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5 gorgeous private islands you can visit by cruise ship – USA TODAY

Jodi Ornstein, Editor, Porthole Cruise Magazine Published 8:23 a.m. ET Feb. 22, 2017 | Updated 17 hours ago

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An aerial view of Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island in the Bahamas.(Photo: Holland America)

Planning a cruise to the Bahamas or the Caribbean for the first time? There’s a concept with which you’ll have to become familiar: The cruise line private island. Nearly every major brand has one, and they factor into a wide range of itineraries in the regions.

While some are bigger (and more elaborate) than others, they all are designed to serve up that perfect beach day, offering beaches lined with lounge chairs, water sports (normally available for an extra charge), activities such as zip lining and usually at least a few bars overlooking the water. There also often are kiddie play areas, and a staple of the experience at nearly all of the islandsis a big beach barbecue.

One of the newest private islands, Norwegian Cruise Line’s just-unveiled Harvest Caye, just off the coast of Belize, also serves as a hub for tours to the mainland of the country. In fact, Norwegian doesn’t even like to call it a private island. It’s a new gateway to Belize, the company says (scroll through the carousel above for USA TODAY’s first look at Harvest Caye).

Could Harvest Caye be the Caribbean’s new cruising hot spot?

Looking for that classic private beach experience on your next cruise? Here are Porthole Cruise Magazine’sfive favorite private islands.

1.Half Moon Cay. Consistently voted No. 1 among private islands in Porthole Cruise Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards, this Holland America-owned escape boasts miles of white sand and water sports, nature hikes and deep-sea fishing. You can reserve a private seaside air-conditioned cabana (for up to 25 people) or encounter gentle rays at Stingray Cove. Half Moon Lagoon, the islands aqua park, is a favorite for kids.

Dont Miss:One excursion lets you ride horseback along a winding trailto the highest point of the island. After taking in the panoramic view, you head back down to a beach to ride right into the surf, getting a rarechance to experience what it’s like on a swimming horse.

Two-story beach villas are available for an extra charge at Holland America’s private island in the Bahamas, Half Moon Cay.(Photo: Holland America)

2. Castaway Cay.Theres no need to tender to shore at this Disney Cruise Line-owned island, where ships pull right up to a custom-built pier a rarity among private islands operated by cruise lines. Children will love Scuttles Cove, an expansive kiddie area supervised by Disney counselors, and there also are a number of water play areas. Kids (and adults, too) also will have a chance to interact withDisney characters who wait on the island to greet them.

Dont Miss: You can book an open-air massage in a private cabana overlooking Serenity Bay, Castaway Cay’squiet adults-only beach. You’ll hear the sounds of the waves and be buffeted by a cooling ocean breeze during the treatment.

The Disney Dream docked at Castaway Cay, Disneys 1,000-acre private island in the Bahamas.(Photo: David Roark)

3. Great Stirrup Cay. Cruises to the Bahamas with Norwegian Cruise Line always feature a day at this250-acre private island, which has been getting a lot of upgrades in recent years.Relax on white-sand beaches, perhaps in a private beachfront cabana; snorkel, kayak, or parasail; or take part in a sting-ray encounter.

Dont Miss: A new lagoon retreat debuting this summer will feature a secluded, pristine beach area; exclusive dining options; luxury beach villas available at an extra charge; and even a swim-up bar along the waterfront. It’ll be open on a complimentary basis to passengers staying in suites and Haven cabins on Norwegian ships. Passengers who book a spa massage on the island also will gain access as will a limited number of additional passengers willing to pay an extra charge.

A couple walks along the beach at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas.(Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

4.Labadee. One of two private beach destinations operated by Royal Caribbean, Labadee isn’t actually an island. It’s located on the north coast of Haiti. But it has much in common with the private islands operated by other lines, as it’s a self-contained hideaway. Surrounded by gorgeous mountain scenery, Labadee offers pristine beaches, plenty of water sports and thrills such as the Dragons Tail Coaster, a 30-mile-an-hour ride through the lush mountainside. (Royal Caribbean’s second private beach destination, is CocoCay in the Bahamas, which often is included as a stop on voyages to the Bahamas).

Dont Miss:Labadee boasts the 2,600-foot-long Dragons Breath Flight Line, long billed as the longest zip line in the world over water. From the takeoff point at 500 feet above the beach, youll soar down the side of a mountain at 40 to 50 mph.

Royal Caribbean’s private beach destination of Labadee is located on the coast of Haiti.(Photo: Royal Caribbean International)

5.Princess Cays.Situated on more than 40 acres and featuring more than a half mile of white-sand shoreline, Princess Cruises’ private island offers a local craft market, activities that range from volleyball to water sports, a cool over-water deck that makes for aperfect for fish-spotting. There also are private air-conditioned bungalows for up to four peopleavailable for rent, and a supervised sand playground for kids called Pelicans Perch.

Dont Miss:For sweeping views that take in thebeach andoceanand your ship in the distance, too, make your way to the Crows Nest Overlook, an observation tower that boasts 360-degree views of the island.

Paddle wheelers are among the water toys that can be rented out at Princess Cays, Princess’ private island in the Bahamas. Snorkel equipment, sea boards, floats and kayaks also are available.(Photo: Princess Cruises)

Porthole Cruise Magazine is one of the most widely read travel magazines focused on all things cruise related. Published bimonthly, it offers ship reviews, destination features and stories on the latest trends in on-board cuisine, spa services, entertainment and more. It’s available on newsstands and by both print and digital subscriptions.

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Japan protests Russian military buildup plan in decades-old islands dispute – Reuters

TOKYO Japan has protested to Russia over its plan to boost troop strength on disputed islands, Japan’s top government spokesman said on Thursday, the latest move in a territorial row that has overshadowed ties since World War Two.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference the government was closely monitoring Russia’s actions and analyzing information.

“If the move leads to the reinforcement of Russian military on the islands, it would be incompatible with Japan’s stance and it is regrettable as they are inherently our territory,” he said.

Suga made the comment after media reports that Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu talked about a plan to deploy a military division to the islands, including areas Japan claims as its territory, this year.

The islands in the Western Pacific, called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kuriles in Russia, were seized by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two when 17,000 Japanese residents were forced to flee.

Suga said Russia’s military plan would be on the agenda when defense and foreign ministers from the two countries are due to meet in Tokyo on March 20.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin met last December and struck numerous economic deals but failed to achieve a breakthrough on the islands.

Abe is expected to visit Russia this year to speed up talks to resolve the dispute and try to conclude a peace treaty officially ending World War Two hostilities.

He has pledged to resolve the dispute in the hope of leaving a significant diplomatic legacy and building better ties with Russia to counter a rising China.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Nick Macfie)

MEXICO CITY A bid by U.S. President Donald Trump to deport non-Mexican illegal migrants to Mexico that has enraged Mexicans will top the agenda when officials from both countries meet on Thursday amid a deepening rift between the two nations.

BEIJING China’s defense ministry said on Thursday it was aware of the presence of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group in the South China Sea and China respected freedom of navigation for all countries in the waters there.

LAHORE, Pakistan A bomb blast in an upscale shopping center in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore killed at least eight people and wounded 20 on Thursday, officials said, the latest in a surge of violence that has shaken the country.

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Japan protests Russian military buildup plan in decades-old islands dispute – Reuters

China’s Constructing Suspected Missile Silos On Contested Islands – Daily Caller

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With the development of what may be missile silos, China appears to be taking another assertive step towards militarizing its defensive outposts in the disputed South China Sea.

China isclose to completing around20 structures likely to house long-range surface-to-air missiles on its outposts in the Spratly Islands, Reuters reports. The new structures could be a continuation of the extensive militarization China has been carrying out in contested seas for years, orthese developments may be intentional challenges to the new U.S. administration, members of which have declared ChineseSouth China Sea activities illegal.

The structures are 66 feet long and 33 feet tall and have retractable roofs. They are located on Subi, Mischief, and Fiery Cross Reef.

