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6/27/2014

Housing Crisis Worsens Urban Inequality in Pacific Islands

Filed under: climate change,housing,vanuatu — admin @ 3:01 pm

PORT VILA, Jun 10 2014 (GIP) – Rapid migration to cities and towns, driven by scarce public services and jobs in rural areas, is producing a profound social shift in Pacific Island countries, where agrarian life has dominated for generations. But the urban dream remains elusive as a severe lack of housing forces many into sprawling, poorly-serviced informal settlements.

In the southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which has a population of 247,262, the urban growth rate is four percent, the second highest in the region after the Solomon Islands.

On the outskirts of the capital, Port Vila, with a population of 44,000, is Freswota, comprising six areas known as Freswota 1-6, which are home to an estimated 8,000 people.

Chief Maki Massing, originally from west Ambrym Island in the nation’s northern provinces, is a widower with six children who has lived in Freswota 4 for 30 years.

“If you don’t find work, you must go back to your island, because Port Vila is a very expensive town.” — Chief Maki Massing, community leader in Freswota As the late afternoon sun fades, light bulbs strung across the front yard of his compound illuminate the house Massing built of cement and corrugated iron. Colourful lengths of fabric curtain the doorways. Early evening bustle fills the nearby street as he tells me why he left his rural village of Lalinda.

“My children came to Port Vila for school,” he explained. “As my income in the village from growing copra was not very good, I came here to find work so I can pay the school fees.”

Massing is fortunate to have landed a job in the formal sector. After working in a bank for 15 years, he joined the state ministry of health, where he has been employed since 1992.

The circumstances of most people in Freswota vary from permanent employment to informal labour (with people taking jobs as market vendors selling fresh produce) to unemployment, but they share one commonality: low incomes and poor living conditions.

Frank William at the Port Vila Municipality Council told GIP that land in the capital has not yet been zoned for specific development uses, such as residential or commercial, which has hindered urban planning progress. “Some public housing is available for people who come to Port Vila to work,” he said, “but people on low incomes are still unable to afford them.”

The average cost of a basic decent house lies somewhere in the range of 31,600-52,700 dollars, which is out of reach for many local residents living on the minimum monthly wage of roughly 316 dollars. The National Housing Corporation, which is under-resourced, sells land without housing development to residents in Freswota 3-6.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) reports that 16.8 percent of government workers and 17.1 percent of private sector employees in Port Vila live below the poverty line.

“For me, it’s too expensive because I must also pay for water, electricity, transport and school fees,” Massing said. Even with a government job, he has to earn extra money by renting out two small rooms in his house.

Throughout the Pacific Islands the scale of rural to urban migration dramatically outpaces job growth, availability of land and state capacity to expand housing and public services.

Thirty-five percent of all Pacific Islanders, in a region with a population of 10 million, now live in towns and cities. In Vanuatu, 25 percent of the national population are urban residents and this is predicted to rise to 38 percent by 2030. Lack of decent housing is worsening urban poverty, with 24 percent of all metropolitan residents in the Pacific Islands inhabiting slums. In Port Vila, one-third of children are impacted by poverty, which is 20 percent higher than the national average, reports the Pacific Islands Forum.

Leias Cullwick, executive director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women, claims that a low minimum wage and high cost of living in Port Vila are tipping families into severe hardship.

“Eighty percent of people in urban areas cannot even afford one decent meal per day. In the hospitals, 70 percent of the women giving birth cannot afford enough healthy food, so [their] babies are going to be malnourished,” she said.

People’s lives are also affected by lack of basic services. Massing claims that water, electricity and roads are urgently needed in Freswota 4.

“For the first five years here, I had to go down to the river every afternoon to wash and collect water to bring back to the house,” he said.

Traditional community leaders, such as Massing, are taking initiatives to address social and development issues in urban settlements.

“I talked to the government on behalf of my people and they then provided some water and electricity in this area,” he continued.

And while he understands the desires that drive people to Port Vila from rural areas, Massing believes that the city is not the best option for everyone.

“I bring everybody together here and talk to them and say you must work to stay here. If you don’t find work, you must go back to your island, because Port Vila is a very expensive town,” he said, emphasising the need to prevent destitution and crime.

According to the Pacific Islands Forum, state institutions need to take measures to improve urban planning and reform the housing market in the interests of those in most need.

Many Port Vila residents, including Massing and Cullwick, are also concerned about the misuse of public funds allocated to improving infrastructure and services. The Vanuatu Corruption Commission, established last year, has a mandate to address political and administrative mismanagement.

Proposing a bottom-up approach, Cullwick said traditional housing in villages could be better utilised for those marginalised in towns. She believes adapting traditional dwelling designs and using readily available natural building materials, such as thatch and bamboo, could reduce the cost of constructing a safe and healthy house.

In the meantime, Vanuatu has joined the UN-Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme (PSUP), which aims to improve urban living conditions and progress toward Millennium Development Goal 7 – bettering the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020. Urban profiles, part of Phase 1, are currently being drafted ahead of the next phases of planning and implementation.

Pacific islands face fishing crisis

As the population on the Pacific islands grows, finding enough fish to eat is becoming increasingly difficult. Now, the fishing industry is switching to tuna to tackle the problem.

The coral fishermen of Vanuatu are facing a growing crisis: they are increasingly returning from their fishing expeditions with ever dwindling hauls. That`s because the coral reefs that they travel out to are disappearing at an alarming rate as are the fish stocks near the coast that have traditionally served as the staple diet for people in the region. It`s a similar story in the other Pacific Islands too.

A variety of factors are responsible for the phenomenon. In addition to environmental pollution, rising temperatures and a creeping acidity in the ocean`s waters – both a consequence of climate change – have taken a huge toll on the reefs.

In fact, the ocean’s chemical makeup has changed more now than it has in 55 million years. That has put incredible pressure on the region’s embattled coral reefs, which have seen their rich biodiversity diminish. More people, fewer fish

The growing population has led to a shortage of food – and climate change has exacerbated the problem

“Coral fishing in the region could shrink by 20 percent by the year 2050,” says Johann Bell, a fishing expert who lives on New Caledonia, an archipelago located some 1,500 kilometers east of Australia. Bell works with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), an organization of Pacific island countries and territories dealing with environmental and social issues. The decline of the fish catch presents a troubling problem for SPC members. “We have observed that the gap between the amount of fish available in the reefs and the amount that we need to feed the population is growing,” says Bell. And the numbers don’t lie: that gap amounts to 4,000 tons of fish a year. The disappearing reefs have only exacerbated an existing problem. The population on southwest Pacific Ocean islands continues to expand at a rapid rate, expected to reach 50 percent by 2030. If that happens, the islands would need an additional 150,000 tons of fish a year.

A fourth of the world’s tuna stock is found in the waters surrounding eight Pacific islands: Micronesia, Kribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands

But attempting to increase the catch for coral fishermen would only put the reefs under further pressure. “When you don’t cultivate an eco-system in a sustainable way, when you overfish, it is significantly less prepared to deal with the changing climate,” says Doris Soto, a senior officer of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department at the Food and Agricultulture Organization (FAO). That is why fishermen in the region are not permitted to catch more than 3 of the 50 to 100 tons of fish pro square meter of water each year. Yet, fish forms the main diet on the Pacific islands, and remains an important source of protein for residents. As coastal fishing wanes, so too does the locals’ most basic staple. Vanuautu, like most Pacific islands, has been forced to look for alternatives. But the question is just where. One alternative would be on land. For instance, the Nile tilapia is a large fish and the most prominent example of species that can be cultivated in fisheries and aquacultures on land.

The Pacific Community has recommended the increased use of freshwater aquacultures, and the Nile tilapia is the perfect solution. Since the region is expected to get more rain in future, the Nile tilapa can now even be bred in areas which have received little precipitation so far. To catch tuna, fishermen have to venture far past the coral reefs where they have traditionally caught their bounty

But the SPC’s main solution to the question of alternative food sources lies further off the coast. Far into the ocean’s turquoise waters, huge swarms of tuna swim freely, offering an enticing alternative. But the fishing sector first needs to adapt its ways to learn how and where to catch the fish before tuna can become a fixture on lunch tables. Luring tuna to the coast Fishermen have already been forced to venture further out into the ocean in their small fishing boats for catch. That means more fuel is needed, raising costs. That`s why the Pacific Community recommends installing Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) to attract ocean fish and other sea creatures back towards the coast. FADs are usually man-made floats or buoys that are anchored to the ocean floor with long ropes. They lure tuna and other marine life that often seek protection in the shadow of the floating devices. Vanuatu has already started experimenting with FADs, installing one between the islands of Nguna, Pele and Efate. That has made it easier for the surrounding 30 communities to access fish.

“Now our fishermen can fish in the vicinity of their homes,” Mariwota, a village elder from the community of Taloa was quoted as saying in a joint report by the Pacific Community and Germany’s federal development agency (GIZ). “They are now ensured a good catch,” he said. Selling by-catch at local markets

Many Pacific islands earn a lot of money selling fishing licenses to foreign shipping companies

The approach also involves pushing foreign fleets, that catch tuna in the region on a large scale, to contribute towards improving the food security of the local population. That`s because it`s not just tuna but also other marine creatures, too small to be processed in canning facilities, that end up in the huge fishing nets. The practice has long been criticized by environmental organizations as well.

The SPC now suggests that this by-catch, that in the past was thrown back in the ocean, should be used to feed the local populace. “We want the fleets to be forced to bring their by-catch to land and sell it in cities here before they return to their home countries with the tuna they’ve caught,” says Johann Bell. Bell also believes that the Pacific islands should reduce the number of fishing licenses handed out to foreign companies. “The island countries should hold onto more of those licenses to feed their own people,” he says. His concept could be especially helpful to the islands that lie further west, like Papua New Guinea and Palau. That`s because climate change is set to affect the distribution of tuna stocks in the region. “Our latest studies have shown that climate change will cause tuna fish to head east and to subtropical regions,” says Bell. He predicts that by the end of the century, the island countries in the west could see their tuna catch shrink by up to a third, while the catch increases in the east. That is why the Pacific islands have come up with the Vessel Day Scheme, or VDS, where vessel owners can buy and trade licenses for days fishing at sea. The scheme helps reduce the amount of tuna catch and more fairly distribute the fish among the participating islands. “Originally, the system was developed so that all the island countries could profit equally from the tuna populations, which have long traveled back and forth in the ocean’s waters,” says Johann Bell. “But it is also a good way to adapt to climate change.”

Strong M6.4 earthquake registered off the coast of Vanuatu

Filed under: climate change,disaster,vanuatu — admin @ 2:47 pm

Earthquake registered as M6.4 on the Richter scale struck off the coast of Vanuatu on June 19, 2014 at 10:17 UTC. USGS reports depth of 59.9 km (37.2 miles), EMSC is reporting same magnitude at depth of 60 km.

Epicenter was located 85 km (53 miles) WNW of Sola, and 219 km (136 miles) N of Luganville, Vanuatu.

There are about 6 295 people living within 100 km radius.

USGS issued green alert for for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses.

Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. Recent earthquakes in this area have caused secondary hazards such as landslides that might have contributed to losses.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand. Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke’s Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults’ strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (>120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30?S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15?S, where the D’Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D’Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D’Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake “doublet”. (USGS)

10/19/2009

ONE-THIRD OF DENGUE CALIFORNIA COFFEE CHILD BRIDES AND MASSIVE MADAGASCAR IVORY TEA FARMER COPS KILL SEVEN NEW GLOWING 'FORCED ACQUISITION' EARTHQUAKES, MONKEYS, MOSQUITOES, MUSHROOMS, TOBAGO MURDERS, SOUTH PACIFIC MALARIA, SECRETIVE RITUALS AND DERAILED PASSENGER TRAINS WITH BURMESE MIGRANT WORKERS HARASSED BY GANGS, PREFER HILTON HOTEL HORROR, ILLEGAL XINHUA FISHING, MALAYSIAN MALARIA MAYHEM, OVER BANGLADESH BORDER FENCING, POACHER BOATS, AND ALARMING NICARAGUAN CLIMATE CHANGE FOOD CRISIS AS RWANDA GENOCIDE'S GREENLIGHT RADIO STOCK EXCHANGE SURGES KILL THREE, WOUND 34 — HUNDREDS OF VENEZUELAN FOLK CORPSES TRAPPED FOR 100 YEARS IN KERMADEC, EASTER ISLANDS PONZI PRISON RAT-KILLING, ADMINISTRATIVE BUNGLED THAILAND TSUNAMI UNDERPANTS THIEF'S $60 MILLION PNG PATROL LOCK-UP

6/6/2009

INDIGENOUS RESISTANCE AID RISING, BUT EXTREME POVERTY DESTROYS CASH SCAM, LOOTING, KWASO, TARGETING CHINESE WITH OPERATION HIGH VISIBILITY AND 13FT CROCODILE WITH NEW INFLUX OF MYANMAR MUSLIMS AND PAPUA PRISONERS' WATER MARK LAW AMID CORAL TRIANGLE FISH POISONING

The National Council of Women in Papua New Guinea says people of all ages
are dying from starvation, despite the government’s comments that nobody is
lacking food or water.

A haul of skulls and other body parts has been linked to five shipping
containers on the sea bed off the southern Chon Buri province.

A central bank worker in the Solomon Islands may have netted millions of
dollars by depositing old currency notes he was responsible for destroying
into his own bank account. Philip Bobongi was to destroy old and dirty
banknotes but instead had used them to fill his own accounts and accumulate
property and other assets.

A huge crocodile responsible for the deaths of at least seven people has
been caught and put on display on the front of a car in a small Papua New
Guinea town.

The Royal Solomon Islands Police have warned they will be targeting the
illegal trade and drinking of kwaso as well as people going armed in public
without lawful cause.

Bangladesh stepped up vigilance at its border with Myanmar after a fresh
influx of Rohingya Muslims was reported.

US-based Human Rights Watch called on Indonesia to look into the reported
torture and abuse of prisoners in a jail in the province of Papua. Human
Rights Watch singled out brutality by prison guards at the state jail in
Abepura, near the Papua capital of Jayapura.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare stated that people in Papua New Guinea
are not short of food or water. The President of the National Council of
Women Scholla Kakas disagrees, saying Catholic Bishops, who work closely
with the community have spoken of how people are actually dying from
starvation. “This is spreading all over the country where there is urban
drift from the rural villages into the urban areas into the towns of Papua
New Guinea. And what is happening in Port Moresby is true; there are people
dying of poverty.”

Some believe the containers hold the bodies of pro-democracy protesters
killed by the army in 1992. Police have said that their divers will examine
them. Rumours have suggested that the bodies were scattered by aircraft
over the jungle or buried at a remote army camp. According to the official
tally, 52 people died when troops opened fire on protesters in Bangkok
during “Black May” in 1992. But victims’ groups say that 357 people are
still missing.

Although police were unable to determine how much had been stolen, the scam
occurred over three years and the total could amount to millions of
dollars. Police also seized cash from the home of Mr Bobongi, who has been
charged with larceny, false pretences and money laundering.

The astonishing ‘trophy’, secured to the vehicle by ropes, was driven
through the town of Madang after it was caught by a team of local youths.
But while the bizarre trip around the town, amid a carnival atmosphere, was
intended to put at ease locals who feared more attacks, the warning went
out that the croc’s mate was still at large.

The commissioner said Operation High Visibility will run again this
weekend. “This operation will feature traffic management, foot and mobile
patrols with a strong focus on black market outlets in Central Honiara,
Point Cruz, the Ba’hai and White River areas. General duties officers and
supporting personnel from other Police units will continue to routinely
target disorderly and criminal behaviour, drinking in public and illegal
trading in kwaso.”

Rohingya refugees have presented problems for several other countries in
the region in recent months, with reports of Thailand putting those who
come by boat back to sea, and others reaching Malaysia and Indonesia and
trying to work illegally. Local residents and media said about 1,000
Rohingya Muslims entered Bangladesh in just the past three days, alleging
increased persecution by Myanmar’s military junta.

“How can the government turn a blind eye to beatings and torture in one of
its prisons? Jakarta needs to put an end to this disgraceful behavior,
punish those responsible and start keeping a close eye on what is happening
there.” Reports of more than two dozen cases of beatings and physical abuse
since Anthonius Ayorbaba, became the prison warden.

The government should send out officers to investigate people’s living
conditions and confirm for themselves that people really are starving to
death. The land below high and low water mark are the beaches or
foreshores, reefs and seabed. “This area of land is significant because it
is where many developments like wharfs and tourist facilities are taking
place.”

“Seventeen years on no significant progress has been made in searching for
the people reported missing,” The military government responsible was
forced to step down but the issue of the killings remains extremely
sensitive in Thailand because they were never fully investigated. “The
person who ordered the mass killing has not been punished, nor have the
others involved … who are still living a happy life, playing golf,
sipping wine and making comments to the media.”

The case was uncovered after central bank workers noticed that large
numbers of old notes were still in circulation. Police are applying to the
courts to freeze Mr Bobongi’s bank accounts and seize several vehicles and
properties. Chinese nationals in Papua New Guinea have been subjected to
attacks and protests for a third straight day, leading police to use tear
gas against rioters.

It is known that seven people have been killed by the 13ft captured croc
but there are fears there were other victims who have vanished from their
villages without trace. The latest victim was a 17-year-old girl who was
grabbed by the crocodile from the banks of the Gum River. Her body was
never found. Fearing that the attacks would continue unless the man-eater
was captured, Madang businessman Samuel Aloi called together a group of
youths whose families had learned the art of capturing crocodiles from
earlier generations.

Police officers will also be checking people they suspect to have concealed
weapons and identifying if they are going armed in public without lawful
cause. “Under existing Statute Law, officers of the RSIPF already have the
right to confiscate weapons from people and seize on suspicion on unlawful
activity, at any time. This is not a new power, our officers will simply be
reinforcing their focus on street crime.”

“They forced us from our homes and threatened to treat us even worse if we
go back,” said Syed Alam, who crossed the Naf river on the border in a
small boat with five family members. “The eviction of Muslims in Rakhine
state … increased in recent weeks after the (Myanmar) military started
clearing space to build an army garrison.” Rakhine borders Bangladesh’s
Cox’s Bazar district. Alam said about 120 families were evicted from his
village, and more were being forced out. “I chose to leave my country as a
last resort.”

The government should replace the prison administration, open the
penitentiary to international monitoring and set up an independent team to
probe the reports of abuse in Abepura prison, which currently has about 230
prisoners, including more than a dozen incarcerated because of their
political activities. Human Rights Watch cited cases that included the
alleged beatings of prisoners for trivial offenses often with the offending
prison guards in a drunken stupor and sometimes leading to serious
injuries.

“Equally because of the significance of this area of land, it is one of the
most contested lands among people. The law that applies to this area of
land is not clear. The ownership and other rights that the people and the
Government may have over this area of land is not clear.”

Relatives presented a letter to the prime minister, who has promised to
investigate. “We ask that the government act quickly on this for the sake
of clarity, We don’t hope for much apart from claiming the bones of our
relatives.” The fishermen have reportedly been making their grisly haul for
several years but were initially reluctant to report it for fear that
organised criminals were involved.

Chinese-owned stores were ransacked in the capital Port Moresby and then in
PNG’s second largest city, Lae. Police intervened in another anti-Chinese
protest in Port Moresby, using tear gas to disperse a riot in a popular
market directed at Chinese businesses. Chinese nationals and businesses in
Port Moresby have beefed up security, some hiring off-duty police as
guards, while many have shut their shops as advised by their embassy. The
trouble in the capital began when an anti-Chinese march attended by 100
people ended in violence and looting.

The team of young men attached a large piece of lamb to a hook and hung it
about 2ft above the surface of the river. Then they lay in wait. At 5am the
crocodile suddenly leapt from the water to grab the meat  – and was snared
on the large hook. The youths hauled it to shore where they managed to kill
it, before it was tied to a four-wheel-drive vehicle. “We decided to put it
on display to show everyone that this big crocodile which has killed so
many people has finally been caught,’ said Mr Aloi as he posed for
photographs with the trophy. It’s a very unusual icon to have on the front
of my car, but I wanted the whole town to see it.”

“Weapons are any item capable of causing injury to another person and
include any small knives, bush knives, clubs, firearms or explosive.
Wrecking implements, screwdriver, iron bars, stones and timber qualify as a
weapon if misused on another.” The punishment for going armed in public – a
misdemeanour offence – was up to the courts but generally fines or prison
terms up to 2 years can apply depending on the circumstances. Long jail
terms apply when serious assaults are proven by the courts.

Bangladeshi officials said some of the Rohingyas stated they feared torture
as they supported the democracy movement of Aung San Suu Kyi, charged with
allegedly harbouring a U.S. citizen in her home while under house arrest.
Bangladesh and Myanmar share a 320 km (200 mile) border, partly demarcated
by the Naf, with frontier guards on both sides keeping an eye on illegal
immigration. Yet the flow of Myanmar refugees has been unabated. The army
had pushed back nearly 300 new entrant Rohingyas recently, increasing
vigilance at the border to prevent the influx of Rohingyas.”

Although the country has the 1995 Law on Rehabilitation, setting out
procedures for prisoners to complain about mistreatment in prison, efforts
to lodge complaints so far have been fruitless and Ayorbaba has been
unwilling to address any abuse complaints. Prisoners and their relatives
often reported incidents of abuse by guards to the Ministry of Justice and
Human Rights, but no action was ever taken. Prisoners say they have stopped
reporting abuses because they lack faith in the system and because they
fear retribution.

Laws introduced and court decisions made before and after independence have
not clarified the position. Neighbouring countries in the region have
diverse laws relating to this area of land. In Samoa this area of land
belongs to the Government. In Vanuatu this area of land is customary land.
In some countries of the region like Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu and New Zealand
this area of land belongs to the Government except where customary rights
can be proved to have existed.

Although there are about five containers on the sea bed, they may simply
have fallen off a passing ship. “We have the same curiosity. Why doesn’t
somebody open up these containers and do away with this myth?”  The
director of the National Forensic Science Institute, has been ordered to
investigate but required official clearance before beginning her work.

The Port Moresby police chief has been criticised for allowing the protest
to go ahead, blamed the violence on hooligans. “It was just hooligans
taking advantage of the situation with an emotional build-up. There is
nothing to worry about, as we will continue our patrols and increase
presence on the streets.” In Lae, on the northwest coast, hundreds of men
attacked Chinese nationals and their small businesses across the city.
There were unconfirmed reports of one death and serious injuries to several
looters.

