Lapang Islanders in Indonesia

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Japan's Antarctic whaling hunt ruled 'not scientific'

Japan's Antarctic whaling hunt ruled 'not scientific'
Representatives of Japan and Australia shake hands at the court in The Hague. (NOS/ANP) - 31 March 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dutch dredging firms win new Suez Canal mega contract, Monday 20 October 2014

Dutch dredging companies Boskalis and Van Oord have acquired a hotly contested contract to build a second Suez canal in Egypt. The contract is worth around $1.5bn, the Financieele Dagblad reported at the weekend.

‘It’s one of the biggest dredging jobs of the decade’, the paper quotes Boskalis ceo Peter Berdowski as saying.

The contract was signed at the weekend by the Egyptian prime-minister and the head of the  Suez Canal Authorities (SCA). Boskalis and Van Oord have formed a consortium with Belgian company Jan de Nul and NMDC from Abu Dhabi.


The plan to build a second Suez Canal parallel to the existing canal was announced by president Al-Sisi in August. It is meant to put an end to the one way traffic in some parts of the canal and avoid congestion on one of the most important shipping routes in the world.

The project will also bring employment to the area, revive the economy and give a boost to national pride, the FD writes.

The canal generates some $5bn in toll revenue a year which makes it the Egypt’s biggest earner. A parallel shipping lane will almost double the number of ships that pass through the canal and take it from 49 to 97 ships a day. The Egyptian government expects toll revenue to rise to over $13bn annually.


The consortium is going to have to remove 180 million cubic meters of sand in order to dig the 24 meter deep, 50km long canal. Time is short: the consortium only has ten months to finish the job and dredging boats from all over the world are converging on Egypt. ‘It’s going to be an enormous challenge,’ Berdowski is quoted as saying.

The Dutch consortium pipped the China Harbor Engineering & Construction (Chec) to the post, ‘probably because we were the only ones who could come up with the material in such a short amount of time,’ Berdowski told the FD.

Related Article:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jokowi Touts Maritime Axis in Inauguration Address

Jakarta Globe, Oct 20, 2014

President Joko Widodo takes the oath of
office on Monday.  (EPA Photo/Adi Weda)
Jakarta. President Joko Widodo used his inaugural address on Monday to reiterate his central program of turning Indonesia into a global maritime axis.

“The seas, the oceans and the bays are our future, and we have been neglected our seas, oceans and bays,” he told legislators and visiting world leaders at the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) building in Jakarta.

“This is the time to return to Jalesveva Jayamahe,” he added, citing the motto of Indonesian Navy, which is the Sanskrit for “In the sea we will triumph.”

Joko, speaking after taing the oath of office as Indonesia’s seventh president, said it was important for Indonesia, once a collection of disparate kingdoms renowned for their maritime prowess, to build on its immense wealth of maritime resources.

“To build Indonesia into a great, prosperous and peaceful country we must posses the soul of Cakrawati Samudra,” he said, again turning to Sanskrit to refer to a maritime nation with a strong merchant navy.

“As the captain of the ship, I invite all Indonesians on board to move toward a prosperous nation,” he added. “To all fishermen, laborers, farmers, meatball sellers, drivers, all the professionals — I call on you to work hand in hand because this is the historical moment for us to work, work and work.”

As part of his focus on maritime issues, Joko is expected to announce a new cabinet post of coordinating minister for maritime, natural resources and environmental affairs when he reveals his cabinet lineup tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Interpol probing missing Kiribati fund donated by Taiwan

Want China Times, CNA and Staff Reporter 2014-10-16

A press conference held by Taiwan's foreign ministry on the missing
aid fund in Taipei, Oct. 15. (Photo/CNA)

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati has launched an investigation into a missing aid fund donated by Taiwan earlier this year, a case in which Interpol has involved itself, officials said Wednesday.

Taiwan gave the money to Kiribati to help it purchase a landing craft to improve transportation around the nation. But Radio New Zealand International reported Tuesday that the aid fund has gone missing and Taiwan is demanding an explanation of what happened to the US$1.5 million.

