Visit Jersey – Come to the channel islands for a Break

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Visit Jersey – Come to the channel islands for a Break

Egypt’s Lost Islands, Sisi’s Shame – New York Times

At the top of the gulf is the Israeli port of Eilat, once the Egyptian port of Umm al-Rashrash. In the wars of 1956 and 1967, Tiran and Sanafir were invaded by the Israeli military but were twice returned to Egypt, the second time under the 1979 treaty that followed the Camp David accords. A small detachment of international peacekeeping troops, mostly Egyptian and American, is stationed on Tiran (the islands are otherwise uninhabited).

Nobody set much store by the presidents my mother told me riff. Had the islands been sold? Could a government parcel out and sell bits of territory to another country? The Constitution said it could not, and the government claimed it had not. Lawyers, acting on behalf of some 300 citizen litigants, asked the State Council, the umbrella organization for the administrative courts that adjudicate disputes between the state and citizens, to rule on whether the islands were, in fact, Egyptian or Saudi.

Documents from across the world and spanning two centuries poured into the lawyers offices. An administrative court appointed a panel of experts to examine these submissions and, in June 2016, ruled that the islands were, beyond doubt, Egypts. When the government appealed the case, the Supreme Administrative Court reaffirmed what then became a final and absolute ruling.

The matter should have ended there. But Mr. Sisis government did a strange thing: It took the case to another, lower court one that handles routine issues like the enforcement of alimony payments and asked it to stay the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court. This lower court duly did so, which meant that the case would go to the Constitutional Court. But without waiting for any further hearing to settle the issue between the deadlocked courts, the government sidelined the judiciary and took the matter to Parliament.

A great number of representatives in Parliament belong to one of the parties or electoral blocs that were created by the regimes security and intelligence agencies about three years ago in preparation for parliamentary elections. There were scuffles in the chamber as dissenting representatives yelled at their fellow legislators, saying that even to debate the issue was treasonous. Again and again, opponents of ceding the islands asked to speak and were denied. They demanded a roll-call vote and were denied. On the fourth day, amid chaos, the law transferring the islands to Saudi Arabia was passed in an unrecorded vote.

Why is the president so keen to give away such strategic and valuable pieces of Egyptian territory so keen that his government was willing to show contempt for the institutions of the judiciary, the Constitution and Parliament? Was this simply a battle of wills that Mr. Sisi had to win to show that there was nothing to stop him from doing whatever he wanted? Or was it because the government was trapped in a deal that it could neither renege on, nor account for frankly to the people?

Handing the islands to Saudi Arabia makes the kingdom a party to the Camp David accords and so provides justification for its developing rapprochement with Israel. Until now, Saudi relations with Israel have largely been secret because they would be unpopular domestically. Now, with the possibility of a realignment in the region, including an alliance against Iran that would include Israel, Saudi leaders want to go public about the new ties but dress them up as a necessity, mandated by the treaty.

The danger for Egypt is that while the Camp David accords say that the Straits of Tiran must remain open to all shipping, this holds only in times of peace and for well-intentioned shipping. If the straits remained under Egyptian control, then Egypt could close them in time of war or if it suspected that any particular shipping had hostile intent. If the islands were Saudi, though, the straits between the islands and Egypt would become international waters, instead of Egyptian territorial waters. That would leave Egypts Sinai coast completely vulnerable to attack.

In addition, the dispute over the islands takes place against a dark backdrop in Egypt. Most citizens have felt a threat hanging over their lives and livelihoods for decades, but we also now feel a kind of existential dread. The bedrock of our identity is that Egypt has existed in recognizable form for thousands of years. This bedrock is being eroded as the core characteristics of our country change.

Egypts share of water from the Nile is under threat from a dam being built by our neighbor to the south, Ethiopia. The soil of the Nile Valley is exhausted, less fertile, and the nations resources are depleted. Much of the population is impoverished and malnourished, while years of poor governance have left our cities horribly polluted.

Egypts society is divided and turned against itself more than ever before. For the first time ever, some would say, Egypt has become inhospitable to immigrants, and even its own young people brave perilous journeys over sand and sea to escape the country. None of this was inevitable. It is the result of decades of corrupt, self-serving government.

The revolution of January 2011 was a response to this profound threat; this is why it swept up young and old, rich and poor, secular and pious. Everyone wanted to save the country and be saved. Whatever the real, hardheaded odds against the revolutions success, it was the manifestation of a tremendous will to live; to shake off stagnation, corruption and hopelessness. For a brief time, the people embraced their own agency, creativity, hard work, altruism, collectivity and diversity.

The counterrevolution that came after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February 2011 has failed or refused to address the concerns of the countrys citizens. In each of its forms, it has concentrated on consolidating its own power and on punishing and discrediting anything that might threaten it that is, any inkling of the revolutionary spirit of agency, altruism, collectivity and creativity.

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces were each in power for about a year, whereas, by now, Mr. Sisi has effectively ruled for over three years. That is long enough to be called to account. Egyptians feel the danger, shame and loss of the ceding of their islands, on top of everything else they have had to endure. Four professional associations have denounced the parliamentary decision, and there have been flash protests in the streets. The response of the government was to arrest scores more people and block more than 100 news websites. But this opposition will not go away. Egyptians will not be silent.

Ahdaf Soueif (@asoueif), a novelist and critic, is the co-editor of the essay collection This Is Not a Border: Reportage and Reflection From the Palestine Festival of Literature.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this op-ed appears in print on June 27, 2017, on Page A9 of the National edition with the headline: Egypts lost islands, Sisis shame.

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Egypt’s Lost Islands, Sisi’s Shame – New York Times

The Canary Islands: readers’ tips – Telegraph.co.uk

This week’s winning letter The wonders of La Palma

La Palma (La Isla Bonita) has among its attractions the towering Caldera de Taburiente, replete with world-famous observatories and awe-inspiring views, as well as the rainforest of Los Tilos with its bird life and lush vegetation. This is an island to savour.

For me, nothing matches the Ruta de los Volcanos from El Pilar along a ridge to the lighthouse by the salt pans in the south. It is a walk to be remembered forever, as it features extinct and recently active volcanoes, solitude and sweeping views across to Tenerife emerging from the clouds.

Walking up the cliff at Tazacorte seems impossible, but effort is repaid with magnificent views from the top and a welcome bar. There are many thrills, chills and sights that make this island impossible to forget. The capital, Santa Cruz, is thronged with restaurants and the taste of the local honey rum is blissful. In short, La Palma is a friendly, laid-back and unspoilt island of wonders.

Robert Box, from Shropshire, wins a 500 voucher with TravelLocal

Lanzarote is somewhere I would visit again and again. From the moment we landed, I loved the island that all-too-familiar smell of a warm Spanish airport, followed by the journey to our hotel across a landscape that can only be described as startling.

Our favourite resort is Playa Blanca, with its beautiful views across to nearby Fuerteventura. In Lanzarote, the near-constant breeze makes walking a delight.

