. Axios reported in March that Trump is "obsessed" with taking down Amazon.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is reportedly 'obsessed' with taking down Amazon — here's his history with his least favorite company in America

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    iran military plane crash

    • A military plane carrying meat from Kyrgyzstan to Iran crashed on Monday.
    • Fifteen out of the 16 people on board died, Iran's army said.
    • While attempting an emergency landing, the Boeing 707 cargo plane skidded off the runway and caught fire after hitting a wall at Fath Airport, state media said.
    • Photos of the aftermath show the plane charred remains, a dislodged wheel, and animal carcasses at the crash site.
    • It's not clear who owns the plane. Iran said it belonged to Kyrgyzstan, while Kyrgyzstan said it belonged to an Iranian airline.

    A military plane crashed in Iran on Monday, killing everyone on board except for one flight engineer, the country's army said.

    The Boeing 707 cargo plane, which was carrying 16 people, crashed in bad weather near Fath airport, 25 miles from Tehran, on Monday.

    The cargo plane had been carrying meat from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to Iran's Payam International Airport, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing Iranian state media.

    iran plane crash map

    The sole survivor, an unnamed flight engineer, was taken to hospital.

    During an emergency landing at Fath airport, the plane skidded off the runway and caught fire after hitting a wall that separates the airport from a residential neighborhood, the AP said.

    Authorities said the crew declared an emergency before landing, though the reason is not clear.

    iran military plane crash fath

    Photos of the aftermath showed the charred fuselage of the plane separated from other plane parts. Some animal carcasses can also be seen spilled out onto the ground.

    There was some confusion over the ownership of the plane. A spokesman for Iran's civil aviation told state media that the plane belonged to Kyrgyzstan, while a spokeswoman for Kyrgyzstan's Manas airport said the plane belonged to Iran’s Payam Air, Reuters reported.

    Fath Airport is owned by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

    iran military plane crash wheel

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

    US consumers have been “cord-cutting” — or canceling their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of internet-delivered alternatives — since 2010.

    cord cutting accelerates in the us

    The number of pay-TV subscribers dropped a record 3.4% year-over-year (YoY) in 2017, and the rate of decline is expected to accelerate further in the coming years. As a result, traditional media companies will continue to see their most important revenue stream erode. To compete in the shifting media landscape, traditional media companies' business strategies must satisfy two goals: extract as much revenue from pay-TV as possible before the opportunity to do so fizzles out, and taper reliance on pay-TV-related revenue along the way.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will look at how big media companies are refining their strategies to meet the aforementioned goals and mitigate the impacts of cord-cutting that are detrimental to their business. We also discuss current consumer behavior trends that are simultaneously driving the growth of streaming platforms (like Netflix) and decline of linear TV, as well as actionable insights on how companies can respond.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • As consumers flee linear TV, they're spending more time on digital video services with ad-free and ad-lite viewing experiences. 
    • Media companies are responding by becoming less reliant on pay-TV revenue by launching their own streaming services. 
    • Traditional networks are also increasingly seeking M&A opportunities to gain the resources, talent, and technologies necessary to compete with streaming giants.
    • More media companies are beginning to experiment with airing fewer commercials per hour to enhance the linear TV viewership experience. 

     In full, the report:

    • Explains the decline in US pay-TV subscribers in recent years, and how significantly this decline has diminished the viewership and ad revenue of top TV networks. 
    • Outlines the top factors that consumers look for when deciding to subscribe to a streaming service. 
    • Details the top recent M&A deals between media companies, and describes how they've positioned those involved to better compete against streaming giants like Netflix.
    • Provides direction on how to best approach cutting ad loads on linear TV, and explains why experimenting with airing fewer commercials could be beneficial for viewership.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
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    Air Canada Air Traffic Control

    • Canadian air traffic controllers bought pizzas for their US colleagues who aren't getting paid during the government shutdown.
    • The president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association said more than 300 pizzas had been delivered in places like New York, Seattle, and Utah by Sunday afternoon.
    • US air traffic controllers have been sharing photos of their $0 pay stubs as the shutdown continues.
    • One US air traffic controller said the solidarity from Canada allowed his team to "continue and push through" with their work.

    Canadian air traffic controllers have bought hundreds of pizzas for their US colleagues who aren't getting paid as the government shutdown continues.

    Peter Duffey, president of the Canadian Air Traffic Control Association, said that Canadian air traffic controllers in the Edmonton area control center sent pizzas to the controllers in Anchorage, Alaska, "out of the blue,"according to Canadian outlet Global News.

    This turned into a larger campaign, with air traffic controllers across Canada — in places like Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Moncton — buying pizzas for colleagues across the US, including Seattle, Utah, and New York, Global News reported.

