Mega Millions reaches $625M, 8th largest jackpot in US lottery history

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Enormous Sunfish Found On Tasmanian Shore, Visitors In Awe With The Species’ Size

An odd fish washed ashore is currently causing scepticism among beachgoers on Tasmania’s East Coast.

A regular visitor of the Friendly Beaches at Freycinet National Park, Nick Cain, was just spending time at his family’s shack nearby when the fish was washed up.

Having been constantly enjoying the beach for twenty years now, he said: “Usually you see a dolphin, or a seal, or a cray pot or two that’s washed up on the shore — but this was very odd, very strange.”

One early morning last December, Nick and his friend came across the fish and initially thought it was a large stingray. “It actually took a bit of backwards-and-forwards with my mate about what species we thought it was before we set on sunfish. It’s peculiar because it doesn’t look like it should be able to swim.”

According to experts, there are five different types of sunfish common to Australian waters. They are known for their huge dorsal fins and strangely shaped bodies.

They are also considered the largest bony fish in the world — weighing up to 2,500 kilograms and growing to three meters in length.

Instantly, Nick and his friend were at awe when they tried to look underneath the fish, but they could not move it. “It weighed an absolute ton — it was at least two meters by one meter. It was an absolute monster”. Nick said.

Scientists reveal that the fish are moderately common despite their odd appearance — washing up on Tasmanian beaches a few times each year.

Neville Barrett from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies said the species occasionally come into coastal areas but usually swim in ocean currents. “They can’t find their way back to the ocean and just get trapped in those shallow waters and eventually end up washing ashore,” he said.

On the contrary, Professor Barrett added the sunfish “don’t wash up in their hundreds or anything like that. They tend to be a solitary ocean-going species.”

He said the most common spot to find them in Tasmania is on the Tasman Peninsula around Norfolk Bay saying that it is very special to see them due to their large built.

(Image source: ABC News)

Congress: Set to begin world’s largest vaccination drive, says PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised the scientists and technicians for the two ‘Made in India’ Covid-19 vaccines approved by the government a day earlier. Meanwhile, the centre continued to lash out at the opposition for raising doubts over the vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech.

“The new year has brought with it a new achievement. Indian scientists have not developed just one, but two Covid vaccines,” the PM said, addressing the National Metrology Conclave. “We are on the threshold of starting the largest vaccination programme in the world. The entire country is indebted to all scientists and technicians.”

The centre slammed opposition leaders for questioning the efficacy of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. A number of opposition leaders from the Congress, Samajwadi Party and other parties had raised concern over completion of trials and efficacy of Covaxin.

“Congress and other parties are doing petty politics over vaccines. This will badly impact the morale of the Indian scientists who have achieved his feat,” BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said at a presser in Delhi. “It’s a matter of pride that two indigenous vaccines have been given approval for clinical usage. It’s another step towards PM Modi’s AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).”

Congress leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Jairam Ramesh and Anand Sharma had raised concern over Covaxin, saying its phase three trial was not yet complete. SP leader Akhilesh Yadav had said he won’t take the “BJP’s vaccine”.

“Whenever India achieves something to be proud of, it has become a practice for Congress and other opposition parties to crib about the same,” said Patra. He called Congress a “mutant virus, which always tries to misguide the people of the country”.

On Sunday, the BJP’s national president JP Nadda had taken the lead in attacking the opposition over the vaccine and he was followed by a number of BJP leaders and Union ministers. “Within a year of the Covid-19 pandemic coming to India, our scientists and innovators have worked hard for a vaccine to cure this pandemic. While the entire nation is happy about this, the opposition led by the Congress is filled with anger, ridicule and disdain,” Nadda had said in a post on Twitter. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan too has sought to allay concerns over the vaccines on social media since Sunday.

Thank you for visiting My Local Pages and checking out this post involving current World Business news titled “Congress: Set to begin world’s largest vaccination drive, says PM Modi”. This article is presented by My Local Pages as part of our national news services.

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Argentina becomes largest Latin American nation to legalise elective abortion | World News

Argentina has become the largest nation in Latin America to legalise elective abortion despite a last-minute appeal by Pope Francis.

After a 12-hour session the country’s senate passed the law by a comfortable 38-29 margin, two years after a similar measure failed in a close vote.

The legislation, which President Alberto Fernandez has vowed to sign into law shortly, guarantees abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy and beyond that in cases involving rape or where a woman’s health is at risk.

