Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Know What You Did Last Summer...

Three in five of us have a secret we dread others discovering!
A recent survey reveals the average person has at least one secret they've been carrying for 15 years or more!
Many of us have a skeleton in our closet, ranging from affairs or relationships, through to hidden children or even marriages. Other secrets include shoplifting as a child, or getting caught drunk-driving in the past.
The study shows people typically have two secrets hidden away – including an internet history they're not proud of, debt, sexual turn-ons and phobias they've never shared. Other secrets include hidden tattoos, poor exam grades and having to pretend to like someone.
People are most afraid of their partner discovering their secrets (though a quarter believe their other half would support them if they did find out)...but the idea of MUM finding out makes people very nervous indeed. Some 70% of respondents say they keep their secrets out of shame or embarrassment.
Others secrets appearing in the survey include real-life crushes that could never be revealed, or people hiding their real age from someone, while others confess to secrets of having had plastic surgery or being a secret smoker.
A significant majority of respondents - 70% - dread the day someone finds out the truth, while the same number are driven to keep their secrets out of shame and embarrassment.
Over a quarter say what happened is in the past and doesn't affect them now, just over a fifth keep quiet to preserve their relationship, 13% do it to save friendships, and 5% fear they would lose their job.
As for me...? time, at Band Camp...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BNZ House - About Bloody Time!

The former BNZ House in Christchurch's Cathedral Square has FINALLY been sold and will be demolished.
The new owner is Nexus Point Ltd, a company owned by Chch property investor Surja Yang and an individual offshore investor registered as a company in the British Virgin Islands.
Yang confirmed the $ had been finalised and would be settled by the end of this month. He says he will then apply for demolition consent, but has no plans yet for the 3000 sq.m. property: "I like the site – it's a prime site for Christchurch. I'm open for any tenants, or someone who would like to do a hotel or offices. I'll build to suit."
Built in 1961, the building's previous owner was Cristo Ltd, a family group of Christchurch investors. After it was damaged in the EQs and the BNZ bank moved out, Cristo drew up designs to rebuild it in similar style for new tenants. They later decided to sell, spending the insurance proceeds instead on an $84m Auckland office tower.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) took over the building's demolition and asbestos removal in 2012, and handed it back to Cristo when they considered it safe. The two parties then became embroiled in a dispute over the property. The 13-storey building became an eyesore after sitting partly demolished and derelict for three years.
Other would-be buyers eventually gave up...

Yang's background: He owns a half-share of the Victoria St building featuring King of Snake Restaurant. He is also developing a new 4-storey Durham St office building, and has planned a 9-storey luxury apartment building next door on Armagh St.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Faroe Islands' REALITY!

Last Thursday, another 200 pilot whales were butchered in the beautiful Faroe Islands.
A massive pod of around 150 pilot whales was driven into Bøur. The waiting crowd then slaughtered the animals on the killing beach. Later that evening a second grindadráp accounted for approx.50 pilot whales, killed at Tórshavn. This was the single bloodiest day in the Faroes this year!
"I fancied a SANDwich - but not this!"
Contrary to its earlier statement that the Danish Navy would not be involved in grindadráps, vessels HDMS Triton and HDMS Knud Rasmussen were both in the region at the time of the slaughters. Seems clear the navy will be protecting the bloodletting from nasty beastly horrid rat-bag environmental protestors!
Three Sea Shepherd crewmembers were arrested and another two detained, for trying to defend the whales. A SS land-based volunteer filmed the arrest - police demanded he delete the footage before they would release him.
The new Faroese Pilot Whaling Act – believed to be specifically intended to prevent SS volunteers trying to stop the cull – could lead to two years' jail.
SS is currently in the Faroes for it's 6th.Pilot Whale Defence Campaign, Operation Sleppid Grindini. It claims 33 pilot whales were killed last year and around 1,300 were killed in 2013.
So far in 2015, the tally stands at approx.380.

