Wolves helped by Syria-Israel conflict


This 2009 video says about itself:

The demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea has become an accidental paradise for wildlife.

Bloody wars and other deplorable human conflicts usually have bad consequences for the environment and for wildlife. However, in some cases they may have unexpected positive side effects for wildlife. Like for wildlife in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. For leopards in minefields left from the Iran-Iraq war. For Nubian nightjars in minefields in the Israel-Jordan border area.

Or, sometimes, for wolves.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Living in a minefield: the wolves of the Golan Heights

In the Golan Heights, a dangerous minefield provides an unlikely wildlife reserve where wolves are thriving

Arian D Wallach, Churchill Fellow, Dingo for Biodiversity Project, Charles Darwin University, Australia

Friday 6 February 2015 11.51 GMT

Sitting in the cold of an open jeep, we are waiting for dawn. The thick snow provides some reflective light and we strain our eyes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wolf pack as they return home from their night’s hunt. This family of wolves holds one of the safest territories a large predator could possibly hope for: a minefield in the Golan Heights, near the Israel-Syria border.

One step outside the barbed-wire fence, however, and the wolves must be very careful. Although wolves are provided with substantial legal protection from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) – enabling one of the greatest wolf recoveries in the world – they are hunted, culled and poached across the region. In an effort to appease ranchers who fear for their livestock while simultaneously conserving this growing wolf population, three management zones were delineated.

In the southern Golan Heights, ranchers can legally shoot wolves, and may even be rewarded with a generous bounty. Further north, wolves can also be hunted, but only by special permit issued by the INPA. Hunting wolves is forbidden inside national parks, and carries a heavy penalty, but poaching does occur occasionally, and can be difficult to enforce. Throughout the Golan, the INPA kills wolves, in a controversial effort to limit their population.

Itamar Yairi, a photographer who has been closely observing the Golan wolves for the past two years, witnessed the potentially dire consequences for those who venture out of the minefields.

The pack Itamar follows, led by a distinctly large and beautiful matriarch, chose to conceal their pups in a den just a few meters outside the minefield’s perimeter. “They were living like royalty, completely relaxed,” Itamar tells me. “Lying in the sun all day, playing and resting, watching over their pups, and then going out under the cover of darkness to hunt.” But one morning Itamar arrived to find a tragedy. The wolves were gone, and inside the pup’s den he found a box of meat laced with poison.

Poisoning wolves is strictly illegal in Israel, but occasionally it does happen, causing extensive deaths of wolves and other wildlife including jackals, foxes, wild boar and raptors. The death of wolves is bound to ripple through every facet of the Golan ecosystem, from the gazelles and wild boar that they hunt, and the jackals that they dominate, to the entire fabric of the remnant oak woodlands.

For several months Itamar could not find his wolf pack, but slowly, one by one, some of them reappeared: the matriarch and her mate and their two adult daughters returned, but their adult son is gone, and so are the pups. “I don’t want to know what happened to them,” he says.

Wolves live in extended family units, in which only one pair reproduces and the entire pack cooperate in raising and educating the young. They hunt together, patrol their territory together, and are deeply bonded to one another. Some wolves stay with their parents well into adulthood. It is these social ties that make wolves such powerful ecological players. It is the pack – not the individual wolf – that is the apex predator.

The loss of pack members is therefore a terrible blow, both to the wolves and the ecosystem. “They haven’t fully recovered from the loss,” Itamar tells me. “I only hope that they keep their next litter of pups deep inside the minefield.”

In 2010, 11-year-old Daniel Yuval was badly injured when he accidentally wandered into a snow-covered minefield, detonating a land mine during a family hike near the village of Merom Golan. Daniel lost his leg, and his sister sustained serious injuries. The incident sparked a global campaign to clear land mines, and the Israel Defence Force (IDF) responded by improving the visibility of warning signs and fence maintenance. Landmines remain common and deadly however, and in 2013, Roi Alphi, a Combat Engineering Corps soldier, was killed during an accident in an operation to clear anti-tank mines in the southern Golan.

The landmines and the tensely patrolled militarised zone make it a dangerous and forbidding place for humans, but a sanctuary for the wolves. “I have watched the wolves running towards the minefields, only to slow down to an easy trot when they pass the fence,” Itamar explains. “If the mines go, so will the wildlife.”

As the day breaks, the sun lights the massive fence running along the Israel-Syria border. Beyond the fence we watch the sleeping Syrian town of Quneitra. There is no sign of electricity, nor is there smoke rising from a chimney. I wonder how they warm their homes on this bitterly cold morning. We can hear occasional gunfire, but Amir Drori, jeep tour guide and local resident, tells me that this is a relatively quiet day. “Its too cold to fight. We have in a way gotten used to the sound of heavy gunfire and explosions from our neighbours on the other side of the fence.”

