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Sean Christian Price's nasty history and previous convictions

Sean Christian Price, accused of murdering school girl Masa Vukotic, has a dark past.

It has already been revealed that Price had been an inmate at a secure psychiatric institution where he managed to punch Tony Abbott, then Health Minister, during an inspection.

The Herald Sun gives us another clue but without the details: Price's middle name, Christian, comes from his father, of Pitcairn Island.

Spanish Ebola nurse: infected others in holiday swimming pool?

English news reports of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse infected with Ebola mention that she had been on holiday when she first started experiencing the symptoms of Ebola.

As most people know by now, a patient becomes infectious the moment that they start to exhibit symptoms.

Australia can't criticize Putin while competing with him

While much of the world is watching the tragedy of MH17 and contemplating the grim fate of 298 deceased passengers sealed into a refrigerated freight train in the middle of a war zone, Australia (with 28 victims on that train) has more than just theoretical skeletons in the closet too.

Abbott may kill more Australians than Putin

Australians are the third biggest group of casualties in the MH17 tragedy this week. Australia's leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is already calling Mr Putin to account before the facts have even been confirmed.

The startling reality is, OECD research already suggests that Mr Abbott's own policies have the potential to kill more Australians.

Balancing a budget with sex work?

Tony Abbott has attracted worldwide ridicule for himself and our country (not for the first time of course) with his infamous wink incident this week.

In fact, people repeatedly sharing this incident on social media are not really adding much to the national debate. Anybody who's opinion actually matters already knew Tony Abbott is not fit to even lead a scout group, let alone a whole country.

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Pilot Whales Dead at the Hands of Vicious Thugs

Sea Shepherd - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 23:01
Pilot Whales Dead at the Hands of Vicious Thugs

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

The family of 20-30 pilot whales was driven to shore and brutally massacredThe family of 20-30 pilot whales was driven to shore and brutally massacred
Photo: Sea ShepherdThis morning approximately 20-30 wonderful creatures were swimming in the cold Northern waters enjoying life in the company of their small family group.

It was a beautiful Monday morning; the seas were calm and the skies were blue.

Though most civilized people in the world would view this as a beautiful thing, watching a pod of these unique creatures swimming gracefully through the sea, a small group of thugs on the shore nearby gazed over the water with murderous intentions in their heart.

The call was issued to kill. The police closed the tunnels. The Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot was patrolling approximately 25 nautical miles to the south but quickly raced to the site where the whales were spotted. However, the vessel was unable to proceed through the entrance of the fjord, which was being guarded by the Danish Navy vessel Triton. The thugs were unleashed with huge hooks and sharp knives.

The pilot whales were driven to shore and massacred as the police blocked the path of any interference.

The bodies were hoisted onto the dock by a crane as each animal was disemboweled, unborn fetuses ripped from their mothers’ wombs. The bodies were decapitated one by one. One supporter of the slaughter sent me a message saying, "We could show ISIS a thing or two about decapitation, you whale-loving bastards."

As the mutilations continued, Sea Shepherd volunteers were surrounded by Faroese police officers charged with the duty of preventing any interference with the slaughter.

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An Egregious Mass Murder in the Faroes Islands This Morning

Sea Shepherd - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 22:57
An Egregious Mass Murder in the Faroes Islands This Morning

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

The aftermath of the Hvannasund slaughter that claimed the lives of 20-30 pilot whalesThe aftermath of the Hvannasund slaughter that claimed the lives of 20-30 pilot whales
Photo: Sea Shepherd20 to 30 dolphins were viciously slaughtered this morning on the beach at Havannasund on Vidoy Island.

The police mobilized quickly to block off a tunnel to the island and to set up a restricted zone to keep people away from the killers as the blood colored the water a deep red and the screams of dying dolphins echoed across the beach. Laughing and cheering Faroese whalers splattered themselves with hot blood in a perverse orgy of sadistic lust.

The police closed the tunnel to the island to prevent anyone from reaching Havannasund.

The police are aggressively assisting the dolphin killers.

The Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot was unable to reach the location in time. The dolphins had been quickly spotted and driven with stones and banger poles onto the beach where their killers waited with their knives, eager to extinguish the lives of these gentle creatures.

The Faroe Islands continue to encourage the barbarity of slaughtering dolphins with the full complicity of the government, the media, the police with new authoritarian “special” laws, and now the Danish government and the Danish Navy.

The waters run red with blood at Hvannasund following the slaughterThe waters run red with blood at Hvannasund following the slaughter
Photo: Sea ShepherdThe Faroese have decided to pull out all stops in their defense of this savage cultural obscenity.

It appears that many people in the Faroes are so traditionally and morally bankrupt that they can only find identity in the bloody ritualized culture of sadistic slaughter, as if to proclaim to the entire world that they, the Faroese, require blood sacrifices to illustrate their complete lack of empathy and morality. It is their way of spitting in the face of common human decency by declaring their uniqueness in the only way that has any meaning for them – the deliberate and prideful infliction of suffering and death on innocent, intelligent, self-aware, socially complex and sentient beings.

With the power and force of the Kingdom of Denmark defending their little backwater vassal entity in the Islands of Sheep, the whalers are intent to cowardly continue killing, believing they have God on their side (“Gott mit us”) and knowing they have the politicians in their pockets.

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Waters of the Faroe Islands Run Red With Another Horrific Grind

Sea Shepherd - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 19:02
Waters of the Faroe Islands Run Red With Another Horrific Grind

 Rosie KunnekeAnother bloody slaughter in the name of tradition in the Faroe Islands.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Rosie KunnekeFor the second time this season, the waters of the Faroe Islands are red with the blood of slaughtered pilot whales, killed in the infamous drive hunt known by the Faroese term “grindadráp” or “grind.”

The pod was spotted at approximately 0830 local time this morning. The pilot whales were then driven to Hvannasund in the north of the island archipelago, where they were eventually slaughtered.