UPDATE: 09 Aug.2015 - The Faroe Islands' tourism industry has been hit again. German company cruise ship company AIDA has cancelled three trips to Klaksvík this summer (AIDA and Disney Cruise Lines both cancelled cruises to the FI in 2014 while Hapag Lloyd Cruises threatened to). AIDA cited the new Pilot Whale Act (2015) for its decision: the Act says tourists must report all sightings of whales and dolphins, so the cetaceans can be slaughtered in the infamous grindadráp. Visitors who do not comply face penalties of up to 3,000 euros, and 2yrs' jail. While obviously aimed directly at protestors, it has backfired on the tourism industry!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Japan Back In The Zoo Club

The Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) has regained its membership in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), after it ordered its members to stop getting dolphins from the brutal Taiji hunt.
WAZA represents more than 50 national aquarium and zoo associations worldwide, and requires members to stick to certain animal welfare standards. It suspended JAZA in April over acquisitions of dolphins from Taiji, where every year fishermen herd animals into a cove and butcher them. They save a handful of the animals to sell to aquariums.
"Soup, anyone?"
When the Japanese body met late May, a majority of its 89 member zoos and 63 aquariums voted in favour of staying in WAZA, by ending the purchase of Taiji dolphins.
If the JAZA members had voted no, they'd have been expelled immediately. That would have ended access to the WAZA database, creating big difficulties importing rare animals from zoos and aquariums overseas.
JAZA said the suspension has also prompted the group to seek alternative sources of live dolphins.
"Got my fork. When's lunch?"
So, typical of the Japanese mind-set about marine mammals, JAZA will still get the dolphins another way...while greedily retaining access to a very valuable database!
The slaughter at Taiji gained global notoriety after the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove (2009) showed the water running red with blood. Only a small number of dolphins caught at Taiji are sold to aquariums. The vast majority are butchered and sold for their meat.
The battle for Taiji continues...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Honesty Not The Best Policy?

For a New Plymouth woman, honesty doesn't always pay!
Louise Jackson noticed a mystery $429 deposit in her ANZ account recently. She rang the bank to sort it out. How hard can that be? VERY, it seems!
ANZ staff told her they could not simply reverse the transaction - they can do a trace, but that would cost Louise $15.
When she said she didn't want to pay the fee (and fair enough: why should she? SHE didn't make the mistake!), the ANZ staff member suggested she call the bank that the dosh came from, to see if it could do anything. Crazy, huh?
Now, at this point, some folk would say
"To hell with it! Finders keepers!" but Louise persevered and contacted TSB Bank, where the transaction originated...only to be told that without an account number or name to reference against, it could do nothing either. (No company name or account number showed up on Louise's online statement, just a three-letter reference code.)
Surely all that was needed was a teeny bit of effort, to compare dates and amounts, and narrow down the possible source that way...? A half-decent computer programme could do it in the blink of a bank charge hike.
But it appears banks don't like to work FOR their customers any more. However, under the spotlight of public scrutiny, they do start to squirm!
ANZ Bank spokesman Stefan Herrick acknowledges the bank does charge a small fee to trace transactions, but staff can waive it under certain circumstances: "In this case the customer shouldn't have been asked to pay a fee for doing the right thing. We applaud her honesty, and thank her for doing what she could to ensure the money went back to its rightful owner."
And surprise-surprise, the ANZ is now tracing the source of the mystery money "as a matter of priority." Quite frankly, too little too late - a weak response from both ANZ and TSB...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lotto: "Do It More Piratey!"

Lotto NZ has a new advertising campaign running, urging kiwis to imagine what they could do with their lives if they won Powerball.
Have you seen it yet?
The new tells the story of a hard-working fisherman who lives with his father and son, but is often away at sea...
Lotto NZ chief marketing officer Guy Cousins: "We've spoken to past's not just about the things they can buy with the money, but more about the freedom to choose how to spend their time and being able to focus on what really matters – quality time with family and friends. The film is the start of a long-term campaign encouraging NZers to imagine what they could do with their lives..."
A nice emotive ad...
...incidentally, it was filmed at Ngawi, a small fishing settlement about 5kms from Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island. Ngawi's one claim to fame is that it has more bulldozers per head of population than anywhere else in the world! The bulldozers are used to haul fishing boats into/out of the water, as there's no wharf or other access to the ocean other than the beach, which can be notoriously rough at times...

