December 12, 2019

Five years after quake, Haiti struggles to reopen its doors to the world

Growing up on the Haitian island of Ile-a-Vache, Exerre Dieunest used to hate going to school in the rainy season. It was bad enough that there were no buses, but there were also no roads. He walked two hours each way from Kay Kok, and when the paths turned to deep mud, he could hardly manage the trek.

It’s different for kids today. Kay Kok now has a school, “and it’s thanks to tourism,” says Mr. Dieunest. Tourists came, saw the need, established a foundation, and funded the building of a school. Tourist donations also helped expand a local orphanage.

Ile-a-Vache residents see great potential in hospitality, but when the central government tried to launch a major tourism plan here in 2014, it sparked protests from locals who feared a land-grab. The tourism ministry has since achieved buy-in from much of the community, but now it faces another challenge: Keeping the confidence of investors as Haitian democracy teeters on the brink.

Recommended: Where does Haiti stand three years after its 7.0 earthquake?

Just over five years ago, Haiti looked relatively ripe for investment. Crime was low, there was a reprieve from anti-government demonstrations, and democratic institutions seemed to be functioning better than ever. Haitian and foreign leaders said Haiti was stable, and ready to grow.

That’s when a 7.0 earthquake struck the country, killing tens of thousands of people.

Today, Haiti is rebuilding, still mired in the poverty people had hoped to escape before the earthquake, and now trying to avoid a massive political upheaval – one that could scare off the very investors who could help the country develop. 

The prime minister was deposed in December, and on January 12 most legislators’ terms expire – with no one to replace them due to a failure to hold elections. Popular protests against President Michel Martelly have grown, along with fears he will rule by decree – unless Parliament approves on Monday an agreement reached Sunday night between President Martelly and opposition leaders.  

Ile-a-Vache feels far from the tumult of the capital, but its struggles may exemplify Haiti’s challenges in democracy and development. 


Ile-a-Vache is a 16-square mile jewel of an island, with rolling hills, paths connecting sweet cottages on a candy-colored bit of Caribbean Sea. But its residents – roughly 15,000 farmers and fishermen – say the government has continuously left them in the dark, literally, with no electricity or roads. Health care and potable water aren’t delivered by the government, and tourism remains at a trickle.

But this might change.

After the 2010 earthquake, a government came in with the motto, “Haiti is Open for Business.” The government wooed investors – with massive tax breaks and supportive infrastructure supplied by foreign aid – to take part in an industrial park and capital city hotels. They drew up plans for massive tourism developments, including one on Ile-a-Vache complete with roads, an airport, a port, a marina, 1,000 hotel rooms, and an 18-hole golf course.

The island was finally getting attention, but residents weren’t happy. In early 2014, protesters took to the newly carved roads. A presidential decree declared the island a tourism development zone, property of the government. Waterfront residents were driven from their homes without compensation and roadside dwellers lost fruit trees vital for their livelihoods. Riot police appeared on the island to back up the few officers already there.

But when the tourism minister met with community leaders, gave checks to those robbed of their land, and implemented projects for the community – like drinking wells, a community center, and subsidized community cafeterias – many residents began to show support for the government’s tourism plans, in spite of lingering fears.

An elderly islander named Myltha Boulot says there is no knowing whether or not the government will take her land, but when it comes to tourism: “That’s another thing entirely. If tourists come, they’ll give jobs to the poorest men and women, so people can survive.”

Yet now, if locals don’t block the tourism plan, would-be investors might.

Haiti has peaks and valleys of instability, says Mark Schneider, a long-time Haiti-watcher and senior vice president of the International Crisis Group. “I think we’re at a point close to a peak,” Mr. Schneider says, prior to Sunday’s agreement.  That is, if there is no executive-legislative agreement, Martelly might rule by decree, causing more protests, and possibly violence, Schneider says. In which case, “there’s no way for investors to tell their boards or financial backers that the situation is on its way to being resolved and they can go back to expanded plans for development.”

Pamela Cox, who was the World Bank’s vice president for Latin American and the Caribbean at the time of the earthquake, says when nascent democratic institutions fumble, everyone gets spooked.

“Any time there’s huge political uncertainty, it scares investors away,” Ms. Cox says, especially in countries like Haiti, where there’s a lack of domestic trust in the government, and likely civil unrest.

In the coming days, Haiti’s political leaders will signal to investors and constituents whether or not their country is on solid ground.

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Five years after quake, Haiti struggles to reopen its doors to the world

Putrajaya snubbed cheaper energy savings scheme for nuclear plans, forum told

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 24 ― Putrajaya “ignored” a proposed energy savings scheme that could have saved Malaysia billions of ringgit and scrap any need to construct nuclear power plants here, a former civil servant claimed.

Energy efficiency activist Zaini Abdul Wahab, 40, told a forum last night that the government was well aware of alternative options to the two nuclear power plants it was planning to build in Malaysia.

