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Category: efhqi

Britney is back: Pop princess Spears takes the stage in San Diego in first recent performance

first_img 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAN DIEGO — Britney Spears strutted her way back to center stage with a short, sexy set at the House of Blues believed to be her first public concert appearance in nearly three years. The erstwhile pop star, more recently derided as a pop tart for her highly public forays into midnight carousing, appeared to be back in top form. The 25-year-old mother of two went onstage late Tuesday wearing nothing more than knee-high go-go boots with a short white skirt and a sparkly pink bra top that showed off her belly button ring _ and no evidence of the weight gain that landed her on celebrity tabloid covers last year. A long brown wig completed the outfit, covering the head she shaved in February. She launched a short set with her classic “Baby One More Time,” using a cafe chair as a burlesque prop while she pranced around the small club stage backed up by four dancers. “She’s so good!” yelled San Diego hairstylist Ally Murray, 29, as Spears showed off her aerobic choreography. Spears sped through the songs _ all standards from her earlier albums _ wrapping up after less than 15 minutes. She gave a shy goodbye before an old Madonna song came on over the sound system. “Thanks everyone for coming,” she told the packed club. The comeback didn’t hit a high note for everyone, some of whom paid upward of $125 a ticket. “It looked like she lip-synched her way through the whole thing,” said a disappointed Morgan Segall, 20, who flew in from San Francisco for the night. The performance, under heavy club security, was shrouded in mystery. The club marquee advertised a show by “The M&Ms,” and it wasn’t until an hour after the doors opened that a disc jockey mentioned Spears’ name, prompting shrieks from girls jammed in front of the stage. Rumors of a Spears show had spread on the Internet and via local radio stations late last week, prompting a run on tickets by die-hard fans. Spears’ last concert tour ended in summer 2004. Earlier this year, she told fans she hoped for career comeback. “I look forward to coming back this year bigger and better than ever,” Spears wrote on her Web site in January, also noting she’d “been far from perfect.” “Whatever, we love her,” said Raul Flores, 22, who waved a foam placard of his favorite pop star at the club exit. “She’s amazing.” In March, Spears completed a stint at a luxury Malibu rehabilitation treatment facility after a series of run-ins with the paparazzi that included a stop at a San Fernando Valley hair salon, where she was caught on video shearing her own locks. Other photographs splashed across the Internet appeared to reveal Spears went out partying wearing nothing underneath her short skirts. She was seen going out with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan after filing for divorce from aspiring rapper Kevin Federline last November, just two months after giving birth to their second child, Jayden James. The pair also have an older son, Sean Preston, now 20 months. The two reached a divorce settlement in March. At one point in the show, Spears and her posse played at taunting a male dancer who, dressed in a natty gray suit, looked vaguely like Federline. “The M&Ms” had two other concerts scheduled at House of Blues venues in Southern California _ one in Anaheim on Wednesday and the other Thursday in West Hollywood _ according to the club’s Web site.last_img read more

Spider-killing spiders found

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Researchers scouring the remote forests of Madagascar have made a spidery find: Tiny assassin spiders, grotesque-looking bugs that prey on other spiders, are more diverse than previously thought. Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco have documented nine new species of assassin spiders during a four-year expedition through rain and deciduous forests in the African island nation. “The western part of the island has been so little studied that we expected to find new types of assassin spiders,” said Charles Griswold, a curator at the academy. The newly discovered species could shed light on how assassin spiders evolved, and perhaps point scientists to other places in Madagascar where other types could be located. The bizarre-looking assassin spiders used to be widely found around the world, but they now live in Madagascar, Australia and South Africa. About a dozen species of assassin spiders were previously discovered. Assassin spiders, which grow to less than an eighth of an inch long, are notorious for stabbing helpless spiders with their sharp, venom-filled fangs attached to super-sized jaws. Assassin spiders also possess very long necks so they can attack their prey from a distance. Assassin spiders do not spin webs to entrap their prey and they pose no threat to humans, Griswold said. In the latest research, field teams from California and Madagascar set traps in the western part of the island over a four-year period. More than a million bugs, including the species of assassin spiders, were collected and studied. Some assassin spiders will be shipped to a museum in Madagascar and others will be preserved for future study, Griswold said. The research was partly funded by the National Science Foundation.last_img read more

