Sunday, May 31, 2015

No Trophy Kills On South African Airways

Africa's largest airline has banned the shipment of endangered animal trophies on its flights.
That’s right. There will be no more leopard-skins or elephant heads allowed onboard South African Airways (SAA).
Take that, trophy hunters!
SAA country manager Tim Clyde-Smith: "SAA will no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin. The vast majority of tourists visit Africa in particular to witness the wonderful wildlife that remains. We consider it our duty to work to ensure this is preserved for future generations and that we deter activity that puts this wonderful resource in danger."
No exception will be made, even if the hunter holds a valid permit issued by the relevant authorities to transport the animal.
This news comes after the recent revelation that the rate of rhinos poached last year in South Africa was bigger than ever.
Conservationists are onboard with the idea, seeing it as a bold and positive move to limit human-induced mortalities.
Wouldn't it be great if other international carriers made similar moves...

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.
(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 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.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Faroe Islands: Set The Whales Free!

Sea Shepherd has announced its 2015 Faroe Islands pilot whale defence campaign will be called Operation Sleppid Grindini.
From June 14 until October, SS will return to the rugged but beautiful Faroe Islands to again halt the mass slaughter of long-finned pilot whales and other small cetaceans there.
The campaign marks the commencement of SS's increased presence in the North Atlantic, where the organisation will use its Southern Ocean successes to combat the continuing slaughter
Sam Simon
of cetaceans.
The slaughter, known by the Faroese word grindadráp or grind, is a brutal and bloody tradition that wipes out entire family groups of whales and dolphins at one time.
The 2015 campaign name sleppid grindini means "set the whales free" in Faroese - and is the traditional order used by the grind foreman to call off a whale hunt.
Op.Sleppid Grindini campaign leader Captain Alex Cornelissen: "Our crews will do everything legally possible to ensure the pilot whales are set free. Our intervention is not aimed at imposing our values on the Faroese. It is part of a global movement driven by the passion to protect these pilot whales and all of the precious life in our oceans."
Op.Sleppid Grindini will be SS's 6th.campaign in the Faroes, and will have the organisation's strongest sea presence in the region to date. SS vessels Bob Barker and Sam Simon will be joined by its fast trimaran Brigitte Bardot.
Brigitte Bardot in the Faroes

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Campbell Live Is Now Dead. Mediaworks Next?

John Campbell will no longer host TV3's current affairs show that bears his name.
RadioLive, which is owned by MediaWorks (which also owns TV3), tweeted the news this arvo: "John Campbell will leave Campbell Live. The show will continue four days a week under a new name with two presenters." Well, I hope they told John before putting it out there!
Supporters of the current affairs show have been calling for action to keep the show since a review - led by TV3 news and current affairs boss Mark Jennings - was announced a few weeks ago.
Campbell Live has surged in the ratings in recent weeks as the public swung in behind the show. Campbell Live, which often campaigns for
the underdog, has regularly topped the network's ratings.
How ironic then, that Mediaworks is facing mega-changes of its own!
The whisper is that US investment company Oaktree is about to take full ownership of the firm.
Oaktree became the tv and radio company's majority owner last month when it bought the 36.5% combined stake in MediaWorks previously held by bankers Westpac and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
That bumped Oaktree's stake in MediaWorks up to 77.8%.
MediaWorks spokesman Rachel Lorimer company does not comment on shareholder matters.
Ha! Let's just say: what goes around comes around, Mediaworks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Penis Patrol Pounces On Potholes

Fed up with your local council not fixing potholes?
Draw a DICK around the problem and see what happens.
This seems to be working for anonymous artist "Wanksy" who's been spray-painting penises around his town's problematic potholes. The road vigilante says the streets in Ramsbottom (yes!), Greater Manchester, UK are in an appalling state. The campaigner says he has cyclist friends who have been injured by hitting the potholes.
One pothole had been there for eight months but, once "Wanksy" penis-painted it, the hole was patched in 48 hours.
He's been called a "hero" by his Facebook fans, but a council spokesman claims his actions are stupid, and insulting to the community: "Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they're confronted by these obscene symbols as they walk to school? Not only is this vandalism, but it's also counter-productive. Every penny we have to spend cleaning off this graffiti is a penny less we have to spend on actually repairing the potholes!"
Eeeeeee, by gooom...!
Still, it's one way that Penis People Power can get things done, because councils around the world otherwise seem to drag their dicks on road repairs. And, if they'd fixed the problem when it had first appeared...
Hell, imagine if this was done in Christchurch at the moment: every earthquake-damaged street would be a sausage-fest of willy art!!
I'm certain that "Banksy" would approve...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Zit-Popping Explosion

