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
"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

China calls for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes

China calls for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes
Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the enforcement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, at the UN headquarters in New York, on June 9, 2014. The Chinese envoy on Monday called for a harmonious maritime order, saying that maritime disputes should be settled through negotiation between the parties directly involved. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)

UNCLOS 200 nautical miles vs China claimed territorial waters

UNCLOS 200 nautical miles vs China claimed territorial waters

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Japan's hunts threaten some dolphins and whales with extinction, says EIA

Japan relying on out-of-date data for hunts of small cetaceans, putting some species of whales, dolphins and porpoises at risk, warns Environmental Investigation Agency, Associated Press, Thursday 31 October 2013

Fishermen in the Japanese fishing town of Taiji catch up to 2,300 of Japan's annual
quota of 20,000 dolphins by herding them into shallow water. Photograph: Robert

Japan's hunts of smaller whales, dolphins and porpoises threaten some species with extinction, an environmental group said on Thursday.

Catch quotas are based on data collected as much as 20 years ago and some species have been overhunted beyond the point of recovery, the Environmental Investigation Agency said in its report.

The lucrative market in live catches for aquariums, especially in China, poses another risk, the report said. Live animals can sell for between $8,400 and $98,000, sometimes more than the roughly $50,000 from sales of meat for a single bottlenose dolphin.

Japan set its catch limit for small cetaceans at 16,655 in 2013, far below the 30,000 caught annually before limits were set in 1993 but still the largest hunt in the world.

Japan's Fisheries Agency would not comment on the EIA report because it has not seen it. Japan defends its coastal whaling as a longstanding tradition, source of livelihood and as necessary for scientific research.

The London-based independent conservation group said Japan is failing to observe its stated goal of sustainability and urged the country to phase out the hunts over the next decade.

"The government has a responsibility to restore and maintain cetacean species at their former levels," said Jennifer Lonsdale, a founding director of the EIA.

The small cetaceans are among a number of species facing severe declines in Japan. They include Japanese eels, a delicacy usually served roasted with a savoury sauce over rice, and torafugu, or puffer fish.

The status of each species varies, depending on its range and hunting practices. Catch limits for Dall's porpoises are 4.7-4.8 times higher than the safe threshold, the report said.

For the striped dolphin, once the mainstay of the industry but now endangered and disappearing from some areas, catches have dropped from over 1,800 in the 1980s to about 100.

That is still four times the sustainable limit, the report said. It urged that the government update its data on the abundance of it and other species and stop transferring quotas from already overfished areas to areas that exceed their quotas.

Under a 1946 treaty regulating whaling, nations can grant permits to kill whales for scientific research.

In July, Japan defended its annual harpooning of hundreds of whales in the icy seas around Antarctica, insisting the hunt is legal because it gathers valuable scientific data that could pave the way to a resumption of sustainable whaling in the future.

New dolphin species discovered off north Australia

Google – AFP, 31 October 2013

Humpback dolphins swim off the coast of Australia, in this undated picture
handout from Flinders University (Flinders University/AFP, Guido J. Parra)

Sydney — Scientists expressed "surprise and delight" Thursday after a new humpback dolphin species was identified off northern Australia, with genetic mapping singling out an animal not previously known to science.

A global team led by the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society made the discovery after examining almost 200 dead dolphins and tissue specimens from live animals across the four Atlantic, Indian and Indo-Pacific ocean areas where humpbacks are known to live.

A study of the beak length and number of teeth in 180 skulls from beached and museum specimens, as well as live DNA samples from 235 dolphins, identified a new species in the humpback, or sousa genus, which frequents waters off northern Australia.

"Based on our combined genetic and morphological analyses, there is convincing evidence for at least four species within the genus," lead author Martin Mendez wrote in the paper, published in the latest edition of the journal Molecular Ecology, adding that this included "a new as-yet-unnamed species off northern Australia".

Humpback dolphins swim off the Australian
 coast, pictured in a handout photo from 
Flinders University (Flinders University/AFP,
Guido J. Parra)
Biologist Guido Parra, a member of the study team from Australia's Flinders University, said it had long been debated that local humpbacks were distinct from their more distant cousins but there had been insufficient evidence until now to support the hypothesis.

"The unique thing about this study is that in previous debates the data sets were always limited -- either purely genetic or based on traditional taxonomic studies," Parra told AFP.

