Dock on US northwest is debris from tsunami

Updated 19 January 2013
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Dock on US northwest is debris from tsunami

OLYMPIA, Washington: The dock that washed ashore on a remote beach in Washington state last month has been confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. The state Marine Debris Task Force says it was identified by the Japanese government through photos that showed a fender serial number.
The dock came from the Aomori Prefecture and is similar to the dock that washed ashore last summer in Oregon, also from the tsunami.
The Coast Guard spotted the dock Dec. 18 on a beach.
It’s within a wilderness portion of Olympic National Park and also within the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and will be removed. A crew has scraped off 400 pounds (181 kilograms) of marine plants and animals in an attempt to prevent any invasive species from taking hold.


Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

Updated 54 min 12 sec ago
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Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”