We did not see Itamar’s pack that morning, but we did find their tracks crossing in and out of the minefield a short distance away.

Japanese government, corporate media whitewash World War II sex slavery


This video from South Korea is called South Korean ambassador to UN calls on Japan to solve sex slave issue swiftly.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Japanese newspaper retracts term ‘sex slaves’ from wartime coverage

Attempts to portray women who were forced to work in brothels as willing prostitutes at odds with mainstream historical opinion

Justin McCurry in Tokyo

Friday 28 November 2014 11.44 GMT

Japan’s biggest-selling newspaper has apologised for its past use of the term “sex slaves” to describe tens of thousands of women who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during the second world war.

The move by the Yomiuri Shimbun, a conservative broadsheet with a daily circulation of more than 10 million, has fuelled concern that sections of the country’s media have signed up to a government-led campaign to rewrite Japan’s wartime history and portray its actions on the Asian mainland in a more favourable light.

Revisionist attempts to portray the women as willing prostitutes hired by private brokers has soured Tokyo’s relations with South Korea, where many of the victims came from. The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has yet to hold a bilateral summit with his counterpart in Seoul, Park Geun-hye, since he took office in December 2012.

In a statement carried in its Japanese and English-language editions, the Yomiuri said it would continue to use the phrase “so-called comfort women”, a more ambiguous wording critics say downplays the women’s plight.

Many mainstream historians and overseas media use “sex slaves” to describe as many as 200,000 women – mostly from the Korean peninsula – who were forced to work in frontline brothels until Japan’s defeat in 1945.

The Yomiuri said the “inappropriate” descriptions had appeared on numerous occasions in its English-language edition the Daily Yomiuri, now known as the Japan News, for more than a decade up to 2013. …

In line with claims made by leading conservative politicians that there is no evidence that the military coerced the women, the Yomiuri said the previous wording had created the mistaken impression that sexual enslavement was official wartime policy.

“The Yomiuri Shimbun apologises for having used these misleading expressions and will add a note stating that they were inappropriate to all the articles in question in our database,” the paper said in a statement printed in the Japan News on Friday.

The paper cited 97 articles published between 1992 and 2013 that used “sex slave” or “other inappropriate expressions”.

The Yomiuri, a staunch supporter of the governing Liberal Democratic party, said “sex slaves” had never been used in its Japanese edition.

“The expression ‘comfort women” was difficult to understand for non-Japanese who did not have knowledge of the subject. Therefore the Daily Yomiuri, based on an inaccurate perception and using foreign news agencies’ reports as reference, added such explanations as ‘women who were forced into sexual slavery’ that did not appear in The Yomiuri Shimbun’s original stories,” the paper said.

Korean religious cults’ pseudo-peace movements


This video from Britain says about itself:

15 February 2003: The day the world said no to war

15 February 2012

15 February 2003 was the biggest protest in human history. In Britain there were two million on London’s streets. In Rome there were even more. Tens of millions of people in over 800 cities across the world said Not in My Name. We didn’t stop the war in Iraq but the protest that day has shaped the politics of a whole generation. Now a feature length film titled We Are Many is being made by Amir Amirani which will document a momentous day. This is the inspiring trailer for the film, which captures the spirit of that day – a spirit which has been shown time and again since, not least by the Arab Spring uprisings.

The world more than ever needs a strong, massive pro-peace movement. A worldwide grassroots movement of people with diverse views on religion and politics. Like the movement against the Iraq war with its many millions of demonstrators in February 2013. Against the warmongering of Rupert Murdoch and his ilk. Against wars for the profits of arms dealers or of Big Oil. Against the bloody war in Ukraine. Against re-starting the Iraq war and even more international escalation of the Syria war.

Many people are looking for peace movements to join to promote their desire for peace. Unfortunately, some ‘peace organisations’ are peace organisations more in name than in reality.

An infamous example of this is the ‘Unification Church’, also known as ‘Moonies’, founded by the late self-appointed ‘Messiah’ Sun Myung Moon from South Korea. Well, the official name is neither ‘Unification Church’ nor ‘Moonies’, but Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. This religious cult also has a satellite organisation, the Universal Peace Federation. There, one can hear nice-sounding, but abstract and vague, speeches about how good peace is. However, concrete action against wars and preparations for wars are hardly ever mentioned.

The Moon organisation has this in common with quite some politicians, who in their speeches support peace in the abstract, while supporting one or more concrete wars. Even Adolf Hitler, the worst war criminal in history, professed vague, abstract notions of peace in beautiful sounding speeches sometimes.