Shingles vaccine approved for seniors’ use

first_imgSharon Smith, 68, of Portland, Ore., participated in the Zostavax trials in March 2000, but she received a placebo, or dummy injection, instead of the actual vaccine. That October, she developed shingles. After two emergency room visits and a short hospital stay, Smith remained on pain medication until May 2001, when her searing pain finally ebbed. “I used to say it was like someone pouring hot oil over my head. At points, I would be stricken with this pain after the initial shingles began, it would just literally bring me to my knees. It was almost indescribable,” Smith said. She added: “I didn’t know you got over it. That is a very devastating thought, that you could be facing that pain forever. It could ruin your life.” Zostavax is based on Merck’s chickenpox vaccine, Varivax, but is 14 times more potent. The FDA approved Varivax in 1995 and a majority of American children now receive it. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles. Merck estimates that half of all people who reach age 85 will develop shingles during their lifetime. The vaccine’s long-term effectiveness remains unclear. Merck has shown that it works for at least four years, and the company plans to track patients for a decade. Merck also pledged to further study the vaccine’s safety after patients in clinical trials suffered a slightly higher number of serious side effects than did those who received dummy injections, the FDA said. Currently, there is no evidence the vaccine was to blame, the agency added. The approval is welcome news for Merck, which faces thousands of lawsuits over its withdrawn painkiller Vioxx. It’s also just one of several vaccines for which the Whitehouse Station, N.J., company has received – or soon expects to receive – FDA approval. They include RotaTeq, a vaccine against a common, sometimes dangerous gastrointestinal virus in children, approved in February; and ProQuad, a combined vaccine against measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox, approved in September. And early in June, Merck hopes the FDA will approve its Gardasil vaccine against human papillomavirus, the main cause of cervical cancer. European and Australian health officials earlier this month approved the shingles vaccine, Merck said. The company is eyeing the roughly 50 million Americans and 100 million Europeans age 60 and older as its largest markets for the single-dose vaccine. The vaccine could become a $1 billion or more a year seller for Merck, said analyst Steve Brozak, with WBB Securities in Westfield, N.J. A dose will cost $152.50. “Anything that doesn’t have to do with Vioxx should be perceived as good news,” said Brozak, adding that the approval is a “breath of fresh air” for the company. Merck shares rose 17 cents to close at $34.56 on the New York Stock Exchange.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – A new and more potent version of the chickenpox vaccine has won federal approval to prevent shingles, the often excruciatingly painful disease that can strike the elderly when the chickenpox virus emerges after lying dormant for decades. The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it had licensed the vaccine, Zostavax, to reduce the risk of shingles in adults 60 and older. The Merck & Co. Inc. vaccine is only for adults who previously have had chickenpox. There are roughly 1 million new U.S. cases of shingles each year. It typically affects the elderly, though anyone with a weakened immune system is vulnerable. The vaccine is not meant for anyone with HIV or who is on immune-suppressing drugs, including transplant patients, said Norman Baylor, director of the FDA’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review. Shingles can cause itching, burning and tingling, as well as a distinctive red rash that develops into pus-filled blisters that later break open and form scabs. Pain can persist in some patients for months or years. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2“This vaccine gives health care providers an important tool that can help prevent an illness that affects many older Americans and often results in significant chronic pain,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Shingles, also called herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates and resumes reproducing after a long dormancy in nerve cells in the body. Zostavax does not prevent the initial infection by the virus, nor does it treat active cases of shingles. Instead, the vaccine helps prevent the re-emergence or resurgence of the virus by boosting a patient’s immunity, Goodman said. Merck research showed the vaccine reduced the incidence of shingles by half and pain and discomfort by nearly two-thirds. “This is going to be the first product of any kind, vaccine or anything else, that can prevent shingles,” said Dr. Jeffrey Silber, senior director of clinical research on biologics and vaccines for Merck Research Laboratories. last_img read more

