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Indonesia prepares to pack up capital city and move to a new island

Government plans to move Jakarta away from overcrowding and the effects of climate change

Jakarta floods by International Rivers

Jakarta floods by International Rivers

The Indonesian government is considering relocating its capital city to a bigger island because Java is becoming increasingly vulnerable to  flooding and other effects of global warming, Indonesia’s chief climate change negotiator has said.

Up to 60 million people will have to be relocated from a number of the major Javanese coastal cities in the next 20 years as a result of increased flooding and stormier weather, said Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia’s chief climate negotiator in an interview with at the global climate talks in Tianjin last week.

Specifically, the overcrowded capital city of Jakarta might also be moved to Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, he said. Jakarta is already suffering from increased flooding and one major road has been demolished by the encroaching sea.

“There is a thought to move the capital city to Palankaraya, in Kalimantan,” said Witoelar. “And Kalimantan is 20 times the size of Java, with only one fiftieth of the population.”

“We can see the dangers of climate change and the difficulty of maintaining life as it is if we don’t recognise the dangers. So we are trying to get to grips with the problems.”

The government is also planning to bring in new laws which  oblige the state to look after displaced citizens he added.

However, critics of the plan warn that moving to Kalimanten will demolish the Javanese power base, so the small town of Jonggol in West Java is another site on the cards.

Kalimantan from

Kalimantan from

Apart from suffering the brunt of global warming, Indonesia is the world’s third highest greenhouse gas emitter, after the United States and China, as a result of deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires, following the United States and China.

Earlier this year, the World Bank approved a $200m loan to the government of Indonesia to support its climate change policies.


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Volcanic flight delays top Google Insight’s rising UK searches

Google Insights, which allows users to search on the most searched searches, shows that in the last seven days, there really has been only one thing on the minds of the information-seeking UK public: When are the airports going to reopen?

Of course, many of those looking for the latest update  from the UK will not be just the British public, but stranded visitors trapped in our election obsessed nation.

Rising UK Google searches in the last seven days on 20 April 2010

Topping the list of rising searches is air traffic controller Nats, which issued the ban on flights in UK airspace. According to Google, when you see Breakout listed instead of an actual percentage, it means that the search term has experienced a change in growth greater than 5000 per cent. Indeed, when I visited the site, I found it has gone offline as a result of the heavy traffic driving there.

Nats closed its site due to the ironically "heavy traffic"

Two major British airports, Heathrow and Manchester, are next on the list of Google’s UK rising searches. As I am writing this post, the Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that airports will begin to reopen  tonight, which could signal the end of the crisis and mean that I will be able to fly on holiday, as planned, on Friday evening.

Channel tunnel train Eurostar follows closely on the list, as thousands of would-be passengers frantically search for an alternative way to get home.

Most of Eurostar’s trains incoming UK trains are fully booked until the weekend Eurostar says, even though, according to reports, an extra 20,000 passenger places have been put on per day across Eurostar, Eurotunnel and the Channel ferries.

But championing fifth place in rising searches is Formula One, which has nothing to do with no-fly zones whatsoever – unless some hopeful soles are seeking Jenson Button to pick them up from holiday.

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Siemens picks UK for offshore wind turbine plant

Siemens has announced it will create 700 jobs at a new UK factory making turbines for offshore wind farms, as a result of the Chancellor’s Budget 2010.

Siemens service workers at Sweden's Lillgrund offshore wind farm between Malmö and CopenhagenPhoto: SIEMENS

The UK arm of the German company said it will invest £80m in a factory on the coast of England, creating around 700 jobs, after the government last week provided £60m to develop port sites for offshore wind turbine manufacturers looking to locate to the UK.

Siemens has yet to decide where exactly the plant will be based, although it has narrowed its search to the North East and East coasts and is working with Regional Development Agencies to find the perfect site.

Siemens UK chief executive Andreas J. Goss said: “The UK government has created a stable framework to attract inward investment in renewables and offshore wind power in particular. The competition for land development, announced in the Budget last week, gives us confidence that the appropriate UK port infrastructure can be made available to support our production plans.”

