Thatcher’s Downing Street child abuse scandal


This video from Britain is called Inquiry launched into Tory child abuse.

By Sadie Robinson in Britain:

Tue 6 Nov 2012

Child abuse scandal: the cover-up goes to the top

David Cameron has announced an investigation into allegations that senior Tories abused children during the 1970s and 1980s.

He was forced to make the move following claims that one senior Tory raped a child, Steve Messham, in north Wales “more than a dozen times”.

The senior Tory is said to have been a top ally of Margaret Thatcher.

The allegations are shocking enough. But more appalling is the fact that the establishment covered them up. Police dismissed victims as liars. An investigation into abuse in 2000 was limited to abuse that occurred inside children’s homes.

Those who had been driven elsewhere to be abused by others, including senior Tories, couldn’t give evidence about that. The final report protected the names of several alleged abusers—including two senior Tories.

A previous inquiry commissioned by Clwyd County Council was never published. Copies of it were pulped so that the local authority could maintain its insurance cover.

Politicians and the press are usually eager to denounce paedophiles and call for tougher sanctions for abusers. But when people in power abuse children, they turn a blind eye. It seems some abusers matter more than others.

Along with Cameron’s inquiry, the police investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales could also be reopened. Yet the entire establishment has failed victims of abuse time and time again as it has continued to protect people in power.

Sadly there’s no guarantee that fresh investigations will deliver truth or justice. This scandal doesn’t simply condemn individual Tories. It’s an indictment of the sick system they uphold.

Flemish and Dutch poetry event


On Sunday 4 November, Flemish and Dutch poets read their poetry in a pub full of people in Leiden, the Netherlands.

First on stage: Gideon Roggeveen‘s poetry.

The poems were about love, rain, wind and shark fin soup.

Upperfloor was supposed to come now. But she had not arrived yet. So, Marijn Baas read his poems, on atoms and clocks.

Then, Roel Weerheijm, about a terrace.

After Roel, from Flanders, Xavier Roelens.

This is a Xavier Roelens poetry video.

This time, his poems were about Apple computers, a traffic accident, and the sun.

Then came Rian Evers, vocals and guitar.

This is a Rian Evers music video.

She sang this time self-written songs and Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, by Bob Dylan (with “boy” substituted for the “gal” in Dylan’s lyrics).

From Flanders, more precisely from Gent, came David Troch.

This is a video of David Troch reading poems.

This time, he read a poem on the death of his grandfather.

During a pause, I saw, from Rotterdam: Upperfloor, visual artist and poetess. She had arrived after all. This time her hair was shorter than last time I saw her. Contrary to David Troch, whose hair had grown.

After the pause, first Flemish poetess Sylvie Marie. Her poems were about love and about cars. An unusual subject, she said, as many poets don’t have a driving licence. But editors of a literary magazine had said it would the subject for the next issue, and after some time, she had made something fitting that theme.

After Sylvie Marie, Upperfloor.

This is a video of Upperfloor reading poems in Rotterdam.

This time, her first poem was on Belgrade after NATO had bombed it in 1999. It reminded her a bit of her own Rotterdam, bombed by Hitler’s Luftwaffe in 1940.

Her second poem was on Internet dating.

After Upperfloor, poetess Tessa van Breeden.

Then, Dorit van Amsterdam, the youngest poet in the Netherlands, eight years old. She read from her booklet De Grommetjes, about small, mysterious beings. She got the most applause of the whole afternoon.

Dorit’s dog and her younger sister were present.

Cover of Dorit's booklet

Then, stand up comedy by Björn Ciggaar.

Finally, Dorit’s mother Nathalie van Amsterdam, a doctor. She sang a song about male circumcision, while Gitta Petri played accordion.

Old Caribbean Papiamento text discovered


From Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Third oldest Papiamento text discovered

Leiden University researchers have discovered by chance a note from 1783 in Papiamento. They are working on a linguistic study on confiscated Dutch letters. This study, ‘Letters as loot’, is a project of professor Marijke van der Wal’s.

