Cameron’s fox hunting plans stopped by Scottish nationalists?


This video from Britain says about itself:

Illegal Fox Hunt by Cameron’s local hunt

18 December 2012

Anti fox-hunt protesters filmed this footage of a hunt in Oxfordshire in which a fox is chased by hounds and killed. Members of the Heythrop hunt, Richard Sumner and Julian Barnfield, admitted illegally hunting a fox on land in the Cotswolds after the footage was passed to the RSPCA for investigation. They were due to be sentenced on Monday. David Cameron has previously ridden with the Heythrop hunt.

From Common Space in Scotland:

SNP could make voting U-turn and oppose Tory fox hunting plans

Angus Robertson says that party will consider voting against repeal after “massive lobbying” campaign

18 May 2015

Liam O’Hare

THE NEW team of SNP MP’s at Westminster could be set to vote against a repeal of the fox hunting ban, despite an earlier commitment to not vote on the issue.

Writing in the Guardian earlier this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon explicity ruled out voting on foxhunting, as part of the SNP’s policy to not vote on matters that do not impact on Scotland.

In the article on 8 February 2015, Sturgeon said: “The SNP have a longstanding position of not voting on matters that purely affect England – such as foxhunting south of the border, for example – and we stand by that.”

However this position could now be reversed with group leader at Westminster Angus Robertson saying that the 56 SNP MPs would be looking “very, very closely” at the legislation after the party has been contacted by people opposing the plans.

Scotland banned hunting with dogs in 2002, followed by England and Wales two years later.

The Conservatives have pledged to hold a House of Commons vote on repealing the ban, with Tory MP Simon Hart saying it could take place within months.

Speaking on Sky News’ Murnaghan show, Robertson insisted that the SNP would not make a decision until they had seen the legislation.

“The SNP has of course opposed fox hunting and it’s with SNP votes that now no longer continues in Scotland,” he said.

“There’s a massive lobbying operation going to try and ensure that the ban is not repealed in the rest of the UK.

“SNP MPs still have to consider the legislation, which we haven’t seen. We need to see it, but of course we will be looking at that closely.

“You do of course understand that the UK Government imposes its will on Scotland without any significant legitimacy whatsoever, so we’re having legislation foisted on Scotland with only one MP.

“So we have to look at all of the issues coming forward in this new parliament following the independence referendum on its merits and we’ll be doing that when we see the legislation that is proposed by the government.”

The SNP is now by far the third largest party at Westminster and it has claimed that it will provide the “effective opposition” to the Conservative government.

The party has traditionally not voted on “devolved” issues at Westminster, but this position was rolled back during the General Election campaign, with Nicola Sturgeon suggesting that the party may vote on issues such as the privatisation of the NHS.

Robertson says that the party will listen to those who “care passionately” about the issue before making a decision on whether to vote against the repeal of the fox-hunting ban.

“We have to look at all of the opportunities we have to exercise our voice and our vote at Westminster and we will be doing it on the basis of seeing the proposals that are actually made and then making up our mind.

“There are a lot of people who care passionately about this issue and I understand why. Many of them have been getting in touch in recent days and I would like to assure them that we will be looking at the case they’re making very, very closely and will do so on the basis of the legislation when its proposed.”

Among those calling for the SNP to vote against fox hunting is the Labour party.

“The barbarism of fox hunting is clear for all to see,” said Labour’s environment spokeswoman at Holyrood, Sarah Boyack.

“Scotland’s moral voice as part of the UK doesn’t end at Berwick-upon-Tweed and the SNP must make clear they will vote against any bill which would repeal the hunting ban.”

SNP considers voting to stop lifting of foxhunting ban: here.

United States police racism, homophobia, pornography discoveries


This video from Florida in the USA says about itself:

Miami Beach cops under investigation for racism

14 May 2015

Two high-level former Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racist, pornographic and crude emails to fellow cops, spurring a criminal probe. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami Beach Police Chief Dan Oates and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine held a news conference on Thursday detailing the inappropriate messages.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Miami Beach cops sent more than 200 racist, homophobic and pornographic emails, says senior officer

Probe launched amid concerns hundreds of criminal prosecutions could be jeopardised

Andrew Buncombe

Miami, Sunday 17 May 2015

Police in Miami have launched an inquiry after it was revealed that a handful of officers – some of them senior figures – allegedly sent hundreds of racist and pornographic emails, which included so-called jokes about President Barack Obama.