It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is thats what they are for, a U.S. intelligence official told reporters.

U.S. intelligence officials revealed that hundreds of Chinese SAMs were awaiting deployment to the South China Sea, possibly to protect three Chinese airstrips on artificial islands, Fox reported in December. The Chinese military already has HQ-9 surface-to-air missile systems stationed in the Paracel Islands. The SAMs detected in Hainan two months ago may soon be deployed tothe missile silos under construction in the Spratlys.

It certainly raises the tension, Gregory Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) at the Center of Strategic and International Studies, told reporters. The Chinese have gotten good at these steady increases in their capabilities.

China asserts that it has the right to construct defenses in the South China Sea.

China carrying out normal construction activities on its own territory, including deploying necessary and appropriate territorial defense facilities, is a normal right under international law for sovereign nations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuangexplained at a regular press conference Wednesday.

China has been steadily increasing its military presence in disputed seas in recent months.

In December, AMTI discovered that China had armed all of its artificial islands in the South China Sea. China appears to have built significant point-defense capabilities, in the form of large anti-aircraft guns and probable close-in weapons systems, at each of its outposts in the Spratly Islands, the research group reported.

Earlier this month, AMTI revealed that China had also militarized its holdings in the Paracels, which key role in Chinas goal of establishing surveillance and power projection capabilities throughout the South China Sea.

Three of the islands now have protected harbors capable of hosting large numbers of naval and civilian vessels. Four others boast smaller harbors, with a fifth under construction at Drummond Island. Five of the islands contain helipads, with Duncan Island housing a full helicopter base. And the largest of the Paracels, Woody Island, sports an airstrip, hangars, and a deployment of HQ-9 surface-to-air missile batteries, AMTI explained.

China has secured control of all three corners of the strategic triangle in the South China Sea the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and the Scarborough Shoal. China is building an digging in, arming its outposts, and making its position unshakable.

In response to previous criticisms of its defensive construction projects, China said that it is building up its military defenses in response to American muscle flexing.

If somebody is flexing their muscles on your doorstep, cant you at least get a slingshot? Shuang askedin December, making a thinly-veiled reference to U.S. freedom-of-navigation operations. The necessary military installations are mainly for self-defenseand are fair and legal.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is on patrol in the South China Sea, putting China on edge as concerns that the U.S. may try to challenge Chinas vast claims to the region.

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China’s Constructing Suspected Missile Silos On Contested Islands – Daily Caller

Sea monster? Animal remains in Dinagat Islands worry locals – ABS-CBN News

The remains of a marine animal washed up on the shore of Cagdianao. Photo courtesy of Cagdianao Municipal Agriculture Office

The remains of a large animal believed to be a sea cow washed up on the shore in the Dinagat Islands on Wednesday afternoon, worrying locals.

Sufenia Chua of the Cagdianao Municipal Agriculture Office said that the carcass, which washed up on the beach along Kantigdaon, Poblacion, Cagdianao, Dinagat Islands, measured 15 feet in length.

According to the aquaculture technologist, it is likely that the carcass was that of a sea cow, based on skin found near the shore,. Chua added that there were also previous sightings of sea cows in the area.

The agriculture office and Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) were examining the carcass and investigating the animal’s cause of death as of this writing.

Photos of the remains, which were not immediately recognized by residents as that of a marine animal, went viral on social media as netizens speculated on what it was.

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Sea monster? Animal remains in Dinagat Islands worry locals – ABS-CBN News

As obesity rises, remote pacific islands plan to abandon junk food – MyAJC

HONG KONG

Cookies and sugary drinks served at government meetings are about to go away. So are imported noodles and canned fish served in tourist bungalows.

Taking their place? Local coconuts, lobsters and lime juice.

The Torba Tourism Council in the remote Pacific island nation of Vanuatu is planning to outlaw all imported food at government functions and tourist establishments across the provinces 13 inhabited islands.

The ban, set to take effect in March, comes as many Pacific island nations struggle with an obesity crisis brought on in part by the overconsumption of imported junk food.

Luke Dini, the councils chairman and a retired Anglican priest, said the province had about 9,000 residents and got fewer than 1,000 tourists per year, mostly Europeans.

Dini said the pending ban was an effort to promote local agriculture and a response to an increase in diabetes and other diseases that council members have observed in Vanuatus capital, Port-Vila. Passing a more comprehensive ban on junk food imports to Torba could take at least two years, he added, and a final decision on which products to ban would be made by the national government.

Public health experts welcomed the ban, saying that bold measures were necessary for an impoverished and isolated region of 10 million people.

Imagine if 75 million Americans had diabetes thats the scale of the epidemic were talking about in Vanuatu, Roger Magnusson, a professor of health law and governance at Sydney Law School in Australia, said in an email.

Experts say the regions health crisis is primarily driven by a decades-long shift from traditional diets based on root crops toward ones that are high in sugar, refined starch and processed foods.

The World Bank said in a 2014 report that 52 percent of adult men in the Polynesian kingdom of Tonga were estimated to be obese the highest rate of 188 countries surveyed. It also said that of the seven countries worldwide with female obesity rates of at least 50 percent, four were Pacific island nations: Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

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As obesity rises, remote pacific islands plan to abandon junk food – MyAJC

Marked albatross part of Auckland Islands study – Otago Daily Times

If an albatross with a purple dot on its head catches your eye, you are not going mad.

Two hundred white-capped albatross on the Auckland Islands have been dotted with purple stock markings and banded in an attempt to gather more information on the survival rates of the mid-size albatross, often known as a mollymawk.

Conservation researcher Graham Parker, of Dunedin, said he and his wife Kalinka Rexer-Huber had just returned from a two-month monitoring expedition conducting seabird research on three species of albatrosses and two petrel species in the Auckland Islands.

The Department of Conservation and fishing industries-funded project to the islands 500km south of Bluff was a bit like a ”wintry camping trip”.

”There was very challenging weather.

”It was very cold, very mountainous and very windy.”

The critical condition of albatross species meant braving such conditions was important, he said.

”Albatross are the most endangered family of birds in the world and albatross are susceptible to getting killed in commercial fishing.”

However, the fact the Parker Conservation and Niwa project was partially funded by the fishing industry was an indication of the industry’s desire to understand the impacts of incidental bycatch of seabirds in commercial fisheries, Mr Parker said.

The project had been going for three years, but it was too early to tell from gathered data how many white-capped albatross there were.

Helicopter counts conducted each year for eight years on Disappointment Island in the Auckland Islands, showed about 90,000 pairs on the 380ha island, he said.

Banding and marking the birds was not without its challenges.

”They are a big bird, and they have a snappity big beak on them, so you have to be careful not to get bitten.”

Monitoring the birds was also made difficult by the fact the research focused on breeding birds, and the albatrosses were either incubating or nursing young chicks at the time of the project, he said.

Last year a white-capped albatross with a blue marking on its head sparked conversation when it was spotted in Karitane, near Dunedin.

The bird was stock-marked by the pair during their study of seabird species caught as by-catch in commercial fisheries in New Zealand.

Small tracking devices had been put on 40 of the almost 400 leg-banded albatross, however the pair hoped to hear from anyone in Otago or Southland who saw an albatross with purple paint on its head.

Notifications of sightings could be made at: http://www.parkerconservation. co.nz

margot.taylor@odt.co.nz

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Marked albatross part of Auckland Islands study – Otago Daily Times

South Pacific Islands go to European market – Matangi Tonga

“Meet the Pacific”, to be held in five European cities from February 22 to March 6 is expected to create greater awareness in the South Pacific Islands region acrossEurope.

Now in its third year, the event involves a series of one day meetings to be held in Barcelona, Milan, Prague, Zurich and Manchester, organized by Rosie Holidays in Fiji and Tumara Pacific in Cook Islands supported by the South Pacific TourismOrganisation

This creates a platform for Pacific tourism suppliers to meet with key European tour operators (buyers) who are committed or interested in selling the South Pacific as a destination to theirclients.