“Because I know for a fact that it was mentioned in Parliament and in many seminars by the agencies, by having just a 10 year programme on energy efficiency, the only money required from the government is less than one billion (ringgit), average [RM100,000] a year, we can avoid capacity of at least 3GW of power demand, equivalent to three nuclear power plants,” he told a 60-strong crowd at a forum here last night.

Zaini, who has worked with the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (Kettha) and Sustainable Energy Development Authority (Seda) during his eight-year service, claimed that the government had “ignored” the proposed programme, which would have purportedly translated into billions of savings as Putrajaya would not have to fork out money to subsidise nuclear energy.

“But they ignored that. As for now, they ignore that. That’s my first argument why I’m against nuclear, because they have the options, they ignore that,” said Zaini, now an energy management consultant in the private sector.

Zaini, who was not listed as a speaker but was invited to address the crowd, said there was a need to be “realistic”, however, and that he expects nuclear plants will eventually be introduced in a few more decades to meet power demands.

His arguments echoed the stand of Prof G. Lalchand, a speaker at the same forum.

Lalchand, a former Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) staff, told the crowd that he was not anti-nuclear, but he believes that nuclear plants should only be a last resort in another decade.

“We do not need nuclear before 2025, in the meantime, the chances are there for energy efficiency to drop the demand from consumers to the same as the nuclear power can generate,” said Lalchand, who is both an engineer and an academic, adding that it would be cheaper

Nodding to major disasters involving nuclear power plants such as the US’s Three Mile Island’s 1979 accident, Ukraine’s Chernobyl 1986 accident, Japan’s Fukushima 2011 incident, Lalchand said that such accidents had always prompted the raising of safety standards.

“That’s why I said it should be as late as possible to get more safe,” he said, when explaining that a delay in Malaysia’s rolling out of nuclear power plants would enable the use of newer and safer technology.

Until then, Lalchand pushed for energy efficiency ― where users maximise the work done through the energy used ― to save costs and avert the need to build new power plants.

During the forum, another panellist, Datuk Dr Ronald McCoy spoke about the hidden costs in using nuclear technology to generate electricity, citing studies on how the number of cancer-related deaths had risen among those living near nuclear power plants.

According to McCoy, the hidden costs include the maintenance of nuclear power plants, and the disposal of radioactive waste, as well as the decommissioning of plants.

The forum which also featured activist Prof Dr Tan Ka Kheng was held in conjunction with the launch last night of anti-nuclear grassroots movement Anak Malaysia Anti Nuklear (Aman), which is chaired by McCoy.

Aman, which is urging the government to scrap its plans in the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to build nuclear plants, has listed seven reasons for its objection.

Among the reasons given were safety concerns, fears of Malaysia being dependent on other countries for expertise and supply of nuclear materials for the plants, adequate power supply currently, as well as slower growth in new nuclear plants with countries tapering off the use of such power-generating methods.

As early as December 2010, the government was reported to be planning to build the country’s first ever nuclear power plants, with reports later saying that seven locations in Malaysia had been identified as the possible sites for two nuclear plants.

Initially slated for completion in 2021 and 2022, the plan was later postponed last year as the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown remained fresh in the public’s minds.

In July this year, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mah Siew Keong said the government will carry out studies to determine the feasibility of building a nuclear plant within the next 10 years, promising to “make everything transparent” and keep the public informed.

Continued here: 

Putrajaya snubbed cheaper energy savings scheme for nuclear plans, forum told

Greenland's Ice-Melt Models May Be Too Sunny

The vast ice sheet covering Greenland could melt more quickly in the future than existing models predict, new research suggests.

Scientists looked at satellite data collected by NASA’s ICESat spacecraft and Operation IceBridge and plotted the elevation of 100,000 sites on Greenland from 1993 to 2012.

The researchers were able to create new, more precise estimates for how much ice had melted in the past. They also found that the ice melts in a rather complex pattern, which should be of interest to scientists trying to predict how much ice will disappear in the future. [Images: Greenland’s Gorgeous Glaciers]

More than a mile thick in most areas, the Greenland Ice Sheet covers nearly all of interior Greenland, an Arctic island about three times the size of Texas. If the entire ice sheet melted, sea levels around the world would rise about 20 feet (6 meters), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Though such a catastrophic scenario isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, smaller increases in sea level could still boost the power of coastal storms, threaten to flood major cities and displace millions of people. During the 20th century, sea levels rose by about 6.7 inches (17 centimeters). According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current scientific consensus is that sea levels could creep up by 11 inches to 38 inches (28 to 98 cm) by 2100, in part because of melting in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. 

The new research found that an average of 243 gigatons (or 66.5 cubic miles) of the Greenland Ice Sheet melted each year from 2003 to 2009. (The scientists had the most comprehensive data for this period.) That’s enough meltwater to raise oceans by about 0.027 inches (0.68 millimeters) per year, the researchers said.

The study didn’t make any exact predictions for how much of Greenland’s ice may melt in the future, but the authors think that current models underestimate the extent of the problem.  

