Thursday, January 30, 2014

Waiter, There's A Whale In My Jam!

Food containing Norwegian whale meat is being sold illegally at a stand operating at Green Week, a large Berlin food and agricultural fair attracting tens of thousands of visitors.
The dish contains minke whale and blueberry jam, according to the group Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC).
It is illegal to sell whale and dolphin meat in Germany, but not in Norway. If convicted, the stall-owners could be fined and imprisoned for up to five years.
WDC campaign manager Astrid Fuchs: "The fact that the meat of a species strictly protected in Germany and the whole EU is offered for sale is scandalous. There is an urgent need for a greater application of existing laws."
Ze Germans are investigating zis matter.
Not only has Norway broken the law several times - by importation and sale - but the unsuspecting visitors to the fair would also be breaking existing laws by purchasing the meat.
Norwegian company, Myklebust Whale Products, was responsible for delivering the whale meat to the Norwegian stand. Myklebust currently wants to export around 34,000kg (!!!) of minke whale products to Japan, following a similar export last spring of 4,250kg. Yet the CEO was quick to claim ignorance of any wrongdoing and blamed both German Customs and the fair's management.
The discovery is yet more proof of the whaler’s desperate moves to find new markets to prop up their failing industry. Earlier in January, WDC exposed the sale of ‘Whale beer’ in Iceland (a creation of the Icelandic Steðjar brewery and whaling company Hvalur). Icelandic health authorities banned the beer just hours after the brewery stated that it contained whale meal purchased from the whaling company. And a good bloody job too!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Too PC For The PC Brigade

New Zealand Day is looming…
'cept we can’t call it that, can we.
No, the limp-dick Politically Correct bent to the minority who insisted on naming it Waitangi Day – supposedly the day that two societies combined into one happy nation. Yea. Right. These days, if you're a brown agitator, it's the day to head to Waitangi and abuse the oppressive whitey government!
Since 1999, the National Govt has recognised the distinctive black, white and red Te Tino Rangatiratanga flag as the preferred maori flag...even though there's NO SUCH THING (that particular barrow was pushed hard by Hone Harawira as an all-encompassing maori flag, even though only some North Island tribes subscribe to his theory).
On NZ Day, govt buildings thus fly the extremist flag in side-by-side "brotherhood" with the NZ flag. But Christchurch City Council is in a bind – it also wants to fly a maori flag then, but worries it may pick the wrong one and upset the local bros of Ngai Tahu.
Ngai Tahu consider "Hone’s flag" does not represent them. In fact, they say there's NO bro flag to represent all the clans within the Christchurch City Council territory. Some favour the extremists' flag, others the very old United Tribes of New Zealand flag.
If "Shakey Town" Council was to fly one flag or another, they may be open to criticism from different groups…and god knows they couldn't handle any minor PC bleatings. Not if they're trying soooooo hard to be PC themselves!
So Council will "begin a process" - how PC! - "to identify options" – really?? – "for sequencing the use of different flags from 2015".
Oh, give me strength!

Monday, January 27, 2014

End Of The Whalers' World?

Is this the end of their world, as they know it (at least for this year)?
Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd says it's boxed in the Japanese whaling fleet's factory ship Nisshin Maru, effectively suspending whaling in the Southern Ocean.
The conservation group located the Japanese fleet on Friday night. It was able to track the fleet by the discarded, bloody remnants of dead whales strewn through the waters of the Southern Ocean. It also said it was given valuable information from Australian Environment Munster Greg Hunt.
Steve Irwin's helicopter spotted the floating abbatoir and its two harpoon ships on Friday night, after heavy fog lifted. SS's ships quickly made their way towards them.
Bob Barker on the hunt
Two of its vessels are now dogging the factory ship - Bob Barker was right on its tail and Steve Irwin was ahead.
SS NZ spokesman Michael Lawry says the Japanese fleet, including its harpoon and security vessels, is now leaving the whaling grounds: "They were heading northeast, out of the area. If they're moving, they're not whaling, and if we're on the tail of the factory ship, they won't be whaling." He said the plan will be "…just to stay on their tail and drive them out. If we can stay on their tail, then they won't be able to load any more whales on."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ratana Rhetoric

