Valentine’s Day teddy bears against dictatorship in Bahrain

Teddy bears starting to appear at barricades before #Bahrain Feb 14 anniversary

From GlobalVoices:

Teddy Bears Face Off with Police as Bahrain Marks its Fourth Anniversary of Anti-Regime Protests

Posted 14 February 2015 17:05 GMT

Written by Amira Al Hussaini

For the past four years, Bahrainis have been marking Valentine’s Day with massive protests, which are faced with a brutal clampdown by the regime. This year is no different, except that protesters, in keeping with the spirit of Valentine’s, took with them stuffed teddy bears to face off with the riot police.

On February 14, 2011, Bahrainis joined the bandwagon of protesters across the Arab world and staged anti-regime protests, which ushered a new era of widespread human rights abuses, arbitrary arrests of thousands of Bahrainis and the killing of protesters and bystanders, including women and children.

This year protesters marked the anniversary with a three-day strike, in which businesses in villages and protest areas shut down.

According to Bahrain Mirror, an opposition online publication in Arabic, the teddy bear has become a “political icon” used by the protesters for “political satire.”


The village of Diraz, west of Manama, was the first village to see the appearance of the teddy bear with the start of the strike, announced by the revolutionary forces.

Copycat teddy bears soon popped up across villages in Bahrain, and were placed at barricades put up by the protesters to protect themselves from police attacks.

Teddy bear

Bahraini human rights activist detained, family claim risk of torture. Hussain Jawad is being held by Bahraini police officers for reasons unknown according to family members: here.

Smith’s longspurs, Valentine’s Day birds

This video says about itself:

The Smith’s Longspur Project: 2013 Field Season

5 September 2013

© 2013 Jared Hughey
All Rights Reserved

The Smith’s Longspur (Calcarius pictus), one of the least studied songbirds in North America, breeds on the arctic tundra and has become a species of conservation concern. I spent the summer working as a field technician for Heather Craig, a Master’s student at University of Alaska Fairbanks who is studying the breeding ecology of this polygynandrous species in the foothills of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska.

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Record Setting Lovebird! The Smith’s Longspur May Be Nature’s Champion Lover

Posted on Monday, February 09, 2015 by eNature

Are you the type that has an insatiable appetite for lusty affairs?

Do you seek the same qualities in a partner?

Then you’ll probably enjoy the story of the Smith’s Longspur. This bird’s 70’s swinging style is enough to make even Hugh Hefner blush.

Arctic Summers, Midwest Winters

Small like a sparrow, the Smith’s Longspur spends its summers in Alaska and Canada and its winters in the Midwest and the South, often congregating in open fields.

In terms of range, then, it’s a lot like some other species. What sets the Smith’s Longspur apart is its astonishing libido.

An Insatiable Appetite For Love

At the peak of the spring mating season, the typical Smith’s Longspur copulates more than 350 times a week. The females solicit these encounters, and the males cooperate roughly half the time.

Otherwise the creatures are resting and refueling—for their fall migration or just to maintain their busy love lives!

You can always plan eNature’s Mating Game to find what creature you most resemble in love.

As hard as it may be to believe given the cold affecting much of the country, but spring is only a month or so away!

Have you seen any signs of the plants and animals in your neighborhood preparing for warmer times and the new life the spring season brings?

We always enjoy your stories.

John James Audubon named the Smith’s Longspur after his friend Gideon B. Smith.

More about the Smith’s Longspur is here.

Valentine’s Day for animals

This video is called Valentine’s Day Animals: Compilation.

From eNature blog in the USA:

Valentine’s Day In The Wild— There’s A Lot Going On Out There!

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 by eNature

Some folks love it, others dread it. But no matter what your feelings about Valentine’s Day, there’s no avoiding it.

And it’s not just humans— animals in the wild are succumbing to Cupid’s arrows as well.

Take a a walk through your backyard or a backcountry hike and you’ll likely be confronted by a courtship ritual of some sort. For the animals engaged in such displays, though, the whole month of February, not just Valentine’s Day, is meant for romance.

Despite the chill that remains in much of North America, Raccoons, Minks, river otters, Gray and Red Foxes, Coyotes, and skunks all take time off from their mid-winter hunting to prowl for partners. Groundhogs start to look around longingly soon after they emerge from their long winter’s sleep, and many of their rodent kin, from California Kangaroo Rats to Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, also consider February just the right time for rubbing noses.

Birds, too, at least a few of them, hit their romantic stride during the second month of the year. Great Horned Owls start hooting it up in December but mostly wait till now to take care of their romantic business. Male Red-winged Blackbirds return to much of the continent in February and start right in displaying and singing for prospective females, while American Woodcocks stage their delightfully bizarre courtship performances in the February twilight. And in the swamps of southern Florida, ungainly looking Wood Storks make hay in the February sunshine.

Also out under bright sunny southern skies are myriad butterflies looking for love. There are large Pipevine Swallowtails and diminutive Western Pygmy-Blues in Texas, gorgeous Zebra Heliconians and Gulf Fritillaries in Florida, Spring Azures and Long-tailed Skippers in the other Gulf States, and dainty Desert Marbles and Desert Orangetips in the Southwest. Wherever and whenever you see butterflies flying, even in February, you can rest assured that half of them are males on the lookout for lepidopteran love.

