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December 17, 2017

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

By Frank Eltman, The Associated Press

MINEOLA, N.Y. – An early morning blaze on Fire Island destroyed several structures, including two well-known landmarks in a historic gay resort, and required dozens of firefighters to respond by ferry from the mainland of Long Island, fire and police officials said Friday.

The fire, which was reported at about 1:30 a.m., ruined an apartment complex known as Holly House, as well as the Grove Hotel, and left three firefighters with minor injuries, said Craig Williams, Cherry Grove assistant fire chief. A nightclub attached to the hotel called the Ice Palace avoided serious damage, Williams said.

Cherry Grove has been known since the late 1940s as a sanctuary where gay writers, actors and businesspeople from New York City and beyond escape to relax, hold hands and show affection in public.

“This is the largest fire we have had here in well over a decade,” said Williams, a volunteer who lives near Hackensack, New Jersey, and drove to Long Island early Friday to respond to the blaze.

The Suffolk County police arson squad and the town of Brookhaven’s fire marshal’s office were conducting routine investigations to determine the cause.

Two private homes were destroyed and three others also were damaged, Williams said. None of the structures or homes near the downtown business district in the primarily summer beach community was occupied.

The nearby Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, which opened in 1948 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013, was not damaged, Williams said.

More than 100 firefighters from 22 departments responded to the blaze; some were taken by the Sayville Ferry Service across the Great South Bay to the scene on the barrier island about 60 miles east of Manhattan. It was not immediately clear whether the time to cross the bay to fight the fire contributed to the amount of damage inflicted by the blaze.

Williams and others noted that the historic Cherry Grove community, like many of the hamlets and villages along the 30-mile long barrier island 5 miles off the southern shore of Long Island, is primarily deserted this time of year.

“Thank God it wasn’t the height of the season,” Diane Romano, president of the Cherry Grove Community Association, told The Associated Press after touring the devastation Friday afternoon. “Everyone would not have gotten out of that hotel. It is devastating and will take a lot of work to build it back, but the spirit of the people in Cherry Grove is very strong and we’re all going to help each other.”

Notable Cherry Grove visitors and residents have included poet W.H. Auden; playwright Tennessee Williams; author Truman Capote; actresses Nancy Walker, Tallulah Bankhead and Hermione Gingold; comedian Kaye Ballard; and New Yorker journalist Janet Flanner.

Source article – 

Blaze on New York's Fire Island destroys 2 well-known gay resort landmarks; firefighters hurt

Millions at risk from rapid sea rise in swampy Sundarbans

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A Retirement Beach Home in Brazil

AirAsia #QZ8501: Search for black box recorders could 'take a week'; one body returned to family

(Click to see larger version)(Click to see larger version)

REPORTING FROM SINGAPORE [Times are in GMT+8, unless specified]

WHAT WE KNOW:

– Bad weather continues to hamper search efforts.

– Five bodies recovered from the search area for AirAsia flight QZ8501 arrived in Surabaya for identification, where forensic investigators’ preliminary findings reveal they have been dead for three days. They will be identified Thursday, and their families will be informed first.

– A total of nine bodies have been recovered so far, says BASARNAS.

– Search teams are anxious to locate the jet’s fuselage — its main body — on the likelihood that some bodies are trapped in there, alongside its all-important flight data recorders, more commonly known as “black boxes”. Officials say it could take a week to find the recorders.

– Naval vessels and aircraft from a range of countries continue to arrive in the vicinity to assist in the retrieval effort.

IF YOU’RE READING THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME:

Indonesia air traffic control lost contact with AirAsia flight QZ8501 on Sunday morning. The flight was en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia, with 162 people on board. The plane was last seen on radar over the Java Sea between Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan island, barely an hour after it left Juanda International Airport. Communications logs suggest the pilot was approved to veer left because of poor weather conditions. He then asked air traffic control for permission to climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000. There was no further communication after that.

We’ve also put together the stories of some of the passengers and crew on board the plane. Read them here.

LATEST UPDATES:

Thursday, 1 January

9.29pm: The RSS Valour, deployed by the Singapore Navy, has recovered pieces of debris and equipment from QZ8501, says Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

7.15pm: General Moeldoko, Commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces tweeted that bad weather and rough seas are hampering search efforts.

Singapore’s Ministry of Defence says the RSS Kallang will arrive in the search area on Friday. The vessel has underwater search operations capabilities. It has also flown in an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle.

5.49pm: An eighth body found at the search site has arrived at Pangkalan Bun.

