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China says the establishment of the zone is aimed at “safeguarding state sovereignty” [Reuters]
|Tokyo has branded as “very dangerous” a move by Beijing to set up an “air defence identification zone” over an area that includes disputed islands controlled by Japan, but claimed by China.
In a move that raised the temperature of a bitter territorial row between the two countries, China’s defence ministry said that it was setting up the zone to “guard against potential air threats”.
It later scrambled air force jets, including fighter planes, to carry out a patrol mission on Saturday in the newly-established zone.
The outline of the zone, which is shown on the Chinese defence ministry website and a state media Twitter account , covers a wide area of the East China Sea between South Korea and Taiwan that includes airspace above the Tokyo-controlled islands known as the Senkaku to Japan and Diaoyu to China.
Junichi Ihara, who heads the Japanese foreign ministry’s Asian and Oceanian affairs bureau, lodged a protest by phone to Han Zhiqiang, minister at the Chinese Embassy in Japan, the ministry said in a statement.
He said Japan could “never accept the zone set up by China” as it includes the Tokyo-controlled islands, the statement said.
Ihara also told the Chinese side that such a move by Beijing would “escalate” current bilateral tensions over the islands.
Akitaka Saiki, Japan’s vice foreign minister, plans to summon the Chinese ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, as early as possible on Monday and state Japan’s position on the matter, Kyodo news agency reported.
A Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman, Yang Yujun, said the establishment of the zone, which became operational on Saturday morning, was aimed at “safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial land and air security, and maintaining flight order”.
“It is a necessary measure in China’s exercise of self-defence rights. It has no particular target and will not affect the freedom of flight in relevant airspace,” Yang said in a statement on the ministry’s website Saturday.
“China will take timely measures to deal with air threats and unidentified flying objects from the sea, including identification, monitoring, control and disposition, and it hopes all relevant sides positively cooperate and jointly maintain flying safety,” he said.
Along with the creation of the zone in the East China Sea, the defence ministry released a set of aircraft identification rules that must be followed by all planes entering the area, under penalty of intervention by the military.
Sino-Japanese relations have remained at a low-ebb for more than a year as a result of the dispute, which was revived when Japan nationalised three of the archipelago’s five islands in September 2012.
Over the weekend thousands of Canadians united in over 130 communities from coast to coast to coast to demand a safer climate and a cleaner energy future.
Saturday’s national day of action to defend our climate and our communities from tar sands and pipelines was a powerful day for me. I work in Ottawa, and it can be tough to be at the heart of politics that are driving the problems rather than the solutions.
The truth is, I needed Saturday. I needed to be reassured that Canadians are ready to stand up for what they believe in, and that this movement is growing. We are up against some of the wealthiest companies in the world, companies that depend on pollution for profit. And in Canada, we are facing governments that are doing everything they can to ensure nothing gets in the way of the oil industry.
Over the years, the environmental movement has written hundreds and hundreds of reports and had thousands of meetings with decision makers, and while these things remain important, what we really need is people power. We need decision-makers to realize that Canadians want climate change to be taken seriously for a clean energy future.
After all, this is about a safe climate now for people around the world, and a safe climate tomorrow for our children. Every parent wants the best for their children, and that is not what we are offering to give them right now. If we allow business as usual, we will be handing over a planet rife with disasters far worse than the tragedy we are already seeing today in the Philippines, the U.S. Midwest, and even our own backyards.
Former Irish Prime Minister and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, said over the weekend amidst the ongoing United Nations climate talks in Poland that, “[W]e need a forward-looking leadership, and that won’t come from Canadian politicians unless it comes from the Canadian people.” And being here in Ottawa, I can assure you that she is absolutely right. We need to demand the future we want and we need to do it loudly, often and clearly. We need more days like Saturday.
Saturday gives me the confidence to walk into a meeting and assure people that building fossil fuel infrastructure like new pipelines will never be easy again. That Canadians care more than ever about the environment, our shared climate and a clean energy economy. And that this movement is growing.
We will keep coming together, in bigger and bigger numbers until these demonstrations become celebrations of the clean and safe energy future that we deserve.
Villages in Andhra Pradesh were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India [AP]
|Days of torrential rains in southeast India have unleashed floods that have blocked roads, halted trains and forced the evacuation of nearly 70,000 people from hundreds of low-lying villages.
The Press Trust of India on Saturday cited Andhra Pradesh state officials as saying that 39 people had died in flood-related incidents since the rains began Monday.
Villages were inundated and crops were being ruined in the so-called Rice Bowl of India. Many drowned when swept away by surging waters or were killed when weakened walls collapsed onto them.
Railway services have also been suspended along routes where tracks were damaged.
The local Disaster Management Department said evacuated residents were sheltering in 178 camps, while relief workers in boats and helicopters were working to help or rescue hundreds of thousands stranded by floods that have swamped both coastal and inland regions along rivers.
The region was hit earlier this month by a powerful cyclone that prompted authorities to evacuate nearly a million people in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa states.
India’s Meteorological Department on Saturday forecast the rains to continue for at least another day.
- Tens of thousands flee India flooding; 39 dead (nzherald.co.nz)
- Floods follow storm havoc in eastern India – Asia – Al Jazeera English (olduvaiblog.wordpress.com)
What was to be the final day of hearings in Toronto on the controversial Line 9 pipeline was cancelled Saturday, as hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets to oppose energy company Enbridge’s plan to reverse the oil pipe and increase its capacity to carry crude.
