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Here are the best tech deals of Amazon Prime Day 2020

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Prime Day brings discounts on all sorts of tech like true wireless earbuds, smart speakers with Alexa and the Google Assistant, vibrant TVs and countless other devices. With literally thousands of items on-sale, CNN Underscored is doing the handwork and highlighting the best tech deals to shop this Prime Day right here.

For a full list of notable Prime Day deals, check out our complete guide here.

Sony WH-1000XM4 with $25 Gift Card ($298, originally $373; amazon.com)

PHOTO: SONY

Our pick for best over-ear and noise cancellation headphone is seeing quite the deal. Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are down to just $298 from $348 and a $25 Amazon.com gift card is thrown into the mix. These headphones are not only comfortable with improved padding but delivered balanced robust sound, class-leading noise cancellation and long battery life.

Powerbeats Pro ($174.95, originally $249.95; amazon.com)

PHOTO: BEATS

Our top pick for best earbuds for working out are down to their all-time-low on Amazon for Prime Day. Powerbeats Pro feature a comfortable and stable design with an ear-hook that wraps around your ear, deliver robust sound with ample bass and offer fast pairing for Apple devices.

SanDisk microSD cards (starting at $19.99, originally $24.49; amazon.com)

PHOTO: AMAZON

Whether you want to expand storage on your smartphone, tablet or even a Nintendo Switch, SanDisk is here to help. With 128GB ($19.99), 256GB ($23.49), 512GB ($79.99) and 1TB ($182.99) all discounted you can’t go wrong with any size.

Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (Starting at $1,049.99, originally $1,299.99; amazon.com)

PHOTO: SAMSUNG

The Note 20 Ultra might have just launched in August, but it’s seeing an epic $250 off discount. It’s currently the best android smartphone on the market in our eyes and features top of the line hardware across the board like a 6.9-inch Super AMOLED display, a triple camera array with 50x space zoom and a zippy processor.

AirPods with Wired Charging Case ($114.99, originally $159; amazon.com)

PHOTO: APPLE

Apple’s entry-level AirPods still best most other true wireless earbuds out there. With the H1 chip inside you’ll get fast pairing across all Apple devices (and easy switching with iOS 14) as well as hands-free “Hey Siri” support. Better yet, you get five hours of playback and over 24 hours of playtime with charges from the carrying case.

Related: All the best Prime Day deals to shop

Eero mesh Wi-Fi System ($174, originally $249; amazon.com)

PHOTO: AMAZON

With an eero mesh Wi-Fi system you can improve your whole home network and provide more room for many more devices. You’ll strategically place these eero nodes around your home to spread coverage further – up to 5,000 square feet. And eero will intelligently connect your device from node to node for the best coverage.

iRobot Roomba i6+ ($599.99, originally $799.99; amazon.com)

PHOTO: iRobot

This Roomba smart vacuum won’t just intelligently map your home and intelligently create a schedule. The Roomba i6+ will empty itself into its base when it is full to continue to the cleaning job.

Beats Solo Pro ($179.95, originally $299.95; amazon.com)

PHOTO: BEATS

These on-ear noise canceling headphones are our runner up pick in the category and are over $100 off. The Solo Pro feature a comfortable and modern design in fun colors with terrific hardware inside. These will fast pair with Apple devices thanks to the H1 cheap, feature active noise cancellation and even sport a transparency mode.

Surface Pro X ($999.99, originally $1,299; amazon.com)

PHOTO: MICROSOFT

The Surface Pro X is Microsoft’s next-gen 2-in-1 with a custom ARM processor powering Windows 10 and both Wi-Fi + Cellular connectivity out of the box. You get an expansive 13” screen inside an incredibly portable build at just 7.3-millimeters thick and 1.7 pounds. You can bundle it with a TypeCover and a Surface Pen for $1,285, down from $1,569.98.

Anker Nano 20W Fast Charger ($15.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

PHOTO: ANKER

With Apple’s 2020 iPhone family likely being announced today and rumors saying no power plug in the box, it’s a good time to pick one up. And the Anker Nano not only is incredibly compact, but it can fast charge your iPhone (or really any smartphone) at 20-watts.

Echo Dot 3rd Gen ($18.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)

PHOTO: AMAZON

You can really never go wrong with an Echo Dot, especially at just $18.99. It’s the easiest way to add Alexa to a room, but you’re getting more than just a virtual assistant. Alexa can be your DJ from a variety of sources or even turn your Echo into a Bluetooth speaker. Better yet, you get to pick your color: Charcoal, Heather Gray, Plum or Sandstone.

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Galapagos sees record rise in penguins, flightless cormorants

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A drop in tourism and weather patterns associated with La Nina are thought to have helped the bird species in the remote archipelago.

