It’s been a few months since our last follow-up post, so here are a few mini-updates and additional tidbits on some topics from previous articles (of which we have officially reached 400 today) here at The Basement Geographer:
Varosha: Forever Trapped in 1974 (originally posted 27 August 2010): A report in the Turkish daily Milliyet on 26 March that Turkish Cypriot officials may unilaterally open access to refugees from the Varosha district of Famagusta, abandoned since 1974, created a major media firestorm in the Greek portion of Cyprus. The catch? The proposal would allow refugees back into Varosha as long as they acknowledge the sovereignty of the Turkish Cypriot administration over the area (Northern Cyprus declared independence in 1983 but remains only recongised by Turkey). Formerly a major tourist resort, Varosha (Turkish: Maraş) has sat in stasis since its population fled the district in a matter of hours in the wake of the Turkish invasion of the island country. Currently, only Turkish soldiers and United Nations personnel are allowed into the abandoned district, considered to be one of the holy grails for urban explorers from around the world. A 1984 UN resolution states that the district should be handed over to UN control as part of the buffer zone between the Greek and Turkish portions of the island.
Source: Julienbzh35, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/27/Famagusta2009_3.jpg/640px-Famagusta2009_3.jpg. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.
The Trans Labrador Highway: Not For Amateurs (originally posted 27 December 2010): The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced this week that the entire length of the original 549 km (341 km) stretch of highway between Labrador City and Happy Valley-Goose Bay will finally be paved by 2014, putting two contracts for the paving to tender. The government remains on track to have the entire 1 280 km (751 mi) wilderness highway paved by 2019.
The Sad Saga of Equatorial Guinea (originally posted 14 July 2011): Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue (‘Teodorin’), current Equatoguinean Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and jet-setting, high-spending, over-indulgentson of the country’s infamous kleptocratic dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, was the subject of an arrest warrant request from French magistrates this week. Charges of money laundering against Teodorin (specifically, acquiring real estate through fraudulent means) are rather unsurprising; much of the wealth from the tiny country’s considerable oil production has gone into familial pockets while the vast majority of population languishes in dire poverty. Part of the investigation saw a €150 million building in Paris owned by the Equatoguinean government raided by authorities who seized millions of euro worth of artwork and high-end wines; a separate raid saw the seizure of eleven luxury cars.
Also making world news this week was the bizarre story of Equatorial Guinea’s unilateral closure of its border with Cameroon after a Cameroonian trader was stopped by Equatoguinean soldiers looking for bribes. When the trader produced all of the documents necessary for entry, thus removed the opportunity for the soldiers to solicit a bribe, one of the soldiers pulled out a plastic bottle full of urine and poured the contents onto the trader’s cargo. According to witnesses, this began a heated exchange that led to an accidental gunshot and a brawl injuring parties on either side of the border.
The Wooden Grain Elevator: An Endangered Prairie Icon (originally posted 14 September 2011): It’s always heartening to hear some good news for a change about wooden grain elevators on the prairies, especially when it come to preserving entire rows of elevators. In the hamlet of Mossleigh, Alberta, a row of three elevators remains standing; the last such row of three in the province according to one Ian Donovan, the man who owns the elevator in the middle. He and his cousin Eric have acquired two of the three elevators over the years and look to preserve them from destruction. Negotiations are in place to purchase the final elevator in the row (the southernmost) from Parrish & Heimbecker, a grain company that is looking to dispose of the 80 m (25 ft) tall icon. The mild winter this year in the region enabled most of the necessary repairs to Eric’s elevator to be completed; it will continue to function as a working storage silo.
Lake Eyre: Australia’s Low Point (originally posted 3 October 2011): For a historically unprecedented four year in a row, water has reached Australia’s largest lakebed thanks to the La Niña weather pattern. Currently, Lake Eyre North is 50 percent full, Lake Eyre South is 70 percent full, and both sections of the lakebed have exploded in colour as the water brings lakebed life into full bloom. Not only are fish and birds making their way to Lake Eyre to feed on the algal and plant bloom, but tourists are flocking there as well (with the current La Niña cycle coming to an end, this could be the last year for many years that any substantial amount of water makes it to the lakebed). The surge of tourists is expected to be so great that the South Australian Environment Department is planning to put up fencing to ensure that visitors do not stray too far off-road and potentially spoil the delicate environment of the area.
