Berlusconi-mafia contact man arrested in Lebanon


This video from Italy says about itself:

Berlusconi calls “hero” the Mafia member Vittorio Mangano [English subtitles]

27 March 2009

Once upon a time, Berlusconi hired a man to work as broom at his villa: his name was Vittorio Mangano and, incidentally, he was also a Mafia member,who will be sentenced to imprisonment for murder and similar nice stuff.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Silvio Berlusconi associate to appear in Beirut court over Lebanon arrest

Marcello Dell’Utri, suspected of escaping justice, awaits ruling over appeal against sentence for colluding with Sicilian mafia

John Hooper in Rome

Sunday 13 April 2014 16.02 BST

Silvio Berlusconi‘s longstanding associate with whom he co-founded Italy‘s main rightwing party is expected to appear before a magistrate in Beirut on Monday at a hearing for a decision on the legality of his arrest.

Marcello Dell’Utri, who allegedly acted as a mediator between the Cosa Nostra and Berlusconiwas detained at a five-star hotel in the Lebanese capital at the end of last week. This has come before a final ruling by the Italian supreme court, due on Tuesday, on his appeal against a seven-year sentence for colluding with the Sicilian mafia. The 72-year-old senator’s lawyer said it was illogical to think his client was seeking to escape justice, since he had used his own name and credit card to book into the hotel.

Berlusconi was quoted on Sunday as having said it was he who had sent Dell’Utri to Lebanon. The daily La Repubblica said the former prime minister told a delegation from his Forza Italia (“Come on Italy”) party that he was responding to a request from Vladimir Putin. The Russian president had asked him to do what he could to help the leader of Lebanon’s Kataeb party, Amine Gemayel, to regain the presidency.

The warrant for Dell’Utri’s arrest cited a bugged discussion between the senator’s brother and a friend which the judges said showed there was a “serious and concrete danger” of Dell’Utri’s trying to establish himself abroad before the supreme court ruling. Some Italian newspapers on Sunday published extracts from the transcripts of the recordings.

Speaking on 8 November 2013, Alberto Dell’Utri, the senator’s twin, said: “Ten days ago, Marcello dined in Rome with … an important politician from the Lebanon who has been president and is putting himself up in the forthcoming elections and on 14 November he is planning to go to Beirut to see.”

However, the two men, whose conversation was taped as part of a separate investigation, also discussed the possibility of the senator might in future shuttle between Lebanon and west Africa on a diplomatic passport issued by the authorities in Guinea-Bissau as part of a scheme to exploit the country’s mineral riches. The transcripts indicated that Alberto Dell’Utri was proposing his brother should make a big donation to the country through an NGO set up by Berlusconi for building hospitals in Africa. Alberto Dell’Utri’s friend suggested a figure of €5m (£4.1m) might be appropriate.

“All that Marcello needs to do is go to Silvio and tell him: ‘Silvio, I’m going to Guinea-Bissau’: explain everything to him … ‘I’m founding a soccer school for the kids,’” Alberto Dell’Utri commented.

Marcello Dell’Utri – then the head of the advertising arm of Berlusconi’s vast business empire – created Forza Italia! from scratch in 1993, appointing his own executives to be its earliest officials. His conviction for collaboration with Cosa Nostra refers only to a period ending the previous year.

Lawyers expressed conflicting opinions on the difficulties of extraditing Dell’Utri from Lebanon if the supreme court upholds his conviction on Tuesday.

 

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Stop illegal bird hunting in Lebanon


This video says about itself:

23 August 2010

In animal welfare news, migrating birds are protected in Lebanon. Considerable numbers of our feathered friends, including ones considered endangered, fly across Lebanon twice annually. The non-profit organization European Nature Heritage Fund (or EuroNatur) and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon are working together to safeguard the plumed travelers. A mobile bird watching carriage has been set up, and in summer, a Bedouin tent serves as an information center.

With cooperation from the Lebanese Ministry of Education, schoolchildren are also being given the facts about the importance of ensuring the conservation of our precious winged co-inhabitants. Our sincere thankfulness, European Nature Heritage Fund, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon and the Lebanese Ministry of Education, for your collaborative endeavor. May avian angels continue to grace our skies in safety and joy for countless centuries to come.

