British Prince William killed wildlife a day before his pro-wildlife appeal


This video from Britain says about itself:

Prince Harry Kills Me reinserted into Jeremy Dellers English Magic at Venice Biennale 2013

5 June 2013

The British government’s censoring of Jeremy Deller‘s hypergraphic Harry Kills Me at the 2013 Venice Biennale – which referred to Prince Harry’s role as officer in the British Army in Afghanistan as well as his shooting of endangered hen harriers on one of his family estates … can show us, besides the snivelling servitude of Deller and the bureaucrats of the British Council, some ways that art functions today.

The actions of the council first show how not just politics but how art too is a continuation of war by other means. The passive reaction and collusion of the press in the UK shows how censorship is art made not tongue-tied but triumphant. Meaning is constructed by what is occulted not revealed.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Prince William went hunting a day before launching wildlife appeal

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell questions timing of trip to hunt deer and wild boar in Spain

Alexandra Topping

Sunday 9 February 2014 12.51 GMT

Prince William went on a deer and wild boar hunting trip in Spain a day before he launched a high-profile appeal to stop the illegal hunting of wildlife, it has emerged.

There is no suggestion the hunting trip was in any way illegal, but critics have suggested that the timing of the holiday was poor, coming before an appeal close to the prince’s heart.

In a message broadcast on Sunday, the Duke of Cambridge and his father, Prince Charles, called on people to help save endangered animals such as rhinos, elephants and tigers.

A royal spokesman said the duke, who quit the RAF last year to lead a new global conservation group, United for Wildlife, was a “passionate advocate” on the subject.

The BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell questioned the timing of the trip, which was also attended by Prince Harry, the Sun reported. “Such a trip is a world away from shooting endangered species for profit, but some may feel that to go hunting himself just as he launches a high-profile campaign is, at the very least, ill-timed,” Witchell said.

A royal spokesman said: “The Duke of Cambridge has for many years been a passionate advocate for endangered wildlife and has campaigned tirelessly to help stop the illegal poaching of rhino horn and elephant tusk. His track record in this area speaks for itself.”

In the broadcast, William and Charles make appeals in languages including Mandarin, Arabic and Swahili to stop the illegal wildlife trade.

Prince Charles, president of the wildlife charity WWF UK, starts the message with a warning that the trade has reached “unprecedented levels of killing and related violence” and poses a threat not only to endangered animals but to economic and political stability around the globe.

He says: “More than 30,000 elephants were killed last year, amounting to nearly 100 deaths per day. In the past 10 years, 62% of African forest elephants have been lost. If this rate continues, the forest elephant will be extinct within 10 years. A rhinoceros is killed every 11 hours. As recently as 100 years ago, there were as many as 100,000 wild tigers living in Asia. Today, there are believed to be fewer than 3,200 left in the wild.”

The duke, who is royal patron of the wildlife conservation charity Tusk Trust, says he wants future generations, including his son, George, to be able to appreciate protected wildlife. “This year, I have become even more devoted to protecting the resources of the Earth for not only my own son but also the other children of his generation to enjoy,” he says.

On Wednesday the duke will attend a United for Wildlife symposium at the Zoological Society of London, followed by an evening reception at the Natural History Museum to mark the start of a high-profile wildlife conference hosted by the British government.

The conference, held at Lancaster House in London, will host policymakers and campaigners from 50 countries, and there will be speeches from Charles and foreign secretary, William Hague.

The conference aims to tackle the wildlife trade by strengthening law enforcement, reducing demand for illegal products and supporting sustainable livelihoods for communities in affected areas, according to the government.

This reminds me of some things.

That His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cambridge, hunted in Spain of all places. reminded me of King Juan Carlos of Spain. Who went to Africa to kill elephants.

This also reminded of the Duke of Cambridge’s brother, Prince Harry. Police accused His Royal Highness of killing two endangered hen harriers. However, British authorities let His Royal Highness off the hook.

It also reminded me of this. The late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands killed many elephants. Then, he became a big shot in the WWF. He then proposed to kill elephant poachers without trial. However much I am against poaching, I am also against the death penalty; certainly without trial.

WWF Spain recently sacked the king of Spain for elephant killing. So, there is some improvement in some places.

With the gathering of the first United for Wildlife conference in London this week, the subject of international wildlife crime has been very much in the media spotlight. This has stimulated a huge amount of online commentary and debate about our tendency to view wildlife crime as a foreign issue, and whether or not we adhere to our responsibility to practice what we preach: here.

