WorldScan Weekly: January 21, 2000


CEDENO, Colombia, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - On Wednesday, about 5,000 armed men, identified by the U'wa indiginous people as "agents of the Colombian Military," invaded territory the U'wa claim as their own. The action took place at Cedeno, where the Occidental Petroleum oil drilling site Gibraltar 1 is situated.

Since November 15, 1999, more than 250 U'wa people have occupied Cedeno, protesting plans to drill for oil by Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), a U.S. based corporation.

Last September Oxy received a permit from the Colombian government to drill at the Gibraltar site in Cedeno.

Roger Gillott, a spokesman in Oxy's Los Angeles office, said the company has not announced a timetable for when drilling will proceed.


Roberto Cobaria, president of the Traditional U'wa Authority (Photo courtesy U'wa Defense Project)
Faced with opposition by the U'wa people, headed by indigenous leader Roberto Cobaria, military forces declared Wednesday that, "the oil will be extracted even over and above the U'wa people." Police forces were dispatched to the zone for the security of Occidental's engineers.

Gillott said the military presence in Cedeno, "was an action taken by the Colombian government. It was not an action taken by us."

The U'wa said in a statement, "With this deed, Occidental and the Colombian government are insisting on ignoring our territorial rights over land we have occupied for thousands of years. We are the owners of the territory on which they aim to exploit petroleum, without recognizing the constitutional rights of community lands for our ethnic group which are inalienable, non-negotiable, and irremovable, protected by public laws over collective property.

The U'wa claim that the Colombian government "in a shadowy process" is seeking to declare U'wa territory a special petroleum reserve zone with "the false argument that the national petroleum industry is covered by the law as a public utility or social interest, with the sole purpose of permitting and facilitating petroleum exploitation by the multinational corporation Occidental."

The U'wa have threatened to commit mass suicide if Oxy proceeds with drilling on their traditional territory. "We prefer genocide sponsored by the Colombian government rather than handing over our Mother Earth to oil companies," the U'wa reiterated today.


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - South African pop band Juluka and American actress Sheryl Lee are featured in a new television advertisement for the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage that will begin airing in January, 2000, on networks in the United States, Europe and southern Africa.

The 30-second ad is designed to raise funds and awareness on behalf of Chimfunshi, a non-profit organization in Zambia that is the largest chimpanzee sanctuary in the world. Established in 1983, Chimfunshi is home to over 70 injured and unwanted chimpanzees, many of whom were rescued from poachers or liberated from dilapidated zoos and circuses.


Johnny Clegg and Mandisa Dlanga of Juluka perform in Massachusetts, 1996 (Photo courtesy Unofficial Johnny Clegg and Juluka webpage)
Juluka donated the song "African Sky Blue" for the ad, While Lee makes an on-camera appearance and narrates the spot. Footage of Chimfunshi founders David and Sheila Siddle and the chimps at the sanctuary was provided by the Talking Pictures Company, and the advert was produced by Mags Reddy of AfriCommunications in Johannesburg.

Juluka was one of the first multi-racial bands in apartheid-era South Africa. Founded in 1979 by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu, Juluka produced a string of hits that mixed Zulu and Celtic rhythms to produce a unique New World sound. "African Sky Blue" first appeared on the 1981 album, African Litany, and was also on the bandís 1998 The Best of Juluka. Rights for Chimfunshi to use the song were granted by Clegg and Mchunu, in association with Primedia and H.R. Music.

Lee, who shot to fame as Laura Palmer on the hit TV series, "Twin Peaks," has appeared in films such as "Wild At Heart," "Follow The River," and "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." She most recently returned to television in the series, "LA Doctors," and is a vocal supporter of several animal rights organizations.


BEIJING, China, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - Chinese scientists said last week they are the first in the world to determine the genetic makeup of a fatal prawn virus responsible for a drastic reduction in prawn production in China and other parts of Asia over the past few years.

They said the sequencing of the virus's genome, or its genetic material, will help scientists develop diagnostic tools and drugs against the leukodermal bacilliform virus, the largest known animal virus.

Xu Xun, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told the Chinese official news agency Xinhua that he and his colleagues with the No. 3 Institute under the State Oceanic Administration, determined for the first time in the world some of the genetic material of the virus.

The team sequenced 90 percent of the virus' genetic code in 1997, Xu said. They finished the sequencing work last June 1999.

The research began in 1994 with funding from the State Oceanic Administration, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Fujian Provincial Government and the State Human Genome Northern Center.

Xu says the team has learned they are far ahead of their international counterparts, who have sequenced only one percent of the virus' genome. The scientists are in the process of applying for a patent for the sequencing.


NINOHE, Japan, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - Earth energy heat pumps are being used to melt snow on a downhill section of a curved road in Iwate Prefecture, 500 kilometers (300 miles) north of Tokyo.

Snow melting systems have become popular in northern Japan since the 1991 ban on studded snow tires. The most popular method of melting snow is by sprinkling water on the road, but this creates other problems and reduces groundwater levels.

The Gaia snow melting system uses vertically drilled boreholes and a heat pump to extract heat from the earth during winter. The system circulates warmed fluid through pipes buried every 20 centimeters (8 inches) under the pavement of the road surface, at a depth of 10 centimeters (4 inches).

In summer, the pavement temperature can reach 50 degrees Celsius, and this heat is transferred back into the earth for storage by reversing the direction of the heat pump system.

Winter temperatures in Ninohe drop to -7 degrees Celsius, with total snowfall of almost three meters (9.75 feet). But at 150 meters (487 feet) below the surface, the temperature remains at 22 degrees Celsius.

The system was developed by the National Institute for Resources & Environment and several private companies. A prototype was installed in 1995 and has demonstrated a reduction of 84 percent in annual energy consumption compared with systems that use electric heating cables.