We've all had the odd zit or pimple, that we got rid of with a quick if painful squeeze in private.
But now, watching people pop zits and squeeze cysts is so popular on YouTube that the videos are getting multi-million views and turning top uploaders into celebrities!
YouTube has everything from a 2sec.clip of a zit exploding, to a 10-minute saga of pus oozing from a cyst that was so big it had its own name, George.
Other hits involve a man popping a 20-year-zit on the back of his neck and one labelled 'Best pimple pop ever' which has 30 million views and an introduction like a blockbuster movie!
These videos are so POP-ular that you can get paid for your popping footage - yeup, US$20 (NZ$26) from Pop That Zit! Pop That Zit details five types of zit-poppers...including OPZPs (other people's zit-poppers) who fantasise about squeezing pus out of other people. Baaarrrfff!!!
This fad has created celebrities such as Dr Vikram Yadav, whose video of popping nose blackheads has been viewed 15 million times. Its four sequels amassed another 50 million views.
So why are these videos so popular? According to Daniel Kelly, a Purdue Uni professor, it's because we get to experience something yucky or maybe dangerous without suffering the painful effects. Viewers commenting on the videos often say they're "satisfying". The videos hold a similar attraction to horror movies: no-one wants to be a victim of a crazed killer but many love to watch others suffer.
Nupe - not buying into this. It's just plain SICK!!! Use some Clearasil, kids...or better still, try washing your damn faces like mum said!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Big Bang Theory 2: Cop Shop WILL Drop

Mystery and confusion has dogged the date of Christchurch's next building implosion.
The actual day/time's been much-speculated about (and erroneously reported as fact) on social media. Then the PR dept of building owner Ngai Tahu Property (NTP) made sabre-rattling 'Public: Thou Shalt Keep Away!' noises, insisting we avoid witnessing such a rarity, and instead watch it on telly. NTP said security fencing would preclude a good view anyway so...
nyah-nyah...bugger off!
Now a date's been announced. OFFICIALLY.
The earthquake-damaged former Christchurch Central Police Station on Hereford St WILL be demolished by implosion on Saturday 30 May at 8am!
(Back-up date: Sunday 31.)
However we've been told (asked?) to stay away from the implosion. Yea, right. AS IF!!!
I was there on 05 Aug.2012 when the Radio Network Bldg became NZ's first imploded building. The several thousand spectators enjoyed 7.7sec of great fun! No-one was endangered. No-one was hurt. So to hell with the PR nazis. We'll all be kept at a safe distance, and still catch the thrill.
If being part of NZ history appeals to you, don't miss this!

Event: former Christchurch Central Police Station demolition
What: NZ's second building implosion
When: Saturday 30 May, 8am

UPDATE: 29 May 2015 - Implosion has been delayed and will now take place on the back-up day, Sunday 31 May 5pm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sea Shepherd Expects Icy Reception

Anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd will be sending ships to Iceland, Norway and the Faroe Islands in the weeks to come, as minke whaling prepares to begin.
The organisation has already declared victory over Japan in the southern hemisphere, and will now be turning its attention to the
North Atlantic.
Adam Meyerson, captain of the SS ship Bob Barker, says that now there's a greater need to protect whales in the Nth.Atlantic. Meyerson says it's not yet been decided how many ships will be sent into the region, or what kind of actions they'll be taking (as this is decided on a case-by-case basis). However in the Southern Ocean, SS emphasised direct interference with whaling vessels as its primary method.
The Northern Hemisphere announcement comes as the hunting of minke whales gears up for a start as early as this week.
SS has a "special" history with Iceland. In 1986, the group claimed responsibility for sinking two whaling boats in Reykjavík harbour - the act has never been forgotten by many Icelanders.
In 2011, the Icelandic government criticised Holland and Australia for offering services to SS, calling the group a "terrorist organisation".