From BirdLife:

CEPF grant to bring hunting in Lebanon under control

By Nick Langley, Thu, 20/02/2014 – 14:51

The Lebanese Environment Forum has received a CEPF large grant of over $180,000 to promote sustainable hunting practices in Lebanon, using a community-based approach. The project will complement other work by the BirdLife International/UNDP-GEF Migratory Soaring Birds project, and by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), the BirdLife national Partner.

Despite its small geographical area, 399 species of bird have been recorded in Lebanon. The country lies along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway, which is of global importance for migratory soaring birds. Bird hunting is deeply embedded in the Lebanese culture, but because of low levels of public awareness, is practiced indiscriminately in public and private lands and even buffer zones of protected areas, and many globally threatened species fall victim each year.

The Lebanese Environment Forum (LEF) says that uncontrolled hunting is undermining all conservation efforts in Lebanon, and points out that there are also over 400 hunting accidents each year leading to injury and death.

After two decades of wrangling and delay, Lebanon’s strict new hunting laws at last came into force in December 2012. All species other than specified game birds are protected year-round, and landowners and municipalities have the right to ban hunting on their lands. However, awareness of the law is still limited to professional conservationists, senior representatives of hunting organisations and national government, and hunting over much of Lebanon continues to be uncontrolled.

To accommodate the cultural importance of hunting, while protecting Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, Public Hunting Areas (PHA) will be established. At the PHAs, properly regulated hunting will be permitted, while elsewhere a strict ban will be in force. SPNL and the Migratory Soaring Birds project are in the process of identifying ten potential PHAs on municipal land.

Working with the relevant municipality, the LEF will establish a pilot PHA, with appropriate management and monitoring plans. By the end of the pilot project, the municipality will be full aware of their responsibility to enforce the hunting law, while the PHA model will be ready to be replicated at other sites.

With technical support from SPNL, the LEF will be the main implementing partner of the project, and will mobilise support from its member organisations. The LEF will organise a national workshop to build the capacity of conservation NGO on sustainable hunting and Public Hunting Areas, and develop materials and an action plan for the awareness campaign, which will be implemented locally by the member NGOs.

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African, Middle East hunters against soaring bird poaching


This video says about itself:

Flyways by Paul Winter – Indiegogo Campaign

10 Nov 2013

Learn more here.

Migrating Birds Know No Borders” – Flyways is a musical journey inspired by the great bird migration from Africa through the Middle East to Eurasia. The album is intended to awaken awareness of this ancient and miraculous migration, and of the endangered indigenous cultures of the migration route.

Each spring, more than 500 million birds of 350 species follow the Great Rift Valley from southern Africa to Turkey, where they then diverge to Europe and Asia. This flyway is one of the most important bird migration corridors in the world. I first experienced the miracle of the migration when I flew in a motorized glider across Israel with the migrating storks as they soared on the thermal currents coming up from the Rift Valley below. From that unforgettable experience came the vision for this album: to create a musical chronicle of the birds’ long journey, incorporating music from each of the cultures over which they fly, and weaving the voices of the birds into the fabric of the music.

We began this musical odyssey seven years ago and to date we’ve gone to 16 countries of the flyway to learn of the musical traditions as well as people’s experience of the migrating birds. The Flyways double-CD album will feature this new ensemble that we call the Great Rift Valley Orchestra, comprised of indigenous musicians from these 16 countries, along with members of the Paul Winter Consort.

Migrating birds face many threats, including the destruction of key habitats along their routes of passage and, of course, climate change. And many of the indigenous traditions are undervalued and in decline.

The motto of the Flyways album is “migrating birds know no borders.” Beneath this overarching highway live millions of people of different races and religions. The flyway embraces all these cultures, and we feel that the timeless languages of birds and music have the potential to bring us together in common cause. The birds can guide us toward honoring the whole Earth as our home, and the music can awaken the universal heart of humanity. Read more about the project at www.flywaysmusic.org

From BirdLife:

Prominent hunters from Middle East and Africa sign declaration on responsible hunting

By Julien Jreissati, Thu, 05/12/2013 – 11:21

Hunters from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Yemen and Ethiopia have signed a Regional Declaration on Responsible Hunting [1], at a ceremony organised by the BirdLife International and UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds (MSB) project.

