Waterbirds counted in China


This video says about itself:

2014 Balanga City Asian Water Bird Census

DENR, in coordination with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and the City Government of Balanga, conducted a census of migratory waterbirds in Barangays Sibacan, Tortugas, Puerto Rivas Lote, Puerto Rivas Itaas, and Puerto Rivas Ibaba, on January 18, 2014.

Terns, Plovers, Black-winged Stilt, Sandpipers and Little, Intermediate and [Great] Egret as well as a rarely-seen Chinese Egret, fleeing the cold weather of their country of origin, were among those counted.

The yearly census, which aims to determine bird population, covers all Asian countries and is conducted in January. The first census in the Philippines was conducted in 2004.

From BirdLife:

Decade-long Citizen Science project counts China’s waterbirds

By Ed Parnell, Thu, 14/01/2016 – 18:01

Since 2005, more than 150 volunteers have taken part in the China Coastal Waterbird Census, which, in November 2015, published its third report on the state of the country’s coastal waterbirds

The coastal wetlands of China constitute some of the most important migratory, passage and wintering sites along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Unfortunately, the area also faces some of the world’s most serious conservation challenges. In order to protect and manage important sites along the flyway effectively, reliable data are desperately needed, making the China Coastal Waterbird Census – and the work carried out by its volunteers – of critical conservation importance.

“We discovered at least 10 sites of international importance for birds, yet still without proper protection”, said Bai Qingquan, one of the coordinators of China Coastal Waterbird Census Team.

The latest report, which covers the period from 2010–11, presents a huge amount of information about China’s coastal avifauna. A total of 161 species were recorded during the survey, including 21 globally threatened species.

Peak counts occurred during April’s northward migration period, when almost 266,000 individual waterbirds were logged from 111 species. Twenty per cent or more of the entire population of the following globally threatened birds were recorded during the latest census: Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea (Critically Endangered: 103), Saunders’s Gull Saundersilarus saundersi (Vulnerable: 5,451), Relict Gull Larus relictus (Vulnerable: 6,005), Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor (Endangered: 561) and Siberian Crane Leucogeranus leucogeranus (Critically Endangered: 700).

“The China Coastal Waterbird Count, which is organised and implemented solely by volunteer bird watchers has lasted for 10 years and is a great example of Citizen Science”, said Vivian Fu, Assistant Manager of Hong Kong Bird Watching Society/BirdLife International China Programme. “The findings of the census not only display significant scientific value, but also contribute to the conservation of sites and species of international importance. We hope that more and more people will join us in future.”

The report, which is written in Chinese, with an English summary and annotations, can be downloaded here (PDF, 55 MB).

The China Coastal Waterbird Census has been coordfinated by the The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife Hong Kong) and over the years has received support from the following donors: the Darwin Initiative; Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong; Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust; the Tolkien Trust; the Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund; and Ford Green Awards.

Filipina women raped by Japanese army demand compensation


This video says about itself:

Malaya Lola Music Video (2007)

This music video tells of the plight of the Malaya Lolas — a group of Filipino women who were abducted and used as ‘Comfort Women‘ by Japanese soldiers during the second World War.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Comfort women‘ demand compensation from Japan

Thursday 7th January 2016

ELDERLY Filipino women raped by Japanese troops during World War II demanded compensation from Tokyo yesterday.

Their claim follows the Japanese government’s pledge last week of one billion yen (£5.7 million) to compensate the 46 surviving South Korean “comfort women,” as they were euphemistically dubbed by the Japanese army.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also issued an official apology as part of the deal, aimed at easing diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Tens of thousands of women across Asia were forced into sex slavery by invading Japanese forces.

Victims’ group Malaya Lolas president Isabelita Vinuya urged the Philippine government to support their demand for justice from Japan.

“We have appealed more than once or twice to our government to help us, support us before Japan so that we can be given justice for the sufferings we went through during World War II,” she told a press conference, adding that many of the women have died without seeing justice.

Ms Vinuya said she was just 13 when the Japanese troops raped women and children in her village of Mapaniqui in Pampanga province.

The troops also razed homes and killed men in the village. Three other women at the press conference said they were teenagers when they were raped.

“Is there a difference in the rape of a South Korean and a Filipino woman?” asked the victims’ lawyer Harry Roque. “The answer is there should be none.”

In 2010, the Philippines’ highest court dismissed a case brought by Ms Vinuya and 70 other women demanding that the government seek compensation from Japan.

Philippine coral reef live webcam, in California


This video, from the USA, says about itself:

Live Coral Reef Cam | California Academy of Sciences

Dive into the Academy’s Philippine Coral Reef tank— one of the deepest exhibits of live corals in the world. This impressive tank houses a broad range of aquatic life from the coral reefs and mangroves of the Philippines, a global biodiversity hotspot and an important location for scientific research. Tune in daily at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm PST to watch and listen as Academy divers feed the creatures in the Philippine Coral Reef exhibit and answer visitor questions.