NZ can always rely on Winston Peters for rightous rhetoric!
It's "suck up to maori voters" week, as politicians join celebrations at Ratana Pa. The annual event commemorates the founding of the Ratana church, but politicians in some ways have taken over proceedings in recent years, circling the brown vote like sharks around burley.
But this year New Zealand First leader Winston Peters called 'a spade a spade' and, in his usual style, described Maori Party policies as akin to apartheid!
Peters said his party would never support separatist Maori Party policies such as having separate maori prison units and a separate maori social welfare system Whanau Ora. In fact, he described them as "racist policies based on colour and ethnic preference" : "What maori need is housing, decent healthcare, decent education system and first world jobs and wages. The Maori Party has abandoned that for socialogical objectives which are of no interest to Maoridom at all. Apartheid policies are based on racial preference. This is, too."
Peters wouldn't say which parties he'd consider working with post-election, but was firm he could not work with the Maori Party as long as it kept separatist policies. "You can't have a Crown composed of two different groups - the rest and maori. Either we're all together or we're all going to be separate."
Winston is himself multiracial, of a maori father and Scottish mother.
PM John Key announced this week his National Party would work with NZ First after the election, as a last resort.
Meanwhile...Hone Harawira's hopes of a merger between his Mana Party and the Maori Party crashed and burned at Ratana. Maori Party prez Naida Glavish said if Hone-cuz couldn't work with National, then her party couldn't work with him. Chuurrr! Bye, bro!

PS: 24 Jan.2014 - Winston's comments make no friends...hmmm, I thought they were spot on actually!

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed

It was all rock'n'roll on Monday night, as a 6.2 magnitude earthquake severely shoke the southern North Island.
There've been plenty of reports on the subject, but not so much on the incident of 'life imitating art', or perhaps 'art imitating a Jack Higgins novel'...
The quake was centred near Eketahuna, about 100km north of capital city Wellington, but still was able to bring down a 1-tonne Hobbit eagle from the ceiling of Wellington Airport!
Two eagles with 15m wingspans (built by Weta Workshop and modeled on the ones in the Hobbit trilogy) were hanging from the ceiling as part of an installation that also includes a giant Gollum. They were shaken so violently that one bird snapped free of its cables and fell onto a noodle canteen below. [Some uncharitable folk may feel that's appropriate for a noodle bar - having a giant eagle dump on it...!]
The eagle carrying Gandalf on its back remained securely fastened to its eight supporting cables.
So what's the future for these sculptures? Airport spokesman Greg Thomas: "The sculptures are a much loved part of the airport. They're photographed by thousands of tourists and locals...and something we very much want to have stay."
Wellington Airport has reinforced the cables supporting the Gandalf eagle and WorkSafe NZ is investigating just how the other eagle landed...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jap Whalemeat Now Halal - Really???!!!

Japan's whaling mothership has been awarded an halal certificate, to prove it slaughters whales in accordance with Muslim law!
According to ship owner Kyodo Senpaku, Nisshin Maru was certified just before it headed off for this season's hunt: "If whale meat can be consumed as a good protein source for Muslims in Japan, it's a good thing."
Not exactly halal, is it!
The move is another chance to shift some of the huge Japanese whalemeat stockpile, by increasing the meat choices of Japan's Islamic community (around 100,000 - less than 0.08% of the population). Muslims CAN eat whale, but it must be killed in the halal method. Now, here's where it gets interesting...
Halal foods are those that Muslims are allowed under Islamic law. This also specifies how food must be prepared. The food must come from a supplier using halal practices. The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must precede it by calling Allah's name, and then three times "Allahu akbar" ("God is the greatest"). Then, the animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the
Halal harpoon? Yea. Right.
neck (while the animal is conscious), causing the animal's death without cutting the spinal cord. Lastly, the blood must be drained.
Muslims must also ensure that all non-food items near the food are halal (as they often contain ingredients not permissible for Muslims to eat or use on their bodies). So, spot the problems...
+ Every NM slaughterman must be Muslim - what's the liklihood?
+ The whale must NOT be killed by an explosive-tipped harpoon.
+ Therefore the whale must be killed on-deck by said Muslim with knife (after ritual exclamations) - not dragged already dead onto the blood-soaked butchery deck of NM.
So this halal certification is just a cynical exploitation of religion for commercial gain.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not So High And Mighty Now

