North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Its forest fire season in Chile

Chile is that long string of a country running north south down the spine of South America. It's officially summer there, and each year, their wildfire season erupts. This week, a forest fire did some damage to the landscape inside the spectacular Torres del Paine national park, as well as destroying a large wood products facility nearby the park boundary. It also caused a spat between the Chilean government and Israel.

Chile is an unusually shaped country with its narrow band of land running from the Pacific Ocean to the high divide of the Andes mountain range. Chile has a population of over 15 million people, is one of the more prosperous nations on the continent, and is famous for its copper wealth, wines, seafood (and don't forget its forest products.)

Chile's amazing Torres del Paine national park is far south towards the tip of South America - full of glaciers, rock, and apparently forests.

The current wildfire is adding a layer of smoke to the landscape

As with forest fire fighting everywhere, there are high visibility yellow shirts, bandanas, hose, and shovels.

Apparently, an Israeli tourist may have started the forest fire, and if proven to be the culprit, would be subject to a small fine. The suspect, Rotem Singer, 23, who was backpacking in the Patagonian national park, has denied the allegations against him. "It wasn't me, they put the blame on me. I supposedly confessed, but I didn't really confess." So, that issue will be sorted out in due time, and Singer's father, and a lawyer from Santiago are apparently headed down to facilitate the personal legal aspects.

Singer is released from custody, but has had his passport taken away and is expected to report to the local police station once a week.

The Chilean government however is pressing Israel to pay for the costs of fighting the fire. This morning, Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected the call for restitution over blaze if Singer's involvement is proved, but stressed 'deep friendship' between two countries was 'stronger than ever.'

The ministry also said that Israel will plant seedlings in the Chilean nature reserve hit by wildfires. In the statement, Israel when on to note that it identifies with Chile following a similar disaster in Israel's own Carmel Forest and offered Chile aid through a delegation of forestation experts.

Tree planting in Israel has been a cornerstone of the nation's activities, restoring tree cover to hundreds of square miles, and creating a cadre of expertise in arid land afforestation. Here is the Neve Ilan Forest outside of Jerusalem.

So in the broader picture of Chilean-Israeli relations, we assume this will all be handled with diplomacy, rather than escalating rhetoric and tensions.

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