Canadian environmentalist socialist author Farley Mowat, RIP


This video from Canada says about itself:

Sea of Slaughter” with Farley Mowat

5 March 2011

Canada’s foremost naturalist recounts the impact of our culture on life in the Northwest Atlantic ocean, over the last 500 years, and explains what must be done now. This very important 2 part documentary was produced by CBC at the expense of Canadian taxpayers, including me. Farley Mowat’s book, Sea of Slaughter, which he considers his most important work, was the basis for this film.

Book and film are both brutally honest enough to make many people uncomfortable. Only now has science come to understand exactly how the former multitudes of large sea animals preserved their own food base, while conditioning both the marine environment and the atmosphere of the planet (via accelerated nutrient cycling/fertilization). This adds to the current urgent imperative that we face up now to the full consequences of what we have done to life in the sea. (both parts are posted here in sequence)

By John Green in Britain:

Farley Mowat: writer, socialist and environmentalist

Tuesday 20th May 2014

THE Canadian author Farley Mowat, who died on May 12, wrote with humour, keen perception and passionate social commitment, completing over 40 books and numerous articles.

He is sadly not so well known in Britain but deserves to be. His family came from Scottish immigrant stock and he retained a special fondness for Scotland.

His works were translated into 52 languages and his books sold more than 17 million copies. He achieved fame with his works on the Canadian North such as People Of The Deer (1952) and Never Cry Wolf (1963).

Mowat’s advocacy for environmental causes and his own claim to never let the facts get in the way of the truth earned him both praise and criticism, yet his influence is undeniable.

Never Cry Wolf, a fictional narrative of a man living among wolves in the sub-Arctic was made into a successful film.

It is credited with shifting the mythology and fear of wolves. After the Russian version was published, the government even banned the killing of the animal.

His stories are fast-paced, gripping, personal and conversational and descriptions of Mowat refer to his commitment to ideals, poetic descriptions and vivid images.

His first non-fiction work People Of The Deer became a classic. In it he documented the disappearing communist way of life of Canada’s native Inuit people, among whom he lived while writing the book.

He showed how a colonial arrogance and an exploitative system had driven the Inuit and their culture to the edge. …

Mowat became a lifelong advocate of indigenous people’s rights, labelling Canada’s treatment of them abominable. Never one to shy away from controversy, Mowat was outspoken about many environmental and social issues.

During the second world war, Mowat was commissioned as a second lieutenant, rising to the rank of captain. After the war he returned to Canada, desperate to escape from what had been and seemed likely to remain a world run by maniacs. He fled north to live among the Inuit people.

Many of his works such as Owls In The Family about childhood and And No Birds Sang about his experience fighting in the second world war are autobiographical,

Mowat published a denunciation of the destruction of animal life in the north Atlantic entitled Sea of Slaughter in 1984. In 1985, as a part of the promotional tour for the book, Mowat was invited to speak at the university in Chico, California, but US officials denied him entry.

His security file indicated he should be denied entry for violating any one of 33 statutes. Reportedly, these statutes included being a member of a group considered radical by the US government.

The result was a media circus, which brought worldwide attention to Mowat. The negative publicity eventually forced the Reagan administration to allow Mowat to enter the US but he declined because to accept would be undignified as the permission was valid for only one visit [of] his book tour.

Mowat documented the reasons why he was refused entry to the United States in his 1985 book, My Discovery of America.

He won a number of prestigious awards for his books and environmental work and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society ship RV Farley Mowat was named in honour of him.

Mowat, a strong supporter of the Green Party of Canada, died less than a week before his 93rd birthday.

Farley Mowat, May 12 1921–May 6 2014.

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International Migratory Bird Day, 10 May


This video from Canada says about itself:

Inglewood Sanctuary celebrates International Migratory Bird Day

29 April 2013

Each spring, millions of birds return north from their wintering grounds. To honour this event, City of Calgary Parks is hosting a free family event. Enjoy guided tours, interpretative programs and refreshments while learning about migratory birds who summer in our city.

From Wildlife Promise blog in the USA:

International Migratory Bird Day is Around the Corner!