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson welcomed the news and said the plans will confirm the UK as world leader in offshore wind.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband said: “This is a vote of confidence from one of the foremost companies in the offshore wind sector, looking to set up a base in the UK. More proof that we’re exploiting the great natural resource that we have and creating the right conditions to attract investment. Siemens’ investment will help create jobs and help us meet our renewable energy targets.”

Last week, GE announced a €110 million investment for a new offshore wind manufacturing plant in the UK, which the company believe will create up to 1900 jobs.

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Plea to help Laura Ling – private letter campaign from Charles and Lorraine Clayton

Laura Ling’s UK family have started a private letter campaign to the North Korean Government asking for her release

Laura Ling and Charles Clayton during Laura and Iain’s last visit to East Hendred, Oxon, UK

Laura Ling and Charles Clayton during Laura and Iain’s last visit to East Hendred, Oxon, UK

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog written by my cousin Iain Clayton, who’s wife Laura Ling has been sentenced to imprisonment in North Korea, with her colleague Euna Lee.

Now Iain’s brother Charles Clayton, who lives in the UK, has started a private letter campaign to generate a national and worldwide plea on behalf of the two women.

America has no diplomatic relations with North Korea and the Swedish Ambassador in North Korea has had limited communications with the two women. So Charles and his wife Lorraine sought advice on how to help through diplomatic channels in England. They were advised of ways to indirectly approach the North Korean government in a bid to help Laura and Euna.

They insist that the campaign does not seek not to offend nor blame the North Korean government, but to respectfully present the cases of Laura and Euna. They hope that the magnitude of the campaign will encourage the North Korean government to release the girls on humanitarian grounds.

Laura Ling and Iain Clayton during their last visit to the Uk

Laura Ling and Iain Clayton during their last visit to East Hendred

Laura is a journalist for Current TV (based in California). She had travelled to the Chinese/North Korean border to research the plight of female North Korean refugees. On March 17 Laura was placed under arrest by the North Korean authorities along with a colleague, Euna Lee. From June 4 to 8, Laura and Euna were tried for ‘hostile acts’ against the State and sentenced to 14 and 12 years respectively, hard labour in a North Korean labour camp.

“Laura and Euna are American citizens. As you can imagine, with North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing, it could not be a worse time for this to happen. This issue is highly sensitive and therefore, activity by the families was initially very low key,”

Charles and Lorraine explained in an email.

“However, now that the girls have been sentenced we hope that the North Koreans will show clemency and send the girls home to their families, whom they have not seen for three months. Euna Lee has a four year old daughter at home. Laura and Iain are days away from their fifth wedding anniversary.”

How can you help?

Charles and Lorraine have asked for people to help them by drafting a letter to the ambassador. They have already written a letter,

which can be found here. You simply need to edit as appropriate to your circumstance.

You will notice the tone of the letter. They have asked that for this private letter campaign to have any chance of being effective in shortening the length of time Laura and Euna remain in detention it is important that this tone is maintained.

The letter should be sent by post, to:

HE The Ambassador of DPR Korea

Embassy of the DPR Korea

73 Gunnersbury Avenue

London W5 4LP

Thank you

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Captured journalists in North Korea families speak out

My cousin’s wife Laura Ling has been detained in North Korea for the last three months and is due to go on trial.  Below is a blog post written by him today for Larry King’s blog.

Laura Ling, far right, with her mother, center, and sister Lisa Ling, left

Laura Ling, far right, with her mother, center, and sister Lisa Ling, left

By Iain Clayton

As the trial date of June 4th approaches, I grow increasingly apprehensive and nervous about the fate of my wife, Laura Ling, and her colleague, Euna Lee. They have now been detained by the Government of the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] for nearly three months. During this time I have had very limited contact with her and really, really miss her.

I think about her every moment of the day and try to imagine what she is doing, how nervous she must be and ask what I can do to make things better and ultimately bring them home. We have been together for 12 years and this is the longest I’ve gone without hearing her voice. We just bought our first house and it feels so empty without Laura. The pillows she ordered arrived a couple weeks ago, I wish she could see them.

Apart from writing her a letter every day, I have tried to make her situation a little more bearable by sending her parcels of things she loves – like dried squid and beef jerky.  Since USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL do not deliver there from the US, I have resorted to sending them via my family in the United Kingdom.  I found out today that one I sent nearly three weeks ago has finally arrived. I find it amazing that it takes that long to send a parcel anywhere in the world.

