Home' Greymouth Star : June 30th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Israel blocks Gaza flotilla
Israeli forces boarded a boat leading a
protest flotilla of foreign activists to the
blockaded Palestinian enclave of Gaza
overnight and forced it to sail to an
Israeli port, the Israeli military said.
Activists said the boat also carried
a group of journalists and politicians,
among them former Tunisian President
Moncef Marzouki and a European
Parliament lawmaker for Spain.
Two New Zealanders were also aboard
the activist ship seeking to break Gaza’s
Israel’s navy took over the ship — part
of a flotilla of four boats carrying pro-
Palestinian activists — and escorted it to
the port of Ashdod.
The flotilla activists were seeking to
reach Gaza to highlight the Israeli
blockade of the territory — an attempt
that came five years after a similar bid
ended in a deadly raid.
Maori Television reporter Ruwani
Perera and cameraman Jacob Bryant
were reportedly aboard one of the ships
as “obser vers” when the Israeli forces
The ship had been at sea for 10 days.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade spokesman said it was aware two
New Zealanders were on the intercepted
vessel, the Swedish-flagged Marianne
of Gothenburg, as part of the Freedom
The ministry was monitoring the
situation and advised the reporters to
heed the travel advisory it had issued,
the spokesman said.
The ministry was advising against
all travel to Gaza due to the threat of
kidnapping, terrorism and potential for
retaliatory military operations.
Israeli troops boarded the boat in
international waters then searched and
seized it, an Israeli military statement
said. No bloodshed was reported.
The flotilla was the latest in a series of
such voyages across the Mediterranean
in protest against Israel’s nine-year
blockade of Islamist Hamas-dominated
In 2010, Israeli commandos killed
10 Turkish activists when they
commandeered their vessel in the
Mediterranean Sea, causing a diplomatic
row between Turkey and Israel.
The Israeli statement said: “After
exhausting all diplomatic channels the
Israeli government ordered the Israeli
navy to redirect the vessel in order to
prevent breach of the naval blockade.”
It said troops searched the vessel
and then escorted it to Ashdod. The
passengers would be handed over to
immigration authorities and deported.
The pro-Palestinian International
Solidarity Movement said the flotilla had
been led by a converted fishing trawler
called the Marianne of Gothenburg with
about 50 activists from 17 countries,
including an Israeli Arab lawmaker.
Former Tunisian President Moncef
Marzouki was among 18 people on board
the Marianne, flotilla spokeswoman Ann
Ighe said. Marzouki, 69, was elected
after a 2011 uprising and led Tunisia
Ana Maria Miranda Paz, a European
Parliament member from Spain, was
also on board, Ighe said.
Activists said the boats had set sail
on Sunday with a cargo of solar panels
intended to help alleviate electricity
shortages in Gaza, as well as medical
equipment for the impoverished territory,
home to 1.7 million Palestinians.
An Israeli naval vessel, centre, is seen in the Mediterranean Sea near the port of Ashdod, Israel . Israel said
it had blocked a boat leading a four-vessel protest flotilla of foreign activists from reaching the Gaza Strip
and forced the vessel to sail to the Israeli port.
NZ pair on protest vessel
Stunned Greeks faced closed
banks, long supermarket lines and
over whelming uncertainty as a
breakdown in talks with international
lenders plunged their country deep
With Greece’s bailout expiring
today and an IMF payment falling
due at the same time, Prime Minister
Alexis Tsipras pleaded in vain by
phone with European officials
to extend the programme until a
referendum on July 5 on its future
The frantic efforts to secure Greece’s
place within the euro zone followed a
dramatic weekend. Tsipras’s decision,
early on Saturday, to put the aid
package to a popular vote took the
lenders by surprise and sent Greeks
rushing to cash machines.
It also pushed Greece towards
defaulting on 1.6 billion euros ($2.62
billion) due to the International
Monetary Fund, which would take
it closer to an exit from the euro
zone. A Greek official confirmed the
payment would not be made.
Greeks — used to seeing lengthy
talks with creditors end with an 11th-
hour deal — were shocked by the turn
of events. Q ueues snaked outside
ATMs and inside supermarkets
while fears of disruptions to fuel and
medicine supplies grew.
Drug makers said they would
continue to ship medicines to Greece
in coming weeks despite unpaid bills,
but warned that supplies could soon be
in jeopardy without emergency action.
The breakdown of talks has pushed
the European Union and euro zone
into uncharted terrain. The Athens
stock exchange was closed like the
banks, but other share markets fell on
fears that Greece could be heading
out of the euro.