4/29/2014 // By Becca Shapiro

This May, celebrate International Migratory Bird Day! On May 10th, International Migratory Bird Day will aim to share the many ways that migratory birds matter to us and the earth.

Each season, migratory birds travel long distances between breeding and non-breeding sites. Beyond providing recreational fun for bird lovers and wildlife gardeners, birds help to vegetate areas by dispersing seeds and pollinating flowering plants, trees and shrubs. The goal of International Migratory Bird Day is to motivate people of all ages and backgrounds to simply get outside and learn about native birds and what you can do to help protect them.

Attracting Birds to Your Yard

It’s important to protect tropical forests where migratory birds overwinter, as well as the important breeding grounds in Canada’s boreal forest, but there are things that you can do closer to home to help migratory birds, whether they’re species that are just passing through or those that end their migration in your neighborhood.

When trying to attract birds to your garden at home, there are a variety of measures you can take. Consider the different things birds need to survive: food, water, cover, and a safe place to construct a nest.

Begin with water – a simple birdbath is a great place to start. Keep the birdbath about 10 feet away from dense shrub or other areas that may attract predators to keep the birds safe from harm. Also make sure to change the water every 2-3 days in the summer and use a heater in the winter.

To provide food sources to birds, install native plants to offer seeds, berries, nuts, and nectar. Think about recreating the plant ecosystem of your local area. This will also attract insects, a primary source of protein for birds. Bird feeders also provide supplemental food during times of scarcity.

Birds will build nests out of almost anything they can find. Building a brush pile in a corner of your yard can provide materials for birds to make nests. Keeping dead trees around your garden can offer cavity-dwelling places for birds to raise young. You can also put out nesting boxes, but make sure they have ventilation holes at the top and drainage holes near the bottom.

Once you’ve provided, food, water, cover, and a safe place for birds to raise their young, you’ll be ready to certify your wildlife garden in time for International Migratory Bird Day. To find International Migratory Bird Day happenings in your area, check out the IMBD Events Map. And just because it’s being celebrated on May 10 doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate birds and the outdoors every day!

Celebrate Garden for Wildlife Month by becoming a Wildlife Gardener with National Wildlife Federation. It’s free and you’ll get great wildlife gardening tips and learn how to certify your garden as an official habitat.

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Canadian government lets humpback whales down


This video is called Humpback Whale Shows AMAZING Appreciation After Being Freed From Nets.

From Wildlife Extra:

Canada’s downgrading of humpback whales puts them at risk

Increasing numbers of humpback whales (North Pacific population) has led the Canadian Government to change their conservation status from endangered to species of special concern it was announced in the Canadian Gazette.

This move follows the 2011 conclusion by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) that there had been no evidence of a population decline of humpbacks since the 1960s, which is around the time that commercial whaling ended. They also found that the population has been increasing at about four per cent per year since the early 1990s (when records began), and that they have increased by more than 50 per cent over the last three generations.

But this is a controversial move as environmentalists are concerned that the downgrading could damage the humpback whale’s future, because there would be no longer the requirement for critical habitat to be designated and protected. They are particularly worried as the decision potentially removes one of the hurdles in the way of approval for the Northern Gateway oil pipeline.

The decision, “has absolutely no basis in science and is simply a political move to clear the way to approve the [Enbridge] pipeline,”said Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, to CBC News. She said that this area is where the humpback whales feed and rear their young in the spring and summer. If the pipeline goes ahead, those areas are expected to be a major corridor for oil tanker traffic.

“Ships were one of the specific things that were mentioned by scientists as being a very high hazard to the whales for their recovery. The danger is of course that the ships will strike them physically and kill them. Without the habitat, they can’t be expected to thrive,” she said.

“Their [humpback whales] recovery isn’t complete and we still need to be working to protect them the best way we can,” said Linda Nowlan, regional director, B.C. and Pacific, for the World Wildlife Fund Canada to Reuters News Agency. “It’s kind of ironic that the best form of protection is being removed at a time when the threats are increasing.”

