Weak Arctic ice sees 56 polar bears descend on Russian village

Polar bears outside the village of Ryrkaypiy in the Chukotka region of Russia’s far north. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2019

Weak Arctic ice sees 56 polar bears descend on Russian village

  • The WWF said 56 polar bears had gathered in a one-square-kilometer area near the village of Ryrkaipy in Chukotka
  • There were concerns they could enter the village, home to fewer than 1,000 people, and patrols had been set up to monitor their movements

MOSCOW: More than 50 polar bears have gathered on the edge of a village in Russia’s far north, environmentalists and residents said, as weak Arctic ice leaves them unable to roam.
The Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund said climate change was to blame, as unusually warm temperatures prevented coastal ice from forming.
The WWF said 56 polar bears had gathered in a one-square-kilometer (0.4-square-mile) area near the village of Ryrkaipy in Chukotka on the northeastern tip of Russia.
There were concerns they could enter the village, home to fewer than 1,000 people, and patrols had been set up to monitor their movements.
“The number of human and predator encounters in the Arctic is increasing,” the WWF said in statement.
“The main reason is the decline of sea ice area due to the changing climate. In the absence of ice cover, animals are forced to go ashore in search of food.”

Residents had gathered walrus carcasses in the area to try to keep the bears from wandering into the village.
“We have created a feeding point with walrus carcasses that we gathered along the coast,” Tatyana Minenko of the local “Bear Patrol” told news agency RIA Novosti.
“As long as there is no big freeze, the sea ice will not form and the bears will stay on the coast,” she said.
Russia’s weather service said temperatures in the region should fall from Saturday and that coastal ice should freeze by December 11.
Polar bears regularly visit areas inhabited by humans in Arctic Russia to search for food, often in rubbish tips.
But the number of visits has been growing as the melting of Arctic ice from climate change forces the bears to spend more time on land where they compete for food.


German foreign ministry backtracks after sense of humor failure in trending tweet gaffe

Updated 17 January 2020

German foreign ministry backtracks after sense of humor failure in trending tweet gaffe

  • The meme was the hashtag #SeduceSomeonein4Words
  • Twitter reaction was mixed

BERLIN: Social media can be a minefield for the strait-laced world of diplomacy, as the German Foreign Office just found out, when it was forced to delete a tweet and apologize for its contribution to a mildly off-color Twitter meme.
The meme was the hashtag #SeduceSomeonein4Words.
Submissions on Thursday ranged from “You hungry? I’m cooking” to “Donald Trump Is Impeached”. Then @GermanyDiplo, the foreign ministry’s English-language channel, came up with “Your visa got approved”.
That got hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes. But it also got a fair amount of criticism, much of it from people suffering through the process of acquiring a German visa.

Germany attracts migrants from the world over, with its free universities, strong economy, high wages and almost full employment. In 2015’s migrant crisis, hundreds of thousands from the Middle East and Africa overwhelmed Europe’s border controls and flooded into Germany.
But eye-catching influxes like that mask the thousands of daily frustrations and family tragedies that take place at the consulates of rich countries. Would-be immigrants spend fortunes and wait weeks and months applying for visas that would let them work, study, or be reunited with loved ones far away.
That gives the consular officials who award the coveted stamp immense power. British and US officials have been investigated for abusing that power, allegedly requiring sex in exchange for visas.
So Twitter reaction was mixed.
“Even though it’s terribly hard and sometimes humiliating to try to get visa from German Consulate, the joke is still very funny!” wrote Turkish journalist Rahsan Gulsan.
GermanyDiplo rapidly backtracked, deleting the tweet and four hours later issuing a rueful apology.
“Being funny is apparently not always our strong suit,” the ministry wrote. “We know the visa process is complex, and visa decisions can deeply affect peoples’ lives. Our colleagues take these decisions very seriously.”