SPTO Marketing Manager Alisi Lutu said, “Meet the Pacific is a great way for South Pacific tourism bodies and operators to meet with key industry buyers in Europe in a short period of time and maximize their resources their resources with maximum impact for their particular destinations, product and serviceofferings.”

On February 25, SPTO will also participate in a consumer tourism event called Visit Pacific in Malmo,Sweden.

These events lead up to the South Pacific Islands participation in the ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Borse Berlin), the worlds largest consumer and travel trade show in Europe from March 8-12 along with national tourism offices and private sector (airlines, resorts, tour operators) from Fiji, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon islands, Tahiti andVanuatu.

SPTO will use the ITB platform to promote the new South Pacific Islands brand identity launched in October 2016 into the wider Europeanmarket.

Visitors

Europe is the third largest tourist source market, representing about 10 percent of all visitor arrivals to the Pacific Islands region following Australia and New Zealand holding steadfast, a combined 50 percent marketshare.

It is important for the sustainability of Pacific tourism that we are maintaining marketing and promotional presence and engaging productive partnerships with European travel partners on selling our Pacific Island destinations. This will help encourage the needed growth of visitor traffic and yields out of these long haul markets into our Pacific island economies, saidLutu.

Tongan representatives are not attending the “Meet the Pacific”event.

However, Tongais still represented through SPTO because we have arranged packages for the European market to visit the Kingdom of Tonga by promoting local operators so that Tonga is still marketed, said TongaTourism.

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South Pacific Islands go to European market – Matangi Tonga

Carriers Move to Accommodate Increased Demand for Canary Islands – Skift

Hoteliers in Spains Canary Islands are being urged to accelerate the construction of new holiday properties as a spree of terrorist attacks in the Mediterranean prompts airlines to switch capacity to markets perceived as safer by tourists.

Tenerife, the biggest of the islands and the most popular with visitors, effectively ran out of beds over the winter, while a general shortage of accommodation pushed up room prices as much as 15 percent, according to Sophie Dekkers, UK regional manager at discount carrierEasyJet Plc. That increase is expected to continue into the summer, she said.

The position of the Canaries off Moroccos Atlantic coast makes the archipelago a year-round destination for sun-loving north Europeans, and a natural candidate for extra flights following the attacks in North Africa, Turkey and the French Riviera. EasyJet has also held talks with the Greek Tourism Board on extending the holiday season there, while tour operator Thomas Cook Group Plc is adding capacity in markets including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Portugal.

Weve been working very closely with the Canarian government to talk about accelerating hotel projects, Dekkers said in an interview at London Gatwick airport, where Luton, England-based EasyJet has its biggest hub. We know the demand is there, lets make sure the hotels are being built, make sure theyre getting support so they can be completed.

EasyJet is also evaluating new routes to the Canaries targeting areas less well known to Britons. Those include the northwest island of La Palma, which it currently serves only from Gatwickand which traditionally attracts more German tourists, and Tenerife-North, located on the other side of the island from the larger resorts and currently more popular with Spanish visitors.

Like Thomas Cook andTUI AG, the discount airline also plans to expand in the Balkans, adding frequencies to Croatia, starting a new route to Montenegro and evaluating flights from the U.K. into Bulgaria. Its also reviewing service levels to some Turkish beach resorts where demand may be beginning to recover as traveler concerns focus more on major cities.

The U.K., which accounts for about 40 percent of EasyJets revenue, is currently exhibiting high single-digit growth, Dekkers said. While thats on a par with the airlines other operations, its slightly behind previous years, when Britain tended to offset slower expansion elsewhere, she said.

Inbound travel hasnt been as strong as initially anticipated after the pound slumped in the wake of Junes vote to quit the European Union, making the U.K. a cheaper destination for visitors. That suggests travelers from other EU states fear theyll be less welcome, or that concerns about attacks on London are acting as a disincentive, Dekkers said.

Tickets for next winter will go on sale in the next month and should indicate if a slump in fares is starting to level off, she said, as well as provide pointers as to whether carriers are beginning to limit seat supply.

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Carriers Move to Accommodate Increased Demand for Canary Islands – Skift

Road Warrior: City keeping Warren Avenue pedestrian islands – Kitsap Sun

Kitsap Sun Published 10:18 a.m. PT Feb. 21, 2017 | Updated 6 hours ago

The in basket: John Bogen asks, Will the city ever review the poor decision made to put the pedestrian islands in on Warren between Burwell and Sixth? It is a mess at 4 p.m., and I often see people driving through the gaps westbound on Fourth and Fifth in order to bypass the Burwell and Warren traffic jam (caused by the islands).

I think the islands make it more difficult to see pedestrians at 4-5 p.m. in the dark/twilight, and they plug up traffic horribly. A better and cheaper solution would have been to install flashing crosswalk lights for the relatively few pedestrians who use those crosswalks. Anyhow, is there ever any review following a traffic enhancement such as this?

The out basket: I didnt think there was much chance of a change of heart on this, as the city is pretty committed to making life easier and safer for pedestrians and bicyclists at the expense of motorists.The center barriers cut in half the distance a pedestrian must walk to cross Warren in one movement. And the third gap in that barrier at Fifth and Fourth, in addition to those with crosswalks in them, is legally available to bicyclists, who likewise have a refuge area half-way across.

Shane Weber, street engineer for the city, confirmed my expectation. We have no plans to review the center island improvements on Warren Avenue, he said. We are aware that there are instances where people will try to make the illegal maneuver through the gaps in the island.However, we believe this occurrence to be minimal and have made Bremerton Police Department aware for enforcement.

The city is reviewingsignal timing this year on the Warren Avenue corridor. There may be timing adjustments we make to the signals along the corridor if it is determined better performance can be achieved. This includes the signals at Warren Avenue and Burwell and Warren Avenue and Sixth Street.

Have a question for the Road Warrior? Call 360-792-9217 or email tvisb@wavecable.com.

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Road Warrior: City keeping Warren Avenue pedestrian islands – Kitsap Sun

How the Benesse Art Site Naoshima Revitalized a Cluster of Japanese Islands – Architectural Digest

Yayoi Kusamas polka-dotted pumpkin overlooking the ocean, James Turrells Open Sky installation, and an entire art space by Walter De Maria are just a few of the groundbreaking works on display at Benesse Art Site Naoshima, a cluster of once-polluted islands in Japans Seto Inland Sea rehabilitated by contemporary art and architecture by Tadao Ando, Sanaa, and Hiroshi Sambuichi. Like Dia:Beacon in New York and the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, Naoshima is a pilgrimage site for contemporary art lovers and a place where locals can immerse themselves in art outside of the traditional galleries and museums. I was born in a rather rural area, so I love nature, Soichiro Fukutake, the billionaire arts patron and honorary adviser to Benesse Holdings, says. So rather than installing art in white cube museums, I like to install art in nature, art with strong messages, contemporary art especially, and find the right environment and the right architecture.

Full Moon Stone Circle by Richard Long at Benesse House Museum in Naoshima.

Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Founded in 1989, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima continues to grow and develop, with new installations coming to some of the islands, including Teshima and Inujima. During Singapore Art Week in January, Fukutake awarded the inaugural Asian edition of the Benesse Prizegiven at the Venice Biennale since 1995to Thai artist Pannaphan Yodmanee, whose monumental installation is one of the highlights of the Singapore Biennale. Aftermath, which juxtaposes symbols of Buddhist cosmology with representations of modern urban decay, is on view at the Singapore Art Museum through February 26. Yodmanee has been commissioned to create a site-specific work for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima, becoming one of just a handful of Southeast Asian artists represented there. I think we are going to be in the age of Asia going forward, and theres a lot of disparity between rural and urban areas in Asia, Fukutake says. And I thought we could bring our approach of rejuvenating and building rural communities through art starting with Singapore and then broadening and roll out this approach through other parts of Asia.

Close-up of Karel Appel’s Frog and Cat sculpture in Naoshima.

Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Having made his fortune at the Benesse Groupa leader in education, language training, and senior careFukutake ranks among Japans 50 wealthiest individuals and is one of the worlds most influential art collectors, advocating for contemporary art as a way to uplift rural areas. To share with you my personal view, contemporary art should not be just something that people collect or invest for speculative purposes. We dont do that; I dont do that. I want to do something to close the disparity between urban areas and rural areas, Fukutake says. Asia has a lot of billionaires who are building their wealth, and Im hoping that a lot of such Asian billionaires can commit to such initiatives by using contemporary art to help rebuild rural communities. He advocates a new form of philanthropic capitalism that he calls public interest capitalism, in which corporations establish a foundation that can use dividends to promote culture and the arts.

Benesse House Museum in Naoshima.

Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

His own interest in art originated with his father, who collected works by Japanese-American artist Yasuoi Kuniyoshi. When I got involved in directing Naoshima, the first museum that impacted me was the Louisiana Museum in Denmark near Copenhagen, Fukutake says, adding that Dia:Beacon, the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Walter De Marias Lightning Field in New Mexico, and James Turrells Roden Craterwhich he visited with the artistinfluenced him, too. Thanks to his efforts, the Benesse Art Site Naoshima continues to inspire art lovers and architecture fans from around the world. There are a lot of interesting Asian artists emerging now, and many Asian countries are in the process of developing, he says. Visitors to the islands can be sure to see more exciting work by contemporary Asian artists soon.

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How the Benesse Art Site Naoshima Revitalized a Cluster of Japanese Islands – Architectural Digest

Cyclone warning for Cook Islands – Radio New Zealand

Tropical Cyclone Bart is weakening and quickly moving away from the southern Cook Islands.

Photo: 123RF

Gale and heavy swell warnings for Rarotonga and Mangaia were cancelled this morning.

By midnight, the system should be about 1,000 kilometres southeast of Rarotonga.

It should weaken to a depression and pass to the south of French Polynesia.

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Cyclone warning for Cook Islands – Radio New Zealand

Conservation Minister heads to Auckland Islands – Radio New Zealand

The Conservation Minister is visiting sub-antarctic islands to see what a predator-free New Zealand would look like.

Sandy Bay on Enderby Island, in the Auckland Islands group (file) Photo: RNZ / Alison Ballance

The navy patrol ship Otago has just left Bluff on a four-day trip to the Auckland Islands after waiting overnight for the minister, Maggie Barry, who was delayed by fog.

The Auckland Islands are the main breeding colony for endangered New Zealand sea lions and some albatrosses, and are largely free of mammalian pests.

The government has set a target of the country becoming predator-free by 2050.

Ms Barry said the trip would help towards that goal.

“I want to see first-hand what New Zealand will look like when the predators are gone, and that’s what we’ll see on some of these islands.

“The bird life and the capacity for nature to heal itself is what really will resonate with me.”

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry aboard the HMNZS Otago, ready to leave for the Auckland Islands. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

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Conservation Minister heads to Auckland Islands – Radio New Zealand

CZECH AMBASSADOR KEEN TO BROADEN TIES WITH SOLOMON ISLANDS – Solomon Star


Solomon Star
CZECH AMBASSADOR KEEN TO BROADEN TIES WITH SOLOMON ISLANDS
Solomon Star
GCU: The new Czech Republic's non-resident Ambassador to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Martin Pohl says he is keen to broaden ties with Solomon Islands when he met Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare today (Tuesday 21st February). At a brief …
Czech Republic keen to broaden ties with Solomon IslandsRadio New Zealand
Stronger Ties Pledged Between Solomon Islands and South KoreaEMTV Online

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CZECH AMBASSADOR KEEN TO BROADEN TIES WITH SOLOMON ISLANDS – Solomon Star

Urban heat islands: cooling things down with trees, green roads and fewer cars – The Guardian

The difference between the temperature in the city and the temperature in the non-urbanised surroundings can be greater than increases from global warming. Photograph: Abir Sultan/EPA

When it comes to coping with heatwaves, our own cities are conspiring against us. Road surfaces, pavements and buildings all contribute to keeping urbanised environments three to four degrees hotter than surrounding non-urbanised areas.

With heatwaves like the ones that have just baked half of Australia to a crisp forecast to increase in frequency and intensity, city councils are taking the urban heat island effect very seriously.

Some of the modelling studies have shown that we can often have an urban heat island magnitude so thats the difference between the temperature in the city versus the temperature in the non-urbanised surroundings that can be greater than the types of temperature increases that were looking at with global warming, says Dr Melissa Hart, graduate director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of New South Wales.

The urban heat island effect occurs because the dense dark surfaces such as bitumen on roads and building materials used in cities accumulate and store heat during the day and then release it at night.

Thats important, particularly during hot summer evenings; if the minimum temperatures are much warmer at night and not cooling down then that can have health implications, Hart says. And those health implications are staggering: in 2009, 374 people died across metropolitan Melbourne in one heatwave: more than Victorias annual road toll.

One of the simplest solutions to reducing the urban heat island effect is to provide more shade, with trees.

In 2012 Melbourne city council launched an ambitious project to double the tree canopy cover from 22% to 40% by 2040, by planting about 3,000 new trees every year.

On thermal images, you can see clearly the red hotspots of cities are streets, roads, carparks wherever there is bitumen and concrete and you can see the contrast with parks, garden and trees, says councillor Cathy Oke, chair of Melbourne City councils environment portfolio.

But tree planting has its limitations: trees cant be planted in the middle of roads, they cant necessarily be planted on private property, and there are also potential issues with having too many trees. CSIROs Dr Simon Toze gives the example of some US cities that went overboard on tree planting and as a result, women felt less safe walking around the streets.

We want to make sure that what we do is not actually having a detrimental effect elsewhere, says Toze, principal research scientist at CSIRO Land and Waters Urban Living Lab, highlighting other issues such as water use and bushfire risk that can have implications for tree-planting efforts.

Another approach that can cut down on heat absorption is to consider different surface materials for roads and pavements.

As well as committing to a 50% increase in tree canopy cover by 2030, the city of Sydney has begun a trial of lighter-coloured pavement in one inner-city street to see if this will reduce temperatures by reducing heat absorption.

But lighter-coloured pavement can be a problem in very sunny areas. On a bright day like today in Brisbane, the last thing you want is to be driving on the road with the sun coming down and bouncing off the pavement, Toze says. Its a trade-off that weve got to work through.

One alternative is green roads with a more porous surface that allows water to seep in and even grass to grow through, which in turn cuts down the amount of heat absorbed by the road surface. Toze says it might be particularly useful for low-traffic areas that dont see heavy vehicles, although he admits they are notorious for trapping womens high heels.

A similar principle to green roads applies to green roofs and green walls, where the building is partly or fully covered by vegetation. Sydney already has about 100 buildings with green roofs or green walls, including the award-winning One Central Park building on Broadway. This approach indirectly reduces urban heat by cooling the building itself and reducing its air-conditioning requirements, which in turn reduces the amount of waste heat released into the environment. But green roofs can also have unwanted side effects.

Some recent work coming out of our centre found that if you put green roofs on the rooftops all across Sydney you reduce the temperature but you can actually increase the humidity a little bit, Hart says. That can mean youve got a slight increase in heat stress because of the combined influence of temperature and humidity.

Contributors to the urban heat island effect and the potential solutions to it vary enormously from city to city, which is why modelling of individual cities is vital. What works in one city like planting trees along the wide streets of the US city of Portland is not going to be as effective or even as practical in the narrow street canyons of Hong Kong, Hart says.

Their research on Sydney suggests the density and colour of building materials is one of the more significant contributors to the heat island effect.

This affects the amount of radiation from the sun thats reflected straight back out rather than absorbed, says Hart. And so the simple matter of painting surfaces white or lighter colours, rather than the dark can have a significant impact.