‘Mi papa bieda die mi Courasson’

First page of Papiamento letter

First page of Papiamento letter

Anna Elisabeth Schermer-Charje wrote a note in Papiamento, signed it from [sic; for] her son, Jantje, and sent it to her husband, Dirk Schermer, who was in Rotterdam at the time. Mi papa bieda die mi Courasson ‘My daddy, my heart’s life,’ bieni prees toe seeka bo joego doesje ‘come quickly to your sweet little child’: thus starts the note that Dirk Schermer never received.

From Curaçao

View of the harbour of Curaçao

View of the harbour of Curaçao

The value of the Papiamento note was confirmed by Creol expert Bart Jacobs at the University of Konstanz. He was unable to hide his enthusiasm when he laid eyes on the note that was sent from Curaçao to Rotterdam in 1783. The Papiamento of today’s ABC islands; Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, had always been a spoken means of communication. The two oldest written texts date from the late eighteenth century. This third text has now been added to them. The Leiden researchers found the remarkable document in the London National Archives, enclosed in a Dutch letter sent from Curaçao.

Papiamento heritage document

Professor Marijke van der Wal

Professor Marijke van der Wal

Professor Marijke van der Wal has been working on the project ‘Letters as loot’ since 2008 with her team. The project’s goal is to study the use of language in seventeenth and eighteenth century private letters that were seized by the British in times of war. The study gives new insight into the Dutch of people from different social ranks and positions, so also that of normal men and women from those times. Sometimes there are unexpected ‘extra catches’ such as this foreign language text. This Papiamento heritage document, supplied with explanatory notes, can now be read by everyone.

See also

Wildlife crime whistleblower gets WWF medal


This video from Kenya says about itself:

Live Operation on Poached Elephant in Galana Ranch, May 2011

Live commentary of Dr Paula Kahumbu on Kenya Wildlife Services veterinarians on site at an ultra delicate surgical operation on a shot elephant in Galana Ranch.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife crime whistleblower wins top WWF honour

Champion wildlife crime opponent awarded top WWF honours

October 2012. Ofir Drori, a tireless anti-corruption whistleblower and law enforcement activist working on the frontlines of endangered wildlife protection in West and Central Africa, has been awarded the 2012 WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal.

Congratulations to Mr Drori and his much-needed fight against wildlife crime!

However, it is a problem that this medal is called after the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, Prince Consort of Queen Elizabeth II of England. Prince Philip is a vocal fox hunting supporter. As the medal is for work in Africa, Prince Philip’s racist remarks are hardly appropriate.

The WWF in Spain decided to strip the elephant-shooting King of Spain of his honorary chairmanship. How about Britain?

I am not the only person with this kind of objections to the medal’s name, as we will see.

Israeli educator, photojournalist and activist Drori, 36, arrived in Cameroon a decade ago where he founded the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA), the first wildlife law enforcement non-governmental organization in Africa. Within seven months, LAGA had brought about Cameroon’s first wildlife crime prosecution, providing a model that is now being replicated in West and Central Africa. Drori is also founder-director of the Central Africa Wildlife Law Enforcement Network.

“I am delighted to accept the WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal – a great honour that will truly support our work to fight wildlife crime in West and Central Africa and beyond,” Ofir Drori said. “I hope this award also inspires a shift to a more activist approach and bolsters the fight against corruption in our quest to save wildlife – while there are still magnificent elephants and other animals left to save.”

Promoting wildlife law enforcement by combating corruption at all levels, LAGA enabled a shift in Cameroon’s judicial system resulting in arrests and prosecution of major wildlife criminals. The LAGA anti-corruption success story has been replicated in West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defence of human rights.

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade

Wildlife poaching and organized criminal trade in wildlife have escalated dramatically in recent years and are now the greatest threats to many of WWF’s flagship species. Ofir Drori’s efforts have resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions across West and Central Africa, and helped propagate a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon.

“It is thanks to people like Ofir Drori that we still have a hope of keeping vulnerable elephant and other wildlife populations thriving – and keeping a spotlight on the poaching crisis that threatens them. I applaud his bold and impactful work,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “WWF urges world governments to crack down on wildlife poaching and illegal trade as a matter of urgency.”

