Edward Snowden voted Rector of Glasgow University in Scotland

This video is called Students Elect Edward Snowden Rector Of The University Of Glasgow.

By Steve James in Britain:

Edward Snowden elected Rector of Glasgow University

20 February 2014

Students at the University of Glasgow in Scotland voted Tuesday to elect Edward Snowden as Rector of the University, in a powerful display of opposition to attacks on democratic rights by the NSA and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The former National Security Agency consultant and whistle-blower received 3,124 votes, more than double his nearest challenger, Kevin Holdsworth, a local clergyman and gay rights campaigner. Snowden received 51 percent of the vote, and will serve as Rector for three years.

Although the election took place in Glasgow, Scotland, there is not a university, college or school on the planet where a similar outcome could not be anticipated. For a large section of workers and young people, Snowden has become a symbol of opposition to surveillance, of resistance to arbitrary authority, of principled, clear-headed bravery in defence of the elementary democratic rights of the world’s citizens.

“I am humbled by and grateful to the students of Glasgow University for this historic statement in defence of our shared values,” Snowden said in response to the election. “We are reminded by this bold decision that the foundation of all learning is daring: the courage to investigate, to experiment, to inquire,” he said.

“If we do not contest the violation of the fundamental right of free people to be left unmolested in their thoughts, associations, and communications–to be free from suspicion without cause–we will have lost the foundation of our thinking society. The defence of this fundamental freedom is the challenge of our generation,” he said.

Snowden concluded “This election shows that the students of Glasgow University intend to lead the way, and it is my great honour to serve as their Rector.”

“We are incredibly delighted to see Edward Snowden elected as the new Rector of Glasgow University,” said the Edward Snowden for Rector campaign in a statement. “We have a proud and virtuous tradition of making significant statements through our Rectors and today we have once more championed this idea.”

“Our opposition to pervasive and immoral state intrusion has gone down in the records. What is more, we showed Edward Snowden and other brave whistleblowers that we stand in solidarity with them, regardless of where they are,” the group added. “In the following weeks we will continue to campaign for the NSA and GCHQ to cease their assault on our fundamental right to privacy and for Edward Snowden to be recognised as the courageous whistleblower he is, rather than a traitor.”

Media coverage of the campaign insisted repeatedly that the “campus was split” over whether Snowden was a “hero or a traitor”. His election by an absolute majority is all the more extraordinary given the vilification, and slander directed against Snowden by the political and media establishment.

The election is a devastating rebuttal of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat government, the Labour opposition and the Scottish National Party government in Scotland, all of whom have agreed with, or maintained silence in the face of, the attack on Snowden, his supporters, sympathising journalists and the Guardian newspaper. It testifies to the profound gulf between all these parties and the great majority of young people.

The campaign also encountered bitter opposition from right-wing forces on the university campus. Campaign posters were slashed or torn down the first night they were put up, while the university authorities banned any more being put up for the duration.

Snowden’s supporters were continually attacked for putting forward a candidate who was not a “working Rector”, a charge that originated with the aspiring bureaucrats and pundits of the Students Representative Council (SRC). …

Two of these, Louise Wilson and Hannah McNeil, are writers for the student paper, the Glasgow Guardian. In the aftermath of Snowden’s election, they became the poster children for quotes supposedly expressing more widespread student hostility to the result.

Louise Wilson is quoted by numerous newspapers proclaiming, “It sucks. It’s very disappointing but not surprising in the slightest. I’m all for political statements, but at a time when the university and students need the biggest say with all the cuts it’s just not appropriate not to have a working Rector.”

Hannah McNeill declared, “I’m furious. I think most people here are very upset about the result. We need an active Rector.” The invocations of a “working Rector” are only a device for opposing Snowden’s election and nothing more.

Previous Rectors include Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and not a few British Prime Ministers. Since African National Congress leader Albert Luthuli’s election in 1962, Rectors have tended to be more popular political or media figures. Stalinist shipyard leader Jimmy Reid was elected in 1972, Winnie Mandela in 1987. Popular comedy actor Richard Wilson held the post from 1996. Mordechai Vanunu, who exposed Israel’s nuclear power program, was elected in 2004.