Sea Shepherd estimates that between 20 and 30 pilot whales were killed in the slaughter.

The Sea Shepherd ship Brigitte Bardot was patrolling approximately 25 nautical miles to the south but quickly raced to the site where the whales were spotted. However, the vessel was unable to proceed through the entrance of the fjord, which was being guarded by the Danish Navy vessel Triton.

Operation Sleppid Grindini Land Team Leader, Rosie Kunneke of South Africa said, “Another harrowing, bloody massacre has been allowed to occur, under the protection of the increasing police state in the Faroe Islands. While authorities ramp up grind laws and penalties, which require even those visiting the islands to partake in this brutal slaughter, Sea Shepherd remains on watch. We will not let the screams of these magnificent, slaughtered animals go unheard.””

 Rosie KunnekeThe aftermath. 20-30 pilot whales, brutally slaughtered in the Faroe Islands this morning.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Rosie KunnekeAccording to Faroese laws that govern the grindadráp, any person visiting the islands must report all sightings of whales and dolphins to local authorities so that the cetaceans can be targeted for slaughter. Those who do not abide by these laws may face arrest and prosecution, with penalties of 25,000 Faroese króna (just over 3,000 euros) and imprisonment of two years.

Sea Shepherd Founder and senior strategic advisor for Sea Shepherd USA, Captain Paul Watson said, "The blood of socially complex and sentient pilot whales has once again been spilled in the waters of the Ferocious Isles. The Faroes are not only continuing the archaic and senseless bloodbath known as the grind, but rushing to pass laws to defend this slaughter of cetaceans from any interference – even forcing visitors to the Faroe Islands to participate by alerting authorities that pods have been spotted."

 Nils GreskewitzLocals gather for the slaughter at Hvannasund.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Nils Greskewitz  Nils GreskewitzThe waters run red at Hvannasund in the Faroe Islands as approximately 20-30 pilot whales are slaughtered.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Nils Greskewitz
Categories: Community

Greece: Tsipras slams EU's 'blackmail' and its attempt to 'hinder democratic processes'

Links International - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 13:06

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece

June 28, 2015 -- Prime Minister of Greece, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Yesterday’s Eurogroup decision to not approve the Greek government’s request for a few days’ extension of the program -- to give the Greek people a chance to decide by referendum on the institutions’ ultimatum -- constitutes an unprecedented challenge to European affairs, an action that seeks to bar the right of a sovereign people to exercise their democratic prerogative.

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Why is a Grexit now likely?

Club Troppo - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 05:53

Greece owes the IMF 1.6 billion euro that it doesn’t have but is supposed to pay by tomorrow. Unless the ECB lends it to the Greeks, effectively converting the IMF debt into an ECB debt, Greece is bankrupt tomorrow. In months to come, much bigger debt repayments are scheduled to the ECB-IMF in tranches of 4 billion, and Greece won’t have that money either as its economy is still contracting.

Greece didn’t have the money to pay off the previous debts in the last 5 years either though, and that just lead to more debts in return for symbolic reforms that weren’t implemented.

Why not muddle through then and let the Northern European politicians present a pretend-reform package to their population as a victory? And why would bankruptcy force a Grexit, given that there is no official mechanism to force any country out of the Euro, once it is in?

What is forcing it is the combination of the referendum on the symbolic reforms, together with the bank-run on the Greek banks that has this morning lead to capital controls. Let me explain how the two force a Grexit.

The referendum is called for this Sunday, one day before the banks re-open. The idea is that Greeks vote on whether to accept the current set of symbolic reforms, which would entail cuts to pensions and loss of employment of many civil servants. The government will campaign against them, and most of the Greek parliamentarians are with the government, successfully whipping the country into a ‘no austerity’ mood. There is hence no way that the Greek population would vote ‘yes’. And even if they did, the Greek government then would not implement reforms as its own backers would constitute the ‘no’ vote.

But the referendum also makes it impossible to agree on something symbolic beforehand: it binds the hands of the Greek politicians who called for it (almost surely so they wouldn’t be blamed for the coming Grexit). This means nothing can be offered to them that would prevent bankruptcy tomorrow.

Previous symbolic reform packages were not implemented, partly because the Greek governments didn’t want to implement them and partly because they couldn’t even if they wanted to. Tax collection, for instance, would take many years to clean up and, as a Greek economist told me recently, it is still normal to send Greek tax collectors home in an election year! But to the Northern Europeans, the Greek politicians at least pretended they were going to pay back the loans and reform. The referendum is now expressly fought on a platform of not even pretending either, taking away the much-needed fig-leaf that the Northern Europeans wanted.

Worst of all, the referendum is a slap in the face of the other politicians who were negotiating at this late hour with the Greek politicians on the terms of the next symbolic set of reforms. It is part of the rules of the game in Brussels that this was a real deadline that forced everyone to agree to some face-saving formula. The referendum has made this impossible: the Greek politicians won’t play by the European rule-book. No face saving, just Greek theatrics and grand-standing.

So the other European politicians have been sufficiently humiliated that they feel they need to be tough, an attitude you see most clearly in Christine Lagarde from the IMF who made it clear tomorrow’s deadline is not negotiable.

Hence the referendum will be followed by a continuation of the bank run next Monday by Greeks who calculate their country’s approaching bankruptcy, and this time there cannot be a bailout: the only bailout that is now possible within the Greek political system is one whereby the ECB lends money without symbolic reforms, an open loss for the Northern Europeans. That means there will be no bailout. In concrete terms, the Greek central bank will not be getting any more Euros to distribute amongst its banks. The Greek government wont be able to pay to its employees, welfare recipients, and other recipients of state money.

So the day after the referendum, neither the Greek central bank, nor the Greek government has money to prop up the Greek commercial banks nor pay its own workers. That is what will force the Grexit, I think, not the inability to pay back loans to non-Greeks: the slow bank-run, in which billions in deposits are withdrawn weekly from Greek banks, will force them into it.

If the Greek government does not introduce a new currency then it will have no means to prevent the bank-run and the Greek banks will run out of money and go bankrupt themselves. Without an intervention, that will wipe out all the savings in those banks and lead to a major disruption of the Greek financial sector and the Greek economy. Tax avoidance will go up as the visible money streams that go via the banks will stop and the remaining economy will go via invisible money streams that are harder to tax. Greek civil servants will not get paid, nor will welfare recipients get their payouts, meaning they will have no money either, forcing them to join the bank run to pay for groceries.

So the Greek government will face financial collapse the day after the referendum. Capital controls will slow the collapse down, but the only thing it can do, really, is to take over the obligations of the commercial Greek banks and pay its employees and welfare recipients with something else. That something else is a new currency, whether it starts life being called an I-Owe-You (IOU) or a Varoufakis-florint: it will have to be declared legal currency inside Greece so that one can make payments with it. Hence in order to save its own banks and thereby its depositors, Greece will have to Grexit.

Now, no-one can force Greece to give up the Euro, so Greece can in principle maintain a dual currency system for a long time, having both the Euro and the new currency. This is not abnormal, as Hong Kong airport has shown you can run a 3-currency system indefinitely: you can pay there with Honk-Kong dollars, Euros, and US dollars. Yet, if the state sector runs on fast devaluing drachmas and the rest on stable Euros then the Greeks will be incurring a lot of transaction costs.

It will not really matter whether Greece hangs on to two currencies or just the new one: with the re-introduction of a separate legal currency, Greece will have effectively left the Euro and become like Macedonia and Bulgaria, where you can also pay in lots of places with Euros but that are no longer official members of the Eurozone.

I wouldn’t be surprised if stacks of the new currency are already in Greece, ready to replace the Euro as the official currency, with contingency scenarios now being taken off the rack in the main financial European institutions (EIB, ECB, EU-C). This means a Grexit is also a physical possibility now whilst it probably could not have been done 5 years ago.

Is there a way to prevent the coming Grexit? Normally, I expect the political system in the EU to come up with a watery compromise at the last minute. The Greeks politicians have however, I think, made this impossible with a referendum that takes away the ability for compromises to be offered and accepted. Time will tell though.

Will the Grexit be good for Greece? In the medium-run, I do think so as the state-related sector takes a much needed price-correction vis-a-vis the exporting sector. In the short run, pain is coming though, I am afraid, particularly for the old and infirm in Greece dependent on the state. And the recovery will be hampered by the fact that the Greek economy is tied to the rest of Europe, whom they have just had a falling-out with.

Categories: Community

Venezuela: Millions vote in socialist party primaries

Links International - Mon, 29/06/2015 - 03:45

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the campaign close for primary elections for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, June 26, 2015. Photo: AVN.

For more on Venezuela, click HERE

June 28, 2015 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Millions of members of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) hit the ballot box on June 28 to vote for the left-wing party’s candidates for parliamentary elections to be held in December. "Here are these candidates, they are men and women who come from the people, they were nominated by the grassroots (of the party), now it is up to you to choose,” stated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on June 26 during an event to celebrate the close of campaign.

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Categories: Community

Oz Comic-Con 2015 – and marriage equality

Daniel Bowen - Sun, 28/06/2015 - 11:37

Science fiction and fantasy conventions used to be a homespun affair, run by the local clubs, featuring broadcasts of rare episodes and out-takes (before it all got released on DVD) and fan films. If there were guest artists, often they would appear only if they happened to be in the country at the time, and fees for photos and autographs were unheard of.

These days it’s big business. Not that it’s a bad thing. I like that geek culture is no longer a hidden-away, niche enterprise, and those who are interested in it have big events like Oz Comic-Con and Armageddon, and SupaNova, and others to go to every year.

And yet for all the big budget exhibition halls and merchandise stalls and paid guest appearances, it’s still the fans and their costumes that make it what it is.

 Batman

On the train into OzComiCon on Sunday morning, we were keeping a lookout for others attending — of course it’s sometimes a guess as to whether someone’s in costume, or just dresses eccentrically. I’d had a plan for a costume but wasn’t organised enough to get it all prepared, so went in civvies, but it was just as well as at lunchtime I had to duck out to talk to Channel 9 about the airport rail link.

This year it was at MCEC (along with SpecTex15 — a trade show about specialist textiles… their attendees were a little less outlandishly dressed).

Given the number of Doctor Who fans out and about, it was a shame that there were no related guests or sessions, but I went to an interesting Star Trek: Deep Space 9 session with Terry Farrell (Dax) and Rene Auberjonois (shapeshifter Odo).

Mostly it was light-hearted, but at one point they noted Friday’s marriage equality decision of the US Supreme Court, and Farrell said she was proud of the episode where she kissed another female actress — although the genders of both characters was unclear, she said that it had provided a chance to indirectly have the show stand up for people who then might have been unable to be public about their own relationships.

I’m struggling to paraphrase it well; she expressed it in a much more graceful and passionate way, and got a round of applause from the audience. In any case, it fits in well with the generally progressive vision of future society that has long been the hallmark of the Star Trek franchise — everything from the once-controversial multi-racial cast to the absence of money.

Anyway, here are some photos from OzComicon… as you can see, it was pretty busy, and people in costume were only too pleased to pose for photos.

Who you gonna call?
 Who you gonna call?

Whatever you do, don’t cross the franchises!
 Whatever you do, don't cross the franchises!

Lego TARDIS! Lego Pac-Man!
 Lego Tardis and Lego PacMan

Captain Picard from Star Trek: Next Generation snaps a photo of a Star Wars Storm trooper.
Captain Picard snaps a stormtrooper

Lots of cosplayers pose for a photo outside… you can see the picture in this News.com.au story: Costume-clad fans flock to Oz Comic-Con Melbourne 2015
 Gathering for a photo

More media coverage:

Speaking of marriage equality, I’m somewhat surprised to see this that this tweet netted over 300 retweets and a similar number of favourites in 24 hours, and got quoted on Buzzfeed. Cool!

