Amur falcon, first ever in France

This video says about itself:

5 June 2012

Male Amur Falcon on temporary territory in Hebei, China. Filmed using a Swarovski Scope, 25x50WA Lens, DCA and Panasonic Lumix G2.

From the Tarsiger Twitter account today:

Amur Falcon, Falco amurensis 2[d] c[alendar] y[ear] male at Assais-les-Jumeaux, Deux-Sevres, W France – the 1st record for France and 12th for W[estern] P[alaearctic] if accepted

One would expect these birds, nesting in north Asia, to migrate to India and to South Africa rather than to France.

British government peddling xenophobia

This video says about itself:

UK refuses group entry to France’s Syrian refugees

4 October 2013

British border police on Friday ruled out group entry for some 60 Syrian asylum seekers at the French port of Calais who are trying to enter the UK.

By Alex Scrivener in Britain:

‘Rivers of Blood’ rhetoric raises hackles

Thursday 13th August 2015

Philip Hammond’s anti-migrant tirade echoes Enoch Powell’s famous speech, and we should be worried, believes ALEX SCRIVENER

IT IS depressing that so little has changed in almost half a century. In 1968, Enoch Powell gave his infamous Rivers of Blood speech. He predicted that immigration would cause falling living standards, shortages of hospital beds and school places and spoke of the “privilege” that migrants enjoyed over and above the existing population.

Fast forward 47 years and here we are, hearing it all over again. Not, as we would expect, from that open admirer of Powell, Nigel Farage, but from the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Out came the same old tired lines (or more accurately lies) about how, as the world’s ninth richest country, we don’t have the resources to accept a few thousand desperate refugees camped out in the “jungle” near Calais and how immigration will grind the NHS to a halt. But the language — these people are now “marauders” — took the toxicity of the comments to another level.

When David Cameron referred to “swarms” of migrants last week, many were critical of his unfortunate choice of words, but there was also some appetite to give the PM the benefit of the doubt. After all, it is a phrase used at times to describe shoppers at sales and other more harmless situations. But Hammond’s comments crossed a red line. He consciously used language designed to pander to the xenophobic sentiment of the right-wing press, using many of the same arguments advanced by Powell many years ago.

And as with Powell, none of Hammond’s arguments have any basis in truth. We know now that far from leading to shortages of hospital beds, the Commonwealth migrants of the 1960s and ’70s went on to form the backbone of the NHS (and arguably still do to this day). We also know that research has shown that migrants are generally net contributors to British society, and are far less likely to claim benefits (non-EU migrants can’t legally claim benefits anyway) than the local population. If Britain’s health and welfare systems are under threat it is government policy, not migration, that’s to blame.

But in a very important way, all of this argument about what “we” should do about the people seeking to reach Britain from Calais is a distraction from the real question that should be asked: why are these people so desperate to come here in the first place?

The answer is obvious. Where they are not escaping outright war and persecution, it is because the standard of living here is far higher than that in their countries of origin. But why do people accept this state of affairs as part of some preordained “natural” order of things?

It would be an exaggeration to say that all of migration is somehow “our fault” (in fact, even discussing it in this way presupposes that migration is a bad thing). But British foreign policy, economic structures, and even aid provision have played a role in perpetuating the root causes of migration.

British arms companies sell weapons to dodgy regimes who then use them against their own people. British trade policy forces developing countries into unequal trade relationships that undermine their economic development. And multinational companies based here in Britain extract much more profit from many countries in Africa, than they receive in aid.

All of this contributes to the terrible poverty and unprecedented inequality between rich and poor countries that powers migration.

Of course, if we got rid of the inequality people would still migrate, but it would be for good reasons such as really liking a particular place, or wanting to be closer to their parents. In fact, people would migrate in the same way that hundreds of thousands of British citizens do every year — not because of war or poverty, but because they have the urge to move freely from place to place. But if we got rid of the chasm of economic opportunity that exists between Europe and its southern and eastern neighbours, there would no longer be an immigration crisis and there would be no “jungle” in Calais.

No-one in Britain questions what they have done to deserve all of the privileges that come with a British passport. A British citizen can have breakfast in Paris, lunch in London and supper in New York with little more hassle than an official giving their passports a cursory glance.

To arrive here legally, someone from the global south has to go through a humiliating and expensive process lasting weeks or months, involving embassies and the collation of mountains of paperwork, just to visit Britain for a day. Even with all of this done, they can still be turned away at the border for pretty much any reason and without any recourse.

Only the wealthiest refugees can afford to go through this arduous process and so most have no other option but to try to get here illegally.

This is what Hammond is ignoring when he castigates illegal immigrants, and it’s what Theresa May forgets when she talks of creating a “hostile environment” for them in Britain. These people would certainly avail themselves of a legal way to escape poverty and war if they could. It is the lack of this choice that means people are drowning in the Mediterranean or dying trying to cross the English Channel.