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Unjustly convicted boxer ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies


This music video is called Bob Dylan – Hurricane (original). The lyrics are here.

From the Canadian Press:

‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

April 20, 2014 / 8:04 am

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former American boxer imprisoned nearly 20 years for three murders before the convictions were overturned, has died at his home in Toronto.

Media reports say he was battling prostate cancer.

The Hurricane‘s autobiography, “The Sixteenth Round,” was published in 1975 it helped raise awareness for his case. Also in 1975 Bob Dylan wrote the song ‘Hurricane’ based on the book.

According to CTV, Carter was arrested in 1966, along with acquaintance John Artis, for a triple shooting in New Jersey. His conviction was quashed in 1985, with the help of a group of Canadians who fought to keep his case in the spotlight.

Eventually, Carter moved to Toronto, where he helped to form the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. He served as the association’s executive director from 1993 to 2004.

in 1999 Norman Jewison made the movie ‘The Hurricane’, Denzel Washington played the lead role.

See also here. And here. And here.

On race, the US is not as improved as some would have us believe. Despite the legacy of civil rights, some doors remain firmly closed. And across the US, schools are resegregating: here.

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Stop damaging marmoset monkeys’ brains, campaigners say


This video from South Africa is called International Primate Rescue (1 of 4): Playing with Marmosets.

By Joana Ramiro in Britain:

Halt ‘disturbing’ medical tests on monkeys, campaigners urge

Monday 7th April 2014

Cure Parkinson’s Trust sponsors experiments pumping primate brains full of harmful drugs

Animal welfare activists have begged a British charity to stop “profoundly disturbing” experiments on monkeys’ brains for medical research into Parkinson’s disease.

Campaign organisation Animal Aid issued a statement today denouncing the Cure Parkinson’s Trust for sponsoring Canadian scientists to inject monkeys with brain-damaging drugs.

“The vast majority of the British public do not want their money being used to fund profoundly disturbing experiments on animals,” said Animal Aid director Andrew Tyler.

In papers published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Public Library of Science ONE between 2011 and 2012, the testing was described as injecting marmoset monkeys with the chemical MPTP, which mimics Parkinson’s by killing brain cells.

The animals were then given differing doses of L-Dopa — a Parkinson’s treatment drug — to monitor its side effects.

Cure Parkinson’s Trust was named in the media as a supporter of the tests.

“We are calling on charities like the Cure Parkinson’s Trust to focus solely on productive non-animal research,” added Mr Tyler.

Animal Aid argues that the recurrent use of the same animals was equally disgraceful, given that — according to the Home Office’s measurement of animal tests — the suffering induced to the marmoset monkeys was “severe.”

Mr Tyler claimed that the British public’s money was ultimately being used to torture the animals.

In Britain, as in Europe, it is illegal to re-use animals for experiments on the “severe” threshold of pain, distress or lasting harm.

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Bears find mates through wildlife crossings


This video from Canada is called The Alberta Story: Banff Wildlife Crossing.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife crossings help bears find mates

February 2014: The wildlife crossings of the Trans-Canada Highway have helped bears safely cross the road and find mates on the other side of the road, research shows.

Roads connect human populations across vast distances but they can have an adverse effect on the populations of wildlife for as well as being possible victims of traffic accidents. Noisy traffic can also deter animals from approaching busy highways and groups can become isolated and fragmented with little chance for genetic mixing.

To counteract this fragmenting effect wildlife underpasses and overpasses have been built along major roads including the Trans-Canada Highway, Canada’s primary east-west transportation route. The highway runs through Banff, Canada’s oldest national park which is home to an array of wildlife, including two species of bear.

The researchers studied 20 of the 25 bear crossings along the Trans-Canada Highway using hair-snagging traps.

Through collecting thousands of hair samples over their three year study the team were able to identify hundred of bears including 15 grizzlies and 17 black bears who crossed, sometimes frequently, the Trans-Canada Highway. They found that bear populations were not isolated on either side of the road and that male and female bears from both species were using crossings to successful migrate, breed and carry genes over the road.

The team behind this study say young bears may be learning to use the crossings from their mothers.

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