Theres another contributor that is less talked about, and thats us. Our vehicles, the machinery we use to make our days more comfortable such as air-conditioning and refrigeration and even our own bodies produce significant amounts of heat. This anthropogenic heat is something Hart argues we need to understand and deal with.

Obviously you cant get rid of the people in a city but there are ways we can mitigate that, she says. More public transport means fewer heat-producing cars on the roads.

Another issue is our over-reliance on air conditioning during hot periods. If were building buildings that can deal with these conditions a little bit better than they currently do and we dont have to rely on air-conditioning so much, then youve got less energy consumption and less waste heat.

There are no simple solutions, but ignoring the problem is definitely not an option, Oke says.

The reality is that the climate is changing,[and] that cities that are already hot will get hotter, she says. The cooler we can make our city now, its an insurance policy for the future.

Read more:

Urban heat islands: cooling things down with trees, green roads and fewer cars – The Guardian

Miami model Daniela Urzi parts ways with Venetian Islands home for $10M – Curbed Miami

A waterfront home in Miami Beach owned by model Daniela Urzi and her husband sold for $10 million ($2,000 per square foot), per the Real Deal, equating to a 23 percent discount from its original ask of $12.95 million back in May 2016.

Its among the three highest sales in the Venetian Islands within the last year and is highlighted by idyllic Sunset views to the west.

The tropical residence of the Argentinian fashion model is located on Di Lido Island, with five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. It was built in the 1950s and measures 5,000 square feet.

Other details include 80 feet of Biscayne Bay frontage, smart home automation, a gourmet kitchen, wood floors, and a covered backyard entertaining area with a poolside barbecue.

Urzis past work entails cover features with popular fashion magazines like Marie Claire, Elle, and Cosmo.

The property last sold for $3.6 million in 2011.

Go here to read the rest:

Miami model Daniela Urzi parts ways with Venetian Islands home for $10M – Curbed Miami

Maggie Barry keen to see ‘mega herbs’ on trip to Auckland Islands – Stuff.co.nz

EVAN HARDING

Last updated14:43, February 21 2017

Robyn Edie

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry on board the HMNZS Otago, in Bluff on Tuesday, before travelling to the Subantarctic Islands.

Conservation minister Maggie Barry, who hosted a gardening show on New Zealand television for years, is hanging out to see the “mega herbs” on the Auckland Islands.

Speaking on the deck of HMNZS Otago shortly before leaving on a 4-day exhibition to the islands, Barry said she wantedto get a glimpse of the rich biodiversity on the island.

“Particularly something close to my heart, I have never seen before the mega herbs, and the mega herbs are in flower so I am really hanging out to have a look at those.”

Robyn Edie

Scenes from on board the HMNZS Otago as it prepares to head to the Auckland Islands on a maintenance trip

Barry hosted Maggie’s Gardening Show on TVOne from 1991 until 2003.

She expects to get a sense of the pest control work that is needed to rid the islands of the likes of feral pigs and cats, pointing to the government’s long term goal of ridding nature reserves of predators by 2025.

She believed New Zealand was capable of the goal, saying she one day wanted to see what New Zealand looked like predator free first hand.

Robyn Edie

Scenes from on board the HMNZS Otago as it prepares to head to the Auckland Islands on a maintenance trip

Barrie was looking forward to the trip, and not worried about seasickness, saying she had a good constitution.

The trip to Auckland Islands had been on her bucket list, andshe had heard amazing stories about the remote islands from DoC staff, she said.

The Auckland Islands are 465 km south of Bluff. TheHMNZS Otago, which has 60 crew on board, is expected to take a day to reach the islands.

Robyn Edie

Scenes from on board the HMNZS Otago as it prepares to head to the Auckland Islands on a maintenance trip

The Otago left Bluff port shortly after 10am on Tuesday.

It was supposed to have left from Bluff port on Monday night, but was delayed when Barry’s plane was unable to land in Invercargill due to fog.

Barry, who is accompanied by DoC staff, will experience and observe the vital conservation and research work being carried out on the Auckland Islands.

The largest of the subantarctic islands, the Auckland Islands have unique and valuable ecosystems which support a range of species found nowhere else in the world.

The trip is also the first opportunity DoC has had for maintenance and inspection work on the island for three years.

Barry is to meet researchers working with at-risk species such as the New Zealand sea lion and albatross.

She will also see how DoC is managing the World War 2 coast watchers huts.

Also on board the HMNZS Otago for the trip are a representative from Ngai Tahu, a representative from the nature conservancy and new parliamentary private secretary for conservation Scott Simpson.

The HMNZS Otago will resupply some of the researchers on the islands and bring two researchers back from Enderby Island.

-Stuff

Read more from the original source:

Maggie Barry keen to see ‘mega herbs’ on trip to Auckland Islands – Stuff.co.nz

Devoted horse trainer sails her ponies to the Shetland Islands in a tiny motor boat so they can meet their relatives – The Sun

She took Albert and Ernie to meet their horsey relatives on the Islands

TRAINER Emma Massingale took her ponies Albert and Ernie on a motorboat, to meet their horsey relatives on the Shetland Islands.

Emma, 34, practised on a lake, above, near home in Holsworthy, Devon, before making the trip for real.

SWNS:South West News Service

Once there, her Shetlands ran free with herds on their native Scottish isles.

Emma was pictured loading them on to a little motor boat before they sailed to the islands northeast of mainland Scotland

She said: The first time, Albert got his front feet on the boat but left his back feet off. Ernie hopped straight on.

SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

They were really good by the end.

Its a wildlife haven out there with dolphins and orcas, quite weird alongside the ponies.

Ernie, who Emma has owned for four years and rescued from Bodmin Moor, is related to one of the first Shetland ponies on the islands.

SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

Emma camped on the islands,met the Shetland Pony Society and traced the ancestry of her diminutive companions.

In the past, working Shetlands on the islands were used to carry peat and seaweed.

They also wore their very own knitted Fair Isle jumpers.

SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

Emma is a specialist and professional horse trainer, having developed her own unique way of communicating with herds of horses.

Her latest adventures will be shown on BBCs the One Show on Wednesday.

Go here to read the rest:

Devoted horse trainer sails her ponies to the Shetland Islands in a tiny motor boat so they can meet their relatives – The Sun

When America Threatened to Nuke China: The Battle of Yijiangshan Island – The National Interest Online (blog)

In 1955, the Chinese Peoples Liberation Army embarked on a bloody amphibious landing to capture a fortified Nationalist island, only about twice the size of a typical golf course. Not only did the battle exhibit Chinas growing naval capabilities, it was a pivotal moment in a chain of events that led Eisenhower to threaten a nuclear attack on Chinaand led Congress to pledge itself to the defense of Taiwan.

In 1949, Maos Peoples Liberation Army succeeded in sweeping the Nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government out of mainland China. However, the Nationalist navy allowed the KMT to maintain its hold on large islands such as Hainan and Formosa, as well as smaller islands only miles away from major mainland cities such as Kinmen and Matsu. These soon were heavily fortified with Nationalist troops and guns, and engaged in protracted artillery duels with PLA guns on the mainland.

In 1950, the PLA launched a series of amphibious operations, most notably resulting in the capture of Hainan island in the South China Sea. However, a landing in Kinmen was bloodily repulsed by Nationalist tanks in the Battle of Guningtou, barring the way for a final assault on Taiwan itself. Then events intervened, as the outbreak of the Korean War caused President Truman to deploy the U.S. Seventh Fleet to defend Taiwan. However, the naval blockade cut both waysTruman did not allow Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek to launch attacks on mainland China.

This policy changed with the presidency of Eisenhower in 1953, who withdrew the Seventh Fleet, allowing the Nationalists to build up troops on the forward islands and launch more guerilla raids on the mainland. However, the PLA was able to counter-escalate with new World War II surplus heavy artillery, warships and aircraft it had acquired from Russia. The series of artillery duels, naval battles and aerial bombardments that followed became known as the First Taiwan Strait Crisis.