The Angolan government has announced on Thursday in London, UK, its whole concern about the gradual strengthening of the network of people and money associated with wildlife trade and other forms of organised criminal activity: here.

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Spanish pro-women’s rights march


This video is called Madrid: Thousands join march against plans to restrict abortion.

By Alejandro López in Spain:

Mass protests in Madrid against new abortion reform

3 February 2014

Thirty thousand people marched in Spain’s capital on Saturday to protest the right-wing Popular Party (PP) government’s new law that severely limits abortion rights. The law is almost certain to pass in late spring, with the PP having a large majority in parliament.

The law on the Protection of the Conceived Life and Rights of Pregnant Woman seeks to turn the clock back to the days of General Francisco Franco. Under the new proposals, women will only be permitted to terminate their pregnancy in two circumstances: rape and “lasting harm” to the mother’s health. In the case of “lasting harm,” a woman will need the approval of two doctors not employed by the clinic treating her. Under-18-year-olds will need to be accompanied by their parents, and have their permission, before an abortion can be performed.

Abortions based on incurable disease of the foetus or a foetal anomaly incompatible with life will once again be illegal. The law will make abortion an offence and doctors carrying out abortions considered illegal will face up to three years in prison.

Spain will once again have one of the harshest abortion laws in Europe, even when 73.3 percent are in favour of maintaining the abortion law passed under the Socialist Party (PSOE) in 2010, giving women the right to abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, rising to 22 weeks in case of foetal deformities.

The same poll by Sigma Dos for the daily El Mundo shows that only one-third of PP voters agree with the new reform, while 52 percent reject it. Even among those older than 65 who grew up in Catholic-run schools under Francoism, 57.9 percent are against the reform. Among youth aged between 18 to 29, this rises to 84.3 percent.

Since the draft law was passed in late December, daily protests have been taking place across the country, culminating in last Saturday’s mass protest.

The protest started when The Train of Liberty, organised by two feminist organisations in Asturias, Feminist Turtulia les Comadres and Mujeres por la igualidad de Barredos, decided to hand a petition to the Congress of Deputies registry titled “Because I decide”. This sparked massive support by women’s organisations.

When they arrived in the Atocha Station in Madrid, the protesters were welcomed by thousands who had travelled from other cities called by the feminist platform “Decidir nos hace libres” (To decide makes us free).

The demonstration walked from the Paseo del Prado to Neptune, with shouts of “[Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz] Gallardón resign”. Marchers carried banners reading, “Allow mothers to decide” and “Deciding makes us free.”

The march was also fuelled by the provocative memorandum accompanying the text of the bill leaked last week, which states that the reform will have a “positive net impact” on the Spanish economy through an increase in the birth rate.

On the same day, hundreds marched against the law in Paris, Rome and London. In France, large protests were held in Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Strasbourg and Toulouse. In Paris, at least 5,000 took to the streets in protests called by 80 organisations and parties.

In Brussels, a demonstration of 2,000 staged a protest in front of the Spanish Embassy and then marched to the headquarters of the European Parliament. Banners could be seen reading, “We are all Spanish women” and “Abortion legal and secure.”

The debate in Congress over the government’s abortion reform got underway two weeks ago.

The law will not put an end to the more than 110,000 abortions that are carried out in Spain each year. Instead, the impact of the law will weigh most heavily on the working class in a context of 26 percent unemployment, attacks on working conditions and salary cuts. Women will once again have to travel abroad or resort to unsafe methods. …

Behind this project lies the Catholic hierarchy. Last Thursday, Spain’s bishops came out in defence of Gallardón, stating, “We bishops always celebrate initiatives that are in favour of human life, no matter where they come from. That is why we see in the bill introduced by the current government a positive advance compared with existing legislation, which considers abortion a right.”

The PP has given in to other demands like the latest education reform, which opens the door to more charter schools (private schools subsidised by the state) in which the Catholic Church has a strong presence. Added to this, religion has been reinstated as a subject that counts towards a high school student’s average grade, a determining factor in obtaining scholarships.

The latest reactionary abortion law must be seen within the context of the systematic attacks on the democratic rights of the working class. The PP government has passed legislation drastically curtailing the right to protest and freedom of speech by imposing huge fines and jail sentences.

See also here.