“My personal opinion is that most of the predictions of this as far as Greenland is concerned are too low,” study author Beata Csatho, an associate professor of geology at the University at Buffalo, said in a video statement.

Existing models for predicting changes in ice-sheet melt and sea-level rise are typically extrapolated from data on just four of Greenland’s 242 glaciers: Jakobshavn, Helheim, Kangerlussuaq and Petermann. That’s a problem, according to the study’s authors, because glaciers — even ones right next to each other — can behave quite differently in any given year. Today’s models also tend to ignore southeast Greenland’s ice cover, which is experiencing heavy losses, the researchers found. In 2005, melting in this region accounted for more than half of the losses to the Greenland Ice Sheet.

Csatho and her colleagues say it’s not easy to predict how glaciers will respond to global warming, because they don’t always melt as the temperature rises. Their data showed that sometimes the glaciers covering Greenland thickened when the temperature rose, while some areas both thinned and thickened, with abrupt reversals.

To help other researchers create better prediction models, the scientists put all of Greenland’s glaciers into seven groups, based on the characteristics of their melting behavior from 2003 to 2009.

“Understanding the groupings will help us pick out examples of glaciers that are representative of the whole,” Csatho said in a statement. “We can then use data from these representative glaciers in models to provide a more complete picture of what is happening.”

The findings were published Monday (Dec. 15) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter. Follow us @livescienceFacebook Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Greenland's Ice-Melt Models May Be Too Sunny

Russian ship reaches space station

A Russian supply ship has arrived at the International Space Station with a load of fresh supplies, hours after a US cargo mission ended in flames.

Orbital Sciences’ unmanned Antares rocket had just lifted off from Wallops Island, Virginia, when it exploded. The rocket was carrying a Cygnus capsule loaded with more than two tons of station experiments and equipment for Nasa.

Ground teams are gradually getting access to the damaged launch pad and fire-stricken area after the explosion.

No one was injured and nothing on the lost flight was urgently needed by the six people living on the 260 mile-high space station, officials said.

The Russian supply ship launched early today from Kazakhstan and arrived at the orbiting lab six hours later with three tons of food, fuel and other items.

The first catastrophic launch in Nasa’s commercial spaceflight programme i s likely to draw criticism over the space agency’s growing reliance on private US companies in the post-shuttle era.

Nasa is paying billions of pounds to Orbital Sciences and the SpaceX company to make station deliveries, and is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start flying US astronauts to the orbiting lab as early as 2017. This was the fourth flight by Orbital Sciences to the orbiting lab.

The firm’s executive vice president Frank Culbertson said things began to go wrong 10 to 12 seconds into the flight and it was all over in 20 seconds when what was left of the rocket came crashing down. He said the range safety staff sent a destruct signal before it hit the ground.

The two Americans, three Russians and one German aboard the space station were watching a live video feed from Mission Control and saw the whole thing unfold before their eyes.

This was the second launch attempt for the mission. Monday evening’s effort was thwarted by a stray yacht in the rocket’s danger zone. The restrictions are in case of just such an accident.

Mr Culbertson said the top priority will be repairing the launch pad “as quickly and safely as possible”.

He said he could not guess how long it would take to determine the cause of the accident and to make repairs.

Mr Culbertson added that the company carried insurance on the mission, which he valued at more than 200 million US dollars (£124 million), not counting repair costs.

The Wallops facility is small compared with Nasa’s major centres like in Florida, Texas and California, but vaulted into the public spotlight in September last year with a Nasa moonshot and the first Cygnus launch to the space station.

This newest Cygnus cargo ship was carrying 357 stone of space station experiments and equipment for Nasa, as well as pre-packaged meals and eagerly awaited crab cakes, freeze-dried for safe eating. It had been due to arrive at the orbiting lab on Sunday.

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Russian ship reaches space station

NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will run the first three miles of the New York City Marathon on Sunday as part of a 24-person relay of basketball luminaries.

Dikembe Mutombo will cross the finish line for the group, which is trying to encourage kids to exercise.

Silver said Monday that he will run over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn then pass a baton to Chris Mullin, the Brooklyn native who starred at St. John’s in Queens before a Hall of Fame NBA career.

Mullin, now an executive with the Sacramento Kings, will be followed by a long list of big-name players to cover the 26.2 miles.

Most also have local ties, including Bronx native and fellow Hall of Famer Nate “Tiny” Archibald; Knicks greats Charles Oakley, Bernard King and Allan Houston; the Nets’ Darryl Dawkins; Brooklyn native Sam Perkins; and New York City high school legends Felipe Lopez and Albert King.

Also running is Jason Collins, who made history last season with the Nets as the first openly gay player in the four major North American pro sports leagues.

WNBA stars Swin Cash, Teresa Edwards, Ruth Riley and Katie Smith are on the relay along with players-turned-NBA TV analysts Greg Anthony and Steve Smith.

Rounding out the group are executives from the league, Knicks and Nets and broadcaster Mike Breen.