New Zealand's highest peak, Mt Cook, is shrinking!
It's currently listed at 3,754m, but a new study puts it at just 3,724 m.
Capped by snow and ice, a 1991 avalanche (estimated to have contained 10 million cubic metres of snow and rock) undercut the mountain's brilliant crown by 10m (33ft). The avalanche left an overhang that later collapsed.
National School of Surveying researcher Pascal Sirguey: "As a result, the ice cap has been subject to erosion over the past 20 years."
A 2013 climbing expedition by the University of Otago revealed that Mt Cook is actually only 3,724m (12,217ft) high, cutting another 30m (98ft) off the mountain's height. And - voila! - the surveyors have lowered it by 30m.
Despite this, Mt Cook still towers above its close neighbour Mt Tasman which, at 3497m, is NZ's second-highest peak.
The stunning Mt Cook, which dominates the central Southern Alps, is a magnet for mountaineers from around the world, and has claimed well over 200 lives. It was first summited on Christmas Day 1894, by New Zealanders Tom Fyfe, James Clarke and George Graham.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Farewell Spit: Third Big Stranding

It's becoming the annual summer norm: a sequence of pilot whale strandings at Farewell Spit.
After two big strandings on the 6th and the 14th of January, Department of Conservation and volunteers are again battling the elements, for the sake of more than 70 whales beached yesterday at Golden Bay.
Many could not be saved: 8 later had to be euthanised and two more died at sea during the refloat. 49 whales re-stranded but one died overnight.
Another whale was put down this morning, but experts are more hopeful of a successful re-float on this afternoon's high tide, for the 47 remaining.
DOC says the whales moved overnight about a kilometre down the beach. Their new location at Puponga Beach near the base of Farewell Spit is encouraging because the whales will be in the water faster, and it is also easier for people to access if they want to help.
The rest of the tropical cyclone weather system is due to hit the area tomorrow so it's crucial the situation is sorted today.
Update: 22 Jan.2014 -The 45 refloated whales were spotted yesterday afternoon swimming out into deeper water. Hopes are high that they will not restrand.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Operation Relentless: Bad Weather Is Good News

Crap weather in the Southern Ocean means little chance of whale-killing.
"I know it's only rock'n'roll, but I like it...!"
The Sea Shepherd crews are secure in that knowledge, as their vessels battle lousy conditions in the whale sanctuary. There has been a massive low-pressure system over the Ross Dependency. The seas are choppy, the skies grey and overcast, fog often reduces visibility to 100m, weather conditions are generally poor. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the whalers to resume whaling.
After losing sight of the factory ship Nisshin Maru on 08 January, SS estimates it would've taken the poachers about two days to return to the ice-edge to resume whaling.
On 14 Jan., Australian Environment Munster Greg Hunt confirmed the nasty Nippons were over 1,000nm away from Australia’s search and rescue zone, steaming away from Oz waters. This placed them on the eastern edge of their self-allocated hunting grounds, near the Ross Dependency.
Based on this, SS confirms the whalers did not return to their whaling grounds in the interim, but headed east in order to avoid being spotted by the Australian monitoring flight. So it's highly likely the whale killing has been suspended since very early January.
SS remains relentless in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

From A Farce To A Famine

To have lost 45% of your business's capacity in one hit due to mechanical failure is bad enough.
But to lose your back-up for the same reason is a bloody joke!
The replacement ferry for the Cook Strait run limped back into the Wellington Ferry Terminal yesterday morning with...yeup!...
mechanical problems.
The roll-on/roll-off Stena Alegra was brought all the way from Sweden, to temporarily replace KiwiRail's Aratere, which lost a propeller in November.
It finally went into service this week delivering freight and passengers in cars only (even though we're now deep into a kiwi summer, with thousands of foot passengers wishing to travel between the North and South Islands).
Just two days into service (!!!), it suffered a partial loss of power on its departure out of Wellington yesterday, affecting some of the control systems for one of the propellers.
KiwiRail's website won't allow any more ferry bookings between Picton and Wellington, saying they were suspended for yesterday and today.
It should be noted that Stena Alegra was grounded during Cyclone Christian in October 2013. A month later, KiwiRail chartered it for six months.
Was this a too-good-to-be-true rental on a faulty lemon...?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eye On The Kill

The Oz government this week began whaling patrol flights, circling conservation group Sea Shepherd's ship in the Southern Ocean as skirmishing began with the nasty Nippon whalers.
The flights by a long-range Airbus A319 are intended to monitor movements of the whaling fleet if it's hunting off Antarctica in Australia's search and rescue zone.
Sea Shepherd captain Peter Hammarstedt said the aircraft circled his ship Bob Barker for about eight minutes last Sunday morning and came close enough to be clearly identified. No contact was made. A spokesman for Environment Munster Greg Hunt said: "When any whaling monitoring mission has been completed, we will provide a public report." Bedtime reading...
The flight came after the first clash of this year, which resulted in a diplomatic protest to the Netherlands, flag state of SS's ship Steve Irwin. Its skipper Siddarth Chakravarty deployed two small boats whose crew used lines in a bid to slow down the whalers' security ship, Shonan Maru No.2, which is tailing SI: "When this was met with aggression from the crew of Shonan Maru No.2, in terms of throwing grappling hooks at the small boats and hitting two of the crew members, as well as attempts to jab the crew with long poles, I retrieved the small boats."
Meanwhile the Yushin Maru No.3 also pursued Bob Barker, but it stopped the chase when BB crossed Australia's EEZ, 200 miles off Macquarie Island. The harpoon ship stopped one mile outside the zone. SS Australia chairman Bob Brown said Munster Hunt had been in touch with Japanese authorities over the impending incursion into the Australian Whale Sanctuary.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dead Whale In A Beer Bottle!

Coming soon: a beer made with whale meat!
A new Icelandic beer has sparked a sea of criticism from some conservationists who say its "immoral." Iceland's Steðji brewery and whaling company Hvalur (now, THERE's a surprise...NOT!) have teamed up to release the beer, to coincide with a mid-winter festival in honour of Norse god Thor (the festival season runs mid-January to mid-February).
The brewery claims the 5.2% beer is healthy because it has no added sugar and because whale meal (ground up whale bone) is full of protein and very low in fat. It claims that those who drink it will become "true Vikings". (Ugh-ugh! Macho thumping of chest!)
Steðji says the beer was created for the festival, in which people gather and celebrate "as we've done for many centuries and eat cured food, including whale fat, and now we have the beer to drink with this" (note the nationalistic xenophobic tone). The limited-release beer will be available only in Iceland and
Loftsson: dead eyes,
dead soul...
will not be exported.
Whale and Dolphin Conservation has slammed whaling company Hvalur's 'desperate hunt' for new markets: "Demand for this meat is in decline, with fewer and fewer people eating it. Even so, reducing a beautiful, sentient whale to an ingredient on the side of a beer bottle is about as immoral and outrageous as it gets."
Mind you, that 'immoral and outrageous' whaler, Kristján Loftsson, is at the bottom of this particular that says it all really.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Outta Sight, Outta Danger?