The Timanfaya National Park can be the highlight of a visit for some, perhaps stopping for a camel ride on the way. It offers a breathtakingly beautiful, hardened lava landscape and also food cooked using the Earths geothermal heat.

For other visitors, the high point might be a visit to the underground lava tubes at Cueva de los Verdes and the illusion that waits within.

For me, however, nothing beats Mirador del Rio and taking in the clifftop view across the Atlantic to La Graciosa while enjoying a refreshing Spanish coffee. I want to go back.

Steve Voller, Kent

La Gomera is a miniature paradise, which we got to know well when our son and his friend rowed across the Atlantic. While enjoying a warm, colourful sunset, I squatted next to their boat on the pontoon of the islands small harbour, boring holes in pieces of sheep fleece.

Each of them would be tied in place on the seat of the boat to reduce friction during the race to Antigua. Fortunately, the earnest and environmentally aware Bavarian farmer who had sold us the fleece had no idea of its intended use.

The island provided us with a relaxing prelude to the transatlantic challenge; we sourced final supplies, explored steep mountain roads, found the one and only parador on the island, and enjoyed a riotous farewell in a caf in San Sebastin, to the musical accompaniment of an unexpectedly automatic accordion which my husband had thought he was playing himself. La Gomeras main claim to fame? De aqu parti Coln Columbus left from here!

Lesley Bright, West Sussex

Having travelled to all of the Canary Islands, I can confidently say my favourite is Lanzarote. I spend the whole of November there every year. The island is safe and the locals are friendly; the weather is usually glorious but can be a little temperamental; and the pace of life is slow and relaxing.

I have stayed in Costa Teguise and Playa Blanca, but my best memories are of Puerto del Carmen as it seems to have everything I want.

One of my great loves is walking, and there are so many routes, you are spoilt for choice. Id recommend getting the bus (or water taxi) from Puerto del Carmen to nearby Puerto Calero, then walking back along the cliffs. I usually hire a car for a week to enable me to get to the north and west coasts, which are rocky and wild compared to the east. Perfection.

Audrey Clark, Dundee

Our first holiday to the Canary Islands was a surprise anniversary jaunt in December 1990. My husband gave me a weeks notice to pack for a long weekend in Scotland, so I collected a mountain of woolly jumpers and other clothing suited to the climate.

However, on the day before we left he said he had been advised by a friend of ours to tell me the truth about our destination. In this friends opinion, knowing me quite well, making me sit on a sunbed wearing a scarf, bobble hat, jersey, jeans and boots could be a major error of judgment, however well-intentioned the joke. Boy oh boy, was he right. However, with the help of my calm and amazing mum we managed to repack in a couple of hours. The day was saved and a divorce was avoided. Who knows, we may even go back this year for our 47th anniversary.

Maggi Dignam, Manchester

If youre heading for La Gomera this summer, my tip would be to arrive by ferry at San Sebastin and climb aboard the waiting No 1 bus to Valle Gran Rey. Marvel at the spectacular scenery and the skill of the driver as he negotiates his way through remote villages and around hairpin bends. Gasp with wonder when, after an hour, the bus emerges from a tunnel to a view of the beautiful palm-clad valley spread out below, fringed by the sparkling sea.

Valle Gran Rey is a working town with a tolerant, friendly and eclectic population. There are clearly signed walks for various abilities, cycling challenges, boat trips and paddle boarding for the energetic. Swim, read and people-watch, paying particular attention to the drummers and jugglers on the beach as the sun goes down. Hire a car to explore.

Tourist information is easily available, and there are many restaurants serving delicious and different cuisines. Hopefully, you will return home fitter and more relaxed.

Penny Lindrea, Somerset

A couple of years ago we went on holiday to the volcanic island of Tenerife, staying in Costa Adeje.

One of the highlights of the holiday was a sunset and astronomy trip to [Mount] Teide National Park. The view was breathtaking and watching the sunset with a glass of champagne in hand was very romantic so much so that one of our group proposed as the sun went down. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and pointed out several constellations and planets. It was a magical experience.

Dawn Facey, Worcestershire

In 1979, when I was there, the resort of Playa Blanca had just one road leading into the sea and dirt tracks on either side. To the right was our pretty little villa, in a line of white houses fronting the sea, with spectacular views across to Fuerteventura. The only other buildings then were a single supermercado, a restaurant, a bar, a few fishermens houses and a church.

Meeting two English ladies living there, we became known as Las Nias. We were invited to have drinks on their patio and learnt to play mahjong, but we mainly just rested, read, swam and felt refreshed.

With a car, we visited the north, Arrecife and the strange Fire Mountain. We absorbed the history and culture of Playa Blanca and the island as a whole. Each summer at home, we still enjoy our favourite recipe from La Era Restaurante for fresh tomato soup.

HM Haynes, Essex

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The Canary Islands: readers’ tips – Telegraph.co.uk

7 islands perfect for day trips – CNN

( CNN ) We all love island getaways, but not everyone wants to plan their entire vacation around a remote resort.

Thankfully, there are plenty of islands that make day trips a breeze so that travelers can easily enjoy a day on a secluded beach in the midst of an urban vacation.

Here are seven spots around the world that are only an hour away from the mainland, but feel completely cut off from civilization:

Home to North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse, Bald Head Island is just two miles from Southport, N.C.

Bald Head Island and its surrounding waters were once a refuge for infamous pirates such as Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet, nicknamed the “Gentleman Pirate” for his relatively refined ways.

Today the 12,000-acre island — between the Cape Fear River on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, just a 20-minute ferry ride from Southport — is more than 80% nature preserve, not to mention one of North Carolina’s most bucolic seaside escapes.

Beyond the car-free island’s main village lie miles of coastal sand dunes, salt marshes ripe for canoeing, and trail-filled maritime forests bursting with live oak trees and longleaf pines — all easily accessible via bicycle or golf cart.

Bald Head is also home to one of the state’s largest communities of nesting sea turtles as well as “Old Baldy,” North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse still standing.

Western Australia’s Rottnest Island is a car-free A-class nature reserve.

Eleven miles west of Western Australia, Rottnest beckons day-trippers with its azure waters and protected coves.

Ferries cover the 11-mile distance from the mainland’s Fremantle (or “Freo,” as it’s known locally) to the island’s Thompson Bay, where rental bicycles are readily on hand for exploring all seven square miles of the island.

Visitors can snorkel shallow reefs among Western Buffalo Bream and spotted Red Lipped Morwong, sip a beer al fresco while basking in waterfront views, or snap a selfie with a quokka, photogenic little marsupials that exist primarily on Rottnest and whose perceived grins have earned them a name as the “happiest animals on Earth.”

One of the island’s main allures is the ease of finding your own quiet spot, even during the summer peak season — when visitors reach 15,000-plus a day.

