Friday, May 29, 2015

Icelandic Ahab Tries It Again

Kristjan Loftsson is at it again!
In a move both highly controversial and provocative, Iceland's sole fin whaler is preparing to ship 1,700 tonnes of fin whale meat to Japan via the port of Luanda in Angola, off the SW coast of Africa.
His whaling company Hvalur loaded the meat - the entire catch from last year's whaling season - onto the Winter Bay around a fortnight ago, but the ship remains in harbour at Hafnarfjordur, south of Reykjavik...allegedly due to mechanical problems. You can click [here] to check an eye on her movements.
(This time last year, Loftsson shipped 2,000 tonnes of fin whale meat to Japan aboard the Alma, taking a circuitous route around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid protestors.)
Winter Bay still in harbour...
Icelandic whalers hunt both fin and minke whales under a disputed 'reservation' to the International Whaling Commission's ban on commercial whaling. This year's minke whaling season has already started, with at least 2 whales killed, and the fin whaling season opens in June. Last year, 137 endangered fin whales and 24 minke whales were killed.
Meanwhile the Icelandic media is heavily critical of the bloodsoaked billionaire's recent re-election as Chairman of seafood giant,
HB Grandi. One of the Board's first actions was to award itself a 33.3% pay rise: by comparison, his workers were awarded a paltry 3.3%.
Loftsson's attempts at damage limitation, including tv interviews during which he attempted to crack jokes, did not go down well and were not helped by the revelation that HB Grandi workers had been rewarded for their hard work and extra productivity with...an ice-lolly!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Catholic Cathedral Construction Plans



It's been several speculative post-EQ years in the making...
But today, major plans for Christchurch's historic Catholic cathedral will be announced.
For those not familiar with the city, we're not talking the Anglican cathedral in the Square - this is the spectacular white Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street.
Catholic leaders have decided to deconstruct the most quake-damaged parts of the cathedral but keep other sections. The deconstructed parts will then be rebuilt in stages but would not replicate the original cathedral.
The plan will cost about $14 million (including the deconstruction), compared to $120-$170m to restore the whole building. Previous estimates have put the cost of a modern cathedral at about $40m.
The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament is a Heritage NZ Cat.1 building, completed in 1905. It's considered one of the finest examples of Renaissance-style architecture in NZ and was innovative for its use of a concrete structure with Oamaru stone cladding.
The front facade of the cathedral partially collapsed in the Feb.2011 EQ. The back of the building has since been partially deconstructed, with removed masonry, copper detailing and windows stored off-site.
Heritage expert Ian Lochhead: "The building is the grandest of all the Roman Catholic cathedrals constructed in NZ in the 19th and early 20th centuries."
More details will be announced at a press conference at 11am today.

Update: The details, as released today...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lord Clive To Be Recovered

A sunken English warship may see sunlight this year, after being submerged for 252 years.
The 50m privateer Lord Clive, sunk by the Spaniards in 1763, was discovered off the coast of Uruguay in 2004 by adventurer Ruben Collado. He now has permission from the Uruguay govt to bring up the remains.
Collado and model of Lord Clive
The 60-gun Lord Clive was sunk by coastal fire, as the British and Portuguese tried to bombard and take the city of Colonia del Sacramento from the Spanish during the Seven Years War.
The ship, equipped to wage war for 3-4yrs, may have been carrying extensive amounts of gold.
The muddy waters and fast currents of the River Plate will prove to be serious obstacles for the recovery team. As well, the Lord Clive is covered with tons of rocky material that crews must remove first. Recovery efforts for the remains of the six-story high ship should begin this August.
Background: The vessel was originally HMS Kingston, a 60-gun Royal Navy ship, launched on 13 March 1697. She had an eventful career, taking part in numerous battles.
The ship was sold to privateers linked to the East India Company on 14 January 1762, and renamed Lord Clive.
That same year (during the Spanish-Portuguese War of 1761-1763), these privateers, fighting for Portugal, planned to conquer Spanish territory in South America. They organised a raid on Buenos Aires, but the idea was soon abandoned as the Spanish were too well-prepared.
On January 6, 1763, they tried to capture Colonia del Sacramento (on the opposite bank of the River Plate). Lord Clive and several other ships started bombardment, but encountered strong resistance from the city gun battery.
After three hours, a fire broke out on Lord Clive: it rapidly spread and, when the magazine blew up, she sunk immediately - 272 were killed.