Conservative Americans considering moving to Australia might like to be aware of our extensive gun control and universal healthcare. #SCOTUS

— Daniel Bowen (@danielbowen) June 27, 2015

Categories: Community

Cuba 'will always be ready to help sister nations', says ICAP president

Links International - Sun, 28/06/2015 - 09:54

A Cuban literacy program operating in an Aboriginal community in Wilcannia, NSW.

Click HERE for more on Cuba.

June 15, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, post at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and a member of Cuba's National Assembly, attended the recent national consultation of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with her about recent developments of the Cuban Revolution.

* * *

Cuba has just been removed from the list of state-sponsors of terrorism. How do you think this will affect Cuba’s relations with the United States?

First of all, there is no reason to have Cuba on such a list. We should have never been there. However, the US decided to do this back in 1992. On May 29, the removal was approved.

We consider this a very positive step in eliminating the different obstacles to forging stable bilateral relations with the US.

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Categories: Community

Armenia: What has sparked #ElectricYerevan?

Links International - Sat, 27/06/2015 - 14:33

By Sergei Markedonov

June 24, 2015 -- New Cold War, first published in Russian on politcom.ru, and translated and published in English on Open Democracy; posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal --  Fresh protests in Yerevan have their roots in a number of deep-rooted domestic issues in Armenian politics. But we make comparisons to other protest movements at our peril.

On June 23, some 6000 people marched towards President Serzh Sargsyan’s residence in Yerevan. Water cannons against protesters have been used against participants in what has already been dubbed #ElectricYerevan, in reference to the cause of the protests: rising energy prices.

The initial mass protest against hikes in electricity tariffs, and the authorities’ reaction against them, have had a noticeable effect on the country’s political situation. According to the Armenian police, 237 people were arrested on June 23 and, in total, 29 people suffered injuries, including 11 police officers. But while this situation has already begun to provoke comparisons with recent events in Ukraine, these protests have a domestic trajectory which should not be ignored.

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Categories: Community

Greece: 'To authoritarianism and harsh austerity, we will respond with democracy' -- Government calls referendum on EU austerity

Links International - Sat, 27/06/2015 - 10:38

Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras.

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

Speech by Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece; translation by Stathis Kouvelakis

June 26, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, first posted at Tsipras' Facebook page

* * *

Fellow Greeks,

For six months now, the Greek government has been waging a battle in conditions of unprecedented economic suffocation to implement the mandate you gave us on January 25, 2015.

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‘Operation Jairo’ Volunteers Attacked by Armed Sea Turtle Poachers in Costa Rica

Sea Shepherd - Fri, 26/06/2015 - 22:19
Sea Shepherd ‘Operation Jairo’ Volunteers Attacked by Armed Sea Turtle Poachers in Costa Rica; Two Volunteers Sustained Minor Injuries

The Violent Assault Comes Just Ten Days after Sea Shepherd Reported to Costa Rican Authorities Receiving Warning of an Impending Attack by Poachers

 Sea Shepherd/Eva HidalgoSea turtle nesting grounds on Pacuare Beach,
Costa Rica Credit: Sea Shepherd/Eva HidalgoA group of 11 volunteers working with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s Sea Turtle Defense Campaign Operation Jairo were physically attacked by poachers last night during a peaceful patrol of Costa Rica’s Pacuare Beach to locate and protect nesting endangered turtles and their eggs. Two volunteers sustained minor injuries.

Upon spotting the Sea Shepherd crew, which included a media team as well as beach patrol volunteers, a group of poachers immediately approached and, unprovoked, began to attack the unarmed Sea Shepherd volunteers with branches and machetes. Initial reports indicate that more than 10 poachers were involved in the attack. Operation Jairo Ground Leader for Costa Rica, Brett Bradley of Australia, stood in between the poachers and his fellow volunteers, enduring most of the violent assault and sustaining injuries to his arms. Media crewmember Ellen Campbell of Canada also suffered an injury to her shoulder.

As Sea Shepherd volunteers attempted to leave the beach to safety, a security guard fired a total of eight shots into the sand in an effort to scare off the attackers. The aggressive poachers continued their assault, even firing three shots at a second member of the security team, who was hired by Sea Shepherd to protect the organization’s volunteers following threats of violence. One guard was attacked by three of the men, but managed to fend off two as the other retreated.

In addition to Australia and Canada, Sea Shepherd’s multi-national team of Operation Jairo volunteers currently on the ground in Costa Rica and present during last night’s attack also includes individuals from Austria, Spain, the United States, France and Costa Rica.

On June 4, Sea Shepherd volunteers caught a poacher in the act of stealing eggs from an endangered leatherback sea turtle, as the vulnerable nesting female laid them in the sand of Pacuare Beach. Sea Shepherd surrounded the turtle, standing between her and gathering poachers until she finished nesting and returned safely to the sea. The remainder of her eggs were relocated to a guarded hatchery. Shortly thereafter, Ground Leader Brett Bradley was told by a confidential informant that poachers were planning an attack to intimidate Sea Shepherd volunteers. These threats were reported on June 16 to the Costa Rican Judicial Investigation Organization (OIJ).

Jorge Serendero, Sea Shepherd spokesman for Central America, said at this time the group of volunteers is preparing to file a new complaint with the OIJ in Bataan, Limon. There they will also reorganize and implement increased security measures to resume efforts to protect turtles in Pacuare.

The criminal poachers targeting Costa Rica’s endangered sea turtles are becoming increasingly frustrated that Sea Shepherd’s ground crew volunteers are standing in the way of their illegal activities. This is a clear indication that Sea Shepherd’s presence as we patrol the beaches has been effective,” said Sea Shepherd Campaign Coordinator, David Hance.

“Ground Leader Brett Bradley has confirmed to me that all volunteers are well in the wake of the attack. Our team reports that after experiencing this violence at the hands of the poachers, they are more determined than ever to continue to protect the turtles,” added Hance. “Sea Shepherd is taking all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of our crew. We have again contacted the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment, Energy and Seas and the Coast Guard, as well as the local embassies that govern each of our crewmembers. We are also in contact with the local police and are demanding that they protect our volunteers, take swift action against these poachers for their attack, and enforce the law as it relates to poaching of turtle eggs.”

With an average of only one in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings surviving to adulthood, Sea Shepherd is addressing the urgent need to protect these endangered marine animals before it’s too late. Operation Jairo is currently taking place in Costa Rica and Honduras, where Sea Shepherd volunteers are protecting sea turtles from poaching. The campaign will also launch in mid-July in Florida, where volunteers will work with non-profit Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (S.T.O.P.) to guide hatchlings safely to the sea and ensure that ordinances regulating commercial lighting along the beaches, which can disorient nesting turtles and hatchlings and cause them to head away from the sea and toward dangerous roadways, are adhered to and enforced.

Categories: Community

Balance de elecciones y resistencia en México

Links International - Fri, 26/06/2015 - 14:02

Contingente OPT-PYME en un desfile de protesta por la desaparición de los 43 estudiantes.

Haga clic aquí para más información sobre México.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4477.]

Por Nevin Siders Vogt, corrección de estilo de Ayla Huerta Miranda

22 de junio 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A la luz de las recientes elecciones a la mitad del sexenio y la creciente coyuntura entre las campañas de justicia por los 43 desaparecidos, los movimientos de resistencia luchan firmes contra la privatización de recursos naturales y las industrias nacionalizadas.

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Categories: Community

Mexico: President and his party re-elected; left divided and defeated

Links International - Fri, 26/06/2015 - 03:39

Click the following links for more by Dan La Botz, and more on Mexico.

By Dan La Botz

June 15, 2015 -- New Politics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Despite widespread disillusionment with the political system, an organised attempt to prevent the election from taking place in a few states and continuing economic doldrums, President Enrique Peña Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were the big winners in Mexico's June 7 election, followed by the conservative National Action Party (PAN). Both parties are committed to continuing the deepening of the country's neoliberal, free-market economic reforms.

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Categories: Community

V/Line: a ride on RRL, and 24-hour time… mostly

Daniel Bowen - Thu, 25/06/2015 - 23:53

I finally took a ride on the Regional Rail Link last night. In summary:

Trains from the city to Geelong depart regularly, but from numerous platforms — when I was there in peak, it was 5A, then 7A, 15A, 1, 3A… and when I’d been there at lunchtime, 2B had also been in the mix. It wouldn’t hurt to have some consistency. As it is, if you just miss a train, you’re likely to have to backtrack a long way to figure out where to catch the next one.

V/Line departures: Southern Cross, peak hour

I caught the Southern Cross to Tarneit on the 17:44 to Geelong/Waurn Ponds — peak hour, quite crowded, every seat on the 5-car train occupied I think. A few people standing (probably by choice).

Tarneit station quite busy, perhaps 100 or more people alighted there. Not bad for the fourth weekday of operation. The area around the station is somewhat dominated by the car park (hopefully new development on the northern side will reduce this. Good to see the platforms have multiple exits.

Tarneit station, evening peak

Tarneit station park and ride

Hopped on another train to Wyndham Vale a few minutes later — not nearly as crowded.

Then a train back into the City — counter-peak, mostly empty. Notably, a lady hopped off at Sunshine and changed onto the Sunbury line outbound, so while no doubt Geelong to Werribee people have been inconvenienced having to now make a bus connection, the opening of RRL has also made other trips easier.

Despite it being after 6pm and dark, I saw no sign whatsoever of PSOs at either of the new stations. They are not currently on the list of stations served by them, which seems odd.

It was too dark to see any scenery on this little jaunt, or even to fully appreciate the speed. There was a brief good view of the bright lights of the distant city between Deer Park and Tarneit. I’ll have to go back in daylight.

Riding V/Line in the dark

Footscray station platform 3 doesn’t have departure screens. This is cunning, given this is for citybound trains that you’re not meant to board there. (Sunshine does have them as that platform is used in both directions, but I’m told it doesn’t display citybound departures.)

It’s about time

It’s great to see a brand new rail line so popular already.

But something else I noticed…

24-hour time isn’t common in Australia, but V/Line uses it. It’s on their web site, on the screens at Southern Cross, and on their timetables… in fact the paper timetable has a panel explaining 24-hour time.

V/Line explains 24-hour time

Oddly, it’s not on their Passenger Information Displays at their stations. They all seem to be 12-hour time, even on the new platforms which exclusively serve V/Line trains.

Wyndham Vale station, evening counter-peak

Is it important? Not greatly in the grand scheme of things. But some consistency would be good across the greater public transport network of course. I’m undecided which is better… 12-hour time is more well and understood, but 24 avoids AM/PM ambiguity, and most people would know it from the world of air travel. It’s also used internally by operators.

It’s not the first time we’ve had inconsistency on this in public transport. The Metcard system used 12-hour times on the cards and readers, but from memory used 24-hour time when the readers showed expiry times.

Categories: Community

CALL TO ACTION: Ask Maryland and Virginia to Stop Brutal Ray Bow-hunting Tournaments!

Sea Shepherd - Thu, 25/06/2015 - 21:42
CALL TO ACTION: Ask Maryland and Virginia to Stop Brutal Ray Bow-hunting Tournaments!

"Cownose Rays" by Dorothy Birch - Original Work by Author. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons"Cownose Rays" by Dorothy Birch
Original Work by Author.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia CommonsSea Shepherd Conservation Society is calling on the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO), Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the state of Virginia to put a stop to the cruel and archaic bow-hunting tournaments targeting pregnant cownose rays for sport in the waters of Chesapeake Bay.