Last night, the Department of Conservation (DOC) was buoyed by the fact it had lost sight of around 50 pilot whales believed to be at risk of stranding.
DOC hopes the whales are now in deeper water and not in immediate risk of beaching.
Meanwhile, there were still 13 whales stranded about 7km from the base of Farewell Spit (top of the South Island). A decision on whether to attempt to refloat the whales on last night's incoming tide was hampered by a strong westerly wind, which made conditions difficult and the sea rough.
Earlier yesterday, DOC rangers were in a boat following the whales, but lost sight of them in choppy seas. The pod had been watched by DOC staff since they were alerted of their presence around 8am yesterday - the first whales stranded around 11am.
This site is the same treacherous area where a pod was found beached and in distress last week. At that time a dozen pilot whales were found dead and the remaining 27 in the pod needed to be euthanised.
Last week's stranding was the first big one of the summer.
[...thanx to TV3 News]

Update: Eight whales survived the night - refloat attempt this morning.
Thursday Update: Surviving whales can't be refloated and will be euthanised.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

From McSurgeon to McSailor

After a long run (2006-2012) on Grey's Anatomy as Dr Mark 'McSteamy' Sloan, Eric Dane moves from medicine to military.
He stars in a new sci-fi adventure series The Last Ship, as the captain of a US naval destroyer.
The Last Ship looks more like a movie than an ongoing series, but maybe that's what the producer Michael Bay (The Transformers) is going for. It follows a crew who are the last remaining people on the planet not to have fallen victim to a global pandemic that's wiped out 80% of the world's population. Now the ship is humanity’s final hope for survival...
Their mission is simple: Find a cure. Stop the virus. Save the world. Blow the trumpets for the heroic US Navy. God bless America.
But wait: where's their endless fuel, food and hair gel coming from? And, if they're all that's left, who's attacking them? And why?
Hmmm...sounds like a steal of Neville Shute's 1957 post-apocalyptic novel On The Beach. See what you think.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Finning Finally Finito

At last!
The finning of dead sharks will be completely banned by 2016.
The NZ govt has spelt out its plan for managing shark populations for the next three years.
Finning of live sharks was banned in 2009, but fishermen were still able to cut fins off dead sharks and throw away the carcasses. Now, fishing companies will be required to release sharks alive or bring them ashore with fins attached for processing.
Finning involves catching and killing a shark, removing the fins and dumping the body overboard. Only 2% of the shark is actually used. It's unnecessarily contributing to declining shark numbers, some of which are already dangerously low.
The first stage of species will be protected from finning in October this year. All other species except blue sharks will be protected from Oct.2015. The blue shark ban will apply from Oct.2016.
Ever since that damned Jaws movie (1975), I've been too scared to swim in the ocean - because of sharks! Even so, I don't want to see whole species decimated and creatures die in agony! Annually, over 100 million sharks are killed globally, just for their fins: that's about 1800 in the time it takes to read this post. Between 50,000-150,000 blue sharks are believed to be killed in NZ waters every year.
In southern China, it's said anything that walks, flies or swims is fit for the dinner table. Much like Japan's puzzling determination to keep hunting whales, some Chinese feel it's their nationalistic duty to eat whatever they want. Fins exported from here can earn up to $1200kg., mostly sent to Asia for soups or traditional medicines. To our shame, NZ is among the world's top 20 exporters of shark fins (NZ$4.5million p.a.).
I'm not against shark fin soup as such, if the killing is humane. But this sort of butchery has been a wasteful and inhumane practice, and was long overdue to be banned.
45,300 public submissions agree.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Not Taking It Lieing Down...

