Last Friday, 11 brave activists occupied the world’s second largest oil rig, the Leiv Eiriksson, which was en route from Turkey to Greenland to begin drilling in Arctic waters. The Greenpeace protestors made their way to a gangway 80ft over the massive vessel’s starboard stern and called for an end to reckless deepwater drilling.
Twelve hours after boarding the Leiv Eiriksson, the 11 activists were forced down by a gale as the vessel entered Greek waters. No arrests were made. Activists are now expected to dog the progress of the slow-moving Leiv Eiriksson as it passes Greece, Italy, France and Spain on its passage through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic. It is scheduled to stop in Britain to pick up supplies before the last leg of its journey to Greenland in June.
In New Zealand, the Noble Discoverer, an oil and gas drilling ship working in the Maui gas field near Taranaki broke its moorings as a result of bad weather on Wednesday. Shell Todd Oil Services general manager Rob Jager says some of the ship’s anchor-lines failed during a storm and it had to find shelter in deeper water. There are no reports of an oil spill from the accident.
On Saturday one of the vessels in the deep sea oil protest flotilla was boarded by Police with the help of Navy personnel and the skipper, Elvis Teddy was arrested. He has been charged under Section 65.1.A.a of the Maritime Safety Act. Elvis appears in court at 8.30am today in Tauranga. The other flotilla boats have entered Tauranga harbour to support their fellow skipper for his appearance in court. An invitation was made for all supporters in the Bay of Plenty and elsewhere to stand beside Elvis Teddy and show appreciation of his bravery in defence of our treasured oceans from the dangers of deep sea oil drilling. Support for the protesters has been extensive and wide ranging.
“The sea is big enough for all of us, certainly an oil ship can make room for a man fishing for his family.”
– Michael Franti.
Late on Tuesday night, an inside source gave people on the East Coast a heads up that the Police were mobilising to hit Apanui with raids like the Tuhoe Anti Terrorism raids in 2007. Te Whanau a Apanui have been protesting alongside Greenpeace and other organisations to oppose offshore oil exploration by Petrobras.
If undertaken, such raids would bring the Police and Government into further disrepute, being that the premise for their execution would be to suppress legitimate protest. The botched 2007 raids on 60 houses across the country, flimsy charges and subsequent delaying by the police through various legal processes for nearly 4 years have led many to question the legitimacy of the crowns case. The element of surprise being lost could have caused the Police to call off any further unjustifiable raids.
On the 25th, the bodies of Jorge Grando, the former head of the environmental protection agency for the city of Pinhais in southern Brazil, and four others were found inside a house in Sao Paulo Brazil, shot dead execution style. Their hands were tied behind their backs and each had several bullet wounds in their heads. This and other recent killings of environmental activists in Brazil has caused human rights groups to demand answers of those implicated in the murders.
Despite repeated assurances by John Key that the New Zealand’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) was deployed into Afganistan in a “training and mentoring” role only, it has been reported that the SAS conducted a revenge attack against those responsible for the death of Lt. Timothy O’Donnell. Despite strong evidence, the Defence Minister Wayne Mapp denies the action taken by the SAS in Afghanistan was a revenge attack, stating:
“I’m clearly accepting that we undertook a mission, and it was to protect our people,” Wayne Mapp said.
The SAS had apparently been deployed to Afghanistan to help the Afghan Army counter-terrorism Crisis Response Unit (CRU) based in Kabul and would not be engaged in combat operations. In 2009 John Key stated that the SAS would not lead any raids as part of its mentoring role, but would some times accompany Afghan troops into battle when needed. Yet the raid against Lt. O’Donnell’s killers was led by the SAS in conjunction with US troops and air cover, with only a supporting role delegated to Afghan Army units.This again questions the honesty of John Key and raises concerns about New Zealand’s involvement in Americas war for oil.
Investigative journalist Jon Stephenson has revealed that the SAS transferred prisoners to the Afghan National Directorate of Security, an organisation well known to engage in torture. Those transfers violated both the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions and such action makes the SAS guilty of human rights abuses. National has deployed more troops to US Wars in the last two years than any New Zealand government since Vietnam with most of them being sent in secret. The Green Party has called for an independent inquiry to establish the facts and make sure the SAS is obeying International Law. John Key after saying there would be a greater openness in SAS deployment, on Tuesday said he had seen no evidence to support the need for an inquiry into a claim that SAS soldiers were handing over prisoners to Afghanistan authorities.
A New Zealand patrol was attacked with a home made bomb in Afghanistan on Friday, the Defence Force says. There were no reports of injuries.