    "The next thing we knew, our members were buying pizzas left, right and center for the colleagues in the US,” Duffey said, The Associated Press reported on Monday.

    "As it stands right now, I believe we're up to 36 facilities that have received pizza from Canada, and that number is growing by the hour," he added. He estimated that 300 pizzas had been sent out to American centers by Sunday afternoon.

    US government shutdown protest air traffic controllers

    The gesture came as several air traffic controllers photos of their $0 pay stubs on Twitter last week amid the federal government's partial shutdown.

    The shutdown started on December 22 after President Donald Trump and Congressional Democrats disagreed over funding for Trump's desired wall between the US-Mexico.

    It is currently the longest in US history, and 800,000 people don't know when their next paycheck is coming.

    Duffey said: "Air traffic control is a very stressful job ... They say you have to be 100% right, 100% of the time. People just don't need to be reporting to work with the added stress of worrying about how to pay their mortgages and grocery bills on top of it."

    Read More: Air-traffic controllers working unpaid during the government shutdown are posting their $0 pay stubs on Twitter

    Tony Walsh, an air traffic controller at the Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center, said 16 extra-large pizzas arrived for the 85 people who worked the night shift on Friday.

    "Many of us had just gotten our first paychecks saying we wouldn't be getting paid,” he said in a phone interview on Sunday, according to Global News.

    "That little gesture meant so much… we can really continue and push through what we’re going through."

    government shutdown protest sign

    Some air traffic controllers took to Twitter to thank their Canadian counterparts.

    The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), which represents America's 22,790 air-traffic controllers, is now suing the federal government.

    The union alleges that "the government unlawfully deprived NATCA members of their earned wages without due process," and thus violated the Fifth Amendment.

    Employees that are working unpaid are due to receive back pay when the government reopens. But those who were furloughed, or temporarily laid off, may not get paid.

    Air-traffic controllers earn a median of $124,540 per year. There's already a shortage of controllers, and the job requires four years of training.

    Read More:Air traffic controllers haven't been paid since the government shutdown began, and now their union is suing the federal government

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    trader financial crisis

    • The US Treasury department is seeing the lowest level of auction demand since 2008.
    • This can be construed as a financial-crisis signal, adding to a growing list of headwinds facing the US market.

    The US Treasury Department keeps running into a big issue as it auctions off the swelling amount of new government debt: the market just isn't that interested.

    That much was made clear throughout 2018. The Treasury Department offered $2.4 billion in notes and bonds over the course of the year, and investors submitted bids for just 2.6 times that amount. That marked the lowest demand since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    The multiple — also known as the bid-to-cover ratio — came in at the lowest in a decade despite 10-year Treasury yields spiking to their highest levels since 2011.

    So what does this all mean? Put simply, it suggests that demand for Treasurys may struggle to keep up as the US deficit continues to grow.

    If that doesn't scare you, perhaps it should. After all, Deutsche Bank's chief international economist, Torsten Slok, listed "tailing US Treasury auctions and/or declining bid-to-cover ratios" as the fourth biggest risk to markets in 2019.

    Beyond that, Slok recently told Bloomberg that "all financial crises begin with a declining bid-to-cover ratio."

    Bid to cover ratio

    But faltering demand for Treasurys is just one of a handful of developments threatening to plunge the US into another financial crisis. Another big red flag is the massive surge in debt issuance through highly levered buyouts and low-interest-rate acquisitions, according to research firm CLSA.

    Excess leverage suggests that markets could be set for a sudden collapse in asset valuations now that investors have pushed conditions to unsustainably stretched levels.

    And then there are the warnings being issued by billionaire investing legend Stanley Druckenmiller. He said in a September interview that investors failed to learn the appropriate lessons from the 2008 meltdown, which was the worst since the Great Depression.

    These are all elements to consider as you try to strategize around a financial crisis at some point in the future. Because it's not a question of if it's going to happen, it's when. So it's best to be fully prepared.

    SEE ALSO: RECESSION WATCH: Goldman Sachs has created a 5-part checklist for investors looking to avoid the next economic meltdown

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    NOW WATCH: The equity chief at $6.3 trillion BlackRock weighs in on the trade war, a possible recession, and offers her best investing advice for a tricky 2019 landscape


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  • 01/14/19--03:00: Here comes Citi ... (C)
  • Michael Corbat

    Citigroup is set to report fourth-quarter earnings results Monday at around 8 am. 

    Analysts are expecting the bank to report adjusted earnings per share of $1.55, up 29% from last year.

