This 21 March 2017 video shows a male great spotted woodpecker making a nest hole.
AG Hols from the Netherlands made this video.
This 21 March 2017 video shows a male great spotted woodpecker making a nest hole.
AG Hols from the Netherlands made this video.
This video from France says about itself:
French Guiana: ‘A powder keg abandoned by the state’
FRENCH PAPERS – Mon. 27.03.17: The situation in French Guiana is making headlines. The overseas territory in South America has seen social unrest over the past week and there are calls for a general strike today. Meanwhile, less than a month before round one, many French people still don’t know who to vote for in the upcoming presidential elections.
By Kumaran Ira:
General strike declared in French Guyana
27 March 2017
A few weeks before the French presidential elections, French Guyana is paralyzed by a general strike. Strikes and road blockades have been ongoing for a week in this French overseas department in South America, bordering Brazil, based on demands on health, education, economy, security and housing.
Protests by health care, transport and energy workers are demanding jobs, pay increases and improvements to the quality of public services. After a week of strikes and demonstrations, largely launched independently of the union bureaucracy, the 37 unions gathered in the Union of Guyanese Workers (UTG) union federation voted to hold a general strike starting today.
At the same time, significant protest movements are mobilizing farmers and agricultural labourers in solidarity with the workers. In recent days, they have set up dozens of roadblocks that control strategic intersections in several cities, including the entrances to the cities of Cayenne, Kourou, Rémire-Montjoly and Saint-Laurent du Maroni.
A dozen roadblocks and strike action are paralyzing the Cayenne airport. A Paris-Cayenne Air France flight had to head back to Paris after four hours flight time when the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGAC) radioed that it could not land in Cayenne airport due to a shortage of staff.
Striking electricity workers, Kourou hospital workers, and workers of the Endel corporation have blockaded the entrance to the Guyana space centre in Kourou. They were thus able to prevent the launching of the Ariane 5 rocket, the heart of Guyana’s economy, scheduled for March 21. “Due to a social movement, it was impossible to carry out the transfer operations of the launcher of the Final Assembly Structure (BAF) towards the launch area scheduled for today,” Ariane-Space declared in a statement.
Strikers also blocked the commercial port, the local authorities, the police prefecture and major roadways. Farmers are blockading the Agricultural Directorate’s buildings. Guyana’s schools, junior high schools and high schools have been closed by the authorities “until further notice.” University students are reportedly joining the protests.
The strike reflects deep social anger that is building among workers and oppressed social layers after five years of austerity under the Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande. In this department of 200,000 people, 22 percent of workers (18,000 people) are jobless. Youth aged 15 to 24, who make up 46 percent of the unemployed, are the worst hit.
Speaking to France-Info, Senator for Guyana Antoine Karam said there was in Guyana “more insecurity than in the major cities inside France itself.” He added, “nearly 30 percent of the population does not have access to either drinkable water or to electricity, but on the other hand we have a space station.”
He also pointed to “murder, and armed robbery” in Guyana, claiming, “People will carry out murder for 20 euros, a jewel or a mobile phone.”
Guyanese people underscored their deep disappointment with the Hollande administration and the French government. Hollande promised a Pact for the Future of Guyana, which is still not signed.
Maud, 29, a teacher at Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni, told RMC: “Everyone has had it. People feel that no one ever talks about them, but that the situation is truly catastrophic. The Guyanese people have the impression that they have been abandoned by metropolitan France. They do not feel they are treated equally as compared to other departments.”
A month before the presidential elections, which are taking place amid explosive social anger in France, the PS government will seek to rapidly end the strike in the overseas department, before it triggers solidarity protests and strikes inside metropolitan France.
This video from New Zealand says about itself:
6 May 2012
27 Mar 2017
Lessons from Little Barrier Island
Alanna Matamaru-Smith, from our Cook Islands’ BirdLife Partner Te Ipukarea Society finds out more about seabird conservation during a recent visit to Little Barrier, an island off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
Alanna Matamaru-Smith, from our Cook Islands’ BirdLife Partner Te Ipukarea Society finds out more about seabird conservation during a recent visit to Little Barrier Island, off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
I’d never been to an island that was solely dedicated to being a nature reserve, but once I landed on Little Barrier Island, known as Hauturu in Māori language, it didn’t take long to realise I was in a Garden of Eden. Straight away I could see kākā and kākāriki flying overhead, tūī and bellbirds trying to out-sing each other, and kōkako bouncing across the ground nearby.