Board a speedboat in Kota Kinabalu — the capital of Malaysia’s Sabah State — and just 15 minutes later, you’re on Gaya Island. It’s a tropical oasis of mangrove forests and white sand shores.

Despite its proximity to the mainland, Gaya is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. Its waters are particularly impressive: calm, translucent and teeming with hundreds of colorful marine species such as blue-ringed octopus and clown stars as well as the occasional whale shark in season (November to February).

The island makes up a large part of Malaysia’s Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park and is home to miles of hiking trails and ample wildlife, including bearded pigs and proboscis monkeys.

Cozumel is a favorite with diving enthusiasts thanks to its clear waters and stunning coral reefs.

Although cruise ships flock to San Miguel — the main hub on Mexico’s largest Caribbean island — the bulk of Cozumel remains largely undeveloped, and it’s here that the real fun begins.

Remarkably clear turquoise waters and spectacular coral reefs surround the island, attracting divers and snorkelers who come to see spotted eagle rays and endemic spotted toadfish.

Punta Sur Park on Cozumel’s southern tip is its largest ecological reserve, and is home to a stunning white sand beach, ancient Mayan ruins and even a crocodile-filled lagoon.

There’s also Chankanaab National Park, part of the island’s larger National Marine Park, where you can get close and friendly with dolphins and manatees.

Alcatraz may be San Francisco Bay’s most notorious island, but nearby Angel Island has a controversial history all its own.

Now a California State Park, the island served as the “Ellis Island of the West” for millions of immigrants from 1910 to 1940. It also served as a detention center where many of those immigrants — primarily those arriving from China after the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act — were detained.

Today a US Immigration Station Museum keeps the stories of its past alive, while the island itself is a refuge for Bay Area dwellers looking for a local escape.

There’s a paved, six-mile path around the island’s perimeter that’s ideal for cycling (bring your own or rent one on arrival), a five-mile hiking trail resulting in 360-degree views from its highest point at 788-foot tall Mount Livermore and another hiking trail that includes access to a former US Civil War-era camp.

Ferries run from San Francisco to the island’s Ayala Cove daily throughout summer. Once on the island, tram tours are also available.

Nicaragua’s indigenous people recognized Ometepe Island’s appeal long before travelers started discovering it, something that’s apparent in the plethora of primitive rock art still found scattered about.

Later, even Mark Twain was drawn to this patch of land located amid Lake Nicaragua’s fresh waters, describing the island’s two prominent volcanoes — one active and cone-shaped, the other covered in cloud forest and extinct, with a crater lagoon for swimming — as “…magnificent pyramids, clad in the softest and richest green…” in his collected musings, “Travels with Mr Brown.”

Somehow it’s only recently that the island has found its way onto outside radars — a good thing as you can still have a patch of black sand beach or rainforest trail largely to yourself (save for a few howler monkeys).

The 10.5 mile boat ride from the mainland’s San Jorge to the island’s Moyogalpa takes about an hour.

Isle of Arran is known as “Scotland in miniature” and sits just a 55-minute ferry ride from the mainland.

Scotland is known for its heather-clad mountains, verdant forests, vast lochs and wild coastlines that would take weeks to explore.

Thankfully, 167-square mile Arran Island — a 55-minute ride by car ferry from the mainland’s west coast — is known as “Scotland in miniature” and you can enjoy it largely in a day.

A diagonal fault line separates the laid-back isle, creating a more rugged north that’s home to several Corbetts (peaks between 2,500-3,000 feet tall), including the island’s highest summit — 2,867-feet tall Goat Fell — as well as open moorland and a 16th-century castle.

Similar to the mainland, its south is warmer and more verdant with broad valleys and woodland.

Numerous beaches include the village of Kildonan’s Silver Sands, a sandy expanse dotted with boulders and sunbathing seals. Of course, no Scotland of any size would be complete without a whisky distillery.

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7 islands perfect for day trips – CNN

Love Island: Dom storms out of the villa after hearing rumours about Mike and Jess – Telegraph.co.uk

In an interview with Caroline Flack, Mike said: “Everyone knows what you read in the media gets blown up […] We got back to a villa, and we were chaperoned, we were never alone.

“I’ve got my arm around her because she was sad, we’d just been voted out, it was sad […] We didn’t have a drink, well, we had one drink, but we didn’t get drunk […] We had separate rooms. I didn’t go to her room, but I thought about it.”

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Love Island: Dom storms out of the villa after hearing rumours about Mike and Jess – Telegraph.co.uk

Gulf Islands National Seashore’s summer ranger programs – Santa Rosa Press Gazette

GULF BREEZE Here is Gulf Islands National Seashores summer ranger programs schedule. All programs are free to participate in and are subject to change without notification.

FORT PICKENS AREA: The Fort Pickens Bookstore and Museum are open daily 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

NAVAL LIVE OAKS AREA: Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to sunset. Park headquarters exhibits are open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; they are closed on federal holidays.

NATURE WALK LIFE ON A BARRIER ISLAND: open daily at 10 a.m.; meet at the Fort Pickens Bookstore for this 30-minute program.

FORT PICKENS GARRISON FOR FREEDOM: 2 p.m. daily. Meet at the entrance to Fort Pickens for this 45-minute program.

CREATURE FEATURE: daily at 3:30 p.m.; meet at the Fort Pickens Bookstore for this 30-minute talk.

FORT BARRANCAS: open Thursdays through Mondays, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm.

NATURE WALK LIFE IN A MARITIME FOREST: 10 a.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Meet at the Fort Barrancas Visitor Center for this 45-minute program.

ADVANCED REDOUBT LEGACY IN BRICK & MORTAR: 12:30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays; meet at Advanced Redoubts entrance for this 45-minute program.

FORT BARRANCAS BASTIONS ON THE BLUFFS: 2 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Meet at the Fort Barrancas Visitor Center for this 45-minute program.

KAYAKING 101: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Call 916-5670 to reserve a seat for this 60-minute program. All equipment is provided. All participants must weigh at least 50 pounds.

SCHOOL OF THE SOLDIER MUSKET FIRING DEMONSTRATIONS: 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays (except July 8). Meet at Fort Pickens entrance for this 30-minute program.

DUSK ON THE GULF: 6:30 p.m. Saturdays; meet in the Battery Worth Amphitheater for this 30-minute program.

There will be no public programs on July 8 and 11, Aug. 22 and Sept. 12. There is an entrance fee to the Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas areas.

There is an entrance fee to the Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas areas.

Contact the national seashore, 934-2600, for additional information.

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Gulf Islands National Seashore’s summer ranger programs – Santa Rosa Press Gazette

From City to Jungle, a New Novel Summons the Politics and History of Two Islands – New York Times

With a mere flick of description, Laird summons vast stretches of politics and history. Here is his brief summation of the economic bubble as experienced in Ballyglass, the town Liz hails from: A shop selling only mobile phone cases opened. A shop selling designer childrens clothes opened. There was an ice cream shoppe. There was a deli selling organic produce. The citizens of Ballyglass watched these developments with disbelief, amusement, anger and finally despair. When the economy collapsed, the main feeling was one of vindication; it had always seemed ridiculous, fantastical, and so it had been proved. The town had been poor for all of its 500 years, and by God it would be poor again.

