Here in Pucallpa, a city at the heart of Peru’s logging industry on a major tributary of the Amazon, the waterfront is dominated by huge sawmills piled high with thousands of massive logs. They are floated in from remote logging camps, pulled by small motorboats called peke pekes, while trucks stacked with logs and lumber jam the roads.
A military officer stationed here to patrol the Ucayali River said that he had largely stopped making checks of the riverborne loads of timber, though the checks are supposed to be mandatory. In the past, he said, he had repeatedly ordered loads of logs to be held because they lacked the required paperwork, only to learn that forestry officials would later release them, apparently after creating or rubber-stamping false documentation.
In some cases, he said, loads of mahogany, a valuable type of wood that has disappeared from all but the most remote areas, were given fake documentation identifying the wood as a different kind.
“It’s uncontrollable,” said the officer, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Referring to local forestry officials, he said, “The bosses give jobs to people they trust and then take a cut of the bribes they get.”
Mr. Berrospi, who worked as an environmental prosecutor until August, recited a bitter catalog of frustrations. The local authorities are paid off by loggers to create or approve false paperwork, he said. On one occasion, he said, he was offered about $5,000 to stop an investigation. He reported it to a local prosecutor who specialized in corruption cases, but said he was dismayed by the response.
“Listen, in one year here you’ll get enough to build yourself a house and buy a nice car,” he recalled the other prosecutor saying. “So take care of yourself.”
Devastating account of terribly corrupt culture in Peru, causing government officials to get rich while ignoring rampant deforestation in the Amazon. U.S. lumber companies might (surprise!) be partially to blame. Via NYTimes
Thanks for your note. I hadn’t heard about Gezi Park, actually. It seems there is a proposal to turn the park into a mall. And it seems there is a protest that is unfocused, leaderless, and has no clear demands. What is the goal? Who, exactly (by name), are the protestors protesting?
Other questions: Is turning parks into malls or other developments a regular occurrence in Turkey? Who “owns” the park, technically - the city, the country, a private person, a corporation?? Why wasn’t the public involved in the park management in the first place? For example, were any of the protestors on the review board that approved the mall plan? If not, why not?
I don’t know enough information to make a determination. But, if the city or the government body managing the park has the authority to turn parks into malls, then that is their prerogative. If the authority is corrupt, that is your prerogative to change it - not by protest, but by law. The pen (law) is always mightier than the sword (protest).
ExxonMobil’s oil spill emergency response plan is redacted by the federal government. Not a joke.
Burst Pipeline’s Spill Plan Is None of Your Business, Suggests Regulator
Federal regulators have released ExxonMobil’s 2013 emergency response plan for the pipeline that ruptured in an Arkansas residential neighborhood on March 29, but the document is so heavily redacted that it offers little information about Exxon’s preparations for such an accident.
Welcome to the world’s tallest slum: poverty-ridden Venezuela’s Tower of David. Squatters took over this very unfinished 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and they’ve been there ever since. The tower was originally intended to be a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future, complete with a rooftop helipad, but construction stopped because of a banking crisis and the sudden death of the tower’s namesake, David Brillembourg.
Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country’s crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption. But to residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives there, it’s just home.
Watch as Vocativ climbs the tower and gains the rare in-depth access to residents’ daily lives inside this unique and sinister establishment.
Few cameras have been allowed into the depths of the tower. It is an experience not to be missed.
If we don’t protect our fish, in one year’s time there won’t be any fish left in the Qatari waters.
Brig. Ali Ahmed Al Bedeed, Director of Coasts and Borders Security Department, in a press briefing about trespassers on Qatari waters, as quoted by the Peninsula.
According to Al Bedeed, fisherman from nearby GCC countries often deliberately head to Qatar’s waters to catch its hamour, despite repeated warnings to respect the nation’s borders.
Many who are caught say their vessels accidentally roamed into Qatar’s waters, but that excuse is wearing thin for people who are caught repeatedly, the official added.
“These people drop the trap for the fish in the middle of the sea and then they go home for five six days and comes back to pick the same traps for fish without any leaving any prior mark in the sea.
We are talking about metal traps and they have up to 300 and 400 of them. Nobody goes to the middle of the sea without GPS anymore.”
Qatar has been working to shore up its fish supply in recent years, but without much success. Meanwhile, government figures show that the demand for fish in the country has gone up by 20 percent in the past five years and is expected to be double than supply over the next 20 years.
Al Bedeed also reminded Qatar residents that only locals with licenses are allowed to fish commercially, and that no fishing off of the Corniche is permitted.
Those who do fish for recreation are not allowed to sell what they catch. Read more do’s and don’ts here.
It’s in French. Sorry! Still worth downloading. Shows rapid (rabid) deforestation across Madagascar by district. It’s a GIS analysis with data sets described. Originally slated for REDD+ baseline, the study evolved into a deforestation research project.
Madagascar was among the last pristine places on the planet. Not any more. The island is being bulldozed and sold off to aggressive companies who are scraping up rainforests to mine for gold, metals, minerals, timber, etc. So, basically, it seems to me, the above excellent report is nothing more than a historic record rather than a policy development piece.
At the heart of the White House’s new Arctic strategy is an elementary but devastating contradiction between what President Obama, in the document’s preamble, describes as seeking “to make the most of the emerging economic opportunities in the region” due to the rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and recognising “the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable, and changing environment.”
