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Fri, 21 Jan 2022
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Attention

'Record Ivory Seizures' In 2011

Illegal Tusk
© Corbis
More than twenty (20) tons of Elephant tusks, captured from poachers, are burned in Kenya to keep the ivory off the international market and to discourage the illegal killing of elephants for their tusks.

The past 12 months have seen a record number of large ivory seizures across the world, a leading wildlife watchdog said Thursday, saying it had been a "horrible year for elephants."

TRAFFIC, which runs the ETIS database of illegal ivory trades, said there had been at least 13 large-scale seizures in 2011, totalling at least 23 tonnes of ivory -- representing about 2,500 elephants.

This compares to just six large seizures in 2010, weighing a total of just under 10 tonnes, and confirms a sharp rise in the trade evident since 2007.

"In 23 years of compiling ivory seizure data for ETIS, this is the worst year ever for large ivory seizures -- 2011 has truly been a horrible year for elephants," said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC's elephant expert.

The watchdog warned that once the details of hundreds of smaller ivory seizures were collated, "2011 could well prove to be the worst year ever for elephants" since the ETIS database was set up in 1989.

Most illegal shipments of African elephant ivory end up in either China, where it is ground up and used in traditional medicine, or in Thailand, the watchdog said, with Malaysia the most frequent transit country.

Compass

Fire on Russian nuclear submarine; reactor shut down

Image
© Unknown
Moscow - Russia shut down a nuclear reactor on board a nuclear submarine docked at an Arctic shipyard after a fire broke out on deck Thursday, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted the country's defense ministry as saying.

All the weapons had been removed from the Yekaterinburg nuclear submarine, which launched a ballistic missile from the Barents Sea as recently as July, before repair work started, a navy spokesman said according to Interfax.

Russia's emergencies ministry said that radiation levels were normal and that the fire caused no radiation leak or injuries.

"Radiation levels are normal," a spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry in the Murmansk region, where the shipyard is located, said by telephone. "No one was injured."

"Firefighters are trying to put out the fire," she added.

House

North Carolina, US: Homelessness Among Families Up 21% in Charlotte City

Boy at shelter
© Davie Hinshaw- dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
05/09/11 A young boy plays a game on his bunk in a family dorm at the Center of Hope Monday afternoon. The Salvation Army's attempt to turn its temporary women's shelter into a full time place for 50 women is facing a cash crunch. Money may run out by end of month.
Charlotte sees a double-digit increase for the second year, with more foreseen.

For the second year in a row, Charlotte saw a double-digit jump in homeless families - 21 percent - and experts predict a continued rise in 2012. While the numbers are down from last year's 36 percent increase, it still makes for a nearly 60 percent increase in homeless families since 2009, according to a report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

That report, issued this month, used state and local data supplied by 29 cities across the United States, and found an overall 16 percent increase in homeless families. (Charleston, S.C., had the highest increase among the 29 cities, at 150 percent.) "Charlotte is a prosperous community, so whether it's a couple of hundred homeless families living on the street or just one, that should be unacceptable," said Carson Dean of the community's Homeless Services Network and executive director of the Men's Shelter of Charlotte.

Among the observations made about Charlotte in the survey is that the city had a 10 percent shortage of beds for the homeless. However, that shortage appears to be just for women since the men's shelter has a "no turn-away policy" at this time.

Deronda Metz of the Center of Hope shelter for women and children said she definitely has had "a few days" this year when she turned homeless women away due to a lack of space. The center has 224 beds, but is currently helping 400 people a night, including some bused to community churches for the night.

Attention

Burma Blast Kills at Least 17 in Rangoon

Image
© Agence France-Presse
An official said the blast was not thought to have been caused by a bomb
At least 17 people have been killed and more than 90 injured by a big explosion in the Burmese city of Rangoon.

The blast happened in the early hours of Thursday morning in a compound of warehouses in the east of the former capital. The cause is not known but it is not thought to have been a bomb.

The warehouses were said to contain chemicals and material used in construction and salt production.

At least five of those killed were reported to be firemen.

"There are many casualties," a police officer from Mingalar Taungnyunt township told Reuters news agency. He said the were still trying to establish numbers and further details.

The fire is believed to have started in a warehouse but spread to nearby wooden houses where people were sleeping.