The population of Galapagos penguins and flightless cormorants, two species endemic to the remote islands, has seen a record increase, according to study results released on Friday.

The Galapagos penguin is one of the smallest species of penguins in the world, measuring up to 35 centimetres (14 inches) and the cormorants on the islands are the only type to have lost their ability to fly. They have developed diving skills instead.

“The number of cormorants has reached a record number, according to historical data dating back to 1977, while the number of penguins is at the highest since 2006,” said a statement from the Galapagos National Park, which carried out the census.

The population of Galapagos penguins, the only ones living on the earth’s equator, increased from 1,451 in 2019 to 1,940 in 2020, it added.

Flightless cormorant numbers increased from 1,914 to 2,220 over the same period.

The COVID-19 pandemic has kept tourists away from the Galapagos, helping the species that live on the archipelago recoup [File: Rodrigo Buendia/AFP]

The Galapagos Islands lie 1,000 kilometres (625 miles) off the coast of Ecuador and are home to species found nowhere else in the world.

The study was carried out by the park and the Charles Darwin Foundation in September. The main colonies present on the Isabela and Fernandina islands and the Marielas islets which are to the west of the archipelago have been classified as a natural heritage site.

Paulo Proano, Ecuador’s minister of environment and water, said the census results reflect the “good state of health of the population” of the Galapagos’ birds.

The park said the presence of the La Nina climatic phenomenon, which helps to provide more food for the birds, had contributed to the increase in their populations.

Another factor was the coronavirus pandemic, which has reduced disturbances to their nesting areas because of the drop in tourism, the park added.

The islands, which served as a natural laboratory for the English scientist Charles Darwin for his theory of the evolution of species, takes their name from the giant tortoises that live there.

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US to base Coast Guard ships in western Pacific to tackle China

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The United States will deploy Coast Guard patrol ships in the western Pacific to counter what it described as “destabilizing and malign” activities in the region by China, the country’s top security adviser said on Friday.

The US Coast Guard was “strategically homeporting significantly enhanced Fast Response Cutters … in the western Pacific,” White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said in a statement.

Describing the US as a Pacific power, the statement added that China’s “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and harassment of vessels operating in the exclusive economic zones of other countries in the Indo-Pacific threatens our sovereignty, as well as the sovereignty of our Pacific neighbors and endangers regional stability”.

It said US efforts, including by the Coast Guard, were “critical to countering these destabilizing and malign actions.”

The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the statement, which came just ahead of a planned visit to Asia by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) and Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne pose prior to their bilateral meeting in Tokyo on October 6, 2020 ahead of the four Indo-Pacific nations’ foreign ministers meeting. – (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / POOL / AFP)

Pompeo led a meeting of the so-called Quad in Tokyo this month. Washington hopes the grouping of the US, Japan, India and Australia can act as a bulwark against China’s growing assertiveness and extensive maritime claims in the region, including to nearly all of the South China Sea.

On Sunday, Pompeo will begin a five-day tour of India – where he will be accompanied by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper – and then he will continue on to Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia. Maritime security and a “free and open Indo-Pacific” will be high on the agenda, the State Department said.

Incursions

In July, Esper condemned a “catalogue of bad behaviour” in the South China Sea over the previous months, accusing the Chinese military of having sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat, harassing Malaysian oil and gas vessels and escorting Chinese fishing fleets into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

O’Brien added that the Coast Guard, which is under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), was also studying whether to permanently station several of its patrol ships in the area of American Samoa in the South Pacific.

Last month, Indonesia protested after Chinese coastguard ships travelled into its exclusive economic zone, which is situated between its own territorial waters and international waters and where the state claims exclusive rights to develop natural resources.

China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea as its own. Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the Philippines also claim the parts of the sea nearest to their shores.

The US Navy regularly conducts what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations in the disputed sea – angering China, which has developed military outposts on islands and islets.

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An island built from coral: How Indonesia’s Bajau made a home

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Bungin Island, Sumbawa, Indonesia – Scattered across many of the islands and coastal communities in Southeast Asia, the Bajau, numbering about one million people, are the world’s largest remaining group of sea nomads. But their culture is under threat.

In the Sulu Sea between Borneo and the Philippines, where the Bajau have roamed the ocean for 1,000 years, insurrection by the Abu Sayyaf armed group has led to an increased military presence and curfews restricting movements on both sides of the border.

On the islands of southern Thailand, where the group are known as Moken, they live in stilt shanties that cling like barnacles to coastlines that are rapidly being consumed by buildings built for tourists.

In Indonesia and peninsula Malaysia, many Bajau have given up ocean-based life by marrying people from local communities and seeking jobs in the cities.

But one Bajau community on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa has preserved its unique way of life by building their own islet out of coral, allowing it to evolve separately from the mainland.

With 3,500 residents on just 8.5 hectares (21 acres) of land, Bungin Island also stands out as the most densely populated of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands.