The Kiribati Independent reported that the Kiribati government said "the money was wired to an overseas account, but apparently not that of the boat builder." Kiribati's commerce minister said that "the money has been stolen and there was nothing the government could do, but Kiribati police are now investigating," the report added.

Elliott Charng, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the initial results of the probe will be released soon, without giving a specific timeframe.

Charng said that in addition to the judicial probe launched by the Pacific nation, which has formal ties with Taiwan, Interpol has also involved itself in the investigation. Preliminary results have already been produced and will be released at an appropriate time, he said at a news conference called by Taiwanese lawmakers over the issue.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said separately Wednesday that the funds consisted of A$1.7 million (US$1.5 million) donated to the nation of 100,000 people at a ceremony in January. She said Taiwan's embassy in Kiribati has checked with the government there on the progress of the aid project, as Taiwan regularly keeps track of aid given to its diplomatic allies.

"They had also reported to us on the process of the project," Kao added, though the regular checks were apparently not enough to prevent the funds from going missing.

Taiwan has expressed concerns about the lost aid fund and is seeking follow-up information from Kiribati, she said.

The Kiribati government has formed a task force to look into lapses in internal management of the money and will punish anyone found accountable, she said.

Kiribati is one of Taiwan's 22 diplomatic allies, most of which are Pacific island nations and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

'Great wall of Jakarta' plan to combat floods

Yahoo – AFP, Sam Reeves, 15 Oct 2014

Children residing in the slum area play along a dyke as construction of the
Jakarta sea wall begins, October 9, 2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)

Jakarta has launched a multi-billion-dollar scheme to build a huge sea wall to combat flooding as the Indonesian capital sinks, but there is scepticism about its chances of success in a country with a history of corruption and failed megaprojects.

The 35-kilometre (22-mile) wall, across the Bay of Jakarta off the city's northern coast, is the centrepiece of a project that will cost up to $40 billion over three decades, and also includes reclaiming land for 17 new islands.

The whole project will form the shape of a Garuda, the mythical bird that is Indonesia's national symbol.

Children residing in the slum area play 
along a dyke as construction of the 
Jakarta sea wall begins, October 9, 
2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)
While the aim is to prevent floods, it is hoped up to one million people will live and work on the islands, and help take pressure off a crowded city notorious as one of the world's most uninviting urban sprawls.

Supporters of the project, which officially got under way last week and is run by the Indonesian government with help from Dutch experts, say it is the only long-term solution.

"It's a life-and-death situation," said Purba Robert M. Sianipar, a senior economics ministry official with a key role in the project, adding hundreds were at risk of losing their lives from severe flooding if action was not taken.

However, some wonder whether such an ambitious plan will ever be completed, given Indonesia's bad record on infrastructure projects, such as plan to build a monorail in Jakarta that was embroiled in a storm of corruption six years ago.

Chief Economics Minister Chairul Tanjung suggested as much at last week's launch event, saying disagreements with future governments could knock the project off schedule.

Others question the approach entirely, saying the project will not stop the city from sinking, while graft is also a major danger, with officials sometimes awarding tenders to unsuitable firms in exchange for large kickbacks.

Jakarta has long been hit by floods during the rainy season, when tropical downpours cause rivers to burst their banks and deluge inadequate drainage systems, forcing tens of thousands out of their homes.

Residents gather along a dyke in Jakarta
as construction of the Indonesian capital's
 sea wall begins, October 9, 2014 (AFP/
Photo By Romeo Gaca)
However in 2007, a new type of flood set alarm bells ringing.

Rivers could stop flowing

Slum neighbourhoods were inundated when a high tide surged over sea defences in northern Jakarta, something that had never happened before and which highlighted the severe land subsidence in many areas.

As Jakarta has rapidly grown to a population of about 10 million, increased water extraction for drinking has caused the ground to compact and parts of the city to sink, a problem seen in other coastal conurbations, such as Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Parts of coastal north Jakarta, which is built on soft clay, are sinking as fast as 14 centimetres (5.5 inches) a year, meaning they could be metres below sea level in a few decades, according to those behind the sea wall project.

"Basically we are pumping ourselves into the ground," said Victor Coenen, from Dutch consultants Witteveen and Bos, which devised the master plan for the project.

The subsidence also means the 13 rivers in Jakarta may sink below sea level and stop flowing, increasing the risk of inundations.

After the 2007 floods -- which forced hundreds of thousands out of their homes -- officials scrambled to come up with a plan.

It involves strengthening the current, low sea defences over the next few years to provide temporary protection for north Jakarta, home to more than four million people.

A wall of giant iron reinforcement pipes is installed during the construction
of the Jakarta sea wall, October 9, 2014 (AFP/Photo By Romeo Gaca)

Work will then begin on the main wall, which will sit six to eight kilometres (four to five miles) from the coast and will be seven metres (23 feet) above sea level.

Construction of the wall will be finished between 2025 and 2030, while development on the islands -- which will have a mix of high-end and low-cost housing -- could take another decade.

A huge reservoir will be created between the islands and sea wall, where water from downpours can be stored so it does not flood the city, and into which rivers will be able to flow freely.

Plans are also in progress to slow the land subsidence by providing piped water to Jakarta from other areas and stop extraction of ground water.

Related Articles:

Draft of the Master Plan for National Capital Integrated Coastal Development. 
(JG Screen Grab courtesy of the website of the Coordinating Ministry of
Economic Affairs)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sumba powers up with renewables

Indonesian island hopes to spark green power revolution.

The Star – AFP, Angela Dewan, May 26, 2014

Catch the wind: Villagers erect a windmill on a field of small wind turbines
in Kamanggih, Sumba island, East Nusa Tenggara. — AFP

AN Indonesian family of farmers eat cobs of corn outside their hut under the glow of a light bulb, as the women weave and young men play with mobile phones.

Until two years ago, most people in Kamanggih village on the island of Sumba had no power at all. Now 300 homes have access to 24-hour electricity produced by a small hydroelectric generator in the river nearby.

“We have been using the river for water our whole lives, but we never knew it could give us electricity,” Adriana Lawa Djati said, as 1980s American pop songs drifted from a cassette player inside.

While Indonesia struggles to fuel its fast-growing economy, Sumba is harnessing power from the sun, wind, rivers and even pig dung in a bid to go 100% renewable by 2025.

The ambitious project, called the “Iconic Island“, was started by Dutch development organisation Hivos and is now part of the national government’s strategy to almost double renewables in its energy mix over the next 10 years.

Sumba, in central Indonesia, is an impoverished island of mostly subsistence farmers and fishermen. Access to power has made a huge difference to people like Djati.

“Since we started using electricity, so much has changed. The kids can study at night, I can weave baskets and mats for longer, and sell more at the market” she said.

While only around 30% of Sumba’s 650,000 people have been hooked up to the power grid, more than 50% of electricity used now on the island comes from renewable sources, government data show.

Hivos field co-ordinator Adrianus Lagur hoped the project would be replicated by other islands in the same province of East Nusa Tenggara, one of the country’s poorest.

Indonesia is one of the region’s most poorly electrified nation, partly because it sprawls over 17,000 islands of which more than 6,000 are inhabited.

Despite enjoying economic growth of around 6% annually in recent years, Indonesia is so short of energy that it rolls out scheduled power cuts that cripple entire cities and sometimes parts of the capital.

To keep up with growth, Indonesia is planning to boost its electricity capacity by 60 gigawatts over a 10-year period to 2022. Twenty percent of that is to come from renewable sources.

“Indonesia has been a net importer of oil for years, and our oil reserves are limited, so renewables are an important part of our energy security,” said Mochamad Sofyan, renewable energy chief of state electricity company PLN.

Hefty electricity and fuel subsidies have been a serious burden on the state budget.

But small-scale infrastructure, like mini hydroelectric generators and small wind turbines that power Sumba are not enough to close the national energy gap, even if they were built on all Indonesia’s islands.

Massive hydropower and geothermal projects, which use renewable energy extracted from underground pockets of heat, are needed to really tackle the nationwide problem, said Sofyan.