Each celebrity will be joined on his or her one-mile leg with a local student who takes part in marathon organizer New York Road Runners’ youth programs. Silver will run alongside Lauren Pitarresi, a 14 year-old from Staten Island, “who I’m concerned is going to smoke me,” he joked.

Silver is an avid runner who has twice completed the NYC Marathon, finishing in just under four hours in both 2002 and 2010. He competed in track and cross country — and not basketball — in high school in Rye, New York, where he was a quarter- and half-miler.

The 52-year-old Silver hasn’t been running as much since he became commissioner in February. He still gets in four or five workouts a week, often taking two laps around the reservoir in Central Park for just over three miles.

He’s not in good enough shape to do the full race Sunday, though it’s a strange sensation as a marathoner to stop after only a few miles.

“I felt awkward running only a leg of the marathon and not the entire marathon, having remembered some famous New York stories of people who started and didn’t necessarily finish,” Silver said.

Plans for the relay began in the early spring. New York is home to this season’s NBA All-Star weekend, with events at the Nets’ Brooklyn arena and the game at Madison Square Garden.

The league is seeking to reach a half-million youngsters in the five boroughs through fitness programs in conjunction with hosting the festivities.

Silver will start just after Wave 1 on Sunday. He needs to be ready to leave his home on Manhattan’s West Side at 6 a.m. to get to Staten Island, though he said he’s “negotiating” a later pick-up.

Other participants will gather at a hotel in Manhattan or another in Brooklyn to be ferried to their baton-passing points, which will take place at mile-markers.

Twenty-seven vehicles will be required to get everybody to the proper places, with coordination from the New York Police Department to ensure they can be transported through the crowded streets.

Marathon officials expect the relay to take more than five hours.

Source – 

NBA commissioner, ex-stars in NYC Marathon relay

Rossi aims to cement second MotoGP spot in Sepang

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi is looking to take a major step towards securing second place in the world championship over teammate Jorge Lorenzo at the Malaysian MotoGP this weekend.

The Italian great is eight points clear of the Spaniard going into Sunday’s penultimate race in Sepang following his win at Phillip Island, Australia, just a few days ago.

With Spanish sensation Marc Marquez crowned the championship winner earlier this month, second place is the best Rossi, 35, and Lorenzo, 27, could hope for but are determined to secure it.

Rossi has won seven premier class titles in Malaysia but will be aware that the last of those was in 2010. The Italian was only able to finish fourth last year, one place behind Lorenzo.

He will also be conscious of the 5.5 kilometre (3.4 mile) track’s unique challenges, particularly the often difficult weather conditions with high temperatures and heavy tropical rain.

“Apart from the temperature being a bit too high for MotoGP racing, I really like the Malaysian track,” Rossi told MotoGP.com.

“I will do my best to win again. I got my second win of the season and now I want to fight for second place in the championship.”

Honda’s Spanish star Dani Pedrosa won last time round pipping teammate Marquez into second, with Lorenzo finishing third. Pedrosa also triumphed in 2012.

“I look forward to racing at Sepang, it’s a nice track,” said Lorenzo on MotoGP.com.

“I would like to be competitive again, especially because I want to fight for second place in the championship.”

For Marquez this year’s race is a chance to atone for that loss, free of pressure with the world championship title already in the bag.

The 21-year-old has added motivation and won’t be taking his foot off the pedal as he bids to equal Australian Mick Doohan’s record of 12 wins in a single season.

Marquez, who last year became MotoGP’s youngest world champion is also looking to bounce back after crashing out at Phillip Island on Sunday.

“The race in Australia didn’t end as how I would’ve liked and to crash 10 laps from the end is infuriating,” he said.

“I will be going for the win in Malaysia and give it everything I’ve got in one of my favourite circuits,” Marquez added on his Repsol Honda blog.

The Spaniard secured the championship in Japan this month but organisers insist that hasn’t dampened ticket sales, with 65,000 tickets already sold.

The spotlight will also be on driver safety, three years after Sepang witnessed one of its darkest moments when Italian rider Marco Simoncelli died after coming off his bike.

“We will ensure the safety of riders,” the circuit’s chief executive officer Razlan Razali said.

The last MotoGP race of the season will be in Valencia, Spain, next month.

Source – 

Rossi aims to cement second MotoGP spot in Sepang

Marquez takes MotoGP pole in Australia

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia (AP) — World champion Marc Marquez of Spain took pole position and Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo also secured front-row starts in the MotoGP race at Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

Marquez, who clinched the 2014 season title last week with a second-place finish behind Lorenzo in Japan, took pole Saturday with a 1 minute, 28.408 second lap on his Honda, outpacing his nearest rival by 0.234 seconds on the 4.5-kilometer (2.7-mile) Phillip Island circuit.

Crutchlow, of Britain, was riding a Ducati Team entry, and Spain’s Lorenzo was on a Yamaha, ensuring three manufacturers will be represented on the front row in Sunday’s 27-lap race.