Despite repeated references to “preservation” and “conservation”, the strategy fails to outline any specific steps that would be explored to mitigate or prevent the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice due to intensifying global warming. Instead, the document from the outset aims to:
"… position the United States to respond effectively to challenges and emerging opportunities arising from significant increases in Arctic activity due to the diminishment of sea ice and the emergence of a new Arctic environment."
In other words, far from being designed to prevent catastrophe, the success of the new strategy is premised precisely on the disappearance of the Arctic summer sea ice.
The last known rhinoceroses in Mozambique have been wiped out by poachers apparently working in cahoots with the game rangers responsible for protecting them.
The 15 threatened animals were shot dead for their horns last month in the Mozambican part of Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which also covers South Africa and Zimbabwe.
They were thought to be the last of an estimated 300 that roamed through the special conservation area when it was established as “the world’s greatest animal kingdom” in a treaty signed by the three countries’ presidents in 2002. (Denis Farrell / AP Photo)
Bid to ban international trade of Polar Bear parts fails
Today delegates at the CITES meeting in Thailand rejected the proposal to protect polar bears from the commercial trade of their body parts. The proposal was put forward by the US with support from Russia but was opposed by Canada, the only country to allow the exporting of polar bear parts.
Unfortunately the proposal failed to win the two-thirds needed to pass. The results ended with 38 countries voting in favour of the US proposal, 42 against and 46 refrained.
“Limiting commercial trade in this species would have addressed a source of non-climate stress to polar bear populations and contributed to long-term recovery,” said the statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Each year, an average of 3,200 items made from polar bears - including skins, claws and teeth - are reported to be exported or re-exported from a range of countries. Polar bear hides sell for an average of $2,000 to $5,000, while maximum hide prices have topped $12,000.”
The rejection of the proposal means that the export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue.
It seems a foreign oil company dictated to John Kerry and Mr. Obama how, when, and why they should approve the oil pipeline. For more, see here.
Seems like a case of regulatory capture:
Regulatory capture occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or special concerns of interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.
Two million tombs in Zhoukou, one of the oldest cities on the mainland, have been removed over the past few months under a new provincial government policy to make more land available for agriculture.
A spokesman from the city’s civil affairs bureau, which is in charge of the grave demolitions, said the city government had no intention of halting the campaign, even though the State Council last Friday struck out a clause from regulations that allowed for forced demolition of grave sites.
"We are still clearing graves for farmland and we will definitely continue doing that," he said. The spokesman said the State Council announcement only meant the civil affairs bureau had no right to carry out compulsory demolitions. "The courts and the police bureau will instead take responsibility for execution," he said.
The revised version of the funeral and interment control regulation removed a sentence in Article 20 that allowed for forced demolitions.
North Carolina politician Buck Newton is bent on submitting to oil and gas companies. Local media has soured on the Republican, yet NC residents remain silent. The bill (in part) exempts oil and gas frackers from regular permitting procedures, such as avoiding pollution monitoring. Faster drill permits means faster fracking development for the state. (I also note that Duke Energy, which contributed to Buck Newton’s campaign, is lobbying to raise electricity rates. In other words, drillers want free money from two sources - free gas from drilling, and free money from residents’ electric bills. Clever.).
North Carolina hopes recent legislation introduced into its general assembly will send a “very clear signal” to oil and gas companies that the state wants shale gas exploration in the state, a state representative told Rigzone in an interview Monday.
State Sen. E.S. “Buck” Newton, the sponsor of Senate Bill (SB) 76, the Domestic Energy Jobs Act, told Rigzone that, while the ban on horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has been lifted, the state hopes to provide certainty to the energy industry by fixing a specific date in which permits for shale gas drilling can be pulled.
North Carolina officials hope to send a signal in two ways – one, that the legislature is very serious about pursuing shale exploration, and two, that the state is working “with all deliberate and purposeful speed” to get itself ready to issue permits.
Early indicators show North Carolina to have shale gas reserves that may be on the order of the Fayetteville play in Arkansas, with approximately 1.4 million surface acres with shale deposits of an average thickness of 200 feet. North Carolina has three basins with shale potential. The Deep River Basin, the one that is most talked about, has wet gas reserves.
Good read on why Russians use dashcams. Bottom line: To record evidence for courts.
The Russian courts don’t like verbal claims. They do, however, like to send people to jail for battery and property destruction if there’s definite video proof. That is why there’s a new, growing crop of dash-cam videos featuring would-be face-beaters backing away to the shouts of “You’re on camera, f@cker! I’m calling the cops!”
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law.
Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old–the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the “accident,” the offending driver–often an elderly lady–is confronted by a crowd of “witnesses,” psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.
And then, sometimes, someone will jump under your car at a crossing, laying on the asphalt, simulating a badly hurt pedestrian waiting for that cop conveniently parked nearby. This dramatic extortion scheme was common, until the Age of the Dash-cam. Oh, and there are such juicy, triumphant tales about of would-be extortion victims turning the scheme around and telling the cast members to pay them money or they’re going to jail for this little performance! Don’t try it.
While those lucky enough to traverse the Russian roads with an American or other Western passport are hassled less, the Russian Highway Patrol is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes. Dash-cams won’t protect you from being extorted for cash, because your ass shouldn’t have been speeding. It will however keep you safer from drunks in uniform, false accusations and unreasonable bribe hikes.