One body that arrived on Wednesday has been identified as Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, and has been handed over to her family. Meanwhile, four more bodies – two females and two males – have arrived in Surabaya, reports Channel NewsAsia.

Police officers and family members of Hayati Lutfiah, a passenger of AirAsia QZ8501, pray next to her coffin at Bhayankara Hospital in Surabaya January 1, 2015. REUTERS/Athit PerawongmethaPolice officers and family members of Hayati Lutfiah, a passenger of AirAsia QZ8501, pray next to her coffin at …

3.00pm: Divers looking for the wreck of an AirAsia Indonesia jet off Borneo were unable to resume full-scale operations on Thursday in poor weather and heavy seas and an air safety official said it could take a week to find the black box flight recorders. None of the black box “pings” have been detected. More details here.

1.40pm: Five bodies retrieved from the Java Sea will be flown to Surabaya, reported TODAY. BG Arthur Tampi, Chief of Medicine and Health told the media that the bodies were in varying stages of decomposition. A small window of fine weather closed, giving way to rising seas which have dogged the search from the start. More details here.

12:48pm: A reporter for Channel NewsAsia in Pangkalan Bun says another body has arrived at its hospital. This takes the total number of retrieved bodies arriving on land to seven.

12:42pm: About an hour ago, Malaysia’s chief of navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar tweeted an image of the waves from KD Lekiu, one of the Malaysian navy ships in the search area:

11:59am: Four bodies departed from Pangkalan Bun in a Hercules C130 plane for Surabaya at 11:30am Singapore time, reports Malaysia’s New Straits Times. According to Channel NewsAsia, they consist of three women and a man.

11:09am: A ship from Indonesia’s survey and technological agency has arrived at the search area, said Channel NewsAsia’s correspondent in Jakarta, citing BASARNAS from a morning press conference. Among the technology available on the ship is a multi-beam sonar that it is hoped will detect the wreckage of the plane at the bottom of the Java Sea.

BASARNAS also confirmed this morning that four bodies are set to depart from a hospital in Pangkalan Bun for Surabaya to be identified by forensic investigators, adding that several sorties are heading out from Jakarta for the resumed air and sea search.

Separately, two South Korean aircraft have joined the aerial search, Singapore daily The Straits Times reports citing BASARNAS as well.

10:39am: The first two bodies to arrive at Surabaya’s Bhayangkara Police Hospital on Wednesday have been identified, says a Channel NewsAsia reporter there, citing a police spokesperson. Families of the two victims will be informed first, he said.

Over in Pangkalan Bun, says the same reporter, four more bodies now at a hospital there are scheduled to depart for Surabaya at 11am Singapore time.

9:41am: Malaysia’s chief of navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar has tweeted today’s search area, which has roughly doubled in size from yesterday’s. In all, 31 ships are deployed between four sectors.

9:20am:

AirAsia stewardess Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, 22, studied law at Indonesia's Universitas Sriwijaya. (Photo: The Malaysian Insider)AirAsia stewardess Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, 22, studied law at Indonesia’s Universitas Sriwijaya. (Photo: The Malaysian …

Channel NewsAsia reports that the body of the female cabin crew member has been identified. Citing local media, the Singapore-based regional broadcaster said 22-year-old flight attendant Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi‘s name tag was still pinned to her uniform when she was found.

Separately, the Associated Press reports that a break in bad weather on New Year’s morning allowed search and recovery efforts to resume. A Channel NewsAsia correspondent on the ground in central Kalimantan said on Thursday morning, however, that weather was forecast to take a turn for the worse, with wind speeds forecast at between 6 and 60km/h, and waves predicted to be between 1.3 and 3 metres high.

Indonesians hold candles to pray for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 in Surabaya, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. Bad weather hindered efforts to recover victims of the jetliner on Wednesday, and sent wreckage drifting far from the crash site, as grieving relatives prayed for strength to endure their losses. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)Indonesians hold candles to pray for the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 in Surabaya, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. …

Overnight, New Year celebrations were largely cancelled throughout East Java province, while hundreds attended a candlelight vigil for the plane victims in Surabaya. Over in Jakarta, reporters on the ground said celebrations were muted, and festivities kicked off with a prayer for those on the flight.

