Welsh solidarity, Canadian governmental inhumanity, toward refugees


Three-year-old refugee Aylan Kurdi, dead on a Turkish beach

By Luke James in Wales:

Cardiff MP opens doors for Calais aid

Friday 4th September 2014

Jo Stevens and councillors call for Wales to show its best spirit

LABOUR MP Jo Stevens has converted her constituency office into a collection centre for aid that will be rushed to refugees across Europe.

As Tory PM David Cameron continued to sit on his hands in the face of a humanitarian crisis yesterday, Ms Stevens threw open the doors of her office for donations.

The Cardiff Central MP issued an urgent call to residents of the Welsh capital for clothes, sleeping bags, tents, blankets and baby slings.

Two former Cardiff Labour councillors, Cerys Furlong and Siobhan Corria, are also running drop-off points in other parts of the city.

The political pals began the collection after seeing the distressing photo of young child Aylan Kurdi, who was found drowned on a beach in Bodrum, Turkey.

Ms Stevens told the Star: “I was chatting to a couple of friends and we thought what can we do that’s practical to help.

“All three of us are mothers so the photograph of the young boy was absolutely horrific to us.

“That photo has galvanized people into taking action.”

The plight of refugees, particularly from war-torn Syria, is something Ms Stevens has been passionate about since well before she was elected in May.

But with more than 922 asylum seekers in Cardiff — three times as many as nearby Bristol — the crisis is a major issue in her constituency.

By comparison, there are just 10 in the whole of Oxford where Mr Cameron is an MP, according to official figures obtained by Labour MP Paul Flynn through a freedom of information request.

“I have a lot of Syrian refugees who come to my surgery, along with people from other war-torn countries in the Middle East,” said Ms Stevens.

“So every week I’m seeing and hearing horrific stories — and that’s from people who have managed to get here.”

“We need some leadership from the government. This is a humanitarian disaster and we just need to something about it.”

Four sleeping bags were the first donation received by the MP yesterday, while “lots more” constituents had called to say they would be making deliveries.

One constituent had even contacted her on social media to offer their home to a refugee.

All donations must be received by Friday September 11 when they will be taken to Calais and distributed across Europe by aid agencies.

More details can be found at www.jostevens.co.uk.

Britain left humiliated by Cameron’s pathetic comments on the devastating humanitarian crisis. CAMPAIGNERS and MPs joined forces yesterday to condemn David Cameron’s shameful and “pathetic” response to the escalating refugee crisis: here.

This video from Canada says about itself:

Aunt of Syrian Migrant Blames Canada for Deaths

3 September 2015

The sister of a Syrian refugee who lost his family on a smuggling boat accident says she blames the Canadian government for the deaths. Teema Kurdi had applied to sponsor the family’s entry into Canada, but was denied because of paperwork.

Little Aylan Kurdi and his family had fled the Syrian town Kobani, destroyed by war brought there by ISIS terrorists. They tried to leave Turkey, where they were not in any way safe: Turkish soldiers had killed Syrian Kurds like them, including refugees like the Kurdi family, before.

However, that did not seem to move the Canadian Conservative government of Stephen Harper to show any humanity.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Canada shunned family of boy who drowned

Friday 4th September 2015

Refugee father tells how sons and wife died

CANADA refused an immigration request from the Syrian family whose two small boys and mother tragically drowned on Wednesday, an MP has revealed.

New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Fin Donnelly submitted a request on behalf on the boys’ aunt, Teema Kurdi, only to see it turned down by immigration officials.

The boys’ father Abdullah Kurdi described how the people-trafficker in charge of their overloaded rubber boat had panicked in the rough waters of the Aegean Sea and jumped overboard.

“I took over and started steering. The waves were so high and the boat flipped. I took my wife and my kids in my arms and I realised they were all dead,” he said.

“All I want is to be with my children at the moment.”

The heartbreaking photo of the body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a beach in Turkey after he died along with his elder brother Galip and mother Rehan, has encapsulated the horror of the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

A report by the UN Human Rights Council said yesterday that more than 2,000 Syrian refugees had drowned while trying to reach Europe since the start of the civil war in their country in 2011.

In Hungary, police allowed refugees to board trains at Budapest’s Keleti station following a two-day stand-off, only to take them to a refugee camp in Bicske, 22 miles west of the capital.

Desperate and angry people who had been trying to reach the relatively welcoming destinations of Austria or Germany resisted as riot police forced them off.

Amid the scenes reminiscent of the second world war, one woman clutching her small child lay on the tracks in protest until she was forcibly removed.