Grassroots groups have recently released undercover footage showing the brutality of one of these tournaments, “Battle of the Rays,” held on June 13 near Mechanicsville, MD. The video shows hunters shooting rays with arrows and using hooks to haul the injured animals up to the side of the boats, where they are bludgeoned with bats or mallets to stop their thrashing. Many, though, are still alive when piled onto other rays onboard.

Pregnant rays, who migrate to Chesapeake waters each year to give birth to their pups, are specifically sought in these tournaments that are held annually in Maryland and Virginia because the heaviest ray will be the “winning catch” at weigh-in. The appalling recent video even captured a hunter seemingly attempting to insert a baby ray back into the body of its dead mother to increase her weight. Many of the dead rays are simply dumped back into the ocean after being weighed.

Some fishermen advocate for the killing of these majestic rays because they eat oysters. The state of Virginia has even advocated for a commercial ray fishery to “control” their numbers, using the misleading slogan “Save the Bay, Eat a Ray.” Sea Shepherd has seen this misguided reasoning used elsewhere to justify the slaughter of marine species with cruel and ineffective culls – for example, along the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, cormorants and California sea lions are harassed and killed by those states for the “crime” of eating salmon (while fisheries are allowed to take up to 17% of the yearly salmon run).

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has emphasized that these bow-hunting tournaments are legal, but the DNR’s own statement also confirms why they must be ended. “There is currently very little scientific data available on the cownose ray population in the Chesapeake Bay and given this limited information, the DNR cannot put a management plan in place at the state level.”

Based on the DNR’s own findings, it is time that the Department take the prudent step of stopping this unsustainable sportfishing targeting pregnant rays given the dearth of information as to status of their current population.

Researchers caution that cownose rays, much like sharks, do not reach sexual maturity until late in age and give birth to only one pup at a time, thus the species is left highly vulnerable to overfishing, also much like sharks. The NCBO states, “Some people have suggested that a commercial fishery for cownose rays should be started so that people can eat this shellfish predator, instead of it eating oysters. But because cownose ray populations grow slowly, we need to make decisions very carefully. Effects from these decisions will last a long time because if the population is reduced too much, it would take a long time to recover.”

The NCBO adds that it is not in support of a commercial cownose ray fishery or other methods of reducing the population at this time. “More science is needed to determine if a sustainable fishery would be possible given the cownose ray’s biology, population numbers and distribution, and reproductive capacity. In the meantime, focus can be put on developing ways to protect oysters and other shellfish from cownose rays that do not involve removing rays from the Bay ecosystem.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Sea Shepherd is voicing our opposition to these brutal tournaments and asking our supporters to join us. Additional tournaments are scheduled this Saturday and Sunday, in Virginia and Maryland. Please use the contact information below to call for an immediate end to this cruel and senseless killing for sport:

Peyton Robertson, Director
NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office
410 Severn Avenue
Suite 207-A
Annapolis, MD 21403
Phone: (410) 267-5660
Email: Peyton.Robertson@noaa.gov

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Avenue
Tawes State Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone (for callers in MD): 1-877-620-8367
Phone (for out-of-state callers): (410)-260-8367
Email: customerservice.dnr@maryland.gov

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401-1925
Phone: (410) 974-3901 OR 1-800-811-8336
Email form: Contact Governor Larry Hogan

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 90778
Henrico, VA 23228-0778
Phone: (804) 367-1000
Email: dgifweb@dgif.virginia.gov

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2211
Email form: Communicating with the Governor's Office

More information: Cownose Rays: What Effect Are They Having?

Categories: Community

Syria: Nusra’s massacre of Druze villagers condemned

Links International - Thu, 25/06/2015 - 03:57

Druze cleric Sheikh Waheed Balaous, head of "Druze for Dignity", accuses the Assad regime of shelling Suweida.

By Michael Karadjis

June 15, 2015 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The second week of June witnessed two major events concerning the relationship between the Druze religious minority and the Syrian revolution.

In northern Idlib province, where Druze have taken an active part in the recent liberation of the capital and from the Assad regime and the other string of stunning rebel victories, a provocation against a Druze house by a unit of the Sunni-jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra – aligned to the main rebel groups in the province – led to a massacre of over 20 Druze villagers.

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Categories: Community

It’s tax time! Have you considered donating to the PT Not Traffic campaign?

Daniel Bowen - Wed, 24/06/2015 - 23:42

It’s tax time, and if you’re anything like me, every charity you’ve ever thrown money at has been writing to you to see if you’ll give them some more.

In the spirit of this, I’d like to put in a quick plug for donating to the Public Transport Not Traffic campaign — this is the PTUA’s campaign arm, and donations to it are tax-deductible.

PT to Parliament 2015

PTNT uses this money to help pay for a part-time campaigner — this was instrumental last year in running activities to lobby against the hugely wasteful and city-shaping (into a more car-dependent city, that is) East West toll road, and also activities such as the annual PT To Parliament event, which is a chance for residents to talk about PT issues as they ride into Parliament with their local MPs.

In coordination with PTUA, PTNT’s activities all help keep up the pressure for more investment in public transport infrastructure and services.

So, if you support the cause and you’re pondering where to send some tax-deductible donations before the end of the financial year, please consider giving to PTNT.

Of course, joining the PTUA is also very helpful and welcome! (Though not tax-deductible.)

  • I was curious how many countries have financial years ending in June. This page and chart in Wikipedia shows them: they include Australia, Egypt, NZ (government, not personal/corporate), Bangladesh, Pakistan,… and it seems not many others.
  • Ending in December, or March seems to be more common.
  • The USA used to finish in June, but got bumped in the 70s to September.

Subscribe to my transport-related posts here

Categories: Community

Mexico: Elections and resistance

Links International - Wed, 24/06/2015 - 09:16

OPT-SME contingent in a parade protesting the disappearance of the 43 students. 

