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EXCLUSIVE: Signs China could house missiles on islands – Reuters

Guatemala detains boat providing abortion services – 01:05

EU diplomats wary of Trump’s sudden praise – 00:09

Pope suggests ‘better to be atheist than hypocritical Catholic’ – 01:10

Estonian leaders wary of Russian loyalties – 01:45

Progress cargo craft arrives at the International Space Station – 00:56

Islamic State car blast kills dozens in northwest Syria – 00:52

Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam killed by banned chemical weapon – 01:29

Forest fires rage again in Chile’s Bio-Bio region – 01:01

Philippine law enforcers arrest Duterte critic on drug charges – 01:14

Guatemalan navy blocks Dutch ‘abortion ship’ – 01:24

Trying to calm fears in Mexico, U.S. official contradicts Trump – 02:26

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EXCLUSIVE: Signs China could house missiles on islands – Reuters

New satellite images show reinforced Chinese surface-to-air missile sites near disputed islands – Washington Post

New satellite images show the Chinese military shoring up its defenses ona disputed island chain in the South China Sea, adding what appears to be reinforced launch sites for surface-to-air missiles on at least three atolls.

The existence of the new launch sites was firstreported by Reuters on Wednesday, and on Thursday, photos of the nearly completed structures were obtained by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The images showat least eight structures on three of Chinas man-made atolls in the Spratly Islands: Fiery Cross, Mischief Reef and Subi Reef.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said Wednesday that the buildings have retractable roofs, making them suitable launching pointsfor medium- to long-range surface-to-air missile systems.

According to a photo analysis by CSIS, the buildings are about 66 feet long and 33 feet wide, making them large enough to store Chinas HQ-9 missile system. The HQ-9 closely resembles Russias S-300, a surface-to-air missile system with a range of approximately 93 miles and an ability to hit targets flying at 88,000 feet. It is unclear, however, whether the actual HQ-9 launchers have been deployed to the Spratlys, as one of the benefits of the new launch structures is the ability to conceal them from reconnaissance flights and satellites.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang didnt deny the existence of the launch sites at a Wednesday briefing with reporters.

China has indisputable sovereignty of the South China Sea islands and their adjacent water, he said. China will uphold its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. At the same time, we are committed to peacefully resolve relevant disputes through negotiation and consultation with countries directly concerned and are committed to working together with ASEAN countries to maintain peace and stability on the South China Sea. China has the right to deploy necessary defense facilities as appropriate on its own territory.

The HQ-9s on the Spratlys would be a significant improvement to the island chains defenses. In December, satellite imagery showed that the Chinese military had built a structure that contained antiaircraft gunsand potentially close-in weapons systems, or CIWS. Often found on U.S. ships and installations, CIWS is a network of weapons that tracks and destroys incoming missiles. Both the CIWS and antiaircraft guns, however, are limited in range compared to the HQ-9s ability to track and hit targets beyond the horizon.

Last year, China deployed HQ-9s to the Paracel Islands, a cluster of similar man-made atolls north of the Spratlys and near the coast of Vietnam. In February 2016, an HQ-9 battery was observed on the Paracels Woody Island, but by July the missiles had been withdrawn. Woody Island also reportedly is home to Chinese YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles.

China has long claimed that the South China Seas resource-rich waters and its tiny atollsare sovereignChinese territory, but many of the islands also have been claimed by multiple other countries,including Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The U.S. military,in support of its regional allies, has contested Chinese claims in the form of what the Pentagoncalls Freedom of Navigation Operations. Over the weekend, the USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, began operationsin the South China Sea without incident.

It is unclear how President Trump will react to Chinas continuedmilitarizationin the South China Sea.

Simon Denyer in Beijing contributed to this report.

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New satellite images show reinforced Chinese surface-to-air missile sites near disputed islands – Washington Post

Cayman Islands vote could pull back veil of secrecy for businesses … – CBS News

The Cayman Islands, one of the worlds best-known tax havens, may soon give international authorities better access to information about companies that have long been shrouded in secrecy.