As for the incumbent “working Rector”, he is Charles Kennedy, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, whose party is in coalition government with the Conservatives and has launched assault after assault on students—including reneging on campaign pledges in order to support a trebling of tuition fees.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) circulated a leaflet in support of Snowden, writing that, “Presented as part of the so-called ‘war on terror’, dragnet surveillance is in fact being used to profile working people, students and youth to criminalise political opposition and dissent.

“The turn to totalitarian forms of rule reflects the unprecedented levels of social inequality generated by capitalism—85 individuals now control more wealth than the bottom 50 percent of the population or 3.5 billion people!

“The wealth and power of this global plutocracy are incompatible with democracy. The defence of Snowden and democratic rights is possible only on the basis of a mass socialist struggle to break their stranglehold over the world economy and place it under public ownership and democratic control.”

The leaflet concluded with a call to make “Glasgow University a focal point for mobilising the broadest possible support for Snowden amongst students and young people internationally.”

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Scottish rats and Manx shearwaters, new research

This video from the Azores says about itself:

Releasing juvenile Manx Shearwaters in Corvo

26 Aug 2009

Some juvenile seabirds are attracted by artificial lights and fall in the village of Corvo during their first flights. We caught them, ringed them and released them the next morning.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rat tagged on Scottish isle

February 2014: In one of the first projects of its kind a rat on the Isle of Rum has been tagged and its travels round the island logged via satellite.

Researchers on Rum National Nature Reserve (NNR) hope the results (due at the end of this month) will help them understand the impact of brown rat behaviour on nearby colonies of the Manx shearwater seabird.

From April until September the Rum Cuillin come alive after dark with the sound of these amazing birds, no bigger than pigeons, returning to their breeding burrows after spending the winter off the east coast of South America. On Rum, they nest in burrows high in the mountains, fishing by day and returning to their nests at night.

Brown rats are recent colonists to the island and probably arrived on boats. As on all offshore islands where rats have jumped ship, they have an adverse effect on native species.

Understanding rat behaviour is vital to assess their likely impacts on Manx shearwaters and other species, as Lesley Watt, the SNH Rum reserve officer, explained.

“Rats are thought to be responsible for numerous global seabird population declines through predation on eggs, chicks and adult birds, though historically they have not been thought to have an impact on the Rum Cuillin colony,” she said.

“But we are concerned that rat numbers and predation may increase in the future. So we need to know more about the ecology of the rats to inform our future management policy for this globally import Manx shearwater breeding site.

“We are all intrigued about what we’ll find out when our roaming rat data is analysed and we view the results.”

The rat-related work is part of a three-year Magnus Magnusson PhD studentship, funded by SNH and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). Anglia Ruskin University is carrying out the work with the National Wildlife Management Centre, part of the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA).

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Educating Scottish children about wildlife crime

This video is called Stop Wildlife Crime: The Series – It’s Dead Serious (Video 1) | WWF.

From Wildlife Extra:

Online pack to educate children about wildlife crime

January 2014: Children in Scotland will be taught about the impact of wildlife crime and how they can help combat the problem through a new online wildlife crime detectives’ education pack.

The interactive pack will help to raise children’s awareness of wildlife crime issues and increase their knowledge of legitimate countryside practices. Children will be encouraged to explore the moral issues surrounding wildlife crime while learning important safety messages.

The Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change and chair of PAW Scotland, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

“This new education pack provides an interactive way to educate and excite young people about our wildlife and help them to understand the damaging effects wildlife crime can have on Scotland’s animals, birds and habitats and why the eradication of wildlife crime is in the public interest.

“It will also encourage pupils and teachers to think more about our role in protecting our natural environment and instil an appreciation and set of values which will resonate with them for years to come.”

While Police Scotland Wildlife Crime Coordinator, Sergeant Andy Mavin welcomed the news:

“Police Scotland have specialist Wildlife Crime Officers who investigate crime and enforce legislation, however crime prevention through education and awareness-raising also plays a vital role in reducing criminality. Hopefully the messages delivered through this education pack will be long lasting, in both the children who use the pack and the educators who deliver it.”

The education pack is available online here.

50 nations gather in London for high-level summit to tackle illegal wildlife trade: here.

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Abolish British Trident nuclear weapons

This video from England is called April 1, 2013: CND demo against Trident renewal outside Aldermaston AWE perimeter fence.