Tweeting after the vote, Mr Fernandez wrote: “Safe, legal and free abortion is now the law.

“Today, we are a better society that expands women’s rights and guarantees public health.”

Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner had reversed her opposition to the legislation

Abortion is already allowed in Uruguay, along with Cuba and Mexico City in other parts of Latin America, but the legalisation in Argentina is expected to have a big impact in the region.

Pro and anti-abortion rights activists had gathered outside the senate building, with the bill’s mostly female supporters wearing green which has symbolised their movement.

The crowd of a few thousands cheered and hugged as Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced the result.

Hours before the senate session began, Pope Francis – Argentinian himself – had tweeted: “The Son of God was born an outcast, in order to tell us that every outcast is a child of God.

“He came into the world as each child comes into the world, weak and vulnerable, so that we can learn to accept our weaknesses with tender love.”

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also criticised the decision. He tweeted: “I deeply regret for the lives of Argentinian children, now subject to being ended in the bellies of their mothers with the state’s agreement.”

A similar bill was voted down by Argentine senators in 2018 by a narrow margin. This time it was backed by the centre-left government, and was boosted by the so-called “piba” revolution from the Argentine slang for “girls”.

The feminist movement within Argentina has demanded legal abortion for more than 30 years. Supporters cite official figures which claim more than 3,000 women have died from clandestine abortions in the country since 1983.

The legislation allows health professionals and private medical institutions to opt out of the procedure, but they are required to refer the woman to another medical facility.

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Norway’s largest landslide in recent history buries homes and leaves a dozen people unaccounted for

A major landslide destroyed homes overnight in a village in Norway close to the capital Oslo, leaving 12 people unaccounted for and 10 injured, police and local media said.

Video footage from the scene showed a whole hillside had collapsed in Ask, in the municipality of Gjerdrum, 25 kilometres northeast of the capital.

A helicopter near the site where a big landslide hit a residentaial area in Ask.


Homes were left crushed and buried in dark mud.

Snow fell throughout the morning as the emergency services evacuated the injured and attempted to secure those homes still standing.

Some houses had been left teetering on the edge of the crater left behind by the slide, with a few falling over the edge as the day went on.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who travelled to the village of around 1,000 people on Wednesday, described the landslide as “one of the largest” the country had seen.

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg during a press conference.

Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg during a press conference.


“It’s a dramatic experience to be here,” Ms Solberg told reporters, expressing particular concern for those still missing.

“The situation is still so unstable with the mud that it’s not yet possible to do anything other than helicopter rescues,” she added.

Norwegian media said that 700 people had been evacuated from their homes, and the municipality warned as many as 1,500 could need to leave the region out of safety concerns.

Some still missing

In the early evening, police reported that 12 people were still unaccounted for.

“We don’t know if these people are in the landslide area, if they are away on holiday or in another way unable to contact police,” the force said in a statement.

Police said 10 people were injured, with one transferred to Oslo with serious injuries.

“Police are designating this as a disaster,” chief of operations Roger Pettersen told broadcaster NRK.

Emergency calls had come in from people saying their whole house was moving, he said.

View from a rescue helicopter over the area of landslide in the village Ask.

View from a rescue helicopter over the area of landslide in the village Ask.

NTB/Norwegian Rescue Serrvice

“There are dramatic reports and the situation is serious,” Mr Pettersen said.

According to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), what happened was a so-called “quick clay slide” of approximately 300 by 700 metres.

“This is the largest landslide in recent times in Norway, considering the number of houses involved and the number of evacuees,” NVE spokeswoman Laila Hoivik told AFP.

Further slides unlikely

Quick clay is a sort of clay found in Norway and Sweden that can collapse and turn to fluid when overstressed.

“The area has been surveyed earlier, and is known to contain quick clay,” Ms Hoivik said.

“The possibility of similar large slides in the area is low at the moment.”

Swedish daily Aftonbladet reported that Sweden was sending specially trained personnel to help in the rescue effort.

“We will help in the search for missing people and securing buildings,” operations leader Stefan Karlsson of the Gothenburg emergency services told the newspaper.

Norway’s King Harald said in a statement that the accident had “made a deep impression on me and my family”.

“My thoughts are with everyone affected, the injured, those who lost their homes and are now living in fear and uncertainty of the full extent of the disaster,” he said.

