A Twitter message about Wales says today:
This video from Wales is called Skomer Manx Shearwater Burrow Cam.
From British Birds:
Published on 23 September 2014
Although Manx Shearwaters have bred on these two islands for decades, eggs and chicks were always eaten by rats while they were still in their burrows. But last winter the islands’ rats were removed and conservationists are now celebrating the first sightings of healthy youngsters.
So far ten chicks have been recorded by project staff, volunteers and trail cameras. By this time of year the adult shearwaters have already left the chicks to migrate to South America for winter. These chicks, left in a healthy condition by their parents, are now coming outside their burrows at night-time to stretch their wings and to ‘stargaze’. By looking at the stars they learn the location of their natal colony so they know exactly where to come back to.
Once they leave the islands they will live out at sea, moving to the southern hemisphere where they winter off the coast of Brazil. Potentially living up to 55 years, they make these long migrations each year.
RSPB Project Manager, Jaclyn Pearson said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to announce this news. It is down to the help of everyone involved in the project so far, particularly the community of folk living on the islands who continue to keep these islands rat-free. This is an official status we hope to achieve by early 2016. But in the meantime with these 10 Manx Shearwater chicks, the project is having exactly the effect we hoped for. We would also thank our funders LIFE, and the Heritage Lottery Fund for making this work possible.
‘We need everyone’s help who visits St Agnes and Gugh to help us to ensure biosecurity measures. Over the next couple of months we have activities to discourage and remove food sources from any potential rats. There will be beach cleans, bin days and an “Apple Day” where we will remove and juice wind fallen apples. Please do come and get involved if you are visiting the islands.’
Isles of Scilly Seabird Ecologist Vickie Heaney said: ‘For so many years now I’ve been returning to the burrows looking for evidence of chicks fledging, only to find old cobwebs over the entrances and no signs of life. So it’s been really brilliant this year for myself, project staff and volunteers to see live chicks stargazing. With their remnants of fluff, they looked fit and healthy; ready for their awe-inspiring migration.’
David Appleton, adviser for the Isles of Scilly Seabird Recovery Project for Natural England, said: ‘This is excellent news – it’s early stages but we are very hopeful about the bird’s recovery on St Agnes and Gugh. We’ll know more when they return to breed in 2–4 years. In the meantime, everyone is working hard to keep rats off the islands and we’re asking residents and visitors to report any rat sightings to the hotline number and to thoroughly check for “stowaways” on transport to the islands.’
If people think they see rats on either St Agnes or Gugh they are asked to call the project ‘Rat on a rat’ hot-line on 01720 422153. The project team and islanders will then inspect the area and set up surveillance and incursion response measures.
This is a partnership project between RSPB, Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Isles of Scilly Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural England and Duchy of Cornwall. The project is funded by LIFE, the EU’s programme for financing key environmental schemes across the continent and a £269,100 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
NATO countries are spending more money on militarism. Ukraine civil war militarism. Re-starting the Iraq war, and extending it to Syria.
More United States and other countries’ taxpayers’ money will go to more weapons in the Middle East. Supposedly, to stop ISIS terrorism. The money will go to supposedly ‘moderate’ jihadist fighters in Syria. [sarcasm on]And, if these supposedly ‘moderate’ jihadists think that taxpayers’ money is not enough, they can always get more money by selling their hostage prisoners to ISIS for beheading, like happened with Steven Sotloff.[/sarcasm off]
NATO countries’ escalation of war in Syria will mean even more Syrian refugees.
While, mostly rich, NATO countries spend more on wars, they spend less on the victims of those wars.
From Euronews today:
UN warns funding gap means less food for Syrian refugees
18/09 07:07 CET
Life for Syrian refugees is about to get even harder. The United Nations says it will have to slash food rations by 40 percent to over four million of them due to a shortage of funds.
The World Food Programme (WFP) needs $44m (34m euros) for its immediate operations inside Syria.
A funding gap means that the average Syrian will have to survive on 825 calories which is half the daily recommended intake as winter approaches.
International charity Save the Children (StC) warned yesterday that nearly 3 million Syrian children were missing school due to the civil war: here.
This video from Wales says about itself:
All Out! Dancing in Dulais
10 November 2012
“The South Wales miners’ strike of 1984-1985 saw the formation of a curious alliance between a plucky group of young homosexuals from London and miners in Dulais Valley. In Dancing in Dulais, an initial wariness on the part of the young gays, the miners, and the miners’ families gives way, through sometimes delicate interactions, to a loving and purposeful solidarity. The unembellished videography captures well this fascinating-to-witness union of two disparate yet ultimately kindred groups. The “Pits and Perverts” benefit concert features the Bronski Beat.”
