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1

AMTI noted that Thitu is only about 12 nautical miles (22 kilometers) from Subi Reef, one of the main places China has fortified in its recent buildup in the South China Sea.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry said on Thursday if the Chinese government didn't repudiate the actions of the fishing vessels in the vicinity of Thitu, it would be assumed to have directed them.

"The presence of Chinese vessels within the (island group), whether military, fishing or other vessels, will thus continue to be the subject of appropriate action by the Philippines," the statement said.

Duterte's administration has made threats of military action against Chinese troops in the South China Sea before which have come to nothing. In May 2018, his foreign minister threatened "war" if Beijing attempted to access the oil and gas reportedly buried beneath the sea.

https://edition.cnn.com/

2

Pag-asa-Islands - Show Posts - islander

Fishing vessels and naval ships

Philippines armed forces spokesperson Edgard Arevalo cautioned on Monday that it was difficult to quantify how many ships are around the island at any one time, as Chinese vessels "come and go" from the area.

In an article published in February, the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said the sudden increase in the number of ships between December and January appeared to be a response to reclamation and construction by the Philippines government.

"The fishing boats have mostly been anchored between 2 and 5.5 nautical miles west of Thitu, while the naval and coast guard ships operate slightly farther away to the south and west," the AMTI said in an article.

"The fishing vessels display all the hallmarks of belonging to China's maritime militia, including having no gear in the water that would indicate fishing activity and disabling their Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceivers to hide their activities."

3

Compared with his predecessors, Duterte has viewed the dispute in the South China Sea as more negotiable than a matter of principle.

But China has been strengthening its hold over the region. In May 2018, Beijing announced it had successfully landed bombers on islands under its control for the first time, a big step in the militarization of the region.

The United States has also ramped up its freedom of navigation exercises in the region under US President Donald Trump, in an apparent attempt to hold back Chinese influence.

In a defiant statement to then-US Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a Beijing meeting in June 2018, President Xi Jinping said China wouldn't give up "any inch of territory."

4

Diplomacy and intimidation

To reinforce its claims to the South China Sea, China has built and militarized artificial islands and has attempted to undermine other countries' positions through a combination of diplomacy and intimidation.

Its aggressive moves in the region had antagonized previous Philippine administrations, which took Beijing to court to prove its claims over the sea.

But relations between China and the Philippines have warmed considerably since the 2016 inauguration of Duterte, who has pushed for a closer economic relationship with Beijing.

"I need China. More than anybody else at this point, I need China," Duterte said before flying to China in April 2018.

5

Independent analysis by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI) of the hundreds of vessels which have appeared around Thitu Island since January has determined they are composed of dozens of fishing vessels, as well as China Coast Guard ships and People's Liberation Army Navy ships.

When asked about the disputed island on Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang pointed to a meeting between Philippine and Chinese representatives to discuss a bilateral consultation mechanism to avoid South China Sea conflicts.

"I believe that the consensus reached by the two sides through discussion in this meeting is the best answer to your question," he said.

6

080aad9df4e1f7fbfb1659e6f5b3e400 - Show Posts - islander
A satellite photo from December 20, 2018, showing the fleet of Chinese ships in the area around Thitu Island.

Tensions have risen since the start of 2019 in the South China Sea, one of the world's most disputed regions and an important shipping lane.

The Philippines and China each claim overlapping areas of the vast sea, along with multiple other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. The area where Thitu is located is also claimed by China as part of its territory.
The latest arrival of Chinese vessels around Thitu Island has provoked a stern response from Manila.

The Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement Thursday said their presence was "illegal" and a "clear violation of Philippine sovereignty."

"It has been observed that Chinese vessels have been present in large numbers and for sustained and recurring periods — what is commonly referred to as 'swarming' tactics — raising questions about their intent as well as concerns over their role in support of coercive objectives," the Philippine statement said.

7

Duterte said his words were not a warning, but rather "advice to my friends."

"I will not plead or beg, but I'm just telling you that lay off the Pag-asa because I have soldiers there," he said, according to CNN Philippines.

CNN has reached out to the Philippines government for further comment.

A small Philippine military garrison as well as about 100 civilians are based on Thitu, which lies about 500 kilometers (310 miles) from Palawan, one of the islands that make up the Philippines.

8

Duterte threatens 'suicide mission' if Beijing oversteps in South China Sea

By Ben Westcott and Brad Lendon, CNN
April 5, 2019

Hong Kong (CNN)- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to send his troops on a "suicide mission" if Beijing doesn't "lay off" a Manila-occupied island in the South China Sea.

Duterte's speech at a rally in the city of Puerto Princesa in Palawan came days after the Philippine government claimed as many as 275 Chinese boats and ships had been spotted in recent months around Manila's Thitu Island in the Spratly Island chain.