A first-place finish for Marquez on Sunday would equal Australian Mick Doohan’s record of 12 wins during a single MotoGP season. The Spaniard said to achieve the feat at Doohan’s home track would be fitting and humbling.

“It’s Australia, his country, it would be nice to do,” Marquez said. “I will try to take the risk to win the race. The records are always important, especially when people compare you with legends.”

It was Marquez’s 12th pole of the season, equaling a record for most MotoGP pole positions in a year.

In the three-way battle among Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi to finish second in the championship, Pedrosa overcame the most adversity.

After finishing 11th in practice and forced into an extra qualifying session for slower riders, he emerged to sit on top of the time sheets at one stage. He will start fifth in Sunday’s race, while Rossi will begin from seventh.

Lorenzo said he was pleased with the front-row start as he looks to repeat his 2013 Australian GP triumph and make it three wins in a row this season.

“My target was to push the limit to make the best lap I could. Third place is good for tomorrow,” he said.

Tito Rabat of Spain, who could clinch the Moto2 title this weekend, won his ninth pole of the season Saturday.

Rabat arrived in Australia 38 points ahead of his teammate Mika Kallio. A victory for the Spaniard on Sunday, combined with a fourth place finish or worse for the Finn, would secure the title for Rabat.

Kallio qualified in third place on Saturday.

Moto3 championship leader Alex Marquez, Marc’s younger brother, also took pole for Sunday’s race. He looked a likely pole-sitter throughout qualifying, setting the pace with an early lap record of 1:36.387 before improving to 1:36.050.

“Today we had a really good rhythm, we made really good laps…we need to try to win this race,” Alex Marquez said.

KTM rider Niklas Ajo had a high-speed crash off Doohan corner, requiring a trip to the medical center and major repairs for his bike. Brazilian Eric Granado, who broke a finger earlier in practice, needed a stretcher to leave the track after a crash, but wasn’t seriously injured.


Marquez takes MotoGP pole in Australia

The Battle to Be King of Ibiza Nightlife

This summer, global media attention turned to the tiny Mediterranean island of Ibiza after a brawl broke out between Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber at the posh restaurant, Downtown Cipriani. But the catchy headlines opportunely concealed a dispute on a much higher scale: the ruthless competition between local bigwigs to split the enormous pie of the Ibizenco clubbing market.

Financiers, heirs of large fortunes, and ambitious self-made men were all trying their luck with more or less success within the Balearic entertainment El Dorado.

READ MORE Check Out These Choppers

By the late 60s, the island witnessed a massive inflow of hippies and beatniks, who progressively displaced by the arrival of the jet set in the 70s, and real estate speculation that comes with the money.

But Ibiza reached its peak during the 90s, when the island became the starting point of the techno movement. All the European partyboys and girls, from Manchester to Barcelona, came to [party revel/go wild] in the island’s legendary clubs and embrace its hedonistic lifestyle.

READ MORE New York’s Scariest Night Out

But in recent years, tourism has exploded (in 2010, there were 2.4 million tourists) and the arrival of ambitious new investors has changed everything. La Isla Bonita has slowly turned into a strange melting pot of super wealthy oligarchs and new fortunes from the Persian Gulf—with their yachts parked in the very VIP Marina Botafoch—underage Italian clubbers wearing Ed Hardy shirts, British reality TV stars, and Premier league football players.

Giuseppe Cipriani, 49 years old and the head of his family’s eponymous restaurant empire, entered the game in Ibiza two years ago. Often regarded as an international playboy with a taste for top-models, he has tried to blow a wind of change on the island since 2013, bringing a wealthier, more high-profile clientele to the island. After succeeding in opening his restaurant, Downtown, along Ibiza’s marina in 2012, the Italian mogul raised in New York started thinking about ways to expand on the island.

READ MORE The Crazy Medieval Island of Sark

After months of buzz and suspense cultivated by local authorities, who had been inexplicably slow to issue the necessary licenses, Cipriani finally announced the grand opening of his night club Bomba, built over the ruins of the old Heaven Club—formerly known as The Penelope—one of the leading gay clubs in Ibiza during the early 2000s.

But, one doesn’t open a club with such visibility within a walking distance to the world famous Pacha Club—a mythical place that has hosted the wild nights of hippies and jet setters since the seventies—without some teeth gnashing. At 75, the spirited Pacha founder, Ricardo Urgell, keeps an iron hand on his empire. The smiling, white-haired impresario opened the Ibiza club in 1973, before turning it into a global franchise. With his family, he stands among one of the most influential people on the island. Local rumors speculated that Cipriani’s administrative troubles building his newest property was linked to Urgell’s influence at town hall. When asked for comment, a public relations representative for Urgell said he was on a business trip and “not available to answer” questions at the moment.

