26-30 August Weekly News



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Aug 29, 2019


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Endangered sharks and rays get more protection

Eighteen threatened species of sharks and rays will be better protected. Countries signed to the CITES animal and plant protection treaty agreed on greater protection for these marine creatures from commercial fishing. The protected species include the world's fastest shark (the mako shark), wedgefishes and guitarfishes. A conservationist wants to ensure they continue to be around for future generations.

CITES was established in 1973 and is signed by 182 different states. The focus of the weekend meeting was on reducing the number of sharks killed each year by commercial fishing. A conservation group said as many as 273 million sharks are killed annually. Forty countries said there was no evidence to show that the mako was in danger as a result of fishing. The global shark fin market is believed to be worth over $1.2 billion.


Positive thinking helps us live longer

Positive thinkers are more likely to live longer than negative thinkers. This is according to a combination of studies conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine into the health of people in the USA. Researchers looked at data on the health of 70,000 female nurses and 1,500 male military veterans. They discovered that people who were optimists (people who thought positively) were more likely to live to the age of 85. They said people who were more pessimistic (those who thought negatively) were 11-15 per cent less likely to live to that age. The researchers believe that optimists (positive thinkers) found it easier to manage stress than pessimists (negative thinkers).

Participants in the two studies answered questions in a survey. The questions assessed their levels of optimism. The surveys matched these levels with the participants' overall level of health. They were also asked about their levels of exercise, their diets, as well as how much they smoked and drank. Professor Lewina Lee said: "Our findings speak to the possibility that raising levels of optimism may promote longevity and healthy ageing." She had some advice for pessimists who might want to live longer. The advice was to, "imagine a future in which everything has turned out well". She urged people to increase levels of optimism. She said it was healthier for people to look on the bright side of life.


Apple apologizes for use of contractors to eavesdrop on Siri conversations

In this June 4, 2018, file photo Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, speaks about Siri during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, California. (AP File Photo)

Apple is apologizing for allowing outsiders to listen to snippets of people's recorded conversations with its digital assistant Siri, a practice that undermined its attempts to position itself as a trusted steward of privacy. As part of the apology posted Wednesday, Apple reiterated an earlier pledge to stop keeping audio recorded through Siri unless consumers give their permission. When permission is granted, Apple said only its own employees will be allowed to review audio to help improve the service. Previously, the company hired contractors to listen to some recordings. "We realize we haven't been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize," Apple said.

In recent months, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple have all acknowledged that people have been reviewing users' interactions with artificial intelligence assistants in order to improve the services. But users aren't typically aware that humans and not just computers are reviewing audio.

The backlash to the industry practice prompted Facebook and Google to stop relying on people to transcribe recorded conversations. Amazon is continuing the practice unless users of its digital assistant Alexa explicitly demand that humans be blocked from listening. Microsoft also is still doing it, too, contending it has adequate privacy safeguards in place for the Cortana digital assistant.

Apple intends to continue to rely upon computer-generated transcripts of what's being said to Siri as part of effort to improve services, even if a user hasn't explicitly granted permission, or opted in.

Unlike Facebook, Google and Amazon, which track what people are doing and where they are going to sell ads and merchandise, Apple has conspicuously emphasized that that it has no interest in peering into its customers' lives.CEO Tim Cook repeatedly has declared the company's belief that "privacy is a fundamental human right," a phrase that cropped up again in Apple's apology.


Turkey, Russia discussing Su-35, Su-57 fighter jets deliveries

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet lands after performing as Turkish president's delegation planes are parked in the background during the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky, Russia, Aug. 27, 2019. (AP Photo)

Moscow and Ankara are discussing the deliveries of Russian-made fighter jets to Turkey, a top Russian defense official has said. Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said he would hold talks Wednesday with the head of the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) Ismail Demir.

"We'll continue discussing the topics on our agenda. We will move forward with the possible deliveries of the Su-35 or Su-57s (jets), as great interest had been shown, but it's too early to talk about contract negotiations. Tthere is still no request (from Turkey), consultations should be held," Shugayev said at the MAKS 2019 International Aviation and Space Salon.

The Russian official added that the two countries would also discuss deliveries and cooperation in the area of electronic warfare. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, visited the MAKS 2019 fair Tuesday, having examined both Su-35 and Su-57 warplanes. Both leaders later hinted at the prospect of Turkey purchasing the jets. The Su-35 is Russia's top air-superiority warplane, while the Su-57 is the country's fifth-generation most advanced multi-role fighter jet.


Japanese man asks himself: Was I Turkish in another life?

After visiting Turkey 29 years ago for business, Yoshinori Moriwaki, a Japanese architect and earthquake specialist decided to make Turkey his home by settling down in Istanbul. He came to Turkey in 1990 to take part in a hotel construction project that would last a year. "The process was further extended," Moriwaki told Anadolu Agency (AA), "and now, I've been here for 29 years." Moriwaki was part of a group of 15 people, who came to Istanbul to take part in the project, but he was the only one who stayed behind. "When I travel to Japan, I want to return to Turkey after a week. My friends used to call me 'half Turkish,' but now they say that I am actually a Turkish guy," said Moriwaki. "I will live out the rest of my life in Turkey." "I often travel to England or Germany, but I have been met with cold attitudes there. Here in Turkey, people are hospitable and friendly," he said. An admirer and cook of Turkish cuisine, Moriwaki said his favorite is etli ekmek or meat-filled bread, a specialty from central Turkey's Konya, and yaprak sarma or rice-stuffed vine leaves.

He also mentioned the shared traditions of Turkey and Japan, like taking shoes off while entering the home and the floor table. "If a neighbor brings us some food on a plate. It is not appropriate in Japanese culture to give the plate back empty, just like in Turkey. So, I cook yaprak sarma or sushi and fill the plate with them," he said. Moriwaki learned the Turkish language when he was working at the construction site by talking to Turkish workers. "They used to tell me about some things. People in Turkey like to explain and talk very much," he said. The Japanese man shared some experience with language and communication. "When you go to England, let's say the salt on the table is far away and you ask someone to pass you the salt. If one of the words you use is incorrect, it is not understood." "But even if you use one letter in Turkish, the Turkish person shows many things on the table and says, 'This one? That one?' They help you until you find the salt. These are the characteristics of the Turkish people. They are warm and friendly."

Married to a Ukrainian woman, Moriwaki's 11-year-old son speaks Russian and learned Turkish in the kindergarten. Moriwaki said he has visited at least 58 cities in Turkey, adding that Safranbolu, in the central province of Karabük, is among his favorites. Safranbolu, an Ottoman-era city in Turkey, was an important stop on the main East-West trade route around the region. The city's iconic sites of the Old Mosque, the Old Bath and Süleyman Pasha School (Medrese) were built in the early 13th century, according to UNESCO. "When I visit Safranbolu, I feel really happy. I've even asked myself: 'Was I Turkish in a previous life?'"


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