Click HERE for more on Mexico.

By Nevin Siders Vogt, Mexico City

June 22, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – With the growing intersection among the campaigns for justice for the 43 disappeared students and the resistance movements’ struggle against the privatisation of natural resources and nationalised industries, the rhythm of resistance activities has not slackened over the last year, despite the mid-term elections. This is why the People’s and Worker’s Political Organization (OPT) sees the urgency to taking stock and projecting what immediate steps to take. This report is based on the gathering Mexico City’s OPT branch in Tlalpan organised preparatory to the campaigns it will participate in for the latter half of the year.

Elections

The world press covered the elections held throughout the country on June 7. Governors of half of the states were contested, along with half of each chamber of the national legislature and a large number of local officials in all jurisdictions. The capital, Mexico City, is demarcated into 16 districts (Delegaciones), and all 16 district heads changed.

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Categories: Community

Enduring the Unendurable. Suffering the Insufferable.

Sea Shepherd - Wed, 24/06/2015 - 02:12
Enduring the Unendurable. Suffering the Insufferable.

IWC Tosses Japanese Whaling Plans into Limbo

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

 A newly caught minke whale is hauled up the slipway of Japanese factory whaling ship the Nisshin Maru, while harpoon ship the Yushin Maru No 2 sails close behindFile photo: A newly caught minke whale is
hauled up the slipway of Japanese factory
whaling ship the Nisshin Maru, while harpoon
ship the Yushin Maru No 2 sails close behind
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Adam LauThe International Whaling Commission (IWC) ruled Friday that Japan has not provided sufficient scientific data to support its ridiculous claim that the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean is legitimate scientific research.

They have asked Japan for further data to justify their request for IWC permission to kill whales under the pretense of scientific whaling.

Last year the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that there was no scientific justification for Japanese so-called “research” whaling.

Last year the International Whaling Commission followed up on this ruling and said no to Japan’s pretense to kill whales. No whales were killed by Japan in the Southern Ocean for the 2014-2015 season, the first time zero whales were slain in Antarctic waters since 1945.

Will Japan now spit in the face of international law and public opinion? Will they attempt to send their highly subsidized whaling fleet south again in December to target 333 Minke whales in the internationally established Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary? Will they do so in violation of the international moratorium on commercial whaling? Will they continue to be in contempt of the Australian Federal Court?

Or knowing that they have had some success in the U.S. Courts, will they tell the ICJ and the IWC to bugger off?

Sea Shepherd prevented Japan from taking more than 6,000 whales since 2005. The Japanese have surrendered their demands to kill humpbacks and fins. They have even decided to lower their kill quota from 935 Minke whales to 333 if they return to the coast of Antarctica with their death machines.

But Japanese pride and the inability to back down in the face of international condemnation is goading them onward into making irrational decisions that have absolutely no positive economic consequences.

 Blood pours out of the scuppers of Japanese factory whaling ship the Nisshin Maru after a newly caught minke whale is butchered on deckFile photo: Blood pours out of the scuppers of Japanese factory whaling ship the Nisshin Maru after a newly caught minke whale is butchered on deck
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Adam LauJapan’s whaling can only survive if backed by huge government subsidies and a willingness to be seen as a whale-killing pariah by much of the world’s population.

Ignoring the verdict of the ICJ will not help Japan if their territorial disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea end up before the ICJ. A nation that gives the finger to the ICJ will have a hard time convincing the ICJ that they have any respect for international law at all.

Perhaps they just can’t help themselves. Japan never actually admitted to surrendering at the end of the Pacific War. Emperor Hirohito never used the word “surrender.” He said, "the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage.”

The intention of the military was that all Japanese citizens should choose death to protect the dignity of Japan and the sanctity of imperial Japanese ideology. According to the generals, the 100 million Japanese civilians should embrace a death that would be beautiful in its tragedy, “like shattered jewels.”

The military went to great efforts in their attempts to prevent the Emperor from ending the war, even to the point of invading the palace to search for the recording of the Emperor’s speech. The Emperor had recorded the speech on a phonograph record that had been smuggled out of the palace in a basket of women’s underwear and later broadcast to the nation.

Emperor Hirohito thus saved his people and ended a national insanity that had taken 20 million Asian lives, 3.1 million Japanese lives and 60,000 Western ally lives. It was fought literally as a “holy war.”

Unfortunately the kind of pride that led Japan into such a senseless orgy of violence continued after the war with the denial of the “rape of Nanking,” the denial of the sexual abuse and killings of Korean and Chinese “comfort” women, and the denial of war crimes. Japanese school text books simply glossed over the atrocities as if they never happened.

The ultra-nationalist movement survives today with all its racist attitudes of superiority.

And unfortunately the issue of whaling has become a symbol of Japanese nationalistic intransigence. To give up whaling is a form of surrender and surrender is not a world the Japanese have ever really acknowledged.

Just as the Japanese civilians were asked to die for an insane form of ultra-nationalism, the whales are being sacrificed today to uphold Japanese pride. Today it is the whales and the dolphins that are the “shattered jewels” of the sea.

Hot cetacean blood has been poured steamily into the frigid waters of the Southern Ocean as a sacrifice to this pride. Knives slash the throats of dolphins in Taiji as their screams echo across the cove in a ritual sacrificial slaughter that screams out to the world, “We shall never surrender; we will do as we please, if for no other reason than to proclaim our contempt for those who brought dishonor and humiliation to the nation.”

Today those who dare to defend the lives of whales and dolphins are viewed as enemies of Japan and treated accordingly.

I know this first-hand, as Japan uses its economic and political power to persecute me personally.

And for this the dolphins must endure the unendurable and the whales must suffer the insufferable, just as the Emperor said those exact words to his people at the beginning of the American occupation.

To be fair, it was General Douglas MacArthur who organized Japan’s post-war whaling fleet as a means to provide cheap protein to the Japanese people. But what was ordered by the Americans 65 years ago has somehow come to be embraced as “tradition.”