READ MORE OMG, I Want This House

Indeed, Cipriani had been wise enough to poach Danny Whittle, 52, the man behind Pacha’s success, to help with his newest venture. Upon his arrival in Ibiza in 1993, Whittle quickly became one of the leading architects that helped to create the island’s party-hard reputation. An electronic music enthusiast, he first worked for the cult Renaissance evening parties at Privilege and Pacha Club, in association with Ministry of Sound, a pioneer in electro music labels, before hosting his own party events. He also developed the parties, Home in Space, that eventually became the famous We Love parties with impressive line-ups of the “la crème de la creme” of international electronic artists. He was hired by Pacha Club as the new artistic director, and radically transformed it during his 13 years there.

Unlike others, Whittle remains deeply convinced that superstar DJ’s are the key ingredient to nightclub success, as he told The Daily Beast with an affable smile over una cerveza at the iconic Gran Hotel’s bar.

READ MORE Join The Mile High (Dining) Club

“You should compare night clubs to the football Premier League. You may have a magnificent stadium, [but] if you don’t pay to get top notch artists to perform, clients will not come over,” Whittle says.

As a visionary—and no doubt feeling the changes happening on the the Island—Whittle set himself a new challenge a year ago: to reach a comparable success to Pacha with Cipriani at his side.

READ MORE OMG, I Want This House

In spite of his new entrepreneurial vision, Whittle maintains his good feelings towards the Pacha owners.

“Beyond what happened, I will always love Pacha, the owners, and what the club stands for,” he says.

READ MORE Kenya Has Its Own Machu Picchu

In July 2013, I questioned Cipriani about the difficulties had while trying to open Bomba. He welcomed me on the stylish terrace of his restaurant facing the Marina, where waiters in white tuxedos were waving in all directions a few minutes before opening time. He played down the issue, saying, “People use to be more suspicious on an island were everyone knows one another. Fear of competition is stronger than anywhere else. Coming from Venezia, I perfectly know this feeling.”

But nothing ever happens as expected. Only a few insiders remember the prophetic words Mark Netto, Danny Whittle’s longtime partner, said with a knowing smile during the opening session of the 2013 International Music Summit in Ibiza’s Gran Hotel: “You know, on the island, change isn’t always welcome.”

READ MORE The Lost Libraries of the Sahara‬

In fact, Bomba almost turned into a nightmare for the Cipriani-Whittle duo. A few weeks after the opening, they abruptly had to change the club’s name, due to an unexpected intellectual property dispute. In January 2014, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) stated that Cipriani and his ultra-wealthy occasional partner Eyhab Jumean had no ownership right on the Bomba trademark. So Bomba became Booom!. Disappointed by the decision, Whittle and his team left Cipriani’s venture and joined David Vincent’s team—another one of Ibiza’s nightclub influencers who is the director of the underground and trendy venue, Sankeys.

And then at the end of January 2014, Periodico de Ibiza, a local newspaper, reported that Booom!’s landlord, Nung River SL, a company owned by the Cabau Family (whose daughter Yolanthe is married to superstar international soccer player Wesley Sneijder) were filing a complaint for 450,000 euros (approximately $564,000) in unpaid rent against the nightclub and were requesting the eviction of the tenant. The May 5 eviction date has come and gone, and Booom! is still open and has planned its Closing Parties for this season, an annual tradition for worldwide clubbers that takes place at the end of September. Neither Cipriani nor Whittle responded to requests for comment.

READ MORE The Ladies Disrupting the Bar Boys’ Club

These changes and the purported rivalry between Cipriani and Urgell has not seemed to affect the omnipotence of another of the island’s big players: local tycoon Abel Matutes, 73, the almighty patriarch of a clan rooted on the island for three centuries. Mayor of Ibiza under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship as well as member of the Spanish Parliament and of the European Commission, Don Abel has combined politics and business with exceptional talent. He now presides over public works, maritime transportation (the major vessel of the Balearia fleet bears his name), real estate, and 12,000 beds in hotels at all levels of the tourism industry (including the impressive Hard Rock Hotel). Few of the annual 2.5 million tourists who come to La Isla Blanca every year escape paying their due at one of his registers.

The Matutes group also owns the mythic Space Club and the giant Privilege Club. Standing at the top of the luxury market is Ushuaia Hotel, where jet setters and oligarchs used to pay 10,000 euros for a suite, and the brand new Hard Rock Hotel with the most expensive restaurant in the world.

READ MORE OMG, I Want This House

Obviously, one does not become the leading economic power in Ibiza without making a few enemies. Daughter Estrella, 42, is a professional designer who doesn’t mention her famous name on her blog. She was also involved in politics as the head of Ibiza’s urban development from 2004 to 2007. In July 2007, district attorney Adrian Salazar accused her, along with several of her public office colleagues, of having submitted to the vote of the council an urban master plan that allowed the sale of land which directly benefited her and companies in which her family has economic interests. 

Estrella was eventually cleared of the allegations, but the situation was criticized in dramatic terms by her successor to the urban development council, eco-activist Neus Prats. In Ibiza, compliance to the law is reserved for the poor. The Matutes, on the contrary, adjust it to their needs, while the island is drowning,” Neus Prats told El Pais.