"We were able to actually marry those two -- so morphological and genetic -- and not only marry those two approaches but also look across the entire (genus) range.

"We are very surprised and of course delighted to discover the recognition of a completely new species."

Humpback dolphins have a vast home range stretching from the tip of Australia all the way to Africa, and they are considered native to some 40 countries across Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

Parra gathered skin biopsy samples from both deceased and live humpbacks off northern Australia for the study, which he said was a "long-term collaborative global project".

The Wildlife Conservation Society said it was a significant finding -- identifying a new mammal species is rare -- and that it hoped it would boost conservation efforts.

Two of the three already-identified sousa species are in decline and considered at risk from habitat loss and fishing, with S. chinensis, or Chinese white dolphin, found in the eastern Indian and West Pacific Oceans, listed as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

S. teuszii, which lives in the Atlantic off West Africa and is known as the Atlantic humpback or Teusz's dolphin, is rated vulnerable.

The next step in the process would be to draw up a manuscript of the findings for consideration by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, the body responsible for formally declaring and naming new species.

Parra said he could not reveal what potential names were being debated for the new humpback but said it would hopefully be "related to Australia".

It has been a bumper week for Australian scientists, with the discovery unveiled Monday of three new vertebrate species in a remote part of the country's north, isolated for millions of years and described as a "lost world".

Humpback dolphins are so named due to a distinctive hump just below their dorsal fin, which is also uniquely elongated.

Infant humpbacks are born a creamy or pearly white similar to a beluga whale and darken to grey as they reach adulthood. They typically grow to eight feet (2.4 metres) in length and live in coastal waters, deltas and estuaries.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Australia probes Great Barrier Reef board over 'mining links'

Google – AFP, 30 October 2013

Illustration: Australia launches probe into the agency responsible for protecting the
 Great Barrier Reef after some members were urged to quit over alleged conflicts of 
interest (AIMS/AFP/File, Ray Berkelmans)

Sydney — Australia launched a probe Wednesday into the agency responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef after some board members were urged to resign over alleged conflicts of interest related to the mining industry.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt ordered an investigation after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired allegations that coal and gas industry ties had seen the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) relax its stance on industrial development.

"I have ordered an immediate independent probity inquiry into the allegations that have been raised," Hunt told reporters.

"The inquirer will report to the chairman of the board at GBRMPA who will in turn report jointly to the secretary of the department and myself."

The authority's chairman Russell Reichelt said Robert Cornall, one-time secretary of the national attorney-general's department, would undertake the review.

GBRMPA is a statutory authority charged with overseeing the protection and use of the reef, and Reichelt said all board positions were filled by government appointment.

He also noted that GBRMPA was required by law "to have a representational board, with members having qualifications or experience related to functions of the authority".

"This reflects the fact that the Marine Park has been a multiple-use area since its inception in 1975," he said.

According to the ABC, two of GBRMPA's five board members have close links to the resources sector -- Tony Mooney, an executive with Guildford Coal and Jon Grayson, who owns a stake in Gasfields Water and Waste Services.

Both men were at a critical meeting last year where the GBRMPA board turned its back on advice from in-house scientists that it oppose port development in areas with "potential to degrade inshore diversity".

Instead, the board issued a watered-down statement saying such biodiversity impact should be a "key consideration" in port approvals, while calling for further consultations with the mining industry on the issue.

Reichelt emphasised that this statement "remains in draft form and will not be finalised until the public has been given an opportunity to comment."

The reef is facing a world heritage downgrade from UNESCO next year due to concerns about rampant coastal development proposed in the region, particularly port, gas and coal operations.

The role of individual board members in the statement on ports is unknown, but conservationists called for Mooney and Grayson to resign in order to address perceptions of a conflict of interest.

"Anyone with coal and gas interests should simply be precluded from serving on the board of management for the Great Barrier Reef," said Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens party.

"It's an international embarrassment that mining interests are allegedly influencing the GBRMPA board, while UNESCO is warning that the Great Barrier Reef could be added to the World Heritage list of sites in danger within a year."

Hunt noted that both Mooney and Grayson "have strong reputations and I don?t want to draw any judgement in any direction".

He said he expected Cornall's inquiry would be completed by the end of the year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Fish bypasses for pumping stations are a success, Monday 28 October 2013

A new fish passage in the Strypse Wetering
 at Rockanje. Fish can now step climb to the
 higher water level here. (Arcadis)
Hundreds of purpose-built waterways which allow fish to bypass dams, pumping stations and sluices are proving a great success, Trouw reports on Monday.