8:40am: Officers of the National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) carry a victim's body of AirAsia flight QZ 8501 from a boat to an ambulance at Kumai port in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. A massive hunt for the victims of the jet resumed in the Java Sea on Wednesday, but wind, strong currents and high surf hampered recovery efforts as distraught family members anxiously waited to identify their loved ones. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)Officers of the National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) carry a victim’s body of AirAsia flight QZ 8501 …

The above and other images we have received from the Associated Press showing rescuers transferring a victim’s body from a boat to an ambulance at Pangkalan Bun’s Kumai Port appear to suggest that the Bung Tomo, which was reportedly carrying five of the first seven bodies found, has overnight reached land.

Singapore daily TODAY published pictures saying two bodies retrieved by the Indonesian navy are at a hospital in Pangkalan Bun awaiting the trip back to Surabaya for identification. A Channel NewsAsia reporter cited hospital staff saying the two arrived last night, while three more are slated to arrive there later today.

Provided the weather clears sufficiently for planes to take flight, the bodies brought to land should make it to Surabaya for identification today.

8:17am: The Wall Street Journal reports that the Malaysian navy has identified one of the bodies that have been found so far, reportedly from a wallet found on his body. Kevin Alexander Soetjipto was a finance student at Australia’s Monash University, the news agency said.

In a statement on its Facebook page confirming this, Monash University said Soetjipto would have turned 21 today.

Overnight, we reported Malaysia’s Chief of Navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar as saying that Royal Malaysian Navy ships found four bodies and an evacuation slide from the plane, although it is not clear if the four bodies they found are part of the seven confirmed by Indonesia’s search and rescue agency BASARNAS.

Separately, the Indonesian navy ship Bung Tomo, which was on Wednesday bound for Pangkalan Bun carrying the five bodies that could not be air-flown to land, reportedly found 28 items from the water. These included an exit door, “several suitcases”, snacks, instant porridge and three umbrellas, according to AFP citing a local news channel whom the ship’s commander reportedly spoke to.

The full story:

Bad weather hampered search efforts again on the first day of 2015. A small window of fine weather closed, and teams were unable to locate the wreckage of AirAsia QZ8501.

An official said it could take a week to locate the black box recorder. So far, search teams have not detected any “pings” from the black box.

An eighth body was brought to Pangkalan Bun. Two bodies were identified on Thursday – Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, and university student Kevin Alexander Soetjipto. Hayati’s body has been handed over to her family for burial.

Teams are now combing a larger search area of 13,500 square nautical miles, about twice the size of Wednesday’s search area, said Malaysia’s Chief of Navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar.

Singapore’s RSS Kallang will arrive in the search area on Friday to assist with search efforts. BASARNAS added that equipment that can detect material underwater has also arrived.

Indonesian police officers carry the coffin of Hayati Lutfiah, a passenger of AirAsia QZ8501, at Bhayankara Hospital in Surabaya January 1, 2015.  REUTERS/Athit PerawongmethaIndonesian police officers carry the coffin of Hayati Lutfiah, a passenger of AirAsia QZ8501, at Bhayankara Hospital …

Unforgiving weather conditions drove recovery efforts to a near-halt on New Year’s eve, as waves of up to 3m in height and strong winds swept bodies and debris from the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 some 50km eastward from where pieces of the plane were first found just a day earlier.

Ships were on Wednesday dispatched to stand by near the shores of Kalimantan, in case bodies eventually washed up there. Rescuers are racing against time to locate victims and debris from the flight, in a search area that will expand as the recovery effort wears on.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a press conference on Wednesday evening that sea search operations are planned to proceed round the clock, even as weather forced aerial search to halt by 5pm Indonesia time. He also said Indonesian search authorities are moving all their mobilised search assets to two spots where they think the aircraft might be.

“The weather unfortunately is not looking good for the next two or three days. That is slowing us down,” he said.

Officers of the National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) carry a body of one of the victims on board the ill-fated AirAsia Flight 8501, from a helicopter upon arrival at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. A massive hunt for the victims of the jet resumed in the Java Sea on Wednesday, but wind, strong currents and high surf hampered recovery efforts as distraught family members anxiously waited to identify their loved ones. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)Officers of the National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) carry a body of one of the victims on board the ill-fated …

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency BASARNAS nonetheless made some headway on day 4 of the effort, with the retrieval of a total of seven bodies they confirmed to be found in the waters of the search area. This, in turn, was on Wednesday restricted to a 28 by 56 nautical mile region.

Malaysia’s chief of navy also said on his Twitter account that two ships under his purview, KD Lekir and KD Pahang, had collectively found four bodies and an evacuation slide from the plane on Wednesday, although it is not clear if these are among the seven that were confirmed by BASARNAS.