There is a pressing need to fight the ideas of Hammond and his allies who, like Powell before them, see migrants as threatening invaders. Their policies are inhumane and morally wrong, but they are also doomed to fail even on their own terms. No wall, electric fence or xenophobic immigration policy will ultimately stop this movement of people until the root causes are dealt with.

Alex Scrivener is policy officer for Global Justice Now.

Don’t believe the press – Britain is far from a refugee magnet, by Owen Jones: here.

French government ‘will not tolerate’ United States NSA spying on them

This video says about itself:

France: Hollande blasts NSA alleged eavesdropping, spying on French presidents, summons ambassador

24 June 2015

From the BBC:

NSA spying: France summons US envoy over Wikileaks claims

38 minutes ago

France has summoned the US envoy in Paris over claims that the US spied on President Francois Hollande and his two predecessors, officials say.

Whistleblower website Wikileaks reports the US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Mr Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac between 2006-12.

Mr Hollande called an emergency meeting and said France would “not tolerate” acts that threaten its security.

The US said it would not comment on “specific intelligence allegations”. …

The NSA has previously been accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Brazilian and Mexican leaders.

Analysis: Hugh Schofield, BBC News, Paris

None of the leaks is earth-shattering. In one Jacques Chirac pushes for the nomination of Terje Roed-Larsen as UN under-secretary-general. Nicolas Sarkozy says he wants to help Pernod Ricard in a row with the US over rum.

Though maybe not ‘earth-shattering’ it is significant that the NSA spies on France about rum. It proves that the official lies about NSA etc. spying supposedly being ‘only against terrorists’ are lies indeed. And the spying is not only against, officially ‘allied’, governments. It is also economic espionage, paid by United States taxpayers, to help United States alcoholic drinks etc. corporations in a criminal way against foreign competition.

Three days after taking office, Francois Hollande calls secret meetings to discuss the Greek crisis.

Most of this could have been gleaned by diplomats at the US embassy simply doing their job – rather than by the spy-station that Liberation newspaper says operates on the embassy roof. The impression given is of an agency scooping up indiscriminate quantities of information, and for little benefit. As the French intelligence expert Francois Heisbourg put it, “They do it because they can.” …

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has summoned US Ambassador Jane Hartley to discuss the latest claims, French officials said.

Ms Hartley is expected to visit the foreign ministry in Paris later on Wednesday.

A statement from the French presidency (in French) said the US must respect a promise not to spy on French leaders. The statement came after an emergency meeting of security chiefs in Paris.

A senior French intelligence official is meanwhile expected to visit Washington to discuss the spying claims.

French aware?

Wikileaks began publishing the files on Tuesday, under the heading “Espionnage Elysee” – a reference to the French presidential palace.

It said the secret files “derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications” of the three French presidents as well as French ministers and the ambassador to the US.

The Wikileaks files have now been published by France’s Liberation newspaper and the Mediapart investigative website.

One of the files, dated 2012, is about Mr Hollande discussing Greece‘s possible exit from the eurozone. Another one – from 2011 – alleges that Mr Sarkozy was determined to resume peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, possibly without US involvement.

A file dated 2010 suggests that French officials were aware that the US was spying upon them and intended to complain about it.

According to the summary of an intercepted exchange, the French envoy to Washington and Mr Sarkozy’s diplomatic adviser discussed Mr Sarkozy’s plan to express his “frustration” over US unwillingness to sign a “bilateral intelligence co-operation agreement”.

“The main sticking point is the US desire to continue spying on France,” the intercept says.

FRANCE DEMANDS U.S. AMBASSADOR EXPLAIN SPYING ALLEGATIONS “France summoned the U.S. ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday following revelations by WikiLeaks that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on the past three French presidents.” [AP]

Wikipedia Founder Demands Justice For NSA Spying: here.

United States NSA spying on French presidents

This video says about itself:

WikiLeaks Says NSA Eavesdropped on the Last 3 French Presidents

23 June 2015

WikiLeaks has published documents it says shows the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on the last three French presidents. There was no immediate confirmation of the accuracy of the documents released by French daily newspaper Liberation and investigative website Mediapart late Tuesday. WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he was confident the documents were authentic, noting that WikiLeaks previous mass disclosures have proven to be accurate.

From the BBC:

US ‘spied on French presidents’ – Wikileaks

26 minutes ago

The US National Security Agency (NSA) spied on French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande in 2006-12, WikiLeaks says.

The whistleblower website cites “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents” from the NSA.

US state department spokesman John Kirby said: “We do not comment on the veracity or content of leaked documents.” France has made no comment.

The NSA was earlier accused of spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

That allegation arose from documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about large-scale US surveillance in 2013.

On Tuesday, Wikileaks said it began publishing the files under the heading “Espionnage Elysee” – a reference to the French presidential palace.

It said the secret files “derive from directly targeted NSA surveillance of the communications” of the three French presidents as well as French ministers and the ambassador to the US.

One of the files, dated 2012, is about Mr Hollande discussing Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone.