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from India Insight:

India negotiating to bring back stolen antiques: ASI

India plans to step up its efforts to bring back Indian artefacts from other countries after the recent repatriation of a 10th century “Yogini” stone sculpture from Paris.

Illegal trade in paintings, sculptures and other artefacts is one of the world's most profitable criminal enterprises, estimated at $6 billion a year, according to Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based advocacy group. India is one of the biggest targets for smugglers, who ship stolen antiques and other culturally important artefacts abroad to sell to art dealers and museums.

India Insight spoke to R.S. Fonia, Director (Antiquity) at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), about the black market for Indian artefacts and what the ASI is doing to bring Indian antiques back home. This interview has been lightly edited.

Are you seeing an increase or decrease in smuggling of Indian artefacts?

Awareness has increased about the antiquities, so it has decreased. Certainly there is decline of smuggling.

from Photographers' Blog:

An underground photography mission

Gaza-Egypt border in the southern Gaza Strip

By Mohammed Salem

It was not easy to get in to the tunnels’ area on the Gaza-Egypt border. I had to make an enormous effort to obtain a permit from the Hamas-run interior ministry because there is a ban on photography in this area for apparent security reasons. Once I had the permit, I headed straight to the area where I was stopped at several police checkpoints before finally getting to one of the smuggling tunnels. It took me a few minutes to take in the area and see the real situation with my own eyes, not as it is described by others. Hundreds of tunnel entrances were covered by tents in an attempt to hide the location and Egyptian army tanks were close by, guarding the border.

One of the tunnel workers, Abu Mohammed, offered to let me see his tunnel. At the entrance, his colleagues were sleeping and having a rest after some hard work while the other shifts were working underground. Abu Mohammed decided to accompany me to help me while I was photographing inside the tunnel. I was surprised and a bit frightened to see a 20 meter-deep hole, and wasn't so happy about going down into the dark. Abu Mohammed encouraged me, saying that you descend on a rope operated by an electric generator, assuring me that the rope was strong enough to carry heavy construction materials. I tied my cameras around my body and the adventure began.

from The Human Impact:

Smuggling of weapons-grade nuclear material unacceptable – former CIA officer

Rolf Mowatt-Larsson, currently a senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center, served more than three years as director of intelligence and counter-intelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy and for 23 years as a Central Intelligence Agency officer in various posts.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/9D02zhRiEgg[/youtube]

He delivered a presentation about preventing nuclear terrorism at the three-day "Reporting on International Security and Terrorism" seminar in Istanbul hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

from Environment Forum:

Suspected smuggler of rare Sumatran tigers arrested in Indonesia

wwfid-518Indonesian wildlife officials have arrested a suspected smuggler of critically endangered Sumatran tigers after a two-day stakeout, World Wildlife Fund reports. There are believed to be fewer than 400 of these rare big cats in the wild.

The arrest was made by Indonesia's Natural Resource Conservation Agency in Riau and West Sumatra provinces, with support from World Wildlife Fund-Indonesia's Tiger Protection Units. The authorities also seized the skin of a Sumatran tiger they believed was poisoned.

from Environment Forum:

Backyard tigers

ENVIRONMENT-TIGERS/Would you keep a tiger as a pet?

A puppy-sized tiger cub can be bought in the United States for as little as $200, and there are probably about 5,000 such backyard tigers across the country, about the same number of privately owned tigers in China, according to World Wildlife Fund.

That is far greater than the approximately 3,200 wild tigers worldwide, compared to the estimated 100,000 wild tigers a century ago. The growing number of these animals in captivity poses a threat to the species in the wild, WWF reports.

from Environment Forum:

Tiger among fluffy toys shows extreme smuggling tricks

tigerThe drugged tiger cub (left) hidden among cuddly toys in a bag at Bangkok airport  ranks as one of the most bizarre smuggling tricks.

Imagine the shock of X-raying the bag -- as airport workers checking luggage did -- and finding a live tiger among the fluffy tiger toys. Maybe it moved, or they spotted the outline of its skeleton among the other toys?

from Fan Fare:

Cameron Douglas girlfriend arrested for smuggling heroin in toothbrush

douglasCall them the Hollywood drug gang that couldn't shoot straight -- or get straight.

First, the son of Michael Douglas, 30-year-old Cameron Douglas, gets arrested late last month in New York City for allegedly dealing in crystal meth. He's a member of Hollywood royalty -- grandson of Kirk Douglas -- and undoubtedly was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. You can read about his arrest here.

from India Insight:

Prohibition policy in Gujarat — a tragic farce?

More than 130 people died after consuming bootleg liquor in Gujarat last week.

While prohibition is in place in Gujarat, liquor is often smuggled in from neighbouring states and people are forced to buy it at inflated prices.

What can the poor do? They cannot afford to buy branded alcohol so they consume illicit liquor. Plastic pouches called 'potlis' of illegally brewed liquor are available for as little as ten rupees.

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