READ MORE The Isle Where the Rolling Stones Began

But Giuseppe Cipriani seems to have unexpected abilities to bounce back: he recently succeeded in buying a strategic piece of land facing Roberto Cavalli’s new restaurant on the Marina Botafoch—5137 square meters auctioned off by the Spanish department of Defense that Cipriani bought for 8,101,196 euros, a price apparently too high for Matutes, in spite of his public connections, as reported by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.

Regardless of how the impresarios’ competitive jostling to be crowned king of Ibiza nightlife shakes out, the undeniable fact is that the island is forever changed. Apart from the colorful weekly flea market of Las Dahlias in San Carlos, a tiny village in the northern area of the island, there is nothing left of the former hippie paradise of the seventies. After decades of stubborn resistance, local farmers finally agreed to sell huge parts of land to real estate promoters and entertainers. The turning point was probably the building of a big highway which was met by a major, and ultimately unsuccessful, social protest. Como se dice Winds of change in spanish?

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The Battle to Be King of Ibiza Nightlife

Asteroid Science: How 'Armageddon' Got It Wrong

WAIMEA, Hawaii — In the 1998 movie “Armageddon,” an asteroid the size of Texas threatens to collide with Earth in 18 days. To save the planet from destruction, a ragtag team of deep-sea oil drillers volunteers to divert the massive space rock by burying a nuclear bomb beneath its surface and blasting it into two pieces that will fly past Earth.

But despite its entertainment value, the film is fantastically inaccurate, said astronomer Phil Plait, who writes the “Bad Astronomy” blog on Slate.com.

“Don’t go to Hollywood for advice on how to deal with an asteroid,” Plait told a small but packed audience here Saturday (Sept. 13) at HawaiiCon, a science, sci-fi and fantasy convention on the Island of Hawaii. The three-day convention featured talks and events with celebrities from popular sci-fi TV series, as well as experts on space and astronomy. [Top 10 Ways to Destroy Earth]

During his talk, Plait showed a clip from “Armageddon” in which Bruce Willis’ character struggles to detonate the bomb, by hand, before the asteroid smacks into Earth and destroys all life.

“There are more mistakes in that clip than video frames,” Plait said. In order to blow up an asteroid the size of the one in the film, the bomb would have to explode with the same amount of energy as that produced by the sun, he said.

Even if you could make such a weapon, “it would be way more dangerous than the asteroid itself.” What’s more, now you don’t just have an asteroid — you have a radioactive asteroid, he said.

But while real-life science in “Armageddon” fails miserably, you can find much more accurate science in the similarly plotted film “Deep Impact,” also released in 1998, Plait said. In that movie, a teenage amateur astronomer discovers a 7-mile-wide (11 kilometers) comet on a path that will smash into Earth in two years.

As in “Armageddon,” humanity sends a team of people to the space rock to destroy it with a nuclear weapon, but this time, the blast needed is much smaller, and the fragments produced by the explosion still end up heading for Earth. One of the pieces plunges into the Atlantic Ocean, generating a mega tsunami that floods Manhattan and many major coastlines, a scenario that is actually pretty accurate, Plait said.

But even “Deep Impact” gets some things wrong. The asteroid mission sends a spaceship to blow up the other comet chunk, producing fragments that burn up harmlessly in Earth’s atmosphere instead of causing deadly impacts — not a very likely scenario, Plait said.

In real life, asteroids and comets that could hit Earth — so-called “near-Earth objects” — do pose a threat to life on the planet.

Fortunately, NASA and other organizations, such as the B612 Foundation based in Menlo Park, California, monitor the skies for these threats. Unfortunately, not all of the dangers are detectable. In fact, scientists sometimes only discover some of these nearby space rocks after the objects have already swung by and missed the planet.

Bigger telescopes are needed to detect more of these unwelcome visitors, and the earlier they can be detected, the easier it will be to deflect them, Plait said.

Editor’s Note: This story was generated during a trip paid for by the Hawaii Tourism Bureau.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Asteroid Science: How 'Armageddon' Got It Wrong

Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT

BEIJING (AP) — A typhoon struck China’s southernmost island of Hainan on Tuesday, forcing the cancellation of dozens of flights as it headed northwest toward Vietnam. About 90,000 people in southern China were evacuated from high-risk areas ahead of Typhoon Kalmaegi, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said. But the typhoon’s course was giving only a glancing blow to southern China as the storm headed toward northern Vietnam, where it was expected to make landfall Tuesday night.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — One of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes is showing signs of heightened unrest and an eruption is possible within weeks, government scientists warned Tuesday. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level to “critical” for Mount Mayon in eastern Albay province late Monday after recording an escalation of unrest over a 15-hour period, including 39 incidents of hot rocks falling in the summit area and 32 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A Taliban attacker detonated his car bomb next to an international military convoy on Tuesday, killing three troops from the NATO-led force and wounding nearly 20 troops and civilians, officials said. Security forces in full battle gear administered CPR to wounded comrades shortly after the 8:10 a.m. blast, which rattled nearby neighborhoods and sent a plume of smoke high into the sky. The attack happened only a couple hundred yards from the U.S. Embassy, on a main Kabul road that leads to the airport.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — The music publishers for American rapper Eminem filed a lawsuit Tuesday against New Zealand’s ruling political party over the music it used in a campaign commercial. Detroit-based Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated both claim the National Party breached copyright laws by using Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself.” Joel Martin, a spokesman for the two companies, said they filed a case in the New Zealand High Court and are seeking damages.