Reports said an internal investigation had revealed that the sending of the emails possibly jeopardised dozens of criminal cases in southern Florida in which the officers were witnesses.

Police Chief Daniel Oates said that two of the 16 officers were senior members of the Miami Beach Police Department and were alleged to be the main instigators. One has retired, and the other was fired on Thursday, he said. They were identified as former Major Angel Vazquez and former Captain Alex Carulo, CBS Miami reported.

“They were the primary purveyors of pornography and high volume of it. I was shocked and angry,” Mr Oates told a press conference.

Mr Vazquez has since retired, but could face a potential criminal charge for his alleged role in circulating an post-mortem photograph of Raymond Herisse who was shot by police in 2011 during the Memorial Day holiday, Mr Oates said.

Mr Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails that were demeaning to African-Americans and women, or else pornographic in nature.

Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving Mr Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One showed a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.”

Miami-Dade government prosecutor Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result, or prisoners could be freed from jail.

“These activities are a breach of trust. They are disgusting,” she said.

There has not yet been any public comment from the officers accused of sending the emails.

Mr Oates said the emails came to light in an unrelated 2013 internal affairs probe. Most of the messages spanned the years 2010 to mid-2012, and many of the officers involved apparently just received the offensive ones rather than forwarding them.

The case comes in the wake of another, similar scandal in the San Francisco Police Department involving officers exchanging racist and homophobic text messages.

It also comes amid a national debate about issues of race and law enforcement and the way some police treat black suspects.

A string of revelations by the Guardian newspaper have exposed widespread police torture by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) at a “black-site” detention facility known as Homan Square. Victims have described being detained illegally, without a lawyer, for hours or days, and being physically abused or sexually assaulted: here.

Reward for catching bird criminal in England


This video is about a marsh harrier and its nest.

From Raptor Politics in Britain:

The Eastern Daily Press offers £1,000 reward to catch egg thief who raided marsh harrier’s nest at Guist, near Fakenham in Norfolk

Police say an unknown number of eggs were taken from the site, on the marsh off Bridge Road, on Sunday, May 10. There are around 380 breeding pairs of marsh harriers in the UK.

Most nest in East Anglia, with dense reedbeds on the Norfolk Broads, north Norfolk coast and Ouse Washes among their strongholds.

Feeding on small mammals and birds which live around the wetlands, harriers carry out low-level swoops of their hunting grounds, with their wings held in a distinctive ‘V’ shape.

They are famed for their aerobatic courtship displays carried out in spring, when the male and female birds soar and loop around each other, sometimes throwing items of food in mid-air.

While it is impossible to put a precise figure on the birds’ value to our tourism industry, tens of thousands visit Norfolk from across the UK and further afield each year to see our county’s rich birdlife, including marsh harriers.

Pete Waters, brand manager for Visit Norfolk, said: “Norfolk has an enviable position as being the birdwatching capital of the UK and incidents like this can only damage our reputation.”

Marsh harriers are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and police would like to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area.

Mark Thomas, senior investigations officer with the RSPB, said: “Marsh harriers lay between three and five eggs on the ground, usually in a reedbed or among tall vegetation.

“Whoever has taken them is clearly someone who’s been watching the birds. My understanding is it’s a bird which had only been sitting on eggs for a short time. It’s a species which has been targeted before. We’re all on high alert.”

Up to 300 illegal collectors are believed to be active in the UK, with eggs from rare species highly-prized. They “blow” their booty using small drills before displaying them in cabinets.

EDP editor Nigel Pickover said the newspaper would offer a £1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief.

“These people damage our wildlife and tourism business just so they can admire something in private. It shows the sort of individuals they are,” he said.

Norfolk is one of the once-rare harrier’s strongholds, with nature lovers flocking to bird reserves like the RSPB’s Titchwell Marsh, near Hunstanton, to see the birds.

Pete Waters, brand manager at Visit Norfolk, said: “Norfolk has an enviable position as being the bird watching capital of the UK and incidence like this can only damage our reputation.”

•Anyone with information should call PC Jason Pegden, at Norfolk police, on 101.

This article written by Chris Bishop was first published by the Eastern Daily Press.