The agency successfully transported two victims — a woman and a teenage boy — by helicopter to land at Pangkalan Bun in central Kalimantan, where they were cleansed, placed into wooden coffins with floral wreaths laid on top, and flown in a Hercules C130 plane to Surabaya’s Lanudal air base.

Indonesian soldiers carry coffins containing bodies of victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 upon arrival at Indonesian Military Air Force base in Surabaya, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. A massive hunt for the victims of the jet resumed in the Java Sea on Wednesday, but wind, strong currents and high surf hampered recovery efforts as distraught family members anxiously waited to identify their loved ones. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)Indonesian soldiers carry coffins containing bodies of victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 upon arrival at Indonesian …

They were then transferred to Bhayankara Police Hospital where forensic investigators commenced the identification process. Investigators determined from decomposition levels of the two bodies that they had died three days ago, in a preliminary report they shared with media at the hospital. Identification and cause of their deaths, they said, will take a longer time to work out.

In a separate update from Channel NewsAsia’s on-ground correspondent in Pangkalan Bun, Indonesian navy ship Bung Tomo, which is believed to be carrying the other five out of the initial seven bodies found, was on Wednesday plying a seven-hour journey to Pangkalan Bun, and was expected to arrive by 9pm Indonesia time.

The Bung Tomo. (Merdeka.com photo)The Bung Tomo. (Merdeka.com photo)

The ship will stay in deep water, while the bodies are transferred to a smaller ship to be brought nearer to shore. They will then be brought over land to a local hospital for cleansing, placed into coffins, and provided the weather clears on Thursday morning, will be flown to Surabaya for identification.

The Bung Tomo also reportedly retrieved a backpack, a child’s shoes and food from the water in the course of its search effort on Wednesday.

Families are slowly being ferried from Juanda International Airport, where they were initially stationed for updates on the flight and their loved ones, to accommodation near the hospital, so they can better assist in identifying the bodies brought over. The family support centre will also be closed and moved to the hospital.

In a bid to quicken the process, local police have also collected DNA samples and identifying information from the immediate relatives of 93 passengers and crew. At Bhayankara hospital, cold containers are ready to store up to 150 bodies, while 130 ambulances stand ready to transport bodies as they arrive at Lanudal.

Indonesian military personnel load a casket containing the body of a AirAsia flight QZ8501 passenger, recovered off the coast of Borneo, into a vehicle at a military base in Surabaya January 1, 2015. …

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Indonesian military personnel load a casket containing the body of a AirAsia flight QZ8501 passenger, recovered off the coast of Borneo, into a vehicle at a military base in Surabaya January 1, 2015. Divers looking for the wreck of the Indonesia AirAsia jet off Borneo were unable to resume full-scale operations on Thursday in poor weather and heavy seas and an air safety official said it could take a week to find the black box flight recorders. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas(INDONESIA – Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MILITARY)

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Reuters | Photo By SIGIT PAMUNGKAS / REUTERS

Thu, Jan 1, 2015 2:36 PM SGT

Meanwhile, a team of crash site investigators from Britain, France, the US and Singapore is on its way to Pangkalan Bun on an Indonesian navy ship. Once they arrive, they will start examining the debris that has been retrieved and brought to land.

Speaking on Tuesday evening, Indonesian president Joko Widodo stressed that the key focus of the country’s efforts is on the retrieval and evacuation of passengers and crew from the area, alongside debris from the plane. “We all pray that all families will be given the strength to face this tragedy,” he said.

He had on Monday night also directed Indonesia’s transport ministry to review aviation procedures while seeking comprehensive weather reports from met agency officials for greater airline safety.

A specialist from Singapore's Ministry of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) showcases a set of underwater locator beacon detector that will be used to assist in locating the flight recorders of the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 plane, at Changi Airport in Singapore December 29, 2014. The missing AirAsia jet carrying 162 people could be at the bottom of the sea after it was presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said on Monday, as countries around Asia sent ships and planes to help in the search effort. REUTERS/Edgar Su (SINGAPORE - Tags: TRANSPORT DISASTER)A specialist from Singapore’s Ministry of Transport’s Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) showcases …

Singapore’s two specialist teams with two underwater locator beacon detectors have been dispatched to the sea search area to assist in locating wreckage and the plane’s black boxes beneath the surface. It now has a total of five ships deployed in the search — the RSS Kallang, a Bedok-class mine counter-measure vessel, set sail for Indonesian waters on Wednesday afternoon.