Lawmakers in the Cayman Islands are expected to vote in the next week on a trio of bills that would pave the way for law enforcement, especially in the United Kingdom, to rapidly learn more about some of the nearly 100,000 companies registered in the tiny island territory.

The Cayman Islands, a U.K. territory long considered to be an offshore tax haven, has never previously maintained a centralized registry of ownership information. The creation of the registry, if approved, would be the result of pressure applied by the British government, according to Jason Sharman, a professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge in Britain.

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The Caymans and other British territories have kind of been arm-twisted, Sharman said, adding that the British government has been trying to combat the use of its territories for tax-free shell companies that are one of the avenues for large-scale financial crime.

If the bills are approved, the registry is expected to be created by June 30. It would allow U.K. authorities to obtain information within 24 hours of requesting it, according to a statement emailed to CBS News from the Cayman Islands Ministry for Financial Services. The Ministry noted that the Cayman Islands are currently able to share certain information with agencies from more than 100 countries, including the United States Internal Revenue Service.

However, Ronen Palan, a professor of international politics at the City University of London, said the current process for authorities who request information is often slow and opaque.

Cayman is a financial center that operates largely as a registration center for companies, (and) the active goal is tax avoidance, Palan said.

The most recent statistics published by the Cayman Islands government lists 98,838 active companies registered, nearly two companies for every one resident of the country. A 2013 report by consumer watchdog the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found 18,000 companies were registered at just one five-story building on the Cayman Islands.

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The calls for greater regulations and registries came after a series of leaks in the last few years showed firms in several offshore tax havens being used for apparent fraud, tax evasion and to subvert international sanctions. On Feb. 10, two partners at the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were arrested in relation to the leak in 2015 of the Panama Papers, which revealed information about more than 200,000 offshore companies, linking some to dictators, arms dealers and other illicit enterprises.

Sharman, the Cambridge professor, said that even if the Cayman Islands create a more streamlined registry, theres little evidence authorities will actually use it. He cited a registry previously created on the British island territory of Jersey, saying researchers have not been able to study it.

The British government has decided that these central registries are wonderful and will solve many of the worlds problems when it comes to kleptocracy, but it has no track record, Sharman said. One question is what information is there? If there is unreliable information, than it isnt very useful.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Cayman Islands vote could pull back veil of secrecy for businesses … – CBS News

Cayman Islands’ balmy beaches not just for ultra rich – Lansing State Journal

Compass Point Dive Resort offers excitement and relaxation in equal doses(Photo: Photo courtesy Michael Patrick Shiels)

The phrase Cayman Islands can conjure up the images of international banking and the espionage of Tom Cruise in the film The Firm, therefore the perception that Grand Cayman is a busy beach island only for the ultra rich.

Perception is not always reality, says Dr. John Wycoff, founder of the Wycoff Wellness Center in East Lansing. He and his wife Cindy have been taking the four-hour, non-stop Delta flight from Detroit to enjoy the 85-degree temperatures, tropical sunshine and scuba diving there for over 30 years.

Grab a liter of your favorite toxin at the duty free shop before departure, Doctor Wycoff prescribes. Upon arrival he also suggests lunch at Hammerheads in downtown George Town. Enjoy the azure colored water and try the red snapper prepared Cayman-style.

Before he drives his rental car (on the left side of the road) 20 miles through the quaint villages of Savannah and Bodden Town to his oceanfront place at the Compass Point Condos on Grand Caymans East End, Wycoff gathers provisions at Hurleys Groceries, and, next door, Blackbeards Liquor Store.

When I see the yellow submarine in front of the entrance of Compass Point, I know tranquility is about to begin, he insists.

Compass Point rents two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos with fully equipped kitchens which provide what Wycoff describes as mesmerizing views of the aqua blue waters and the gentle sounds of waves lapping the pristine, sandy beach.

Landlubbers enjoy Compass Points two swimming pools, hot tub, hammocks, flowers, bicycles and the elevated oceanfront deck of Eagle Rays, the thatched-roof, on-site bar and grill that serves a daily drink concoction and lion fish tacos caught that very day on the reef.

