...where failure is documented
Chinese appetite for shark fin soup devastating Mozambique coastline
by David Smith
Thursday, 14 February 2013
A fisherman with a hammerhead shark caught off the coast of Mozambique. ‘We do it to survive,’ one man said. Photograph: Alamy
Standing among coconut and mango trees near the coast of Mozambique, Fernando Nhamussua carefully prepares shark meat for a family meal – and contemplates a basket with a profitable haul of four dried shark fins.
"I want to sell them to the Chinese," the 33-year-old admits with disarming candour, estimating that a kilogram's worth will fetch around 5,000 meticals (£104). "We take them to town where there is a place for Chinese buyers. It's good money."
Nhamussua reckons he has sold 20 fins so far, boosting his normal income and his hopes of completing a modest concrete house that stands unfinished. But this burgeoning trade along the Mozambican coast is putting precious species such as manta rays in existential danger, according to local conservationists.
Amazon's fees hike for third-party traders provokes fury
by Simon Bowers
Thursday, 28 March 2013
Amazon began by sourcing and selling products itself but now, globally, 2 million third-party traders use the Amazon site. Photograph: James Grimstead/Rex Features
Amazon is facing a revolt from small traders as the internet retailer – which describes itself as "Earth's most customer-centric" company – plans to impose a wave of fee rises on third parties who use its network to sell consumer electronics, automotive parts and other goods in the UK and across Europe.
Trader fees on millions of electronic accessories listed on Amazon – including popular items such as memory cards, headphones and printer cartridges – will jump from 7% to 12% for the busiest traders in the UK and four other major European markets from 4 April, just after the Easter weekend.
Gabon: Poachers kill 11,000 elephants
by Sam Masters
Thursday, 7 February 2013
Poachers have killed more than 11,000 elephants in Gabon since 2004, it has been revealed.
The country is home to more than half of Africa's 40,000 forest elephants, which are prized for the quality of their pink-tinged ivory. Campaigners said the situation was "out of control" and blamed high demand for ivory jewellery in Asia. The Gabonese National Parks Agency conducted the latest research with wildlife campaigners.
Bas Huijbregts from the World Wildlife Fund said authorities were struggling to cope with the problem. "It is very difficult to track poachers here," he said.
Previously, elephant poaching had taken place mainly in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, but with demand for ivory growing and prices rocketing in recent years, poachers have sought out the forest elephants in Gabon.
Source: The Independent UK.
Russians search Amnesty International's office in Moscow
25 March 2013
Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Representative Office in Russia, speaks during a news conference in Moscow, May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian prosecutors and tax police searched the Moscow headquarters of Amnesty International and several other rights groups Monday, continuing a wave of pressure that activists say is part of President Vladimir Putin's attempt to stifle dissent.
Sergei Nikitin, Amnesty's Russia chief, told The Associated Press that officials from the general prosecutor's office and tax police conducted an unannounced audit of his offices. Nikitin said the officials requested documents from the human rights watchdog that the government already has on file. They were accompanied by journalists from the state-controlled NTV television station, which has been used by the Kremlin for hatchet jobs against its political foes.
Other rights groups were also subject to searches. Veteran activist Lev Ponomarev's For Human Rights movement was also visited by officials and an NTV crew on Monday. He wrote a letter to the Moscow prosecutor's office calling the search illegal, since prosecutors provided no evidence that his organization broke the law. Public Verdict, a well-known human rights law group, was also searched Monday.
South African 17-year-old dies of gang-rape injuries
By Ed Cropley
February 6, 2013
RODGER BOSCH / AFP/GETTY IMAGES - Demonstrators, including Helen Zille, the premier of Western Cape province, protest against rape on Feb.11, 2013, outside South Africa's Parliament in Cape Town. The protest was called for after the gang-rape, and mutilation of 17-year-old Anene Booysen, who eventually died of her injuries.
(Reuters) - A 17-year-old South African girl died of injuries inflicted in a gang-rape at the weekend, provoking rare outrage on Wednesday in a country inured to some of the world's highest levels of sexual violence.
The victim had been sliced open from her stomach to her genitals and dumped on a building site in the town of Bredasdorp, 130 km (80 miles) east of Cape Town, the Cape Argus newspaper reported. The victim identified one of her attackers before she died, it said. Hospital staff who battled to save her life were given counseling because of the horrific nature of her injuries.
The case has echoes of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus that has triggered huge protests in India against endemic anti-female violence.
The Bredasdorp murder is unlikely to provoke such a large-scale outpouring of anger in South Africa, where women's groups say rape has lost the power to shock. "It is difficult to find reason behind the many different acts of gang rape, child rape, rape of the elderly, corrective rape and male rape," the Women's League of the ruling African National Congress said in a statement. "Men and women need to join hands around this issue and fight this epidemic together. The Women's League and a few women's NGOs can no longer be the lone voices crying out against rape."