After Alisons wedding to Stephen, the novel splits into two new directions: Alison and Stephen begin a vexed honeymoon on Rhodes, and Liz travels to New Ulster, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where she has agreed to fill in as a last-minute presenter for an episode in a BBC series on religion. The subject is a charismatic female leader called Belef, who has rejected the evangelical teachings of the missionaries who dominate the region in favor of a new religion she has invented, known as the Story. The juxtaposition of Ulster with New Ulster, not to mention a cult leader whose name sounds a lot like Belief, raises the specter of a schema, but events in New Ulster are lively enough to distract the reader from these suggestive symmetries. Watching Margo, a neurotic BBC producer, try to package the unpredictable and possibly psychotic Belef, who talks to dead people through the trunks of trees, is highly amusing. Equally so is Belefs immediate and inexplicable fixation upon Liz. Belef whispered urgently, Elisabet, I know you are in grief but you are here for purposes. It seemed to Liz like the rock beneath her shifted. How could she know? What did she mean?

The reader, alas, is not equipped to know. Whereas the inner lives of Stephen, Alison, Lizs parents and the victims of the pub shooting are rendered with deftness and sympathy, Liz remains something of a cipher; her fears, desires and grief if she has it remain opaque. This thin characterization becomes manifest in the New Ulster sections of the novel, where were confined to Lizs perception of Belefs activities and pronouncements. And while Lizs anthropological asides made for tart commentary on her Ulster relatives, when applied to the indigenous population of Papua New Guinea, they have the effect of making Belef and her beliefs sound ethnographically generic. Lizs scribbled notes, delivered in long passages of italics, contain sentences like, Life is moving from space to space, from person to person, from moment to moment; it is a story, a litany of anecdotes and mythologies. These read like direct authorial musings, and the reader is inclined to feel like Margo, the BBC producer, who remarks, after a fulsome testimonial by one of Belefs followers, Thats more than enough.

Still, the dynamism Laird has conjured in New Ulster a trill of incipient violence; a mass imbibing of a hallucinogen that leaves the BBC producer prone and vomiting keeps us reading, and the tragic climax resonates powerfully with the Northern Ireland sections of the novel. Apart from any theory, the events of the story leave a vivid impression of the opportunistic mythmaking, sectarian conflict and pragmatic greed at the heart of these religious systems. As Liz observes while in church during Alisons wedding: Everywhere imagery of sacrifice and offering, memorials and altars but even while disguised as just the opposite, a sanctuary from materialism, the church functioned as a marketplace of cold transactions. For it was here that all the contracts were proposed, signed, enacted. Portrait of the Christian as a stakeholder, as a shrewd and patient small investor.

In the end, the Donnelly family members reunite in Ballyglass for a coda that perhaps is destined not to satisfy after the sweep of all that precedes it. Secrets are revealed and misunderstandings clarified with the too-neat rush of a last scene in a Shakespearean comedy. But it is a problem comedy, to be sure, for no amount of family catharsis can subdue the dark roil of violence and trauma that Lairds tale has summoned, and that still flickers just behind it.

Jennifer Egans new novel, Manhattan Beach, will be published in October.

A version of this review appears in print on July 2, 2017, on Page BR8 of the Sunday Book Review with the headline: Two Islands.

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From City to Jungle, a New Novel Summons the Politics and History of Two Islands – New York Times

After Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis, Worries Shift to Virgin Islands – New York Times

In the Northern Mariana Islands, the depleted public pension fund was wreaking such fiscal havoc in 2012 that the territory declared it bankrupt, but the case was thrown out. The government then tried cutting all retirees pensions 25 percent, but the retirees have been fighting the cuts, and the fund is nearly exhausted anyway.

Even Guam, which enjoys the economic benefit of several large American military installations, has been having qualms about its debt after Puerto Ricos default.

Puerto Ricos troubles provide a teachable moment for Guam, said Benjamin Cruz, the speaker of the legislature, who recently helped defeat a proposal to borrow $75 million to pay tax refunds. Spending borrowed money is too easy.

But the debt dilemma is now most acute in the Virgin Islands the three main islands are St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John where the government has been struggling ever since a giant refinery closed in 2012, wiping out the territorys biggest nongovernment employer and a mainstay of its tax base.

Its troubles began to snowball last July, when Puerto Rico defaulted on most of its debts.

In August, Fitch downgraded the Virgin Islands debt to junk, citing the territorys chronic budget deficits and habit of borrowing to plug the holes, like Puerto Rico.

More downgrades followed, and in December, Standard & Poors dealt the territory a rare superdowngrade seven notches in one fell swoop leaving it squarely in the junk-bond realm. That scared away investors and forced it to cancel a planned bond offering in January.

The failed bond deal meant there was not enough cash to pay for basic government operations in February or March. As a stopgap, the territory diverted its workers pension contributions.

The Virgin Islands governor, Kenneth E. Mapp, said he had no intention of defaulting on any bonds.

I didnt ask anybody for debt relief, so dont put me in the debt-relief boat, Mr. Mapp said in an interview at Government House, the ornate seat of the territorial government, perched on a hillside overlooking the lush palms and bougainvillea of the capital, Charlotte Amalie, on St. Thomas.

Still, Mr. Mapp is contending with many of the same problems that proved too much for Puerto Rico, driving it in May to seek bankruptcylike protection under a new law for insolvent territories, known as Promesa. Puerto Rico is now embroiled in heated negotiations over how to reduce its roughly $123 billion in debts and unfunded pensions.

When Congress drafted the Promesa law last year, it made it possible for the other American territories to seek the same kind of help.

Now, even though the Virgin Islands maintains it has no intention of defaulting on its debts and has even given creditors new protections the mere prospect of bankruptcy has spooked the markets, putting borrowed money beyond the territorys reach and greatly limiting its options.

In something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, by giving territories the option to declare bankruptcy, Congress seems to have made such an outcome more likely.

That innocuous provision, when sent to the bond market, said, Heres an escape valve for your debt obligations, Mr. Mapp said. That changed the whole paradigm.

The problem is that in Puerto Rico, Promesa is turning out to shred the many legal mechanisms that governmental borrowers use to make their debts secure. These include liens and allowing creditors access to the courts.

Under Promesa, all the security structures are dissolving, Mr. Fabian said.

Investors who thought they were secured creditors before now find themselves holding moral obligation pledges, which are not enforceable.

After the Virgin Islands bond offer fell through in January, the fuel supplier to its electric authority stopped shipments, saying it had not been paid; the authority was already in court with its previous fuel supplier, which had not been paid either.