The California Academy of Sciences is the only place in the world with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and 4-story rainforest all under one roof.

Rare hairy frogfish on video


Wildlife Extra writes about this 8 July 2015 video:

The Striated or Hairy Frogfish has a secretive lifestyle that involves using the hair-like projections from its body, which are called spinules and which change colour to suit the animal’s surroundings, to merge with the coral or the ocean’s sandy bottom.

There it can lurk, unseen, and attract its prey by waving a special adaptation above it’s large mouth to act like a fishing lure.

The Striated Frogfish, one of a number of different types of frogfish found around the world, is not a good swimmer, preferring to relocate by using its side fins, which are jointed like a mammal’s fingers or toes, to walk across the seabed.

As they don’t do this very often, the fascinating footage taken by J Hawk is rare. It perfectly illustrates the way the frogfish moves and uses its bizarre ‘fishing tackle’.

J Hawk says: “I was on a dive in the south of Malapascua Island in the Philippines. I’d been searching for rare forms of fish for quite some time.

“Out of nowhere I saw this amazing critter coming right at me. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Such a unique and amazing little guy.”

‘Extinct’ amphibians rediscovered in the Philippines


This video says about itself:

Philippines Herping Adventure Part One

13 April 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. See the people, ecology and herps in this adventure. Experience the diversity of the reptiles and amphibians of the Philippines.

And this video is the sequel. It says about itself:

7 May 2015

GuyGuy goes herping in Leyte, Philippines. Philippines herping Adventure Part Two continues the adventure somewhere near Tocloban. GuyGuy discovers snakes, geckos, frogs, birds and fish on this episode. Join him as he discovers the diversity of the rainforest.

From National Geographic:

“Extinct” Amphibians Rediscovered After Nearly Half a Century

Two species of amphibians thought lost to science have been found again in the mountain forests of the Philippines.

By Jason Bittel, National Geographic

June 02, 2015

It had been 50 years since anyone laid eyes on the Malatgan River caecilian, a legless amphibian native to the island province of Palawan in the Philippines.

Scientists feared the species, whose written record was lost in a museum destroyed during the Battle of Manila in World War II, was gone forever.

That is, until a team of scientists saw something slithering through the dirt during a recent trip to the Philippines. (Also see “Pictures: New Amphibians Without Arms or Legs Discovered.”)

“It was basically a coincidence,” says Rafe Brown, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas who was on the expedition team led by the Philippines-based Centre for Sustainability. “One of the students happened to be walking by it and thought it was a worm. But lo and behold, it was a Malatgan River caecilian.”

Brown and his team have been wading across rivers and sifting through mud in the Palawan backcountry for over 15 years looking for signs of this and other species lost to science.

When the expedition finally stumbled across the serpentine amphibian, it was at the end of a road and a seven-hour hike beyond that from the nearest village. The area is known as Cleopatra’s Needle.

“This is an animal that doesn’t have any flashy colors or anything like that, but it’s one of those last, iconic species that we couldn’t find,” says Brown. (See “Photos: Ten Most Wanted ‘Extinct’ Amphibians.”)

Remarkably, the expedition also found the Palawan toadlet (Pelophryne albotaeniata), which had been missing for the last 40 years.

Lost and Found

The rediscoveries are the result of a biodiversity survey launched in December 2014 and carried out by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, Global Wildlife Conservation, the Amphibian Survival Alliance, and Rainforest Trust.

“When we started this project, we didn’t know for sure if these animals were there,” says Robin Moore, conservation officer with the Amphibian Survival Alliance.

“For me, it’s incredible to find these two amphibians after not seeing them for decades. It highlights how much is out there that we don’t know.” (See “Photos: Bubble-nest Frog, Other ‘Extinct’ Species Found.”)

Joseph Mendelson, a herpetologist and director of research at Zoo Atlanta, adds that “discoveries like this reinforce the importance of continued biodiversity surveys around the world.”

Human rights violations in Bahrain continue


This video is called Bahrain Activist Nabeel Rajab Arrested Over Tweets.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Open Letter from Nabeel Rajab to President Obama

Editor’s note: This letter was written in a Bahraini jail cell by Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights campaigner in Bahrain who was arrested April 2 after tweeting about torture in the country’s central prison, Jaw. Here is his letter.

April 9, 2015

From: Nabeel Rajab
President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Isa Town Detention Center
Bahrain

Dear President Obama,

I write to you from a Bahraini jail cell, and this message was never meant to go beyond its walls. Even though I have never advocated for violence nor harmed another living soul, I have spent 28 of the last 36 months in a Bahraini prison for actions that can only be counted as crimes in a nation that stifles free expression and criminalizes open assembly. I have documented my government’s use of torture. I have reported on civilian casualties in Yemen. I have held a different opinion than that of a king. In retaliation, I may spend the next ten years of my life in jail.

While my government punishes me for demanding an end to its assault on civil and political rights, other GCC states, especially Saudi Arabia, subject human rights defenders to harsher abuse. Their repression can be seen in the flogging of free speech activist Raif Badawi and the death sentence against the religious scholar and human rights advocate Nimr al-Nimr. Saudi courts even sentenced Raif’s lawyer, Waleed abu al-Khair, to 15 years in prison. We as human rights defenders are targeted for giving voice to the marginalized, people seeking to take the reins of their own destiny; our governments do everything in their power to prevent us from acting upon the best ideals of our conscience.

The message you directed toward your Gulf allies last week laid the foundation for real change. Your words tacitly acknowledged what we in the region understand: only democracy can bring stability to the Middle East. And while democracy may take time to develop, the process cannot begin unless our right to free speech is protected. Right now, our governments divide us along religious lines, preventing us from collectively challenging extremism within our societies. As well, our rulers aggressively punish critics of the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. We simply ask, however, for greater democratic participation in our nation’s affairs, and the ability to freely express our contempt for violence and extremism.

I thank your administration for calling for my release, and the release of my fellow human rights defenders. I urge you to defend our right to free speech when you meet with the monarchs of the Gulf, and call for:

The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
An end to the criminalization of free speech and expression, including any laws against criticism of government institutions or defamation of a king;
The cessation of all acts of torture and reprisal in GCC detention centers; and
The protection of free and open civil society space capable of fostering long-term stability and growth in the region.

The citizens of Bahrain and her neighbors have extraordinary potential. With unshackled voices, we can build stability and challenge extremism. What we need today is space for tolerance, plurality, and honest dialogue, the foundations of a democratic process that the reprisals against me and my colleagues seek to undermine.

Yours Sincerely,

Nabeel Rajab

Bahrain’s Prison Crisis Deepens: here.

This video says about itself:

Pinay OFW in Bahrain who Asked for Help was Finally Rescued

10 April 2015

Pinay OFW In Bahrain Asking For Help (Abby Luna)

From the South China Morning Post:

Filipino maid ‘beaten and raped‘ is rescued from Bahrain employer after Facebook appeal goes viral

Agence France-Presse in Bahrain

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 April, 2015, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2015, 10:53am

The Philippines rescued a Filipino maid from her employer in Bahrain after she posted a desperate cry for help on her Facebook page.

Staff at the Philippine embassy were alerted to the plight of Abby Luna, who claims she was raped and beaten by her employer’s son, after she posted the video on her Facebook page. The video attracted about 78,000 shares and 19,000 likes.

“The rescue was prompted by the video message… She is now under the care of our embassy,” foreign ministry spokesman Charles Jose said. Philippine embassy officials and staff from Luna’s employment agency picked her up from her employer’s house, Jose said, adding that police were investigating the incident.

Luna’s alleged assailant denied to he attacked her, Ricky Aragon, vice-consul at the Philippine embassy in Bahrain, said.

In the three-minute long video, which appears to have been made on a webcam, a sobbing Luna accused her employer’s “drug addict” son of raping her. She also posted a written appeal for viewers to contact the Philippine embassy on her behalf.

“Help me get out of here. I’m scared. Until now, my genitals hurt. My leg is bruised. He (attacker) punched my leg to immobilise me,” said the 28-year-old, who had been working in Bahrain for a year.

“After my employer’s son abused me, he threatened to kill me and bury me in the desert if I tell anyone about what happened.”

Luna said her employer did not believe her claims of being raped and beaten and insisted she finish the remaining two months of her contract before she could go home. Her employer also told her to have an abortion if she fell pregnant, she added.

Luna is among an estimated 10 million Filipinos working overseas to escape poverty and high levels of unemployment in the Philippines.

Many overseas Filipino workers, who account for a tenth of the country’s population of 100 million, work in menial jobs and endure dangerous working conditions.

Last year, a Filipino maid, Nargelene Mendez, was rescued from a house in Saudi Arabia after posting a video on her Facebook page claiming her employer had abused her.

In Hong Kong, Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, an Indonesian domestic worker accused her employer of subjecting her to six months of physical abuse.

Erwiana, 23, underwent treatment at the Amal Sehat Islamic Hospital in Sragen, Indonesia, after boarding a flight from the SAR.

Photographs of Erwiana’s injuries quickly spread through social media and led to a demonstration of thousands of people through Hong Kong’s Central district. Police arrested her employer former beautician Law Wan-tung on January 20, 2014, as she tried to board a flight to Thailand. She was sentenced to six years in prison and fined HK$15,000 earlier this year.

Maids working in the Middle East frequently suffer abuse.

Human Rights Watch has called on the United Arab Emirates to reform a restrictive visa system and pass a labour law to stop domestic workers [from being] exploited.

OFW raped by employer’s son in Bahrain rescued by embassy: here.

Human rights and free speech lagging in Gulf monarchies. Post-Arab Spring oppression increasingly involves harsh penalties for dissent, including torture, stripping citizenship: here.