You can read the Norfolk Constabulary Press Release here.

May 14th, 2015

Defend wildlife against attacks, video


This video says about itself:

Nature is under attack – #itsmynature

11 May 2015

Europe’s land, forest, water and marine resources are at risk.

Vital laws that protect our most precious nature could be weakened if we don’t raise our voice.

Tell your politicians that you want nature to be defended here.

#NatureAlert #itsmynature

From BirdLife:

BirdLife launches #itsmynature campaign

By BirdLife Europe, Mon, 11/05/2015 – 20:06

Today we launch our campaign “It’s my nature” (#itsmynature). We have chosen this motto for a million reasons.

Here are just three:

1) From the beginning of the modern economy we have called our natural resources “Common goods”. They belong to all of us, each and every one of us. Air, water, biodiversity, life. Nature is the ultimate “common good”, and there must be a limit to what can be owned, consumed, sold, or destroyed. Because this air is my air, this water is my water, my bird, my tree, and my river. It’s my nature, and you can’t take it away from me.

2) Because “I am” the landscape where I grew up, the field where my father taught me football, the tree that shaded my first kiss, the colours and perfumes of flowers that announced Spring, the Seagulls on my roof that remind me that I am a sailor and should be out at sea. I am these things, they are me, we are connected. It’s my nature.

And 3) Because human beings are not only about slash and burn. Not only about destruction. We care, we protect, we shelter and love. It’s our nature, it’s my nature (to protect Nature). And it’s your nature, too.

Now, please, go and make your voice heard.

If you are a conservation expert, fill in the expert questionnaire instead.

It’s a tale of two miracles. The first: over 100 NGOs, in 28 European capitals, are launching a campaign today to stop Juncker’s attack against the laws that protect Nature. The second? By re-reading the Directives we’ve rediscovered an idea of Europe we can love: one of a community that protects its nature: here.

Red herrings, Trojan horses and booby traps: debunking 5 myths and lies on the “need to overhaul” nature protection laws: here

Hungary’s nature is in peril: here.

The challenge of bringing marine wildlife back in EU waters: here.

African Governments meeting in Brazzaville, Congo, last week agreed to a set of steps to address illegal trade in wild fauna and flora. At the International Conference on Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa on 27-30th April 2015, leaders issued a strongly worded Brazzaville Declaration, agreeing to collaborate to stem the rising scourge that is estimated to cost African countries about US$200 million annually: here.

Hitler’s mass murder of Dutch Jews


Memorial at the Westerbork Museum for the deported prisoners by Nina Baanders-Kessler

By Josh Varlin:

75 years since the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands

The Westerbork transit camp and the destruction of Dutch Jewry

11 May 2015

May 10, 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. After the week-long Battle of the Netherlands concluded, the occupying forces began implementing their plans to integrate the Netherlands directly into the German Reich, including the deportation and extermination of Dutch Jews. Over the next five years, tens of thousands of Jews were deported from the Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz and other camps.

The Dutch government hoped to remain neutral during the World War II, as it had during World War I, but both the Allied and Axis powers considered plans to violate the neutrality of the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). Hitler ultimately made the decision to invade the Netherlands to secure potential airfield spots in the flat countryside, guarantee troop movement to northern France, and prevent the Allies from gaining these strategic advantages.

The Battle of the Netherlands began May 10, 1940, with attacks by German paratroops airdropped outside Rotterdam, a cross-border assault, and widespread bombing. The Dutch army was unprepared for the war, in part because of the Dutch ruling class’ concentration on “defending” its prize colony, the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

On May 15, 1940, after less than a week of resistance, the Dutch armed forces capitulated and a formal surrender was signed. Fighting continued in the southern province of Zeeland (Zealand) for a few more weeks with the support of French troops, with the last parts of the province occupied by May 27.

The next five years—until the surrender of occupying Nazi forces on May 5, 1945—saw the near-total destruction of Dutch Jewry, with over 70 percent systematically killed by German imperialism.

Anti-Semitic measures began almost immediately after the occupation began. The Nazi-installed civil government banned Jews from many public positions, including at universities. Physical violence was employed against Jews by fascist thugs, and street fights became common. One supporter of the Nationalist Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) died from injuries sustained in a fight on February 11, 1941. The Nazi government responded by “ghettoizing” Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter and engaging in ruthless pogroms to round up Jews.

