British government’s illegal spying on human rights organisations


This video says about itself:

Wire Transfer: NSA paid $150 mln to GCHQ to spy on UK citizens

2 August 2013

Snowden‘s leaks continue to span the Atlantic. The latest revelations published by the Guardian show not only was Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) spying extensively on UK citizens – but it was receiving funds from Washington to do so.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tribunal finds GCHQ spied illegally on rights groups

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

BRITISH intelligence agency GCHQ illegally spied on two human rights organisations, a tribunal found yesterday.

The organisation was found to have acted unlawfully in the way it intercepted private communications of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

GCHQ even breached is own confidential internal policies on the interception, examination and retention of emails from the two organisations, thereby violating their rights under article eight of the Human Rights Act, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal found.

James Welch, legal director of Liberty, one of several national human rights groups that brought the action against GCHQ, said: “Last year, it was revealed that GCHQ were eavesdropping on sacrosanct lawyer-client conversations.

“Now we learn they’ve been spying on human rights groups.

“What kind of signal are British authorities sending to despotic regimes and those who risk their lives to challenge them all over the world? Who is being casual with human life now?”

Chagos islanders want to return home


This video says about itself:

John PilgerStealing A Nation [2004]

‘Stealing A Nation’ (2004) is an extraordinary film about the plight of the Chagos Islands, whose indigenous population was secretly and brutally expelled by British Governments in the late 1960s and early 1970s to make way for an American military base. The tragedy, which falls within the remit of the International Criminal Court as “a crime against humanity”, is told by Islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and by British officials who left behind a damning trail of Foreign Office documents.

Before the Americans came, more than 2,000 people lived on the islands in the Indian Ocean, many with roots back to the late 18th century. There were thriving villages, a school, a hospital, a church, a railway and an undisturbed way of life. The islands were, and still are, a British crown colony. In the 1960s, the government of Harold Wilson struck a secret deal with the United States to hand over the main island of Diego Garcia. The Americans demanded that the surrounding islands be “swept” and “sanitized”. Unknown to Parliament and to the US Congress and in breach of the United Nations Charter, the British Government plotted with Washington to expel the entire population.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chagossians resume battle for their Indian Ocean home

Monday 22nd June 2015

FORMER Chagos Islands residents, forcibly removed from their homeland more than 40 years ago, will take their long legal battle to Britain’s highest court today.

The Supreme Court will hear their challenge to a decision by the House of Lords which dashed hopes of a return home to the Indian Ocean islands, given over to a US air base.

In 2008, Law Lords overturned previous court decisions allowing islanders and their descendants to go back.

Olivier Bancoult, the Chagossian leader who has been fighting in the courts on behalf of the islanders, now argues that the three-to-two majority ruling in favour of the Foreign Secretary should be set aside.

British government deporting Syrian feminist to death in Saudi Arabia?


This January 2015 video is called Woman Beheaded in the Middle of the Road in Saudi Arabia.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Syrian women’s rights campaigner faces deportation and certain death

Saturday 20th June 2015

A SYRIAN refugee living in Leeds faces deportation to Saudi Arabia where she faces almost certain death, campaigners said yesterday.

Raja Khouja, a women’s rights campaigner, is detained at the notorious Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire and is threatened with removal to Saudi Arabia on Thursday next week, June 25.

Ms Khouja’s criticism of women’s rights abuses in Saudi Arabia has sparked email and phone threats of death, imprisonment and mutilation — including for her limbs to be severed — if she goes to Saudi Arabia.

She has lived in Leeds with her Saudi husband Mahmoud Alhassan for four years.

Their asylum request is backed by Leeds-based Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

A spokesman for the group, who has launched a petition against her removal, said she will be in “extreme danger” if she is deported.

“They are much loved and respected by her community of friends here in Leeds and we are gravely concerned for her safety were she to be removed to Saudi Arabia,” they said.

Gannets share food, new study


Gannet colonies in Britain, Ireland and France

From the University of Leeds in England:

Gannets don’t eat off each other’s plates

Published Thursday 6 June 2013

Colonies of gannets maintain vast exclusive fishing ranges despite doing nothing to defend their territory from rival colonies, scientists have discovered.