Monday, July 20, 2015

Could Be A Cold Day In The Caribbean

Wintering over in Tromsø...?
The St Kitts Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources says his govt is investigating whether a vessel bearing the St Kitts and Nevis flag was involved in any illegal fishing activity relating to whaling.
An international animal rights group Avaaz has a current on-line campaign, calling on the the govt of the tiny West Indies federation to immediately revoke its flag from the vessel Winter Bay, which is reportedly carrying millions of dollars' worth of endangered Norwegian fin whale meat (1,700 tonnes) to Japan.
The group argues this is an illegal activity and, if the government removes the flag, the vessel will not be able to dock and conduct operations. The Minister says if the investigation shows Winter Bay was involved in anything illegal based on international laws, the govt will make a decision.
Sea Shepherd says the shipment is in violation of CITES regulations.
In the past, St Kitts and Nevis has publicly supported Japan in its whaling efforts. International critics argue that, because the Federation is receiving financial support from Japan in the form of construction of fisheries complexes in both St Kitts and Nevis, it will not pull its support or criticise Japan for its whaling activities. Naturally the Minister disagrees…
…meanwhile Sea Shepherd continues to keep an eyeball on Winter Bay, which is still sitting in the Norwegian port of Tromsø, awaiting clearance to sail to Japan via the Bering Sea through Russian waters. Activists are urging Russia to not grant Winter Bay permission to transit its waters.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Last Chance For His Kind

Sudan is an elderly northern white rhinoceros.
He spends his days surrounded 24/7 by armed guards.
At 42, he's the oldest northern white rhino to have lived in captivity and it shows. His left eye is nearly blind, his hind legs so weak he can't mount the remaining females. His sperm count is low, and the
females reject him.
His subspecies has spent generations evolving to their habitat - their mouths shaped to suit the local vegetation, their hides more resistant to specific parasites. But they could not prepare for man's wars. They lived in battle zones - Congo, the Central African Republic, Sudan - and were killed for horns that could be turned into cash and weapons (in SE Asian markets, rhino horn sells for around $71,000 per kilo!).
In the 1960s, northern whites were estimated at around 2000. When Sudan was captured at age 3, and taken to a Czech zoo, his kind were listed as 'endangered'. Conservationists believed they could still save them, but no one did anything. So they were wiped out in the wild, first in the Central African Republic, then in Sudan.
By 2003, there were less than two dozen left in the wilds of DRC's Garamba National Park. After the govt refused to move them to safety in Kenya, they too were poached. In 2008, northern white rhinos were declared extinct in the wild. Only those in captivity remained.
Other rhino subspecies have suffered the same fate: the western black rhino and a subspecies of Javan rhino in the wilds of Vietnam were declared extinct in 2011.
Scientists set the minimum requirement for a viable breeding population of a subspecies at around 2000. Right now, there are five. Two of the four remaining females are in a San Diego zoo, too old to mate.
The two other females are Sudan's own offspring. Yet, despite in-breeding being common among wild rhinos, his daughter Najin (25) and granddaughter Fatu (14) will no longer have him.
In an ironic situation created by human plunder and blunder, the best chance for survival now rests with human intervention. Conservationists are planning to create the world's first test-tube rhino, through in-vitro fertilisation of Najin or Fatu's eggs with sperm harvested from Sudan. The tiny embryo could then be implanted into a southern white rhino, a surrogate mother from a closely related subspecies.
It has never been done before. But it's the only choice left.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Say Cheese And Grab Dem Skis!

This winter, a small South Island ski field has been experiencing bumper snowfalls not seen in years.
Mt Cheeseman is a club ski field near the town of Springfield in Canterbury - but you don't have to be a member to ski there. It's open to the public, and is the closest club ski area to Christchurch - just 90mins (100km) drive.
It's two accommodation lodges, the Snowline Lodge and the Forest Lodge, were fully booked for the school holidays, and about 700 guests enjoyed pristine snow conditions last weekend.
The large flow of guests - some of whom usually frequent other Canterbury ski fields
Location, location, location...
such as Porters, Craigieburn and Mt Hutt - has not been seen since 2011. Marketing manager Ana Haase: "We haven't had much snow the last couple of seasons, but we don't really talk about those now. This year is great!"
Mt Cheeseman has been open for business since late June, and will stay open until the end of September if favourable conditions persist. The week before opening day, it had some fantastic snow...and it's just kept snowing.
Snow enthusiasts have also been enjoying sub-zero temperatures at the mountain's base, where an open-air ice rink recently hosted curlers from the West Coast and inter-ski field ice hockey comps.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tailing The Winter Bay