On November 14, four PLA Navy torpedo boats laid a nighttime ambush for the KMT destroyer Tai-ping (formerly the USS Decker) which had been detected by shore-based radar. An ill-advised light onboard the destroyer gave the PLAN boats a target, and the 1,400-ton ship was struck by a torpedo and sank before it could be towed to safety. Later, Il-10 Sturmovik bombers of the PLA Naval Air Force hit Dachen Harbor, sinking the Landing Ship (Tank) Zhongquan. These episodes highlighted that the Nationalists could no longer rest assured of control of the sea, making maritime lines of supply to the more forward island garrisons progressively less secure.

While the PLA unleashed heavy artillery bombardments on the well-defended Kinmen Island east of the city of Xiamen, it more immediately planned on securing the Dachen Archipelago close to Taizhou in Zhejiang Province. However, the Yijiangshan Islands, a little further than ten miles off the Chinese coast, stood in the way. The two islands measured only two-thirds of a square mile together, but were garrisoned by over one thousand Nationalist troops from the Second and Fourth Assault Groups and the Fourth Assault Squadron, with over one hundred machine gun positions, as well as sixty guns in the Fourth Artillery Brigade. The garrisons commander, Wang Shen-ming, had been awarded additional honors by Chiang Kai-shek before being dispatched to the post, to signal the importance placed on the island outpost.

On December 16, 1955, PLA Gen. Zhang Aiping persuaded Beijing that he could launch a successful amphibious landing on the island on January 18. However, the planning process did not go smoothly: Zhang had to overcome last minute jitters from Beijing on the seventeenth questioning his forces readiness for the operation. Furthermore, Zhangs staff rejected a night assault landing, proposed by Soviet naval advisor S. F. Antonov, causing the latter to storm out the headquarters. Zhang instead planned the assault Chinese-stylewhich meant deploying overwhelming firepower and numbers in a daytime attack.

At 8:00 a.m. on December 18, fifty-four Il-10 attack planes and Tu-2 twin-engine bombers, escorted by eighteen La-11 fighters, struck the headquarters and artillery positions of the KMT garrison. These were just the first wave of a six-hour aerial bombardment that involved 184 aircraft, unleashing over 254,000 pounds of bombs.

Meanwhile, four battalions of heavy artillery and coastal guns at nearby Toumenshan rained over forty-one thousand shells on the tiny island, totaling more than a million pounds of ordnance.

The amphibious assault finally commenced after 2:00 p.m., embarking three thousand troops of the 178th Infantry Regiment, and one battalion of the 180th. The fleet numbered 140 landing ships and transports, escorted by four frigates, two gunboats and six rocket artillery ships. These latter vessels began pounding the island with direct fire, joined by troops of the 180th regiment, who tied their infantry guns onto the decks of small boats to contribute to the barrage. By this time, most of the Nationalist guns on Yijiangshan Island had been silenced, though artillery still sank one PLAN landing ship, damaged twenty-one others and wounded or killed more than one hundred sailors.

More:

When America Threatened to Nuke China: The Battle of Yijiangshan Island – The National Interest Online (blog)

Andaman Islands – Wikipedia

The Andaman Islands form an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal between India, to the west, and Myanmar, to the north and east. Most are part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands Union Territory of India, while a small number in the north of the archipelago, including the Coco Islands, belong to Myanmar.

The Andaman Islands are home to the Sentinelese, who have had no contact with any other people.[1]

The name of the Andaman Islands is ancient.[citation needed]. A theory that became prevalent in the late 19th century is that it derives from Andoman, a form of Hanuman, the Sanskrit name of the Indian God.[2][3] Another Italian traveller, Niccol de’ Conti (c. 1440), mentioned the islands and said that the name means “Island of Gold”.[4]

The Andaman islands have been inhabited for several thousand years, at the very least. The earliest archaeological evidence yet documented goes back some 2,200 years; however, the indications from genetic, cultural and isolation studies suggests that the islands may have been inhabited as early as the Middle Paleolithic.[5] The indigenous Andamanese people appear to have lived on the islands in substantial isolation from that time until the 18th century CE.

The Andamans are theorised to be a key stepping stone in a great coastal migration of humans from Africa via the Arabian peninsula, along the coastal regions of the Indian mainland and towards Southeast Asia, Japan and Oceania.[6]

From 800 to 1200 CE, the Tamil Chola dynasty created an empire that eventually extended from southeastern peninsular India to parts of Malaysia.[7]Rajendra Chola I (1014 to 1042 CE) took over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and maintained them as a strategic naval base to launch a naval expedition against the Srivijaya empire (a Hindu-Malay empire based on the island of Sumatra, Indonesia).[citation needed]

In 1789, Bengal Presidency established a naval base and penal colony on Chatham Island in the southeast bay of Great Andaman. The settlement is now known as Port Blair (after the Bombay Marine lieutenant Archibald Blair who founded it). After two years, the colony was moved to the northeast part of Great Andaman and was named Port Cornwallis after Admiral William Cornwallis. However, there was much disease and death in the penal colony and the government ceased operating it in May 1796.[8]

In 1824, Port Cornwallis was the rendezvous of the fleet carrying the army to the First Burmese War. In the 1830s and 1840s, shipwrecked crews who landed on the Andamans were often attacked and killed by the natives and the islands had a reputation for cannibalism. The loss of the Runnymede and the Briton in 1844 during the same storm, while transporting goods and passengers between India and Australia, and the continuous attacks launched by the natives, which the survivors fought off, alarmed the British government.[9] In 1855, the government proposed another settlement on the islands, including a convict establishment, but the Indian Rebellion of 1857 forced a delay in its construction. However, because the rebellion gave the British so many prisoners, it made the new Andaman settlement and prison urgently necessary. Construction began in November 1857 at Port Blair using inmates’ labour, avoiding the vicinity of a salt swamp that seemed to have been the source of many of the earlier problems at Port Cornwallis.

17 May 1859 was another major day for Andaman. The “Battle of Aberdeen” was fought between the Great Andamanese Tribe and the British. Today, a memorial stands in Andaman Water sports complex as a tribute to the people who lost their life. Fearing foreign invasion and with help from an escaped convict from Cellular Jail, the great Andamanese tribe stormed the British post, but they were outnumbered and soon suffered heavy loss of life. Later, it was identified that an escaped convict named Doodnath had changed sides and informed the British about the tribe’s plans. Today, the tribe has been reduced to some 50 people, with less than 50% of them adults. The government of Andaman Islands is making efforts to increase the headcount of this tribe.[10][11][12]

In 1867, the ship Nineveh wrecked on the reef of North Sentinel Island. The 86 survivors reached the beach in the ship’s boats. On the third day, they were attacked with iron-tipped spears by naked islanders. One person from the ship escaped in a boat and the others were later rescued by a British Royal Navy ship.[13]

For some time, sickness and mortality were high, but swamp reclamation and extensive forest clearance continued. The Andaman colony became notorious with the murder of the Viceroy Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo, on a visit to the settlement (8 February 1872), by a Muslim convict, a Pathan from Afghanistan, Sher Ali. In the same year, the two island groups Andaman and Nicobar, were united under a chief commissioner residing at Port Blair.

From the time of its development in 1858 under the direction of James Pattison Walker, and in response to the mutiny and rebellion of the previous year, the settlement was first and foremost a repository for political prisoners. The Cellular Jail at Port Blair when completed in 1910 included 698 cells designed for solitary confinement; each cell measured 4.5 by 2.7m (15 by 9ft) with a single ventilation window 3 metres (10ft) above the floor. A notable prisoner there was Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

The Indians imprisoned here referred to the Island and its prison as Kala Pani (“black water”);[14] a 1996 film set on the island took that term as its title Kaalapani.[15] The number of prisoners who died in this camp is estimated to be in the thousands.[16] Many more died of harsh treatment and the harsh living and working conditions in this camp.[17]

The Viper Chain Gang Jail on Viper Island was reserved for troublemakers, and was also the site of hangings. In the 20th century, it became a convenient place to house prominent members of India’s independence movement.