PopcornQ Movies at PlanetOut.com
Editor: Jeff Cole
By Peter Frost in Britain:
Thursday 11th September 2014
It has taken three decades for the BBC and the British film industry to tell the amazing story of Mark Ashton.
Thirty years is a long time, indeed a good few years longer than Ashton’s tragically short life — a life cut short by Aids at just 26 in 1987.
Mark, a mercurial young Irishman, was a gay rights activist and a founder member — some would say the founding member — of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) during the epic miners’ strike of the 1980s.
LGSM came together to support the British miners during the year-long strike of 1984-5.
There were 11 LGSM groups throughout the country. London was the largest.
This video from Britain is called Pride – Official Launch Trailer (2014) Bill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Imelda Staunton [HD].
I loved the film. It made me laugh and it made me cry, but I’ll leave a full review to others. There is a more important story to be told.
The film is about two tough parallel working-class struggles. First the fight by lesbians and gay men in the ’80s against homophobic prejudice, street violence and against the horrifying threat of HIV-Aids.
The other battle was that of Britain’s miners to stop Margaret Thatcher and her government killing off their industry and their union.
On striking miners he was equally crass. He described mass picketing and street demonstrations as “acts of terrorism” and trade unions as “a politically motivated industrial mafia at work.”
He should have been sacked, but Thatcher knew she needed reactionary police allies like Anderton in her battle to destroy British trade unions, starting with the miners.
In this historical maelstrom Ashton was one of the first to realise the connection between two groups both under attack from bully Thatcher, her savage government and her tame and reactionary police.
Ashton told his gay activist friends: “Mining communities are being bullied like we are, being harassed by the police, just as we are. One community should give solidarity to another. It is really illogical to say: ‘I’m gay and I’m into defending the gay community but I don’t care about anything else’.”
The paper’s headline-writers certainly linked the two groups in what must be one of the most disgusting headlines ever written. “Pits and perverts” it screamed in huge type on the front page.
The Sun clearly intended to undermine the striking miners’ cause and ridicule or belittle its support from lesbians and gay men. In fact they ended up having exactly the opposite effect.
The so-called perverts appropriated that headline as the title of a massive fundraising event organised by Ashton’s LGSM at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London.
The concert itself was a huge success — raising £5,650 (the equivalent of more than £20,000 in today’s money) for the striking miners and their families in south Wales.
At the concert David Donovan, from the Dulais NUM, told the 1,500-strong, mostly gay and lesbian audience: “You have worn our badge, ‘Coal not dole,’ and you know what harassment means, as we do. Now we will pin your badge on us — we will support you.
The fundraiser was headlined by Bronski Beat, whose lead singer Jimmy Somerville would go on to form The Communards, a group who would record For A Friend, Somerville’s personal tribute to Ashton.
This music video is called The Communards – For A Friend – HQ Video with Lyrics.
“Summer comes and I remember how we’d march/We’d march for love and peace, together arm in arm.”
The new film Pride tells a good story and tells it well, but although one of its main themes is coming out of various closets it is sad that one important closet door remains firmly nailed shut.
Ashton was many things, but he was first and foremost a communist. He never hid that fact.
Sadly the film doesn’t mention what was one of the most important factors that guided and inspired Ashton in all his actions.
I knew, and worked, with Ashton during the miners’ strike when he was general secretary of the Young Communist League (YCL).
It is sad, but perhaps predictable, that the BBC has edited Ashton’s membership of the Communist Party and his leading role in the YCL out of the storyline completely.
I was proud to work with Ashton and other communists raising money and support for the miners.
We helped to picket power stations and fuel dumps, organised fundraisers, demonstrations and street collections.
The savage Thatcher government had sequestered the funds of the NUM which meant that it was pointless for supporters to send donation via the national union.
Instead support groups throughout Britain adopted individual mining communities. Ashton’s London LGSM group twinned with Dulais Valley in south Wales.
They had chosen that particular colliery after meeting some reluctance to accept their support from other miners’ groups.
Ashton and his LGSM comrades raised an amazing £20,000 for the strikers as well as visiting the Welsh pit village in solidarity and to deliver money, food and others supplies.
The alliances which Ashton and his campaign forged between LGBT and trade union groups proved to be an important turning point in the development of LGBT struggles and issues.
Miners’ groups began to support and endorse and participate in various Gay Pride events. Miners Lodge and other trade union banners headed the 1985 Gay Pride rally in London.
That same year, at the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to support LGBT equality rights was passed.
The issue had been raised and defeated before. This time unanimous support from the NUM won the vote against fierce opposition from many on the Labour Party national executive.
In 1988 the NUM was among the most outspoken allies of the LGBT community campaign against Section 28 — an attempt to ban any mention of homosexuality in schools.
Ashton was diagnosed with Aids on January 30 1987. Just 12 days later pneumonia took his young life.