WWF is taking action to combat wildlife crime and works with countries where poaching occurs, where illegal trade transits and in consumer countries to stop wildlife crime – by strengthening law enforcement, combating corruption, getting illegal wildlife trade recognised as a serious crime, and reducing demand for endangered species products.

The Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal was first given in 1970 and is awarded annually by WWF for outstanding service to the environment. Ofir Drori joins a long line of conservation leaders to receive the award – including the 2011 winner, Dr Ashok Khosla, one of the world’s foremost sustainable development experts. Mr. Drori receives his award today in a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.

A comment on this on the Wildlife Extra site says:

what a great shame that philip d.o.e. [Duke of Edinburgh] and his family of hunt supporters will never measure up to this young man with his genuine concern for wildlife protection

Posted by: dee donworth | 06 Nov 2012 13:08:55

New Canadian beetle species discovery


Charlene Wood studies deadwood beetles and has discovered species new to Alberta. Photograph by: John Ulan, University of Alberta photo

From Wildlife Extra:

Seven new beetle species identified in Canada

Tiny forest beetles are not rare

November 2012. Seven beetle species new to science have been discovered by a young University of Alberta researcher just starting out in her career. Charlene Wood, who had only just finished her master’s degree in the Department of Renewable Resources, noted the tinier-than-usual species while studying beetles in decaying aspen trees in northwestern Alberta.

Now Wood, in collaboration with fellow scientists, is preparing to describe the beetles for science. Having studied them over the past four years, Wood is becoming recognized for her knowledge of this group, known by only a few other experts across the globe.

Deadwood

Her study of deadwood-a largely overlooked part of the North American boreal forest-is one of the few studies in Canada focused on the rich diversity of beetles that dwell in decaying wood. Wood’s work revealed different beetles in each stage of the decay sequence in aspen wood. Along with recording seven new species in this habitat, Wood found an additional 47 beetle species not previously known to occur in Alberta-a significant addition to the list of provincial species.

Wood said “It’s a dream, as a biologist. I certainly didn’t think I would discover new species when I began my project. It’s an eye-opener. There are several species right under our noses that we didn’t know even existed.”

Less than 3 millimetres long

All seven species she found are less than three millimetres long; most beetles studied are larger and more conspicuous, Wood said. Six of the species feed on fungus and are members of the group known as minute brown scavenger beetles. The seventh species is a monotomid beetle, which is thought live in the tunnels created by bark beetles in newly dead trees and feed on fungus and larvae of other beetles.

“Deadwood offers a whole variety of distinct habitats, and those habitats are home to hundreds of beetle species, some of which haven’t been scientifically reported yet,” added Wood, who has successfully defended her thesis and admits to being excited about finding the beetles.

Not rare

Some of the new beetle species are quite abundant, and Wood feels they could be more widespread in Canada.

“While these are undescribed species, they aren’t rare or uncommon beetles. That they haven’t been reported previously is likely a consequence of limited taxonomic expertise and lack of studies on non-pest species.”

Vital part of forest ecosystem

Beetles are important players in forest ecosystems, Wood said. The insects are a food source for songbirds and woodpeckers, and by consuming the wood of dead trees and then excreting the digested wood fragments, many beetles help return to forest soils nutrients that were once taken up by living trees.

“I often get the ‘ick’ factor when I tell people I study beetles, but they are a fascinating and important group for us to understand. Beetles are very diverse, they occupy most major habitats on land, and very few are pests. Contrary to being harmful to humans, they do us a service by being important natural components of many ecosystems.”

Wood hopes her research increases understanding of how beetles contribute to overall forest diversity, and how to preserve their habitats while harvesting resources.

“If one of the central tenets of sustainable forest management is to maintain biodiversity, the first step is knowing the species and what habitats they really require.”

Wood’s work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Alberta Conservation Association Grants in Biodiversity, the EMEND project and Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd.