Thousands of people marched to Spain’s parliament in Madrid on Saturday to protest a potential new law that would severely restrict women’s right to have an abortion: here.

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Four-hundred-year-old Lope de Vega play found in Spain


This video from England is about Lope de Vega’s play Punishment Without Revenge.

By Agence France-Presse news agency:

Four-hundred-year-old lost work of playwright Felix Lope de Vega found in Madrid

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 13:39 EST

A 400-year-old unpublished romantic comedy by the great Spanish Golden Age playwright Felix Lope de Vega has been found in Spain’s national library, officials announced Wednesday.

A 17th-century manuscript of the play, “Mujeres y Criados” (Women and Servants), was identified within the library’s archives in Madrid by Alejandro Garcia Reidy, a researcher specialising in Lope de Vega at the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona, library and university officials said.

Never published before, the work written in 1613-14 can be seen online and is to be staged later this year by the Fundacion Siglo de Oro (Golden Age Foundation) for the first time in nearly four centuries.

The play, written by Lope de Vega at the peak of his theatrical success, tells the story of two sisters in Madrid, Violante and Luciana, and their secret lovers Claridan and Teodoro, one a waiter and the other a secretary to a certain Count Prospero.

Complications begin when two new suitors arrive on the scene — Count Prospero himself, who chases Luciana, and the wealthy Don Pedro, who courts Violante with her father’s approval.

“This comedy reaches out to today’s audience as well,” said Garcia Reidy, an assistant professor of Spanish at Syracuse University in New York.

“Some scenes are more proper of a vaudeville show, a theatrical genre whose mechanics and rhythm are still quite popular,” he said in a statement issued by the Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona.

“Many of the scenes have their complexity, which is very promising, coming from a theatre play from the Golden Age.”

Lope de Vega, a prolific playwright and poet who is widely regarded as being one of the Western world’s finest dramatists, included the play in a list of works in 1618 but it had been believed lost.

The Spanish National Library had acquired the manuscript in 1886 when it bought the Library of Osuna.

“Several internal elements of the text and the relation the manuscript has with data in documents from that period confirm that the text was written by the ‘Phoenix of Wits’,” Garcia Reidy said, referring to the playwright’s nickname.

Though the 56 sheets are in a relatively modern binding, they are “without a doubt” a handwritten copy of Lope de Vega’s work set down in 1631 by Pedro de Valdes, a theatre director who staged Lope de Vega’s play, he said.

Garcia Reidy, a renowned Golden Age researcher, is already working on an annotated edition of the text, to be presented in the next few months, the Barcelona university said.

“This is a very important discovery,” said Alberto Blecua, director of the Barcelona university research group.

“Although attributing works to certain authors is always subject to possible controversies, the well-known prestige of the researcher and the validity of his arguments make me think that there will be unanimity among the scientific community,” he added.

Born in Madrid, Lope de Vega (1562-1635) is credited with hundreds of plays, many of them considered masterpieces.

An online link to the work is at: http://bdh.bne.es/bnesearch/detalle/4265202.

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Spanish waterfowl saved from poisoning by lead ammunition prohibition


This video from 2008 is about a big flock of migrating northern pintail ducks near Fukushima, Japan. What effects will the Fukushima nuclear disaster have had on these pintails and other waterfowl?

From ScienceDaily:

Waterfowl Poisoning Halved by Lead Shot Prohibition in Spain

Jan. 16, 2014 — The pollution of waterfowl meat and their poisoning by lead shot has dropped by 50% since this type of munitions was prohibited in wetlands in 2001. This is one of the data in a report from the Hunting Resources Research Institute, which also states that the hunters’ compliance with this mandate has been very high.

Lead shot was forbidden in 2001 in Spanish wetlands on the Ramsar List of these areas of international importance. Ten years later, this prohibition -and the consequent use of steel shot by hunters- has started to bear fruit, according to a report in the journal ‘Environment International’.

“The most important part of our work is that it shows that, despite it’s still covering a partial area, the change of material from lead to steel shot has reduced waterfowl poisoning and the contamination of hunted meat,” Rafael Mateo Soria of the Hunting Resources Research Institute (IREC) and co-author of the study, said.

Lead shot accumulating in wetlands, with over 100 per square metre in many areas, remains in the sediments for decades.

Its main damage is to the health of waterfowl. When the shot is eaten it is retained in the gizzard and is worn down in the stomach, freeing lead that reaches the animal’s tissues.

“The birds start to develop neurological problems, they cannot move and they also suffer from anemia. Normally, if they ingest lead, they die with notable emaciation after days or even weeks after starting to ingest the shot,” explained Mateo.

In species such as the mallard, 30% caught at the start of the 1990s in the Ebro delta had ingested lead shot, a figure which has now dropped to 15%. The same trend has been seen in other species such as the northern shoveler, the Eurasian teal and the common pochard.

On the other hand, the case of the northern pintail caught continues to cause alarm since over 70% have shot in their gizzards, a rate similar to that seen three decades ago.

The scientist notes that to discover the reason for the high percentage of poisoning in this species, they will start to fit birds with transmitters. “What we do know is that, because of its type of diet, this is a species with a high risk of ingesting shot. Nevertheless, in others that also have these risk factors, such as the common pochard, the rate has reduced after the change to steel shot,” he added.

Another problem caused by lead shot is the contamination of meat. Even after lead shot was banned, the traces in animals caught with this metal exceed the limits set for meat for human consumption.

Lead in the rice fields

Hunters who prefer lead to steel shot claim that the latter is harder and less dense. “With steel, one has to fire a larger shot so that it has the same mass. One cannot fire against the ground because of the risk of ricochets and it is said to damage the shotgun bore. Experience shows that these disadvantages have not affected hunting and that one can continue to hunt perfectly with steel,” said Mateo.

Researchers stress that the hunters’ compliance with this prohibition has been very high and that they have continued to hunt waterfowl in the same amount after the change from lead to steel.

However, the law forbids lead shot in protected wetlands only. For this reason, lead shot is permitted in rice fields that ducks use as feeding areas, thus maintaining focuses of contamination for the birds and their meat.

“These animals use the rice fields as well as the natural lakes for feeding.. There is little logic in stopping the entrance of a pollutant into a protected area if the pollution continues at the same rate a few metres away. The birds don’t understand boundaries. It has not been prohibited mainly because these areas are not protected,” said the scientist.

Legislation in most European countries

This study has allowed the assessment of the effectiveness of the measures adopted by countries signing the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA). At the last AEWA meeting, the parties were asked to assess the effectiveness of the lead shot prohibition in wetlands and of the changeover to non-toxic alternative munitions.

The AEWA is an agreement to protect waterfowl along their entire migration route between Africa and Eurasia. It was signed by some 30 European countries.

According to the scientist, most European countries have legislation that limits or prohibits the use of lead shot. “Some, such as Denmark, have gone further and have forbidden the use of this type of shot in all types of hunting since 1996.”

Other countries, such as the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, have followed. Lead bullets have started to be replaced with copper bullets with a hollow point in some areas to reduce deaths from lead poisoning in carrion birds such as the Californian condor (USA) and the white-tailed eagle (Germany).

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Spanish fascists threaten survivors of Franco dictatorship


'Crazy whore you are going to die' and nazi swastika, graffiti on Franco dictatorship survivor Gema Carretero's house

By Vicky Short and Paul Mitchell:

Spain: Fascists intimidate plaintiffs in Franco-era crimes case

20 January 2014

Fascists are intimidating plaintiffs who have launched a lawsuit investigating the crimes committed by the forces of General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) and the dictatorship that followed.

During that period up to 400,000 people were killed or disappeared and up to 300,000 children were abducted from jailed or executed parents. Not one Francoist official has ever been held responsible. …

Nothing has been done about the recent fascist intimidation either. One plaintiff, Gema Carretero from Leganés, a satellite-city of the capital Madrid, describes in her online petition, that “I am threatened with death by extreme right groups. You have only to see the photo. And no one listens to me when I ask for protection, I ask you for help.

“My name is Gema, and my father was killed by the dictatorship in 1965. Because of a lack of justice in Spain I had to go to Argentina to make a complaint to the judge Servini seeking justice in a prosecution for crimes against humanity in the war, after the war and the dictatorship.

“And for that reason there are people who live near my house that keep harassing me and threatening me. I have recently experienced graffiti in large letters on the front of my house, bearing the swastika, containing serious insults and death threats.

“I proceeded to denounce the situation. I met with the City Council and made a complaint to the court, but nothing has been done to defend our personal integrity. They have also smashed our door lamps and sprayed the neighbourhood with abrasive products.

“I’m terrified, I have fear and I fear for the safety of my family.