"Let us be friends, but do not touch Pagasa Island and the rest," Duterte said, according to CNN Philippines, using the Philippine word Pagasa for Thitu.

"If you make moves there, that's a different story. I will tell my soldiers, 'Prepare for suicide mission'."

Pag-Asa-Island-4 - Show Posts - islander

9
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 01:08:28 PM »

323 - Show Posts - islander

10
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 01:07:50 PM »

123 - Show Posts - islander

11
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 01:07:15 PM »

222 - Show Posts - islander

12
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 01:03:19 PM »

640px-Takin_Bhutan_1 - Show Posts - islander

In height, takin stand 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in) at the shoulder, but measure a relatively short 160–220 cm (63–87 in) in head-and-body length, with the tail adding only an additional 12 to 21.6 cm (4.7 to 8.5 in). Measurements of weights vary, but according to most reports, the males are slightly larger, weighing 300–350 kg (660–770 lb) against 250–300 kg (550–660 lb) in females. Sources including Betham (1908) report that females are larger, with the largest captive takin known to the author, at 322 kg (710 lb), having been female. Takin can weigh up to 400 kg (880 lb) or 600 kg (1,300 lb) in some cases. (wikipedia)

13
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 12:54:00 PM »

3837900112_faa8a6166f - Show Posts - islander

14
Facts and Trivia / Re: The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 12:51:48 PM »

takin - Show Posts - islander

15
Facts and Trivia / The Takin of Bhutan
« on: April 01, 2019, 12:47:43 PM »

20190307mishmi-takin5 - Show Posts - islander

Takin is the largest goat antelope and is the national animal of Bhutan, found in the forested valleys of eastern Himalayas of India and Bhutan. Takin are found in small family groups and considered Vulnerable due to overhunting and the destruction of their natural habitat.

walkthroughindia.com/

16

The new best friends have been documented sleeping, eating and playing together, and their owners Chelsea and Adam Stipe said they were instant friends.

"They're both pretty crazy and special. They're definitely our entertainment," Chelsea told NBC.

golden-puppy-becomes-guide-dog-for-blind-brother-their-friendship-is-the-cutest - Show Posts - islander

Chelsea said Maverick learnt quickly to adapt how he played to accommodate Charlie.

"Maverick would realise that Charlie would lose the toy sometimes, so he would pick it up and put it back in front of him to re-engage playtime."

https://www.newshub.co.nz

17

The adorable blind dog with his own seeing-eye puppy

26/03/2019

Alice Webb-Liddall

chien_846dc426aae2ecbd11bfc7fe8f23cafb979ee923 - Show Posts - islander
They're best pals. Photo credit: Instagram/Charlieandmav.

An adorable blind dog now has a seeing-eye pup of his own after losing both his eyes to glaucoma.

Charlie is an 11-year-old golden retriever who has become a social media sensation with his new friend, four-month-old pup, Maverick.

The two dogs are from North Carolina, and have amassed 92,700 followers on their shared Instagram page.

18
Inspiration & Hope / Re: Return of the cat man of Aleppo
« on: March 16, 2019, 01:36:36 PM »

_105921063_untitled-2_976 - Show Posts - islander

"It seems the world cannot solve wars and conflicts these days. That's why there are now so many refugees around the world, but especially here in the Middle East.

"I do not want to be a refugee. I want to stay in my country, in Syria. I want to help people in any way I can."

Diana Darke is the author, with Alaa Aljaleel, of The Last Sanctuary in Aleppo.

https://www.bbc.com/

19
Inspiration & Hope / Re: Return of the cat man of Aleppo
« on: March 16, 2019, 01:34:32 PM »

_105920908_feedingfb2_976 - Show Posts - islander

"I blame all fighting parties equally - no matter who they are or why they say they're fighting - for the killing of civilians," Alaa says.

"We are rebuilding our communities and my role in that is to rebuild my sanctuary for cats. Friendship between animals is a great thing and we should learn from them. I'll stay with them no matter what happens.

20
Inspiration & Hope / Re: Return of the cat man of Aleppo
« on: March 16, 2019, 01:33:30 PM »

_105920086_tiger_bursa_getty_2017_976 - Show Posts - islander
GETTY IMAGES
One of the rescued tigers, in transit through Turkey


In the new sanctuary he looks after 105 children, of whom 85 are "orphans" (in Syria the word covers children who have lost a breadwinner, as well as those who have lost both parents). Only 11 children actually sleep in the orphanage at present, because it isn't finished, but all receive education, food and clothes, for which Alaa pays 25 euros per month.

The biggest risk is the instability in the region. Clashes break out periodically, as it's close to the border with Idlib province, which is controlled by rebel groups who often fight each other. No-one knows what will happen next to that part of Syria and who will end up in charge.

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