Hungary’s bitterly anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban blamed Germany for the crisis, claiming: “We Hungarians are full of fear.”

In the Czech Republic, police said that they had ended the practice of writing identification numbers on refugees’ arms, which critics had said harked back to the nazi Holocaust.

The Greek coastguard reported yesterday morning that it had rescued 751 people in 19 separate incidents in the previous 24 hours, down on more than 1,000 the previous day.

Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s satire of Conservative prime minister censored


This video from Canada says about itself:

Protesters impersonate Mike Duffy, Stephen Harper outside Duffy trial

12 August 2015

Two protesters dressed as Mike Duffy and Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood outside the courthouse Wednesday holding a cheque for $90,000 dollars, a reference to the money Harper‘s former Chief of Staff Nigel Wright paid Duffy – allegedly without the PM’s knowledge.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Hair today, gone tomorrow: Margaret Atwood in Canada censorship row

Author’s satirical piece on prime minister Stephen Harper’s hair is removed within hours of publication on National Post website: ‘Did I just get censored?’

Oliver Laughland

Sunday 23 August 2015 15.26 BST

She is a prize-winning author who has conjured vivid dystopian futures, but on Friday Margaret Atwood found herself at the centre of a somewhat mundane censorship debate in the present.

The acclaimed author penned a satirical column lambasting Canada’s conservative prime minister Stephen Harper’s hair, which has become an unusual talking point in the lead up to the general election in October.

Hours after publication on the National Post website, the piece was removed. Senior newspaper staff later said “the necessary fact checking had not been completed”.

“Um, did I just get censored? For my flighty little caper on Hair?” Atwood tweeted after #Hairgate began trending on Twitter.

Throughout the election campaign, the Canadian Conservative party has attacked Liberal leader Justin Trudeau as inexperienced and lacking in policy focus. It has also mocked him simply for having “nice hair”. Trudeau has hit back through advertising, arguing Harper is struggling to talk about anything else.

Atwood’s piece argued the entire debate had trivialised the election. “Hair, an election issue? Really?” she wrote, before going on to poke fun at Harper.

“Of the three national male leaders, which one travels with a personal grooming assistant – lavishly paid for in whole or in part by you, gentle taxpayer – so that none of his hairs will ever be out of place … Hint: Initials are SH.”

The column was eventually republished by the National Post, with three sentences, which made reference to Harper’s political donations and a recent travel expenses scandal, removed.

The edits appeared to outrage the author even more – Atwood said the piece had been submitted nine days before it was published.

“Which of my facts were Wrong? What are the alternate facts, presumably Right? Cite sources please,” she tweeted at the National Post on Saturday, after thanking readers for the flurry of puns mocking the episode, which had erupted on Twitter throughout the day.

Canada’s Conservatives boast mighty war chest but corruption scandal looms. Stephen Harper’s ruling party has maintained campaign spending advantage before October vote, but a senator’s expenses trial could yet derail Conservatives: here.

Canada’s prime minister wants to make it harder for people to vote against him, by Caroline Konrad. Stephen Harper, who won by an uncomfortably small margin in the last election, has passed laws that may keep voters who oppose him from the polls: here.

Ashley Burnham mrs universe 9-2-2015 8-22-46 AMAshley Burnham, the first ever Indigenous or Canadian crowned Mrs Universe, encouraged the country’s First Nations people to vote out Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the upcoming elections in October: here.

Young puffins leave nest, video


This 2015 video from Canada says about itself:

Puffling Life

from Rock Yenta Productions

The Gull Island burrow camera reveals life in the burrow for a puff[l]ing. It’s a bit lonely when your parents are away and you are hungry! Where are those parents? Aren’t they supposed to bring fish to the burrow? Take out service can be lousy on Gull Island! “Puffin Patrol“, the documentary will air on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” in Fall 2015.

This 2015 video says about itself:

Puffin Patrol Trailer (CBC)

from Rock Yenta Productions

“Puffin Patrol” is a colourful exploration of the annual life cycle of the Atlantic Puffin. This gorgeous film travels from Newfoundland’s rocky shores to puffin islands in Maine and Wales to report on what these intriguing little birds can teach us about the dangers facing our natural world. We interview scientists and environmentalists working to uncover the secrets of the puffin’s unique migration patterns. And we profile passionate environmentalists devoted to protecting baby chicks as they strike out on their own. We invite you to join our team of experts and puffin lovers on Puffin Patrol!

“Puffin Patrol” will air on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” in Fall 2015.