GAA NEWS: FOUR MASTERS CLUB SET TO LAUNCH NEW WEBSITE

first_imgFour Masters GAA Club Notes Well done: It was a great weekend for Four Masters as Senior Reserves and Senior teams won their games against Malin. Great performances. Huge well done to all players and Management Teams.  New website: Four Masters GAA will launch a new website on Thursday 11th July at 8pm sharp. New Club gear will also be launched. All welcome. Under 10’s: Damien Dunnion’s Under 10’s had a great day out on Saturday 6th July when they participated in a blitz at St. Nauls. Kilcar also brought along their Under 10’s to participate in the friendly. A great day was had by all. Three teams were put out from Four Masters and all three teams performed exceptionally well, winning every game. Well done to all involved and many thanks to St. Naul’s for organizing and providing such great hospitality.  First Aid: A first aid/defibrillator course is planned for Saturday 27th July. This is a certified, one full day course, valid for two years. The course will take place in the Abbey Hotel 10am – 4.30pm. This course is available for members of Four Masters GAA. For further information contact Deborah on 087 219 9730. Cul Camp: The Kellogs Cul Camp will be held in Tirchonaill Park at the end of July and beginning of August. The Football camp will be held from the 22nd to 26th July and the hurling/camogie camp will take place from 5th to the 9th of August. There will be a huge demand for places on these camps so please book ASAP. For further information please contact Pauric Harvey on 086 052 39 05 (football) or Shane Patton 086 088 65 76 (hurling/camogie). Camogie/Hurling: A fantastic evening on Friday 5th July saw the Tirchonail Park pitch full of young hurlers and camogs – with wins for the 1/2/3 year second level girls and the 5/6th class girls – both teams finishing their league campaigns against Na Magha from Derry. We also held a mini-U8-blitz for the Four Masters girls and boys playing Na Magha and Ballyshannon – great to see so many children playing hurling and camogie. Thank you to all who took part and to their parents for the support and refreshments. There will be another U8s blitzon Friday, 19th July in Four Masters. Four Masters Fundraiser: The Senior and Reserves Teams are having a fundraiser to cover the costs for each team. The fundraiser will take place on the Donegal Bay Waterbus, Friday July 12th. This promises to be a great night out, with lots of prizes to be won and all money going to a good cause. Tickets only cost €15 each and are available from Mickey Martin (0876198905), Rory O’Donnell (087 8872283) and Emlyn Hughes (087 9506 113).GAA NEWS: FOUR MASTERS CLUB SET TO LAUNCH NEW WEBSITE was last modified: July 8th, 2013 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:GAA NEWS: FOUR MASTERS CLUB SET TO LAUNCH NEW WEBSITElast_img read more

‘Eden Hazard’s Real Madrid application is going well’

first_imgLooks like Eden Hazard heard that Ronaldo has left Real Madrid so now he’s showing out for a transfer— Zito (@_Zeets) July 10, 2018 Hazard was sensational in the first-half 1 It was almost as though he had someone to impress.Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus was announced just hours before the game and Hazard is one of the favourites to take his place.He has made no secret of his desire to play for Real Madrid one day, and some fans believe he was seizing his opportunity to fill the newly-vacated superstar role at the Bernabeu.Here are some of the best tweets: Hazard to Madrid.. have to happen.. Hazard having fun tonight😅⚽️— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) July 10, 2018 By the look of things, there’s no way Hazard doesn’t join Real Madrid this summer.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) July 10, 2018 Hazard dripping with sauce on his Real Madrid trial. Tears in my eyes.— Títílayọ (@t_chels19x) July 10, 2018 Eden Hazard was on fire in Belgium’s World Cup semi-final defeat to France.Despite crashing out of the tournament, the Chelsea winger looked otherworldly as he toyed with Benjamin Pavard and caused Les Bleus countless problems.center_img Eden Hazard playing like there is a superstar vacancy at Real Madrid— ILKJ (@IanLeong93) July 10, 2018 Hazard playing like he has to impress someone 😉 Real Madrid calling #WorldCup#FRABEL pic.twitter.com/NLwQyRM46b— Robert (@robertpellikka) July 10, 2018 Early days but #Hazard is putting on some show for Ronaldo-less Real Madrid #cfc— Simon Johnson (@sjstandardsport) July 10, 2018 Hazard’s Real Madrid application is going really well— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 10, 2018 eden hazard saw the cristiano transfer and started playing for his freedom 😂— A West (@ayyy_west) July 10, 2018 Hazard surely has heard the news of Ronaldo’s Transfer to Juventus. He’s been putting in some ‘come and get me Real Madrid’ performance tonight.— Taofeek Oseni (@HEAD_MASTA) July 10, 2018last_img read more