Then came the House of Representatives plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Mapp saw the federal money that the Virgin Islands relies on for its public hospitals going up in smoke.

Mr. Mapp scrambled. He reactivated a five-year economic plan that had been languishing and pushed higher taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and soft drinks through the legislature. He fought for a permanent electric rate increase. He got $18 million in new federal funds for health care. He struck a deal to tax Airbnb rentals.

He hired collection agents to go after delinquent property and income taxes. He scheduled auctions for delinquent properties. He hired a team to work on the pension system, which is in severe distress, with only about six years worth of assets left.

Until recently, the pension system was chasing high returns by investing in high-risk assets, like a $50 million placement in life viaticals an insurance play that is, in effect, a bet that a selected group of elderly people will die soon. It also made loans to an insolvent inter-island airline, a resort that went bankrupt, and a major franchisee of KFC restaurants. The territorys inspector general has declared the loans illegal.


After Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis, Worries Shift to Virgin Islands – New York Times

Auditions begin for the role of Queen Liliuokalani in ‘The Islands … – KHON2

Related Coverage

Auditions began today to fill the role of Queen Liliuokalani, in a feature film focused on Hawaiis history from Captain Cook to the overthrow of the monarchy.

River Rain Productions held the closed, scheduled auditions at the Manoa Innovation Center today for its movie called The Islands.

They are looking for a Native Hawaiian woman between 40 and 60 years old.

Weve been very excited about who weve seen so far, so maybe auditions will close today. Who knows. Well find the right Queen Liliuokalani, producer and director Tim Chey said.

Auditions for the queen and King Kamehameha are expected through late August. If youre interested you can email, casting@theislandsmovie.com.

The company says its budget is 44-million dollars and itll start filming in Hawaii this Fall. The movie is scheduled to be released in theaters next year.

Aspiring actors may see a familiar face sitting-in on auditions, former Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona.

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Auditions begin for the role of Queen Liliuokalani in ‘The Islands … – KHON2

Police: Adventure Islands’ parking lot shooting between Uber driver … – WTSP 10 News

Accidental discharge between Uber driver and passenger at Adventure Islands

10News Staff , WTSP 11:37 PM. EDT June 25, 2017

TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department responded to a shooting that happened in the Adventure Islands’ theme park parking lot Sunday.

According to Tampa Police, an Uber driver arrived to pick up two potential riders when there was an argument over not riding due to wet clothing on one passenger.

The verbal argument turned into a physical confrontation, which led to the Uber driver reaching for his gun, which he claimed he used in self-defense. In the struggle, a shot was fired, but there were no reported injuries.

There have been no charges applied to the case at this time.

Stay with 10News for further details.

2017 WTSP-TV


Police: Adventure Islands’ parking lot shooting between Uber driver … – WTSP 10 News

Gulf Islands National Seashore sites back in business – The Northwest Florida Daily News

Okaloosa area of the GINS remains closed due to standing water.

Gulf Islands National Seashore officials reopened the Santa Rosa and Fort Pickens areas on Saturday following Tropical Storm Cindy closures. Park crews completed their debris clean up and repair work during the afternoon in the areas allowing them to be reopened. The Fort Pickens Campground opened for walk-in campers on Saturday night.

Campground staff will do their best to accommodate as many campers who arrive on Sunday as possible. Campers should call the office to make arrangements. Reservations for the campground will be honored starting Monday night. The Okaloosa area remains closed due to standing water.

National Seashore areas on Santa Rosa Island were closed and the Fort Pickens Campground was evacuated as Tropical Storm Cindy approached the Gulf Coast. The areas and roadways were inundated with high tides and waves pushing gulf waters over roadways. As heavy rains fell on saturated grounds the areas experienced significant flooding. The Naval Live Oaks, Fort Barrancas, and Perdido Key areas remained open and were not impacted by the storm.

The National Park Service implemented its severe tropical weather plan allowing for the areas to be safely evacuated, quick damage assessments to be made, and the areas reopened quickly after the severe weather had passed.


Gulf Islands National Seashore sites back in business – The Northwest Florida Daily News

Love Island’s Jess Shears breaks down in tears as she insists she didn’t have sex with Mike Thalassitis after … – The Sun

JESSICA Shears was left distraught after watching Love Island flame Dom Lever find out she slept with Mike Thalassitis hours after she left the villa.

The beauty insisted she didnt have sex with the hunk, despite sources telling The Sun Online the pair enjoyed a steamy tryst after the show.


Jessica Shears broke down watching tonights episode in the Love Island Aftersun studio

She weeped: Its making me so angry. I cant even tell him (Dom) because Im stuck

The beauty then went on to tell Caroline Flack: Absolutely nothing happened. Its absolutely laughable.

She was adamant they stayed in separate rooms and added that the only time she went to his room was to knock on his door in the morning to wake him up after he overslept.


Jess said had she have coupled with Mike in the villa it wouldnt have lasted because her and Dom would have gravitated towards each other.

Mike was equally as adamant, claiming he went straight to sleep when the pair returned to the holding villa after their elimination.

He told Caroline Flack: I was knackered it was mentally draining I fell straight to sleep.

However, their words are at odds with sources who told us the pair romped straight after their exit.

Rex Features

A source close to Jess told The Sun Online: Jess and Mike fancied the pants off each other from the minute they met last night was the perfect opportunity to enjoy time together in private off-camera and they didnt waste a moment.

When they left the villa they dropped off their bags at the hotel where they were both booked to stay, enjoyed a few drinks with the crew and then snuck off secretly.

They had separate rooms but the sexual chemistry between them was too much one thing led to another and they spent the night in bed together.

While another source told OK!: Mike bumped into us at the airport and was talking for ages. He said as soon as they left the villa, they spent the night together not just once, but BOTH nights.


Fans alleged Jess told Mike she wanted to f**k when they were evicted from the villa just days ago, however, Aftersun cleared up the speculation by replaying the clip, which revealed she said: Lets get f***ing drunk.

Before tonights much-anticipated episode of Aftersun, fans caught Jess resting her hand on Mikes leg.



The pair were sitting next to each other on the sofa as they grinned, and Jess swiftly removed her hand as the camera was turned on to them.

Ex On The Beach star Zahida Allen was one of the first to notice it.

She tweeted: Please tell me someone else saw Jess move her hand FAST of Mikes leg on the adverts just now lol! #LoveIsland.

Dom, 26, was left heartbroken on tonights show when he was told about Jesss tryst with Mike by Gabby Allen and Marcy Somerville after the pair received messages from the outside world.

The Sun Online revealed earlier this week that Jess and Mike had sex after being dumped from the ITV2 show just hours after an emotional Jess told Dom: Im yours.

Gabby was given some time to Skype her mum, who was first to reveal that Jess and Mike had been intimate since leaving the villa last week.

Her mum said: Dom needs to give that new girl Tyler a chance because theres a lot of speculation that Jess has been at it with Mike.