The truth is that Japan does not have a tradition of whaling prior to the 20th Century. The first commercial shore-based whaling operations in Japan were established in 1911 by Norwegians and employed Norwegians.

There were indeed a few places where whaling had been practiced. In Wakayama and up north by the indigenous Ainu people in Hokkaido. Strangely, Japan outlawed traditional Ainu hunting of whales and fishing for salmon and at the same time proclaimed that the traditional whaling operations in Wakayama were now the traditions of a nation that did not know much about whaling prior to World War II.

To say that because whaling was practiced in a few villages in Wakayama is the foundation for a national tradition is like saying the Texas rattlesnake round-up or the Higgins Pennsylvania pigeon shoot is a national tradition in the United States.

Joji Morishita is the primary mouthpiece for the whaling industry. He defends whaling religiously and spares no expense on propaganda in order to defend it.

"When we hear that the rest of the world is against Japan, we say: ‘Wait, wait. What is the rest of the world?' As a government, we cannot say to our communities: ‘Give up your way of life because the Western powers and some activists say this is an intelligent animal.’ We are prepared to protect the way of life for our small communities."

And yet he acknowledges that Japan does not extend the same principle to its own indigenous Ainu community.

How much longer will the whales and dolphins endure the unendurable by dying for the sin of Japanese pride? How much longer must they be viciously slaughtered in the name of nationalism?

We are not asking for Japan to surrender. We are simply saying that the merciless slaughter of whales and dolphins is not to Japan's advantage.

Categories: Community

Japan Intends to Blatantly Violate International Law with an Announcement to Kill Whales Despite Rulings by the ICJ and the IWC

Sea Shepherd - Wed, 24/06/2015 - 01:55
Japan Intends to Blatantly Violate International Law with an Announcement to Kill Whales Despite Rulings by the ICJ and the IWC

 A whaler aboard Japanese ship Yushin Maru No. 3 uses a rifle to shoot a harpooned and dying minke whaleFile photo: A whaler aboard Japanese ship
Yushin Maru No. 3 uses a rifle to shoot a
harpooned and dying minke whale
Photo: Sea ShepherdThe Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) reports that the Japanese NEWREP-A proposal, which would kill 3,996 minke whales over the next 12 years for “lethal research,” has failed to demonstrate any need to hunt whales for scientific research.

Japan has declared its intent to continue hunting whales in the Southern Ocean regardless. At a press conference in Tokyo on Friday following the release of the IWC report, Japan's IWC Commissioner, Joji Morishita, said that Japan’s plans remain unchanged.

"We of course intend to resume whaling again this year," Morishita told a news conference.

Despite its determination that Japan had failed to demonstrate the need for lethal research, the Scientific Committee noted they could not make definitive findings on NEWREP-A, because the plan contained “insufficient information.” The IWC had been expected to decide whether NEWREP-A addressed the issues that led to Japanese whaling being ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last year.

Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd founder and senior strategic advisor for Sea Shepherd USA, is confident that the IWC will continue to reject Japan’s attempts to illegally renew commercial whaling under the NEWREP-A plan.

“Japan insists they are a nation that adheres to the rule of law, yet the International Court of Justice has ruled and their verdict was that Japan’s whaling is not ‘scientific research.’ Not only is Japan now spitting in the eye of the ICJ, they are impudently rejecting the decisions of the IWC. They are acting like a rogue nation when it comes to international conservation law,” said Captain Paul Watson. “Japan cannot demonstrate any new science to the IWC to justify their illegal activities for the simple reason that the science does not exist; it never has and no matter how much they dress it up, the plan is flawed scientifically.”

In February, a 10-person expert panel selected by the IWC’s Scientific Committee, including four U.S. representatives, took the bold step of rejecting Japan’s latest whaling plan, finding that it lacks a legitimate scientific basis.

The full Scientific Committee’s report agreed with the expert panel on most points, finding that Japan has not substantiated the need to kill whales in order to support either of these research objectives, and recommending that Japan suspend its scientific whaling program while it tests non-lethal research methods such as satellite tagging, analysis of biopsy samples, and aerial photography and tracking.

Among the materials considered by the Scientific Committee was a letter from a group of 500 scientists from 30 countries, who voiced their strong opposition to NEWREP-A on the grounds that it is scientifically “unacceptable per se” and embodies a “serious mistake in the scientific method” by giving methodology (i.e., lethal whaling) prevalence over objectives, despite the availability of superior non-lethal techniques. The 500 scientists concluded that NEWREP-A is not scientific in nature, but rather “the result of commercial and political interests,” which “seriously undermines science.”

In March 2014, the ICJ concluded a case brought by Australia and New Zealand, finding that Japan’s previous whaling program (known as “JARPA II”) violated international law. JARPA II authorized the killing of as many as 935 minke whales, 50 endangered fin whales, and 50 humpback whales every year in the Southern Ocean. Between 2005 and 2014, Japan killed about 3,600 minke whales and 18 fin whales under JARPA II.

The ICJ ruled that Japan had failed to provide a legitimate scientific justification for its lethal whaling, and that its whaling under JARPA II was thus in violation of the international commercial whaling moratorium and the prohibition on commercial whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. The ICJ held that Japan must revoke existing permits and refrain from granting any more permits under JARPA II.

In response to the ICJ decision, Japan suspended its Southern Ocean whale hunt during the 2014-2015 season. However, last fall, Japan introduced NEWREP-A, the plan that the Scientific Committee rejected Friday.

“Japan is either bluffing or they have lost the plot entirely. They simply cannot go whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary under the guise of scientific research without the approval of the IWC. If they do, it will invalidate the very reason that the IWC exists and it will broadcast to the world that Japan has no respect for international conservation law,” said Captain Watson. “Sea Shepherd expects the international community to strongly condemn and to censure any attempts by Japan to ignore their obligations to the rule of law.”

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