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JAPAN - 30.03.2021

"One of the most memorable values that we preserve and remember when we travel is the star of hospitality, that unconditional human contact that we receive unselfishly with kindness and deep respect when we find ourselves on the stage of a journ
Photo: Michel Catalisano by Unsplash


"One of the most memorable values that we preserve and remember when we travel is the star of hospitality, that unconditional human contact that we receive unselfishly with kindness and deep respect when we find ourselves on the stage of a journey.


Omotenashi in Japan is not a mask or a simple paraphrase learned as a modal or fickle standard during the moment of serving a guest, customer, diner or visitor in a city. Omotenashi is much more, it is a millenary tradition, which is learned and recognised as an impeccable value offered to a person from the perspective that the customer is a God. 


Keigo is an important part of Omotenashi, it is formal language with a high degree of politeness and has the spirit of valuing the actions of the interlocutor and giving supreme importance to the welfare of others. In Japan you will always feel like a special guest, no matter if you visit a majestic restaurant or a simple little handicraft shop in a traditional neighborhood, you will always be welcomed in the wonderful manifestation of the deep respect and techniques of "Omotenashi". 


Omotenashi has the spirit of creating a pleasant, respectful, cordial and memorable atmosphere for the guest or customer, offering selfless benevolence and anticipating their wishes, leaving our guest with an indelible memory of care and high value in the hospitality of their journey. Immersing oneself in the constellation of Omotenashi techniques and adapting them to the culture and traditions of hospitality establishments and services in tourism is one of the trends that make a difference in the experience of travellers. Text / Red.


EGYPT - 23.03.2021

By Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2021, Attribution,
Photo: By Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data 2021, CC-Creative Commons

On 23 March 2021, at around 05:40 UTC (07:40 Local Time), the Suez Canal was blocked in both directions by the ultra-large Golden-class container ship Ever Given. 

The ship, operated by Evergreen Marine, was en route from China to the Netherlands when she ran aground after a strong gust of wind blew her off course. Upon running aground, Ever Given turned sideways, completely blocking the canal. Although there is an older section of the canal which could have helped bypass obstructions, this particular incident happened in a section of the canal with only one channel. Refloating the Ever Given is thought to take some days to complete.

At the dawn of the incident, many economists and trade experts have commented on the effects of the blockade if not resolved quickly, citing how important the Suez is to global trade, and the incident is likely to drastically effect the global economy because of the trapped goods scheduled to go through the canal following the incident. Among the products, oil shipments are the most affected in the immediate aftermath, due to a significant amount of them remaining blocked with no way to reach their destination. Referring to the European and American market, a few maritime experts have disputed the prediction of a drastic effect on trade, saying this "really isn’t a substantial transit route for crude", noting that traffic has only slowed down and that this might only impact sectors with existing shortages such as the semiconductor industry. But whats about the Suez Canal, when was it built? How was the Canal-Project financed an where were the men behind this global story of success in sea-transport. See the following articles to get more insights. Text / Red.




EGYPT - 25.03.2021

Photos: Public Commons / By Unsplash

The Suez Canal from space, showing the Great Bitter Lake at centre.
Photo: CC Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

The Suez Canal is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suezand dividing Africa and Asia. Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it officially opened on 17 November 1869. The canal offers watercraft a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean and Red seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London, for example, by approximately 8,900 km (5,500 mi).

It extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi) including its northern and southern access-channels. In 2019, 17,225 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 47 per day).In 2019, the last year before the COVID 19 pandemic, there were 18,800 ships. The Egyptian state-owned Suez Canal Authority took in over US$5 billion, an average of more than US$300.000 per transit. 

The original canal featured a single-lane waterway with passing locations in the Ballah Bypass and the Great Bitter Lake. It contained, according to Alois Negrelli's plans, no lock systems, with seawater flowing freely through it. In general, the water in the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. South of the lakes, the current changes with the tide at Suez. 

While the canal as such was the property of the Egyptian government, European shareholders, mostly French and British, owned the concessionary company which operated it until July 1956, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized it—an event which led to the Suez Crisis of October–November 1956.[5] The canal is operated and maintained by the state-owned Suez Canal Authority(SCA) of Egypt. Under the Convention of Constantinople, it may be used "in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag." Nevertheless, the canal has played an important military strategic role as a naval short-cut and choke-point. Navies with coastlines and bases on both the Mediterranean and Red Seas (Egypt and Israel) have a particular interest in the Suez Canal.