Saudi cleric urges veil for baby girls
5 February 2013
AFP - A Saudi cleric has said baby girls should be veiled to avoid sexual harassment, in remarks broadcast on television that sparked outrage in the conservative kingdom.
"Girls should wear the veil from the age of two," said Abdullah Daoud on Islamic television Al-Majd, adding that Saudis should follow the example of South Asian countries. "If a girl is sexually desired, her parents should cover her face and force her to wear veil," to protect her against perverts, he said. Practicing Muslims believe that girls must begin wearing head covers such as the veil from the age of puberty.
Daoud's comments, in an interview which was posted on the Internet, sparked an outcry across social networks and the local press, with prominent cleric Salman al-Audah joining the protests.
"We hope that these aberrant statements will not be exaggerated and taken as fatwa (religious edict)," Audah told AFP on Tuesday. Saudi columnist Badria al-Bisher slammed Daoud for his proposal of veiling little girls, "instead of proposing a stern law curbing sexual harassment, and school and media awareness campaigns."
China police chief accused of having 192 houses
5 February 2013
This photo taken on February 3, 2013 shows paramilitary police marching through the downtown area of Chongqing.
AFP - A Chinese police chief is alleged to have had at least 192 houses and a fake identity card, state media said, the latest in a number of similar cases that have sparked outrage online.
Zhao Haibin, a senior police official in Lufeng in the southern province of Guangdong, was reported by a businessman to have accumulated the properties under his name and his company's, the Guangzhou Daily said. The businessman, Huang Kunyi -- who was involved in a dispute with the officer -- also said Zhao used a fake identity card to record a different name on company documents, the newspaper reported. Authorities cancelled the false card after Huang's report in 2011, it added.
An official of the Communist Party's discipline department for Lufeng told AFP Tuesday that Zhao -- who is also the vice party secretary of a local county -- had been investigated but the inquiry was over and he retained his public offices. According to the newspaper, Zhao said the properties were owned by his younger brother, a businessman, and that he was only "managing" them for him. A separate report said Zhao or the company had 192 properties in the city of Huizhou, also in Guangdong, and others in the cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai.
In Greek parliament, standards slip as tensions rise
3 February 2013
Greek members of parliament stand in the chamber in Athens, on November 4, 2011.
AFP - Standards are slipping in Greece's parliament, where heated debate over gruelling austerity has combined with the influx of hot-blooded newcomers to create an explosive mix.
Elections in June brought in a host of new lawmakers from across the political spectrum -- including many from the radical left and far-right -- as voters punished established centrist parties accused of decades of corruption.
With many wizened faces of the old guard swept away, the latest 300-strong membership has considerably livened up the legislative process. Two women lawmakers from the conservative and nationalist parties nearly came to blows earlier this week over a perceived family insult. The slighted lawmaker from conservative New Democracy called her opponent "a cheap tart" before the presiding official quickly ended the debate.
Russia searches hundreds of rights groups, NGOs
21 March 2013
By MAX SEDDON
Oleg Orlov, member of Russian human rights group Memorial, talks to the media in his office in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, March 21, 2013, as prosecutors search for documents pertaining to all of its activities. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian prosecutors are conducting wide-ranging checks of hundreds of nongovernmental organizations, as part of what rights activists say are President Vladimir Putin's efforts to stifle dissent and shield the nation from perceived Western influence.
The inspections and searches have targeted up to 2,000 organizations since last month, said Pavel Chikov, a member of the presidential human rights council. The action followed Putin's speech in February before senior officers of the FSB, the main KGB successor agency, in which he urged them to focus attention on groups that receive foreign funding used to "put pressure on Russia."
A team of prosecutors, Justice Ministry officials and tax police spent most of the day Thursday searching the Moscow offices of Memorial, one of Russia's oldest and most respected human rights groups. They were accompanied by journalists from the state-controlled NTV station, which has been used by the Kremlin for hatchet jobs against its political foes.
"This is the result of a directive from the very top, from Mr. Putin personally, to go and deal with all the NGOs that are too independent," Memorial director Oleg Orlov said.
Austrian EU lawmaker investigated over "elephant" expenses
By Claire Davenport
February 1, 2013
Austrian independent candidate for the European parliament elections Hans-Peter Martin is pictured during campaigning in Linz June 5, 2009. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler
(Reuters) - An Austrian member of the European Parliament is under investigation over suspect expenses claims totaling 1.3 million euros, including one item listed as "elephant".
In a request to the European Parliament to waive Hans-Peter Martin's immunity, the Vienna prosecutor's office said it suspected the independent MEP of embezzling public funds and making money "illicitly for himself or a third party by fraudulent means".
"It is suspected that, by using money for the reimbursement of election campaign costs for purposes other than those intended, Dr Hans-Peter Martin has committed crimes of misuse of funding ... and embezzlement," said the request, made last May and seen by Reuters.
Martin, 55, says the allegations are an invention by adversaries upset by his efforts to expose the parliament's waste of public funds. "I see a direct link between the fact that I have made these things public and now false allegations being leaked to the press," Martin told Reuters last week.