As soon as the special routes are opened, migrating fish stream through in large numbers, Trouw says, quoting research by civil engineering bureau Arcadis.

Fish such as salmon, sturgeon and gudgeon had almost disappeared from the Netherlands' waterways because of a combination of measures to drain land and poor water quality.

But improved river quality, thanks to international agreements, has led to an increase in numbers, and fewer bottlenecks along popular migration routes.

A 2008 report indentified 2,600 obstacles, of which around half have now been bypassed, Trouw says.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Beijing backs Arctic Council agenda of environment over development

Want China Times, Xinhua 2013-10-25

The Arctic Council meets in Kiruna, Sweden, May 15. (Photo/Xinhua)

China agreed with the Arctic Council that development in the Arctic region should abide by local regulations and environmental requirements, according to a senior official.

China pledged to make a greater contribution to the council in its new official observer role, Jia Guide, deputy director-general with the Department of Treaty and Law under China's Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday in an interview with Xinhua. Resource development in the Arctic was a possibility, but not a priority for China, said Jia, who was speaking in the Yukon capital Whitehorse where Canada hosted the eight-member intergovernmental organization's discussion. He said the region played an important role in cooling the earth's atmosphere, and any commercial development would "have to bear in mind the special environmental requirements."

"We have to set higher thresholds, or higher standards, for commercial development in this region," he said.

"When we talk about commercial development, first and foremost is the respect for local regulations of the relevant countries. Then comes the concern for environmental protection. Only with the satisfaction of the relevant requirements of the local countries and higher (environmental) standards can a commercial development be carried out," Jia said.

The area contains 30% of the world's natural gas deposits and 20% of global oil reserves below its frigid waters, as well as fish, minerals, fresh water and other resources.

Patrick Borbey, chair of the Arctic Council's Senior Arctic Officials, told Xinhua the people of the north wanted development, but not at any cost. He said protection of the Arctic's fragile ecosystem was paramount.

"We want to see development happen in the north, the people of the north want to see development, but they don't want to see it at any cost, at any expense," he said.

"They want to see respect for the environment, respect for the wildlife, for the traditional practices, so that people can reap the benefits of development, but at the same time we can see sustainable protection of our environment for many, many generations to come," he said.

China is one of six new observer countries participating in the Whitehorse meeting for the first time. The other five are Singapore, Japan, India, South Korea and Italy. China could never be a full member as the country is not physically connected to the Arctic, but it could share in and contribute to the scientific research generated by the organization, Jia said.

Borbey said it was important to have new observer states from outside the Arctic region, as decisions and actions taken elsewhere had an impact on the northern-most region.

"And we know that the changes that are happening in the Arctic are having an impact also in China and very, very far from the Arctic. So by working together, by collaborating, by contributing, sharing our science, I think we can all achieve better outcomes," he said.

Jia said: "It is an opportunity for China to make a contribution to the Arctic Council. By attending the meeting, we feel a high expectation from the Arctic Council members for the active participation from the observer states and we are ready to make more contributions in a more active way."

The benefit of participating in the three-day meetings was primarily from a scientific point of view, he said.

"Using scientific research, like following the progress of climate change, and also the accelerated melting of ice and snow, (one can see that) there is a possibility for marine passage through the northeast passage that's very, very important," he said.

At the current meeting, the Canadian agenda includes promoting development for more than four million people living in the eight Arctic states, responsible resource development, and safe Arctic shipping and sustainable circumpolar communities.

Founded in 1996, the Arctic Council's full members are Russia, the United States, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Canada, which initiated the organization through the 1996 Ottawa Declaration, assumed the Arctic Council chairmanship earlier this year for a second time, a position the country will hold through early 2015.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dutch take Russia to maritime court over Greenpeace ship

Google – AFP, Jan Hennop (AFP), 21 October 2013

A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the detention of
 Greenpeace activists in Russia, outside the Russian embassy in central
London, on October 5, 2013 (AFP/File, Carl Court)

The Hague — The Netherlands said Monday it has taken Russia to the world's maritime court in order to free 30 crew members of Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise, charged with piracy after protesting Arctic oil drilling.