Wood’s work is associated with the U of A’s Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance (EMEND) project

When you have to name 65 new species at once, it pays to get creative. That’s how the Darth Vader beetle, or Agathidium vaderi, came to grace a scientific publication in 2005: here.

Bahraini monarchy’s oppression continues


This video from Bahrain is called Police arrest Said Yousuf Almuhafda of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights on Friday.

Bahrain: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Sayed Yousif AlMuhafdhah: here.

Bahrain’s Relentless Crackdown Continues: here.

Bahrain Timeline: The Regime’s Path of Repression from 23 September to Today: here.

Bahrain Special: Growing Concerns Amid Questions Over Bombs and A Tide of Repression: here.

From the Going To Work site in Britain:

Bahrain: SMS your support for teachers’ unions

Two weeks ago, Mahdi Abu Dheeb and Jalila Al-Salman, the leaders of the Bahraini Teachers’ Association got sentenced for doing nothing more than peacefully leading their union in protest during last year’s Arab Spring uprising.

Both of them are innocent and both have been treated appallingly.

Mahdi was picked up by the security forces, beaten with a hose pipe, thrown into solidarity confinement for six weeks, forced to sign a confession under torture, denied medical treatment and then sentenced for a decade on trumped up charges.

And let Jalila tell you her story:

That’s why we’re urging everyone to support Amnesty International’s SMS Action calling for their release. It’s easy. Just text ACTION TEACH followed by your full name to 88080.

Bahrain revokes citizenship of opposition members: here. And here.

In the latest sign of a crackdown on dissidents in Bahrain, the government on Wednesday revoked the citizenship of 31 men, including exiled political activists and former opposition members of Parliament, citing security concerns: here.

Dutch bishop’s Icelandic sexual abuse scandal


Roman Catholic cathedral in Iceland

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

6 November 2012 8:25

Gijsen, the former bishop of Roermond, stands accused in Iceland of covering up sexual abuse. A report of an Icelandic commission investigating sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic church says this.

Joannes Gijsen had become bishop in Roermond, the Netherlands, as one of several ultra-conservative Vatican appointees, against the wishes of most Roman Catholics in the diocese. His position in the Netherlands became untenable because of various issues, including sexual abuse at a seminary founded by Gijsen because he considered existing seminaries to be too liberal. The Vatican then moved Gijsen to Iceland, where there are few Roman Catholics.

Gijsen was the bishop of the Roman Catholic church in Iceland from 1996 to 2007. Then, a man wrote a letter about an Icelandic priest having abused him sexually. Gijsen destroyed that letter.

Overstepping the mark

The Hákonardóttir commission says that Gijsen was wrong. He should have started an independent investigation into the accusation.

In 2010 Gijsen was accused in the Netherland of being a peeping Tom as a young boy masturbated in the late 1950s. The Deetman commission did not call that abuse, but did say that Gijsen had overstepped the mark.

The Deetman commission was founded by the Dutch Roman Catholic church to investigate many complaints about sexual abuse, mostly of children, by priests.

From Iceland Review Online:

05.11.2012 | 10:10

Catholic Church Confirms Child Abuse in Iceland

The investigative commission of the Catholic Church in Iceland presented its report on Friday, confirming that Rev. Ágúst Georg, principal of the church-run elementary school Landakotsskóli, and one of its teachers, Margrét Müller, abused their pupils.

The commission questioned 30 of the school’s former pupils and people who had joined the Catholic Church’s summer camps as children. Eight of them stated they had been sexually abused and 27 that they had been subject to or witnessed mental abuse, ruv.is reports.

Hjördís Hákonardóttir, who chairs the commission, said the report is a serious blow to the reputation of the Catholic Church in Iceland.

It reveals that Joannes Gijsen, who served as Bishop of the Catholic Church in Iceland 1996-2007, destroyed a letter from a man who described how he was abused by Rev. Georg, ruv.is reports.

In doing so, the commission considers Gijsen to have failed his obligations; he should have launched an independent investigation by specialists into the matter.

In 2010, Gijsen was accused of sexual violations while teaching at a school of the Catholic Church in Holland in the 1950s and 1960s.

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