7 things to know about the world's oceans that could actually help human beings.
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Waitt Foundation

Sebastian the crab from "The Little Mermaid" was right.

GIF via "The Little Mermaid."


That same human world is taking a big ol' swan dive into the sea and making it a mess, too.

And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has taken notice.

Here are seven reasons you might wanna take notice too.

1. The oceans don't have just an environmental problem, they have a human problem!

Yes, the sea is acidifying 10 times faster than at any other point in history. And about half of all fish are "fully exploited." But actual humans beings with feelings and families are being hurt because of the lackadaisical way the — ahem — world has been handling crime on our oceans.

Human trafficking, which is a nice way of saying slavery, is a huge problem out there on the high seas.



Image (modified) via Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr.

And it's not just Secretary Kerry who agrees. Indonesia's marine affairs and fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, has said "In tackling illegal fishing, we are fighting human trafficking."

So, yeah. Let's not have slaves make our tuna salad? I can get behind that.

2. At least $10 billion a year is lost just because of illegal fishing.

That's a lot of billions. According to Kerry, fixing this huge loss isn't about new rules — it's about just making everyone follow the ones that already exist.

Dramatic re-enactment of Kerry's plan. GIF via Funny or Die.

Which means at least $10 billion worth of rules are currently not being followed.

GIF via "Friday Night Lights."

*boggle*


A recent New York Times report stated that, “Globally, illegal fishing costs more than $20 billion annually, and one in every five fish imported to the United States is thought to have been caught illegally."

3. Shady fish = shady humans.


Plain, simple, logical.

4. More than 80% of seafood consumed by Americans is imported. And it's not clear (right now) where it's coming from.

If you don't know where it's from, you don't know that it's not suuuuuper shady.

Kerry has advocated for stronger rules about where the supply chain begins. If he gets his way (and I hope he does!), he aims to establish "an understanding of the fishing chain, but also some sort of sign off or seal of approval as to what the conditions were in which it was fished."

I love it when my fish is signed, sealed, and delivered minus human suffering and ocean sadness! I'm yours.

5. Environmental groups, not governments, are the ones catching the bad guys. Weird, right?

Environmental group Sea Shepherd recently tracked an illegal fishing boat across 10,000 miles for over 100 days. An environmental group. Funded by donations — many from celebrities. Out on the ocean enforcing laws. I'd say that's weird.

On The Outlaw Ocean, "It takes a pirate to catch a pirate." The 4th Installment of The Outlaw Ocean: http://urbina.io/1KuY8Zz
A photo posted by Ian Urbina (@ian_urbina) on

True story!

6. The American government is purchasing seafood items that have some pretty sad (aka slave labor) pasts.

Robert Stumberg, a Georgetown University law professor speaking at a briefing for the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, "analyzed $300 million worth of American government purchases of fishery products, including frozen shrimp, canned tuna and livestock feed, which he said were most likely to be produced by slave labor," according to a recent New York Times report.

$300 million of purchases from the American government (not even the American people!) were most likely produced by slave labor.

As for the American people's purchases, companies known for keeping slaves have been linked to Iams, Meow Mix, and Fancy Feast.

7. The U.S. government can wield its seafood shopping list ... for good!

That $300 million in fishery products is a lot of purchasing power. And we can use it.

I like to hear that America is leading the way in peacefully making a change that could mean less human suffering, less crime, and, well, more happy pets and fewer sad humans, too.

Win, win, meow.

It's hard to talk about, and it's a little overwhelming. But awareness is a step in a really right direction. Awareness is what led Secretary Kerry to speak up and start making steps to get a handle on this.


Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

via @Todd_Spence / Twitter

Seven years ago, Bill Murray shared a powerful story about the importance of art. The revelation came during a discussion at the National Gallery in London for the release of 2014's "The Monuments Men." The film is about a troop of soldiers on a mission to recover art stolen by the Nazis.

After his first time performing on stage in Chicago, Murray was so upset with himself that he contemplated taking his own life.

"I wasn't very good, and I remember my first experience, I was so bad I just walked out — out onto the street and just started walking," he said.

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