Malaysia also has several ships and aircraft deployed in the region. A destroyer from the US, the USS Sampson, has arrived at the search area, and a ship from China is also on its way, as are surveillance planes from China and South Korea, to back up the ongoing effort.

On board the missing AirAsia plane are a total of 162 people — 138 adults, 16 children and one infant, making up 155 passengers along with seven crew members (two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer).

The passengers comprise one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one British, three South Koreans and 149 Indonesians, while the crew consists of six Indonesians and one French (the co-pilot). See the full manifest here, and read more about their stories here.

Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority said a total of 40 registered passenger next-of-kin have been flown to Surabaya to join hundreds of other relatives there. It said it will continue assisting and feeding updates to relatives who choose to stay in Singapore.

Moving messages have been pinned to a board at Terminal 2 of Singapore’s Changi Airport, where people penned thoughts expressing their sadness and support over the disaster and loss of lives in post-it notes. The coloured squares were pasted on a board placed outside the relatives’ holding area on Level 3.

Messages for passengers on board the missing AirAsia flight 8501 are placed on a board at Changi International Airport, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014 in Singapore. Searchers combing the Java Sea to find and recover debris and bodies from the AirAsia jet that crashed there have the advantage of working in much shallower waters than those found in the open ocean, but also face challenges that include monsoons, murkiness and trash. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)Messages for passengers on board the missing AirAsia flight 8501 are placed on a board at Changi International …

QZ8501 lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control after 6:14am Indonesia time on Sunday, 42 minutes after departure and slightly more than an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore.

Reuters reports that the aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing without a distress signal.

The plane stayed on its submitted flight plan route before it asked for permission to deviate to avoid “bad weather” described by officials as dense storm clouds, strong winds and lightning.

State navigation operator AirNav Indonesia revealed the details of the last messages sent between the plane and Indonesian air traffic control, saying that the pilot on board had not explained why he wanted to ascend to 38,000 feet. [Click here]

After giving immediate approval at 6:12am Indonesia time to veer left, which the plane then did, Indonesian air traffic control could not permit the jet to rise to that altitude as AirAsia flight QZ8502 was already cruising at that level. The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian air traffic control then coordinated with its counterpart in Singapore to determine an approved 34,000 feet altitude. When they informed the pilot of the approved height to ascend to at 6:14am, however, they did not receive any response.


The pilot in command, Captain Iriyanto, had a substantial total of 20,000 flying hours and over 10 years’ experience as a pilot trainer. The first officer, Remi Emmanual Plesel, a total of 2,275 flying hours, said AirAsia, adding that the jet underwent its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November this year.

Air Asia chief Tony Fernandes confirmed the plane had been given the all-clear by aviation technicians, was in “good condition” and “has never had any problems whatsoever”.

Airbus said it would provide full assistance to authorities in charge of the investigation.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Inmarsat vice president of external affairs Chris McLaughlin as saying that AirAsia had started deploying satellite communications on some of its A320s that would provide position updates every two minutes, but the QZ8501 plane was not yet upgraded.

Essential information

AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is +62 212 927 0811 or 031- 869 0855 or 031- 298 6790 (Surabaya).

Relatives of passengers are asked to call the following dedicated hotlines:

Malaysia: +60 321 795 959
Indonesia: +62 212 927 0811
Singapore: +65 6307 7688
Korea: 007 9814 206 9940

AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website at www.airasia.com.

Source:  

AirAsia #QZ8501: Search for black box recorders could 'take a week'; one body returned to family

An Alaska village's existential dilemma

By Duff Wilson

SHISHMAREF, Alaska (Reuters) – The Chukchi Sea’s unrelenting waves were slowly ripping away the land and homes of the 600 or so residents of this Alaska Native village on a sinking barrier island. U.S. government reports determined that the community was “imminently threatened” with inundation and needed “immediate action” to move to safer ground on the mainland. Villagers voted 161-20 to relocate off the island. Shishmaref, the media proclaimed, would be the United States’ first climate refugees.

That was in 2002.

More than a decade later, the U.S. government has yet to come up with a new location. Shishmaref has stayed put, protected temporarily by a $19 million rock revetment that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished in 2009.

“You almost have to be half the way dead to get help,” said Clifford Weyiouanna, former chair of a relocation coalition.

If Alaska is a test, the U.S. is failing it. The nation lacks any designated agency to help communities relocate even if they are literally falling into the water. Shishmaref is one of three Alaska Native communities on an emergency relocation list put out by the Army Corps and the U.S. General Accounting Office, but none have been able to move.