“ I can’t believe it,” Athens resident
Evgenia Gekou, 50, said on her way
to work. “ I keep thinking we’ll wake
up tomorrow and everything will be
okay. I’m trying hard not to worry.”
After months of talks, Greece’s
exasperated European partners have
put the blame for the crisis squarely
on Tsipras for rejecting a package
they consider generous. The Greek
side argues that pension cuts and
tax hikes demanded of it would only
deepen one of the worst economic
crises of modern times in a country
where a quarter of the workforce is
A snap poll of more than 70
economists and traders taken
overnight put the probability of
Greece leaving the euro zone at 45%,
up from 30% a week ago.
Emotions were unusually raw
Commission president Jean-Claude
Juncker said he felt personally
betrayed and told Greeks a “no” vote
would be seen as signalling an exit
from the euro — a position that other
European leaders lined up to echo.
“ I will say to the Greeks, who I love
deeply: you mustn’t commit suicide
because you are afraid of death,”
Juncker told a news conference.
Despite the acrimony over the
weekend, the creditors said the door
to negotiations remained open.
French President Francois Hollande
appealed to Tsipras to return to
the negotiating table and German
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she
was ready to restart talks with Athens
after the referendum, including on
how to ease its debt burden.
Hollande spoke to United States
President Barack Obama, and
Hollande’s aide said they had agreed
to work together for a resumption of
talks and a solution to the crisis to
ensure Greece’s financial stability.
Greece’s banks were shut after the
European Central Bank rejected its
request for 6b euros of additional
emergency funding on Sunday to
cope with massive withdrawals,
though the ECB is expected to allow
Greek banks to keep using existing
funds until the referendum, people
with knowledge of the matter said.
As Tsipras announced the closure
of banks and the stock exchange late
on Sunday, long queues grew outside
ATMs and petrol stations as people
raced to take out cash before it was
Overnight, cash machines remained
closed until midday, and then opened
for withdrawals of no more than 60
euros a day.
“I’ve got five euros in my pocket,
I thought I would try my luck
here for some money. The queues
in my neighbourhood were too
long yesterday,” plumber Yannis
Kalaizakis, 58, said outside an empty
cash machine in central Athens.
“I don’t know what else to say: It’s a
mess.” — Reuters
Greece in shock over euro crisis
About 30% of China’s Ming-era
Great Wall has disappeared over time
as adverse natural conditions and
reckless human activities — including
stealing the bricks to build houses —
erode the UNESCO World Heritage
site, State media reported.
The Great Wall is not a single
unbroken structure but stretches for
thousands of kilometres in sections,
from Shanhaiguan on the east coast to
Jiayuguan in the windswept sands on
the edge of the Gobi desert.
In places it is so dilapidated that
estimates of its total length vary from
9000km to 21,000km, depending on
whether missing sections are included.
Despite its length it is not, as is
sometimes claimed, visible from space.
Construction first begun in the third
century BC, but nearly 6300km were
built in the Ming Dynasty of 1368-
1644, including the much-visited
sectors north of the capital Beijing.
Of that, 1962km has melted away
over the centuries, the Beijing Times
Some of the construction weathered
away, while plants growing in the
walls have accelerated the decay, the
report said yesterday, citing a sur vey
last year by the Great Wall of China
“ Even though some of the walls are
built of bricks and stones, they cannot
withstand the perennial exposure to
wind and rain,” the paper quoted a
vice-president of the society, Dong
Yaohui, as saying.
“ Many towers are becoming
increasingly shaky and may collapse in
a single rain storm in summer.”
Tourism and local residents’ activities
are also damaging the longest human
construction in the world, the paper
Poor villagers in Lulong county
in the northern province of Hebei
used to knock thick grey bricks from
a section of wall in their village to
build homes, and slabs engraved with
Chinese characters were sold for 30
yuan ($4.80) each by local residents,
Under Chinese regulations people
who take bricks from the Great Wall
can be fined up to 5000 yuan, the
State-run Global Times said.
“ But there is no specific organisation
to enforce the rules. Damage could
only be reported to higher authorities
and it is hard to solve when it
happened on the border of two
provinces,” a cultural relics protection
official in Hebei, Jia Hailin, said,
according to the report.
It added that exploration of
undeveloped parts of the Great Wall
— an increasingly popular leisure
activity in recent years — had brought
those sections more tourists than they
could bear, damaging them severely.
Great Wall vanishing
The Great Wall of China, which is disappearing in places.
Tunisia makes first beach massacre arrests
Port el Kantaoui (Tunisia)
Tunisia says it has made its first
arrests after a beach massacre that
killed 38 people in the country’s
worst jihadist attack.
British Home Secretary Theresa
May, speaking at the scene of
Saturday ’s gun attack at a Tunisian
holiday resort, vowed that “the
terrorists will not win” after London
warned that Britain’s death toll
could rise to “around 30”.
The massacre, claimed by the
Islamic State group, was the
deadliest for Britain since the 2005
London bombings, and there are
fears it could inflict a devastating
blow to Tunisia’s vital tourism
Interior Minister Hajem Gharsalli
said the authorities had arrested “a
significant number of people from
the network that was behind this
terrorist criminal”, referring to the
May travelled overnight to the
resort of Port el Kantaoui, south
of Tunis, and promised to fight
extremism in the wake of the attack.
“ We will be united in working
together to defeat them but united
also in working to defend our
values,” May said at a joint news
conference with her German,
French and Tunisian counterparts
after visiting the scene of the
May and the German and French
interior ministers, Thomas de
Maiziere and Bernard Cazeneuve,
joined Tunisian officials in laying
a wreath in the sand near the Riu
Imperial Marhaba Hotel where the
A spokesman for
Prime Minister David Cameron,
meanwhile, said Britain had
identified 18 of its nationals killed,
but warned that the number may
rise to “around 30”.
Tunisia says four other victims
have been identified as being
tourists from Germany, Portugal,
Ireland and Belgium.
Shocking new amateur footage
from the attack has emerged on
social media, showing the gunman
walking calmly along the shore and
bloodied bodies on the sand.
Intermittent gunfire can be heard
in the 11-minute amateur video,
recorded by a Tunisian man using
his cellphone who can be heard
asking: “ Why do you kill people?
The attacker, identified as 23-year-
old student Seifeddine Rezgui,
pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle
from inside a beach umbrella and
opened fire on tourists at the resort
before being shot dead.
The attack — the second on
tourists in Tunisia after the
National Bardo Museum killings
killed 22 people in March — has
prompted authorities to boost
security at attractions and along its
1000km of coastline. — AFP
Discarded pet goldfish turn into giants in Canadian waters.
Flushed goldfish growing in wild
If you have a goldfish, and you are kind
of over that goldfish, to the point where
you are now wondering whether it might
be best to set that goldfish free, please
rethink that decision.
That is the request from the Alberta
government, which is trying to get
Canadians to refrain from dumping
out their fish tanks into ponds. Because
those ponds are filling up with those
discarded goldfish, which are getting
really, really big in the wild.
Or, as the CBC notes: “Goldfish the
size of dinner plates are multiplying like
“It’s quite a surprise how large we’re
finding them and the sheer number,”
Kate Wilson, aquatic invasive species
co-ordinator at Alberta Environment
and Parks, told the broadcaster.
According to CBC News, in one case,
the municipality of Wood Buffalo pulled
40 of the domestic fish species from a
“That ’s really scary because it means
they ’re reproducing in the wild, they
are getting quite large and they are
sur viving the winters that far north,”
“Forty. That does seem bad, doesn’t it?
I’d like to remind you that these goldfish
are sur viving (and growing) in Canada,
where it ’s cold.
“Their size is limited in the tank, but
when you release it into the wild, that
doesn’t exist any more,” Wilson told The
Like other species of carp, the
domestic goldfish Carassius auratus will
basically keep growing as long as water
temperatures and food resources support
it. There are obviously limits — you are
not going to accidentally create fishzilla
if you overfeed your goldfish — but
given a big body of water with tonnes of
food and warm summers, a fish is bound
to get supersized.
Then you end up with a bunch of
goldfish bruisers competing with local
fish for resources, and you better believe
the fish you flushed will give native
species a run for their money. Plus, some
scientists say, goldfish faeces might help
support certain types of algae, leading
to algal blooms that further disrupt the
The CBC reports that a campaign
designed to curb this trend, called Don’t
Let it Loose, will “focus on educating
Albertans about the dangers of releasing
domestic fish into nature. ” — AP
Italy begins recovering 800 migrant bodies
The Italian navy says it has begun
efforts to recover the bodies of some
800 migrants killed in a shipwreck
in the Mediterranean in April.
The recovery effort comes as
authorities rescued another 4400
people making the dangerous sea
journey to Europe.
The April 18 tragedy was the
deadliest sinking in the sea between
Europe and Africa in decades and
sparked international calls for
reinforced efforts to deal with the
growing migrant crisis.
recovery of bodies outside the
trawler that sank on April 18 . . .
from a depth of abuut 380m,” the
navy said on Twitter.