"The (Dutch) state is asking for the freeing of the detained crew and the release of the Greenpeace ship," before the German-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), a statement said.

"Because the Netherlands find that the ship's release and the freeing of the crew is an urgent matter, it has now decided on this step," it added.

Russian authorities have charged the environmental group's crew members with piracy, which carries a 15-year sentence, after they staged a protest against Arctic oil drilling last month.

The activists from 18 different countries have been placed in pre-trial detention until late November in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.

Last week, a Murmansk court rejected several bail requests, ignoring a worldwide campaign to have the piracy charges dropped.

Although the Netherlands is calling for the crew to be freed, it has in the past also said Russia had the right to try them.

The Dutch government said it expected a hearing within the next two to three weeks before the Hamburg-based tribunal.

"A decision is expected within a month from today," the Dutch statement said.

The UN-backed tribunal based in the German northern port city opened its doors in 1994, shortly after the UN's Convention of the Law of the Sea came into force.

It has the power to make rulings based on the Convention, which spells out the law and rules governing the world's oceans, seas and resources.

The legal action before the tribunal is the second step in the Dutch government's attempt to have the Greenpeace activists released.

Earlier this month The Hague started legal action against Russia in the form of an arbitration process, but warned if no progress was made it would take the case to the maritime tribunal.

The arbitration procedure "is being continued," the Dutch statement said on Monday, with Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans stressing in the past he preferred a diplomatic solution.

Russia now had to name an arbitrator before November 3, a step already taken by the Netherlands.

In total five arbitrators, including one from each country are needed to try and solve the case.

Should Russia not have named an arbitrator by November 3, the Netherlands "could ask the tribunal's president to name the outstanding four arbitrators," the statement said.

Based in Amsterdam, Greenpeace on Monday welcomed what it termed the "unusual step" by the Dutch government.

"Greenpeace applauds the Dutch government for taking these very important steps," said Greenpeace International's Jasper Teulings.

"However, it will likely take about four weeks before the Tribunal announces the verdict," he added, calling on all governments involved to work to speed up the process.

The September 18 protest saw several activists scale the oil platform in the Barents Sea to denounce Russia's plans to drill in the Arctic.

Russian border guards then lowered themselves onto the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise from a helicopter, locked up the crew and towed the ship to Murmansk, located nearly 2,000 kilometres north of Moscow.

President Vladimir Putin has said that in his opinion the activists were not pirates but had breached international law by getting dangerously close to the oil rig.

The unusually tough charges have sparked comparisons with the case of the Pussy Riot punk rockers who were last year sentenced to two years in a penal colony for demonstrating against Putin in a Moscow church.

The Greenpeace arrests and an attack on a Dutch diplomat in Moscow, following the allegedly rough arrest of a Russian diplomat in The Hague, has caused a diplomatic flare-up between the two states whose friendship dates back to Tsar Peter the Great.

The spat is particularly embarrassing coming during a Russian-Dutch Bilateral Year aimed at promoting cultural ties.

The Arctic Sunrise, Greenpeace's Arctic protest ship, somewhere off the
coast of Russia on September 17, 2013 (Greenpeace/AFP/File, Denis Sinyakov)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thousands in Kaohsiung catch last-minute Rubber Duck fever

Want China TimesCNA 2013-10-20

People flock to Kaohsiung Harbor for a last glimpse of the Rubber Duck, Oct. 19.
(Photo/Hsieh Ming-tso)

Thousands of admirers flocked to Kaohsiung Harbor on Saturday for a last glimpse of the city's world-famous Rubber Duck inflatable sculpture, which will conclude its appearance in the southern Taiwan city on Sunday.

The city's Glory Harbor was packed with buses from early Saturday morning bringing tourists to admire and pose for pictures with the floating art, which has drawn 3.5 million spectators since being put on display a month ago, according to the Kaohsiung City government.

Designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, the installation was expected to attract some 200,000 spectators on Saturday, officials said.

A closing ceremony for Hofman's duck campaign in Kaohsiung will be held at 4pm on Sunday, and the city has encouraged the duck's fans to dress in yellow to bid it farewell.

The 18-meter-tall, 1,000-kilogram yellow duck will then be deflated and stored, perhaps for another occasion in the future, but Rubber Duck fever will continue in Taiwan, with Taoyuan county to display its own version of the Rubber Duck at a festival between Oct. 26 and Nov. 10.