Indonesia, one of the world’s most seismically active countries, also has the biggest reserves of geothermal, often near its many volcanoes and tectonic plate boundaries. It is considered one of the cleanest forms of energy available.

But geothermal is largely untapped as legislation to open up exploration moves slowly and the industry is bound in red tape.

Sofyan said there is also concern that Sumba’s target to be powered 100% by renewable energy is unrealistic.

“In the long term, we see Sumba still relying somewhat on diesel generators. It will be powered predominantly by renewables, but I don’t think it will be able to switch off the grid,” Sofyan said.

Hivos admits its goal is ambitious, saying it is “inspirational and political” rather than technical but the NGO believes the target may be achievable even in the long term.

Nonetheless the Sumbanese are reaping the benefits of the green energy sources already available, which have lifted a considerable financial burden for many due to reduced costs for wood and oil.

Elisabeth Hadi Rendi, 60, in the town of Waingapu, has been farming pigs since 1975, but it was only two years ago when Hivos visited her home that she came to understand the power of porcine poo. Pigs are commonly kept in Sumba, a predominantly Christian island in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

Each day Rendi shovels dung from the pig pens and churns it in a well, after which it is funnelled to a tank and converted into methane gas. It has saved her household around six million rupiah (RM1,680) in two years, a significant sum for a typical Sumbanese family.

“We also make fertiliser from the waste to use in our garden, where we grow vegetables,” said Rendi. “We eat the vegetables and feed some to the pigs too, which will become biogas again, so the energy literally goes round and round.” — AFP

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Beijing blasts ROK coast guard over shooting of Chinese fisherman

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-10-11

A CT scan released by the ROK shows a bullet wound on the left abdomen
of the dead fisherman, Oct. 10. (Photo/Xinhua)

China on Friday voiced strong discontent over heavy handedness by the Republic of Korea (ROK) coastguard, which caused the death of a Chinese fisherman.

The fisherman was shot dead by the ROK coastguard Friday morning in a confrontation over alleged illegal fishing in ROK waters.

"China is shocked by the violent law-enforcement of the ROK side," said foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei at a routine press conference.

China demands South Korea begin an immediate and thorough investigation of the incident, appropriately punishing those responsible for the fisherman's death, and inform China promptly of the progress and outcome of the investigation, said the spokesperson.

Song Houmu, 45, the skipper of the 80-ton fishing vessel Noyoung 50987 was shot by an ROK coastguard officer on board his own ship in waters some 144 km west of Wangdeung Island, North Jeolla province, and died later in hospital.

Hong said the Chinese Embassy and Consulate to the ROK immediately lodged a protest, sent consular officers to the scene, and will closely follow developments in the case.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lego to end partnership with Shell after Greenpeace pressure, Thursday 09 October 2014

Lego is ending its partnership with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell after a Greenpeace campaign showing Lego figures disappearing under oil in the Arctic went viral.

The YouTube video, which has been viewed over six million times, shows the Arctic slowly disappearing under oil as a Shell flag waves and a suited  businessman smokes a cigar.

Lego chief executive Jørgen Vig Knudstorp said in a statement Lego will honour its existing deal with Shell, which began in 2011, but that as things stand, the contract will not be renewed.

According to the Guardian, Lego’s partnership with Shell dates from the 1960s and has involved Shell-branded toy sets being sold around the world.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Rare fish fry released into Yellow River to repair ecosystem

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-10-05

A view over the upper reaches of the Yellow River in Qinghai. (File photo/Xinhua)

Over 7 million rare fish fry have been released into the upper reaches of the Yellow River, China's second concerted effort to repair the river's ecosystem after a similar effort in 2009, said local fishery authorities.

Qinghai province in northwestern China, where the Yellow River and the Yangtze River originate, plans to release about 900,000 rare, captive-bred, native fish this year to replenish stocks, said Wang Guojie, deputy chief of the province's fishery environment supervision office.

The Ministry of Agriculture, in charge of fisheries, announced in 2007 that one third of the 150 fish species in the Yellow River were believed to be extinct due to human activity and low rainfall.