‘TUBAISTE BHAILE MHÁNAIS’ AR TG4 ARÍS

first_imgSeo seans eile ag lucht féachana TG4 ‘Tubaiste Bhaile Mhánais’ a fheiceail arís an mhí seo chugainn.Clár faisnaise faoi thubaiste mianaigh i dTír Chonaill i 1943 inar maraíodh 19 fear óg as ceantar beag Gaeltachta i nDún na nGall nuair a phléasc mianach-mara ar thrá bhaile Mhánais, atá cúpla mile as baile an Mhullaigh Dhuibh.Fágadh an ceantar faoi ualach bróin agus tá daoine ann a mheasann gur fhág an fiosrúchán ag an am go leor eolais ar lár agus go ndearnadh iarracht bun-fhíricí na tubaiste a cheilt. I ‘dTubaiste Bhaile Mhánais’, buaileann an láithreoir Dónall Mac Ruairí leis an bheagán daoine a chonaic an t-uafás agus atá fós beo agus déanann sé iarracht a fháil amach cad go díreach a tharla ar an 10ú Bealtaine ar Thrá Bhaile Mhánais.An bhfuil fírinne sa tuairim áitiúil go bhféadfadh an eachtra a sheachaint, agus go ndearna na húdaráis iarracht an fhírinne a cheilt ina diaidh?Tá Pat Gallagher ar dhuine de na cainteoirí ar an chlár. Chaill sé a athair agus beirt uncail sa phléascadh, agus ní bhfuair sé amach faoin rud a tharla dóibh go dtí go raibh sé ina dhéagóir.Ó shin, tá sé lárnach i bhfeachtas chun cuimhní na heachtra a choinneáil i mbéal an phobail.Scríobh Pat leabhrán faoin chás i ndiaidh dó theacht ar ábhar sa chartlann náisiúnta a bhíodh faoi cheilt. Bhí sé mar urlabhraí do theaghlaigh na mbásaithe agus iad sa tóir ar leithscéal oifigiúil ó ionadaí Rialtas Bhaile Cliath i Mí na Nollag 2010.Is as Rann na Feirste, cóngarach do Bhaile Mhánais, don láithreoir, Dónall Mac Ruairí, agus d’fhás sé aníos ag éisteacht le scéalta is ráflaí faoin eachtra.Bhí a fhios aige gur tubaiste uafásach a bhí ann ach ba bheag a bhí ar eolas aige faoin na fáthanna ar tharla sé nó faoin na fáthanna nár tuairiscíodh móran é ina dhiaidh.Téann Dónall ar thuras chun iomlán an scéil a fháil amach. Cuireann sé na finnéithe sin atá fágtha, an chuid is mó acu sna h-ochtóidí agus sna nóchaidí anois, faoi agallamh agus le treoir ó Phat Gallagher téann sé tríd na doiciméadaí cartlainne a bhaineann leis an chás.Cluineann muid cur síos ó na finnéithe faoin tréimhse agus faoin uafás a tharla an oíche sin. Déanann an clár imscrúdú ar na fáthanna ar tharla an eachtra, agus fiosraítear cén fáth ar cuireadh an dara cailliúint bheatha ba mhó le linn na “Éigeandála” i bPoblacht na hÉireann faoi cheilt ar feadh na mblianta.Dúirt láithreoir an chláir, Dónall Mac Ruairí : “Ba rí-thábhachtach iarracht a dhéanamh sonraí iomlána thragóid mianaigh Bhaile Mhánais a fháil amach sular imigh an beagán finnéithe atá fágtha ar shlí na fírinne.Is drochscéal amach é faoi eachtra a ghoill go mór ar phobal Gaeltachta, pobal a mheas i gcónaí gur cailleadh 19 duine gan chúis, agus nach raibh aird ar a gcuid tuairimí faoin tubaiste.Ba deacair domsa a thuigbheáil cad chuige nach raibh níos mó eolais ag muintir Thír Chonaill faoin eachtra, gan trácht ar mhuintir na tíre ar fad. Ba chóir go mbeadh an scéal seo i mbéal an phobail go náisiúnta le go dtuigfí mar is ceart cad é go díreach a tharla ar an lá uafásach sin agus ó shin. ‘Tubaiste Bhaile Mhánais’ Dé Céadaoin 9ú Bealtaine 9.30 TG4‘TUBAISTE BHAILE MHÁNAIS’ AR TG4 ARÍS was last modified: May 7th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:‘TUBAISTE BHAILE MHÁNAIS’ AR TG4 ARÍSlast_img read more

