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August 2012    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 27, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the August, 2012 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Diving Isn't That Therapeutic. A British court threw a divorced couple in jail after they fraudulently received more than US$200,000 in disability claims, then used the money to take multiple dive vacations abroad. Rose Jones from Ramsgate, England told the Department for Work and Pensions last year that her back was so bad, she couldn't even open a bottle of wine. But then Jones and her former husband, Reginald, were photographed on holiday, wearing their dive gear, in the Maldives, Indonesia and the Red Sea. Jones later left Reginald., 54, for her German dive instructor. Both tried to blame the other in court for the scam, but Reginald got the bigger share of the blame, receiving a jail sentence of 18 months, while Rose got 15 months.

Exploding Conch Shells, Contaminated Wetsuits. Trying to assassinate Fidel Castro is an an old story, but always a good one, as the Atlantic Monthly recently reported. The CIA seemed to perceive that Castro was vulnerable near or in the ocean. In 1963, it seriously examined "whether an exotic seashell, rigged to explode, could be deposited in an area where Castro commonly went skin diving." Basically, an exploding conch shell. And it explored giving him a wetsuit that been "dusted ... with a fungus that would produce a chronic skin disease (Madura foot), and contaminated the breathing apparatus with a tubercule bacillus." Apparently, the CIA's tech folks bought the suit and did the contamination, but it never left the lab.

Boycott the Solomon Islands? This favorite venue for divers is being threatened with a severe sanction by delegates to the CITES convention, a treaty overseen by the U.N. Environment Program. One reason: Between 2000 and 2010, more than 54,000 birds, mainly parrots and cockatoos, were imported from the Solomons and declared as captive bred. Yet the Solomon Islands is not known to have substantial bird-breeding facilities; registered bird breeders there primarily use their facilities as holding sites for wild-caught birds bound for export ( see www.traffic.org ). The Solomons are also a major exporter of live dolphins to dolphinariums around the world. A major New Zealand conservationist has asked New Zealanders to boycott travel to the Solomons.

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