Overfishing, dumping and hydropower projects degraded the environment and led to a shrinking fish population. In Qinghai, 22 fish species are native and most of them are only found on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.

"Fish grow much more slowly on the plateau than at low altitude, due to cold weather. Plateau fish, living at around 4,000 meters above the sea level, are extremely resistant to cold, but only add an average of half a kilogram in weight every ten years," said Wang.

Once the stocks are damaged, it's hard to restore them quickly, he said.

"Our survey shows a rise in fish stocks in some key areas over the past five years, meaning the released fry have adapted well," said the official.

Qinghai has plans to build more fish farms and expand the project's release area.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

35,000 Walruses Mass on Alaska Beach ‘Due to Climate Change’

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Oct 02, 2014

An estimated 35,000 walruses hauled themselves onto a beach near the village
 of Point Lay, Alaska, 700 miles northwest of Anchorage. According to scientists, the
 congregation of Pacific walruses — one of the largest ever — was prompted by a lack
of sea ice which the walruses use to rest in Arctic waters, according to scientists.
(Reuters/Corey Accardo)

Los Angeles. At least 35,000 walruses have beached themselves on a remote Alaskan coastline in a phenomenon blamed on the melting of arctic ice due to climate change, experts said Wednesday.

Initially there had been only 1,500 of the tusked pinnipeds counted on one beach, but in recent days that number has exploded.

“Our best estimate is almost a 24-fold increase,” said Megan Ferguson of the Aerial Surveys of Arctic Marine Mammals.

The walruses “are hauling out on land in a spectacle that has become all too common in six of the last eight years as a consequence of climate-induced warming,” the US Geological Survey (USGS) said in a statement.

Beaching on land makes young walruses more susceptible to death by trampling, the agency said, adding that walruses would normally haul out on ice nearer to rich feeding grounds.

The USGS said summer sea ice is retreating far north of the continental shelf waters of the Chukchi Sea, which is in US and Russian waters, “a condition that did not occur a decade ago.

“To keep up with their normal resting periods between feeding bouts to the seafloor, walruses have simply hauled out onto shore,” it added.

Ferguson noted that more brown bears than previously estimated were also spotted on the same stretch of coastline, while gray whales that had swum in the area up to the 1990s have disappeared.

Agence France-Presse

Walruses in the Chukchi sea this time of year are generally females and young who
are at greater risk of being trampled. Photograph: Steven Kazlowski/Nature Picture Library

Related Article:

Indonesia makes first arrests of manta ray traders

Three traders arrested for dealing in whole manta rays and their gills, in first detentions since legal protections, AFP, Wednesday 1 October 2014

Butchered manta rays in Indonesia, where a sanctuary for the species was
created in February 2014 Photograph: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

Indonesia has detained three traders for attempting to illegally sell manta rays, the first such arrests since the world’s biggest archipelago introduced legislation protecting the huge winged fish, conservationists said.

In February, the biggest manta ray sanctuary on Earth was established in Indonesia in a bid to put a stop to the creatures being hunted for use in traditional medicine, and attract more tourists.

Manta rays are now protected within the millions of square kilometres of ocean surrounding Southeast Asia’s biggest nation, with fishing and export of the creatures banned.

US-based group the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates a wildlife crimes unit in Indonesia, said that three manta ray traders were arrested in August and September on the main island of Java.

The arrests send a “clear message that Indonesia is serious about protecting its natural heritage against illegal wildlife traders,” Joe Walston, the society’s vice president for field conservation said in a statement released this week.

Indonesia’s Marine Affairs Minister Sharif C. Sutardjo hailed the arrests, and was cited as saying: “Illegal trading of protected species threatens the sustainability of marine and fisheries resources in Indonesia.”

Officials holding sezied manta ray gills in Indonesia Photograph: Paul Hilton/Greenpeace

The first arrest on 22 August involved a trader in Surabaya city in the east of Java attempting to sell a shipment that included manta ray gills, which are sought after in China for their use in traditional medicine.

A second trader was arrested in Sidoarjo, near Surabaya, on 1 September, while the third was detained on 26 September in Indramayu in west Java, attempting to sell an entire manta ray.