The Arctic Winter Games (originally posted 5 March 2012): Alaska wound up taking home the most medals (61 gold and 190 total) at this year’s edition of the games held in Whitehorse, Yukon between 4-10 March 2012. A close four-way battle ensured for second in the medal count, with Russia’s Yamal-Nenets region taking home 50 gold and 101 total medals; host Yukon finished at 45/121 alongside Alberta North (40/104) and the Northwest Territories (32/115). The Hodgson Trophy for fair play and team spirit was awarded to Nunavut. As for the ever-painful knuckle hop event (always the final event of the games, similar to the marathon’s position at the Olympics), Yukoner Tom Fulop won by hopping an amazing 34.76 m on his knuckles.
Small Island Developing States (originally posted 22 March 2012): The preface to article mentioned the burgeoning BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) group, which held its fourth annual summit on 29 March in New Delhi. Key statements to emerge from the group after the meeting included mutual recognition of Iran’s right to peacefully pursue nuclear energy, a Syrian-led transition to a democratic process in that country, the exploration of forming a BRICS-led ‘South-South Development Bank’ in the mould of the World Bank, a continued moved away from the US dollar in mutual trade, and chastising of richer countries for destabilising the world economy. Lowlights of the summit included the self-immolation of Tibetan activist Jamphei Yeshi during a protest against the visit of Chinese president Hu Jintao.
ABC News (2012). Fencing to help protect outback Lake Eyre. 21 March 2012. Available at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-21/lake-eyre-water-tourists-fencing/3903060?section=business. Accessed 1 April 2012.
Agence France-Presse (2012). French judges seek E. Guinea president son’s arrest: source. Expatica, 27 March 2012. Available at http://www.expatica.com/fr/news/french-news/french-judges-seek-e-guinea-president-son-s-arrest-source_217808.html. Accessed 30 March 2012.
Ducatel, S. (2012). Mossleigh-area residents plan to maintain hamlet’s row of three grain elevators. The Vulcan Advocate, 27 March 2012. Available at http://www.vulcanadvocate.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3515056. Accessed 31 March 2012.
Edwards, V. (2012). La Nina’s water of life puts red heart in pink. The Australian, 31 March 2012. Available at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/la-nina-puts-red-heart-in-pink/story-e6frg6nf-1226314906443. Accessed 1 April 2012.
Etahoben, B. (2012). Equatorial Guinea shuts border with Cameroon. Africa Review, 29 March 2012. Available at http://www.africareview.com/News/Equatorial+Guinea+shuts+border+with+Cameroon/-/979180/1375870/-/e0nmhk/-/. Accessed 31 March 2012.
Kumar, N. (2012). Martyr’s funeral for Tibetan protestor. Hindustan Times, 30 March 2012. Available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/HimachalPradesh/Martyr-s-funeral-for-Tibetan-protester/Article1-832780.aspx. Accessed 30 March 2012.
Lévesque, T. (2012). French judges seek arrest of Eq. Guinea leader’s son. Chicago Tribune, 27 March 2012. Available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-france-eguinea-update-2l6e8er7rp-20120327,0,4205861,full.story. Accessed 30 March 2012.
McMillan, E. (2012). Arctic athletes endure the pain of knuckle hop. CBC News, 10 March 2012. Available at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/03/10/north-awg-knuckle-hop.html. Accessed 31 March 2012.
NDTV (2012). Top ten highlights of the BRICS summit. 29 March 2012. Available at http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/top-ten-highlights-of-the-brics-summit-191628. Accessed 30 March 2012.
Penberthy, N. (2012). Lake Eyre spectacular in green. Australian Geographic, 14 March 2012. Available at http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/a-photographer-captures-lake-eyres-greening.htm. Accessed 1 April 2012.