MAN INJURED IN ROAD CRASH

first_imgA MOTORIST has been taken to hospital tonight after a car crash near Kilmacrennan.The male driver was involved in a single vehicle crash on the back road between Kilamcrennan and Ramelton.Two ambulances and fire crews have attended the scene of the crash which took place just before 9pm. Traffic diversions are in operation in the area.The motorist has been taken to Letterkenny General Hospital for treatment. His injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. MAN INJURED IN ROAD CRASH was last modified: March 10th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:kilmacrennanletterkennyRameltonroad crashlast_img read more

VIEWPOINT: AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE JACK AND JILL FOUNDATION

first_imgDear Supporter All this publicity about charity chief top ups is damaging. I’m writing this letter to clarify where the money donated to Jack & Jill goes and to urge supporters to stick with us, especially for those Christmas donations which we depend on to fund our home nursing care model into 2014.  While the Jack & Jill Foundation receives €519,00 which is 19% of the €2.7 million we need every year from the HSE, it is the general public that funds Jack & Jill. The money you donate funds intensive home nursing care for children with life limiting conditions from birth to 4 years old, as well as end of life care for children sent home to die. Our home nursing care model, that has supported 1,700 children since 1997, is nine times less expensive than hospital care, thus saving the State and the taxpayer millions every year. So the Jack & Jill Foundation funds the HSE and not the other way around. Having said that, we are very thankful for and depend on our HSE grant which covers the cost of our fundraising division in terms of accounts, HR, IT and our fundraising team, including my own salary as CEO and Chief Fundraiser. That means that money donated by our supporters goes directly to fund home nursing for the 300 children under our wing, including the salaries of 11 liaison nurses across the country and the funding of up to 64 hours per month per family.  As CEO, my salary is just under €90,000 today and I’ve been very open about that. For the first 6 years of running Jack & Jill I did not draw a salary for this busy role which is 7 days a week. I can assure you that I get no top up payments, no bonus, no pension. My salary is justified on the basis that since 1997 we have supported 1,700 children with home nursing care and raised €47 million privately while we’ve received only €4.5 million from the HSE. So my salary as a percentage of the fundraising I’ve done is less than 2%. I also want to remind our supporters of the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the Jack & Jill home nursing care model. I am very proud to say that we have one of the best qualified teams of paediatric nurses in the country. They give practical advice on caring for the child, really listen to the family and make representations on their behalf to the government and HSE. Families call this service the “gift of time”. Time to do the normal things that we all take for granted, like sleeping, working, shopping or taking the healthy children to the park in the knowledge that their sick child is well cared for at home. Furthermore, our end of life care model has no waiting list. Nursing is provided in the home within 24 hours, once the decision by the parents is made to take their child home to die. We listen to and help co-ordinate parents’ wishes at the time of the child’s death, liaising with expert counsellors. We cover 26 counties and are one of the only out of hour paediatric services providing hands on care in the home, funding up to 64 hours per month per family. The bottom line is that without the generosity of the General Public we would not exist. We also rely on the generosity of our network of volunteers who give their time free and our corporate partners. We work hard for every cent we raise, and we make every cent count, with every €16 raised funding one hour of home nursing care. On behalf of the families we support, we thank you for your continued support which keeps us going. Yours sincerely  Jonathan Irwin, CEO and Founder, Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation VIEWPOINT: AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE JACK AND JILL FOUNDATION was last modified: December 1st, 2013 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:VIEWPOINT: AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE JACK AND JILL FOUNDATIONlast_img read more