In 1942, the occupying government took over the Westerbork refugee camp, which had been established in 1939 by the Dutch government to house German-Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Over the next three years (1942-1944), approximately 107,000 Jews were sent to Westerbork, almost all of whom were eventually sent east on the 97 trains that left the camp. The first left for Auschwitz-Birkenau—the most common destination—on July 15, 1942. Over 60,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Westerbork, many of whom were gassed on arrival.

Many other trains went to Sobibór—some 34,000 people were deported there, with only 19 survivors. Nine trains went to either Bergen-Belsen or Theresienstadt.

Approximately 102,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, with only 5,000 liberated in the camps—almost 1,000 of these survivors were freed from Westerbork, which is located nine kilometers south of Assen near the German border. Notable prisoners at Westerbork included cabaret director Max Ehrlich, figure skater Ellen Burka and diarist Anne Frank; only Burka survived the war.

Among the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust in the Netherlands was Settela Steinbach, a 9-year-old Dutch Sinti girl who was deported on May 19, 1944 to Auschwitz, where she was gassed. The deportation was captured on film.

This video shows the deportation from Westerbork of Settela Steinbach and others.

Footage of the child’s face looking out from the cattle car became emblematic of the Holocaust.

Resistance fighters and any detainees who disobeyed were sent to the prison section of Westerbork. In addition to the resistance members sent east, 48 were executed and cremated at Westerbork, along with 4 Jews. Ten additional resistance members were executed elsewhere and cremated at Westerbork.

On April 12, 1945, Canadian troops liberated Westerbork and the remaining 876 prisoners. Westerbork then became an internment camp for members of the NSB or Waffen SS and other Dutchmen accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

National Westerbork Memorial (1970) by Ralph Prins, a survivor of the camp

The internment camp closed December 1, 1948 and was subsequently used as a training ground for soldiers before they were sent to fight for Dutch control of the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian War of Independence, and, in the 1960s, as a temporary home for “Moluccan separatists,” the remnants of a Dutch proxy army that had aimed at crippling independent Indonesia.

The camp was gradually demolished, and its isolation—which was an important factor in its construction and eventual use as a transit camp—made it the ideal site for radio telescopes. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, finished in 1970, now contributes to mankind’s understanding of the cosmos through infrared imaging of galaxies. Thus modern technology has been used twice in the same area for wildly different purposes—near-annihilation of an entire people during the Second World War and exploring the universe today.

The Westerbork Museum opened in 1983, with some barracks at the camp partially reconstructed. For each Westerbork inmate that died in the Nazi extermination camps there is a small stone. The 102,000 Jewish victims are indicated with a Star of David, whereas the 245 Sinti and Roma victims are represented by 213 stones topped by a flame. One hundred stones have no emblem and represent the resistance fighters who were imprisoned at Westerbork before being sent east.

Memorial stones at Westerbork

The experience of Word War II and the Holocaust in the Netherlands offer lessons for today’s workers and youth. Neutrality and living in a minor imperialist power did not save the Dutch population, particularly Dutch Jews, during the Second World War. Nor will a nuclear Third World War spare civilians. The horrors of World War II point urgently at the need to avert a third through the working class waging war on war.

The author also recommends:

Seventy years since the defeat of Hitler’s Third Reich
[9 May 2015]

Seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
[16 February 2015]

Imperialism and the political economy of the Holocaust
[12 May 2010]

Japanese government whitewashes war crimes, historians criticize


This video says about itself:

Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

28 January 2015

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul.

By Ben McGrath:

Historians condemn Japan’s whitewashing of war crimes

11 May 2015

Last Tuesday, 187 prominent historians from universities in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries published an open letter criticizing the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe for continuing to whitewash past war crimes.

The statement entitled, “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan,” takes aim at the Abe government’s stance on “comfort women,”—a euphemism for women coerced into becoming sex slaves for the Japanese army during the 1930s and 1940s. It calls for the defense of the “freedom of historical inquiry” in Japan and all countries against nationalistic distortions.

Among the signatories were notable historians such as Herbert Bix, professor emeritus at Binghamton University/State University of New York (SUNY), Ezra Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, and Bruce Cumings from the University of Chicago. An earlier letter, released by 19 American historians in February, criticized Abe’s efforts to have references on comfort women altered in American university text books.