TWANTE, Myanmar (AP) — For generations, the Myanmar town of Twante has been known for its thriving pottery industry. Even today, residents can be seen sitting on wooden stools beneath the thatched roofs of their homes, placing lumps of soft clay onto wheels and shaping it with the gentle press of their fingertips into pots for cooking, storing water, preserving fish or flowers. But the opening up of this once-isolated Southeast Asian of 50 million in 2011, when ruling generals handed over power to a nominally civilian government, has affected traditional ways. Modernization and the reluctance of the younger generation to learn the art of pottery, compounded by the cost of transporting the bulky and fragile products, have turned it into an unstable, dying industry.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. says North Korea is using detained American citizens as political pawns, after a 24-year-old Californian man was sentenced to six years of hard labor. Matthew Miller was convicted Sunday of entering the country illegally to commit espionage. The court said he tore up his visa on arriving in Pyongyang April 10 and had wanted to experience prison life so that he could secretly investigate North Korea’s human rights situation.

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Experts worry a health crisis could be looming nearly two weeks after massive flooding engulfed much of Kashmir, with countless bloated livestock carcasses now floating across the waterlogged region. Doctors are already seeing cases of diarrhea, skin allergies and fungus among the population. Rescue workers are rushing in medical aid, water pumps and purification systems.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s army says a group of militants have attacked one of its positions from neighboring Afghanistan, sparking a shootout that left 11 insurgents and three soldiers killed. In a statement, the military says “a group of terrorists” from Afghanistan attacked the Pakistani post in the North Waziristan tribal region on Tuesday. The military has been carrying out a major offensive in the area against local and foreign militants since June 15.

BANGKOK (AP) — Police on the scenic resort island of Koh Tao in southern Thailand conducted a sweep of hotels and workers’ residences Tuesday searching for clues into the slayings of two British tourists whose nearly naked, battered bodies were found on a beach a day earlier. More than 70 police officers were deployed to Koh Tao, a popular diving destination in the Gulf of Thailand, as the country’s leaders called for a swift investigation into a pair of brutal killings that marked a new blow to Thailand’s tourism industry.

In this photo by Achmad Ibrahim, an Indonesian worker wears a mask depicting the Japanese character Doraemon during a rally against outsourcing and low wages near Indonesia’s presidential palace in Jakarta on Monday. Thousands of factory workers took to the streets of the capital to take part in the protest. The demonstrators shouted “End the temporary contract system now!” as they waved colorful flags and banners lambasting the system and demanding more benefits.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — At a recent political rally in Wellington, indicted Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom jokingly asked members of New Zealand’s spy agency to raise their hands. “Please don’t worry,” he said, to rising laughter and applause. “Even though we are going to shut you down, we will find you guys new jobs.”

BEIJING (AP) — Officials in a southern Chinese town where a proposed garbage incinerator drew thousands of protesters over the weekend say no firm plans have been made for the plant’s location and that a public hearing will be held on the issue. Hundreds of people marched against the project in Bulou county in southern Guangdong province Sunday, a day after 10,000 to 20,000 protesters came out to denounce the plan, according to three residents who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone.

Flooding from days of heavy monsoon rains partially submerged the city of Srinigar in Kashmir and left more than 400 people dead in northern Pakistan and India. The flood waters have begun to recede, but vast fields of crops have been destroyed and tens of thousands of families have lost all their possessions. Japanese were thrilled to see one of their own, Kei Nishikori, become the first Asian man to play in a Grand Slam tennis final. Ultimately, the 24-year-old lost to Croatian Marin Cilic in the lopsided U.S. Open final, but Nishikori’s run is expected to boost his career and tennis’ popularity in a country where baseball and soccer reign.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Former National Security Agency systems analyst turned leaker Edward Snowden said Monday that the NSA is collecting mass surveillance data on New Zealanders through its XKeyscore program and has set up a facility in the South Pacific nation’s largest city to tap into vast amounts of data. Snowden talked via video link from Russia to hundreds of people at Auckland’s Town Hall.

BEIJING (AP) — Taking a cue from an American TV program, the Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, offering a path for those too engrossed in messaging and tweeting to watch where they’re going. But the property manager says it’s intended to be ironic — to remind people that it’s dangerous to tweet while walking the street.

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Top Asian News at 8:30 a.m. GMT