No crime

When the first Bajau arrived in Sumbawa from the southern Philippines 200 years ago, Bungin Island was just a sandbank on the north coast. In the Bajo language, Bungin means “a mound of white sand”.

Traditionally, the Bajau harvested coral to make foundations for their homes, expanding what was once a sandbank [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]

They built their spartan stilt houses on the sand, but as their numbers grew, they enlarged the island by harvesting coral to build foundations for houses on low-lying sections of the surrounding reef. With the help of relatives and friends, it typically takes a week to build a 70-square metre (172-square acre) plot and structure.

“We have a good life here and we have enough money because all the time, every day and night, we are looking for fish,” said Surat, a Bungin Island elder, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

The Bajau are accomplished fishermen and free-divers who can remain underwater for as long as eight minutes on a single breath. Some children have their eardrums pierced to prevent them from bursting from water pressure while diving.

Studies of Bajau who start diving from young have shown their spleens, the organs which store oxygenated red blood cells, are 50 percent bigger than average.

Bungin Island has also developed a strong sense of community. When the heat of the day eases at dusk, people come out onto the tightly packed streets to shop, mingle, eat and pray in the mosque.

The Bajau are renowned for their ability to free dive and are famous for their salted fish [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]

Indonesians are renowned for their hospitality but on Bungin Island they really roll out the red carpet, sharing drinks, meals, laughter and conversation with visitors. And apparently, there is no crime on the islet.

“We don’t have locks on our doors,” said Rizky, Surat’s neighbour. “Everyone knows each other so it’s not possible to steal anything here.”

‘The problem with corona’

The nature of the sea gypsies’ lifestyle means they have missed out on many basic services.

Bajau communities in Indonesia are lacking “in the areas of health and education … [and] many Bajau are illiterate,” found the Joshua Project, a research project focused on Indigenous cultures with Christian minorities.

In the mid-1990s, the Indonesian government embarked on several large infrastructure projects to drag Bungin Island into the 21st century.

It built a wide sand causeway linking the island to the mainland and making it easier for islanders to sell their salted fish at mainland markets.

Nearly all the Bajau on Bungin island are Sunni Muslims [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]

It also built a large government school on the mainland-end of the causeway and connected the islet to the national power grid. And tackled overcrowding by shipping in thousands of tonnes of sand to reclaim an additional 2.5 hectares (6.1 acres) of land from the seafloor.

The causeway also had an unintended effect – it turned Bungin Island into Sumbawa’s leading attraction for domestic tourists who would come to marvel at the paper-eating goats.

As plants cannot grow on the islet, the domesticated goats that roam the streets search instead for paper, cardboard and cloth. For many children, the highlight of visiting the islet was to feed the goats pages from their exercise books. For adults, it was long lazy lunches at Resto Apung, a floating seafood restaurant and fish farm with breathtaking coast and mountain views.

But when Indonesia temporarily banned domestic travel in April to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, tourism came to an end. With Indonesia’s coronavirus outbreak still surging, it has yet to recover.

“We had many tourists before the problem with corona,” said Surat. “But as we live so close together it is impossible to socially distance. The restaurant and our guesthouse had to close.”

Rubbish dump

The causeway has also brought more worrying problems.

Plastic and other household waste has collected around the shore of Bungin Island [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]

Before it was built, islanders ate only seafood, some greens and ric, and used organic materials like coconut shells and palm fronds as bags.

Easy access to the mainland introduced cheap packaged foods, water bottles and plastic bags and no waste management system to deal with it.

The result is that Bungin Island has been turned into a rubbish dump; its shores are carpeted with tonnes of rotting waste – all of which ends up in the delicate marine ecosystem the Bajau depend on to survive.

When asked about the problem, islanders laugh – a typical Indonesian response to awkward questions and social situations.

But a study published by the University of Queensland in July on plastic literacy in remote Indonesian coastal communities found a majority of people in the communities did not see the plastic waste as a threat and believed its only negative effect was to “make the village look dirty”.

The study’s authors suggested a two-pronged solution: the creation of “rubbish banks” – a term used in Indonesia for a recycling facility where plastic can be sold, sorted, shredded and moved down the value chain; and plastic awareness and environmental education.

Goats live on the island subsisting on a diet of paper and cardboard [Ian Neubauer/Al Jazeera]

Awareness initiatives have already led to changes of some centuries-old traditions.

In the past, customary law dictated that young people who wanted to marry had to harvest coral to build a home of their own. The 21st-century residents of Bungin have different ideas.

“Now, if you get married, you stay with your parents and slowly, you save up money to buy a house on Bungin,” said Surat. “Most people do it this way because it’s easier than building with coral and doesn’t hurt the reef where the fish live so we can keep on fishing.”

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