Sea Shepherd's ship Sam Simon has left Norwegian waters, after a short stop in the port of Tromsø. It was tailing a shipment of
endangered fin whale meat, en route to Japan.
You'll recall in May, I blogged about the cargo vessel Winter Bay, with 1,700 tonnes of endangered fin whale meat, harvested from endangered whales slaughtered in the North Atlantic by Icelandic whaling company Hvalur (run by its blood-hungry CEO Kristján Loftsson).
Winter Bay (which until 2014 was Norwegian-owned, and operated by the country's shipping and ferry company Nor Lines), has been reflagged to a St.Kitts and Nevis flag-of-convenience. It's ownership has been transferred to a shell company in Tortola British Virgin Islands, and the vessel's management has been outsourced to a Latvian ship operator. It's not uncommon for older, aging ships to be handled in this way to avoid the cost of maintenance.
Prior arrival in Tromsø, Sam Simon notified Norwegian authorities of it's plans to enter Norwegian waters, as required under law. The SS vessel was then tailed by the Norwegian Coast Guard, and buzzed multiple times by a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft.
Once in harbour, Sam Simon was boarded by about two dozen Coast Guard, Customs officers and police with sniffer dogs. They carried out a thorough inspection, while crew were kept under guard in the mess.
There were no incidents and the authorities remained professional and courteous at all times, but it's hoped the Coast Guard subjected Winter Bay, which is carrying endangered wildlife, to the same amount of close scrutiny.
SS will continue to watch Winter Bay, which is
scheduled to sail the icy passage between Russia and the North Pole to Japan.
...meanwhile actress Pamela Anderson has written to Russian Prez Putin, requesting that Russia stop Winter Bay from sailing through the Northeast Passage.
Winter Bay is in violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which the Russian Federation is a signatory. CITES prohibited the shipment from going through the Suez or Panama Canals, thus leaving only one viable route: the Bering Strait, which separates the Russian region of Kamchatka from the US state of Alaska at the point where the Arctic meets the Pacific Ocean. This cuts straight through Russian territorial waters, meaning Putin has the power to refuse the Winter Bay passage and send it back to Iceland.
Anderson, a well-known animal-rights advocate, has asked the Russian leader to do exactly that...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Is TVNZ Courting Campbell?

The whispers are growing: Television New Zealand seems to be chasing John Campbell.
Further…the courting was going on before his Campbell Live show was chopped by MediaWorks in May.
TVNZ is even trying to personalise a format to specifically suit Campbell…so the rumours insist.
Given the success of the recent All Blacks-Samoa match – the groundswell for which was all started by John Campbell – it's obvious he has huge public support, and that would surely translate into big viewing numbers.
The word is that Campbell is not some egotistical broadcasting wanker with an over-inflated sense of self-worth and wallet to match. He puts in hard work before each show, doesn't demand blood-from-the-proverbial stone, AND is far more likeable than Mike Hosking (Seven Sharp)…now that's someone who fits perfectly into my earlier description!
Radio New Zealand has been flirting with Campbell too. With Afternoons host Simon Mercep leaving this week, many of John Campbell's fans hope he'll take over there. But RNZ is not a happy ship, and Campbell's smart enough to be aware of that…
No-one is stating anything publically or officially. It's all just scuttlebutt, but with growing volume. Watch this airspace…

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Migaloo or Moby Dick?