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Big Lead For Gupkar Alliance, BJP Single Largest Party In J&K Local Polls

Big Lead For Gupkar Alliance, BJP Single Largest Party In J&K Local Polls


The seven-party Gupkar alliance led by Farooq Abdullah was ahead in the seat tally in the maiden District Development Council polls in Jammu and Kashmir by winning or leading in 112 seats out of 280 on Tuesday, followed by the BJP which emerged as the single largest party as it won 73 seats including three in the Kashmir valley for the first time.

The People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) has bagged 100 seats and was leading in 12 others, according to data from the union territory’s election commission.

Forty-seven Independents, mainly disgruntled leaders from all political parties, have been declared winners and six more were leading in other seats.

The Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) put up a dismal performance by bagging 11 seats and leading in another seat. The Congress so far won 22 seats and was leading in five other council seats.

The eight-phase DDC polls, which began on November 28, are the first election after Jammu and Kashmir’ special status under Article 370 was revoked last year and it was reorganised into a Union Territory. In the election, 140 seats each in the Jammu and Kashmir regions went to polls.

The trends in most seats in the DDC elections were in accordance with expectations — the BJP maintained its strength in the Jammu division while the PAGD, which includes regional heavyweights the National Conference (NC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was ahead in Kashmir, besides Pir Panchal and the Chenab Valley regions of Jammu.

A day ahead of counting of votes, authorities had detained several PDP and second-rung NC leaders, including Naeem Akhtar, Sartaj Madni, Peer Mansoor and Hilal Ahmad Lone. No reason was given for the detentions.

Senior PDP leader Waheed Parra, who is at present in jail after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) arrested him in a terror funding case, won from Pulwama-1 and polled 1,323 votes against BJP’s Sajjad Ahmed Raina who polled only 321 votes.

The BJP had something to cheer about in the Kashmir valley as three of its candidates — Aijaz Hussain, Aijaz Ahmad Khan and Minha Lateef — won from Khonmoh-II seat in Srinagar, Tulail seat in Bandipora district and Kakpora in Pulwama respectively.

This is for the first time the BJP has registered a win in the Valley while facing regional heavyweights like the NC and the PDP.

Highlighting the wins in Kashmir region, BJP general secretary Vibodh Gupta congratulated the victorious party candidates, especially those who had won in Kashmir, and said the people of the Valley have exhibited their faith in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“The people of Kashmir exhibited their faith in Hon”ble PM Narendra Modi”s vision of Naya Kashmir, and sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas,” Gupta, who is also the party”s in-charge for Kashmir, said.

He said the victories marked a “change of wave” in the Valley and added that the maiden victory in Kashmir “speaks of two stories — one of a tough fight by the BJP, marking the beginning of a new era in the Valley, and the other of conveying a strong message to Gupkar Gang that the end of their communal and divisive politics is near.”


Senior BJP leader and Union minister Jitendra Singh said, “Three BJP candidates have won from Srinagar. It is testimony to the fact that people of Jammu and Kashmir believe in Prime Minister Narendra Modi”s vision for the development of the Union Territory”.

However, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and NC vice president Omar Abdullah said the results of the DDC elections have made it clear that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for the Gupkar alliance and rejected the Centre”s decision to abrogate Article 370.

Abdullah was quick enough to counter the BJP”s claims, tweeting, “I understand the temptation to over play the 3 seats the BJP has won in the valley but why underplay the 35 wins/leads of the @JKPAGD in Jammu province”.

“We aren”t Kashmir based parties, we are political parties with strong support in both Kashmir AND Jammu,” the NC leader tweeted.

Abdullah told PTI that the results and emerging trends of the DDC polls should be an “eye-opener” for the BJP and its “proxy political party”. He was apparently referring the JKAP.

The PDP President said, “Today”s DDC results have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for @JKPAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370. They have overwhelmingly supported @JKPAGD which stands for restoration of J&Ks special status”.

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said the DDC election results show that the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its “misguided” Kashmir policy.

“Undeterred by the denial of democratic rights, the voters of the Kashmir valley have firmly rejected the BJP and its misguided Kashmir policy. I compliment the voters for their courage and resolve,” he said on Twitter.

Chidambaram also tweeted, “Even in the Jammu region, a significant number of voters have rejected the divisive and polarising politics of the BJP”.

The BJP”s former minister Shakti Raj Parihar was trailing from both his seats in Doda district, while former ministers Aijaz Khan (JKAP) and Abdul Gani Malik (NC) emerged victorious from Thuroo constituency and Mahore constituency in Reasi district.