David Williams, Army Corps project manager for Shishmaref, said the community can’t afford the local share of moving costs nor agree on where to relocate.

Alternative sites selected by federal, state and tribal officials rest on thawing permafrost. The land would slump and sink into a muddy mess unless there was sand or gravel added at great expense to stabilize it. Many residents feel safer where they are, behind the row of rocks the agency installed as a stopgap measure.

“I told them once we build the sea wall, everybody’s going to get comfortable and say we don’t need to relocate anymore,” said Tony Weyiouanna, Clifford’s cousin and president of the Shishmaref Native Corp. “But they don’t see the other problems. The sea level’s rising. It’s going to happen eventually.”

Ironically, the Iñupiats were forced to consolidate on the barrier island about 90 years ago because of federal rules requiring a centralized school. Alaska Natives spread along 100 miles of shoreline were gathered together on a barrier island.

Life here has never been easy. The Iñupiat rely on a subsistence economy, eking out a living on hunting, fishing, berry-picking and food stamps. Seal carcasses litter the town. Most homes have no running water.

The island, just a quarter-mile wide, has lost hundreds of feet of unprotected shore since the 1960s, including another 25 feet or so last year. Water creeps ever closer to the airstrip, the town’s only connection to the outside world. “We don’t have a plan if the airport were washed out,” former Mayor Stanley Tocktoo said in January at a congressional hearing on climate change.

Voting to relocate, without actually relocating, has made things only worse. Water, sewer and health systems have deteriorated; no one is willing to invest in a town that is always talking about relocating.

“The decision to move,” Tocktoo said, “has been very costly for us.”

(Edited by John Blanton)

See original article here:

An Alaska village's existential dilemma

An Alaska village's existential dilemma

By Duff Wilson

SHISHMAREF, Alaska (Reuters) – The Chukchi Sea’s unrelenting waves were slowly ripping away the land and homes of the 600 or so residents of this Alaska Native village on a sinking barrier island. U.S. government reports determined that the community was “imminently threatened” with inundation and needed “immediate action” to move to safer ground on the mainland. Villagers voted 161-20 to relocate off the island. Shishmaref, the media proclaimed, would be the United States’ first climate refugees.

That was in 2002.

More than a decade later, the U.S. government has yet to come up with a new location. Shishmaref has stayed put, protected temporarily by a $19 million rock revetment that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished in 2009.

“You almost have to be half the way dead to get help,” said Clifford Weyiouanna, former chair of a relocation coalition.

If Alaska is a test, the U.S. is failing it. The nation lacks any designated agency to help communities relocate even if they are literally falling into the water. Shishmaref is one of three Alaska Native communities on an emergency relocation list put out by the Army Corps and the U.S. General Accounting Office, but none have been able to move.

David Williams, Army Corps project manager for Shishmaref, said the community can’t afford the local share of moving costs nor agree on where to relocate.

Alternative sites selected by federal, state and tribal officials rest on thawing permafrost. The land would slump and sink into a muddy mess unless there was sand or gravel added at great expense to stabilize it. Many residents feel safer where they are, behind the row of rocks the agency installed as a stopgap measure.

“I told them once we build the sea wall, everybody’s going to get comfortable and say we don’t need to relocate anymore,” said Tony Weyiouanna, Clifford’s cousin and president of the Shishmaref Native Corp. “But they don’t see the other problems. The sea level’s rising. It’s going to happen eventually.”

Ironically, the Iñupiats were forced to consolidate on the barrier island about 90 years ago because of federal rules requiring a centralized school. Alaska Natives spread along 100 miles of shoreline were gathered together on a barrier island.

Life here has never been easy. The Iñupiat rely on a subsistence economy, eking out a living on hunting, fishing, berry-picking and food stamps. Seal carcasses litter the town. Most homes have no running water.

The island, just a quarter-mile wide, has lost hundreds of feet of unprotected shore since the 1960s, including another 25 feet or so last year. Water creeps ever closer to the airstrip, the town’s only connection to the outside world. “We don’t have a plan if the airport were washed out,” former Mayor Stanley Tocktoo said in January at a congressional hearing on climate change.

Voting to relocate, without actually relocating, has made things only worse. Water, sewer and health systems have deteriorated; no one is willing to invest in a town that is always talking about relocating.

“The decision to move,” Tocktoo said, “has been very costly for us.”

(Edited by John Blanton)

Link to article:  

An Alaska village's existential dilemma

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.

