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Indonesia nabs Russian trying to smuggle baby otters, scorpions

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2019

Courtesy : Reuters

Indonesian authorities said on Friday (May 24) they have arrested a Russian on the holiday island of Bali after he was found trying to smuggle baby otters and scorpions out of the country.

The unidentified Russian was found carrying four critically endangered Eurasian otters and 10 scorpions in a box stocked with food and milk on Thursday, conservationists said.

“The security in Ngurah Rai International airport found living objects inside the trunk of a Russian passenger during the X-ray scan,” Bali’s Natural Resources Conservative Agency (BKSDA) chief Budhy Kurniwan told reporters.

If found guilty, the suspect could face up to five years in prison and a 100 million Indonesian rupiah ($7000) fine.

Populations of the Eurasian otter, a fish-eating mammal, are declining in Asia and it is a protected species in Indonesia. Illegal wildlife trade is rampant in Indonesia, despite efforts by authorities to crack down on smugglers.

In March, authorities arrested a Russian at the same airport with a drugged a baby orang-utan in his suitcase. He was attempting to smuggle it to Russia. (REUTERS)

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PBA and PBA Legends Foundation sign MOA to support former PBA players

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the PBA Legends Foundation officially signed a contact on Thursday (June 20) that seeks to aid former PBA players in need of assistance.

The PBA Legends Foundation will provide financial assistance including medical help to former PBA players. The foundation can also grant assistance for the education of their children.

PBA Board Vice Chairman Dickie Bachman has vowed to support former players. The PBA has also authorized the foundation to use the PBA name and logo.

“We are basically glad that finally now we get organized with the PBA Legend Foundation Inc., and moving forward will support the past PBA players,” he said.

Meanwhile, UNTV Cup Commissioner and PBA Legends Foundation Chairman Fortunato Atoy Co is excited about upcoming projects to raise funds for the foundation.

Ako po ay malugod na nagpapasalamat sa PBA, kay Commissioner Willie Marcial, kay Dicky Bachman. Pinayagan na rin kami ng PBA na gamitin iyong lumang logo noong panahong naglalaro pa kami, (I am humbly thankful to PBA, to Commissioner Willie Marcial, Dicky Bachman. They also allowed us to use the old PBA logo that was used during our time),” Co said.

Former PBA legends are elated with the news. Ronnie Magsanoc hopes that this will be the beginning of new projects between PBA and the PBA Legend Foundation.

“Ito iyong hudyat ng belief ng tamang pagkakaisa between the league and the players. Sana mabuksan pa ng maraming proyekto, (This marks the belief of proper unity between the league and the players. I hope this opens more projects),” Magsanoc said.

One of the board of directors, Allan ‘The Triggerman’ Caidic hopes that this will also encourage active players to participate in the foundation’s upcoming projects.

“I hope someday we can link the present PBA players, iyong mga active players to join and help this cause. Kasi in the future magbe-benefit rin sila dito. So thank you again sa support ng lahat para mabuo ito, UNTV Group, Kuya Daniel Razon and siyempre mga PBA team, salamat po (Because they will also benefit from this cause in the future. So again, thank you for the support of everyone who made this happen: the UNTV group, Kuya Daniel Razon and of course the PBA team. Thank you),” he said.—AAC (with reports from Bernard Dadis)

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NZ launches ‘buy-back’ scheme for weapons banned after Christchurch mosque attacks

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2019

A screenshot of the footage from the Christchurch attack | Courtesy : Reuters

New Zealand’s government on Thursday (June 20) launched a multi-million-dollar, six-month “buy-back” scheme to compensate owners of powerful but newly banned semi-automatic weapons prohibited in the wake of deadly attacks on two mosques in the Southern city of Christchurch.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a joint statement that NZ$208 million ($135.97 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of the banned semi-automatic firearms up to 95% of the original cost, adding in a news conference that they had no idea how many of the firearms were in the community.

“Compensation is necessary because of a new law agreed to by almost the entire parliament in response to the events of the 15th of March. The buy-back and amnesty has one objective – to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation,” Nash said.

“This compensation scheme recognises licensed firearm owners are now in the possession of prohibited items through no fault of their own, but because of a law change. The approach to prices balances fair compensation for people’s firearms and a fair cost for the taxpayer,” he added.

“We have made a commitment that we want these weapons out of circulation and we believe that this buy-back process is a very important part of that. The costs are uncertain and, you can imagine, for a Minister of Finance that’s not a position I ever want to be in but it is just the reality of the situation we have,” Robertson said.

“We will keep monitoring it, as I say, we’ve put a new piece into the puzzle today but there are further pieces to be put in,” he added.

Owners would have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons.

Parliament passed the gun reform law – the first substantial changes to the country’s gun laws in decades – by a vote of 119 to 1 in April. (REUTERS)

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Death toll rises to 12 in southwest China earthquake

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

Courtesy: China Central Television (CCTV)

Twelve people died and another 125 were injured as of 08:30 Tuesday after two earthquakes hit southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Monday night, according to China’s Ministry of Emergency Management.

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake hit Changning County of Sichuan’s Yibin City at 22:55 Monday and another 5.1-magnitude earthquake occurred in Yibin’s Gong County at 23:36 Monday, according to local authorities. Ten villages and towns have been severely affected by the earthquakes.

“The earthquakes also damaged some houses, roads, power and communication facilities,” said Secretary General of the Yibin government Li Tinggen at a Tuesday press conference.

Li said Yibin has started an emergency response and 2,016 rescuers have been dispatched to alleviate the disaster.

“The city and counties quickly allocated all kinds of relief supplies from their disaster relief material repositories to affected villages and towns. At the initial stage, 450 tents, 5,300 quilts and 1,500 folding beds have been sent to affected areas,” Li said.

Yibin has started evacuation and relocation of local people and carried out medical aid for injured ones, Li said.

“After the earthquakes, the city and counties quickly dispatched 15 vehicles and 61 medical specialists with first aid equipment to the quake-stricken areas in order to treat the wounded.

All health centers of villages and towns in the epicenters conducted medical treatment for injured ones immediately after preliminary safety check of their buildings,” Li said. (REUTERS)

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