Marcel then confirmed the information with two of his former Blazing Squad bandmates Oliver Georgiou and Chris McKeckney, who said: There is a story floating there is a big rumour about her and Mike.

Gabby and Marcel decided to tell Dom, whos since coupled up with new islander Tyler Carr, believing he had every right to know.

Dom who said it “killed him” to see Jess leave the show stormed out of the villa and sat outside in an attempt to come to terms with the shocking news.

After being consoled by Marcel, Dom admitted: I know it was real, I was true to her and I thought it was special.

If shes done what shes done it clearly wasnt as special to her.

Got a story? email digishowbiz@the-sun.co.uk or call us direct on 02077824220

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Love Island’s Jess Shears breaks down in tears as she insists she didn’t have sex with Mike Thalassitis after … – The Sun

Egyptian President Agrees to Cede 2 Islands to Saudi Arabia – New York Times

The announcement was made as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ended and on the eve of Eid al-Fitr festivities, a major public holiday when Egyptians are busy preparing to spend time with their families.

The presidents office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Rafiq Sharif, a lawyer for the government, said that the decree was now law and that the two islands were under Saudi sovereignty.

Mr. Sisis government announced the maritime agreement last year with Saudi Arabia, an ally that has given billions of dollars of aid to Egypt. The Egyptian and Saudi governments said the islands were Saudi but had been subject to Egyptian protection.

Saudi Arabia has helped Mr. Sisi since he toppled President Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013, and the wrangling over the Red Sea deal was a source of tensions between the two countries.

The transfer has been a long time coming; Riyadh has made it clear they expect the islands and Cairo agreed, said H. A. Hellyer, a senior nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a research group based in the United States. But considering the amount of opposition to the transfer, the speed at which it happened is instructive. It shows Sisis administration doesnt feel there is much of a risk to be taken.

The issue touched a patriotic nerve, bringing thousands of protesters to the streets in April chanting people want the fall of the regime, a slogan little heard since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.

Those rallies were one of the first signals that Mr. Sisi, a general before he became president, no longer enjoyed the broad public support that let him round up thousands of opponents after he seized power.

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Egyptian President Agrees to Cede 2 Islands to Saudi Arabia – New York Times

Egyptian President Ratifies Deal to Cede Control of Two Islands to Saudi Arabia – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Egyptian President Ratifies Deal to Cede Control of Two Islands to Saudi Arabia
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi ratified a disputed 2016 agreement under which his country would transfer control of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, following through on his assertion this week that the matter was closed. The

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Egyptian President Ratifies Deal to Cede Control of Two Islands to Saudi Arabia – Wall Street Journal (subscription)

Solomon Islands rescue mission explained – NEWS.com.au


* Australian-led peacekeeping mission involving 15 countries to restore law and order that spanned 14 years.

* The Pacific Island nation was plagued with lawlessness, gang violence and ethnic tensions between people from the provinces of Guadalcanal and Malaita which started to simmer from 1998. At least 200 people had been killed, 18,000 Malaitans displaced and thousands more on Guadalcanal.

* Public institutions were in crisis. For example, prison officers had opened the jail doors and walked off.

* RAMSI also helped stabilise government finances, start economic recovery and rebuild institutions such as the national parliament, public service and electoral body.


* RAMSI began in July 2003, at the request of the Solomon Islands government which was near collapse along with the archipelago’s economy.

* Former prime minister John Howard was willing to help out in order to avoid a “failed state” on Australia’s doorstep, show regional leadership and prevent trans-national crime and a terrorist safe haven taking hold.

* The surrender of warlord Harold Keke was an important breakthrough in mid-August 2003.

* Since mid-2013, RAMSI has been solely a policing mission.


* 7200 Australian military personnel served under the mission, alongside troops from New Zealand, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

* More than 1700 Australian Federal Police were deployed.

* A gun amnesty recovered more than 3700 illegal weapons.

* RAMSI made 6300 arrests for militant and criminal activity, representing over one per cent of the population and including more than 130 police officers in its first three years.


* Former Solomon Islands attorney-general Julian Moti was deported to Australia to face child sex charges in 2007. The Australian High Court later ruled the deportation was illegal and the charges should be dropped.

* Eight Australian Federal Police officers were injured following violent protests in the capital Honiara after the 2006 election when Snyder Rini became prime minister. A rival candidate’s supporters took to the streets claiming the poll was rigged. The riots targeted Chinatown over the close links between Rini and a Chinese-born businessman. Rini later resigned and Manasseh Sogavare replaced him.


* Australian Protective Service officer Adam Dunning, 26, died after he was shot twice in the back on a night patrol in Honiara.

* Australian Private Jamie Clarke, 22, died after falling into a cave shaft while searching for a weapons stash during a bush patrol

* Antonio (Tony) Luciano Scriva, Solomon Islands Office of the Auditor General, died in 2007.

* Chief Inspector Amos Solip, Vanuatu Police Force, died in 2009.

* Constable Sisiliah (Sisi) Puleheloto, Niue Police, died in 2009.

* Ronald (Ronnie) Edwin Lewis – Australian Federal Police, died 2010.


* Its mission has been accomplished.

* 66 Australian Federal Police Officers, 17 from NZ and 17 from Pacific island countries will clock off from their RAMSI deployment at month’s end.


* Australia chipped in 95 per cent of the cost. Australia spent an estimated $2.8 billion on leading the RAMSI operation.


* The May federal budget allocated $79 million over four years to a police development program.

* Australia’s aid budget to the Solomon Islands for 2017-18 is $92.7 million.


* Population about 600,000

* 1000 islands

* 63 distinct languages. English is the official language but Solomons Pijin spoken by the majority of people.

* Ranks 156/192 on the United Nations Human Development Index.

* Rates of violence against women are among the highest in the world. An estimated two-thirds of women aged 15-49 have experienced physical or sexual violence.

* Gross Domestic Product per capita is among the lowest in the Pacific $US2,000 ($A2,644) and has only now recovered to levels before RAMSI.

* The Solomon Islands was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific against the Japanese during the Second World War – the Battle of Guadalcanal, which was a major turning point in the war. The 75th anniversary is in August.

* Solomon Islands gained independence from Britain in 1978.

(Sources: Lowy Institute Jenny Hayward-Jones, ASPI, Development Policy Centre, DFAT, Defence, RAMSI special coordinator Quinton Devlin)

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Solomon Islands rescue mission explained – NEWS.com.au

King tides return to islands this weekend – Hawaii Tribune Herald

Hawaii Tribune Herald
King tides return to islands this weekend
Hawaii Tribune Herald
Another round of king tides will roll in this weekend, which could bring flooding to all shores statewide, particularly south-facing shores. A high tide of 3.1 feet is forecast for 4:07 p.m. today in Hilo and a high tide of 3 feet is expected at 4:51 p

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King tides return to islands this weekend – Hawaii Tribune Herald

Climate change threatens to wipe some islands off the map – Washington Post

By Associated Press By Associated Press June 23

To small island nations where the land juts just above the rising seas, the U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate change pact makes the future seem as fragile and built on hope as a sand castle.