A team of researchers led by the University of Leeds and the University of Exeter observed that northern gannets, which can fly hundreds of kilometres on a single fishing trip, avoided visiting the fishing grounds of gannets from neighbouring colonies.

The findings, published in the journal Science, could transform our understanding of animals’ foraging patterns because individual gannets do nothing to enforce this territory or communicate its boundaries when out at sea. A bird entering from a neighbouring colony would be free to fly and fish unhindered.

Co-lead author Dr Ewan Wakefield, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “The accepted view is that exclusive foraging territories are associated with species such as ants, which aggressively defend the feeding areas around their colonies, but this opens the door to a completely new way of thinking about territory. We found the gannet colonies also had neatly abutting and clearly defined feeding areas. Gannets may be a byword for gluttony but, clearly, they don’t eat off each other’s plates.”

This 2014 video is called Torpedo Gannet Diving! – Nature’s Great Events w/ David Attenborough – BBC.

Researchers from more than 14 institutions in the UK, Ireland and France tracked the flights of nearly 200 northern gannets flying from 12 colonies around the British Isles.

Rather than seeing criss-crossing flight paths as the birds headed out from their colonies, they found themselves plotting a strictly segregated map. The most striking example was seen off the west coast of Ireland where gannets from two colonies, Bull Rock and Little Skellig, are within sight of each other yet head off in different directions.

The explanation has nothing to do with territorial behaviour, but instead seems to be a matter of mathematics reinforced by the culture of colonies.

Dr Thomas Bodey, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter and joint-lead author of the study, explained: “Gannets get their chance when shoals of fish are forced to the surface, often by predatory whales and dolphins, but when the gannets start plunging into the water and feeding on a shoal, the fish start diving. You have to be one of the first gannets to get there and that is where the maths comes in: if you go into an area that is being used by birds from a closer colony, there is a higher chance that individuals from that colony will be there first.”

The same applies when waste is being thrown off the backs off trawlers, another key feeding opportunity for gannets.

Cultural transmission within the colonies then seems to reinforce the geographical calculus.

“Gannets readily follow each other when at sea. Finding such separation between colonies, even when visible from each other, indicates that competition for food cannot be the only explanation and suggests cultural differences between colonies may be important. As with humans, birds have favoured routes to travel, and if new arrivals at a colony follow experienced old hands then these patterns can quickly become fixed, even if other opportunities potentially exist,” Dr Bodey said.

The northern gannet is Europe’s largest seabird, with a wingspan of around 2m, and nests on steep cliffs and rocky islands. Attaching the matchbox-sized satellite transmitters and GPS loggers used to track the birds was sometimes a major challenge. At the biggest mainland UK colony at Bempton Cliffs in East Yorkshire, a military abseiling team from the Joint Services Mountain Training Wing was called in to help.

The UK supports 60-70 per cent of the world’s northern gannets and the discovery that colonies depend on particular sea areas has implications for the location of marine protected areas and offshore energy development.

The research also has wide ranging implications for our understanding of animal behaviour. Co-author Dr Keith Hamer, Reader in Animal Ecology in the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences, said: “We knew that species like ants that forage over short distances show segregation, but now we find that segregation not only occurs in gannets but that it is there just as strongly as in ants. That immediately opens the door to asking how many other species that we assumed would not show segregation actually do. There is no reason to believe that gannets are unique.”

Professor Stuart Bearhop, Professor of Animal Ecology at the University of Exeter, said: “We understand an awful lot about what these seabirds do on land, but until recently we knew shockingly little about what they do at sea. The technology is now allowing us to leave the coast with them and we are discovering more and more of these amazing and unexpected patterns.”

The work was funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Centre National de la RechercheScientifique, the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, the Alderney Commission for Renewable Energy, the Beaufort Marine Research Award and the European Union. It involved the Universities of Leeds, Exeter, Plymouth, Liverpool, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork, as well as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France.