His premature death prompted a tremendous response, not just from the gay community but also from the left and the labour movement in general.
Red, pink and rainbow flags and miners’ union banners all fluttered at his impressive Lambeth funeral.
His memory lives on in the Mark Ashton Red Ribbon Fund. His name is still honoured in the ex-mining valleys of south Wales and now the film Pride will introduce at least some of his story to a massive new audience.
Go and see it. It will make you laugh a lot and cry a little, but more important it will inspire you to action — and that is the only legacy communist Mark Ashton would ever have wanted.
Peter Frost blogs at frostysramblings.wordpress.com.
This music video from the USA is called Bob Dylan – Masters of War – lyrics.
By Joana Ramiro in Britain:
Tuesday 9th September 2014
“The illegal use of drones to carry out secret bombings is one of the most controversial issues around,” said Reprieve legal director Kat Craig.
“It is deeply worrying to see those firms who may profit most from it able to buy access to such a high-level summit.”
But the arms dealers were not present out of sheer perseverance.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, led by Secretary of State Vince Cable, actively promoted their presence.
“This week shines a spotlight on the UK’s thriving defence industry,” said Business Minister Matthew Hancock.
Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Beth Cowley told the Star that the company had been at the summit, which it was “very proud to support.”
After showcasing its newest F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, Ms Cowley said that “with seven Nato members including the UK already partners and more countries interested in the programme, the aircraft is set to be one of the cornerstones of the alliance’s air capability for decades to come.”
Campaigners believe that drone manufacturers fraternising so closely with the heads of some of the most powerful countries in the world helps perpetuate a war culture.
“Allowing drone manufacturers to buy access to our politicians behind closed doors is no way to ensure we get the transparency we need,” added Ms Craig.
Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) spokesman Andrew Smith echoed the sentiment.
“These companies thrive on war and conflict, so it’s no surprise that they would use a militaristic summit like Nato to promote their deadly wares,” he said.
“They want to ensure that governments continue to pour billions into weapons, even at the same time as the vital services that people rely on every day are being cut.”
From daily The Independent in Britain, 7 September 2014:
[British] Ministers have approved giving Calais the 9ft-high “Ring of Steel” security fence that had been used at the Nato Summit, to help tackle the issue of migrants seeking to illegally board ferries and trucks bound for the UK. …
Two impenetrable steel walls were constructed to provide security at the convergence of world leaders at the two-day Nato Summit this week.
There was one around the Celtic Manor venue in Newport and another 12-mile-long one around Cardiff City Centre, which was disassembled at 4am this morning.
Dubbed the “Ring of Steel”, the imposing barrier was brought in to help mitigate the threat of a terrorist attack, with one member of the public mockingly renaming the Nato Summit “Stalag Luft 12”, reports Wales Online, in reference to the high security Nazi Germany prisoner-of-war camps. …
Tim Finch, the Director of Migration at the Institute for Public Policy Research, told The Independent that the problem of migrants in Calais is “essentially irresolvable”.
Britain has “no alternative but to keep them out”, he said, though some of them may die in the process”.
The Institute for Public Policy Research is called a “progressive thinktank” on Wikipedia. The whole Wikipedia article shows the IPPR is rather ‘Blairite‘, ‘new’ Labour, so not really progressive. If, instead of Tim Finch, an aide to Russia’s Putin, Syria’s Assad, Cuba’s Raul Castro, or some other politician whom NATO countries’ establishments hate for various reasons, would so callously dismiss the value of human lives of refugees from wars, Tony Blair’s wars, NATO’s wars, then corporate media in all NATO countries would furiously demand ‘humanitarian’ invasion right now of the country of the person who spoke this inhuman sentence.
The British government’s gift of the NATO ‘Stalag Luft 12′ fence comes after blackmail by the Rightist mayor of Calais.
By Stéphane Hugues in France:
France: Calais mayor demands crackdown on migrants, threatens to block port
6 September 2014
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart of France’s right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) has threatened Britain that she will blockade Calais harbor unless the government in London helps fund Calais’ repression of immigrants trapped in the city trying to reach Britain. Bouchart’s threat means blocking the passage of thousands of cars and trucks that cross the English Channel to Britain every day.
Bouchart issued this threat after 100 refugees in desperation tried to outrun the police and board a P&O ferry in the port bound for Britain earlier this week. The ferry staff raised the ship’s ramps and walkways and turned their fire hoses onto the refugees.
“I could take the decision to block the port…I could bring pressure to bear. It would be illegal but today I want to make a strong gesture towards the British,” Bouchart told reporters in Paris after meeting French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
She said she did not discuss her proposal with Cazeneuve, “but I told him that I hoped he would have some strong negotiations with the British.” In blocking the port, Bouchart is trying to use the situation to squeeze money out of the British government. She claims that Calais currently pays out 10 million Euros a year in “Security charges” for policing the refugees.