Among the prominent losers from Kashmir were Naseer Ahmad Mir, son of state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir. He lost to independent candidate Peer Shahbaz Ahmad.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Russia’s Inland River and Lake Network Is the World’s Largest

A very interesting post with excellent maps from regular contributor Dmitry Orlov which is related to his project to manufacture affordable cruising boats suitable for living – Quidnon.

Stay with him through the initial discussion of the pros and cons of living on boats and cruising – fantastic info, maps, and images below about the excellent boat cruising opportunities in Russia.

Orlov is one of our favorite essayists on Russia and all sorts of other things. He moved to the US as a child, and lives in the Boston area.

He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed ‘The Dystopians’ in an excellent 2009 profile, along with James Howard Kunstler, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.

He is best known for his 2011 book comparing Soviet and American collapse (he thinks America’s will be worse). He is a prolific author on a wide array of subjects, and you can see his work by searching him on Amazon.

He has a large following on the web, and on Patreon, and we urge you to support him there, as Russia Insider does.

His current project is organizing the production of affordable house boats for living on. He lives on a boat himself.

Quite a number of people in the world have taken up a nomadic lifestyle by living aboard boats. Instead of cooperatively running in the rat race, they have escaped and now work some vague and sketchy internet-based job while sailing around the islands of the Caribbean or around the Mediterranean, with the Greek islands a particular favorite.

Other favorite cruising grounds, for those who don’t much care for the open ocean, include the canals of England or Canal du Midi in France. The Inside Passage which runs up the coast of British Columbia from Washington state to Alaska is another favored playground.

The Intracoastal Waterway that runs along the Eastern Seaboard (and is lovingly called “the ditch”) is said to start in Boston, Massachusetts, but can really only be said to exist between Norfolk, Virginia and Brownsville, Texas, on the Mexican border.

The more adventurous go through Panama Canal and go island-hopping among Pacific atolls. There are many others. But there is one truly gigantic cruising ground that is charted, dredged, has plenty to see and plenty to do, but remains almost entirely unexplored.

The boats used depend on the application: the seaworthier sailboats—keelboats and catamarans—for the ocean, while motor boats are restricted to the coasts, the canals and the rivers. There are exceptions: plenty of keelboats try to get through the Intracoastal and often end up running aground, and every autumn a steady stream of sailboats and catamarans arrives from Canada via the Erie Canal and Hudson River with their masts down (to make it under the bridges) and their decks a mad tangle of rigging.

There is a lot to like about cruising: the relaxed, unhurried lifestyle (you move at your own pace with no schedules to hurry you along); there is the chance to explore new places that are not easily accessible except by land and therefore not likely to be overrun with tourists; the intimate contact with nature and the chance to observe it daily at close range.

One of the biggest problems with cruising is that it’s boring: virtually all of the cruising grounds have been mapped out, with detailed cruising guides telling you where to go and what to look at. Essentially, when you go cruising, you are signing up to do something that’s already been done.

Another problem with cruising is rich people. Now, there is nothing wrong with being rich, and a good quote to remember is Deng Xiaoping’s 致富光荣 (zhìfù guāngróng): “To get rich is glorious!” The problem is with people who try to act rich around you while you are trying to ignore all of that competitive nonsense and just have a good time. To quote me: “To act rich is in bad taste.”

An associated problem is that cruising tends to be expensive: the industrial sector that supplies the boats is competitive, and it competes on the basis of ostentation—in sportiness and luxury—while catering primarily to those who want to act rich.

And what sits at the intersection of sportiness and luxury is a financial black hole: the boats that result from this process are maintenance nightmares, and the most common topic of discussion among cruisers is getting their broken stuff fixed, wherever they happen to end up. 

And the offshoot of all this is that most cruisers happen to be over the hill. The vast majority of those I’ve seen are baby boomers squandering their children’s inheritance on expensive toys, marina transient fees (which cost as much as hotel room stays) and lots of trips to local restaurants.

Most of them are reasonably friendly and personable, but what they mostly talk about is insipid: the quality of the food and the service, the weather and, of course, what broke and how they fixed it or are planning to.

If this doesn’t sound too adventurous or exciting to you, then perhaps you are right.

And then, there is Russia

And then it occurred to me that there is a cruising destination that hasn’t been explored at all: Russia. Russia has the largest network of navigable waterways in the world: over 100,000 km long. The European part of it is 6,500 km long, all of it dredged to 4 m (13 feet).