‘We’re planning to operate on it to check for the remains of the young girl
who was killed recently, but we’ll also be sending tissue samples to
Australia for DNA testing in the hope of determining how many other people
it has eaten over the years.’ Mr Aloi said that the crocodile had been seen
in various parts of the Madang waterfront in recent times but no-one had
been able to catch it. ‘This one’s a female and we know that the “husband”
is still at large. We’ve got a warning out to people to remain vigilant and
not to rest on their laurels just because this one’s been caught.’

“Police seek the public’s cooperation and understanding in these random
searches for weapons and enquiries. We are trying to reduce the risk of
drunken fights turning into fatalities. If someone has fair cause to be
carrying a bush knife around town and are not intending harm to others,
they have nothing to fear from police. If you are out to cause trouble,
that’s another matter.”

The Rohingyas might be trying to use the recent turmoil in Myanmar over Suu
Kyi’s trial as a pretext to leave. More than 21,000 Rohingyas have been
living in two Cox’s Bazar camps, run by the U.N. High Commissioner for
Refugees, since early 1992, when some 250,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh.

“The Indonesian government needs to replace the Abepura prison management.
But this is not just a failure of one prison warden. It’s a failure of
Jakarta to set proper standards and enforce them.” Access to Papua has been
strictly limited. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also ordered the
International Committee of the Red Cross to close its field office in
Jayapura. The ICRC ran sanitation projects in Papua and also visited
detainees, including political prisoners, in Abepura prison.

The review will consider how the law could deal with the competing rights
of land owners and the public benefits that any sustainable development
will bring to the people. The Commission encourages people, offices, and
institutions to make submissions or have their say on how the law should
change to deal with this area of land.

Australia’s foreign aid program will focus on health, education and food
security in the region to alleviate the “enormous human cost” of the global
financial crisis. The Government affirmed it would raise aid levels to 0.5
per cent of gross national income by 2015-16, though next year’s rise will
be minuscule, from 0.33 to 0.34 per cent – amounting to spending of $3.8
billion. These levels keep Australia in the bottom half of aid donors among
developed countries and fall far short of a long-held promise to raise aid
to 0.7 per cent of GNI.

Unnamed youths involved in the Lae attacks complained Asian small-business
owners were “ripping us off”. “Who is allowing these Asians to come into
our country and own small businesses which should be owned by Papua New
Guineans? They are ripping us off and investing their money in their
country.” Earlier in the week, PNG workers clashed with management at the
Chinese-run Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province, on the northeast coast,
after a tractor injured a worker. PNG’s Chinese community began with
immigration in the late 19th century, but local resentment has grown as an
influx of “new Chinese” have slowly taken over small businesses like trade
stores and food shops in the past 15 years. Many in PNG feel squeezed out
and complain about working for ruthless Chinese bosses who impose tough
conditions. Allegations of a rise in Chinese organised crime and corruption
involving PNG officials has also added to community anger. It is estimated
the Chinese population in PNG now outnumbers Australians by more than two
to one.

Scientists have come up with a theory that attributes the historic
migrations of the Polynesians from the Cook islands to New Zealand, Easter
Island and Hawaii in the 11th to 15th centuries, to fish poisoning. Based
on archeological evidence, paleoclimatic data and modern reports of
ciguatera poisoning, some theorize that ciguatera outbreaks were linked to
climate and that the consequent outbreaks prompted historical migrations of
Polynesians.

Threatening violence, challenging another person to a fight, fighting in a
public place, and going armed in public are all existing offences under the
Penal Code of the Solomon Islands. The Police officers would continue to
work closely with government and community leaders to reduce kwaso-related
crime in Honiara and other communities. “Recent stabbings at the weekend
are not an indication that crime is one the rise in the Solomon Islands.
Statistics on reported crime to the RSIPF actually show a significant drop,
with crime down 20% across the Solomon Islands.”

The Rohingyas allege persecution by the military in what was then Burma,
but the UNHCR managed to send most of them back within a short time. The
rest refused to return and the U.N. agency says they cannot force anyone to
go back against their will. Cox’s Bazar officials say more then 200,000
Rohingyas live outside the camps, mixing with local Muslims who have an
almost common language. Muslims are a minority in Myanmar, where most of
the population is Buddhist.

Human Rights Watch said that international monitors such as the ICRC and
independent human rights groups should be able to visit prisoners in
Abepura to investigate reports of abuse. Papua has seen a low-level
separatist movement since the 1960s but pro-independence sentiments have
been on the rise in the face of perceived injustice in the economy and
alleged abuses by security forces in their drive to rid the province of
separatism. The UN special rapporteur for torture visited Indonesia and
found that police used torture as a “routine practice in Jakarta and other
metropolitan areas of Java.”

About 100 million people living on Australia’s doorstep could be forced to
leave their homeland due to climate change this century. Australia will
have a key role in avoiding ecological and humanitarian disaster in what is
called the Coral Triangle – the marine area including Indonesia, Malaysia,
the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor.
Failure to take effective action on climate change will diminish the food
supply drawn from the area’s coasts by up to 80 per cent.

The federal budget paper on aid, A Good International Citizen, said the
economic slowdown would reverse a four-year reduction in the number of
people living in extreme poverty. An extra 90 million people – including 62
million in Asia – are expected to live in extreme poverty this year.
Countries that will receive the largest aid allocations are Indonesia ($453
million), Papua New Guinea ($414 million) and the Solomon Islands ($246
million). The Pacific will surpass East Asia as the biggest regional
recipient as the Rudd Government focuses on assisting the neighbourhood and
preventing an outbreak of failing island states.

The Indigenous Resistance dub attitude can be, by turns, either a
burn-down-Babylon fiery dub or a self-reflexive, meditative dub. The label
releases Bogota’s DJ Rodrigo’s new take on crucial tracks from the IR
archive in two formats; the full 48 minute head-tripping mix and as
individual tracks-all available through iTunes and Believe digital of
France.

Ciguatera poisoning is a food-borne disease that can come from eating
large, carnivorous reef fish, and causes vomiting, headaches, and a burning
sensation upon contact with cold surfaces. It is known that the historic
populations of Cook Islanders was heavily reliant on fish as a source of
protein, and the scientists suggest that once their fish resources became
inedible, voyaging became a necessity. Modern Cook Islanders, though
surrounded by an ocean teeming with fish, don’t eat fish as a regular part
of their diet but instead eat processed, imported foods. In the late 1990s,
lower-income families who could not afford processed foods emigrated to New
Zealand and Australia. Past migrations had similar roots. The heightened
voyaging from A.D. 1000 to 1450 in eastern Polynesia was likely prompted by
ciguatera fish poisoning. There were few options but to leave once the
staple diet of an island nation became poisonous. This approach brings us a
step closer to solving the mysteries of ciguatera and the storied
Polynesian native migrations. It will lead to better forecasting and
planning for ciguatera outbreaks.

Under the worst-case scenario the ecology of the region would be destroyed
by rises in ocean temperature, acidity and sea level. Poverty increases,
food security plummets, economies suffer and coastal people migrate
increasingly to urban areas. Tens of millions of people are forced to move
from rural and coastal settings due to loss of homes, food resources and
income, putting pressure on regional cities and surrounding developed
nations such as Australia and New Zealand. Even under a best-case scenario,
the region will lose coral and have to deal with higher seas, more frequent
storms, droughts and less food from coastal fisheries. Large cuts in
greenhouse emissions and international financial support for the region’s
environment are needed. It is in Australia’s interest to invest early to
help avoid the worst-case scenario.

Woven throughout this new mix you will hear indigenous voices and chants
collected by Indigenous Resistance from all over the world: the Malaitai
from Solomon Islands, the Krikati indians from Brasil, traditional Cree
chants from Turtle Island, traditional instruments from Sosolakam and
Solomon Islands embedded into tracks recorded in Jamaica, the U.K, Germany,
Solomon Islands, Sosolakam, Brasil, Colombia, Cuba & Turtle Island. IR’s
eclectic production techniques pulls together producers with different
styles and methods to create their releases. This is especially evident on
the full IR18 where DJ Rodrigo deftly maneuvers successfully through the
many genres, which include: Drum N Bass, Jungle, Detroit Techno, Electro,
Big Beat, Dub, Reggae, House and the multi-ethnic stew (breakbeat, dub,
dancehall, ragga) of Dr Das and Asian Dub Foundation (which some pile
together into the term of World Beat) and the punk and hardcore sound of
knob-twirler extraordinaire, Ramjac. As a matter of course, IR travels the
globe working with pockets of Indigenous Resistance in the Fourth World to
get their messages out from behind the propaganda machines that deny them
the freedom of the press. Through free releases and downloads, and funded
by sales of albums through CD Baby, iTunes and Believe Digital, IR has set
up a campaign to send these tracks back into the indigenous communities as
well as back out to the world to fall on sympathetic ears. IR utilizes any
means necessary to get the music and messages heard passed the restrictive
regimes that keep the indigenous down and disenfranchised.

$464 million will be spent over the next four years on food security to
alleviate the impact of shortages, volatile prices, increased consumption,
climate change and the use of crops to produce bio-fuels. Programs will
focus on helping communities to improve their farming and fisheries
management. The biggest boost is to education, which will receive $690
million this year and focus on improving participation rates and teaching
quality. The Government will also extend links between aid and the
performance of partner countries.

Four looters were shot as Papua New Guinean (PNG) police was on high alert
to clamp down on the Anti-Asia sentiment across the country. Since the
weekend, four men were shot as police tried to stop the ongoing violence
directed at Asian-run stores in the Highlands region. One Southern
Highlands man was shot in Mount Hagen. Another Southern Highlander, who was
shot by police, could lose one of his legs after being smashed by a bullet.
Police in Goroka shot a 20-year-old man who was also likely to lose a leg,
as police tried to control thousands of people that went on a rampage and
looted several shops in the town. In Lae, one man was shot in the leg by
police. Police in the Highlands have gone on full alert, keeping
surveillance over Goroka, Mount Hagen, Kainantu and Wabag as hundreds of
people converged in the region and broke into shops operated by families of
Korean and Chinese origins. Most Asian-run shops remained closed in the
Highlands with armed security guards. Meanwhile, trouble makers on streets
attempted to loot those shops again.

2/25/2009

SEA TURTLE SLUMP FLOODS POVERTY BORDERS AS ELEPHANTS PLAGUE CROPS AND DIVERSE ANTS DROWN RATS

Hundreds of dead turtles were found washed ashore along the coastal lines
from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to St Martin’s island with bruises all over
their bodies.

A herd of 70 to 75 elephants of the Dalma forest have strayed into five
villages of West Midnapur district and damaged large tracts of crops and
destroyed several houses.

The World Bank warned that up to 53 million more people around the world
could fall into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global economic slump,
and up to 400,000 more children could die each year as a result of rising
infant mortality. The statistics highlight the worldwide character of the
social catastrophe being caused by the deepening crisis.

Armies of ants from Solomon Islands have invaded Papua New Guinea and are
threatening to wipe out the economy in at least one part of the country. A
report from Bougainville says the ants from across the border in the
Solomon Islands are destructive to plants and human beings.

Tonga’s Government has elected to renew emergency powers in parts of capital city.
The acting chief secretary and the secretary to the cabinet, confirmed that the Public
Safety and Public Security Regulations had been extended. The regulations were
renewed based upon the recommendation by the Minister of Police.

More than 700 people in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands province have
been left homeless after a river burst its banks following weeks of heavy
rain.

Over 400 female dead turtles have floated ashore over the last two weeks
alone, locals claimed.

A District Forest Officer said the pachyderms damaged
paddy and sugarcane in about 45 hectres in Tarrui, Gopalbar, Pundra, Sinda,
Mohanpur villages. They also destroyed five mud houses.

The rescuers recovered at least 27 bodies and over 10 people still remained
missing as a passenger launch capsized in the country’s southern Barisal
district. The incident took place in Kirtonkhola River when a sand-laden
cargo ship SM-Selim hit the Mehendiganj-bound launch ML-Happy from Barisal,
with over 100 passengers on board, locals and survivors said.

In Vanuatu, a volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific, root and tuber
crops ensure the subsistence and self-sufficiency of the islands’
inhabitants. Be they taro (Colocasia esculenta) or the greater yam
Dioscorea alata, which are traditional crops introduced by the first
sailors to have travelled to the islands some 3500 years ago, or other
plants that have been grown for some time or were introduced more recently,
root and tuber crops, which are propagated vegetatively, replanted and
propagated by cuttings, are the mainstay of the Melanesian diet. However,
it is the maintenance of the diversity of these plants that lies behind the
food security strategy adopted by the islands’ inhabitants. Melanesian
gardens are a prime example of this: by mixing crops, they provide
protection against pathogens, ensure better use of soils and sunlight, make
certain plants more drought-resistant, allow harvests to be spread over
time, and provide a more varied diet.

“I don’t think the government has understood the gravity of the crisis or
figured out how to tackle such an unprecedented situation.” A British
rodent ecologist — in Bangladesh studying the impact of the rat
infestation — said the rodent population was doubling in size every three
weeks. This means, of course, they must spread into new areas in search of
food. “In addition to destroying nearly all field crops in the region, the
rats get into people’s houses, eating stored food and damaging all sorts of
personal possessions and biting people while they sleep.”

The ants are believed to have transferred during the Bougainville crisis
when there was no quarantine service. The ants from Solomon Islands are
attacking and killing the local PNG ants, vegetables and cash crops.

The World Bank released its forecast to coincide with the Group of Seven
(G7) summit of finance ministers and central bank governors in Rome.
Anti-poverty organisations from the UN Millennium Campaign joined the bank
in lobbying for the establishment of a “Vulnerability Fund” in which each
developed country would devote 0.7 percent of its stimulus package to aid
impoverished “developing” countries.

The body of a woman named Dipti Dey, 30, was first recovered shortly after
the disastrous ferry accident. Later, bodies of 26 other launch passengers
were retrieved from inside the sunken launch after it was salvaged, raising
the death toll to 27, officials confirmed. The Prime Minister has
condoled the death of people and asked the officials to take necessary
steps for treatment of survivors.

The root and tuber species grown in Vanuatu were inventoried in ten
villages representative of the communities in the archipelago. Five
primarily grow taro, the other five yam, for both cultural and climatic
reasons. With more than 1000 varieties of thirteen species, the inventory
confirmed the varietal diversity of the crops grown. The archipelago’s
agro-biodiversity comprises three types of plants: plants that arrived
naturally, for instance on the wind, those imported by the first immigrants
– taro and greater yam in this case – and those introduced recently, also
by man, in particular cassava.

“The whole region has been affected by localised famine, forcing people to
depend on food aid. Food shortages will be a permanent feature here for
many years. We have captured 2,000 big rats from one hectare (2.47 acres)
of land. I can tell you the situation is worsening as rats are invading new
territories.” The WFP will begin a 2.6-million-dollar programme to help the
thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods because of the rats.

Even this utterly inadequate proposal received short shrift from the G7
ministers. In their final communiqué, a single one-sentence reference to
poorer economies said: “The G7 also stresses the need to support emerging
and developing countries’ access to credit and trade financing and resume
private capital flows, and is committed to explore urgently ways, including
through multilateral development banks, to enhance this support.” In other
words, the plight of hundreds of millions of destitute people must be left
in the hands of the same financial system and “private capital flows” that
have broken down, producing the worst global collapse since the 1930s.

A worried cocoa farmer on Buka Island, Aloysius Sammy, said the ants were
also attacking people and the victims were developing swollen bodies from
the ant bites. The ants were found in decaying biscuits and other food
items on cargo storage compartments on banana boats.

The bank’s new estimates for 2009 suggest that lower economic growth rates
will force 53 million more people to exist on less than $2 a day than was
expected prior to the downturn. This is on top of the 130-155 million
people pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices.

An estimated 25 hectares of land was inundated when the Waghi River
flooded, swamping vegetable gardens, cash crops and livestock.

Experts said these turtles met their death as they travelled the stretch of
nearly 120km from Sonadia Island in Cox’s Bazar to St Martin’s island to
lay eggs on the shore.

Villagers alleged that the forest department, despite repeated requests,
did not take any steps to drive out the elephants. Four “Hulla Parties” had
been deployed to push the elephants to the Nayagram forest.

The bank’s extremely low benchmark for poverty—$2 a day—suggests that its
figures vastly underestimate the actual number of people around the world
who are barely able to feed, clothe and house themselves.

Under these renewed powers the police have the authority to stop and search
any vehicle without a warrant, as well as to seek evidence inside of any
vehicle. The powers also allow officers wider authority to make arrests.
These powers have been criticized by international rights organizations
for being an abuse of power and an attempt to frustrate the pro-democracy
movement.

Mr Sammy, who owns a two-hectare cocoa block, said half of his crop had been
destroyed by the ants. He said in south and central Bougainville, there
were no longer any signs of Papua New Guinea ants. Mr Sammy said he placed
some PNG tree ants on his cocoa trees and in just five seconds they were
attacked by Solomon ants.

The country’s National Disaster Centre committed $50,156 to the Western
Highlands provincial government to help more than 700 displaced villagers
in the Dei region, it said. The works department and two local construction
companies were partly to blame for failing to build adequate drainage.

The turtles get entangled in the fine fishing nets used indiscriminately by
fishing trawlers. The fishermen, instead of releasing them back to the sea,
beat them to death with sticks and dumped their bodies in the sea, experts
alleged.

Bangladesh’s remote Chittagong Hill Tracts region faces a serious risk of
prolonged famine and bubonic plague unless a ballooning rat population is
brought under control, experts say.

Preliminary estimates for 2009 to 2015 forecast that an average 200,000 to
400,000 more children a year, a total of 1.4 to 2.8 million over the
six-year period, may die if the crisis persists.

The emergency powers were originally put into place in November 2006 after
a riot broke out in the heart of the capital city of Nuku’alofa. The riot
began when a group broke away from a political reform rally and began
looting local businesses. Throughout the course of the riot 150
businesses, mostly owned by people of Chinese origins, were destroyed.

A disabled gunsmith has been arrested in Papua New Guinea for manufacturing
guns and ammunition in his backyard shed. The 39-year-old wheelchair bound
man known as “Harzem” was also reportedly found with numerous books on
Islam, terrorism and war.

Some fishermen from Sonadia, preferring anonymity, confirmed this saying
it’s a tedious task to release the turtles back into the waters.
Organisations working for the protection of sea turtles have recovered 62
carcasses from Cox’s bazaar area. They have expressed
concern about the environmental pollution caused by such large number of
carcasses.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing three million
dollars of emergency food supplies to some 120,000 people in the
southeastern tribal area bordering India and Myanmar, after the rat
population exploded.

This is a very serious problem and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,
especially the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) and Agriculture, should
do some serious research on how to get rid of these ants, Mr Sammy said.
With the absence of mining on Bougainville the economy was predominantly
agriculture-based, which meant cash crops like copra and cocoa were the
ones driving the economy. And without control, the Solomon Islands ants are
destroying cash crops, the farmer said.

In addition, millions of people already living in poverty “will be pushed
further below the poverty line,” according to the World Bank policy
note,”The Global Economic Crisis: Assessing Vulnerability with a Poverty
Lens.” The note states: “Almost all developed and developing countries are
suffering from the global economic crisis. While developed countries are
experiencing some of the sharpest contractions, households in developing
countries are much more vulnerable and likely to experience acute negative
consequences in the short- and long-term.”

People residing at Shortland borderline between Papua New Guinea and
Solomon Islands have raised grave concern over increased border crossing by
foreigners into Solomon Islands and vice versa. The people fear this might
lead to allowing terrorists to enter Solomon Islands illegally or drug
smuggling.

Most of the turtles found in this area are of the Olive Ridley, one of the
smallest species of sea turles. This species weighs between 10 to 20kg, 63
to 70cm length and 60 to 67cm in breadth.

Police made the arrest at Dami village in PNG’s West New Britain Province,
an island region in northern PNG, as part of an operation to reduce gun
proliferation. The area has been experiencing ongoing local clashes fuelled
by homemade weapons and firearms. Harzem is believed to be the main weapon
supplier in the tribal conflict.

The rats — some weighing as much as 1.5 kilogrammes (3.3 pounds) — feed
on bamboo forests in the hilly region. A Dhaka University zoology professor
recently visited the hill tracts and sounded the alarm over the
“devastating” impact of the year-long rat plague.

Almost 40 percent of 107 developing countries are “highly exposed” to the
poverty and hardship effects of the crisis and the remainder are
“moderately exposed,” according to the report. The bank warns that three
quarters of these countries will be unable to raise funds domestically or
internationally to finance job-creation, the delivery of basic
infrastructure and essential services—including health, education and core
public administration—and safety net programs for the vulnerable.

Borderline representatives appearing before the Committee alleged that
foreigners illegally entered Solomon Islands through Bougainville. Recent
past crossings happened because Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea did
not have borderline check points where Immigration, Customs and Quarantine
officials manned the posts.

The West New Britain Police Commander said Harzem was in police custody and
would appear in court as soon as possible. “I have given instructions to
fast track his case because of his condition,” he said. Police confiscated
several weapons and ammunition and are continuing their operation in a
neighbouring areas.

The root and tuber crop panel of ten villages in Vanuatu comprises more
than 1000 varieties of thirteen species. the primary aim of farming in this
volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific is to ensure food
self-sufficiency.

The threats of a famine-fuelled conflict are real as the rats are
destroying everything in the hills. Adding to the urgency of the situation,
authorities must act fast to avoid an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague.

The statistics provide only a pale outline of the impoverishment,
malnutrition and misery caused by the global recession. These outcomes are
an indictment of the anarchy of the private profit system. First, the
speculative escalation of food and fuel prices of 2007-08 threw up to 155
million people into poverty; and now the financial crash is threatening
many millions more. These forecasts make a mockery of the United Nation’s
Millennium Development Goals, which set targets to overcome poverty by
2015.

Solomon Islands and PNG have cross-border entries like a traditional
practice before, but people from other countries who came with yachts
abused this privilege. The Foreign Relations Committee also met with
people of Choiseul in Taro.

In most of the villages, notably those attached to their traditions,
ancestral crops are predominant. However, in villages subject to severe
environmental constraints (acid rain or ash showers due to active
volcanoes, cyclones, etc), there are more either local or newly introduced
crops. These crops bolster food security by making the cropping systems
more resilient. In other Pacific archipelagos, such as New Caledonia and
the Solomon Islands, the introduction by the Europeans of new root and
tuber species, combined with the arrival of a market economy, has totally
disrupted the existing systems. Ancestral species have disappeared and food
crop production has become uniform, making the production systems more
fragile and reducing the quality of the local diet. Conversely, in Vanuatu,
while the local populations are increasingly accepting and growing new
plants, those plants have had to fit into the existing agro-biodiverse
systems without adversely affecting the other species grown. In the most
fragile zones, they even help to overcome the shortages resulting from the
seasonal nature of traditional crops. The food production strategy in
Vanuatu is not yet under threat, as culturally speaking, owners set great
store by their Melanesian gardens, which is continuing to maintain their
characteristic agro-biodiversity, despite the growing role played by cash
crops grown for export.

“I have approached certain people in the DPI division and reported this
case but my case has fallen on deaf ears.” Mr Sammy also said when a border
post was set up, every boat whether traditional border crossers or not,
must still be quarantined and customs checks should be enforced. A lot of
ants have also been brought into Bougainville by plant hunters or
collectors, especially for flowers like roses and orchids from Solomon
Islands, which are regarded as some of the most beautiful and rare in the
world. Bougainvilleans are appealing to the Government to do something
before cash crops are wiped out in Bougainville.

2/17/2009

Health workers alarmed at pace of dengue in New Caledonia

Health authorities in New Caledonia say dengue fever is spreading at an
alarming rate, with over over 1,000 cases reported in the French Pacific
territory since the New Year.

In the first six weeks of this year, 1,027 dengue cases have been reported,
a figure close to the total number of cases recorded last year.

Health officials say they are particularly concerned that 546 of the 2009
caseload were reported in the past two weeks.

New Caledonia’s director of sanitary and social affairs, Jean Paul
Grangeon, says the situation is worrying.

“There is a serious outbreak of dengue in New Caledonia. We’ve got nearly
60 new cases a day now,” he said.

Most of the infections involve Type 4 dengue fever, which was last recorded
in New Caledonia 30 years ago, and against which most people have no
immunity.

The outbreak has also spread to neighbouring Pacific countries including
Fiji, Samoa, Palau, Kiribati, Vanuatu, American Samoa and the Cook Islands.

Health authorities say that as the weather gets cooler and milder, the
breeding rate of mosquitoes should slow, making it easier to bring the
epidemic under control.

11/20/2008

OVER OUR BURNING IVORY PIG BODIES

The last time rival political forces fought one another street by street
for control of the Nicaraguan capital was three decades ago, in July 1979,
at the culmination of the Sandinista insurrection that overthrew the
Somoza dictatorship. The streets of Managua were once again aflame amid
the boom of mortar rounds, as the Sandinistas and their rivals battled for
control — but it was the erstwhile revolutionary movement that now stands
accused of being a dictatorship.

An undercover investigation of the illegal wildlife trade in five African
nations led to the seizure of about a ton of ivory along with hippo teeth
and cheetah, leopard and python skins, the Kenya Wildlife Service said.

In Vanuatu, a Chief pleads for forgiveness on behalf of his errant
jail-breaking son in an unprecedented custom ceremony, in the tropical
islands of Vanuatu, in the South Pacific.

The prize, this time, is not control of the Nicaraguan state, but simply
the mayorships in 146 municipalities, which were up for election on
November 9. But allegations of massive vote fraud and conflicting claims
of victory have set off several days of violence between rival political
bands, leaving Nicaragua’s fledgling institutional democracy struggling
for its life.

A four-month investigation coordinated by Interpol, an international
police association based in Lyon, France, led to the arrest of 57 suspects
in the Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia, the Kenyan
conservation agency said in a statement. Undercover agents tracked
suspects and illegal products to local ivory markets, airports, border
crossings and smuggling points.

Vanuatu, a peaceful tropical island nation in the South Pacific, witnessed
an never-before-seen kustom ceremony when, Chief Joshua Batakoro Vanua,
father of Lee Tamata, a high risk escapee, from the local jail,
ceremonially offered ten pigs to the community heads, in a plea for
forgiveness for the misdemeanors of his son.

The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has announced a partial recount of
votes from last Sunday’s mayoral polls, in which it has yet to declare
winners in several hotly contested cities, including the capital. But the
mobs of activists of the ruling Sandinista party and the opposition
Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC) aren’t waiting idly to hear the
outcome.

The operation, which ended Saturday, was a blessing for countries whose
elephant populations “have declined tremendously over the years,” Wildlife
Service Director Julius Kipng’etich said.

Ten pigs were handed over to the community leaders during a custom
ceremony held at the Chief’s Nakamal. The leaders included the newly
elected Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei. This was the highest
price ever paid for peace, in the traditional custom system of the island
of Pentecost.

Downtown banks and businesses have been forced to close early for several
days and both the British and U.S. Embassies have warned their citizens to
remain vigilant and avoid any large crowds as political gangs clash on the
streets, destroying public and private property and turning parts of the
capital into a virtual war zone.

“Co-operation among countries in East, West and Southern Africa against
wildlife crime has set an inspired example,” said Giuliano Zaccardelli, an
Interpol program director. “Similar operations could also be conducted in
Asia, the Americas and in any other region where criminal interests,
including trafficking in illegal wildlife products, are common.”

Earlier this year, before the general elections, a Pentecost chief
demanded that Jenny Ligo,a woman candidate, pay 10 pigs in a kustom
ceremony for her right to continue to contest the elections. Jenny had
already performed a 10 pig-killing kustom ceremony, just to enter the male
dominated arena of politics.

The violence broke out after opposition leaders accused the Sandinistas of
turning the election into a fraudulent sham in order to take control of
the country’s most important cities, including Managua. The poll, in which
the government refused to allow monitoring by any credible outside
electoral observers, was riddled with alleged irregularities that began
months before election day when several opposition parties were banned
from participating, and continued after the vote, with stacks of ballots
found mysteriously dumped in the woods.

In one case, when Kenya Wildlife Service officers tried to arrest a Kenyan
and a Tanzanian man found with two pieces of ivory weighing 13 kilograms
(29 pounds), the men resisted and a wildlife officer fired in
self-defense, grazing one of the suspects in the head.

When Chief Joshua discovered how much fear and damage his son had caused
to members of the local community in Port Vila, he felt duty-bound to
offer the pigs on behalf of his son, asking for the leader’s forgiveness.

The U.S. State Department this week noted reports of “widespread
irregularities taking place at voting stations throughout the country,”
and said the Supreme Electoral Council’s decision to “not accredit
credible domestic and international election observers has made it
difficult to properly assess the conduct of the elections.”

In another case, a suspect who had been arrested escaped in the darkness.
In two separate instances, officials caught suspected smugglers
transporting several pieces of elephant tusks on motorbikes.

While Chief Joshua spend three months in the capital Port Vila, away from
his island home and family, he counseled his son. Chief Joshua had to sell
kava and taro to raise the funds to buy the pigs for the peace ceremony.

Business groups, church leaders and opposition parties have called for an
internationally audited nationwide recount, and the PLC has threatened to
paralyze the national legislature by walking out and denying it a quorum.

The elephant populations of many African countries were being decimated
until the U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
banned the ivory trade in 1989. Since then the elephant population of
Kenya, for example, has grown from 16,000 to 27,000. But that is far fewer
than the estimated 167,000 elephants that lived in Kenya in 1973.

Ten mature pigs are not only highly prized, but a very expensive exercise
for the father as pigs are the wealth of a village. Curled pig tusks are
used as currency in some areas of the Vanuatu islands, with the Tari Bunia
Bank having 14 branches. The bank issues cheque books, has reserves and
gives loans, all on the currency of pig tusks. While there is a vault to
the bank there are no need for locks. “The bank is protected by spirits
and snakes,” says the bank manager.

The day after the vote, despite trailing by five percentage points in the
official count to Sandinista candidate and former boxing champ Alexis
Arguello, the PLC’s Managua mayoral hopeful Eduardo Montealegre declared
himself the winner based on his party’s own tabulation of the vote tallies
released to the parties at each balloting station. Montealegre, a former
finance minister who has adopted the cartoon image of Mighty Mouse after
opponents dubbed him “the rat,” called on his supporters to take to the
streets to “celebrate” the victory and “defend the vote at whatever
consequence.”

A plane equipped with body-heat sensors will be used by the Brazilian
government to locate and protect isolated Indian tribes in the Amazon. The
heat sensors will be mounted on a government plane normally used to
monitor deforestation. It is not clear when the effort will start.

Chief Joshua said “My son has erred and I ask for your forgiveness,” said
Chief Joshua, who spent time counseling his errant son while in Vila. The
Chief will now return home with assurances from his son that he will serve
the full term of his sentence and act with respect towards the law. Lee’s
name means peace in the language of his home island, Pentecost.

11/14/2008

INFERTILE YAM DISASTER BEFORE RISING TOURISM SEAS?

For Kiribati, the threat of submergence because of sea level rise seems
distant when compared to the range of potentially disastrous ecological and
economic problems it is faced with in the short-term.

There are many staple foods in the Solomon Islands many however prefer yam,
or uvi, as it is known in Guadalcanal.

The cost of treating infertile couples has halved with the launch of a new
programme expected to become one of the vanguard methods of addressing
Kenya’s high infertility rates.

The alarm bells of sea level rise as a result of global warming and climate
change—brought centrestage in no small measure by the 2006 documentary film
‘An Inconvenient Truth’— catapulted the world’s low-lying atoll nations to
the front pages of the global media.

According to the World Bank, tourism is the largest and the fastest
developing industry in the world today.

In the Pacific, Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands have been
perceived as the most threatened.

Yams are a primary agricultural commodity in the Solomon Islands, and have
been used extensively prior to the colonization of the Islands.

Nairobi-based Aga Khan University Hospital said it has achieved its first
two pregnancies using the new treatment and that many more were in the
pipeline.

The amount of tourists having visited other countries has become 4.5%
higher and reached 842 million people as compared to 2005.

Over the past few years, these countries have been the focus of much
research by the world’s scientists to find definitive answers relating to
their impending submergence.

This essentially means that they were brought to the Solomon Islands by our
early ancestors.

Latest University of Nairobi statistics show that almost a quarter of
Kenyan men and nearly a fifth of women are infertile with the majority
unaware of their condition.

In Kiribati alone, two small islets have been submerged by rising sea
levels. Everything one has heard and read about Kiribati being a nation
that is supposed to be among the early victims of sea level rise, that may
not even survive the next few decades rings true as the jet approaches the
runway at Bonriki Airport on Tarawa, Kiribati’s capital.

According to the information given by Washington Profile, the largest
tourist inflow has been marked in Southern Asia and become 10% higher as
compared to 2005.

It is used for important ceremonial events such as reconciliation, weddings
or feasts to show ones status.

Until recently, there was almost nothing that could be done to help them.

India is the most attractive country for foreign travellers. A remarkable
growth – 8.1% has been noted in Africa.

The extreme vulnerability of this ribbon-like string of atolls in the
middle of the world’s largest ocean becomes apparent as their fraying edges
constantly battered by the tides come into view.