The Andaman and Nicobar islands were occupied by Japan during World War II.[18] The islands were nominally put under the authority of the Arzi Hukumat-e-Azad Hind (Provisional Government of Free India) headed by Subhas Chandra Bose, who visited the islands during the war, and renamed them as Shaheed (Martyr) & Swaraj (Self-rule). On 30 December 1943, during the Japanese occupation, Bose, who was allied with the Japanese, first raised the flag of Indian independence. General Loganathan, of the Indian National Army, was Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had been annexed to the Provisional Government. According to Werner Gruhl: “Before leaving the islands, the Japanese rounded up and executed 750 innocents.”[19] After the end of the war the islands returned to British control before becoming part of the newly independent state of India.[citation needed]

At the close of World War II, the British government announced its intention to abolish the penal settlement. The government proposed to employ former inmates in an initiative to develop the island’s fisheries, timber, and agricultural resources. In exchange, inmates would be granted return passage to the Indian mainland, or the right to settle on the islands. The penal colony was eventually closed on 15 August 1947 when India gained independence. It has since served as a museum to the independence movement.[citation needed]

In April 1998, American photographer John S Callahan organised the first surfing project in the Andamans, starting from Phuket in Thailand with the assistance of Southeast Asia Liveaboards (SEAL), a UK owned dive charter company.[citation needed] With a crew of international professional surfers, they crossed the Andaman Sea on the yacht Crescent and cleared formalities in Port Blair. The group proceeded to Little Andaman Island, where they spent ten days surfing several spots for the first time, including Jarawa Point near Hut Bay and the long right reef point at the southwest tip of the island, named Kumari Point. The resulting article in Surfer Magazine, “Quest for Fire” by journalist Sam George, put the Andaman Islands on the surfing map for the first time.[20] Footage of the waves of the Andaman Islands also appeared in the film Thicker than Water, shot by documentary filmmaker Jack Johnson, who later achieved worldwide fame as a popular musician.[citation needed] Callahan went on to make several more surfing projects in the Andamans, including a trip to the Nicobar Islands in 1999.[citation needed]

On 26 December 2004, the coast of the Andaman Islands was devastated by a 10-metre (33ft) high tsunami following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which is the longest recorded earthquake, lasting for between 500 and 600 seconds.[21] Strong oral traditions in the area warned of the importance of moving inland after a quake and is credited with saving many lives. In the aftermath, more than 2,000 people were confirmed dead and more than 4,000 children were orphaned or had lost one parent. At least 40,000 residents were rendered homeless and were moved to relief camps.[22] On 11 August 2009, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck near the Andaman Islands, causing a tsunami warning to go into effect. On 30 March 2010, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck near the Andaman Islands.

The Andaman Archipelago is an oceanic continuation of the Burmese Arakan Yoma range in the North and of the Indonesian Archipelago in the South. It has 325 islands which cover an area of 6,408km2 (2,474sqmi),[23] with the Andaman Sea to the east between the islands and the coast of Burma.[8]North Andaman Island is 285 kilometres (177mi) south of Burma, although a few smaller Burmese islands are closer, including the three Coco Islands.

The Ten Degree Channel separates the Andamans from the Nicobar Islands to the south. The highest point is located in North Andaman Island (Saddle Peak at 732m (2,402ft)).[23]:33

The subsoil of the Andaman islands consists essentially of Late Jurassic to Early Eocene ophiolites and sedimentary rocks (argillaceous and algal limestones), deformed by numerous deep faults and thrusts with ultramafic igneous intrusions.[24] There are at least 11 mud volcanoes on the islands.[24]

The climate is typical of tropical islands of similar latitude. It is always warm, but with sea-breezes. Rainfall is irregular, usually dry during the north-east, and very wet during the south-west, monsoons.

The Middle Andamans harbour mostly moist deciduous forests. North Andamans is characterised by the wet evergreen type, with plenty of woody climbers.

The natural vegetation of the Andamans is tropical forest, with mangroves on the coast. The rainforests are similar in composition to those of the west coast of Burma. Most of the forests are evergreen, but there are areas of deciduous forest on North Andaman, Middle Andaman, Baratang and parts of South Andaman Island. The South Andaman forests have a profuse growth of epiphytic vegetation, mostly ferns and orchids.

The Andaman forests are largely unspoiled, despite logging and the demands of the fast-growing population driven by immigration from the Indian mainland. There are protected areas on Little Andaman, Narcondam, North Andaman and South Andaman, but these are mainly aimed at preserving the coast and the marine wildlife rather than the rainforests.[25] Threats to wildlife come from introduced species including rats, dogs, cats and the elephants of Interview Island and North Andaman.

Andaman forests contain 200 or more timber producing species of trees, out of which about 30 varieties are considered to be commercial. Major commercial timber species are Gurjan (Dipterocarpus spp.) and Padauk (Pterocarpus dalbergioides). The following ornamental woods are noted for their pronounced grain formation:

Padauk wood is sturdier than teak and is widely used for furniture making.

There are burr wood and buttress root formations in Andaman Padauk. The largest piece of buttress known from Andaman was a dining table of 13ft 7ft (4.0m 2.1m). The largest piece of burr wood was again a dining table for eight.

The holy Rudraksha (Elaeocarps sphaericus) and aromatic Dhoop resin trees also are found here.

The Andaman Islands are home to a number of animals, many of them endemic.

The island’s endemic mammals include

The banded pig (Sus scrofa vittatus), also known as the Andaman wild boar and once thought to be an endemic subspecies,[26] is protected by the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (Sch I). The spotted deer (Axis axis), the Indian muntjac (Muntiacus muntjak) and the sambar (Rusa unicolor) were all introduced to the Andaman islands, though the sambar did not survive.

Interview Island (the largest wildlife sanctuary in the territory) in Middle Andaman holds a population of feral elephants, which were brought in for forest work by a timber company and released when the company went bankrupt. This population has been subject to research studies.

Endemic or near endemic birds include

The islands’ many caves, such as those at Chalis Ek are nesting grounds for the edible-nest swiftlet, whose nests are prized in China for bird’s nest soup.[27]

The islands also have a number of endemic reptiles, toads and frogs, such as the South Andaman krait (Bungarus andamanensis) and Andaman water monitor (Varanus salvator andamanensis).

There is a sanctuary 45 miles (72km) from Havelock Island for saltwater crocodiles. Over the past 25 years there have been 24 crocodile attacks with four fatalities, including the death of American tourist Lauren Failla. The government has been criticised for failing to inform tourists of the crocodile sanctuary and danger, while simultaneously promoting tourism.[28] Crocodiles are not only found within the sanctuary, but throughout the island chain in varying densities. They are habitat restricted, so the population is stable but not large. Populations occur throughout available mangrove habitat on all major islands, including a few creeks on Havelock. The species uses the ocean as a means of travel between different rivers and estuaries, thus they are not as commonly observed in open ocean. It is best to avoid swimming near mangrove areas or the mouths of creeks; swimming in the open ocean should be safe, but it is best to have a spotter around.