Shocking: Picture of car tyre being driven by Donegal motorist

first_imgGardai have issued a warning after a Donegal motorist was stopped while driving with a completely bald tyre.The motorist was stopped by Buncrana Gardai for not wearing a seatbelt.But upon closer inspection the car’s front passenger tyre was found to be defective as our picture shows.Road Safety Officer with Donegal County Council, Brian O’Donnell, appealed to motorists to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and have proper tyres coming into winter. Shocking: Picture of car tyre being driven by Donegal motorist was last modified: October 5th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

The Great Whaling Debate

first_imgA humpbacked whale frolicking in thewaters off Hermanus in the Western Cape.(Image: South African Tourism) Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu caststhe first vote in the Great Whaling Debate.(Image: Jennifer Stern) The counter registers Tutu’s vote.(Image: Jennifer Stern) Tutu admires the Sacred Ocean sculpturewhile sculptor Noel Ashton looks on.(Image: Jennifer Stern)Jennifer SternThe number of petitions that cross your inbox is an indication of how the internet has changed the way we live. We have instant access to information from around the globe and, more importantly, we can react to it by adding our names to petitions with the mere touch of a keyboard.But what does a petition really tell you? That x-thousand people took the trouble to complain about or campaign for something or other.What about the so-called “silent majority” out there? Perhaps they want to continue persecuting Baha’is in Iran, spewing carbon into the atmosphere, or manufacturing nuclear weapons.  Obviously many people do want to continue these things or they would have been stopped, surely?That’s why the Great Whaling Debate and the complementary Sacred Ocean Campaign – a partnership between Noel and Belinda Ashton, the Two Oceans Aquarium and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) – is so clever.Launched in late November, the debate was initially going to be a petition-type campaign encouraging people to add their names to a list of concerned individuals who are opposed to whaling. Same old story, though. There’s no petition for people who think whaling is a good idea, so the numbers don’t really mean much.When last did you get an email asking you to sign a petition for the International Whaling Commission to lift the moratorium on commercial whaling?But this way everyone gets a voice. The Great Whaling Debate is a campaign aimed at ending all whaling but, instead of merely adding one’s voice to the already clamorous cry to end the slaughter of whales in our oceans, the campaign offers people the opportunity to vote.If you believe whaling should continue, you can have your say and add your voice to those who head out in big ships with explosive harpoons and long flensing knives to “harvest” – or take “scientific samples” from – the world’s whale populations. You may need to learn to speak Japanese, Norwegian or Icelandic if you want to be heard, though.A long history of whalingThe hunting of whales has been a part of life for coastal communities for centuries, possibly millennia. But it would initially have been a subsistence industry with whole communities working together to kill a whale or two to see the village through the winter. With the advent of the industrial revolution, though, whaling changed in nature and in scale.From about the 17th century onwards, American, British and European whalers gradually expanded their areas of operation until, by the 19th century, whales were hunted in every corner of every ocean of the world. They were killed mostly for their oil, which was used for illumination, and later for margarine, cosmetic and other specialised industrial applications. Some whalers used the meat, and some did not – it was pretty much a cultural choice.One thing was certain, though. In the days before refrigeration, it was impossible to utilise all the meat from the slaughtered whales, so only the more valuable parts of the animals, including oil and baleen, were kept. The rest was dumped back into the ocean.Since whale oil is now no longer in demand, and plastic is the material of choice for the few people who still like to squeeze themselves into tightly laced corsets, whales are now hunted mostly for their meat.South Africa’s progressive protection legislationDespite the abundance of southern right and humpbacked whales in its waters, South Africa has some of the most progressive protective legislation for whales and other cetaceans, and stopped commercial whaling in 1975.The International Whaling Commission, which was founded by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) in 1946, voted to enforce