A simple Google search show that yams were first cultivated in Africa and
Asia about 8000 B.C.

Hospitals have since last year been racing to introduce wider and cheaper
In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) programmes, in a bid to open a route to
child-bearing for the infertile.

The retaining walls at the far end of the runway have been reduced to
rubble because of the relentless onslaught of the waves.

A remarkable growth – 8.1% has been noted in Africa. Most foreign tourists
have visited SAR, Kenya and Morocco. In countries of Asian-Pacific area the
number of tourists has become 7.6% higher, and in Europe – 4% higher.

The drive down the one single road that runs through the 30-odd kilometre
length of the atolls that form Tarawa — never more than a couple of hundred
metres at their widest and strung together by a series of two-lane
causeways — is marked with sights of crumbling sea walls and mounds of
refuse lining the coastline in several places.

In the Solomon Islands, where refrigerators are not yet a common household
item, yams are very important since they can be stored for up to six months
without refrigeration.

However, in Kenya, the first IVF baby was born just 18 months ago, under a
pioneer treatment priced at Sh300,000.

Along the lagoon to the west, acres of coconut trees shorn of both frond
and fruit stand mute testimony to the encroaching salt water and
lengthening periods of drought that the atolls have faced in recent years.

In countries of Asian-Pacific area the number of tourists has become 7.6%
higher, and in Europe – 4% higher

Further down at Betio, the southernmost point on Tarawa, one sees
overcrowding that is so unusual for Pacific islands — and of course
poverty.

“We usually cook them very early in the morning, we store some for later in
the day and some for the kids to take to school,” said Lilly Vale, a mother
of two young kids who resides near the Poha area in West Guadalcanal.

Sea level rise not the only problem Increased global awareness of climate
change and sea level rise and the rash of alarmism that has predicted their
impending submergence have tended to portray these as the biggest problem
faced by the 33-island nation straddling the equator across three time
zones.

The huge need for better access to the treatment has seen two hospitals,
Nairobi and now Aga Khan, as well as two clinics introduce the procedure.

Despite the intense scrutiny of the scientific establishment, the interest
of ecologists and aid agencies as well as the glare of the global media,
islanders’ opinion on the submergence issue is sharply divided — and for
all sorts of reasons ranging from anecdotal and experiential evidence on
both sides of the argument, through religious beliefs, to downright
cynicism.

Most foreign tourists have visited SAR, Kenya and Morocco. In countries of
Asian-Pacific area the number of tourists has become 7.6% higher, and in
Europe – 4% higher.

President Anote Tong, the London School of economics-educated head of
state, is understandably cautious: “I am not suggesting and have never
suggested that the islands are sinking because of the rise in sea levels,”
he says. “But there is no doubt we are increasingly facing the effects of
climate change in many ways.”

“We cook them over hot stones… we keep the stones hot throughout the day
just to keep the yam hot.”

We have only started this year and so far we’ve handled two patients, one
in April and one in August both of whom are pregnant,” said Dr Praful S.
Patel, a senior lecturer at the hospital and an expert in IVF.

Germany which was the site of World Cup has become a leader here. Tourism
industry in the Near East has obtained the same result.

In fact, recent sea level data analyses suggest that the danger of
submergence for Kiribati’s atolls—unlike the neighbouring atoll nation of
Tuvalu — is no longer as immediate as was estimated earlier (estimates of
20 to 50 years have now been stretched to more like 80 to 100 years).
Though increased erosion, a greater frequency of higher tides and longer
periods of drought may be a direct result of climate change (just as
similar phenomena have affected other parts of the world, including the
frequent hurricanes in the United States), submergence is no longer the
immediate, central issue.

Lilly says that leftovers are often wrapped in banana leaves and stored in
the kitchen, normally a leaf hut separate from the main house.

These first pregnancies have put Aga Khan Hospital ahead of its peers in
success rates.

The amount of tourists having visited Southern and Northern American
countries became just 2% higher in 2006.

Yet, in actual fact, the country may be faced with a wide range of far
worse and far more urgent potential disasters than sea level rise — though
climate change may well be playing the role of a catalyst in many of these
looming problems.

Lilly says that her family will continue to consume yam even though many in
the village seem to prefer rice nowadays.

But from there, only about a third of IVF fertilised embryos lead to a
confirmed pregnancy.

Such low rates are connected with reducing of tourists visiting Canada and
Mexico.

“I just think that it is healthier, I have noticed many of the villagers
getting sick when they switch to rice and tinned food… our grandparents
lived healthy lives until they were very old, most depended only on yam and
sea food.”

The success rate in Kenya has so far been higher than that.

According to the information provided by the World Tourism And Travel
Council, 8.3% of world’s working places, 9.3% of international investments,
12% of exports and 3.6% of world internal gross product account for a share
of tourism and its branches.

Over the past decade or so, Tarawa has faced fiercer and more frequent
storms, higher tides and longer droughts. Several residents pointed out
that the westerly winds that ushered in the wet season around December had
virtually disappeared in the past seven years, resulting in longer dry
periods and erratic and far less frequent wet spells.

Dietitians would agree with Lilly since Yams are high in Vitamin C and
Vitamin B6.

The real obstacle for couples, however, has been cost. In Kenya, this
treatment has been pioneered by the likes of Dr Praful S Patel and Dr
Joshua Noreh of the Nairobi IVF clinic, who delivered Kenya’s first test
tube baby just over one-and-a-half years ago.

Tourists spend 10.2% of all means expended by world consumers. An average
tourist having visited Europe has made an income at amount of $790 (for
Eastern Europe and European Republics of the Former USSR this rate is
$370).

This has resulted in large-scale migration from the smaller outer islands
to Tarawa, particularly to Betio, where the population density at about 111
per square kilometre compares with that of Hong Kong, making it the densest
urban agglomeration in the Pacific islands. In the past five years alone,
the population is thought to have grown by as much as 20,000 on that narrow
strip of land. With almost no sewerage system, not just groundwater but
even the surrounding lagoon is contaminated and travel advisories warn
strongly against swimming in the lagoon or drinking well water.

This means that yams are high in potassium and low in sodium which is
likely to produce a good potassium-sodium balance in the human body, and so
protect against osteoporosis and heart diseases.

In its first two years of availability in Kenya, IVF has been priced at
more than Sh300,000 per treatment. Aga Khan is now offering IVF for an
average Sh150,000, opening the cheapest route yet for childless couples.

For the USA and Canada the income from a tourist is $1190, for Asia – $890,
for Africa – $590, for The Near East – $710.

The local hospital (manned mostly by Cuban doctors) has been registering
increasing cases of enteric disorders. Housing in Betio resembles
shantytowns in other parts of the world—and without adequate garbage
disposal systems, waste accumulates on the shoreline. In some places around
Tarawa, this is simply burnt, compacted and used as a base for reclaiming
land.

Almost 80% of foreign tourists come from European and Southern American
countries. Eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand supply approximately 15%
of tourists.

The only source of freshwater on these remote atolls is rainwater and
because of the unfortunate combination of a fast growing population and low
rainfall, groundwater reserves have been depleting faster than in previous
years. Also, newly sunk bore wells pump out water faster than the rate at
which it percolates, leaving the population facing serious freshwater
shortages — which is expected to only get worse in time to come.

11/9/2008

Money Laundering, Motion-activated Cameras Taint Economic Growth as New Gecko Burns Houses

Faced with a growing number of drug trafficking, money laundering and
organised crime investigations, the head of Cape Verde’s judiciary police
said his agents may know who the traffickers and money launderers are, but
do not have enough resources to catch them all.

According to scientists at France’s National Museum of Natural History, a
new species of gecko has been discovered — after it hatched from an egg
removed from a nest on a South Pacific island and carried 12,000 miles to
Paris in a box lined with Kleenex. The island, Espiritu Santo, is one of
the larger South Pacific islands of the Vanuatu Archipelago, east of
Australia.

Oscar Silva dos Reis Tavares, who directs high-level crime investigations
at the judiciary police, said his agents are handling 150 investigations,
including 10 money laundering cases. But the police should be looking into
more, he said: “We can’t just go up to someone on the street and use what
they say as evidence in a court of law. This is a small community. People
may know who earns money illegally, but we need proof.”

Los Angeles police are using motion-activated cameras to warn vandals that
they’re being watched.

In the past five years, the islands have increasingly been used as a
transit point for drugs coming from Latin America, destined for Europe and
West Africa, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Minister of Justice Marisa Morais said Cape Verde’s geography has left it
open to transatlantic traffickers: “Our geographical location is both a
privilege and a threat.”

The Police in Solomon Islands have confirmed around three houses were burnt
to the ground over the weekend.

The new reptile species, which was formally assigned the Latin name,
Lepidodactylus buleli, is only three inches long as an adult, and lives
near the tops of the rainforest on the west coast of Espiritu Santo, eating
insects and possibly drinking nectar from flowers.

The houses belonged to Malaitan settlers in West Guadalcanal about a 30
minute drive from the capital Honiara.

Based on government records, Cape Verde, with a growing tourist economy,
controls more than 700,000sqkm of water that include 10 islands and eight
islets with 1000km of volcanic, at times difficult to access, coastline.

Police say a dispute had risen among the settlers after a young man had
defiled a young girl and caused a row between the settlers.

But despite a recent jump in tourism dollars, the government reported about
10 percent of its population living in extreme poverty as of May 2008.
Illegal housing settlements continue spreading out in northern Praia
neighbourhoods like Safende, Calabaceira, and San Pedro, which lack
drainage, roads and easy access to water.

Geckos are small to medium-sized reptiles in the family Gekkonidae. These
fascinating animals are unique among lizards because they are vocal: their
social interactions frequently involve chirping sounds.

In a recent UNODC report, researchers wrote that what appears as legitimate
economic growth in some West African countries may be explained through the
drug trade: “Once the channels for disguising drug money have been
established,” wrote UN researchers, “they can be used for concealing all
manner of criminal proceedings.”

Many geckos also have specialized toe pads that rely on weak intermolecluar
attractive forces, known as van der Waals forces, to enable them to climb
smooth and vertical surfaces, and even to stroll upside down across
ceilings. It is estimated that there are roughly 2,000 species of geckos
throughout the worldwide — and many are still to be discovered.

According to the 2008 African Development Bank and Organization of Economic
Development report for Cape Verde, its economy grew more than 10 percent in
2006, in large part from tourism investments, which increased more than
tenfold from 2004-2006 to $509 million. Since then, the government has
passed legislation to attract additional foreign investment.

The motion triggers a recorded voice that states, “This is the Los Angeles
Police Department. It is illegal to spray graffiti or dump trash here.” The
voice warns vandals that they are being recorded and will be prosecuted.

The egg was collected, along with eight others, from a nest that had been
found in the treetops during a collecting trip to Espiritu Santo in 2006.
Ivan Ineich, the museum’s herpetologist, noticed a bloody carcass that had
accidentally hacked in half by one of collectors.

Josep Coll, European Commission ambassador in Cape Verde, said legitimate
foreign investments can be undermined by money laundering: “Yes, we can
have the mirage of a booming economy, but this is false if there are
illegal investments, condemned by international law, in the mix which lead
to unfair competition.”

The camera provides a high-resolution image of the tagger and the vehicle.
It can capture an image of a license plate from 250 feet.