Most of the tribal people in Andaman and Nicobar Islands believe in a religion that can be described as a form of monotheistic Animism. The tribal people of these islands believe that Paluga is the only deity and is responsible for everything happening on Earth.[29][30] The faith of the Andamanese teaches that Paluga resides on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ Saddle Peak (Andaman Islands). People try to avoid any action that might displease Paluga. People belonging to this religion believe in the presence of souls, ghosts, and spirits. Interestingly, people of this religion put a lot of emphasis on dreams. They let dreams decide different courses of action in their lives.[31]

Other religions practiced in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are, in terms of size, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism.[32]

As of 2011[update], the population of the Andaman was 343,125,[33] having grown from 50,000 in 1960. The bulk of the population originates from immigrants who came to the island since the colonial times, mainly of Bengali, Hindustani and Tamil backgrounds.[34]

Of the people who live in the Andaman Islands, a small minority of about 1,000 are the so-called Andamanese, the aboriginal inhabitants (adivasi) of the islands. By the 1850s when they first came into sustained contact by outside groups, there were estimated 7,000 Andamanese, divided into the following major groups:

As the numbers of settlers from the mainland increased (at first mostly prisoners and involuntary indentured labourers, later purposely recruited farmers), these indigenous people lost territory and numbers in the face of punitive expeditions by British troops, land encroachment and various epidemic diseases. Presently, there remain only approximately 400450 indigenous Andamanese. The Jangil were soon extinct. The Great Andamanese were originally 10 distinct tribes with 5,000 people in total; most of the tribes are extinct, and the survivors, now just 52, speak mostly Hindi.[35] The Onge are reduced to less than 100 people. Only the Jarawa and Sentinelese still maintain a steadfast independence and refuse most attempts at contact; their numbers are uncertain but estimated to be in the low hundreds.

Port Blair is the chief community on the islands, and the administrative centre of the Union Territory. The Andaman Islands form a single administrative district within the Union Territory, the Andaman district (the Nicobar Islands were separated and established as the new Nicobar district in 1974).

The islands are prominently featured in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Sign of the Four, as well as in M. M. Kaye’s Death in the Andamans. The magistrate in Lady Gregory’s play Spreading the News had formerly served in the islands. Marianne Wiggins’ novel, John Dollar (1989), is set on one of the islands; the characters begin an expedition from Burma to celebrate King George’s birthday and after an earthquake and tsunami it becomes a grim survival story. A principal character in the book Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup is from the Andaman Islands. Kaalapani (Malayalam) and Sirai Chaalai (Tamil), a 1996 Indian film by Priyadarshan, depicts the Indian freedom struggle and the lives of prisoners in the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. Island’s End is a 2011 novel by Padma Venkatraman about the training of an indigenous shaman.

The only commercial airport in the islands is Veer Savarkar International Airport in Port Blair, which has scheduled services to Kolkata, Chennai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar. The airport is under the control of the Indian Navy. Previously, only daylight operations were allowed, but since the beginning of 2016 night flights have also operated.[36] A small airstrip of approximately 1000 metres is located near the Eastern shore of North Andaman near Diglipur.

Due to the length of the routes and the small number of airlines flying to the islands, fares have traditionally been relatively expensive, although cheaper for locals than visitors. Fares are high during the peak seasons of spring and winter, although fares have decreased over time due to the expansion of the civil aviation industry in India.

Continue reading here:

Andaman Islands – Wikipedia

Vietnam Seeks Stronger China Ties Despite New Buildup on Disputed Islands – Voice of America

TAIPEI

Vietnam is expected to keep chasing stronger relations with China, a political adversary for centuries, despite new signs that Beijing has added military infrastructure on several disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The Southeast Asian country, long accustomed to Chinas buildup in the contested Paracel and Spratly islands, is anxious to grow its exports and meanwhile wants stronger trade with the world’s number two economy China. And analysts say Vietnamese officials are unsure whether U.S. President Donald Trump would help Vietnam defend itself against China if needed.

Vietnam may have decided long term diplomacy may be the way to go

Officials in Hanoi may figure long-term stable relations with Beijing could lead to negotiations over the Paracels or Spratlys, said Oscar Mussons, international business advisory associate with the Dezan Shira & Associates consultancy in Ho Chi Minh City. China has the worlds third strongest military and Vietnam ranks number 17 on the GlobalFirePower.com database.

At least they know what theyre going to find. They are going to find only one party, and so somehow they are comrades, Mussons said. The only way left for Vietnam is perhaps the diplomacy. They cannot match Chinas military power.

China strengthening its hold on the Paracel Islands

A South China Sea project under Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies this month described new evidence that Beijing is adding naval and air facilities in the Paracel Islands.

China and Vietnam also compete for control of the Spratly Islands, which are claimed as well by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Vietnams foreign ministry had published no response on its English-language website to the think tanks findings as of Monday, consistent with a softer approach to Beijing following senior-level meetings in September and January.

Vietnam will likely continue to protest but not take any action

Experts say leaders in Hanoi are learning to accept in private Chinas control over the Paracel Islands, despite 43 years of resistance. But, according to Carl Thayer, emeritus professor of politics at The University of New South Wales in Australia, Vietnam, with strong anti-China sentiment among its 93 million citizens, will stick to its sovereignty claims in public but mute official anger or retaliation as it cements stronger economic cooperation, including at sea.

I think Vietnam will make a pro forma protest about Chinese activities in the Paracels, because it also claims sovereignty, he said. So thats a bit of a ritual. Theres nothing Vietnam can do about it. Its adjusting to that.

China cites historical usage records to claim 95 percent of the South China Sea, which stretches from Taiwan to Singapore. All six claimants covet the sea for its rich fisheries. Some are also prospecting for undersea fossil fuels and prize the sea for its marine shipping lanes.

Vietnamese have had little access to the Paracel Islands, 130 tiny land features off its east coast and southwest of Hong Kong, since the Peoples Liberation Army of China took control in 1974 after a naval battle with what was then South Vietnam.

Of Chinas 20 holdings in the Paracels, three have harbors that can hold large numbers of naval and civilian vessels, the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative said on its website in a Feb. 8 report. China has used landfill to enlarge some of the once uninhabitable Paracel islets in addition to an estimated 3,200 acres of reclamation in another disputed chain, the Spratly Islands.

Four other Paracel islets controlled by China include smaller harbors and a fifth is being built on another islet that previously lacked major military infrastructure, the think tank initiative said. Five islands support helipads and Duncan Island, Chinas second most advanced military base in the archipelago, berths a full helicopter base, it said.

Woody Island, the biggest land mass, has an airstrip, hangars and a deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries, the think tank report added.

On Feb. 5 the Vietnamese foreign affairs spokesman described as illegal the establishment of a Bank of China branch on Woody Island. But media reports say Vietnamese authorities put down a protest in Hanoi last month by about 100 people on the anniversary of Chinas Paracel takeover.

Deadly anti-China riots followed Beijings permission in 2014 for an oil firm to place a rig in disputed waters near the Gulf of Tonkin, which is just east of Vietnam and south of China.

China and Vietnam working together

After Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trongs visit to China last month for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two sides issued a statement agreeing to settle maritime disputes peacefully and work toward joint development in the gulf.

The countries have lived by a fishery agreement for more than a decade and discussed working together on oil exploration.

In September, Chinas premier and the Vietnamese prime minister pledged they would properly manage maritime differences and further enhance bilateral substantial cooperation.

China is one of Vietnams top trading partners, with $66 billion in imports and exports in 2015, according to Beijings state-run China Daily newspaper online.

Officials in Hanoi may value China more as they try to gauge U.S. policy on the South China Sea, analysts say.

President Trump has not indicated whether he will help Vietnam in its dispute with China, as predecessor Barack Obama had.

But Trump is angering China. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has suggested blocking China from islets that it has reclaimed and on Saturday the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson reached the South China Sea. That move poses a military threat to China, the China-based Global Times newspaper online said.

A balancing act for Vietnam

Trumps decision to scrap the 12-country trade Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal makes the U.S. president look shaky to Vietnam as well, Mussons said. Vietnam was one of four East Asian partnership members.

China looks more reliable by comparison and if economic ties go well, China eventually may be open to talks with Vietnam on rights to the Paracels, he said.

The Vietnamese government knows that it must avoid upsetting China while staying open to defense ties with the United States, said Jonathan Spangler, director of the South China Sea Think Tank in Taipei.

For Vietnam, regional stability is closely tied to national security, Spangler said. Vietnam, like other rival claimants, needs to balance the benefits of its economic ties with China and the political risks of not defending its sovereignty claims and thus appearing weak domestically.

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Vietnam Seeks Stronger China Ties Despite New Buildup on Disputed Islands – Voice of America


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