Ocean Frontiers, on the property, offers half-day scuba courses plus experiences for experienced divers. A trip to Hell or the turtle farm is worth a half-day, and people can also swim or snorkel at Stingray City, a sandbar in the ocean where you can feed and interact with the rays, Wycoff says.

When he does leave the property, Wycoff suggests a day trip to Rum Point to walk on the Masonic Trail; with a stop at the Queen Elizabeth Botanical Gardens.

For dining, he likes Bombay Chopsticks, across from Compass Point.

Chef Remy prepares Indian cuisine and the sea bass is the best Ive had, he says. Tukkas is a couple miles east with Chef Rons Australian fare. And if youre in a romantic mood, The Lighthouse or Kaibo Yacht Club each has scenic ocean-side dining.

Haute cuisine is on the west side at The Brasserie, Grand Caymans finest restaurant according to Wycoff.

Chef Maxs farm-to-table Harvest Dinners sometimes include Cayman conch hush puppies, smoked swordfish, lobster tea, Jamaica-cured oxtail flatbread, locally-caught Wahoo, honey and scotch-glazed pork shoulder, pumpkin, and okra, he recalls.

Fine wines wash down each course and the jujube plum upside down cake, sorrel and spice sorbet and local coconut pie.

The quality of the food in the Caymans, compared to other islands, is one of the reasons we bought a place here, says Wycoff who also knows how good sunshine and not being sedentary in the winter is for his patients and himself.

Michael Patrick Shiels may be contacted at InviteYourself@aol.com or via TravelTattler.com His talk show can be heard weekday mornings in Lansing on 92.1 FM.

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Cayman Islands’ balmy beaches not just for ultra rich – Lansing State Journal

Rail link in Andaman Islands could threaten tribals – Asia Times

Overland connectivity in Indias Andaman and Nicobar Islands is poised to get a boost,with the Ministry of Railways green-signaling plans for construction of a railway line linking Port Blair, the capital of the island chain, with Diglipur, the largest town of North Andaman Island. The rail line, the first in the archipelago, is expected to ease travel and increasetourism. It also has strategic value.

A chain of 572 islands and islets of which only 38 are inhabited, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are scattered across 750 kilometers north to south in the Bay of Bengal. The archipelagosturquoise waters and white sandy beaches have made it an attractive destination for tourists.

Currently, travel within the archipelago is possible only by road and sea. The journey between Port Blair and Diglipur via the 350km Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) takes 14 hours, while the ferry takes a whole day. By comparison, travel via the proposed 240km broad-gauge railway line will take just three hours.

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According to Indian Express, Indian Railways does not consider the proposed Port Blair-Diglipur rail line to be economically viable. Others, however, are more optimistic about the rail links potential. If it goes ahead, it couldprovide a shot in the arm to tourism in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. With improved connectivity between Port Blair and the tourist hub of Diglipur, annual tourist arrivals can be expected to increase from the current 450,000 to an estimated 600,000, Jagdish Mukhi, the lieutenant-governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was quoted by Indian Express as saying. Importantly, the rail link also has strategic value. It wouldfacilitate the transport of troops from Port Blair to Diglipur, should the need arise. Port Blair is the headquarters of Indias only tri-services command, which is based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. To the north of Diglipur is Landfall Island, which is just around 20km from Myanmars Coco Islands. Since the 1990s, India has alleged that China had set up a signal-intelligence facility on the Coco Islands, a claim that has been rejected by both China and Myanmar. The location of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has endowed the archipelago with immense strategic importance. The southern Nicobar Islands lie near the mouth of the Strait of Malacca, a strategic waterway through which a quarter of all the worlds sea-transported oil is carried. To enhance its capacity to counter Chinas mounting interest and presence in the Indian Ocean, India has been building up its naval capabilities. Its growing focus on its Eastern Naval Command, including establishmentof the tri-services command at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, must be seen in this context. The Port Blair-Diglipur railway line is part of the effort to improve logistical capability in the strategic archipelago.

Unlike Indias security establishment and the tourism industry, however, anthropologists are concerned over the implications of the proposed railway for survival of the islandsindigenous communities. The archipelago is home to several of thesecommunities. Five of them, namely the Great Andamanese, Onge, Sentinelese, Shom Pen and Jarawa, are already severely endangered. Their numbers fell drastically during British colonial rule because of disease, development and displacement. Their populations have been shrinking since Indias independence, too. According to the 2011 census, for instance, the tribal population of the islands fell by 3.19% between 2001 and 2011. Government officials attribute the recent decline in numbers to the 2004 tsunami. Anthropologists, however, blame development of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and outside intervention in the lives and culture of the tribals for their falling numbers. The ATR, for instance, runs through the Jarawa reserve. The opening of this road brought a flood of settlers, outsiders, tourists and poachers to the islands in general and tribal areas in particular. And with them came diseases, sexual abuse of Jarawa women, sale of drugs and alcohol to the tribals, among other problems. Many tribals lives have been lost to disease, while their distinct culture and way of life have been undermined. All thishas triggered conflict between the indigenous populations and outsiders. Will the proposed railway line impact the Andamans indigenous communities as well? This is likely, which means the survival of some of worlds oldest tribal communities isin jeopardy.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bengaluru, India who writes on South Asian political and security issues.

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Rail link in Andaman Islands could threaten tribals – Asia Times

Sub-antarctic islands offer glimpse of pest-free NZ – Radio New Zealand

First Person – The Conservation Minister says the Auckland Islands are a glimpse of the future predator-free New Zealand.

Penguins at the Auckland Islands Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Maggie Barry returned today from leading a four-day Department of Conservation (DOC) delegation to Enderby and Auckland Islands, which are 465 kilometres south of Bluff.

The trip involved 24 hours on the navy patrol ship HMNZS Otago, rigourous quarantine searches and the vacuuming of every belonging, even underpants.

To land on Enderby Island, the northernmost of the Aucklands, the delegation was ferried by jet boat and zodiac inflatable because there was no wharf.

It was worth the effort.

In just the first half hour we saw sea lions, southern royal albatrosses and a rare rata forest.

Sea lion pups. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Three yellow-eyed penguin chicks popped up and stood metres from us on a board walk.

Parliamentary private secretary for conservation Scott Simpson was transfixed.

“It’s just amazing to see these penguins so close… such graceful creatures”, he said.

“To see them so relaxed and at home in their natural environment is a real privilege and absolute treat.”

Mr Simpson said it was an example of why the government last year launched a Predator Free 2050 plan, which set a goal of removing every rat, stoat and possum from all New Zealand islands in the next 33 years.

The Auckland Islands. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

This became a theme of the trip.

On a hilltop in winds we could barely stand in, Ms Barry, who is a garden specialist, was in her element among the “magnificent” megaherbs.

“How resilient must these plants be,” she remarked.

The plants and animals thrived despite an inhospitable climate.

There have never been rats, stoats or possums. All the cattle and rabbits that were brought here have been removed.

Conservation Minister Maggie Barry Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

There was some introduced grass, which Ms Barry wanted to deal with.

“This is what predator-free is all about – to see a future where the predators are not making an impact and are allowing our nature to regenerate in a way that returns to what it out to be,” Ms Barry said.

It was a vision of what New Zealand could achieve.

Ridding the mainland islands of New Zealand of their worst pests has been likened to putting the first man on the moon.

The ocean view from the sub-antarctic Auckland Islands Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

Each time DOC cleared an island, the pest honed its skill.

A kilometre away, on the larger Auckland Island, three pests were ripping up the forests and taking out the birds.

DOC southern South Island manager Allan Munn said plans were being drawn up for them, too.

“If we can’t make places like this predator-free the rest of New Zealand is going to be extremely difficult,” Mr Munn said.

“We’ve made a great start in the sub-antarctic islands and we’ve really only got Auckland Island to remove the pests and predators from.”

Megaherb on the Auckland Islands. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The largest island has about 1000 pigs and some feral cats. Plans were being drawn up for the final pest eradication.

“We’re planning for it now, and it would be nice to think we would be doing some work in 18 months or so,” Mr Munn said.

There were mice, but Mr Munn thought the distance and island’s size might make clearing them too difficult.

Ms Barry said the trip showed her the sub-antarctic islands could take more than the current 1000 tourists a year. Those visitors should pay more for the land’s upkeep.

Anyone who could get there, should see for themselves what a predator-free future might look like.

An albatross soars over the Auckland Islands Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

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Sub-antarctic islands offer glimpse of pest-free NZ – Radio New Zealand

Islands wins on road to clinch berth in Elite Eight – Savannah Morning News

GAINESVILLE A highly efficient Islands squad built up a comfortable lead that was never relinquished inside East Halls gymnasium Thursday as the Sharks rolled to an 89-62 win over East Hall, a No. 1 seed and the Region 7-3A champion.

East Halls season ended at the hands of what coach Joe Dix called the best offensive team they faced all season in the second round of the GHSA Class 3A state tournament.

Islands moves on to play at Liberty County, which won its second-round game decisively 105-62 over Coahulla Creek, in the state quarterfinals next week.

When you got kids that know the game, it makes my job much easier, Islands coach Karl DeMasi said. Its a godsend to have kids who are gifted physically and mentally. They know the game.

The Sharks built a 23-point advantage before intermission, and at one point led by as much as 29 in the third period.

After East Hall turned it over on the opening possession, the Sharks vaulted ahead on a 14-4 run ignited by back-to-back 3s from Hugh Durham grandson of the former University of Georgia mens basketball coach with the same name and Trae Broadnax, the son of Savannah State coach Horace Broadnax.

A 3-pointer by East Halls Luke Holtzclaw cut it to seven with 3:17 left in the quarter, but the Sharks built it back to 24-10.

Broadnax, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, had a game-high 27 points 17 in the first half, for Islands. Seniors Justin Cave and Justin Cutter also scored in the double digits with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Cave was strong throughout, adding a pair of dunks his first a one-handed jam in traffic to stretch the Sharks lead to 25 during the second quarter.

DeMasi noted that Broadnax had eight assists, Cave (12 rebounds) had six assists and the team had 22 after 23 in their first-round playoff game at Worth County.

Were just playing well, were playing as a team, DeMasi said. Thats all I can ask the boys to do. Theyre sharing the basketball.

Islands depth was a key factor as the Sharks got 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

Meanwhile the Vikings just never caught their stride. They converted just 33 percent of their attempts from the floor, only after being held at a near standstill for the first two quarters.

DeMasi said the biggest focus was to halt the attack of East Halls big three senior Mahki Brown, Sedrion Morse and Luke Cooper and they were successful at stopping two.

Brown scored a team-high 14 points all hard earned and added five boards. Morse and Cooper were held to no field goals in the first half for East Hall. Morse notched five points in the second half to finish with 10, while Cooper managed one basket and missed his mark on all five 3-point attempts.

We knew that was their big three. We knew we had to stop them, and they did a great job defensively, said DeMasi. To hold (East Hall) to 22 points in the first half is, thats what I am really proud of. Were hot at the right time.

The Vikings were also outrebounded 29-21 and turned it over 11 times against a Sharks team that never let up.

We dug ourselves in a hole, and against a team at that level, you cant dig a hole. Theyll bury you, added Dix.

ISLANDS (89)

Mosley 2, Trae Broadnax 27, Edwards 4, Cabrera 6, Jaylen Cave 5, Durham 6, DeLoach 4, Newman 2, Walker 6, Justin Cave 16, Justin Cutter 11.

EAST HALL (62)

Buffington 3, Dowdy 1, Martinez 2, Evans 6, Sedreon Morse 10, Cooper 2, Campbell 6, Rider 8, Holtzclaw 6, Dixon 3, Vance 1, Mahki Brown 14.

IHS|24|21|19|26||89

EH|10|12|20|19||62

RecordsIslands 19-9, EH 21-8.

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Islands wins on road to clinch berth in Elite Eight – Savannah Morning News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Read or Share this story: http://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/local/2017/02/21/road-warrior-city-keeping-warren-avenue-pedestrian-islands/98201416/

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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


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