In a shock announcement, the National Government has said that 45 Woman’s Refuge’s will loose $382,200 from their national contract and just over $300,000 in contracts held by some refuges for family violence co-ordinator and child advocate jobs. Women’s refuges say some women fleeing from violence may no longer be able to get a safe bed after a surprise Government policy change chopped $700,000 off their funding. A Family and Community Services spokeswoman said the $382,200 cut for Women’s Refuge’s national contract came out of the family violence education fund. However the Women’s Refuge Chief Executive, Ms Heather Henare said it was coming out of funding for women and children needing safe accommodation for up to six days.
“We currently get paid $520 per client for just over 3000 [short-stay] clients, spread amongst the 45 refuges. Take $382,200 out and that reduces to $251. We have to make a decision as to whether we can actually provide that service any more” she said.
There is growing pressure for recovery teams to go into the Pike River coal mine following a statement that an image taken from a scanner could be that of a body. Police have confirmed that, in the opinion of a senior forensic pathologist, a video image recovered from the Pike River mine is very highly likely to be that of a fully clothed person lying face down.
Pak’n Save Mill St owner Glenn Miller said more than 20 people went through his unmanned store between 8am and 9.30am on Good Friday after a computer glitch caused the lights to switch on and the doors open. Many people have subsequently paid after seeing themselves on security footage.
Gales, a mini-tornado and rain wreaked havoc in the North Island, toppling trees, ripping roofs from buildings and causing a widespread power cut in Taupo. The torrential rain caused slips that closed roads across Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Te Awamutu felt the full brunt, and residents told of a “mini tornado” that ripped up 20 trees in one street. A state of local emergency was declared for the Central Hawke’s Bay District due to the severe flooding over the past two days in the region with many roads closed and people isolated. More than 10,000 homes in the Taupo region were without power yesterday after strong winds blew a corrugated iron roof into a substation and toppled more than 40 trees on to power lines.
Powerful storms in the southern United States this week have caused the Governors in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee to declare state of emergencies and in Mississippi severe weather damaged homes, downed trees and power lines and sparked flash floods. In Alabama, strong winds snapped trees across power lines, roads and buildings early on Wednesday, leaving around 245,000 households and businesses without power. More than 201 people have died as a result with more deaths expected. Floods remain a big concern in several states, where rain and melted snow have caused rising rivers and saturated soils. Two weeks ago, at least 47 people also died as storms tore a wide path from Oklahoma to North Carolina.
The SETI Institute is to shut down alien-seeking radio dishes because of a lack of money to pay its operating expenses. Mountain View’s SETI Institute has pulled the plug on the renowned Allen Telescope Array, a field of radio dishes that scan the skies for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
Around 77 million people with Sony Electronics PlayStation Network accounts, could have had their names, addresses and other personal data including credit card details stolen. Sony’s PlayStation online service has been down for just over a week. Sony said it saw no evidence that credit card numbers were stolen, but warned users that it could not rule out the possibility. Anonymous has denied responsibility for the hack.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained,” Sony said.
A couple of weeks ago, two data scientists revealed that an unprotected file stored on iPhones and iPads running Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS4 was keeping a history of location data dating back 10 months. This file features latitude and longitude coordinates and a time stamp. The Wall Street Journal has discovered that the devices continue to store location data, even when location services are switched off. The scientists, Warden and Allen also found the file on machines that users have synched with their mobile devices. This was not intentional according to Apple, which said on Wednesday that your iPhone isn’t stalking you and that some of its intrusive location-gathering techniques are the result of bugs that will be fixed soon. Mac Rumors obtained what it says is an email from Apple, claiming:
“We don’t track anyone. The info circulating around is false” CEO Steve Jobs said.
Two customers have already filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of violating computer fraud laws by secretly recording location data of iPhone and iPad users. Apple admits in the Q&A statement that the file should not be storing so much data dating as far back as a year ago, and it should not be storing location data even after location services are turned off. The company said an upcoming, free software update would fix both these issues, plus, it would encrypt the database file.
A threat by internet activist group Anonymous to shut down Parliament’s websites is being taken seriously, says Parliamentary Services. The “denial of service” threat is part of a protest against a change to copyright laws aimed at preventing illegal file sharing by internet users. Parliamentary Services general manager Geoff Thorn told NZPA the threat was being taken “seriously” and staff were monitoring the situation. There was a report on Thursday that the Parliamentary website was intermittently down.
The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill allows copyright owners to send evidence of alleged infringements to internet service providers (ISPs), who will then send up to three infringement notices to the account holder. The bill was passed under urgency earlier this month.