Oslo considers gifting peak
The government is pondering an unusual birthday gift for neighbor Finland: an Arctic mountain peak. Mount Halti is the highest mountain in Finland, but its 1,365m summit is in Norway. To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of Finland’s declaration of independence from Russia on Dec. 6, 1917, a group of Norwegians is urging the government to move a point on its border with Finland about 150m to the north and 198m to the east. Halti’s peak would become the highest point in Finland, surpassing a spur of the mountain that tops out at 1,324m. “There are a few formal difficulties, and I have not yet made my final decision, but we are looking into it,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told national broadcaster NRK this week. The proposed gift is the brainchild of Bjorn Geirr Harsson, a 76-year-old retired employee of the Norwegian Mapping Authority, who came up with the idea in 1972, when he was taking measurements while flying across the border.
Pope visits Auschwitz
Pope Francis on Friday walked in the footsteps of his two predecessors as he visited the former extermination camp at Auschwitz, where he paid silent homage to the more than 1 million victims, mostly Jews, who perished there during the Holocaust. Right before his visit, Francis said he “would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds.” He said he intended to go “alone, enter, pray,” adding: “And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.” The pope began his visit to Auschwitz — in what is now the Polish town known as Oswiecim, about 48.3km west of Krakow — by meeting 12 survivors of the camp. He greeted them, one by one, mostly in silence, expressing his sorrow and respect by clutching their hands, looking into their eyes and kissing them tenderly, once on each cheek.
Drones to help save vaquita
The government has launched drones to back last-ditch efforts to prevent illegal fishing activities that have led to the near extinction of the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise. The navy and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday unveiled three Arcturus T-20 unpiloted aerial vehicles, armed with high-resolution cameras to police the upper Gulf of California day and night. It is the latest step taken by the government to save the vaquita, a species found only in a small area of Mexico’s northwest gulf. “There is a lot left to be done and time is a decisive factor,” Secretary of the Navy Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberon said. “We can’t allow our seas to see another species disappear.”
Kilauea lava flow hits ocean
The lava flow from Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano vent has attracted thousands of visitors since it began oozing down in May and finally reached the ocean this week. Keaka Hunter, a security guard patrolling the area, said about 2,000 people visited to see the flow on Monday night last week, hours before the lava entered the ocean for the first time in nearly three years. Previous days drew an average of about 1,000 people. The US Geological Survey is warning visitors about safety risks, which include flying debris and acidic plume containing fine volcanic particles that can irritate the eyes, skin and lungs. The new land might also be unstable, because it is built on unconsolidated lava fragments and sand, which can easily be eroded by surf.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”