Bouchart’s outburst and avowedly illegal threats are part of decades of mounting persecution by European authorities of immigrants trying to travel across Europe to Britain. There are 1,500 or more refugees in Calais and its suburbs trying to reach Britain. Most are fleeing from famine or imperialist wars in their own countries, which include Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Somalia. They are forced to sleep in the open air with no covers.
Refugee support groups try to help them by distributing food, but the refugees have been reduced to conditions even more brutal than the homeless. Before, they were able to build shantytowns on unused ground. Now, these dwellings are systematically destroyed.
Until 2002, the refugees were housed in a Red Cross refugee centre in Sangatte, near Calais. The then Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, shut the camp and forced the refugees to find refuge wherever they could in the Calais area.
THE mayor of Calais reacted with scorn today to an offer from the British government of 12 miles of security fencing to help keep out illegal immigrants: here.
By Tony Simpson in Wales:
Proud Welsh history of resistance to Nato
Friday 5th September 2014
As war drums roll protesters continue a long tradition of opposing the US-led bloc, says Tony Simpson
Anti-Nato protesters from CND Cymru and other organisations assembled in Newport yesterday for the Nato summit at Celtic Manor Hotel. They marched from the town centre to the event and were met by a police cordon, part of one of the biggest security operations seen in Wales.
Some 10,000 police are guarding the military bigwigs to ensure they can plan their next offensive operation unhindered by democratic protests. Where next for Nato’s warplanes — will it be Ukraine? Syria? Iraq?
Ironically Nato’s war planners will play golf within sight of one of their biggest cold war bases, the former Caerwent US arms dump which once stored 80,000 tons of war munitions, including Patriot missiles.
As I wrote in the Star (March 23 1969), Caerwent also marked the biggest cock-up in Nato history during the Vietnam War.
France’s President Charles de Gaulle kicked the US and their bases out of France in 1966.
The fact that Labour had opposed Panzer training bases in Pembrokeshire and was supposedly against the Vietnam War didn’t prevent Dennis Healey generously renting the US Army Area Support Group the 1,500-acre munitions site near Newport. They stayed for 25 years.
Few will know where these weapons of mass destruction eventually ended up and how many they killed in the name of democracy.
Many of the 400 arms stores at Caerwent are now deserted but their last mission was supplying Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm against Iraq, now once again in a perilous position after Blair and Bush’s illegal intervention.
In 1969 I helped CND organise a major anti-Nato demonstration when we marched from Newport to the gates of the US war equipment stored at Caerwent.
We assembled only days before the 20th anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, which included a provision for members to withdraw from the alliance. Some of us even hoped that after France’s rebuff, Nato was in terminal decline.
Shaken but not stirred, the Nato hawks were soon in “business-as-usual” mode.
The Thatcher–Reagan era brought Cruise missiles and Polaris submarines in an attempt to ratchet up the cold war and bankrupt the Soviet Union in a new arms race.
Almost half a century later and despite the demise of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact, Nato is still fighting the cold war by ratcheting up tension and signing up states in eastern Europe – even Israel is now a “major non-Nato ally.”
Nato supremo Anders Fogh Rasmussen wants defence budgets among European members to be increased while summer Nato manoeuvres are taking place in the Baltic states, Poland and Ukraine, which is taking military action to the borders of Russia. Many see Nato as a means of US expansionism which is continuing under Obama.
CND Cymru, which is organising the demonstrations, points out that less than a decade after the Soviet Union collapsed, “Nato adopted a new strategic concept advocating offensive action anywhere in Europe and Asia.”
This including bombing Serbia in 1999 and invading Afghanistan, which after years of occupation remains unstable. CND also says Nato “flouts the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by deploying nuclear weapons in European countries like Germany, Italy and Belgium.
CND Cymru points out that Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons are actually assigned to Nato command.
Protesting against Nato intervention and against Trident as a “tool of Nato” has been a major theme of the demonstrations.
Counter summits were held at Cardiff County Hall on August 31 and again at Newport Millenium Centre on September 1 and 2.
Yesterday peace protesters marched from Newport civic centre to a No to Nato rally in Westgate Square and heard Bruce Kent and other speakers address the crowd before marching from the cenotaph at Clarence Place to Celtic Manor.
Despite the millions the government has spent on policing to keep the protests from interrupting the Nato gathering, they failed to silence us.
European leaders lecture people constantly about the supposed need to cut spending in response to the economic crisis sparked by the private banking industry. But no such thrift is demanded of the Nato military alliance, which will fritter much-needed funds on creating a rapid response force based in eastern Europe: here.