Canadian journalist jailed for journalism in Ferguson, USA?


This 14 August 2014 video from the USA is called Peaceful Protesters And Journalist Are Attacked By Ferguson Police With Tear Gas And Rubber Bullets.

From CTV in Canada:

CTV’s Tom Walters charged nearly a year after arrest at Ferguson protests

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 11:35PM EDT

CTV’s Los Angeles Bureau Chief Tom Walters is facing a charge of interfering with a police officer, nearly a year after he was arrested while covering protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

Walters was detained on Aug. 20, 2014, after trying to ask Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson a question. His arrest was captured on video.

Walters was released after about eight-and-a-half hours without being charged. But he recently received a summons to appear in a St. Louis. Mo., court later this month on a charge of interfering with a police officer in performance of his duty, for allegedly “failing to comply with officers’ lawful commands to disperse from West Florissant Avenue.”

West Florissant Avenue was the epicentre of protests in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot by a white police officer.

CTV News strongly condemns the charges filed by St. Louis County against CTV News correspondent Tom Walters while he reported on the protests in Ferguson, Missouri last August,” CTV News President Wendy Freeman said in a statement Tuesday.

“Tom has the full support of CTV News as we fight these charges. Almost a year ago, Tom was arrested and detained for eight and a half hours for simply doing his job. As an organization that covers news both in Canada and internationally, CTV News is unwavering in its commitment to defending the rights of all journalists.”

A number of other journalists had been detained while covering the Ferguson protests last summer. At the time, U.S. President Barack Obama said that police “should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs.”

This week, Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer. Reilly and Lowery were arrested in August 2014 after being told to leave a local McDonald’s during the demonstrations.

Pre-Cambrian Fractofusus organism’s sex life, new research


This video from Canada says about itself:

15 June 2011

Mistaken Point is a permanent exhibit of the oldest multi-celled organism fossils ever found on earth. Over half a billion years ago Thectardis, Ivesheadia, Bradgatia, Fractofusus, Charniodiscus and more were locked in the sands of time. They would eventually be discovered as fossils at what we now know as Mistaken Point on the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador.

From the BBC:

Sex life of ancient Fractofusus organism revealed

By Rebecca Morelle, Science Correspondent, BBC News

3 August 2015

One of the earliest complex organisms had a surprisingly complicated sex life, scientists say.

Until now, little was known about the biology of Fractofusus, which lived in the ocean 565 million years ago.

But new research has revealed a dual mode of reproduction. In one method, the organism sprouted young from its body in much the same way that a spider plant or strawberry plant multiplies.

In another, it produced seeds or tiny buds into the water column.

This allowed the ancient life-form to produce clones that could colonise a new patch of seabed.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Fractofusus – originally called “the Spindle” until it was formally described in 2007 – appeared in the Ediacaran age.

It is among the earliest-known, complicated organisms, emerging from an ocean of simple multi-cellular microbes.

It grew to up to 40cm long and had a flat, oval shape, made up of a series of little branches stretching across the sea floor.

“It has a very distinct body plan that is totally unique,” said Dr Emily Mitchell, the paper’s lead author, from the University of Cambridge.

“There is nothing like Fractofusus around today, which makes trying to understand anything about it really, really difficult.”

She added: “We knew very little, apart from the fact it lived in the deep sea, it has a relatively large surface area – so it got its nutrients from the water column.

“We literally had no idea how it reproduced prior to this study.”

The organism died out 540 million years ago

An analysis of fossil beds in Newfoundland, Canada, enabled the team to shed light on the organism’s sex life.

Dr Mitchell said that while the two modes of reproduction might sound unusual, many plants reproduced in this way.

She added that Fractofusus should not be classified as a plant.

“It certainly wasn’t a plant because it couldn’t photosynthesise – there was no light (that deep in the ocean).”

Nor was it an animal, she said.

“Fractofusus doesn’t exhibit any of the features you associate with an animals. It belonged to a now-extinct eukaryotic group known as rangeomorphs.

“But how rangeomorphs relate to animals and the origins of animals is incredibly difficult to work out.”

While the debate continues over where it sits on the tree of life, an unusual mode of sex clearly worked for Fractofusus.

But in terms of evolution, the organism was less of a success.

It died out about 540 million years ago – and nothing like it has ever appeared again.

Swimming with snapping turtles, video


This video from Canada says about itself:

15 July 2015

Swimming with large snapping turtles in Parry Sound. When approached slowly, these creatures don’t show any aggression and almost no fear. These two were looking for food and checking out the camera as I swam around with them for hours.