Crusader

Priests Brawl in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

Scuffles have broken out between rival groups of Greek Orthodox and Armenian clerics in a turf war at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity.


Bemused tourists looked on as about 100 priests fought with brooms while cleaning the church in preparation for Orthodox Christmas, on 7 January.

Palestinian police armed with batons and shields broke up the clashes.

Groups of priests have clashed before in the church, built on the spot where Christians believe Jesus was born.

Eye 1

US: A Military Base 'On the Brink'

The toll of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is catching up with the Washington state communities near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the form of suicides, slayings and more.
Image
© unknown

Mary Coghill Kirkland said she asked her son, 21-year-old Army Spc. Derrick Kirkland, what was wrong as soon as he came back from his first deployment to Iraq in 2008.

He had a ready answer: "Mom, I'm a murderer."

He told her how his team had kicked in the door of an Iraqi house and quickly shot a man inside. With the man lying wounded on the floor, "my son got ordered by his sergeant to stand on his chest to make him bleed out faster," Kirkland said. "He said, 'We've got to move, and he's got to die before we move.'"

Not long after, Derrick told her, he had fallen asleep on guard duty, awakening as a car was driving through his checkpoint. He yelled for it to stop, but the family in the car spoke no English. "So my son shot up the car," she said.

Info

Kim Jong-il Memorial Service: Kim Jong-un Hailed as New Supreme Leader of North Korea

North Korea staged a vast memorial service for Kim Jong-il overnight, and formally declared his young son Kim Jong-un as the new supreme leader.


The nationwide memorial ceremony for North Korea's departed leader wrapped up two days of brilliantly choreographed mourning events while setting a very public seal on the successorship of the third-generation Kim family member to hold power in Pyongyang.

Thursday's memorial was less emotional than Wednesday's funeral, but like the previous event, demonstrated that the regime has not lost any of its power to mobilise masses. Hundreds of thousands of people were packed into Kim Il-sung Square in the heart of the capital.

Powertool

Cyprus confirms gas find, sparking Turkey tensions

cyprus drilling
© Associated Press
Exploratory drilling work will take 73 days, Cyprus's energy chief says
Cyprus has announced a major gas find which could help boost the country's struggling economy.

President Dimitris Christofias said exploratory drilling had revealed a field containing between 5 and 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under the Mediterranean Sea.

US firm, Noble energy, has been drilling at the field which is next to a larger Israeli discovery.

The find may provoke tension with Turkey, which opposes any drilling.

If exploited, the field could make Cyprus self-sufficient in energy for decades, or allow sizeable exports to Europe.

The gas field is located 115 miles south of the island.

People

Sexual assaults rise at US military academies

Image
© Agence France-Presse

Graduating Naval Academy cadets
The number of sexual assaults reported at the country's prestigious military academies rose sharply for the second year in a row, according to a Pentagon report issued Tuesday.

A total of 65 sexual assault cases were reported at the three academies in 2010-11 compared to 41 reports in the previous academic year, the report said.

The rise comes amid extensive efforts by the academies for the Army, Navy and Air Force to prevent sexual assaults and to raise awareness of the problem.

The Pentagon said it was unclear why the number of reported sexual assaults rose and that it was possible that due to recent initiatives, more victims were coming forward to notify authorities.

"The Department does not have the ability to conclusively identify the reasons for this increase in reporting behavior," said the report.

Arrow Down

5 die, dozens sickened, after eating poisoned soy sausage at a Mexican drug rehab centre

La Perla
© Associated Press/Bruno Gonzalez
Police and forensic workers work inside the La Perla drug rehabilitation center in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, Monday Dec. 26, 2011.
Medical officials say five recovering drug addicts died and dozens of others were sickened by soy sausage served for Christmas dinner at a rehabilitation centre in western Mexico.

Authorities were investigating whether the poisoning at the centre in the city of Guadalajara was accidental or intentional. Drug cartels have taken over rehabilitation centres in parts of Mexico, forcibly recruiting addicts as hit men and smugglers. The invasions have led to mass shootings at the centres that have left dozens dead.

Alhy Daniel Nunez is a spokesman for the Red Cross in the western state of Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located. He said Monday that 37 people remained hospitalized, three of them in serious condition.