The Japanese whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru has outpaced a Sea Shepherd pursuit in the Antarctic.
After running for two days out of its whaling grounds with SS on its stern, NM has sped beyond the reach of the group's helicopter and disappeared.
SS Director of ship operations, Peter Hammartsedt: "Steve Irwin's helicopter no longer has the Nisshin Maru in sight. We've never seen it go this fast before."
Instead, each SS ship is being tailed by a Japanese whaling fleet vessel, meaning NM could be informed to avoid the activists. The factory ship also had one hunter vessel, Yushin Maru, with it and is able to resume whaling.
[Nisshin Maru's previously posted top speed is 15.5 knots (28.7kmph). Bob Barker's top speed is 18 knots (33.3kmph), which should easily have been enough to hold on to NM's tail. It would appear as if the whalers may have spent more Japanese public money upgrading the factory ship's engines...]
Now, attempting to shake off the whalers' pursuit, Bob Barker was headed for Australian waters around Macquarie Island, where the tailing Yushin Maru No.3 would be forbidden entry. BB should reach Macquarie by Saturday, when it would also be within reach of any promised aerial monitoring mission by Australia.
A spokesman for Oz Environment Munster Greg Hunt says: "The whalers have not yet been and are not currently in Australia's search and rescue zone. We're ready to commence the monitoring mission."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Operation Relentless: Great Start!

dead minkes on Nisshin Maru
Sea Shepherd has located the Japanese whaling fleet inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.
It pursued all five vessels, driving them away from their intended poaching grounds and disrupting their hunt, but blood had already been spilt.
Steve Irwin's helicopter first located the Nisshin Maru factory ship in NZ's sovereign waters in the Ross Dependency Antarctic region, and inside the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. It took footage of three dead protected minke whales on the deck of NM. A fourth whale, believed to be a minke, was being butchered on the bloodstained deck. The chase began.
Late Tuesday afternoon, after 360 miles of running, SS drove NM out of the Antarctic Treaty Zone.
SS has all the nasty Nippons accounted for, and confirms the whaling fleet is scattered and not hunting: the harpoon ships are separated by hundreds of miles and NM is unable to stop.
The Japanese were escorted across 60°S and past the northern limit of the Antarctic Treaty Zone by SS ships Sam Simon, Steve Irwin and SI's helicopter. The three SS ships are still in the Southern Ocean and will continue patrols, should NM attempt to veer south.
The whale fleet operates in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary in contravention of the 1986 global moratorium on commercial whaling under the guise of "scientific research". In June 2013, the NZ govt joined the Australian challenge to the legality of Japan's whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary at the International Court of Justice. A judgement is awaited.
Meanwhile, Operation Relentless (SS's tenth Antarctic whale defence campaign), continues...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NZ's First Major Stranding of 2014

Thirty-nine pilot whales have died, in the first major NZ stranding of the summer in Golden Bay. reports a dozen of the pod were found dead Monday morning after they washed up on the high-tide mark at Farewell Spit.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) made the difficult decision to euthanase the remaining 27, when it became clear an attempt to refloat them was unlikely to succeed. The location of the whales high up on the beach, low tides and strong winds would have hampered any refloat attempt.
Golden Bay conservation services manager John Mason: "We carefully weighed up the likelihood of being able to refloat them and get them safely back out to sea, but our staff, who have extensive experience in dealing with mass whale strandings in Golden Bay, determined that due to various factors it was unlikely they could be rescued."
Whale conservation charity Project Jonah reported the stranding on its Facebook page with the reminder that NZ is in peak stranding season and for 'whale medics' to have their strand bags ready to go.
NZ's stranding season is from November to March, and they're an almost annual occurrence at Farewell Spit.
Nov.2012: 28 whales died after stranding in the area.
Jan.2012: 99 whales stranded themselves at the spit - despite refloating efforts, 40 had to be euthanased.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

First Trans-Tasman Solo: Don't Tell Mum!