a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986.Norway lodged a formal complaint at the time, so it continues to hunt whales legally, and Japan utilises a handy loophole, killing more than a thousand whales every year for “scientific research”. As whale meat is freely available in Japanese food markets and restaurants, cynical observers may be justified in saying that the research consists mostly of finding new and better recipes for whale meat.A few coastal communities continue what they call “traditional hunting,” which is usually on a small scale. Of course, countries that are not signatories to the ICRW are not bound by the moratorium, and it’s also almost certain that a number of opportunistic whalers operate totally outside of the law.The good news and the bad news is that whale populations have increased dramatically since the inception of the moratorium. It’s good news for obvious reasons. It’s almost certain that, but for the moratorium and strong legislation like that in South African waters, many species of whale would now be extinct.But it’s also bad news for the whales, as those member nations that want to continue or resume commercial whaling cite these figures as an indication that whaling can now be sustainable.The Sacred Ocean sculptureThe Sacred Ocean Campaign was launched on 27 November 2008 at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, along with the unveiling of a sculpture of the same name by renowned cetacean artist, Noel Ashton.Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, before unveiling the sculpture, said how shocked he was at the brutality of whaling. Describing how whales are killed over a period of a couple of hours he exclaimed, referring to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that were dominating the news that day: “Are we surprised that we can gun down innocent people in hotels, and bomb innocent children, when we can behave so barbarically towards God’s creatures?”The sculpture, which stands 3.4m high in its entirety, is a fusion of three distinct elements.  The supporting plinth consists of small relief sculptures of the world’s major whale species, with a short description of each, while the main section consists of a small bronze humpback whale and calf floating in space, surrounded by over-arching whale ribs.Describing his intentions, sculptor Noel Ashton speaks of imagination. “Imagination,” he says, “is an important and central aspect of being human.”He explains how he intended the work to inspire those who view it. “I would hope that the symbol of the suspended mother and calf would encourage our imaginations to lead us into the water with the whales, with beams of blue light highlighting their form as they gracefully glide by in the ocean stillness – a moment of deep connection with an extraordinary mammal.”But his lyricism has a darker side. “May the arched bones point the imagination to seeing the terrible brutality of a harpoon being fired from a fast-moving whale catcher, the explosive head detonating on impact and the thrashing in the water as the whale slowly and painfully dies, the barbs ripping its flesh and the blue waters turning red.”After admiring the sculpture, Tutu cast the first vote in IFAW’s Great Whaling Debate. A permanent internet kiosk dedicated to the debate stands behind the sculpture.  Pat Garret, CEO of the Two Oceans Aquarium, said he was delighted with the campaign and the internet voting station, saying that it would “give us a powerful tool to gauge public sentiment regarding whaling.”He also expressed his delight at having Ashton’s “beautiful sculpture, and James Bond [Pierce Brosnan] on screen in the foyer telling us it’s time to fight for the whales.”In a reciprocal compliment, Ashton said how thrilled he was to have his sculpture in the Two Oceans Aquarium. “I hope that, by being situated here in the foyer, the Sacred Ocean sculpture will encourage people to pause awhile, and consider that the bones represent the past and the 2.5-million whales killed in the last 70 years of commercial whaling; that the humpbacks represent the present, and the calf a hope for the future, as each new birth brings the whales back from the very edge of extinction.“I see Sacred Ocean as the symbol of unity of purpose, and with the power of many, to voice their feelings about the ongoing cruelty of whaling. We also need to realise that this crisis for whales actually reflects a profound crisis for humanity in allowing this and other atrocities to take place.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesBig fests for big beastsSA manta a star in AtlantaSaving the albatross, on sea and land Saving our vulnerable sharks Useful linksStop Whaling NowInternational Fund for Animal Welfare South AfricaInternational Whaling CommissionOceans of AfricaTwo Oceans AquariumSea Shepherdlast_img read more