See the original post:

Russian ship reaches space station

On This Day: Cyprus gains independence from Britain amid ethnic conflict

AUGUST 16, 1960: Cyprus gained independence from Britain amid a bloody ethnic conflict between Greek and Turkish-speaking residents on this day in 1960.

It ended 82 years of British rule after it was gifted the Mediterranean island by the Ottoman Empire in return for military support against Russia.

The decision followed a five-year insurgency by the members of the ethnic Greek majority, which wanted enosis (union) with Greece.

A total of 371 British soldiers and hundreds more Turkish Cypriots, who accounted for 18% of the population and opposed the idea, were killed during this period.

The Turkish Resistance Organisation had also carried out attacks against the Greek EOKA paramilitary group in a bid to gain an ethnic partition of the island.

A British Pathé newsreel shows UK troops struggling to comb the mountainous island for terrorists during the declared State of Emergency.

Yet, by the end of the 1950s, it was recognised by both the government in Greece and Greek Cypriots that Turkey, which is just 70 miles away, would not allow enosis.

The Greek Cypriot army stages a Pre-independence Day parade (Rex Features)The Greek Cypriot army stages a Pre-independence Day parade (Rex Features)


So both ethnicities agreed to a deal that would give the island independence while also prohibiting both enosis and partition (taksim).

Under the plan, Britain kept two sovereign military bases in the new Republic of Cyprus, which it continues to maintain to this day.

Soldiers from Greece and Turkey – at a 3:2 ratio – were also to remain present on the island in a bid to keep the peace.

And, under the new constitution, Greek Cypriots would elect the president from their own ethnicity and Turkish islanders would vote for vice president from among theirs.

[On This Day: Britain deports Archbishop Makarios from Cyprus for actively fostering terrorism]

Archbishop Makarios III, who was exiled during the guerrilla war, was elected the first head of the new independent state while Fazıl Küçük became his deputy.

Yet, despite agreeing to a power-sharing deal at the 1959 London and Zurich Conferences, this system did not secure peace and both sides continued the violence.

Makarios had secretly drawn up a plan to destabilise the government and pave the way for a referendum on enosis with the vain hope of international approval.

Archbishop Makarios III was elected the first head of the new independent state (Getty)Archbishop Makarios III was elected the first head of the new independent state (Getty)


Turkey threatened to invade in December 1963 when bloodshed followed the decision by Turkish Cypriots to quit parliament after refusing to water down power sharing.

Over two days, during what became known as Bloody Christmas, Greek islanders killed 133 ethnic Turks and forced 25,000 others to flee their homes.

It prompted the United Nations, which had earlier refused to support both enosis and taksim, to send a peacekeeping force composed of Canadian, Irish and Finnish troops.

Greek soldiers were also withdrawn from Cyprus, which finally ensured Turkey did not invade and brought temporary peace to the island.

[On This Day: Israel declares independence from Britain]

Intercommunity violence flared once again and a Cyprus Airline jet was blown up in 1967, which prompted Turkish Cypriots to form their own illegal administration.

Turkey finally invaded on July 20, 1974 after Greece’s military rulers supported a coup that ousted Makarios and installed the even more pro-enosis Nikos Sampson.

They took control of 38% of the island and prompted 200,000 Greek Cypriots to flee the northern occupation zone – with 60,000 Turks leaving their homes in the south.

The Greek Army contingent parading in Cyprus in 1964 on the anniversary of Greek Independence (PA)The Greek Army contingent parading in Cyprus in 1964 on the anniversary of Greek Independence (PA)


Since then the Greek-majority Republic of Cyprus has ruled the south and remains the internationally recognised government of the whole island, except the British bases.

However, in reality, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus administration controls the northern part, although it is only recognised by Turkey.

The island has been largely peaceful since 1974, although bitter division continues and the UN patrols a 112-mile-long buffer zone that is up to 4.6 miles wide in places.

[On This Day: Ireland gains independence from Britain as Free State is born]

And Nicosia remains the only divided capital in the world, with the Green Line running through the city, although both citizens have been able to cross it since 2003.

Referendums were held across the island in 2004 over whether to accept a UN plan calling for Cyprus to be reunified as a federation of two states.

Turks overwhelmingly backed the idea, which would have ended a trade embargo – but only 24% of Greeks supported it.

[On This Day: Lynmouth floods killed 34 people in 1952 after three month’s worth of rain fell in just 24 hours]

But Greek Cypriots’ romantic quest for enosis was dealt a huge blow when its financial system followed Greece and collapsed under the weight of the euro.