In August 2014, the Egyptian government launched construction to expand and widen the Ballah Bypass for 35 km (22 mi) to speed the canal's transit-time. The expansion intended to nearly double the capacity of the Suez Canal, from 49 to 97 ships per day.At a cost of 59.4 billion Egyptian pounds (US$9bn), this project was funded with interest-bearing investment certificates issued exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals. The "New Suez Canal," as the expansion was dubbed, was opened with great fanfare in a ceremony on 6 August 2015. 

On 24 February 2016, the Suez Canal Authority officially opened the new side channel. This side channel, located at the northern side of the east extension of the Suez Canal, serves the East Terminal for berthing and unberthing vessels from the terminal. As the East Container Terminal is located on the Canal itself, before the construction of the new side channel it was not possible to berth or unberth vessels at the terminal while a convoy was running. Text / Red.




EGYPT - 25.03.2021

SS Crew Earth Observations: ISS020-E-45018 Identification Mission ISS020 (Expedition 20) Roll E Frame 45018 Country or Geographic Name Egypt Features GREAT BITTER LAKE, FAYID, SUEZ CANAL, SHIPS Center Point Latitude 30.4° N Center Point Longitude 32.4° E
TRIESTE Italy, Photo: Nikola Ristivojevic by Unsplash

Economically, after its completion, the Suez Canal benefited primarily the sea trading powers of the Mediterranean countries, which now had much faster connections to the Near and Far East than the North and West European sea trading nations such as Great Britain or Germany. The main Austrian-Hungarian trading port of Trieste with its direct connections to Central Europe experienced a meteoric rise at that time. 


The time saved in the 19th century for an assumed steamship trip to Bombay from Brindisi and Trieste was 37 days, from Genoa 32, from Marseille 31, from Bordeaux, Liverpool, London, Amsterdam and Hamburg 24 days. At that time, it was also necessary to consider whether the goods to be transported could bear the costly canal tariff. This led to a rapid growth of Mediterranean ports with their land routes to Central and Eastern Europe. According to today's information from the shipping companies, the route from Singapore to Rotterdam through the Suez Canal will be shortened by 6000 kilometers and thus by nine days compared to the route around Africa. As a result, liner services between Asia and Europe save 44 percent CO2 (carbon dioxide) thanks to this shorter route. The Suez Canal has a correspondingly important role in the connection between East Africa and the Mediterranean region. In the 20th century, trade through the Suez Canal came to a standstill several times, due to the two world wars and the Suez crisis. Many trade flows were also shifted away from the Mediterranean ports towards Northern European terminals, such as Hamburg and Rotterdam. Only after the end of the Cold War, the growth in European economic integration, the consideration of CO2 emission and the Chinese Silk Road Initiative, are Mediterranean ports such as Piraeus and Trieste again at the focus of growth and investment. Text / Red.





SS Crew Earth Observations: ISS020-E-45018 Identification Mission ISS020 (Expedition 20) Roll E Frame 45018 Country or Geographic Name Egypt Features GREAT BITTER LAKE, FAYID, SUEZ CANAL, SHIPS Center Point Latitude 30.4° N Center Point Longitude 32.4° E
SS Crew Earth Observations: ISS020-E-45018 Identification Mission ISS020 (Expedition 20) Roll E Frame 45018 Country or Geographic Name Egypt Features GREAT BITTER LAKE FAYID SUEZ CANAL SHIPS Center Point Latitude 30.4° N Center Point Longitude 32.4° E


The opening of the canal created the first salt-water passage between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Although the Red Sea is about 1.2 m (4 ft) higher than the eastern Mediterranean, the current between the Mediterranean and the middle of the canal at the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer.


The current south of the Bitter Lakes is tidal, varying with the tide at Suez. The Bitter Lakes, which were hypersaline natural lakes, blocked the migration of Red Sea species into the Mediterranean for many decades, but as the salinity of the lakes gradually equalised with that of the Red Sea the barrier to migration was removed, and plants and animals from the Red Sea have begun to colonise the eastern Mediterranean.

The Red Sea is generally saltier and more nutrient-poorer than the Atlantic, so the Red Sea species have advantages over Atlantic species in the less salty and nutrient-rich eastern Mediterranean. Accordingly, most Red Sea species invade the Mediterranean biota, and only few do the opposite. This migratory phenomenon is called Lessepsian migration (after Ferdinand de Lesseps) or "Erythrean invasion". Also impacting the eastern Mediterranean, starting in 1968, was the operation of Aswan High Dam across the Nile. While providing for increased human development, the project reduced the inflow of freshwater and ended all-natural nutrient-rich silt entering the eastern Mediterranean at the Nile Delta. This provided less natural dilution of Mediterranean salinity and ended the higher levels of natural turbidity, additionally making conditions more like those in the Red Sea.

