SeaWorld suit alleges California commission overreached in banning captive orca breeding

FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2006, file photo, people watch through glass as a killer whale swims by in a display tank at SeaWorld in San Diego. SeaWorld filed a lawsuit Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, challenging a California commission’s ruling that bans the company from breeding captive killer whales at its San Diego park. (AP Photo/Chris Park, File) SeaWorld suit alleges California commission overreached in banning captive orca breeding by The Associated Press Posted Dec 29, 2015 6:58 pm MDT Last Updated Dec 30, 2015 at 10:20 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email SAN DIEGO – A California commission was overreaching when it banned the breeding of captive killer whales at a $100 million planned exhibit at San Diego’s SeaWorld, the park claimed in a lawsuit.The suit filed Tuesday in San Diego County Superior Court asserts that the park’s treatment of its whales is subject to federal law and not the decisions of the California Coastal Commission, which must approve major new building developments in coastal cities.The commission endorsed the orca tank expansion known as “Blue World,” but in a surprising and serious blow to the park included a ban on breeding at the planned facility and prohibitions on the sale, trade or transfer of the whales.“This last-minute ‘no breeding or transfer’ condition is unprecedented,” SeaWorld said in the lawsuit, which claims the commission’s action is illegal because it has no jurisdiction over the orcas.“The orcas are not, in any way, part of the coastal or marine environment,” the lawsuit says. “All of SeaWorld’s activities with respect to the care, breeding and transportation of orcas occur onshore in the orca pools and not in the marine environment and are specifically governed by federal law.”Noaki Schwartz, spokeswoman for the Coastal Commission, said the agency could not comment on the particulars of the lawsuit, but the commission said in a statement that it “stands by its decision in October to protect killer whales.”People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the main group opposing the project, said in a statement Tuesday that the commission was within its rights and made the correct decision.“It’s clear that the company’s primary intention in pursuing the Blue World Project was to breed more orcas to confine to tanks,” PETA said in a statement.SeaWorld said in October that it would challenge the decision and that it had hired attorneys to examine it but did not give specifics before filing the lawsuit Tuesday.Last month, the Orlando, Florida-based company said it would end theatrical orca shows at the San Diego park after visitors at the tourist attraction made it clear they prefer seeing killer whales act naturally rather than doing tricks.The shows will continue at the company’s Orlando and San Antonio parks, which are not affected by the breeding ban. read more

Syria UN chief stresses urgency of achieving political solution to end ongoing

“We all need to inject urgency towards reaching a political solution while there is still time to prevent Syria’s complete destruction,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.“The end goal is clear to all – there must be an end to violence, a clean break with the past and a transition to a new Syria in which the rights of all communities are protected and the legitimate aspirations of all Syrians for freedom, dignity and justice, are met,” it added.“The sooner a military solution is abandoned the better. There is no need for more people to die, flee or grieve in Syria.”Well over 70,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. The country is facing a humanitarian crisis, with over three million people displaced from their homes, including one million seeking safety in neighbouring countries. “Two years ago, Syrians stood up in peaceful popular protests to appeal for their universal rights and freedoms,” noted the statement. “This appeal was answered with brutal force by the Syrian authorities. Today, the world is watching the consequences with horror.” Mr. Ban called on the region and the international community, in particular the Security Council, to find unity and lend its full support to the efforts of the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, to help the Syrian people reach a political solution to the conflict. read more