By Alan Mackinnon in Scotland:

Prospects for nuclear disarmament in Britain

Monday 20th january 2014

ALAN MACKINNON argues that the campaign to reject Trident needs to keep up the pressure both north and south of the border in 2014

LAST month a report from the House of Commons defence select committee highlighted the stark choices facing British defence and foreign policy.

The report noted the growing lack of public support for the expeditionary role of Britain’s armed forces in the form of “general public opposition to the war in Iraq, and questionable support among the electorate for current operations in Afghanistan.”

It was a recognition that the lessons of the disastrous wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and, more particularly, the perceived failures of British military operations in Basra and Helmand provinces, had been learned.

It was that power of public opinion, built and consolidated over years of anti-war campaigning, that ultimately stopped military intervention in Syria and triggered a U-turn in US policy in the region.

In a reference to the declining size and capability of Britain’s armed forces, the same report introduces the concept of loss of “fighting power” and laments the “strategic shrinkage” which this represents.

Former US defence secretary Robert Gates, who served in the George W Bush and Obama administrations, also regretted the loss of Britain’s “full-spectrum” capability and argued that it would be a less effective ally in future US-led conflicts.

According to Max Hastings in the Telegraph last year, the British army, currently being downsized to 82,000, will soon “be capable of deploying only a single battlegroup of 7,000-8,000 men for sustained operations overseas.”

In a look ahead to the next Defence and Strategic Review, the defence committee report notes the US strategic “pivot” to Asia — the shift of 60 per cent of US global military forces to the Asia-Pacific region as part of a policy of encirclement and containment of China.

The report anticipates that Europe will be expected to “take on greater responsibility for its own security” without specifying what or who threatens that security.

All of this means choices. Britain can no longer maintain “full-spectrum” armed forces capable of operating anywhere in the world in support of the United States.

There is little public support for such a role and we can no longer afford it.

According to Professor Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, by the end of this decade spending on Trident will swallow around 35 per cent of defence equipment spending for a period of 10 years or more, squeezing out other big-ticket items like new aircraft, new warships and protective equipment for soldiers.

Small wonder, then, that a defence traditionalist like James Arbuthnot, former Tory defence minister and chair of the House of Commons defence committee, has added his voice to the growing number of senior political figures and armed forces personnel who are sceptical about the “value” and affordability of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme.

In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper he said that he was no longer convinced it was appropriate to replace Trident. In a comment meant to scuttle one of the key pro-Trident arguments, he argued: “It’s not an insurance policy, it’s a potential booby trap.”

But the choice is not just between nuclear and conventional weapons.

It is between weapons which project power and fear across the world — like nuclear weapons and aircraft carriers — and can fight wars thousands of miles away, and much simpler and cheaper ones which can defend Britain’s land and territorial waters.

It is, in other words, a choice between offence and defence.

And there is no weapon more offensive than Trident. Twenty-fourteen will be a crucial year for the anti-Trident campaign.

It is the year of Scotland’s referendum on independence.

A Yes vote would provide new opportunities to scrap the system, but no guarantee that a Scottish government would withstand the overwhelming pressure to reach some kind of leasing deal for the short to medium term.

The SNP determination to join Nato would be a complicating factor. Nor does a Yes vote look likely as opinion polls stand.

All the more reason, then, to keep all options open and to keep the focus on the Westminster government where the ultimate decision on Trident will be made.

The following year will see a UK-wide general election and the year after that, 2016, is when the “main gate” decision on Trident will be made.

Changing Labour Party policy in an election year will be very difficult, so it will be in 2014 that the groundwork must be done.

And there is growing support for that within the ranks of Labour and signs that Labour’s leaders may be beginning to lose their 30-year-old fear of being seen as soft on defence.

A Labour campaign which proposed scrapping Trident and spending the money on jobs, services and renewable energy could be a big vote winner. In Scotland, and across Britain, there is much to play for.

Alan Mackinnon is secretary of Scottish CND.

Lib Dem plans for cutting the costs of Britain’s nuclear weapons programme have found favour among the military top brass: here.

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Basking shark near Dutch coast

This video is called Scotland’s Basking Sharks.

Today, Pim Wolf from the Netherlands reports that a basking shark swims about 800 meter from the coast of Westkapelle in Zeeland province.

People estimate this basking shark is seven meter long. This species is not often seen in the North Sea.

Basking shark skull found in North Sea: here.

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