These days, trans-Tasman flights take about 3hrs (2½ hours with a really good tailwind!).
The first trans-Tasman solo flight was this day in history, 07 January 1931 by an Australian, Guy Menzies. [The first successful flight across the Tasman Sea was completed by illustrious Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith and Charles Ulm aboard the Southern Cross in Sept.1928.]
21yr.old Menzies had taken off from Mascot aerodrome, Sydney, in Southern Cross Junior, the Avro Sports Avian biplane that Kingsford Smith had flown from England to Australia. To avoid getting into trouble with Australian authorities (or worrying his parents), Menzies declared he was bound for Perth.
The flight across the Tasman hit rough weather and Menzies was pushed well south of his original destination, Blenheim. Shortly before 3pm he mistook the La Fontaine swamp near Harihari for flat land and crash-landed his aircraft, which flipped upside down...

'Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A17257'
While Menzies' landing was somewhat undignified, he'd taken more than 2½ hours off Kingsford Smith's time, completing the flight in 11hrs 45 minutes.
Regular air services across the Tasman did not begin until April 1940, when flying boats made the journey in about 9hrs.
During WWII, Guy Menzies was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force. He was killed on 01 Nov.1940, when his flying boat was shot down over Italy, and is commemorated at the Alamein Memorial in Egypt.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Big Apple Bans Big Pollutant

New York City Council has voted unanimously to ban the use of styrofoam, making it the largest US city to do so.
Polystyrene foam is a devastating pollutant infecting our parks and waterways which never biodegrades, and has been classified as a carcinogenic health hazard by the US National Institute of Health.
Statistics show New Yorkers throw away 23,000 tons of styrofoam a year. When you consider the light weight of styrofoam, 23K tons must be a veritable MOUNTAIN of the stuff!
Most styrofoam ends up in landfills where it sits for literally 500 years or longer. It's the only thing in the world that lives longer than cockroaches...or Cher.
Portland in Oregon had the first ban (enacted in the late 1980s) and, in following years, over 100 US cities either have a law in place or are working on one. Other major cities include LA, Oakland, Santa Monica, Seattle, and San Francisco. Philadelphia is working on one currently.
The NY ban takes effect in a year, unless it's proved that styrofoam is recyclable... which isn't likely.
Here's a link to a growing list of US cities and counties that have banned styro...
In NZ, we use styrofoam in everything from home insulation to food packaging, drinking cups to toys...isn't it time we too decided to find a recyclable alternative?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Right Place, Right Time, Right Whale

Justin Hofman was at the right place at the right time.
His photo of a southern right whale has captured imaginations around the web with its juxtaposition of the right whale's huge mass under a small boat...

Hofman was on the National Geographic Explorer, diving off Argentina's Patagonian coast to photograph southern right whales. Shooting the pix required a lot of planning. He says his group's diving permit was for just a single day: "Valdes Peninsula [off the coast of Argentina] is an incredibly windy place that can be closed down any day of the year, so us having the permit for only one day was a huge gamble."
Hofman says, as his photo did the rounds online, some questioned whether it was faked: "I promise this is not a composition of two photos and was only possible with the help of a skillful boat handler who placed the boat in the perfect position."
From a whalewatcher's... photographer's... hell, ANYone's perspective, it IS the perfect shot! Congrats for the magic, Justin!

[...many thanx to National Geographic]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pub Peurility

French officials have fined a pub in Brittany €9,000 for 'undeclared labour' after a customer returned some empty glasses to the bar!
For customers at the Mamm-Kounifl concert-café in Locmiquélic, Northern France, carrying drinks trays and used glasses back to the bar is a polite tradition. But for nasty 'Big Brother' social security agency, it's also an infringement of labour laws because customers are supposedly acting like waiters. Riiiiigghhtt!
The authorities swooped into the pub one evening, initially fining the pub owners €7,900 and briefly placing them in police custody. Customers vouched for the owners and they escaped charges, but the agency is still pursuing a social case and is now seeking a further €9,000 due to non-payment of the original fine.
Pub owner Markya Le Floch: "We were shocked by zis and we're certainly not going to pay ze fine. Zis was all a mistake. What 'appened was completely surreal, but we've received a lot of support from our customers, and zey also zink zat zis situation is completely ridiculous."
The case will now be examined at a later date at a special court in Britany.