In the Cook Islands the closest we have to a nature reserve is Suwarrow, our national park, which is is 825km north-west of Rarotonga and home to millions of seabirds, thousands of huge coconut crabs, hundreds of sharks, and rare species of turtles. Suwarrow was predator-free until last year when one of the rangers noticed rats on one of the islets (Motu Tou).
A team is to return there this year to complete a rat eradication programme. Back on Hauturu, my first week involved helping Dan Burgin, of Wildlife Management International, and Leigh Joyce, DOC’s assistant ranger on Hauturu, conduct a population survey on the taiko/Black Petrel Procellaria parkinsoni.
I got a real hands-on experience holding these big seabirds and carefully learnt how to direct them in and out of their burrows. After handling the bird, with Dan banding it, we checked its nest for eggs or chicks. My second week involved a New Zealand Storm Petrel project with the Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust.
It was interesting to see how these birds were caught through the use of high beam lights, mesmerising the small petrel towards the ground. I was told back at home, old mamas on Mauke, one of our outer Cook Islands, used this technique too, but that was for chickens!
I had the job of placing captured birds into their new artificial burrows. Walking by myself in the dark forest to the burrows some 200m away, I saw what I thought was a kiwi but it turned out to be a kākāpō right there in the middle of the track. We both stood still for a good eight seconds before the kākāpō realised I had spotted it and headed off into the nearby bush.
After that, I had a lot more helpers join me on my walks to the burrows! Having arrived back home, I’m looking forward to utilising my skills learnt on Hauturu. For instance (funding dependent), I hope to work on a new project surveying and monitoring the herald petrel population on Rarotonga.
Little is known about this species, which is a major obstacle to developing a conservation plan and starting predator control work. There has been little recent activity in terms of seabird projects being conducted in the Cook Islands. So, with my new passion and drive for seabird conservation, I hope to jump-start a bit more excitement within this area, especially among our young people.
BIRDLIFE IN THE PACIFIC
BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, with 120 partners worldwide. BirdLife’s Pacific Partnership includes national conservation groups from New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Palau, and Australia.
The Pacific has more threatened bird species per unit area of land, or per person, than anywhere else in the world. There are 34 critically endangered bird species in the region that are on the brink of extinction, with many more edging closer to being wiped out every year. Do you want to help? Head to our Support Us page.
Late in 2014, I made this new award: the Real Neat Blog Award. There are so many bloggers whose blogs deserve more attention. So, I will try to do something about that 🙂
It is the first award that I ever made. I did some computer graphics years ago, before I started blogging; but my computer drawing had become rusty 🙂
The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):
1. Put the award logo on your blog.
2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)
My seven questions are:
1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?
2. What is your favourite sport?
3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2017?
4. What is your favourite quote?
5. What was your favourite class when still at school?
6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?
7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?
My nominees are:
5. Ipuna Black
11. VIVID LENS VIEW
This 2014 video is about Polders Poelgeest nature reserve in the Netherlands and its bird life.
I went there again on 26 March 2017.
On top of the windmill, great cormorants resting.
Many jackdaws flying.
A swimming great crested grebe in the southern lake.
In the northern lake, over a hundred black-tailed godwits standing; sometimes flying around. Probably just returned from Africa. Good to see them back!
Two Egyptian geese land.
This is an avocet video.
A snipe. Good at hiding, but we still see it.
A northern lapwing drives a magpie away.
Finally, a special bird. A male bluethroat, probably just returned from spring migration, sings in a reedbed.
This is a bluethroat video.
This video says about itself:
Japan: Anti-Abe activists protest PM’s alleged ties to ultra-nationalist school
5 March 2017
Scores of demonstrators gathered in Tokyo, Sunday, to protest Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s alleged links to an ultra-nationalist private schooling company.
By Peter Symonds:
Scandal exposes Japanese government’s ultra-right ties
27 March 2017
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is embroiled in a widening scandal over his alleged involvement with a private elementary school project in Osaka by Moritomo Gakuen, an extreme-right educational organisation. The allegations, which also involve Abe’s wife Akie, have contributed to falling opinion polls for Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government.
In sworn testimony to the Japanese parliament last Thursday, Moritomo Gakuen head Yasunori Kagoike added further fuel to the controversy swirling around Abe. He confirmed he received a sizeable donation for the school from Abe via Akie in September 2015. “She said ‘please, this is from Shinzo Abe,’ and gave me an envelope with 1 million yen ($US9,000) in it,” he said.