    Here's what else analysts are expecting:

    • Revenue: $17.6 billion, up 1.8% from last year.
    • Adjusted net income: $3.7 billion, up 4.3% from last year.
    • Trading: Equities performance has been strong, but overall trading is expected to take a dip amid the market route at the end of the year, and loss of as much as $180 million on a loan to an Asian hedge fund
    • Investment banking: CFO John Gerspach also guided in December that investment banking fees would likely dip slightly compared with last year. 
    • Efficiency target: Given the trading and banking woes, Gerspach said Citi may fall short of its operating efficiency target of a 100 basis point improvement. 
    • ValueAct: Citi announced on Friday an agreement to provide more intel and board access to the activist hedge fund. Are more management changes afoot? 

    Citi isn't the only bank expecting some ugly numbers. 

    The worst December stock-market performance since the Great Depression has big banks — whose shares fell 18% during the last quarter — bracing for more pain. Analysts at Keefe, Bruyette, and Wood have predicted an 18% overall drop in investment banking fees, primarily in underwriting, and a 2.6% drop in trading, mostly in fixed income, currencies, and commodities, in the fourth quarter.  

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    casper nap pillow

    • Direct-to-consumer brands are shaking up not just retail and advertising, but also the customer experience.
    • Legacy brands including Mastercard and MetLife to Marriott are responding to the threat by appointing chief experience officers to build closer relationships with customers.
    • The role goes beyond the traditional chief marketing officer function to include areas such as growth, innovation and user experience. 

    As new direct-to-consumer brands like Dollar Shave Club, Warby Parker, and Casper upend categories from eyeglasses to mattresses, legacy brands are rethinking not just how they approach retail and advertising, but the customer experience.

    A growing roster of established brands including Mastercard, MetLife, and Marriott, have appointed chief experience officers dedicated to building closer relationships with customers.

    "DTC brands are the disruptors that are providing a wake-up call for a lot of the other brands," said Nancy Kramer, chief evangelist at IBM iX. Kramer has helped brands including Sherwin Williams and Coca-Cola transition from being in the product business to the services business. 

    As of 2015, 6% of companies in the S&P 500 Index had a chief experience officer, according to Forrester analyst Harley Manning. He estimates that number to be at 11% to 12% at present.

    "At a time when traditional brands are taking a step back and asking how they are going to compete, looking at DTC brands gives them proof that competing on customer experience is working," he said.

    DTC brands have turned customer experience into a real competitive business advantage

    DTC brands are different from traditional brands in that they are digital natives, own their first-party customer data, and rely heavily on performance marketing on digital channels to grow.

    Their rapid growth can also be attributed to their focus on direct consumer relationships and more agile supply chains that can quickly adapt to consumers, according to a 2018 report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

    "DTC brands have done an incredible job building on the premise that people care about experiences, not products," said Sam Appelbaum, general manager at performance marketing agency YellowHammer, which works with DTC brands. "They make emotional connections, which manifest through data-driven marketing."

    These brands believe that having top customer experience gives them a competitive advantage. Casper, for instance, lets customers order a mattress online, try it for 100 days, and return it if they don't like it. It also frequently sets up pop-ups to tout its new products, and plans to set up nore permanent retail outposts. 

    "Casper's success, since the early days, can be distilled down to two simple things — a unique product, delivered with a unique experience," said Eleanor Morgan, Casper's chief experience officer. "Experience is a differentiator for us, and one that we invest in."

    Legacy brands have started taking a page out of the DTC playbook

    To be sure, such customer-centric roles have been around in industries like banking and hospitality for years. But the rise of DTC brands has prompted established brands to take a page straight from the DTC playbook.

    Read More: To compete for customers, luxury brands are borrowing a tactic banking and hospitality have been using for years

    For Mastercard, that's meant dedicating an executive, Donald Chestnut, as chief experience officer, starting this month. His role goes beyond the traditional chief marketing officer role and involves ensuring consistency in the company's interactions across all the touch points the company has across its business lines, from employees and issuers, to merchants and consumers. 

    "Whether you're running a business or you're a person shopping, you are looking for a simple, secure, convenient and intuitive way to go about your daily life — and payments are no exception," Michael Miebach, chief product officer at Mastercard, told Business Insider. "These same needs cut across our brand, products and services and also inform how we interact with and support the banks that issue our cards and the merchants that accept them."

    Other marketers have taken steps to learn more about their customers by collecting personal information and data about their purchasing habits and online behavior.

    Consumer packaged goods giant Unilever, for instance, set up a pop-up store for its skincare brand St. Ives in New York City in 2017 and 2018, where customers could create personalized facial scrubs and body lotions. St. Ives used the pop-up to collect contact data and consumer preferences, amassing more than 25,000 email addresses in 2017. Unilever used the data to develop products and target customers with personalized content.

    "Investing in experiences helps brands to not only build connections and drive brand recall, but also allows them to  drive addressable sales and eventually, return on ad spend," said YellowHammer's Applbaum. 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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