The cost to operate the Gaia system at Ninohe is 20 percent of the cost of a comparison electric heating cable system, although there was a higher installation cost. The low running costs and long service life of the earth energy system make the Gaia's total snow-melting cost, including depreciation and interest, cheaper than that of oil or gas fired systems and electric heating systems in the long term, according to an analysis circulated by the International Energy Agency.

The Gaia snow melting unit is a closed system and does not contaminate underground water aquifers. A new automatic control allows the system to operate only required.

More information is online at:


HONOLULU, Hawai'i, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - Strolling the desolate Mo`omomi Beach of Moloka`i's north shore some 30 years ago, a woman came upon what appeared to be the remains of a an ancient flightless bird projecting from an eroded sea cliff. The neatly laid-out skeleton was all there except for the head.

A phone call to Honolulu's Bishop Museum summoned the paleontologists, who found that the bird was an extinct, flightless waterfowl, a giant goose-like duck.

Mo'omomi Beach

Mo`omomi Beach on the north shore of Moloka`i (Photo courtesy The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i)
Discovery of the giant duck sparked the search for more Hawaiian bird fossils. Until then, fossil hunters had assumed that Hawai'i was not worth their efforts. Lava flows would have incinerated the remains of any dead animal, the thinking went, and nowhere in the islands were there the kinds of geological features - lake beds, river bars - that would have preserved the bones of ancient creatures. But now here was an environment that did - sand dunes.

In the Mo'omomi dunes and dune systems on other islands the fragile bones of a long gone bird world were discovered - a crow, a long-legged owl very different from the modern owl called in Hawai'i "pueo," and many kinds of honeycreepers, together with hundreds and hundreds of seabird skeletons. Carbon dating showed they had lived several thousand years ago.

Archeologists found bird bones in limestone sinkholes at Barber's Point on O'ahu. Ancient bird bones turned up in lava tubes on Maui and the Big Island.

So far, 33 new and extinct species of birds have come to light, and many other species wait to be described. Altogether, these extinct birds include at least eight kinds of waterfowl, two ibises, 12 rails, an eagle, a hawk, four owls, and many species of songbirds. People can see the fossil giant duck on exhibit at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.


PHUKET, Thailand, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - The incinerator in the tourist destination of Phuket is a "toxic calamity in the making," Greenpeace Thailand activists said today. The group released a scientific report which shows toxic substances in ash dumped beside the facility.

The study showed elevated levels of toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium and copper in the incinerator ash dumped in open pits close to mangrove areas. Lead and cadmium levels in the ash of the Phuket incinerator were found to be 30 to 100 times higher than background levels.

To highlight the threats posed by the incinerator to the environment and local residents, Greenpeace activists posted warning signs around the plant and the adjacent ash pits.


Tranquil bay in Phuket, Thailand
"The results clearly demonstrate that incineration does not solve the garbage problem but in fact transforms it into a chemical menace which is much more difficult to deal with. Instead of giving Phuket a clean image, this incinerator is polluting an island paradise heavily dependent on tourism," said Greenpeace toxics campaigner Tara Buakamsri.

People scavenging through the ashes for recyclables are risking their health and in the longer term the toxics could find their way into the island's food chain, Greenpeace said.

"We need real solutions, not illusions. The government should put resources instead into the right set of solutions to this problem namely, waste prevention, source separation, composting and recycling," said Buakamsri.


AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - The Dutch Joint Implementation Network launched a new website Thursday to help people understand the flexible mechanisms available to meet emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol.

The new site contains an extensive network of links to websites of international organisations, United Nations agencies, national governments, non-governmental organisations, and private sector research institutes involved in developing and implementing the flexibility mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol - Joint Implementation, the Clean Development Mechanism and International Emissions Trading.

The Kyoto Protocol is the regulatory framework to the United Nations climate change treaty agreed at the 1997 UN Climate Summit in Kyoto, Japan. The Protocol contains legally binding emission reduction commitments for 39 industrialised countries. For the fulfilment of these commitments countries can use mechanisms which allow them to carry out the emission reductions in those countries where the costs of abatement are relatively low.

With the Internet site the JI Network aims to create an easy access international platform for the exchange of information on the Kyoto Mechanisms. Contact JIN at: Email:


VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, January 21, 2000 (ENS) - At the southern tip of Vancouver Island not far from some of the last remaining forested valleys of Canada's west coast, forest experts and conservationists will meet Saturday to develop strategies to protect these ancient trees.

The Ancient Forest Conference at the University of Victoria's Student Union Building is expected to draw 300 people including environmental groups, scientists, and interested citizens. The gathering was organized by the B.C. Environmental Network Educational Foundation and the Natural Heritage Alliance.


Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia harbors some of the oldest trees on the west coast. (Photo courtesy Western Canada Wilderness Committee)
Participants will address critical issues for protecting unique areas such as Clayoquot Sound, the Walbran Valley, and the Garry oak meadows. The conference aims to raise participants' scientific understanding of Vancouver Island ecosystems and how to protect them using conservation biology.

Speakers will cover topics as diverse as the impact of economic globalization on forests and how to respond to violent tactics used by corporate front-groups to deter citizen involvement in local campaigns.

Solutions like community based ecoforestry for a long term balance for local jobs and healthy forests and targeting consumer markets of ancient forest products will be explored.

"This conference is banding together scientists, academics, activists, and community members for a common goal: to protect Vancouver Island's ancient forests", says Leah Walberg conference coordinator. "We know that corporate logging is at the root of our problems. By working together we are challenging this profit-oriented structure, and advancing a new framework that recognizes the diverse values of our forests."