Related Articles:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pacific man bids to become first climate change refugee

Google – AFP, 17 October 2013

This undated photo, released by the secretariat of the Pacific community (SPC),
 shows inhabitants of Kiritimati coral atoll building a stone seawall in their struggle
against rising seas (SPC/AFP/File, -)

Wellington — A Pacific islander is seeking recognition as the world's first climate change refugee in New Zealand as rising seas threaten his low-lying homeland, the man's lawyer said on Thursday.

Ioane Teitiota, 37, launched an appeal this week against a decision by New Zealand immigration authorities to refuse him refugee status and deport him to Kiribati in the central Pacific, lawyer Michael Kitt said.

Kitt acknowledged Teitiota's New Zealand visa had expired but said he should not face deportation because of the difficulties he would encounter in Kiribati -- which consists of more than 30 coral atolls, most only a few metres (feet) above sea level.

He said rising seas had already swamped parts of Kiribati, destroying crops and contaminating water supplies.

This file photo shows Tarawa atoll, capital
 of the vast archipelago nation of Kiribati,
 pictured on September 11, 2001.
(AFP/File, Torsten Blackwood)
"Fresh water is a basic human right... the Kiribati government is unable, and perhaps unwilling, to guarantee these things because it's completely beyond their control," Kitt told Radio New Zealand.

He said Teitiota's case had the potential to set an international precedent, not only for Kiribati's 100,000 residents but for all populations threatened by man-made climate change.

If his appeal is successful Teitiota would become the world's first climate refugee, Kitt said.

As the environmental problem worsened a new class of refugee was emerging that was not properly covered by existing international protocols, he added.

"It's a fluid situation, eventually the courts and legislatures are going to have to make a decision on how we deal with this."

Kiribati is among a number of island states -- including Tuvalu, Tokelau and the Maldives -- the UN Human Rights Commission is concerned could become "stateless" due to climate change.

Kiribati government's has raised the prospect of relocating the entire population or building man-made islands to rehouse them if predictions the sea will rise by one metre (3.25 feet) by the end of the century prove accurate.

It has also moved to buy 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of land in Fiji to act as a farm for Kiribati if salt-water pollution means the islands in the former British colony can no longer produce crops.

Kitt said deporting Teitiota was like forcing a gay person to return to a country where they faced persecution, or a domestic violence victim to go to a nation where women's rights were not protected.

In refusing Teitiota's application earlier this year, immigration authorities argued that the Kiribati man could not be considered a refugee because no one in his homeland was threatening his life if he returned.

Kitt countered by arguing that the environment in Kiribati effectively poses a threat to Teitiota and the three children he fathered in New Zealand, who will have to return with him if he is deported.

"Mr Teitiota is being persecuted passively by the circumstances in which he's living, which the Kiribati government has no ability to ameliorate," he said.

Kiribati joined a number of other Pacific states last month in signing the "Majuro declaration" on climate change, which calls for urgent action on an issue where small countries are bearing the brunt of impacts caused by major polluters.

A judge in the Auckland High Court reserved a decision on Teitiota's appeal on Wednesday and the judgement is expected to be released by the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Australia, US put heat on Russia over Antarctic sanctuaries

Google – AFP, 16 October 2013

Undated handout photo shows Adelie penguins in Antarctica (Australian Antarctic 
Division/AFP/File, Nisha Harris)

Sydney — Nations led by Australia and the United States stepped up pressure on Russia Wednesday for a swift agreement to create vast Antarctic marine sanctuaries.

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), comprising 24 nations plus the European Union, meet in Australia next week with Russia seen as key to protecting large swathes of the wilderness area.

At a special summit of CCAMLR in Germany in July, Moscow blocked a plan to create the ocean sanctuaries off Antarctica for a second time.

Foreign ministers from the main proponents issued a rallying call on Wednesday.

Image taken on October 27, 2008 shows a
 seal on the shore of Deception Island, 
Antarctica (AFP/File, Martin Bureau)
"Australia, the European Union, France, New Zealand and the United States jointly call for the establishment this year of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean, in the Ross Sea Region and in East Antarctica," they said in a joint statement, without naming Russia.

"The establishment of such MPAs follows through on the vision expressed by all nations at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 and the Rio+20 conference in 2012."