The comfort women system was established in the early 1930s. While the first women to be involved were Japanese, as the war spread throughout the Pacific, the military turned to its colonies, coercing poor women with phony promises of good jobs in factories. An estimated 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other Asian nations were then taken to brothels and prevented from leaving. Many committed suicide to escape their barbaric treatment.

The open letter stated: “The undersigned scholars of Japanese studies express our unity with the many courageous historians in Japan seeking an accurate and just history of World War II in Asia.” Historians, as well as journalists in Japan, who have published information on war crimes, have been criticized and in some cases threatened with violence by right-wing nationalists, who claim that comfort women were willing prostitutes and that stating otherwise is an affront to Japanese honor.

Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a leading Japanese historian on comfort women, received phone calls and letters threatening his life after he began publishing his research on comfort women in the 1990s. One such note read, “You must die.” In 1992, Yoshimi discovered extensive documents from the 1930s in the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s library (then called the Defense Agency), showing the military’s role in establishing “comfort stations” (military brothels) throughout Asia.

In January of this year, former Asahi Shimbun journalist Takashi Uemura filed a defamation lawsuit against Bungei Shunju, a publisher, and Tsutomu Nishioka, a right-wing professor at Tokyo Christian University and denier of the crimes against comfort women. Nishioka has accused Uemura of faking the information in his articles.

Uemura stated when he filed his lawsuit: “There is a movement in Japan to stop people who want to shine a light on the dark side of history, on the parts of the war that people don’t want to mention.”

Uemura first became the target of Japanese nationalists in 1991, following two articles he wrote on Kim Hak-sun, who is considered to be the first comfort woman to come forward. Uemura was accused of faking his stories and was attacked as the journalist who “fabricated the comfort woman issue.”

Condemnation of Uemura increased last August, following the Asahi Shimbun’s retraction of a series of articles on comfort women published in the 1980s and 1990s that referenced the accounts of Seiji Yoshida, a former soldier who claimed he had rounded up women during World War II in Korea. Historians had dismissed Yoshida’s story by the early 1990s, while emphasizing the clear evidence of the military’s role in establishing comfort stations.

Neither of Uemura’s articles relied on Yoshida’s story, but the retractions further opened the door for attacks on journalists and academics by right-wing nationalists like Nishioka. Not only was Uemura’s life threatened, but Hokusei University, where he is now employed, received bomb threats. Photos of Uemura’s teenage daughter also appeared online with calls to force the girl to commit suicide.

The Abe government strengthened the nationalists’ claims by calling into doubt the 1993 Kono Statement, a formal yet limited apology for the abuse of comfort women during the war in the Pacific, released by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. In June 2014, Abe’s government released a report by five “experts” questioning whether women and young girls were coerced or forced into the military brothels.

Tuesday’s letter goes on to say, “[…] historians have unearthed numerous documents demonstrating the military’s involvement in the transfer of women and oversight of brothels. Important evidence also comes from the testimony of victims. Although their stories are diverse and affected by the inconsistencies of memory, the aggregate record they offer is compelling and supported by the official documents as well as by the accounts of soldiers and others.”

The letter also makes clear the fundamental difference between the comfort women system and justifications by Japanese nationalists that prostitution was common in other theaters of war: “Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the twentieth century, the ‘comfort women’ system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor, and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan.” [emphasis added]

The open letter comes less than a week after Abe, the most right-wing Japanese prime minister in the postwar period, was warmly welcomed by Obama on a trip to the United States where the prime minister also made a speech to a joint session of Congress, the first Japanese premier to do so. The two sides agreed to new security guidelines to allow Japan to take part in the United States’ imperialist wars.

All of this is bound up with the United States’ “pivot to Asia,” designed to economically subordinate and militarily surround China. Japan has been encouraged by Washington to remilitarize and discard its postwar pacifist constitution, as well as to enflame territorial conflicts in the region. During Abe’s recent trip to the US, Obama once again promised to back Japan in a war with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

While the historians’ letter fails to directly tie historical revisionism to preparations for war, that is the purpose of Abe’s campaign: to whip up Japanese nationalism to condition public opinion, particularly young people, for future conflicts.