Economists call this the “Dutch disease” effect, when illicit businesses
generate more money and jobs than the legal economy.

“I said to myself ‘this guy looks bizarre,’ but I couldn’t tell right away
it was a new species because it had been so massacred,” Ineich said.

Proof of Missing Iceberg?

Police chief Tavares said the country’s crime lab has limited chemical
analysis capabilities and relies on analyses conducted in Portugal for
investigations. But it is more than lab improvements that are needed, said
Tavares. “It has been impossible to pin down one of the most well-known
traffickers here [Cape Verde] when we don’t have phone recording equipment
to investigate.”

Climbers later collected a plant where nine minuscule gecko eggs had been
hidden. Ineich wrapped the eggs in wet Kleenex, packed them into a pillbox
and carried them home, where he gave them to a friend who raises lizards as
a hobby. Unfortunately, eight of the geckos died after temperatures in the
terrarium plummeted during a power outage, but the ninth lived.

The number of organised, drug and money laundering cases jumped from 19 to
60 between 2007 and 2008. There may be more, said Tavares: “We don’t know
if we are addressing 10 percent or 90 percent of the problem. It may be the
tip of the iceberg, or we may be at the base.”

“We don’t have a doubt that we’ll be able to identify them once we get them
on camera,” said police Captain Sharyn Buck.

Tavares said in the last four years, the government has frozen 12 accounts
worth more than US$1 million as a part of ongoing high-level crime
investigations. He added that since 2007, the government has seized $1
million worth of land and homes, and cars worth more than $622,000.

Police also say the fires were not caused by indigenous people of the area
but by those within the settlers community.

Though legislation criminalised money laundering in Cape Verde in 2002, the
most recent amendment requires for the first time that those working in
financial transactions, including lawyers, bill collectors, auditors and
accountants, report any suspicion of money laundering.

Three cameras installed last year led to an 85-percent decline in graffiti
and those locations, according to the LAPD. The LAPD recently installed 10
more cameras. The cameras were installed after a series of violent
confrontations that involved vandals.

This is the first time a new species of lizard has been identified from an
individual raised from an egg rather than from adults collected from the
wild, according to France’s National Museum of Natural History.

In passing the amendment, Cape Verde’s Council of Ministers wrote that
money laundering in Cape Verde is “connected to a circuit of organised
crime, such as traffic of arms, people, drugs.”

This new species of gecko is not thought to be endangered.

A woman in Pico Rivera was killed last summer when she confronted taggers
near her home.

When asked to quantify trafficked contraband circulating in Cape Verde,
Justice Minister Morais pointed to the Atlantic Ocean behind the Praia
hotel where she spoke at a recent high-level ministerial conference on drug
crimes: “How big is our problem? Well, how big is the ocean?”

10/23/2008

Vanuatu declares dengue fever outbreak

Filed under: disease/health,global islands,vanuatu — admin @ 3:20 am

Vanuatu health authorities have declared a dengue fever outbreak and a nation-wide campaign to control the spread of the disease. The Non-Communicable Disease Manager, George Taleo says that of the 28 confirmed cases so far, more than 16 were recorded in the last week alone. He says the worst dengue outbreak in recent times was in 1987 when 30 people died, and they don’t want a repeat of this.

10/14/2008

Blackbirding

Filed under: global islands,human rights,png,solomon islands,vanuatu — admin @ 7:33 am

Not many people know that the sweet sugar industry in Australia was founded on the sweat of men and women enticed or kidnapped from the islands of Melanesia.

Mr Leo, who called himself Joe Malayta (Malaita) to identify his roots, knew his history well.

He recalled that between 1863 and 1904 about 60,000 Melanesians were transported to the colony of Queensland , where they toiled to create the sugar plantations.

Some of these islanders moved there willingly on the promise of income, whilst others were kidnapped from their island homes.

Now married to Monica, of Vanuatu ancestry, the couple said the ancestors of the South Sea Islands community in Queensland were ‘recruited’ from various islands including the Solomon Islands , Vanuatu , and the Loyalty Islands of New Caledonia and to a lesser extent, Papua New Guinea .

This form of human trafficking is historically known as ‘black birding’.

There are possibly up to 20,000 Melanesians, recognised as South Sea Islanders currently in Australia , who lived mostly in the North and Central Queensland region.

They were brought to Queensland , mostly to work in the sugar industry, on three-year contracts of indenture.

According to Leo, this labour trade in Melanesians (or Kanakas as they are often termed) involved at least around 62,000 contracts being entered into over a 41year period.

Once underway, some 8,000 indentured Melanesians on average were in Queensland at any one time, whether as first indentured, reengaged, or as time-expired workers.

For the most part they were regarded as unwelcomed guests – a necessary but ultimately dispensable evil – and the new century had barely commenced before they fell tainted of the White Australia Policy.

With the enactment of the Pacific Islanders Labourers Act of 1901 by the newly created Commonwealth of Australia, recruiting was to cease in 1904 and the majority of Kanakas were compulsorily deported between 1906 and 1908.

Since then the descendants of those who legally, or illegally, remained have lived on the fringes of White Australia as a discriminated minority, a forgotten people.

But the evil winds of discrimination has changed at the turn of the 21st century as Australian leaders begun to realise how terrible it was to treat another human being as a slave.

The Melanesian community was recognised by the Federal Government as a unique minority group in 1994 following a report on the community undertaken by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

On 7th September 2000, Queensland State Premier Peter Beattie pushed further and presented in the Queensland Legislative Assembly a formal Recognition Statement of the Australian South Sea Islander community.

The Recognition Statement recognises Australian South Sea Islanders as a distinct cultural group acknowledging past injustices as well as significant contributions to the social, cultural and economic development of Queensland .

In that document, the Queensland Government acknowledged that the South Sea Islanders were brought to Australia as a source of cheap labour for Queensland ’s primary industries.

It acknowledged that “many people were tricked into coming; others were kidnapped or “blackbirded”.

Men, women and children were forced to work long hours at exhausting manual work for low or no wages while living in very poor conditions. Many were treated like “slaves”.

Poor working and living conditions contributed to the death of many islanders in those years.

The policy further acknowledged that “in the early 1880s, the death rate among South Sea Islanders was five times higher than the comparable European population”.

The Queensland Government then, immediately instructed its departments and other agencies to act on this commitment through their policies, programmes and services.

Leo and Matt Nagas, Melanesians of Vanuatu ancestry agreed that the Recognition by the Federal and State Governments is a huge break through for their status as Australian citizens of Melanesian origin.

“The recognition has slowly but surely shifted the injustices that we’ve been through over the last 100 years and we trust that our children and grand children will equally excel from here,” the gentlemen said.

Today, individual Australian South Sea Islanders have excelled in politics, government, religion, sports, art, business, health and education.

They have also served the nation as members of the defence force in times of peace and war.

The recognition continues to trickle down in the hearts of many Australians as hundreds of Melanesians gathered in Bundaberg last week to participate in a weeklong International Prayer and Cultural Festival.

Calling themselves “Spiritual Slaves”, around 200 young men and women from SSEC in Solomon Islands re-enacted the Christianisation of Melanesians and the arrival of the gospel in Solomon Islands .

Among many who witnessed the drama is Federal MP Paul Neville who acknowledged the unique spirituality of Melanesians which started in the cane fields of Queensland .

Australian South Sea Islanders’ unique spirituality, identity and cultural heritage enrich Queensland ’s culturally diverse society.

For more than a century their culture, history and contribution to Queensland have been ignored and denied.

Sharing similar sentiments, Rockhamton City Mayor, Brad Carter said his Regional Council is committed to ensure that present and future generations of South Sea Islanders have equal opportunity to participate in and contribute to the economic, social, political and cultural life of the State.

“I will ensure that Queensland becomes one of the most accommodating places in the world for people of different backgrounds and cultures including South Sea Islanders,”

Showing its obligation to recognise South Sea Islanders, the Queensland Government in 2001 has made a commitment to address areas of need identified by the community.

The Australian South Sea Islander Community Foundation is a partnership between the Queensland government and the corporate sector to create a permanent legacy to provide university scholarships for South Sea Islanders tertiary students.

Scholarships are awarded annually to the value of $5000 per year for full-time and $2500 for part-time students.

There are no more Melanesians in cane fields as many have moved up the socio-economic strata engaging in reasonably paid jobs and equal opportunities just like any other Australian citizen.

“Gone are the days when we were treated like plants and animals. I just want to thank God for that change,” said Mr Nagas.

Today, many Islanders through their own initiative created a substantial relinking with their families in Vanuatu , Solomon Islands , and Papua New Guinea .

Mr Leo has travelled to Vanuatu on four occasions with his wife and this has been made possible by improvements in having access to disposable incomes that can be spent on overseas holidays.

He said the process of relinking two sides of families separated for 60 years is both exciting and puzzling.

As a third generation Aussie Melanesian, Mr Leo and his grown up children own properties in Rockhamton and today he is still tracing his Solomon Islands roots.

He hopes that one day he will set foot on the land of his ancestors to give back the sweat and blood spilled on the cane fields of Queensland .

10/8/2008

Petrol crisis escalates in the Pacific

Filed under: global islands,new zealand,resource,tuvalu,vanuatu — admin @ 1:15 pm

New Zealand has stepped in to try to stall a crisis as Pacific countries struggle to pay their fuel bills.

New Zealand has paid for petrol experts to find an answer to the crisis amid concern that rioting could erupt in New Zealand if the crisis makes its way here.

“We haven’t seen instability arise because of rising fuel prices in the region yet, but it is something we are continuing to monitor closely,” NZ Foreign Affairs spokesman Mark Talbot says.

The Marshall Islands is under an economic state of emergency because they cannot pay for their next fuel shipment, with other islands not far behind.

“In my view it is dire; it is critical,” Jared Morris of the Pacific Islands forum says.

Most Pacific countries get their power via generators but diesel costs are also soaring.

Edward Vrkic from the Pacific Islands Forum says there are implications for keeping public services going, such as schools and hospitals.

Some islands are spending up to 70% of their gross national income on petrol subsidies so power stations can continue to supply electricity. To save costs they are preparing to bulk buy fuel and sharing high transport costs.

While Niue and Tuvalu have the highest prices in the region, Cook Islanders are paying up to $3.15 a litre.

“Our geographical location is one of the major factors that have contributed to high fuel prices. It has fallen hard on the people of Niue,” says George Valiana.

PNG tribes and refugees

Refugees from the West Papua who are currently living in Papua New Guinea have expressed that they wish to settle in Vanuatu, instead of PNG.

As reported by PNG’s The National, the refugees who were evicted from Eight-Mile, National Capital District, last year, said ‘they wanted to leave for a third country despite the reluctance of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle them’.

‘Leader of the West Papuan displaced refugees Freddy Waromi said there were 148 people from 25 families living under makeshift tents and tarpaulins, with only one water tap and a dug pit toilet’ and that the “Vanuatu council of chiefs has indicated to adopt us as Melanesian brothers and sisters, but the only problem is that Vanuatu is not a signatory to the UN refugee charter”.

West Papua is under Indonesian rule and many had fled over the border to PNG during the times of unrest.

‘According to Mr Waromi, the UNHCR granted them refugee status in 1980 and the PNG Government had also earlier granted them permissive residential status, but now both parties wanted to repatriate the refugees back to West Papua’.

According to the report, ‘ABC news reported that the UNHCR would not resettle the West Papuan refugees living in PNG in Vanuatu’ and UNHCR regional representative in Canberra, Richard Towle, ‘said the West Papuans had been campaigning to the UNHCR to be resettled in Vanuatu but their plea had been rejected’.

He stated that from their point of view, “resettlement is really a last resort for the most deserving on the basis of protection needs” and that they did not think “that this group falls within that category” and that ‘the PNG Government would rather see the refugees return home across the border to the Indonesian-governed Papua’.

But Mr. Waromi stated that “UNHCR wanted us to go back to West Papua but the sad fact is that we will be dead when we go back. UNHCR arranged for some of our Melanesian brothers to go back to East Awin in 2001 and none of those who got repatriated are alive today; they are all dead.”

PNG hill tribes negotiate peace deal

In Papua New Guinea, at least 30 warring hill tribes from the Southern Highlands have agreed to lay down their arms and cease generations of fighting in what’s being described as the regions first peace agreement. The so-called Tari District peace deal has taken 5 years to negotiate through a series of peace building activities organised by a team of local and international volunteers lead by a former Philippines born nun now living in Australia.

Sri Lankan refugees duped by HK traffickers

Hong Kong-based agents are charging US$11,800 to smuggle Sri Lankan refugees to Papua New Guinea, the Post-Courier reported.

The newspaper, quoting unnamed PNG intelligence service officers, says the human smuggling operators are charging $31,600 for refugees who want to go on to Australia. These smuggling groups are reportedly using agents in PNG.

“But it still looks like they came into PNG to have easy access somehow to Australia because they would not have had an easy way out if they had gone straight to Australia from wherever they came from.

“But in any case, coming to PNG, especially from a dangerous grouping, is a threat to the national security of this country in itself,” the intelligence officers said.

9/30/2008

NZ official: Melanesian states still suffering

Corruption, disease and poverty threaten the futures of Melanesian countries that are home to 85 percent of Pacific Islands people, a top New Zealand official said Tuesday.

The populations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are rising at a pace that is outstripping economic growth, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban said at the opening of a symposium on Melanesia in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

The countries also suffer from youth unemployment, law-and-order “problems,” and adverse effects of global warming, Laban said. All these conditions together represent a “toxic mix” undermining growth and stability in these countries, she said.

“In combination, these factors pose clear and present danger to the ability of states in the region to provide for their people and ensure national viability,” Laban said at the event, sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are a brake on the region’s potential, while education trends are also troubling, she said.

Four years of communal fighting in the Solomon Islands have left education services “in tatters,” with only 70 percent of children able to access limited education, Laban said.

“To be blunt, corruption seems endemic and undermines governance at almost every turn,” she said.

Melanesian countries play a major role in the Pacific tuna fishery, currently worth around US$3 billion a year. But overfishing of a number of tuna species means reductions in catches are urgently required to preserve the industry’s sustainability, she said.

Laban praised Melanesian countries New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for maintaining a unified front in pressuring Fiji’s military government to honor its pledge to hold elections by March 2009.

Melanesian leaders last month joined other Pacific Islands’ Forum states in expressing disappointment at Fiji’s delays in restoring a democratic government.

NZ official: Melanesian states still suffering

Corruption, disease and poverty threaten the futures of Melanesian countries that are home to 85 percent of Pacific Islands people, a top New Zealand official said Tuesday.

The populations of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are rising at a pace that is outstripping economic growth, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Winnie Laban said at the opening of a symposium on Melanesia in the New Zealand capital, Wellington.

The countries also suffer from youth unemployment, law-and-order “problems,” and adverse effects of global warming, Laban said. All these conditions together represent a “toxic mix” undermining growth and stability in these countries, she said.

“In combination, these factors pose clear and present danger to the ability of states in the region to provide for their people and ensure national viability,” Laban said at the event, sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are a brake on the region’s potential, while education trends are also troubling, she said.

Four years of communal fighting in the Solomon Islands have left education services “in tatters,” with only 70 percent of children able to access limited education, Laban said.

“To be blunt, corruption seems endemic and undermines governance at almost every turn,” she said.

Melanesian countries play a major role in the Pacific tuna fishery, currently worth around US$3 billion a year. But overfishing of a number of tuna species means reductions in catches are urgently required to preserve the industry’s sustainability, she said.

Laban praised Melanesian countries New Guinea, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands for maintaining a unified front in pressuring Fiji’s military government to honor its pledge to hold elections by March 2009.

Melanesian leaders last month joined other Pacific Islands’ Forum states in expressing disappointment at Fiji’s delays in restoring a democratic government.

9/29/2008

Small Island States and Global Challenges

Filed under: cuba,global islands,png,resource,solomon islands,tuvalu,vanuatu — admin @ 4:32 pm

In the era of neoliberal globalization, the large centers of World power, headed by the United States and Europe, often forget the needs and problems of the small island states, whose physical existence is threatened by phenomenons for which they are not responsible.

These small and vulnerable islands, from the Caribbean or South Pacific for example, are seriously threatened by global challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, and problems of development, scarce energy resources or food crises.

It is no secret that these groups of States suffer from geographic isolation, communications and transportation problems.

Even between themselves they are separated by thousands of kilometers, making contacts difficult.

But without a doubt, the main challenge for these small territories are climate changes, as they are more susceptible to suffering the consequences derived from global warming, among them the alarming rise of sea level.

Archipelagos like Kiribati and Tuvalu run the risk of disappearing in the near future if the pace of the rise of sea level continues.

Cuba is also not exempt from these dangers, like the recent devastation inflicted by two hurricanes.

This is why it is necessary for an exchange of information and cooperation among the group of small nations to help each other in facing the challenges of nature and the environment.

On the other hand, Cuba, lacking financial resources and economically blockaded by the US government, has international recognition for its vocation to internationalism and solidarity not to contribute leftovers, but shares what it has, mainly its well prepared human capital encouraged throughout the last 50 years.

An example of these fraternal ties is the creation of a School of Medicine in the western province of Pinar del Rio for the training of 400 students from the South Pacific, of which 64 have already enrolled (25 from the Solomon Islands, 20 from Kiribati, 2 from Nauru and 17 from Vanuatu).

Also, Cuban medical brigades are offering their services in Kiribati, the Solomon and Vanuatu Islands, through the General Health Program, while details are being ironed out for the implementation of health cooperation with Tuvalu, Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

An exemplary cooperation, which is a clear revelation, without conditions and on an equal basis.

9/16/2008

Tok Pisin = English

tok baksait = gossip about
tok bilas = ridicule
tok bilong bipo yet = fable / myth
tok bilong ol tumbuna = tradition of ancestors
tok bokis = secret language / parable
tok grisim = flatter
tok gude = greet
tok gumi = tall tale
tok hait = secret
tok insait = conscience
tok pait = controversy
tok ples = local language
tok tru = speak the truth / truth
toktok = talk / conversation
tokautim sin / confess
tokim = tell
toksave = advertisement / information / explain
tok save long = explain
toktok long = talk about
toktok wantaim = converse with
tokwin = rumour

8/24/2008

Economic, social crises loom over Islands

Filed under: fiji,General,global islands,png,solomon islands,vanuatu — admin @ 5:36 am

South Pacific island nations have armies of unemployed and underemployed people who will turn to violence if its economic, social and political problems are not dealt with, a report by a Sydney-based think-tank said.

“It is only a matter of time before the growing army of unemployed and underemployed turns from restless to violent,” said a new report on the South Pacific released on Thursday, adding that the region’s poor economic development lags similar island nations like those in the Caribbean.

The report by the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney said two million Pacific island men, or four out of five, were unemployed in towns or villages.

“These islanders are bored and frustrated. Unemployment and underemployment are at the core of the Pacific’s ‘arc of instability,’ ” it said.

The South Pacific has some of the world’s smallest and poorest countries, with economies reliant upon tourism, logging, royalties from fishing and foreign aid. The island nations of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji have all suffered coups, military rebellions and civil unrest, and have been labelled an “arc of instability” by Pacific analysts.

The report titled The Bipolar Pacific”said the South Pacific was divided into nations which are developing and those failing to even supply running water and electricity in homes. Those floundering islands included Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, while those developing were the Cook Islands, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Samoa and Tonga.

“Without employment-led growth, crime and corruption will worsen. Port Moresby (the capital of Papua New Guinea) has become one of the most violent cities in the world,” it said.

“With major criminal interests now operating in the region, the Pacific is developing its comparative advantage as a location for international criminal activities such as people-smuggling, drug production, and arms trafficking,” the report noted.

The danger was that about 80 per cent of the South Pacific’s population was found in the failing group of islands, where employment was rare and living standards were not rising, it said.

8/1/2008

Fuel price increase squeezes transport sector

Filed under: General,global islands,png,resource,solomon islands,vanuatu — admin @ 4:45 am

Throughout the country goods and services cost more, thanks to the increase in the global fuel price, which is being passed on to businesses and consumers, according to the Bank of Papua New Guinea. In 2007, the fuel price per litre was around K2 (US$0.72) compared with K5 ($1.82) now.

Many remote communities in Papua New Guinea are not accessible by road so air service is vital to their local economies. However, some small airlines, including Madang-based Airlink, have cut back or ceased operations because of higher fuel costs. National flag carrier Air Niugini continues to increase fuel surcharges because of the high cost of aviation fuel.

In Bougainville, an autonomous island which is still an integral part of Papua New Guinea, taxis charge K100 ($36.45) for a three-hour ride to and from mainland Bougainville to Buka Island and another K2 ($0.72) just to make a three-minute crossing by boat to and from Buka Island. The whole trip used to cost only K20 ($7.00), a price that was quite affordable for a worker who earns an average of K300 ($100) a fortnight. The price increases really hurt, workers say.

One vehicle owner, Francis Baru, said, “We sympathise with passengers travelling in our vehicles but at the same time we also need to make enough money to repay our loans and look after our families.

“If fuel prices continue to rise,” he said, “we will be forced to pass on these additional costs to our passengers, but we hope they will fall … that will be really good for all of us,” Baru said.

In Manus, an island province north of Port Moresby, the capital, fares are even higher as people are dependent on boats, which are particularly costly to run.

Linus Pokanau, a fisherman and boat owner from Manus Island, said the price of zoom (petrol mixed with oil) was the most expensive and many boats now were anchored as fishermen could not afford the fuel.

Thomas Abe, chief executive officer for a consumer watchdog group, Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC), expects fuel prices to continue rising due to global demand. The ICCC regulates the pricing formulae of petroleum products in the country.

Even though Papua New Guinea is a crude-oil producing country, once the oil is refined by InterOil, a Canadian petroleum company, consumers pay a rate closely pegged to the world rate.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mining, Puka Temu, in June announced that the government would start subsidising fuel prices on 1 September 2008, by reducing the excise duties on fuel products, which would cut the prices of petroleum products significantly.

“Eliminating the excise tax on zoom will be of particular assistance to those that use small boats for transportation and for fishing in rural areas,” he said.

“Reducing the excise on diesel will also help PMV [taxi] drivers, transport companies and those who run power generators, while reducing excise on petrol will help all those drivers who dread having to fill up at the petrol station. This government says it is working with key stakeholders to see if there are other ways that the price of fuel at the pump can be minimized,” Temu said.

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