Northern Cyprus, though poorer, has remained stable in large part due to subsidies from Turkey, which has the fastest growing economy in Europe and is thriving.

This changed scenario –and the discovery of huge gas fields off the northern shore – has prompted unprecedented talks, which remain ongoing.

Link:  

On This Day: Cyprus gains independence from Britain amid ethnic conflict

Solomon Islander who helped save JFK dies at 93

Honiara (AFP) – A Solomon Islander who helped save John F. Kennedy when a Japanese destroyer sank the future US president’s patrol boat during World War II has died aged 93, his family said Monday.

Eroni Kumana and his fellow islander Buiku Gasa were out in a canoe in 1943 when they came across the injured Kennedy, who was then a naval lieutenant, and members of his crew stranded on a coral atoll.

The pair helped the Americans survive and Kennedy went on to become the 35th president of the United States, keeping a coconut from the ordeal as a paperweight on his White House desk.

Kumana’s son Esori said his father passed away surrounded by family members on Saturday aged 93 and was laid to rest on his home island of Ronongga on Monday.

“It was very sad (but) he lived a full life and we are proud of him,” he told AFP via telephone from the island, where villagers were preparing a feast in Kumana’s honour.

Kennedy’s boat PT-109 was on a night-time patrol when a Japanese destroyer suddenly loomed out of the dark and sheared the wooden vessel in half, according to the Smithsonian magazine.

Spilled fuel ignited in the water, causing both the Japanese and other US PT boats to assume the 13-man crew had all perished in the shark-infested waters.

In fact, 11 of them were still alive and when dawn broke Kennedy led his crew on a five-kilometre (three-mile) swim from the boat’s wreckage to a coral atoll.

Kennedy, who had suffered a ruptured spinal disc, towed a badly burned crewman behind him during the marathon swim.

Eventually Kumana and Gasa passed in their canoe. They helped collect food for the crew and Kennedy sent them off to get help with a message etched into the shell of a coconut, reading: “Nauru Isl commander/native knows posit/he can pilot/11 alive/need small boat/Kennedy”.

After being rescued, Kennedy retrieved the coconut and had it encased in plastic, using it as a paperweight throughout his post-war political career. It is still on display in the Kennedy Museum in Boston.

Kumana and Gasa were invited to Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration but were unable to make the trip to Washington.

Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Gasa died in November 2005.

Excerpt from: 

Solomon Islander who helped save JFK dies at 93

Climate concerns aired as Pacific summit opens

A summit of Pacific leaders opened in Palau on Tuesday with a call for developed nations to take action on climate change and stop overfishing the world’s largest ocean.

The host of this year’s Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), Palau President Tommy Remengesau, said small island nations had effectively become “the conscience of the world” on environmental matters.

“The ocean is our way of life,” he said at an elaborate sunset opening ceremony featuring club-wielding warriors dressed in loin cloths and palm fronds.

“It sustains and nurtures us, provides us with the basics of our Pacific island cultures, out very identities.”

Remengesau said the Pacific Ocean was “under siege” from pollution and overfishing, leaving members of the 15-nation PIF vulnerable as many of them lie barely one metre (three feet) above sea level.

“We must recognise that the long-term solution to ocean warming, rising seas and ocean acidification is a big global cut in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions,” he said.

This week’s meeting seeks to maintain momentum from the 2013 summit in the Marshall Islands, where Forum nations signed the Majuro Declaration, committing them to ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adopting renewable energy.

Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said it was an opportunity to drive the message home once again ahead of a special UN summit on climate change in New York on September 23.

“Climate change must be front and centre of the regional agenda,” he said.

While the small island nations that make up the majority of Forum members have no control over the industrialised world’s greenhouse gas emissions , they can influence the direction of Pacific fisheries.

Remengesau said it was time to take a stand against industrialised fishing in the Pacific, much of which is conducted by so-called “distant water” fleets from as far afield as Europe.

The Pacific tuna industry is worth about $4.0 billion a year annually but relatively little of the money trickles back to Forum countries.

Scientists say tuna stocks are dwindling quickly, with the southern bluefin variety down an estimated 96 percent after decades of overfishing.

Remengesau has launched a proposal to completely ban commercial fishing in Palau’s 630,000 square kilometre (240,000 square mile) exclusive economic zone — an area the size of France — by 2018.

He said the drastic step was needed to allow fish populations to replenish and let the ocean heal.

The PIF summit will continue until Friday, when member nations will hold discussions with so-called “dialogue partners” including the United States, China and the European Union.

From – 

Climate concerns aired as Pacific summit opens