Archive for September, 2011

Louise Hall – 

The American man dubbed the ”honeymoon killer” should not face trial in the US despite widespread public anger at a plea deal that saw him serve just 18 months in an Australian jail, an international law expert says.

 

The state of Alabama intends to try Gabe Watson on charges of murder and kidnapping stemming from the death of his wife Tina during a scuba diving trip on the Great Barrier Reef in 2003.

 

The trial, scheduled for February, will be a violation of the principle of double jeopardy, under which a person cannot be prosecuted twice for the same offence or conduct, Dr Melanie O’Brien will tell a crime conference today.

 

Dr O’Brien, a research fellow with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security at Griffith University, said Alabama authorities had attempted to circumvent the principle of double jeopardy by trying Watson for murder and kidnapping, rather than manslaughter.

 

”This second trial over in Alabama shouldn’t be happening, regardless of the fact many people don’t think justice was served by his 18 months [jail sentence],” she said yesterday.

 

Under a plea deal with the Queensland Director of Public Prosecutions, Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was deported to the US at the end of his imprisonment. He was extradited from California to his home state of Alabama for two capital murder offences.

 

In April, Watson’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges, based in part on double jeopardy, and that it was a ”vindictive prosecution”. The judge did not rule on double jeopardy. However, he did find that the prosecution had the right to establish jurisdiction through evidence.

 

The trial, which is expected to last three weeks and call on a dozen Australians to give evidence, has twice been delayed because of budget cuts to courthouse security staff.

 

Watson, on bail and living with his second wife, will not be given the death penalty under a deal struck by the Australian government, but if found guilty, he faces a maximum life sentence without parole.

Full story…

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BBC News –

Officials are still investigating the source of pollution which turned part of the River Neath orange and its effect on the environment.

Members of the public alerted Environment Agency Wales (EAW) after discolouration was spotted on Friday along a 10km (6.2 mile) area.

The agency said the main stretch of the river and the Garwed Brook were running clear, but there were still problems downstream towards Aberdulais.

A number of dead fish have been found.

Gavin Bown, spokesman for Environment Agency Wales, said: “We are in the process of assessing the impact of the incident and whether it is feasible to rescue any fish in distress.

“Our priority is to minimise the impact of the pollution on the local environment and investigate how and why this has happened.”

One theory is that iron ore pollution leaked from an old mine to run into the river.

Riverside resident Cliff Davies, of nearby Abergarwed, near Neath, said: “There is severe pollution, it is bright orange.

“Iron ore turns water this sort of orange colour like rust.

“But it looks just like somebody has tipped tankers of orange juice into the river.”

Local fisherman Lee Jefford, 29, said: “It was nice and clear water and then it turned brown.

Full story…

Snorkeling for gold !

Posted: 09/29/2011 in all marine news

The Star –

St. Joseph Bay has been teeming with treasure hunters from as far away as Michigan searching for the lost golden scallop treasure.

Thousands of scallopers registered for the first-ever underwater treasure hunt and enjoyed the last two weeks of the season with bountiful harvests and if lucky, a golden scallop.

Of the 100 golden scallops, 17 were discovered and redeemed for fabulous prizes up to $500.  Although there were two valiant efforts at winning the $20,000 grand prize, the lucky treasure hunters will have to return next year for another shot at the fortune. 

Susan Tew, of Panama City, just recently discovered the recreational pastime of scalloping and is hooked.  

Spending every spare second of the last month in St. Joseph Bay finally paid off with less than an hour of the treasure hunt remaining.  At 4:10 pm on Saturday, Susan and her husband Hal swam upon a golden scallop.  

They jumped in their boat, called Bluewater Outriggers to see if they still had time to make it to claim their prize, and sped towards the Port St. Joe city boat ramp.  

Full story…

Charles Haviland – 

The government of the Maldives has complained after the UK’s Daily Telegraph website carried a satirical blog post saying the island nation is to be omitted from the Times Atlas of the World.

The supposed omission was said to be due to impending climate change.

The low-lying islands of the Maldives are at risk from rising sea levels. The spoof blog post was taken seriously by several media outlets in the Maldives.

The Telegraph blog post was written by a climate change sceptic, James Delingpole.

On Monday, scientists said the new edition of the Times Atlas had exaggerated the scale of ice-cover reduction in another part of the world, Greenland.

Mr Delingpole’s blog said the next edition of the famous atlas would continue what he called its “Climate Change alarmism”, by completely erasing some very low-lying areas – the Maldives, Tuvalu and “major parts of Bangladesh”.

He quoted a fictitious “spokesman” for the atlas as saying that in map-making, “emotional truth” was more important than actual truth.

Full story…

David Rider – 

The International Maritime Bureau had previously warned of potential activity in the area and, ironically, on the day of the first attempted attack (as described by the IMB’s Live Piracy Reporting Centre), September 21st, Defence analyst Helmeod-Römer Heitman told a security seminar in Pretoria that: “Both sides [of the channel] are not particularly densely populated, are seriously under-policed and there is a lot of shipping going through.”

The two incidents we draw attention to took place on September 21st and 23rd in the area of the Glorioso Islands in the Northern Mozambique Channel, off the coast of Madagascar.

In the attempted attack on September 21st, the IMB report stated that the crew of a container ship underway at position 12:46.6S-046:18.5E spotted two skiffs at 0643 UTC, with three to four people aboard each skiff at a distance of approximately 1.5nm. The skiffs increased speed to around 18 knots and approached the container ship from different sides. The vessel carried out evasive manoeuvres and enforced anti-piracy measures which led to the skiffs breaking off their pursuit after around 25 minutes.

The second attempted attack, on September 23rd, took place at 0850 UTC, when a bulk carrier underway at position 12:16.1S-043:19.5E noticed two blue-coloured skiffs at a distance of approximately 1nm. The Master raised the alarm and alerted the armed security team onboard the carrier.

The skiffs approached at a speed of 20 knots and the IMB report notes that the occupants were armed with RPG- 7s. As the skiffs came to within 300 metres of the bulk carrier, they spotted the armed security team, reduced their approach speed and circled the vessel for a few minutes before moving away. No shots were reportedly fired by the armed Vessel Protection Team.

Full story…

Mike Schuler – 

According to several reports this morning, Iran is threatening to send warships to the U.S. East Coast in a shocking threat to the United States.  The threats come as Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari spoke at a ceremony marking the 31st anniversary of the start of the Iran-Iraq War.

At the ceremony, Sayyari declared “Like the arrogant powers that are present near our marine borders, we will also have a power presence close to American marine borders.”

Iranian navy officials said their ships may go as far as the Gulf of Mexico, and Iran may seek to establish a direct military hotline with the U.S., according to reports from the Iranian press.

The Pentagon, however, does not seem to concerned, dismissing any claims that Iran can pull off an operation of this magnitude.

A report from the ArmyTimes quotes Pentagon spokesman George Little, “We’ll have to see what they do or don’t do after these statements… Whether they can truly project naval power is a question in itself.”

Full story…

Jakarta Globe – 

A stampede on a docked ferry in Indonesia’s East Java left at least eight dead and dozens injured, an official said on Wednesday. More than 500 passengers panicked when they heard an explosion around dawn aboard the KM Kirana IX, docked at the Tanjung Perak port in the provincial capital of Surabaya.

“The people heard the sound and started rushing off the boat. At least three people have died, we are expecting more, and others have been taken to hospital,” port official Marzuki said.

The vessel’s owner, Bambang Haryo, told Metro TV that the blast occurred inside a truck onboard the ferry, causing a small fire to break out. The cause of the explosion was unknown.

“It was a small fire and it hasn’t caused any damage,” Haryo said.

On Monday, another ferry serving the same route to the city of Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan province on Indonesian Borneo collided with a tugboat and caught fire, killing three and injuring more than 100.

Full story…