Khamis, 10 April 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Japan kills 251 minke whales

Posted: 09 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

TOKYO: Japan killed 251 minke whales during the 2014 Antarctic hunt, in what is expected to be the last "research whaling" mission in the Southern Ocean after an international court ruling.

According to data released by Japan's Fisheries Agency on Tuesday, the catch was more than double last year's tally of 103 minke whales, but much smaller than the target of 935.

The whalers caught no fin whales during the hunt, which ran between Jan 3 and March 13, the agency said.

Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which bans commercial hunting, but has insisted its operation was research – even though it acknowledged the meat from the animals ended up on dinner tables.

Militant environmentalist group Sea Shepherd has annually sent its vessels to the Southern Ocean to confront the whalers, and has in the past taken credit for the vastly-reduced catch.

The United Nations' International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled last week that the programme was a commercial hunt disguised as science, vindicating claims by opponents, notably Australia.

In the wake of the verdict, Japan said it was cancelling the annual Antarctic mission for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

Japan has another research whaling programme that operates in the northwestern Pacific.

This hunt, which is not affected by the court ruling, operates two excursions a year, in coastal waters and offshore, from early summer through autumn.

Last year's whaling in the area netted 58 minke whales in coastal waters and 132 mammals – including minke, sei and sperm whales – offshore.

Analysts say Japan will likely have to review this programme in the Pacific in light of the UN court ruling.

Japanese fishermen also catch a small number of whales in coastal waters under an IWC provision allowing for small-scale "indigenous whaling". — AFP

Modi files nomination papers

Posted: 09 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

VADODARA: Indian election front-runner Narendra Modi waved to thousands of cheering supporters as he filed his papers to stand in the country's mammoth six-week election which entered its second of nine phases.

Modi, a hardline Hindu nationalist widely tipped to emerge as prime minister when results are published on May 16, is standing from the Vadodara constituency in the western state of Gujarat.

Making a rare public outing in a jeep yesterday, Modi waved at crowds waving the saffron-coloured flag of his Bharatiya Janata Party, which is forecast to inflict a crushing defeat on the ruling Congress party.       In the remote northeast of the country meanwhile, voting began amid tight security in constituencies in four insurgency-wracked states close to the disputed border with China.

Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland are the second wave of voting in the election process which has been staggered to allow security forces to re-deploy in between stages.

Voters flocked early to polling stations in Arunachal Pradesh, an eastern stretch of the Himalayas that China claims as its own, despite pouring rain overnight, the Press Trust of India reported.

During campaigning in February in the area, the scene of a 1962 war between India and China, Modi had warned Beijing to shed its "expansionist mindset".

Hundreds of extra security forces have been deployed in neighbouring and under-developed Nagaland, where rebels from tribal groups have waged a decades-long campaign for more rights.

Security was also tight in nearby Meghalaya, where ethnic and separatist groups have also long fought against the state, and the border with Bangladesh has been closed, Press Trust of India news agency said.

Six seats were up for grabs yesterday ahead of the third phase of voting today which will be by far the biggest to date with constituencies in 14 states including the capital region heading to the ballot box.

The opposition BJP is expected to sweep to power in the world's biggest election at a time of low economic growth as well as anger over corruption and rising food prices.

As well as a Vadodara, Modi is also set to stand from a second seat in the northern holy Hindu city of Varanasi on the river Ganges in the battleground state of Uttar Pradesh. — AFP

Chinese man covered with 460,000 bees for honey stunt

Posted: 10 Apr 2014 07:32 AM PDT

BEIJING: A Chinese beekeeper covered his semi-naked body in more than 460,000 bees for a publicity stunt aimed at selling more of his honey, he told AFP Thursday, using a technique known as "bee bearding." 

She Ping, a 34-year-old honey merchant from the southwestern Chinese metropolis of Chongqing, covered himself in bees that collectively weighed more than 45kg (100 pounds) in a display for a group of French photographers on Wednesday. 

Bee bearding is a global pursuit, and Indian Vipin Seth holds the world record for wearing a mantle of bees weighing 61.4kg (135 lbs), according to Guinness World Records' official video channel. 

Participants generally attract the bees by placing a queen bee in a small cage hanging from their body. 

"To be honest I felt very nervous, but I do it to promote my honey," She said, adding: "I'm used to dealing with bees... and started these activities when I was about 22." 

Chongqing has emerged as a hotspot for bee bearders, with several other local honey merchants taking part, and honey shops with signs showing them covered in the insects visible in the city. 

She said he was stung more than 20 times during the 40-minute stunt. 

"The main preparation is avoiding taking a shower, especially avoiding using soap because it can excite the bees," he said. 

China is one of the world's major producers of honey, though its exports have been banned in several countries due to fears of counterfeiting. 

She admitted that his attempt fell short of a world record, but claims the record for carrying out the stunt without any clothes. 

"Of the people who do it naked, I'm probably the most awesome," he said. - AFP


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