CCAMLR is a 31-year-old treaty tasked with overseeing conservation and sustainable exploitation of the Southern Ocean, but at the meeting in Bremerhaven Russia questioned its legal right to declare such a haven, according to organisations at the talks.

Russia has argued that planned restrictions on fishing are too onerous, although most other nations support the proposals.

One of the proposed sanctuaries, floated by the United States and New Zealand, covers 1.6 million square kilometres (640,000 square miles) of the Ross Sea, the deep bay on Antarctica's Pacific side.

The other, backed by Australia, France and the EU, would protect 1.9 million square kilometres of coastal seas off East Antarctica, on the frozen continent's Indian Ocean side.

Protecting the areas -- which biologists say are rich in unique species -- would more than double the area of the world's oceans declared sanctuaries.

The waters around Antarctica are home to some 16,000 known species, including whales, seals, albatrosses and penguins, as well as unique species of fish.

Image taken on September 5, 2012 shows
the Kerguelen archipelago which forms
one of the five districts of the territory of
the French Southern and Antarctic
Lands (AFP/File, Sophie Lautier)
In their statement, the foreign ministers said the Ross Sea and East Antarctica regions were widely recognised for their remarkable ecological and scientific importance.

"The MPA proposals now before the Commission are based on sound and best available science, will provide a unique laboratory for continuation of marine research, and will have profound and lasting benefits for ocean conservation, including sustainable use of its resources," they said.

CCAMLR nations meet in Hobart from October 23.

Andrea Kavanagh, in charge of the Southern Ocean Sanctuaries campaign at the US green group Pew Environment, said the rallying cry was timely.

"The international community has invested significant resources in studying, proposing, and vetting Antarctic marine protections. Now, it's time to act," said Kavanagh.

"Countries can overcome the false starts of the past year by coming together this month to safeguard these vital areas."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Culture War as the Maldives Opens Up to Backpackers

Jakarta Globe - AFP, Adam Plowright on 5:25 pm October 13, 2013

This photograph taken on September 9, 2013 shows an aerial view of one of the
 many luxurious resorts that dot the many islands that comprise the Maldives in the
Indian Ocean. (AFP Photo/ Roberto Schmidt)

Male. The Maldives is one of the world’s most exclusive holiday destinations but it has quietly opened up to backpackers in the last five years with a reform that has upset religious hard-liners.

Most visitors arrive at the country’s airport island, take a speed boat or seaplane to their expensive coral-fringed private resort and spend the next week relaxing in blissful ignorance of the country around them.

It has been this way for decades, the result of a deliberate policy of keeping the wealthy holidaymakers — mostly Westerners and often newly-weds — on uninhabited islands separate from the local Muslim population.

The Islamic Republic applies different laws for both: travelers are free to drink alcohol, eat pork, and for those not on their honeymoon, enjoy pre-marital sex. Elsewhere, Maldivian women can be flogged in public for fornication.

“Since Maldives is a Muslim country, we have always supported the idea that the tourism industry should be separate from the inhabited islands,” says Mauroof Hussain, vice president of the conservative Adhaalath Party.

“If the hippy-type of travelers come, along will come drugs and narcotics which even now our society is suffering from,” says Hussain, whose party has been a minority partner in successive governments since 2008.

While the archipelago is still far from the hippy trail, the sight of backpackers wandering around Male and the nearby island of Maafushi is growing thanks to a new policy to attract budget travellers.

“Things like nudity are not acceptable in a place where people are living,” adds Mauroof. “The people complain that they are praying in the mosque and just outside there are tourists in bikinis.”

Men enjoy a nightly game of chess outside a corner restaurant in Male on
September 6, 2013. (AFP Photo/ Roberto Schmidt)

‘Very welcoming people’

Since a reform under the country’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed in 2009, Maldivians have been allowed to open their own guesthouses on populated islands.

While fundamentalist interpretations of Islam imported from the Gulf and Pakistan are progressively taking root in the Maldives, Mauroof’s views lie far outside the mainstream and are ridiculed by many.

What started as a trickle of guesthouses has become a torrent with entrepreneurs like 25-year-old Ibrahim Mohamed converting properties and profiting from what is the islands’ biggest business and foreign exchange earner.

“Maldivians are very welcoming people. It wasn’t Maldivians that wanted separation, it was the government and a few businessmen saying that they should be isolated,” Mohamed told AFP. “The Maldives can’t hide from the world anymore.”