Abe flatly denied making a donation. However, Kagoike declared: “Abe’s wife apparently says she doesn’t remember this at all, but since this was a matter of honour to us, I remember it quite vividly.” Akie was named as “honorary principal” of the school until she abruptly resigned after the scandal broke.
Whether or not money changed hands, Abe and his wife are clearly in sympathy with Moritomo Gakuen’s curriculum and methods. While the school project has been shelved, the organisation already operates a kindergarten in Osaka in which young children are required to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education—a 19th century edict issued by the Emperor calling for loyalty and filial piety and hailing the glory of the Japanese empire. The school has been accused of sending a letter to parents expressing hatred toward Koreans and Chinese.
The alleged donation is not strictly illegal, but the controversy first erupted in February over allegations that government influence was enabling Moritomo Gakuen to purchase land for the new school at a fraction of its worth. Kagoike testified in parliament last week he believed some sort of political intervention took place as the process began to move more rapidly after he began asking for assistance.
Kagoike later told the media he believed finance ministry officials, whom he did not name, helped in the sale … His organisation bought the land for 134 million yen (about $1.2 million) or about one seventh of its assessed value—supposedly discounted to cover waste disposal costs. Kagoike defended the discount, claiming it needed “a lot of money to take out the household waste in the land and replace it with good soil.”
The scandal has drawn in other political figures close to Abe, providing a glimpse of the network of right-wing nationalist organisations connected to his government. Defence Minister Tomomi Inada was forced to apologise to parliament and retract a statement that she had never represented Moritomo Gakuen in court. As a lawyer, Inada appeared in court on its behalf in 2004, and defended other extremist organisations in high-profile cases.
Three other politicians—two from the LDP and one from the ultra-nationalist Nippon Ishin—denied assisting Moritomo Gakuen after being named in parliament last week. In Osaka, the organisation asked the prefectural government to relax the restrictions on setting up private schools, which was granted in April 2013 when Ichiro Matsui, a close political ally of Abe, was governor.
Abe and the overwhelming majority of his cabinet, including Defence Minister Inada, are members of Nippon Kaigi, an extreme nationalist organisation that seeks to re-establish Japan as a “proud nation.” It promotes the necessity for a strong military, the writing of the constitution to remove restrictions on the armed forces and patriotic education, whitewashing the crimes of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.
Moritomo Gakuen head Kagoike was a member of Nippon Kaigi but claims to have left in 2011. He boasted that the school he planned to establish would be the first Shinto primary school in Japan with a shrine housed on the grounds. The organisation claimed the shrine would help connect the school and “the roots of our country.” Shintoism was the state religion of the pre-World War II militarist regime in Japan that revered the emperor as a god.
The Imperial Rescript on Education was a key element of this militarist ideology, read in schools and enshrined alongside a portrait of the emperor until after the war. The document refers to the people of Japan not as citizens but “subjects of the emperor” and declares: “Should an emergency arise, muster your courage under a cause and dedicate yourselves to the good of the Imperial state.”
During the post-war US occupation of Japan, the parliament officially repudiated the rescript as incompatible with the country’s democratic constitution. Successive governments have held that the imperial edict was invalidated by the adoption of the Fundamental Law on Education. The promotion of the rescript is part and parcel of efforts by government-linked organisations such as Moritomo Gakuen and Nippon Kaigi to whip up patriotism and militarism.
Since coming to power in 2012, Abe has taken significant steps to remilitarise Japan. These include boosting the military budget, removing constitutional constraints on “collective self-defence”—that is, participating in US-led wars—and establishing a US-style National Security Council to centralise military strategy, planning and operations in the prime minister’s office (see: “Japanese imperialism rearms”).
Abe has also encouraged an ideological offensive designed to cover up the past crimes of Japanese imperialism and stir up militarism, particularly among young people. Significantly, Defence Minister Inada has repeatedly defended the use of the imperial rescript in schools. Asked about it in parliament in February, she declared: “I don’t agree with the education ministry saying that there’s a problem having students memorise the rescript by heart.”
The revival of Japanese militarism is another sign of the deepening crisis of Japanese and global capitalism, which is fuelling geo-political tensions and the drive to war. The Abe government’s determination to rearm reflects the sentiment in ruling circles that Japanese imperialism must be able to use all means, including military, to prosecute its economic and strategic interests against its rivals.