Trafficking manta rays, whose numbers in Indonesia have fallen sharply in recent years, is punishable by a maximum fine of $25,000, the conservation group said.

The rays have wingspans up to 25 feet (7.5 metres), which they flap to propel themselves through the water, and are a favourite sight for foreign tourists, many of whom come to Indonesia to dive.

Protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies both species of manta ray - the oceanic and reef varieties - as vulnerable.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Amnesty: Italy, Malta at fault for refugee shipwreck deaths

Amnesty International has said some 200 refugees presumed to have died in a major shipwreck last year could have been saved if Italian and Maltese authorities had not dithered over rescue operations.

Deutsche Welle, 30 Sep 2014

Amnesty released the report in Brussels on Tuesday just hours before the European parliamentary confirmation hearing of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Greece's incoming European Commissioner for migration and home affairs.

Amnesty said the EU's new leadership must boost air and naval power in the Mediterranean to rescue migrants who are dying in record numbers trying to reach the continent's shores. In its report, titled: "Lives adrift: Refugees and migrants in peril in the central Mediterranean," the British-based campaign group described a "Fortress Europe" blocking out migrants and refugees, many of them fleeing unrest in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

At least 400 people were on board a boat that capsized in Maltese search and rescue waters on October 11, 2013, according to survivors.

Malta rescued 147 people, Italy picked up another 39, while the other passengers were never found.

"It is reasonable to question whether Italy and Malta acted promptly and with all available resources to save the refugees and migrants and whether a delay in going to their rescue contributed to the shipwreck," the human rights association said in its report.

It said the migrants, whose boat was taking on water after being shot at by a Libyan vessel, were rescued at least 5-6 hours after their first emergency call. They appealed to Italy first, but were told they had to call Malta because of their location.

Once alerted, Maltese authorities were said to have been slow in assuming charge of operations. Malta allegedly didn't alert passing cargo ships, and an the Italian navy is accused of sailing towards the wreck at less than full speed, leaving first rescue duties to Malta.

Italy says more money needed

Italy's navy has been patrolling the waters between Africa and Sicily since 366 people drowned after their boat capsized within sight of the Italian island of Lampedusa. That incident was just a week before the rescue in Maltese waters.

Italy has repeatedly called for more EU help to tackle the emergency as Italy plans to gradually phase out its Mare Nostrum (Our Ocean) search-and-rescue program, which has saved more than 90,000 lives in the past year.

Amnesty warned in its report that European Union countries must devote "considerable" resources for migrant rescues in the Mediterranean Sea before Italy can discontinue its own mission, or "many more lives will be lost at sea."

Amnesty urged the EU to change its asylum policy, which puts the onus on border countries like Italy and Malta to take in refugees, and eventually to establish safe ways for migrants and refugees to reach Europe.

"So long as the EU continues to push those fleeing conflict or poverty to take dangerous sea journeys, it must be prepared - collectively - to meet its obligations to save lives," Amnesty said.

The International Organization for Migration said on Monday that a record 3,072 migrants have drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats so far this year, compared to 2,360 in 2013.

crh/dr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

Earth lost 50% of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF

Species across land, rivers and seas decimated as humans kill for food in unsustainable numbers and destroy habitats

The Guardian, Damian Carrington, Monday 29 September 2014

Rubbish dumped on the tundra outside llulissat in Greenland stand in stark contrast
 to icebergs behind from the Sermeq Kujullaq or llulissat Ice fjord – a Unesco world
heritage site. Photograph: Global Warming Images/WWF-Canon

The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found.

“If half the animals died in London zoo next week it would be front page news,” said Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science. “But that is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” He said nature, which provides food and clean water and air, was essential for human wellbeing.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. He said more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation, while food and energy had to be produced sustainably.

The steep decline of animal, fish and bird numbers was calculated by analysing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. This data was then, for the first time, used to create a representative “Living Planet Index” (LPI), reflecting the state of all 45,000 known vertebrates.