The Moonie church does not go beyond praising peace in abstract terms, as they get much of their income in concrete terms from arms deals.

And there is the Unification Church’s support for racist parties in various countries, like Le Pen’s Front National in France; and the Centrumdemocraten in the Netherlands. Racism does not bring peace.

Also, the Moonies’ links to the World Anti-Communist League which included neo-nazis. And which helped to stoke Cold War flames, with more profit opportunities for Unification Church weapons deals.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Moon organisation supported the bloody Vietnam war.

Ever since George W Bush started war on Iraq in 2003, the Unification Church supported that war.

According to a Moonie media mouthpiece, the Iraq war should be the start of a hundred years of war without democratic control.

Moonie cult publication, cartoon

That Moonie media mouthpiece, the Washington Times, publishes propaganda for the torturing dictatorship in Bahrain; a regime which helps to fan the flames of religious fanaticism and war in Syria.

Now, Messiah Sun Myung Moon is dead. However, there is at least one similar ‘god-man’ in South Korea still alive. Using similar vague abstract words about ‘world peace’ as Moon, while doing nothing to stop concrete wars, like Moon.

From the Korea Observer in South Korea yesterday:

Alleged cult leader Lee Man-hee hosts world peace summit in Seoul

By Jon Twich

This week, Korea plays host to a major world peace summit which will be chaired by a “renowned Korean peace activist.” But if you’re in Korea, you won’t be hearing much about it in the news.

Why? Because that big-name activist is none other than Lee Man-hee, leader of Shincheonji Church of Jesus the Temple of the Tabernacle of the Testimony (SCJ), which is known as one of the country’s most controversial religious groups.

From Sept. 17 to 19, the World Alliance of Religions Peace Summit (or WARP Summit, not to be mistaken for the UN-affiliated NGO Religions for Peace which held an interfaith conference in Songdo, Incheon last month) will bring together world leaders, major religious figures, and political activists, all in the name of peace.

Or at least that’s what they’re told. The event is officially hosted by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), and the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD), three of which are allegedly controlled by SCJ’s leadership.

And the odd one out, the Berlin-based ICD, pulled their affiliation from HWPL and the WARP Summit on Tuesday, just one day before its opening day (Korea time).

Now, as the countdown to what one SCJ Facebook group called “the biggest peace-event the world has seen” reaches its end, more and more participants are getting cold feet and bailing out on their intercontinental flights.

This 16 September 2014 video is called Korean Cult 신천지 at the Airport.

“We didn’t know the chairman of the peace summit is accused of being a cult leader who claims to be immortal,” a Muslim participant of the event told The Korea Observer upon his arrival at Incheon International Airport Tuesday.

MBC’s PD Notebook, an investigative program, claimed that SCJ makes its followers believe Lee is immortal. Lee, however, didn’t admit it, saying this is a matter that God should decide, not him.

Meanwhile, another Muslim participant claimed that he was disappointed about the organizers because he would no longer be able to give a speech for one of the debate sessions.

“I was initially invited as a panelist, but the organizers later told me that they simply have too many panel members and cannot give me a slot to make a short presentation,” he said. “I will only participate as an observer.”

Yet still more were arriving by the hour, greeted at the by white-shirted SCJ members cheering and waving welcoming signs.

“I took an early leave to come here to greet religious leaders,” one high school volunteer said asking for anonymity. “We are here for world peace.”

They claim to have successfully invited former heads of state of Romania, Croatia, Kosovo, Ecuador, Peru, Nepal, Mongolia, South Africa, Jordan, Argentina, Armenia, and Albania. They also claim to have the Grand Muftis of Egypt, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

They even invited former U.S. vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin publicly online through Twitter.

Sarah Palin, an even worse warmonger than George W Bush.

And they posted a video congratulatory message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, which was quickly taken offline shortly after.

“Without fail, every leader we have spoken with has pledged themselves in support of our cause, demonstrating their desire to be a part of HWPL’s work through a signed agreement of solidarity,” Lee says in his greetings message on the organizers’ official website.

This 14 September 2014 video is called Korean Cults – Shincheonji 신천지 2014.

For many foreign residents who have been in Korea for over two years, this is all too familiar. In 2012, SCJ ran an aggressive recruiting campaign targeting foreigners under the front group Mannam Volunteer Association. Through Mannam, they organised numerous activities, from sports teams and a running club to a photography group and charity events.

They pulled in thousands of foreigners, but once word got out of SCJ’s role, participation was decimated. Still, they managed to bring in thousands of unaware foreigners to a large event filling Jamsil Olympic Stadium past capacity on Sept. 16, 2012.