“They try to make it seem like we’re not going to have a spill. And it’s very likely that a spill will happen somewhere along this line,” said protester Nigel Barriffe, who lives near Line 9 in northwest Toronto.
Enbridge was to make its closing submissions to the National Energy Board on its plan to reverse the line, so it would flow from Southern Ontario to Montreal, and increase its capacity to move crude oil.
But the National Energy Boardannounced late Friday that Saturday’s hearings were off, saying the way the previous day’s hearings ended raised concerns about the security of participants. Protesters were out in force for Friday’s panel hearing, but there was no violence during that demonstration or Saturday’s rally.
- Line 9 pipeline hearing postponed after protests
- Pipeline plan threatens First Nations communities, NEB hears
On Friday, protesters, many gathered under the banner of the Idle No More movement, first milled outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to rally against the Line 9 pipeline and to show solidarity with demonstrations at New Brunswick’s Elsipogtog First Nation against a shale-gas project. They were eventually allowed in slowly, after the NEB determined that there were enough seats.
After an anti-Line 9 deputant completed her official submissions to the NEB panelists, the demonstrators began chanting and moving up to the front of the room toward the panel.
There was a brief scuffle with security. Then the NEB panel members were escorted by security and police out of the room, as was an Enbridge representative.
The NEB didn’t provide a date for when Enbridge will present the closing arguments that had been slated for Saturday.
Protest organizer Amanda Lickers said the NEB should have found a way to let Enbridge make its case in support of the reversal.
“I think that if they were really concerned about security, they could have still done it over the web…. There could have been ways to make the presentation happen.”
Critics cite environmental risks
The panel heard this week from interveners stating the reversal would put First Nations communities at risk, threaten water supplies and could endanger vulnerable species in ecologically sensitive areas.
Jan Morrissey of a Toronto residents’ group showed up early Saturday morning for the hearing, only to learn it was cancelled.
Morrissey said she’s disappointed she won’t get to hear Enbridge’s final reply to arguments made to the board by critics of the reversal.
“It’s sort of like reading a book and not getting to see the last chapter,” she said.
The pipeline reversal would increase the line’s capacity to 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day, up from the current 240,000 barrels.
Enbridge has also asked for permission to move different types of oil, including a heavier form of crude from the Alberta oilsands.
Opponents say the crude Enbridge wants to transport is more corrosive and will stress the aging infrastructure and increase the chance of a leak.
But Enbridge has said what will flow through the line will not be a raw oilsands product — although there will be a mix of light crude and processed bitumen.
Line 9 originally shuttled oil from Sarnia, Ont., to Montreal but was reversed in the late 1990s in response to market conditions to pump imported crude westward.
Enbridge is now proposing to flow oil back eastward to service refineries in Ontario and Quebec.
The company has experienced several devastating spills on its pipelines, including one in Michigan that leaked 3.3 million litres of oil into the Kalamazoo River and has already cost the company more than $1 billion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes there is at least 684,000 litres of bitumen still in the river.
- Final day of Enbridge Line 9 pipeline hearings cancelled over security concerns (globalnews.ca)
- Line 9 hearings by National Energy Board overtaken by protest (cbc.ca)
- Enbridge pipeline: Toronto criticizes emergency plans (metronews.ca)
- Thousands march against GMOs, Monsanto across Canada (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- CBC: N.B. shale gas solidarity protests spread to other regions (sacredfirenb.wordpress.com)
- Anti-fracking protesters torch cop cars in New Brunswick (washingtontimes.com)
Anti-austerity protesters in Rome threw eggs and firecrackers at the Finance Ministry during a march Saturday to oppose cuts to welfare programs and a shortage in low-income housing. Police said 11 people were detained.
More than 4,000 riot police were dispatched to maintain order as some 25,000 protesters marched through the capital on Saturday. There were moments of tension when demonstrators passed near the headquarters of an extreme-right group, but police intervened when a few bottles were thrown.
Later, demonstrators threw eggs, firecrackers and smoke bombs outside the Finance Ministry. Police reacted by dispersing the protesters, detaining 11 of the demonstrators. There were no reports of injuries.
Ahead of the march police detained some anarchists believed to pose a security threat.
The protests were accompanied Friday by a 24-hour nationwide strike that caused disruptions for travellers. Train service was guaranteed in most cities for morning and evening commutes, but airports in Rome, Naples, Milan and Bologna had to cancel some flights. Some school and health workers also went on strike.
The USB and COBAS unions organized Friday’s strike to protest austerity measures reducing transportation budgets. USB union co-ordinator Pierpaolo Leonardi accused the Italian government of imposing EU directives without concern for the impact on workers.
A smaller protest of about 600 workers was held in Milan.
- PHOTOS: Anti-austerity protest rips through Rome (photos.denverpost.com)
- Anti-austerity protesters throw eggs, firecrackers outside Finance Ministry in Rome (globalnews.ca)
- Italian anti-austerity protesters clash with police (scooprocket.com)
- Tens of thousands clash with Italian police in anti-austerity protests (theglobeandmail.com)
- Italian protesters take on police during mass march against austerity budget (PHOTOS) (giftoftruth.wordpress.com)