Top scientists say it was already likely that Earths temperatures and the worlds seas will keep rising to a point where some island states may not survive the next 100 years. That likelihood increases, they say, if the United States doesnt follow through on promised cuts in heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. President Trump this month said he plans to withdraw the United States from the climate deal, prompting leaders of vulnerable islands to talk about their future with a mixture of defiance, hope and resignation.

If we really push into action, we can save some [small islands], but we may not be able save all of them, said Hans-Otto Poertner, a German scientist who chairs the climate impacts study group for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The chances are even less with the U.S. pulling out of the climate agreement in Paris.

Hilda Heine, president of the Marshall Islands (a chain of islands in the Pacific), called Trumps announcement deeply disappointing.

I cannot give up on my people and my country and my culture, she said. Its very important for us to be optimistic.

Heine and other island leaders are putting their hope in strong pollution curbs by China, other nations, individual American states and cities, as well as improved technology. While visiting Europe, she said, its all the more important that Europe takes the lead on climate change.

The State Department said it considers engagement with other counties on climate change important and it will continue, including with small island states. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after Trump pulled out of the agreement that the United States has cut its carbon dioxide emissions dramatically even before the Paris pact was reached.

When the Paris pact was being negotiated in 2015, small island nations successfully campaigned for a stricter but secondary target for limiting global heat-trapping emissions.

In 2009, world leaders adopted a goal to prevent 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming since 1850 to 1900, saying 2 degrees is a dangerous level of warming. The islands tougher goal would try to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since that time period.

The world has already warmed about 1 degree Celsius since then, so the islands are really trying to prevent an additional half-degree of warming Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit).

When Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris treaty, scientists said that made the 2-degree goal close to unachievable and the 1.5 degree goal even more out of reach. Promised American pollution cuts were about one-fifth of the pledged global reductions hoped for in the accord.

We are pushing the 1.5 [as a goal], but realistically I think we have passed the point that it can be achieved, said Kenrick Leslie of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

Ahmed Sareer, the Maldives ambassador to the United Nations and chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the 1.5 goal is harder to achieve without the United States but not yet impossible.

The island spirit is to never give up, Sareer said. We are always a resilient people.

Originally posted here:

Climate change threatens to wipe some islands off the map – Washington Post

EU members abstain as Britain defeated in UN vote on Chagos Islands – The Guardian

Exiled Chagos islanders protesting in London, 2016, over the long bar on their living in the archipelago. Photograph: Fiona Hanson/PA

The UK has suffered a humiliating defeat at the United Nations general assembly in a vote over decolonisation and its residual hold over disputed territory in the Indian Ocean.

By a margin of 94 to 15 countries, delegates supported a Mauritian-backed resolution to seek an advisory opinion from the international court of justice (ICJ) in The Hague on the legal status of the Chagos Islands.

A further 65 countries abstained on Thursday, including many EU states who might have been expected to vote in support of another bloc member.

Among EU members who abstained were France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Greece and Finland. Canada and Switzerland also abstained.

Speaking after the vote Jagdish Koonjul, the Mauritian representative at the UN, said: Im elated. The results are beyond my expectations. Its interesting that the EU didnt support the UK. Even some of the countries that supported the UK agreed that this was an issue of decolonisation. Now we wait to see what the UK will do as a result of the vote. We have given the US full comfort of a long-term lease [for the Diego Garcia base] that would be renewable [if sovereignty passed to Mauritius].

The resolution, though only in favour of obtaining a non-binding legal opinion, is a blow to the UKs international prestige and demonstrates the limited diplomatic influence wielded by the British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, at the UN.

The row between Mauritius and the UK over what Britain terms BIOT, or British Indian Ocean Territory has become increasingly acrimonious in recent years.

In 1965, three years before Mauritius was granted independence, the UK decided to separate the Chagos Islands, an archipelago, from the rest of its Indian Ocean colony. The Mauritian government claims this was in breach of UN resolution 1514, passed in 1960, which specifically banned the breakup of colonies before independence.

Most of the 1,500 islanders were deported so that the largest island, Diego Garcia, could be leased to the US for a strategic airbase in 1971. The US was one of the few countries that publicly backed the UK over the islands fate. The islanders have never been allowed to return home.

The UK has promised to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for defence purposes, but has refused to give a date.

Two years ago Mauritius won a ruling at the permanent court of arbitration at The Hague saying Britain had acted illegally in the way it had exercised territorial control over the Chagos Islands. The court criticised the UK for failing to consult over establishing a marine protection zone around what is now the British Indian Ocean Territory.

The fact that Diego Garcia was used by the CIA after 9/11 in rendition and interrogation operations may have alienated many states from the UKs cause.

Urging delegates at the UN general assembly to oppose the resolution, the UK permanent representative, Matthew Rycroft, warned: This could set a precedent that many of you in this hall could come to regret. He added that the resolution for an advisory opinion is an attempt by the government of Mauritius to circumvent the principle referring to the principle that a state could only be involved at the ICJ through its own consent.

The UK, Rycroft added, would not consent to the Chagos Islands being taken to the court. The dispute, he said, should be left as a bilateral issue for the UK and Mauritius to deal with through direct negotiations, and that the Chagos Islands were still needed for security purposes.

Philipe Sands QC, who attended the UN debate, and is acting as legal counsel for Mauritius, said: The vote, passed with an overwhelming majority, sends a strong signal about the UNs attachment to decolonisation. That Britain was able to obtain the support of barely a dozen countries, including just four EU members and no permanent member of the security council apart from the US, will, hopefully, give it pause for thought about its position on Chagos.

Its arguments that Chagos is about security and a bilateral matter between it and Mauritius were given short shrift. The message is clear: the UN wants the world court to rule on Chagos, and seeks the courts advice and assistance in bringing colonialism to an end.

Advisory opinions at the ICJ are normally triggered by a formal request from the UN secretary general. The court can request submissions from member states and those involved in a dispute.

Although its findings are normally non binding, the ICJs advisory opinions carry some legal influence and moral authority.

The Foreign Office labelled the outcome disappointing.

Sovereignty of the British Indian Ocean Territory is clearly a matter for the UK and Mauritius to resolve ourselves. Taking this dispute to the international court of justice is an inappropriate use of the ICJ mechanism. This is reflected in the fact that over half of General Assembly members did not vote for the resolution, a Foreign Office spokesperson said.

While we do not recognise Mauritiuss claim to sovereignty over the islands, we have committed to cede them to Mauritius when the territory is no longer required for defence purposes. We will be robustly defending our position at the ICJ.

David Snoxell, coordinator of the all party parliamentary group on the Chagos Islands and a former British diplomat, welcomed the UN vote.