Under the Patronage of H.E. Mr. Nazem El Khoury, Lebanese Minister of Environment, the ceremony celebrated the adoption of the “Code of Best Practices for Hunters and Hunting Groups for Responsible Hunting and the Full Protection of Migratory Soaring Birds”.

The ceremony was held on the 5th of December 2013 at the Coral Beach Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon. Guests included responsible hunters from the region, and observers from the Lebanese Higher Hunting Council, BirdLife International and BirdLife Partners from attending countries, the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, the European Federation of Associations for Hunting & Conservation (FACE), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The ceremony was part of a larger scheme that the MSB project discussed back in October 2011, during the MSB first regional hunting workshop in Beirut, when BirdLife Partners reviewed hunting practices in the region against the background of European experience. In Europe, BirdLife has signed a similar agreement with FACE.

Dr. Saleem Hamadeh, representative of H.E. Mr. Nazem El Khoury Lebanese Minister of Environment, presented the accomplishments of the Ministry of Environment in terms of birds conservation and the issuance of the necessary decrees for the implementation of the new hunting law. He reminded that migratory birds are protected under international laws and conventions. Finally he stated that “to achieve complete protection of migratory soaring birds we need regional collaboration for the organisation of responsible hunting”.

Signatories of the Responsible Hunting Declaration have committed to adopt the Code of Best Practices for Hunters and Hunting Groups for Responsible Hunting and the Full Protection of Migratory Soaring Birds as the founding principle of their hunting activities, and to implement measures to conserve migratory soaring birds and their habitats.

Many of the hunters present have expressed their aspiration to create national responsible hunting groups and societies with the Code of Best Practices for Responsible Hunting as their core value.

Mr. Osama Al Nouri, Regional MSB project coordinator, declared: “The MSB project aims to revive the hunter’s traditional sustainable hunting practices that do not threaten migratory soaring birds along the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway within the scope of the Code of Conduct, to establish national and regional mature responsible hunting groups that are working closely with BirdLife partners as allies against indiscriminate practices, and ensure firm government buy-in through effective regulations and efficient implementation of national laws”.

For more information on the Code of Best Practices for Responsible Hunting kindly visit the MSB project website: www.migratorysoaringbirds.undp.birdlife.org or contact the BirdLife’s Regional Flyway Facility at rff@birdlife.org

[1] Signatories to the Responsible Hunting Declaration are:

  • WILLING to work towards the revival of the region’s tradition heritage in hunting and to improve their role in hunting control and management systems, and promote the concept of responsible hunting principles and MSB protection within their surroundings and contacts within their territories along the Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway;
  • RESOLVING to enhance local and regional coordination and collaboration and to increase protection of Migratory Soaring Birds from threats arising from hunting; take necessary actions toward strict abstaining from Migratory Soaring Birds hunting (trapping, shooting, active taking and persecution) within their territories along the Rift Valley / Red Sea Flyway, most importantly at bottleneck sites during peak migration seasons;
  • ACCEPTING the adoption of the Code of Best Practices regarding responsible hunting of game species and protection of MSBs, and encouraging other fellow hunters in their clubs and associations to adopt it through dialogue and to join this declaration;
  • ACCEPTING to be a MSB envoy and role model to be followed by other fellow hunters in the area in order to pass the message to the broader community of hunters, including those who are not aware of the MSBs plight, considering themselves as leaders of change;
  • ENCOURAGING other parties concerned with MSBs to reduce threats induced by hunting and increase their efforts to the protection of MSBs along the flyway; and
  • WILLING to catalyze the formation of responsible hunting groups that will adopt the Code of Best Practices.

WCS plays significant role in largest-ever action in Jilin Province. December 2013: The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has congratulated authorities in China’s Jilin Province for the recent arrests of five poachers – the largest ever for the province: here.