“We have all heard of the FTSE 100 index, but we have missed the ultimate indicator, the falling trend of species and ecosystems in the world,” said Professor Jonathan Baillie, ZSL’s director of conservation. “If we get [our response] right, we will have a safe and sustainable way of life for the future,” he said.

If not, he added, the overuse of resources would ultimately lead to conflicts. He said the LPI was an extremely robust indicator and had been adopted by UN’s internationally-agreed Convention on Biological Diversity as key insight into biodiversity.

A second index in the new Living Planet report calculates humanity’s “ecological footprint”, ie the scale at which it is using up natural resources. Currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow, catching fish faster than the oceans can restock, pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than rainfall can replenish them and emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb.

The report concludes that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels.

The fastest decline among the animal populations were found in freshwater ecosystems, where numbers have plummeted by 75% since 1970. “Rivers are the bottom of the system,” said Dave Tickner, WWF’s chief freshwater adviser. “Whatever happens on the land, it all ends up in the rivers.” For example, he said, tens of billions of tonnes of effluent are dumped in the Ganges in India every year.

As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world. “These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water. While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,” he said.

But while freshwater species such as the European eel and the hellbender salamander in the US have crashed, recoveries have also been seen. Otters were near extinct in England but thanks to conservation efforts now live in every county.

The number of animals living on the land has fallen by 40% since 1970. From forest elephants in central Africa, where poaching rates now exceed birth rates, to the Hoolock gibbon in Bangladesh and European snakes like the meadow and asp vipers, destruction of habitat has seen populations tumble. But again intensive conservation effort can turn declines around, as has happened with tigers in Nepal.

Marine animal populations have also fallen by 40% overall, with turtles suffering in particular. Hunting, the destruction of nesting grounds and getting drowned in fishing nets have seen turtle numbers fall by 80%. Some birds have been heavily affected too. The number of grey partridges in the UK sank by 50% since 1970 due to the intensification of farming, while curlew sandpipers in Australia lost 80% of their number in the 20 years to 2005.

The biggest declines in animal numbers have been seen in low-income, developing nations, while conservation efforts in rich nations have seen small improvements overall. But the big declines in wildlife in rich nations had already occurred long before the new report’s baseline year of 1970 – the last wolf in the UK was shot in 1680.

Also, by importing food and other goods produced via habitat destruction in developing nations, rich nations are “outsourcing” wildlife decline to those countries, said Norris. For example, a third of all the products of deforestation such as timber, beef and soya were exported to the EU between 1990 and 2008.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said: “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. But 2015 – when the countries of the world are due to come together to agree on a new global climate agreement, as well as a set of sustainable development goals – presents us with a unique opportunity to reverse the trends.

“We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest, and a responsibility, to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Canadian nabbed with 51 turtles in his pants

Yahoo – AFP, 26 Sep 2014

In a picture taken on June 20, 2012, red-eared slider turtles are seen at an enclosure
at the Manila Zoo. Red-eared sliders were one of the varieties of turtles found in the
pants of a man arrested for smuggling at the US-Canada border (AFP Photo/Noel Celis)

Ottawa (AFP) - A Canadian has been caught at the US-Canada border with 51 live turtles stuffed in his pants in what American authorities claimed was an elaborate reptile smuggling operation.

The scheme was uncovered last month but was only revealed this week in US federal court documents cited in a Friday report by the Toronto Globe and Mail.

According to the newspaper, Canadian border officials arrested Kai Xu as he tried to cross into Windsor, Ontario from Detroit, Michigan in August, and handed him over to US authorities.

"Xu was found to have 51 live turtles taped to his person," a US Fish and Wildlife Service said in an affidavit cited by the Globe and Mail.

The seized turtles were North American varieties including eastern box turtles, red-eared sliders and diamondback terrapins that sell for as much as $800.

A second Canadian, Lihua Lin, was arrested on Wednesday at the Detroit airport, bound for Shanghai with more than 200 North American pond turtles in his checked luggage. He had been dropped off at the airport by Xu.