This was a brilliant result for Mauritius and the Chagossians. Apart from the sovereignty issue, now referred to the ICJ, the resolution was a means of bringing to the attention of the UN general assembly the travesty of the UKs treatment of the Chagossian people since 1965 when the [general assembly] last considered the Chagos Islands, Snoxell said.

174 states took part in the debate but only 15 sided with the UK. That sends a clear message to the British government that the UN expects the UK to bring this relic of the cold war to an end.

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EU members abstain as Britain defeated in UN vote on Chagos Islands – The Guardian

Love Island’s Marcel Somerville and Gabby Allen spend first night in the Hideaway – but did they have sex? – Mirror.co.uk

Love Island ‘s power couple could be about to lose their villa virginities after spending their first night in the Hideaway.

Marcel Somerville and Gabby Allen have gone from strength to strength after sparking a romance on the ITV2 show.

But their relationship may have been taken to the next stage after the couple get some precious alone time in the villa.

Rather than being sent a text to give them a night’s sleep in a separate room – it is in fact Marcel who requests to have the Hideaway for the evening.

The gentleman even admits that it’s not necessarily about having sex, he just wants some alone time with his flame.

Speaking in the Beach Hut, he asks: Obviously me and Gabs, were getting along really well. Im not trying to force nothing or anything like that, but is it possible for me to get the Hideaway tonight?

“Just so we can have a nice, intimate, personal night. Not saying that theres going to be any sex going on as obviously I dont want to rush nothing.

Someone is smiling down on Marcel as his wish is granted, but the big question is whether Gabby will accept the proposal.

Revealing his plans to her, he says: I thought to myself, you know what, I want to have a nice little moment with us where theres not so many people around.

“So I asked if we could have the Hideaway, not for anything too much. Just so we could be together without you being embarrassed and stuff like that.

“So would you like to go to the Hideaway with me tonight? Promise you, Im a gentleman forever.

Thankfully Gabby accepts his offer – setting up a night of pure passion away from the other islanders.

She says: Im really excited. Im nervous. You cant just do that to me. We have to prepare.

The dancer goes upstairs to get some advice from the other girls, even borrowing a pair of Olivia Attwood’s saucy knickers to get into the mood.

Olivia asks: Do you feel like youre losing your virginity all over again, its like youre 18?

Embarrassed, Gabby replies: No because Im not going to be losing anything apart from

Montana cheeky interjects with your knickers.

The couple escape to the Hideaway for the evening, but things don’t go to plan thanks to an unwelcome intruder.

Spotting a bumble bee that seemed intent on jeopardising his night of passion, Marcel moans: Oh my god this is the worst night of my life. Gabs, this is the worst night of our lives.

“Theres another one over there. How do I open the door? This is my worst nightmare. Theres got to be a way to get this out.

Gabby then squeals as she spots it on the bed, the place where the pair want to end up in together.

With their surprise visitors finally taken care of, the pair jump between the sheets and lock lips in a passionate embrace beneath the cobers.

Did they follow in Jess and Dom’s footsteps and give the Hideaway it’s second night to remember?

The next morning, the islanders speculated on what had really happened between Garcel’ as they rush to find out if they did or didn’t have sex.

Montana was convinced that they had indeed done the deed, insisting to Dom: I think like, surely you would if you had the hideaway but then Im not sure.

“You should have seen Gabs before she left. You should have seen the underwear Gabs had on.

Dom later told the Beach Hut: Marcel and Gabb – absolute mint couple. They are probably now the power couple in the villa.

“They spent the night in the Hideaway last night so I will get the down low on that later on.

* Love Island continues on Sunday night at 9.00pm on ITV2

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Love Island’s Marcel Somerville and Gabby Allen spend first night in the Hideaway – but did they have sex? – Mirror.co.uk

Why the Cook Islands are the best South Pacific bargain – The Seattle Times

With subsidized airfare, friendly people and the freshest fish youll ever eat, this is, as they say, Hawaii like it was 50 years ago.

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands So hows your day going? asked the post-office lady as I bought some colorful Cook Islands postage stamps.

Funny thing was, the way she asked I had a feeling that she would have lent an ear were I interested in sharing the details of my day, which by the way had gone splendidly. I was in the Cook Islands, after all.

When you ask a Cook Islander what one reaction visitors have when visiting here, they invariably answer the people are so friendly. Of course, the Cooks have the sun and sand and aqua waters youve always associated with the South Pacific, as do Tahiti and Fiji. But there are several ways the Cooks stand out from those other destinations.

First, its the cheapest to reach by air. Air New Zealand flies here every Saturday, a 9- or 10-hour nonstop flight from Los Angeles, and frequently offers airfares around $899 round-trip, or even less with their occasional $400-off coupon codes, which bring the price down to $499-$598 round-trip (the country subsidizes the flights; airfare to other South Pacific hot spots are usually $1,200 round-trip or more).

Second, the main island, Rarotonga, with its large lagoon, is a continuous land mass. Whereas your resort on Fiji or Tahiti might be isolated on its own island, the ones here are all on the same island so you can easily explore different resorts, restaurants and attractions. The small airport is just a few minutes from most resorts.

There are no high-rises, no chain stores, no McDonalds, not even a stop light. This is, as they say, Hawaii like it was 50 years ago.

When to visit: November to April is rainy season, so resort prices are lower, and November to March is cyclone season, although the country hasnt had a serious storm in several years. July to October is whale season during which cavorting whales and their offspring are visible from the shore.

Things to do:

Take a sunset cocktail cruise on the lagoon. Several resorts offer these.

Visit the Whale and Wildlife Centre and Cafe.

Take a Tik-E electric tuk-tuk tour with Karl Jackson, a New Zealander expat. Anything you ever wanted to know about the Cooks will be revealed.

Attend a Sunday church service, where women sport elaborate Polynesian head dresses and the choirs are uplifting.

Cuisine: There are more than 50 cafes and restaurants on Rarotonga, operated both by the native-born and New Zealand expats. Fish and other seafood are the thing to have here. You eat what was caught that day.

Reserve dinner at Tupunas Restaurant for fresh coconut crab.

Getting around: Many resorts offer shuttle service, and you can rent cars and mopeds (drive on the left). A public bus circles Rarotonga every 30 minutes and costs NZD $5 per ride, or $16 for an all-day pass.

Shopping: Stores close around 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon on Saturday. Everything is closed on Sunday. Jewelry designed from highly polished shells, carved by local artisans, make a beautiful gift.

Excursions: A 50-minute flight to Aitutaki, the other major island in the Cooks, is a popular option, where all resorts are beachfront.

Etiquette: Dont be surprised if youre greeted with a kiss on the cheek instead of a handshake. These people really are friendly!

Interesting fact: The country will likely be the first to run on 100 percent renewable energy. The plan is that it will happen by 2020, although the prime minister assured me it will be sooner.

More information:cookislands.travel

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Why the Cook Islands are the best South Pacific bargain – The Seattle Times