The event was advertised in English as the World Peace Festival, but to Koreans it was the SCJ 6th National Olympiad, an event held every four years to coincide with Lee Man-hee’s birthday on Sept. 15. The fallout from this “large-scale deception” was fierce, filling the expat blogosphere with condemnations and first-hand accounts.

Following that, Mannam went silent. Burned in Korea, they focused their efforts abroad. Under a bevy of new banners, they went abroad to meet with world leaders and engage in diplomacy. They signed an interfaith peace agreement on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Lee Man-hee was appointed honorary ambassador of the International Romani Union National Assembly. He spread the legend of Lee Man-hee, 83-year-old peace activist, divorced from his infamy as a cult leader at home.

So now, many of the friends that have been made overseas are coming to Korea, where they may be exposed to a very different narrative of Lee and SCJ’s place in Korean society. At this year’s WARP Summit, once again taking place in the same week as Lee Man-hee’s birthday, internal memos went out instructing SCJ participants not to mention SCJ or Mannam.

This 214 September 2014 video from South Korea is called An Interview with the Father of a Shinchonji Member.

Outside of a few organized protests by family members of SCJ followers, most people in Korea are unaware that the WARP Summit is happening. There is a media blackout on all things SCJ, which the church used to its advantage. As well, it blocked out its own websites for HWPL, IPYG, and IWPG in Korea to limit the information available, only lifting the block at the commencement of the summit.

The Korea Observer tried but was unable reach the WARP Summit for official comments over the past two days. If you call the number listed on the official website (warpsummit2014.org), you get the response message that the phone is turned off. Nevertheless, despite obvious connections, several volunteers of the summit denied any involvement with Shincheonji.

One of the foreign organisations at ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s conference is the pro-Bahraini absolute monarchy organisation, the Bahrain Association for Religious Co-existence and Tolerance. So, Moon’s Unification Church are not alone in their friendship with this regime. The Bahrain Association for Religious Co-existence and Tolerance has a sinister, Orwellian Newspeak name, considering the religious INtolerance practiced by the Bahraini dictatorship.

The BARCT tells about ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s conference in the Bahraini pro-regime paper Gulf Daily News, which especially sent a reporter to Korea for this ‘peace conference’. They would like to have ‘Messiah’ Lee Man-hee’s next conference in Bahrain.

The Bahrain government’s official news agency sent a reporter to Lee Man-hee’s Korea conference as well. They write that there are foreign guests ‘from about twelve countries’.

Though, as Jon Twich’s report says, many pre-announced foreign guests failed to turn up at the conference, the Gulf Daily News report says at least some of them did come:

Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Abdel Karim Allam was among the list of high profile speakers set to deliver an opening address yesterday, but he was replaced at the last minute by Doha International Centre for Interfaith Dialogue chairman Dr Ibrahim Saleh Al Naimi.

The Qatari official stressed the importance of dialogue in his speech, describing it as the only way to address conflict among communities.

This official of the dictatorship in Qatar should say that to his own regime, stoking war in Libya and in Syria.

The Gulf Daily News mentions another speaker at this ‘peace conference': ‘Former Croatian President Stjepan Mesic’.

When Mr Mesic was still president, in 2010, he almost managed to re-start the bloody Yugoslavian civil wars by threatening to invade Bosnia.

Rare Asiatic black bear on camera trap in Vietnam


This video is called Restoration Project of Asiatic Black Bear in Korea.

From Wildlife Extra:

Black bear sighting in Vietnam indicates conservation success

A rare Asiatic black bear has been recorded by WWF camera traps in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam.

Due to its white patch on its chest the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), is also known as the moon bear or white-chested bear, and is classed by the IUCN as a vulnerable species.

The sighting is an important indicator of the success of the conservation efforts by WWF and the Vietnamese government to improve the quality of the area’s forests and preserve the unique species diversity.

The framework of the Carbon and Biodiversity Programme (CarBi) covers an area of more than 200,000ha of forest, along a vital mountain range that links Laos and Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

It aims to protect and regenerate unique forest by stopping deforestation through protection and sustainable use of its resources.

The Asiatic black bear is not the only rare species to have been spotted since the programme was implemented, for several other valuable species have been found, including the Sunda pangolin, large-antlered muntjac, serrow, Annamite striped rabbit, and Saola, which was rediscovered for the first time in 15 years in 2013.

“They are species affected by illegal hunting which our forest guard patrols and Protection Area management activities should be limiting,” said Phan Tuan, Head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department, Quang Nam’s CarBi project’ Director.

“Their existence is also dependent on good quality forest. I believe that these photographs are very important monitoring indicators of our conservation impacts.”