A system of canals connect it into a single network of waterways that reaches from the Baltic to the Ural mountains and from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea. The following 2 maps shows all of the navigable waterways in light blue.

European Russia and the Urals:

Siberia and the Far East:

To see the full map in large size, click here:

Of particular interest is the area just inland from St. Petersburg, which is on the Baltic Sea. River Neva, which is short and wide, connects it to Ladoga Lake, which is the largest lake in Europe. It has islands, fjords and plenty of good sailing.

From there is the somewhat smaller Onega Lake, and rivers and canals then run on to Moscow and a ring of cities around it, which are some of the most spectacular travel destinations in Russia, featuring medieval fortresses and monasteries, most of them accessible from the water.

South from there, the mighty Volga River takes you through most of the rest of Russia’s historical heartland. Then, via the Volga-Don Canal, you can cross over to River Don, which takes you to the Black Sea.

There are a few logistical problems with going on such a cruising adventure. One is that no foreign-flagged vessels are allowed on Russia’s inland waterways. Another is that a local skipper, who speaks fluent Russian and knows the local regulations, is an absolute requirement. Also, any small craft that goes on this adventure has to be maximally self-sufficient: there are few to no marinas offering yacht repair services to be found. Lastly, the cruising season runs from May through October. It can be stretched by a few weeks each way further south, but nobody in their right mind would brave River Neva before the end of April, when Onega Lake has dumped its load of winter ice into the Baltic. But none of these problems is insoluble.

Specifically, it has occurred to me that Quidnon, by its design, makes it a splendid choice as a platform for such an adventure. It is simple, rugged, quickly and cheaply constructed from commonly available materials and parts, is safe in both deep and shallow water, and can be set up for comfortable living in a harsh climate. I will explain the details of this in the next post.

Meanwhile, please enjoy the scenery!

Caspian Sea:

Volga Delta – Russia’s answer to the Mississippi

Lake Ladoga – near St. Petersburg, the largest lake in Europe

Source: Quidnon

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Amazon To Become World’s Largest Corporate Renewables Investor

Amazon has announced plans to invest in 26 utility scale wind and solar plants generating 3.4GW of electricity. That will bring its renewables capacity to 4GW of renewables, making it the world’s largest corporate buyer of clean energy, outstripping Facebook and Google


“Amazon is helping fight climate change by moving quickly to power our businesses with renewable energy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO. “With a total of 127 solar and wind projects, Amazon is now the biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy ever. We are on a path to running 100% of our business on renewable energy by 2025—five years ahead of our original target of 2030.”

The 26 new wind and solar projects are to be located in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, the UK, and the U.S., with projects in France, Germany, Italy, and South Africa being Amazon’s first deals in those countries. Amazon has already invested in nine new renewable energy projects in 2020, including a 115MW wind farm in County Galway, doubling its capacity in Ireland. The wind farm will be used to power the company’s new data centre.

In the U.S., Amazon has now enabled wind and solar projects in California, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Virginia. The company has a total of 127 renewable energy projects globally, including 59 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects, and 68 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe.

One of the deals is a ten-year corporate power purchase agreement with Ørsted to offtake the output of 250 MW from Ørsted’s planned 900 MW Borkum Riffgrund 3 offshore wind farm in Germany. Borkum Riffgrund 3 consists of three offshore wind projects which were originally awarded to Ørsted in auctions in 2017 and 2018. This is Ørsted’s second CPPA with Amazon, following the 2016 agreement on the 253 MW Amazon Onshore Wind Farm Texas in Scurry County, Texas.

“We are proud to work with Ørsted on Amazon’s first offshore wind CPPA, Europe’s largest with 250MW of renewable energy,” said Nat Sahlstrom, Director, Amazon Energy

.  Rasmus Errboe, Senior Vice President, Head of Region Continental Europe at Ørsted Offshore and responsible for Corporate PPAs, said, “The CPPA with Amazon on Borkum Riffgrund 3 will drive this breakthrough zero-subsidy project a step closer towards realization, where it will supply large amounts of clean electricity for Germany’s green transition. Germany remains an attractive market for Ørsted with its recent decision to have 40GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2040.”

The 250MW CPPA is the largest ever for offshore wind in Europe and one of the first to be built subsidy free. The wind farm will be built and operated without subsidies. According to Ørsted, this has been made possible by a set of cost drivers including the installation of next generation wind turbine technology, very good site conditions and high wind speeds, grid connection costs not being part of the project, plus the potential for stabilising revenues through corporate power purchase agreements like the 250MW CPPA with Amazon.

The corporate PPA market in the US is more mature than the European, and BloombergNEF reported a 40% year on year increase for such deals which was led by the US. Over 275 companies globally have committed to targets of 100% renewables, which makes corporate renewable a major business opportunity, boosting economic competitiveness of corporates and reducing their carbon footprint. 

Europe is playing an increasingly important part in the global renewable energy sourcing trend though, with significant growth in onsite renewables, and growth in corporate renewable PPAs. In November 2020, the cumulative contracted volume of corporate renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) in Europe reached the11 GW mark, up from just 2.2GW by the end of 2016 and with a record 3GW contracted in 2020 alone.

Furthermore, forty European companies have come together under the RE-Source banner to encourage the support of CPPAs in the EU’s €750 billion COVID-19 economic recovery plan. Giles Dickson, WindEurope CEO says, “Energy-intensive industries used not to like renewables. They saw us as expensive and worried we’d mess up the energy system with our “intermittency”. Now they’re knocking on our doors to help them decarbonise. They see renewables are cheap and increasingly reliable. And they see that corporate PPAs help them lock in their energy costs. So we’re seeing more and more PPAs, even this year.”

Given the price stability and lower input costs that come hand in hand with renewables, this deal could trigger further acceleration in the European market.

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Mi’kmaq stay ashore as commercial lobster season opens in largest N.S. fishing area

As the commercial inshore lobster fishing season begins in one of the largest and most lucrative fishing areas in Canada, Mi’kmaw fishers who’d typically be out on the water will remain ashore, looking for ways to make ends meet.

The fishing area LFA 34 on the southwest shore of Nova Scotia has been a national focal point since Sept. 17, when Sipekne’katik First Nation launched the first Mi’kmaw-regulated lobster fishery in Nova Scotia and triggered weeks of often violent opposition from non-Indigenous commercial fishery workers and their supporters.

The First Nation would typically operate under nine of the federally-approved commercial licences, but Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack said in November those licenses would not be fished in 2020, for fear of “continued retaliation, violence, property damage and systemic economic racism.”

Sipekne’katik’s self-regulated fishery, which was launched in phases to measure its scope and impact on the existing fisheries, is set to wind down in the coming weeks and halt completely by Dec. 17, according to band officials.

Lack of income will ‘hit hard’

Mi’kmaw fisher Arvin Knockwood, of Sipekne’katik, has been fishing lobster for two years under the band’s federally-regulated commercial licences, and since September under the Mi’kmaw-regulated licences. He said not having the income from the commercial season could make it a difficult winter and spring for his family.

“It’s definitely going to hit me hard,” he said. 

“I won’t get [employment insurance aid] for the spring and summer months. I won’t get the actual money from commercial fishing. So, I’m basically just sitting around waiting for next year.” 

Sipekne’katik fisher Arvin Knockwood says he’d typically be fishing during the commercial season. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Knockwood, his fiancée and four children under the age of nine live in Sipekne’katik. His fiancée has a steady income which will allow the family to make ends meet but they’ve been looking for ways to supplement his lost earnings. 

Anticipating the loss, Knockwood said he’d purchased Christmas gifts for his children in November.

“My kids are taken care of, so I’m happy about that anyway,” he said.

Knockwood said the financial loss this season is easier to handle knowing the progress and attention the Mi’kmaq have earned since September through the assertion of their treaty right to fish and earn a living.

As well, he said, the money isn’t worth the potential safety risks to Mi’kmaw fishers. 

“Hopefully next year we can do commercial [fishing] and there’ll be no problems, but I really don’t know how next year is going to play out,” he said.

Fishing now ‘a big, daunting task’

Though the band has cited safety concerns for its sitting out the 2020 commercial season, it’s not the only reason why Mi’kmaw fishers have been staying ashore lately. 

Sipekne’katik fisher Jason Marr, who was trapped in a Middle West Pubnico, N.S., lobster pound by a mob of commercial fishermen days before it was burned to the ground, said his fishing has all but stopped because he can no longer afford to replace gear destroyed or taken by opposing fishers or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

“The [commercial] fishermen are going to go fishing, they’re going to catch their million dollars worth of lobster like they do every other year,” he said.

“Geez, I wish I was capable of it … but that’s a very big, daunting task to consider.” 

Marr said he’s unable to even calculate the value of the gear he’s lost since September, given how frequently he and other Mi’kmaq have needed to source new, used and donated lobster traps, buoys and fishing line. Without being able to recoup costs by selling the catch, Marr said he’s been stretched thin by fishing expenses.

“This is an ongoing thing,” he said.  

“You put 10 traps out, they take 10 traps. You put 10 out, they take 10.”

Sipekne’katik fisher Jason Marr says he’s unable to continue fishing lobster during the commercial season in LFA 34 because of the amount of his fishing gear that’s been taken or destroyed in the last two months. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Marr believes he’s had Mi’kmaw-regulated traps seized recently by DFO, though he said they have not contacted him to confirm it. Having fished lobster in the area for over two decades, Marr said he sees a pattern of mistreatment toward Mi’kmaw fishers by DFO, non-Indigenous fishers and fishing service providers. 

“Wear [the Mi’kmaq] down. That’s a very old tactic,” he said.

“That’s what they do. They’ve exhausted me, and I’m one of the resourceful ones.” 

Marr said he’s frustrated that, despite a renewed push to assert his nation’s treaty right and the potential for dramatic change, Mi’kmaw fishermen are still struggling to make a living as a result of opposition.

“I can’t speak for [other Mi’kmaw fishers], but this year is the most lobster traps I’ve ever fished. I’ve never fished more than 50 at one given time. That’s a big deal for us.”

To better understand what has changed – and what has not – since the 1999 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Mi’kmaw fisherman Donald Marshall Jr., CBC Indigenous reviewed two decades of coverage on Mi’kmaw fishing rights. 9:40

‘We definitely don’t want trouble’

Some maintain that it’s not worth the risk right now for Mi’kmaq to fish with their typically modest vessels for modest earnings. 

The rest of LFA 34 reaches for hundreds of kilometres around the southwest part of Nova Scotia. Mi’kmaw boat captain Jerry Augustine of Sipekne’katik said the size of the Mi’kmaw fleet is so small compared the non-Indigenous commercial fishery, some of the fishers wouldn’t be comfortable being isolated among them. He said the Mi’kmaq are constantly keeping an eye on each other, which has been essential to their success.

“When we’re fishing moderate livelihood, we’re only here in [St. Mary’s] bay,” he said. 

“If anybody gets into trouble, it’s not much to jump on another [Mi’kmaw] boat …but we don’t think anyone else will help us if we break down out there. That’s a big factor. Nobody wants to get hurt.” 

Sipekne’katik councillor and fisherman Jerry Augustine. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Augustine said he’s fished his moderate livelihood licence in St. Mary’s Bay relatively unnoticed by opposing fishermen lately. It’s been one benefit from the commercial season drawing near, he said.

“We definitely don’t want trouble,” Augustine said.

“We just want to we don’t want to worry about Christmas either. I’m sure that’s what every other commercial fisherman is [saying]; they’re going to take care of Christmas. Well, a lot of our guys want to take care of Christmas, too.”

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World’s largest iceberg captured in photos by UK air force plane

An aircraft from the UK”s RAF has taken pictures of the world’s biggest iceberg as it floated over the South Atlantic Ocean.

The sprawling 4,200-sq-km mass, called A68a, was on course towards the island of South Georgia.

The iceberg’s sheer size meant it was impossible to capture its entirety in one single shot from the A400M aircraft, according to the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), which performed the mission.

But the reconnaissance provided “close up” imagery of the mass and surrounding waters for observers and scientists to study.

It was able to observe “with unprecedented detail” cracks and fissures within the main body of the iceberg.

“I know I speak on behalf of all of the crew involved when I say this is certainly a unique and unforgettable task to be involved in,” said Squadron Leader Michael Wilkinson, the officer commanding the fleet.

The A68a would usually have attracted the attention of the numerous cruise ships in the ocean during the summer, but due to the global coronavirus pandemic, cruise ship traffic has been negligible this year.

“Tabular icebergs and debris” were spotted breaking off from the main structure, which could pose a threat to patrol vessels including Royal Navy ships, the BFSAI said.

The force shared data collected by the A400M with both Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) and British Antarctic Survey (BAS) who are following the progress of the A68a

“The imagery stills, video footage and visual observations will all assist in predicting the iceberg’s future behaviour and ascertaining the scale of the threat to the local area,” BFSAI said in a Facebook post.

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