Waterbirds nesting in Ontario, Canada


This video says about itself:

23 May 2013

Video clips of some birds around my home Ontario Canada. Included: a Blue Jay, Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Baltimore Oriole, White-throated Sparrow, and female Eastern Wild Turkey.

From Nature Conservancy Canada:

Colonial nesting waterbirds in Ontario

Colonial nesting waterbirds are birds that nest in groups or colonies. The birds that make up this group, including herons, terns, gulls and egrets, are a major component of many coastal ecosystems. Islands in the Great Lakes are important sites for globally significant populations of colonial nesting waterbirds. In Ontario, colonial nesting waterbirds can be found on the Western Lake Erie Islands Islands, Manitoulin Island, Northwestern Lake Superior Coast and the Eastern Georgian Bay Coast. Protecting these natural areas means protecting important nesting, migration stopover and foraging habitat for this unique bird group.

In Ontario you will find many colonial nesting waterbirds, including:

Eighty to 94 percent of the world’s breeding population of ring-billed gulls and as much as 60 percent of the North American population of breeding herring gulls nest in the Great Lakes, mostly on islands.

Each species of colonial nesting waterbird nests in a specific habitat, which may include beaches, marshes and forests, but they occur primarily on mainland coasts and islands. This group of birds may move from site to site each year within a favoured location, depending upon the availability of resources such as food or materials. During nesting season colonial nesting waterbirds are concentrated at colony sites, making them highly vulnerable.

Gulls are the most common of the colonial nesting waterbirds in Ontario. They forage for food near the surface of water or on shore. They are even known to steal food from each other. Gulls can swallow large prey, such as small mammals or other birds, whole. Many gulls are a common visitor to garbage dumps and some are considered a nuisance in urban areas.

Terns forage out in open water, plunging down during flight to capture prey, sometimes hovering briefly before diving down under the water’s surface. They feed on small fish and some invertebrates.

Wading birds — such as herons and egrets — search for prey in shallow water. Unsuspecting fish and other water invertebrates are snatched up in the patient birds’ long bills of  if they swim too close.

Colonial nesting waterbirds are very susceptible to disturbances in their local environment. Human activity such as recreation or development can flush birds from their roosts or nests. During breeding this can leave eggs or chicks vulnerable to predation, the elements and the footsteps of humans and their pets. Coastal development is on the rise in almost all areas where colonial nesting waterbirds occur, thus increasing disturbance as well as decreasing available suitable habitat. Colonial nesting waterbird numbers are showing a decline, and U.S. coastal studies attribute the decrease to increased disturbance, habitat degradation, contaminants in the water and predation.

Habitat restoration projects can help to rehabilitate damaged sites, and the proper management of existing habitat can ensure the survival of these birds. Restoration projects may include the removal of introduced predators, reduction of human disturbance and planting or removal of vegetation to improve nesting habitat.

You can help our colonial nesting waterbirds by:

  • keeping your pets on a leash when you visit areas that these birds inhabit;
  • avoiding breeding colonies during the spring and summer;
  • taking your litter with you;
  • educating yourself about where these groups occur and how to identify these birds;
  • volunteering in breeding birds surveys.

Sources:

Austen, M. J., H. Blokpoel, and G. D. Tessier. (1996). Atlas of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Canadian Great Lakes, 1989-1991. Part 4. Marsh-nesting terns on Lake Huron and the lower Great Lakes system in 1991. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report 217.

Blokpoel, and G. D. Tessier. (1993). Atlas of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Canadian Great Lakes, 1989-1991. Part 1. Cormorants, gulls and island-nesting terns on Lake Superior in 1989. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report 181.

Blokpoel, and G. D. Tessier. (1996). Atlas of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Canadian Great Lakes, 1989-1991. Part 3. Cormorants, gulls and island-nesting terns on the lower Great Lakes system in 1990. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report 225.

Blokpoel, and G. D. Tessier. (1997). Atlas of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Canadian Great Lakes, 1989-1991. Part 2. Cormorants, gulls and island-nesting terns on Lake Huron in 1989. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report 259.

Blokpoel, and G. D. Tessier. (1998). Atlas of colonial waterbirds nesting on the Canadian Great Lakes, 1989-1991. Part 5. Herons and egrets in 1991. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report 272.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission [Accessed 20 August 2007].

UMVGLP. (2005). Upper Mississippi Valley/Great Lakes Waterbird Conservation Plan, Draft 3, October 2005. [Accessed 24 August 2007].

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southern New England-New York Bight [Accessed 20 August 2007].