“Therefore I ask that you support me with your signature, to request that the Ministry of Interior and the Leganés Council undertake to provide the necessary protection for my family and the people, who like us, are threatened with death by right-wing terrorist groups.”

Because successive Spanish governments have not only refused to investigate these crimes in Spain but have severely punished those who have attempted to do so, Carretero and other relatives of those murdered by the Franco regime have sought justice in Argentina. A lawsuit was filed there in April 2010 by human rights lawyers in the name of six relatives who now live in that country.

Behind the lawsuit is Spain’s Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory. Set up shortly after the Zapatero Socialist Party (PSOE) government came to office in 2004, it was intended as an exercise in damage control over rising demands for a proper investigation of the Franco period, and has no teeth or authority. Also involved is Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge who was debarred in 2010 when he attempted to start an investigation into the torture and executions under the Franco regime and declared them crimes against humanity.

Argentine Federal Judge María Servini de Cubría was appointed to investigate the accusations under international law, in which crimes against humanity have no limitations or jurisdictional boundaries.

As soon as the lawsuit was launched, the present right-wing Popular Party (PP) government of Mariano Rajoy pressured the Argentinean government not to allow Servini to use the Argentine Embassy in Spain to interview the victims and relatives, and also put every obstacle imaginable in the way of obtaining interviews over the Internet. As a result, over 200 plaintiffs and their lawyers have been forced to fly to Buenos Aires to give evidence, with hundreds more unable to go because of the cost or old age.

In September 2013, Servini issued international arrest warrants for four former Spanish officials accused of torture, only two of whom are still alive—policemen José Antonio González Pacheco, known as “Billy the Kid,” and Jesús Muñecas Aguilar. Only after pressure from the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances did Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardón reluctantly acknowledge the extradition requests and confiscate their passports.

This month, Servini has indicted 11 former Francoist ministers who are still alive, including José María López de Letona (Industry Minister 1969-74), Licinio de la Fuente (Labour Minister 1969-75), Alberto Monreal (Finance Minister 1969-73), Antonio Barrera (Finance Minister 1973-74), Fernando Liñán (Information and Tourism Minister 1973-74), Antonio Carro (Head of the Ministry of the Presidency 1974-75), Fernando Suárez (Labour Minister 1975), José María Sánchez-Ventura (Justice Minister 1975), José Utrera (Housing Minister 1973-74), and Rodolfo Martín (Interior Minister 1976-79).

However, Servini declared, “I want to clear up the fact that the ministers’ personal histories are not being scrutinized here, but simply their roles as active ministers in the Franco regime, which had a policy of committing gross violations of human rights.”

Servini’s conciliatory sentiments were echoed by Galician Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory secretary, Rubén Afonso Lobato, who said, “We have no special grudge against these people but we simply want them to tell us what they did and for them to be judged for their actions. No matter how old they are, they still have to own up to their actions.”

This week equally conciliatory statements were made by lawyers from the Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory and other human rights organisations, who are pleading with Spain’s National Court chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza to be the “voice” of the victims and allow the extradition of Pacheco and Aguilar. In what is clearly an attempt to thwart the Argentine case, Zaragoza said that he would be willing to open a lawsuit in Spain “because those were crimes committed by and against Spanish people,” only to add, “If the case were opened, we should take into account the amnesty and the statute of limitations on legal claims.”

In the unlikely event the National Court ordered the extradition, the Council of Ministers would be able to veto the decision.

The author also recommends:

Relatives of Franco’s victims testify in Argentine courts
[17 December 2013]

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón debarred for 11 years
[14 February 2012]

Spain’s Garzón acquitted for investigation of Franco-era crimes
[9 March 2012]

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White storks and shoveler ducks


This video is about a white stork nest in Spain.

Today, to the “Baillon’s crake nature reserve” again.

In the canal closest to the entrance, gadwall ducks.

In the next canal, two grey lag geese, a male and a female tufted duck; and a male and a female gadwall.

In the next canal, a male shoveler duck and Canada geese.

On a small islet in the southern lake, a great black-backed gull.

Six northern lapwings flying.

In the northern lake and on its islands, many shovelers, teal, lapwings and black-headed gulls.

Two white storks circling overhead. They did not migrate to Africa. Because of the mild winter so far?

In the northern meadow: five hares, many black-headed gulls, a common gull and two Egyptian geese.

As we leave, a great cormorant sitting on top of the windmill.

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