I think it is this isolation that attracted them to the assignment in the first place. A trip that may end up with them indicted and tried, even though they were journalists simply covering a story.

You can also watch a video here of his appearance with the rest of Laura and Euna’s families on the Today programme in America.

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Hawthorn Junior School demolition: protesters gather

CAMPAIGNERS last night protested at a Victorian school building that is under threat from demolition.
Residents gathered outside Hawthorn Junior School in Hawthorn Road West, Llandaff North, in protest against Cardiff council’s plans.

The school is already due to close as part of the city’s schools reorganisation programme but the Save Hawthorn School Action Group wants the building to become a listed building and used for another purpose in the community rather than knocked down.

Four generations of Michelle Gilbert’s family have  attended Hawthorn, including her uncle Albert, who boarded there. The 36-year-old from Belleview Crescent is devastated a school which has been a big part of her family for so many years could be knocked down.

She said: “I’m absolutely gutted.
“It’s a waste of a building. It could become an adult learning centre because all the classrooms are already there.”
Councillor Ann Rowland-James was also at the protest.

She said: “I’ve got to make sure that this building gets the chance to be a community facility.”

Chair of the action group, Stephanie Wilkins, asked people to show their support by attending the council’s planning meeting on June 10, the location and time of which is yet to be decided. She also asked people to visit the group’s website at

The council said the sale of the school site was essential to fund the city’s education. A council spokeswoman said: “The only way we can fund the £60m improvements needed for our school buildings is by undertaking a school reorganisation programme as the money available from the Welsh Assembly Government will not be enough to ensure our schools are fit for the 21st Century.

“A Wales Audit Office report also confirmed that Assembly funding needs to be supplemented by receipts from land sales if significant investments such as those which are taking place at the new Hawthorn Primary site are to be achieved.”

Cardiff council has applied for outline planning permission to demolish the building and build nine houses and a block of flats on the land.


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Residents’ anger over £3,000 price for land

Fred Blight of Gabalfa Avenue is disgusted by the £3000 fee

Fred Blight of Gabalfa Avenue is disgusted by the £3000 fee

WHEN Cardiff council offered a group of residents the chance to buy some plots of land for £55 each more than a decade ago, they thought their luck was in.

But last month, those same residents were shocked when the fee was hiked up to £3,000 each.

In 1997, the council knocked on the doors of the residents of 12 houses on Gabalfa Avenue, Llandaff North, and offered them the waste land backing onto their houses, which is part of a filled-in canal.

The residents said yes and after some meetings, a letter was sent out by the council agreeing a price of £55, plus legal costs of £100 for each plot of land.

But last month, Cardiff council wrote back to them asking for £3,000 each.

Following the original decision, some residents of Watson Road, whose houses backed onto the other side of the land complained about the deal, saying they wanted to use the land too.

A meeting was held between residents on both sides of the land and it was agreed that a gated lane would be created to stop young people using the land for drinking and drug taking. Many young couples would stay in the lane for the entire weekend, much to the annoyance of residents.

When the gate was opened two years ago, a residents’ association was set up, at which point Fred Blight, 68, of Gabalfa Avenue, wrote to the council reminding them of the sale.

“The next thing I knew, I received a letter asking for £3,000,” he said.

“It isn’t even proper land because it’s an old canal contaminated with metals.

“I’m disgusted with the council. They promised us. They knocked on our doors here, asking us if we wanted to take the land off their hands because it was waste ground and the cost of maintaining it every year was too much. Since 1997, the land doubled in price so I should be looking at paying £100 for it and I would be prepared to pay that.”

Councillor Ann Rowland-James said: “It’s staggering and I will fight my very best to not let this happen.”

But residents in Watson Road said £3,000 was a fair price to pay for the land.

Mr Green, 70, of Watson Road said: “It’s a big piece of land. The council levelled it all off and it has kept it tidy.

“I would pay £3,000 if I were offered the land, but I haven’t been. Mr Blight is onto a winner.”

A council spokesperson said: “The figure quoted in the letter received by residents is the current market value of the land in question.

“However, the council is exploring a number of avenues regarding the terms of disposal.”

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