His three-roomed Sundhara Palace located on a busy street of the cramped capital Male opened at the beginning of September, offering basic en-suite accommodation for $30 a night.

The cheapest resorts are usually about 10 times this, with prices stretching up to several thousand dollars a night — with expensively priced food and drink on top.

Mohamed stresses that the guesthouse policy is also “a good system to get money to the people instead of to wealthy businessmen.”

A handful of well-connected resort owners who prospered under the 30-year autocratic rule of strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom continue to control the Maldives economy and are active in politics.

These oligarchs have united against Nasheed, who was ousted in February 2012 following a mutiny by security forces, which he branded a “coup.”

His efforts to return to power through the ballot box have since been thwarted with the country wracked by protests and uncertainty after the Supreme Court annulled elections he won on September 7.

The court order came in response to a legal challenge from the third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim, one of the country’s wealthiest tycoons who is in alliance with the Adhaalath Party.

A re-run of the polls has been ordered for October 19, with the British government warning travellers to avoid demonstrations and take precautions in the capital.

If re-elected, Nasheed has promised in to expand the guesthouse policy as part of his ambitious social and economic reform program.

“The industry is flourishing very rapidly. We feel there is so much more scope for that,” he told reporters days before voting in the first round of the election in September.

One of the people to take advantage of the changes is Dutch tourist Chris Constandse, a 27-year-old web designer who works for a travel website in Amsterdam.

He booked a few nights at a hotel in the capital, but plans to spend the rest of his two-week holiday staying in guesthouses dotted around the country of more than 1,000 islands.

“Backpackers go to India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and I was like ‘I always do things different,’ so I thought I’d go backpacking in the Maldives,” he told AFP shortly before leaving on a ferry for one of the nearby islands.

“The most important thing is that you get in touch with the people. I’ve stayed in Male for three nights and I’ve already met some people and made some friends.”

Agence France-Presse

Sunday, October 13, 2013

New migrant tragedies off Lampedusa spark calls for reform

Deutsche Welle, 12 October 2013

The second migrant tragedy in just over a week in the Strait of Sicily has sharpened calls to allow safe passage for asylum seekers. The most recent accidents have killed at least 400 people.

A week of tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea has prompted calls for action from the European Union to do more to prevent asylum seeker deaths.

"I don't know how many more people need to die at sea before something gets done," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in an interview with the BBC.

"The fact is that, as things stand, we are just building a cemetery within our Mediterranean Sea," he added. "Until now we have encountered statements, words but little more than that." Muscat vowed to join Italy in lobbying for action at the next European Council meeting.

On Friday a migrant boat sunk about 105 kilometers (65 miles) southeast of the island of Lampedusa. Italian and Maltese rescuers found 34 bodies, and rescued more than 200 survivors. The boat was said to have capsized when passengers tried to attract the attention of a passing Maltese aircraft.

Between Thursday and Friday, the Italian coast guard also intervened to help some 85 migrants stranded on a dinghy south of Lampdesua and intercepted a boat with 183 people on board as it approached the island's port.

On October 3, a vessel carrying some 500 people, mostly Eritreans, sunk within sight of the Lampedusa coast. Only 155 people survived, with the provisional death count raised Saturday to 359, after rescuers found the bodies of 20 more victims.

On Saturday, Italian authorities started transporting coffins out of a Lampedusa airport hangar to take last week's dead to mainland Sicily, where Prime Minister Enrico Letta has promised to give them a state funeral.

Urgent calls for reform

With the Italian coast guard bearing the brunt of rescue operations, politicans and rescue officials have spoken out for more support. "Lampedusa cannot manage: Europe must realize this," Lampedusa Mayor Giusi Nicolini told RAI state television.

Francesco Rocca, the president of the Italian Red Cross, called for safe routes for people escaping war and repression: "Urgent measures must be adopted to open humanitarian corridors. There is no time to lose.”

On Saturday, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano echoed the need to crackdown on smugglers: "We need to stop the merchants of death.”

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 32,000 people have arrived in southern Italy and Malta this year alone, about two-thirds of whom have filed requests for asylum. Most migrants come from sub-Saharan Africa, but this year an increased number have arrived from Syria and Egypt.

One step has been taken by the EU to address the growing problem. On Thursday, the European Parliament approved the Eurosur border surveillance system, which aims to reduce the number of undetected migrants to the EU, including those who arrive by boat.