February:  A new web tool that will help protect migratory soaring birds along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway  has been launched by the BirdLife UNDP/GEF Migratory Soaring Birds project. The tool has been designed to provide developers, planning authorities and other interested stakeholders access to information on the distribution of soaring bird species along the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway: here.

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No Valentine’s Day under Bahrain dictatorship


This video says about itself:

March 26, 2013

Human Rights First sat down with Maryam Alkhawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, when we honored the center with our Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award.

From Democracy Now! in the USA:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

“Two Years of Deaths and Detentions”: Bahraini Pro-Democracy Protesters Mark Anniversary of Uprising

Bahraini security forces shot dead a teenager earlier today as pro-democracy activists marked the second anniversary of what has been described as the longest-running uprising of the Arab Spring. Since February 2011, at least 87 people have died at the hands of U.S.-backed security forces. We speak to Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. Maryam has served as the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights ever since the group’s head, Nabeel Rajab, was arrested and jailed. The group has just published a new report titled “Two Years of Deaths and Detentions.” Maryam also serves as the co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. [includes rush transcript]

Teenager shot dead in Bahraini protests: here.

BEIRUT: Bahrain summoned Lebanon’s Charge D’affaires Friday night over recent remarks by MP Michel Aoun’s on the ongoing protests in the Gulf country and demanded an official clarification from Beirut, in a development that could strain ties between the two countries once more: here.

In Bahrain, Valentine’s Day is a day of struggle: here.

Bird poaching in Lebanon


Sad, after this good bird news from Lebanon … to have to read and see this.

Lebanon poacher with dead white stork

From Wildlife Extra, with more horrible photos there:

Birds massacred in Lebanon – Unfettered hunting a disgrace

Birds of all shapes and sizes killed in their thousands – Our thanks to the Lebanon Eco Movement for their help with this article.

November 2012. We have been contacted by someone from Lebanon who wants to highlight the terrible situation there, where birds are shot indiscriminately in there thousands. As Lebanon is at the cross roads between Europe, Asia and Africa, many of the birds are killed while migrating to and from their breeding grounds.

Hunting in Lebanon banned in 1995

The environmental situation in Lebanon is very chaotic. Hunting was banned by a law issued in 1995, and this law is still in force, though almost totally ignored. A new hunting law was agreed in 2004, but has never been implemeneted. There is no enforcement of this law, and some believe that Lebanon should go back to the pre-1995 situation where hunting was legal, but regulated by season and species. There are, as everywhere, repsonsible hunters too, but the irresponsible shooters are giving Lebanon a terrible reputation.

Almost all birds hunted

The fashion is that the hunters seem to boast about their kills, and the bigger, the rarer and the larger the number the better as far as they are concerned.

Lebanese Eco Movement

The Lebanese Eco Movement says “All kinds of birds are being hunted, and most of hunters are indifferent to the matter of protected birds. We are witnessing the murder of many protected birds, mainly soaring birds (aquatic birds and raptors), including pelicans, storks, cranes, raptors.”

“As for the birds that can be hunted, there is no respect for the numbers and limits. We are witnessing birds being killed in thousands. A single hunter may kill more than one thousand birds. Hunters are of all ages; they may be as young as 10, even though Lebanese law prohibits holding weapons for ages less than 18.”

“Hunting mainly takes place during weekends, but hunters can be seen any day of the week, at any place, even inside cities and between houses.”

This massacre is of worldwide importance and especially for Europe as most migrating birds passing through Lebanon are moving from Europe towards Africa or vice versa. It’s very sad and discouraging to see birds that are protected in Europe by thousands of activists, hundreds of organizations, and millions of dollars, being murdered in Lebanon without any action from the government, and without any pressure from the European countries.

Lebanon is facing a huge problem yet the Minister of the Environment does not appear to be taking any action at all.

The images we have illustrate the wide variety of birds that have been killed. As well as the vulture and pelicans, scroll down to see some of the carnage, including storks, cranes, many raptors including eagles, and hundreds and hundreds of smaller birds.

Whilst we know that the Middle East is in turmoil at the moment, and that protecting birds will not be high on the agenda of many countries, but this senseless slaughter will have dire consequences for the local environment as well as for many of the bird populations of Europe, Africa and the Middle East.