USA bans Celtic music in Cuba


British daily The Guardian wrote on the songs in this music video:

Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six The Pogues 1988.

Released while the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four were still in jail, this was to the Troubles as Free Nelson Mandela was to South Africa. But where the Special AKA were persuasive, the Pogues were simply furious. Segueing from the folky Streets of Sorrow, bemoaning Northern Ireland’s tragedy, it slams into McGowan’s punk-driven denunciation of British justice. Fearful of Thatcher’s “oxygen of publicity” laws, gutless broadcasters banned it and a live performance on Friday Night Live was abruptly interrupted by adverts.

SY

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Celtic musicians barred from Cuban festival

Tuesday 12 April 2011

A group of US musicians of Irish descent have been barred from travelling to Cuba to participate in a festival of traditional Celtic music, Cuban state media reported on Monday.

The musicians had been invited to perform in the 2nd Annual Celtic Cultural Festival organised by Irishman Kilian Kennedy.

But the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) denied them the permits needed to travel legally to Cuba.

John McAuliff, former president of Philadelphia’s Ceili Group, said: “Although President Obama in principle opened the door to ‘purposeful travel’ on January 14, three months later OFAC has still not issued guidelines to implement them or issued any new licences.”

Mr Kennedy launched the event last year after he discovered Cuba’s vibrant Celtic folk scene while on holiday.

It is kept alive by Cuban descendants of immigrants from northern Spain’s Gaelic provinces.

See also here.

New York missing cobra is back


This video says about itself:

Apr 8, 2011

The Bronx Zoo‘s escape artist Egyptian cobra is ready to go back into the public eye when the Reptile House opens back up Saturday.

From WPIX TV in New York in the USA:

Mia Madness In The Bronx

By FRANCESCA MAXIME

5:41 p.m. EDT, April 9, 2011

THE BRONX, N.Y.(PIX11)— It’s Mia madness, at the Bronx Zoo. People had a chance to catch a first glimpse of the Egyptian cobra who went missing, last month – making quite a name for herself in the process.

The public was invited to come up with names for the cobra and settled on “Missing in Action,” or Mia, for short. Says Johanne Gaddy, a teacher bringing students in to see the young snake, “I think Mia’s a great name, it fits.”

Mia went missing for a full week last month. After a thorough search, she was found within the Reptile House, safe and sound. Norma Mero brought her family to see the snake: “It wasn’t as exciting as I thought it was going to be – she’s to tiny! She’s very cute, but very small.”

Mia is only two feet long, weighs three ounces, and is less than a year old. Eventually, she’ll likely grow to over seven feet.

Many of the zoo’s visitors were surprised by her small size, but her cobra status wasn’t lost on anyone, including a young girl who had this to say: “She kind of surprised me because I thought she’d be bigger: she’s cute, but she’s dangerous.”

From Wikipedia:

On March 26, 2011, the Bronx Zoo informed the public that their reptile house was closed after a venomous adolescent female Banded Egyptian cobra was discovered missing from its off-exhibit enclosure on March 25. The Cobra is actually a Banded Snouted cobra, N. annulifera, formerly considered conspecific to the Egyptian Cobra. Zoo officials were confident the missing cobra would be found in the building and not outside, since the Egyptian cobra is known to be uncomfortable in open areas.[8] The snake’s metabolism would also have been impacted by the cold weather outdoors at that time in the Bronx. The cobra was found in a dark corner of the zoo’s reptile house on March 31, 2011, in good health.[9] After a contest, she was named “Mia” for “missing in action.”

See also here.

Cobra vs. rat snake video: here.

Saving Asian vultures


Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction from The RSPB on Vimeo.

BirdLife says on the subject of this video:

Tue, Apr 12, 2011

Three species of south Asia’s vultures are threatened with extinction. The White-rumped Vulture was so abundant in India in the 1980s that it was probably the most common large bird of prey in the world. Only one in a thousand now survives, a 99.9% decline for this species.

All three species – White-rumped, Indian and the Slender-billed Vulture – have declined by more than 97% since the early 1990s.

This shocking decline is because of a veterinary drug, diclofenac, which is toxic to any vulture that feeds on the carcass of recently treated cattle.

April 2011: In some encouraging news for bird enthusiasts, a flock of more than 40 white-rumped vultures has been spotted in the Panidihing Bird Sanctuary in Assam. This is the first sighting in three years of this critically-endangered species in such large numbers, here: here.

05/11/2011 First signs of progress in saving Indian vultures from killer drug: here.

February 2012. Nationwide road surveys in India, initially conducted in 1991-1993 and repeated in 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, revealed that, by 2007, Asian white-backed vulture (Gyps bengalensis) had fallen to 0.1% of its numbers in the early 1990s, with populations of Indian vulture (Gyps indicus) and Slender-billed vulture (Gyps tenuirostris) having fallen to 3.2% of their earlier level. The last nationwide survey in India was undertaken in 2007: here.

Again German politician plagiarism scandal


Silvana Koch-Mehrin, interviewed by the BBC

After German Defence war minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg of the conservative CSU party, part of the governing coalition, had to resign in a plagiarism scandal … now it is the turn of the “free market” FDP, another coalition party.

Ms Silvana Koch-Mehrin chairs the FDP party caucus in the European parliament. She is also deputy chair of that whole parliament.

Now, German scholars have started studying her PhD thesis. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, so far they have found that at least 10% of the text is plagiarism.