A rare white humpback whale has been spotted in Cook Strait!
The oddity was spotted with a black humpback last Sunday, during Dept.of Conservation's 12th annual Cook Strait whale survey.
The two contrasting humpback whales were spotted by former whaler Ted Perano and left researchers stunned.
Features on the whale are similar to those on one known as Migaloo. They include the dorsal fin's distinctive shape and also distinctive spiny protuberances behind the dorsal fin.
Migaloo (which is Aboriginal for "white fella"), has been seen off eastern Australia almost every year since 1991. A skin sample, taken from this whale with a biopsy dart, will be compared with Migaloo's DNA to confirm whether it is the same whale.
...or Moby Dick?
White humpbacks are extremely rare and only four have been reported in the world. Migaloo is the most famous and is believed to have fathered two white calves. Another white humpback whale was spotted off Norway in 2012.
The annual whale survey is to assess humpback whale recovery since commercial whaling ended in the Cook Strait 50 years ago. It is timed for humpback whales' northern migration to South Pacific breeding grounds, and estimates the size of the humpback population.
This year's 4wk survey ends this Friday, and has counted 122 humpback whales, far more than the previous-highest tally of 106 humpbacks in 2012.

Monday, July 6, 2015

ISIS In London

A tourist photographed this shocking moment outside London's Houses of Parliament last Saturday...
a man, draped in an Islamic State (ISIS) flag, with a young girl on his shoulders who's also waving a terrorist flag!
This is just days before Britain marks the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks, and only a week after gunmen murdered 38 tourists (including 30 Brits) on a beach in Tunisia!
What's equally as shocking is that police stopped the man, but did not arrest him as his actions were deemed within the law.
Social media is running hot - many say it makes them feel unsafe on their own streets.
Scotland Yard says the officers considered the dick's actions were within the Public Order Act 1986. However a closer read of the Act reveals that "...wearing, carrying or displaying of an emblem or flag, by itself, is not an offence unless; the way in which, or the circumstance in which, the emblem is worn, carried or displayed is such as to cause reasonable suspicion that the person is a supporter or member of a prescribed organisation."
The spokesman added: "While support of and membership of ISIS is unlawful, it is not a criminal offence to advocate the creation of an independent state."
The Public Order Act clearly states that a person is guilty if he '...displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.'
A Home Office spokesman says ISIS is very much on it's prescribed 'naughty boys' list, and therefore showing signs you support that group IS an offence.
It's clear that someone - seemingly the officer who spoke to the flagbearing dickhead - cocked up, and needs a Public Order Act refresher course urgently!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Tourists Forced To Help Massacre Whales

Come to the beautiful Faroe Islands...and help massacre whales!
Tourists in the Faroes face stiff penalties, if they do not report migrating whales and dolphins to local authorities!
According to new laws, tourists must report all sightings of whales and dolphins, so the cetaceans can be slaughtered in the infamous drive hunt, the grindadráp. Visitors who do not comply can face penalties of up to 3,000 euros, and imprisonment of two years.
Sea Shepherd's Operation Sleppid Grindini members were informed of the penalties by local authorities...who were quick to point out that the law applied to all visiting tourists, not just those with SS.
Despite these laws and revised penalties, the Danish Navy has confirmed that it will not assist with reporting or other involvement in the grindadráp...unlike in the past!
I can only imagine how those opposed to, or indeed unaware of, the killing tradition will react to this. Oh, what a marketing opportunity! 'Visit the Faroes! Bask in its natural beauty! Go home with blood on your hands and unnecessary deaths on your conscience!' Yes, even tourists on whale-watching tours can be drawn into the killings.
While these laws are obviously intended to limit SS's effectiveness in protecting whales, the severe implications will most certainly drive tourist money away from the region. It's like visiting Zimbabwe and being forced into rhino poaching!
The annual whale massacres have garnered negative reactions from some in the tourist industry. Since 2013, two German cruise line companies, AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd, have publically expressed their concerns about the grindadráp to the Faroes govt, calling for an end to the slaughter.
In their enthusiasm to enforce these new penalties and restrain SS, the Faroese have overlooked the potential threat to tourism!

...ironically, on the very day this news broke (29 June 2015), a second massacre occurred, this time at Hvannasund.
Sea Shepherd estimates that 20-30 pilot whales were killed in the slaughter. The SS ship Brigitte Bardot was patrolling approx.25 miles to the south, and was not able to reach the area in time.