Xu and Lin have been charged with smuggling and other related offenses, and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Related Article:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Despite truce, Gaza fishermen under fire at sea

Yahoo – AFP, Adel Zaanoun and Yahya Hassouna, 25 Sep 2014

The Gaza Strip has long been known for its plentiful seafood and fish although
 the stocks have been depleted by pollution, frequent wars and the blockade (AFP
Photo/Mohammed Abed)

Gaza City (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Every time Gaza fisherman Rami goes to sea, the same thing happens: five nautical miles offshore, shots ring out and a voice over an Israeli loudspeaker demands he turn back.

Officially, Gaza's fishing fleet has the right to trawl the waters up to six nautical miles off the shore under the terms of Israel's eight-year blockade.

Although that outer limit has frequently been reduced, or even cancelled outright over the years, it was formally reinstated by virtue of an August 26 truce agreement which ended a deadly 50-day war between Israel and Hamas militants.

Palestinian fish traders sit around a 
sculpture of a boat propeller as they wait
 for fishermen to come back with their 
catch on August 18, 2014 at the harbour
in Gaza City (AFP Photo/Roberto Schmidt)
But nearly a month after the ceasefire took effect, even those six nautical miles -- which the fishermen say is not nearly enough -- are unattainable.

One afternoon, Rami Bakr and his 10-man crew put to sea for a 10-hour fishing expedition. With them was an AFP team.

Very quickly, warning shots skimmed the boat as an Israeli navy vessel approached. On board were around a dozen soldiers armed with machine guns, shouting through a loudspeaker for them to stop.

"These are the worst conditions we've ever known," said the 41-year-old fisherman, who has spent more than three decades of his life fishing the waters off Gaza.

"During the war, the Israelis bombed fishing huts on the beach and now they are preventing fishermen from earning their crust at sea," he said.

The Gaza Strip has long been known for its plentiful seafood and fish although the stocks have been depleted by pollution, frequent wars and the blockade.

Today, the coastal enclave counts some 4,000 fishermen, more than half of whom live below the poverty line, said Nizar Ayash, head of the Gaza fishermen's syndicate.

During the recent seven-week war, 80 of Gaza's fleet of around 1,500 fishing boats and dozens of fishing huts were destroyed in the Israeli bombardment, which also reduced nets and fishing equipment to ashes, he said.

'Too risky'

For Ayash, the problems experienced by Rami are widespread.

"Since the ceasefire, many Israeli attacks have been reported," he said, referring to repeated shooting at fishing vessels.

Israeli forces say the warning shots are necessary because Palestinian boats flout the six-mile limit.

With their tackle destroyed and the price of oil soaring, Gaza's fishermen are almost working at a loss.

Today, a single fishing expedition can cost up to about $500 (roughly 400 euros), said another fisherman called Mehdi Bakr, who lost his hand when an Israeli navy vessel fired at his boat in 1997.

Gaza counts some 4,000 fishermen, more than half of whom live
below the poverty line (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

For every night on the water, they need 270 litres (59 gallons) of diesel and 250 litres of petrol, he explained.

And all this for a very small catch.

"September and October is sardine season and they are only found between six to nine nautical miles from the shore, so with a six-mile limit, we're bringing home hardly anything," explained Taha Bakr, a 24-year-old member of Rami's crew.

Because fishing is a trade passed on from father to son, and because he can no longer provide for his family and the job is so dangerous, the young man with green eyes and a neatly-trimmed beard has signed up to journalism school.

"It's so that I don't have to fish again, that job is just too risky," he told AFP.

Maria Jose Torres, deputy head of office in the Palestinian branch of the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA), said that the 1993 Oslo Accords established a fishing zone of up to 20 nautical miles.

"It is essential to increase the fishing zone beyond six nautical miles to allow the fishermen to earn their living," she said, indicating that the vast majority today are unable to support themselves.

"Some 84 percent of them are only able to survive thanks to help from the UN," she said.

Rami said he keeps putting out to sea so that he can feed his children.

"It has been a long time since we last heard the singing and laughter of fishermen at sea who returned with their nets full," he said.

But Mehdi fears for the future of this millennia-old profession in Gaza.

"We, the young generation, are not happy with this. If it carries on like this, there won't be any more fishing in Gaza at all," he said.