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Vanity. Vanity. All Is Star Wars.

Being pictured on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine is seen as a 'rite of passage' for many of Hollywood's elite.
But the latest issue features a band of fictional players: Star Wars characters.
On the June cover (shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz) there are several characters from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens film, including Han Solo (Harrison Ford), Chewbacca, Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and the BB-8 droid.
There's even a Yoda quote on the cover, which reads: "In a dark place we find ourselves — a little more knowledge might light our way."
Set inside what looks like the cockpit of a spacecraft (perhaps the Millennium Falcon?), the image was also promoted by the magazine on Twitter, with the message "Rebel scum and stormtroopers join forces on our new Star Wars cover."
Ahhhh, the hype is strong in this one...!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jetstar Bubble Trouble

Bubble-baths can be lotsa fun, except when they get outta hand.
In Australia, the Qantas subsidiary airline Jetstar has had two of its A320s put out of action for a couple of weeks because of...bubbles!
A helluva lot of them!!
The planes were smothered in a sea of fire-retardant foam on 23 April, when wild storms raging through the Newcastle region of New South Wales triggered the fire system in a maintenance hangar. As you can see, just a tiny wee bit of tidying-up to do...!
Jetstar expects the A320s will be back in service by mid-May, but the airline needs to test wiring at its maintenance base first, before it can work on the planes.
The two narrowbodies affected when the fire system tripped were VH-VQW and VH-VQC. VH-VQW was completely inside the hangar and suffered damage to its engines, computer and electrical systems. VH-VQC had its nose inside the hangar at the time of the incident and suffered engine damage.
Well, if it's any consolation, at least Jetstar now knows its fire-retardant systems do work!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Aliens Among Us

A new species of whale may be cruising the icy cold waters of the Antarctic.
Scientists have recorded a unique whale song, which they can't identify, in the area. Evidence is tantalising, rather than strong, as the song could be from one of a few known species of beaked whale. But it's structure doesn't quite fit any known beaked whales... leaving open the possibility it's from a new species.
Although beaked whales comprise the 2nd-largest cetacean family (the group containing whales and dolphins), they're one of the most poorly-known groups of all large mammals.
Cuvier's beaked whales: it wasn't US!
All beaked whales are extremely elusive, diving deeply (to depths of over 9,000ft!!!) and spending very little time at the surface, which makes them difficult to spot. But they do produce unique sounds for echolocation, that scientists can use to track their movements.
New species of beaked whale are still being discovered - in 2014, a new discovery brought the total number of species to 22.
This strange signal, known as the Antarctic BW29 signal, was recorded more than 1000 times. It's unique in both its timing and the type of sounds making up the signal.
As well as BW29, the researchers also recorded another unique call on six other occasions, dubbed Antarctic BW37. This second signal was produced at a higher frequency. It's unknown yet whether this belongs to a different beaked whale species than the one producing Antarctic BW29.
So there's only one thing to do: allow Japanese "research" vessels down there to hunt the sources of BW29 and BW37, so they can carry out extensive "studies"...before they eat 'em!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Paddock Porn? Or Farm Fun?

An Aussie farmer could be deep in the excrement, after some country creativity.
Bruce Cook, who owns Kaktus Point Charolais stud at Lake Charm in northwest Victoria, made a sculpture out of hay bales, depicting a cow and a bull doin' da wild thang.
Police told him to pull it down, after they received a complaint about its 'offensive' nature. Bruce built his realistic artwork for a bit of fun - he says many passersby have enjoyed his sculpture and even stopped to take photos.
He's refused to deconstruct it, and reckons he "told the copper to piss off" despite warnings that he could be charged with publishing pornographic images:
It's just business as usual...
"I'm not going to take it down unless I receive a court order."
Cook says he'll be adding fairy lights to the structure and an extra two straw calves, made out of stuffed feed bags, to complete the sculpture. He's not fazed by the complaints but doesn't understand why anyone would find it insulting.
The local Kerang Police Station has not laid any charges yet - the matter's still under investigation.
You gotta wonder what type of warped womble would find this wee bit of farm fun offensive...!
I say: GO for it, Cooky!