Only 28 people sur vived the
shipwreck at the time, out of an
estimated 800 on board when the
vessel set sail from Libya.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo
Renzi last month announced that
he wanted the wreck to be brought
to the surface and victims’ bodies
returned to their families for
burial, saying the country could
not “bury its conscience at a depth
Also overnight, Italian authorities
said they were dealing with the
arrival of another 4400 migrants
after a series of boats were rescued
in the space of 48 hours from waters
The rescues lifted to more 69,000
a record for the first half of the
year — the number of migrants to
have landed in Italy so far this year,
according to figures compiled by
the International Organisation for
The latest operations involved
Italian ships, British, Irish and
Spanish navy vessels and a
boat operated by Malta-based
humanitarian organisation MOAS,
the Italian coastguard said. — AFP
Time stands still
for ‘leap second’
Global time will stand still tonight,
delaying midnight by a second.
An extra sliver of time — a “ leap-
second” — is being added to the world’s
clocks to adjust for the inaccuracy of the
Before the invention of super-accurate
atomic clocks, time was based on the
Earth’s rotation, one complete turn
taking 24 hours.
Now a plethora of time-sensitive
systems, including computer programs
and financial markets, rely on the precise
ticking of atomic clocks that measure
the energy transitions of atoms.
The problem is that due to the moon’s
gravity the Earth is slowing down,
and not in a regular way. So every now
and then a leap second is added to
allow astronomical time to catch up
with atomic time. It is similar to the
introduction of leap years keep our
calendars lined up with the Earth’s orbit
around the Sun.
The latest pause — the 26th — will
occur on June 30 at 23:59:59 co-ordinated
universal time. UTC provides a world-
wide time standard free of time zones.
Computer programmers try to take
account of leap seconds but many
systems could be caught out, warns
atomic clock expert Professor Judah
Levine, from the United States National
Institute of Standards and Technology.
He told National Geographic
magazine: “It’s a major interruption
mostly because there are a lot of systems
that aren’t prepared to handle the leap
second correctly. ”
The last leap second in 2012
temporarily disrupted a number of
high-profile websites including Mozilla,
Reddit, Gawker, LinkedIn, Four Square
In Australia, more than 400 Qantas
flights were delayed as staff were forced
to switch to manual check-ins.
Leap seconds were first introduced in
1972, by which time atomic clocks and
astronomical clocks were already out of
kilter by 10 seconds. — PA
The world’s first purpose-built pure
electric double decker bus is to hit the
streets of London in October.
Passengers on route 16, between
Cricklewood and Victoria Station, will
be part of a new trial to test the latest
technology aimed at producing low
“The iconic red double decker bus is
about to become greener than ever,”
London Mayor Boris Johnson said at
a Clean Bus Summit at London’s City
He also announced that the 312 single
decker bus route, between Nor wood
and South Croydon, will become
London’s first pure electric route later
No fixed date has been set for when the
trial is to end.
London is one of 24 cities which have
pledged to roll out over 40,000 ultra-low
emission buses by 2020. — PA
Electric bus in London trial
Pink salmon in the Pacific Ocean
face a double threat of acidification
linked to greenhouse gas emissions
since it slows their early growth in
rivers and disrupts the chemistry of
seawater, a study showed overnight.
Impacts have in the past been
more studied in the seas than in
fresh water. But the Canadian study
found that acidification of rivers
could make young pink salmon, the
most abundant type in the Pacific,
smaller and more vulnerable to
predators by dampening their
ability to smell danger.
Damage done by acidification
“ in fresh water in pink salmon
could occur in all other salmonids”,
Colin Brauner, a co-author at the
University of British Columbia,
said. The findings were published
in the journal Nature Climate
Carbon dioxide, the main
greenhouse gas caused by burning
fossil fuels, reacts with water to
produce a weak acid. That especially
threatens creatures ranging from
oysters to lobsters which find it
harder to build protective shells.
An international study in 2013
said acidification of the oceans was
happening at the fastest pace for
55 million years, because of human
greenhouse gas emissions.
In the Canadian experiments,
pink salmon grew on average to
about only 32mm after 10 weeks,
when raised in waters with roughly
double current carbon dioxide
concentrations, shorter than the
34mm in waters with current levels.
The young fish also weighed less
and appeared less able to smell
danger. Brauner said it was too early
to say if the disruptions would last
into adulthood and mean smaller
Scientists say is unclear how far
salmon, and other marine life, may
adapt or evolve in future generations
to cope with rising levels of carbon
dioxide. — Reuters
Salmon risk double dose of acidic water
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