Invasive species originating from the Red Sea and introduced into the Mediterranean by the canal have become a major component of the Mediterranean ecosystem and have serious impacts on the ecology, endangering many local and endemic species. About 300 species from the Red Sea have been identified in the Mediterranean, and there are probably others yet unidentified. The Egyptian government's intent to enlarge the canal raised concerns from marine biologists, who feared that it would worsen the invasion of Red Sea species. Text / Red.


BRASIL - 08.03.2021

Photos Collage by Unsplash

Indigenous people from Colombia and Brazil sue french supermarket chain for deforesting the Amazon.
Photo: Gryffyn M. Palm by Unsplash

Indigenous people from Colombia and Brazil sue french supermarket chain for deforesting the Amazon. Representatives of several communities accuse the French group of buying meat from suppliers suspected of involvement in forest destruction and slave labour. 


Representatives of several Amazonian indigenous communities filed a lawsuit with a lawsuit on Wednesday in Saint-Étienne, in southern France, against French supermarket and retail giant, the Casino Group, which they accuse of failing to prevent, through its subsidiaries in Brazil and Colombia, the deforestation of their lands and violations of human rights. The lawsuit, backed by several international NGOs, is based on the "due diligence" law passed in France in 2017. The norm used now for the first time against a supermarket chain obliges companies with more than 5,000 employees to ensure that "both their subsidiaries and subcontractors" do not cause "serious violations against human rights and fundamental freedoms, against people's health and safety, as well as against the environment throughout their sphere of influence". 


According to the plaintiffs, the Casino Group, whose South American subsidiaries Pão de Açúcar in Brazil and Grupo Éxito in Colombia account for 47% of its annual revenue, "failed to review its surveillance and action policies to ensure that throughout its supply chain there are no human rights or environmental violations." One of the main reasons, they say, is that Casino continues to buy products from global meat giant JBS, accused by several NGOs of sourcing its products from involved in deforestation practices and even slave labour. 

Among the documentation compiled by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA) for the lawsuit, it is argued that the Casino Group "regularly purchased meat from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS, whose meat came from 592 suppliers responsible for deforesting at least 50,000 hectares between 2008 and 2020, five times the area of Paris." In addition, the plaintiffs claim to present evidence of "rights violations" of indigenous people. Among others, they point out, "lands ancestrally owned by the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau community, located in the State of Rondônia, were invaded and exploited by cattle ranches that supply beef to the Pão de Açúcar supermarket, a subsidiary of the Casino Group in Brazil". 


"The demand for beef by Casino and Pão de Açúcar brings deforestation and land grabs, violence and murder of indigenous leaders when they decide to resist," explained Luis Eloy Terena, of the Brazilian Terena people and legal advisor to the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), one of the plaintiffs. "Indigenous people are being orphaned in their own territories," he denounced in an online press conference. 


By email, a spokesperson for the Casino group declined to comment on "an ongoing procedure" but said its Brazilian subsidiary "develops a systematic and rigorous policy to control the origin of beef supplied by its suppliers".  In the face of accusations from NGOs such as the French Envol Vert, which on Wednesday said that in 2020 alone it was able to identify "54 products sold at Pão de Açúcar related to deforestation", the Casino Group says it "has been actively fighting, and for years, against deforestation related to cattle ranching in Brazil and Colombia".


If the lawsuit is accepted by the court in Saint-Étienne, where the Casino group is based, the case could go to trial in at least a year. As explained by Sébastien Mabile, a lawyer with Seattle Avocats, what the lawsuit seeks is for the company to "adopt a new plan with appropriate measures to curb deforestation in the supply of beef in the Amazon". In addition, the plaintiffs request "compensation for damages suffered" of more than three million euros (about 20.34 million reais) for the indigenous communities represented and 10,000 euros for each plaintiff association by way of "moral damages". 


Coinciding with the coming to power in Brazil of Jair Bolsonaro, a president who has nothing concerned with environmental issues, with a heightened awareness of climate change as a global climate change as a global threat, international scrutiny of the deforestation of the Amazon and the production chains of the companies that feed on this region. This attention is focused on the Amazon, which covers nine countries, mainly Brazil. The largest tropical forest in the world lost 11,088 km2 in Brazilian territory, 9.5% more than in the previous year, according to the last annual report  released in November. Bolsonaro's systematic weakening of environmental enforcement structures has turned Brazil into a villain in the eyes of much of the world and the target of direct criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron. Text/Red.


Photos Collage by Unsplash