As for amphibians, their amorous inspiration comes in the form of a nice February rain. And when the rain falls, the amphibians emerge from their hibernation and march straight to breeding pools. Pond frogs, treefrogs, toads, and salamanders of all kinds take to the mating trail in February in the southern parts of the United States. The male frogs are at their vociferous best in their choruses to attract mates, while male salamanders vie for partners, too, though without the audible fanfare.

Even fish feel frisky these days, especially the Rainbow Trout in the Smokies and the Largemouth Bass in Texas. The same is true for animals in saltier waters: Humpback Whales, Northern Right Whales, Gray Seals, and Northern Elephant Seals have love on their marine-mammal minds, while far to the north in the pitch-black darkness of the Arctic winter Walruses have a gleam in their eyes.

Environmentalists’ Valentines Day Wish: Stop Selling Bee-Harming Plants: here.

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Colombian, Kenyan flower industry workers exploited

This video says about itself:

Fair Trade Romance? Why Fair Trade Flowers Matter on Valentine’s Day

12 Feb 2013

This Valentine’s Day, Americans will spend .5 billion on approximately 220 million flowers, most of which are roses grown in Colombia and Ecuador. The billion dollar flower industry in Colombia, in fact, employs over 100,000 workers.

Unfortunately, the truth about this booming market is that working conditions on flower farms are often far from rosy (pun intended). Many workers find themselves stricken with asthma from inhaling fuel and pesticide fumes; work seven days a week; and rarely receive vacation or overtime. Access to medical care and educational opportunities are also scarce–a harsh reality for those who need it the most.

The good news is that you can still give that special someone a bouquet of beautiful red roses this Valentine’s Day AND support the farmers and workers that grew them. Fair Trade Certified™ flowers are a great way to celebrate this 700-year-old holiday—a way to share the love with folks at home and give special thanks to farmers and workers abroad.

Take the case of Ana Salome Sivinta, a 25-year-old woman who works among 175 employees at Jardines Piaveri, a Fair Trade flower estate in Ecuador. Prior to working at Piaveri, Ana worked at a broccoli farm where she had no benefits–not even those required by Ecuadorian law. She had no job or labor protections, no access to healthcare, was not paid minimum wage, and did not earn overtime for extra hours worked at the farm.

Ana’s life changed significantly after she began working at a Fair Trade estate. She now has access to medical care, enjoys 21 vacation days a year, can afford to see a dentist, earns higher wages, and is also able to borrow money through a loan program made possible by the Fair Trade Community Development Premium.

With this additional income, Ana was able to buy a small plot of land and build her own home. She also purchased a washing machine, and can now spend less time washing clothes in the river and more time at home with her family and friends.

When we asked Ana what message she would like to send to American consumers this Valentine’s Day, she replied:

“I would ask that they continue buying Fair Trade flowers, because with that income the families that work on the certified farm can improve our standard of living and can provide a better future for our children.” — Ana Salome Sivinta, Jardines Piaveri flower estate

A gift of Fair Trade flowers also supports women’s empowerment, and education for workers and their families. Meet María Carmelina Chimborazo Guamangalle, a 22-year-old single mother who came to the AGROCOEX estate in Ecuador after working for years on a conventional flower farm.

In addition to feeling that she is valued as both a woman and a worker, Fair Trade makes it easier for María to balance her job with parenthood. She now has access to things like transportation subsidies, child care services and monthly incentive bonuses to further support her family. Student grants made possible by Fair Trade Premiums also helped María complete her secondary education; she now aspires to grow her leadership role at the farm. “I want to see this company grow, and I want to grow within this company,” said María.

María is deeply proud of her work at AGROCOEX, and believes that Fair Trade has played an important role not only in her own life, but in the future life of her child.

“I live today, and for tomorrow I see better days for myself and my little daughter.” – María Carmelina Chimborazo Guamangalle, AGROCOEX flower estate

We cannot think of a better message to share with you this Valentine’s Day. By giving the gift of Fair Trade Certified flowers to your loved ones at home, you’re also showing support for women like María and Ana who are working hard for a better tomorrow. So go forth, and share the love.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Blooming flower industry exploits Colombian and Kenyan workers

Friday 14th February 2014

War on Want research finds women toiling for half the living wage in unsafe conditions

Valentine’s Day is the most lucrative date in the flower retailers’ calendar yet workers in developing countries are risking their health and toiling for a pittance supplying British supermarkets.

Bouquets are sold for vastly inflated prices but research by anti-poverty charity War on Want has found the mainly female workforce in Colombia and Kenya supplying those flowers continues to slave for as little as half the living wage.

Workers also suffer problems such as disabling repetitive strain injuries and miscarriages through exposure to toxic pesticides, the charity said.

Supermarkets sell around 70 per cent of all the flowers bought in Britain — the highest proportion in Europe.

While many British firms have adopted voluntary standards for their suppliers, these are still failing to protect the health and safety of workers or ensure basic workers’ rights.

War on Want believes government regulation is necessary to introduce binding legislation to hold companies to account for the impacts in their supply chains.

It argues that workers supplying multinational companies in Britain should have the right to redress in this country and the ability to seek compensation for damage to their health or loss of earnings as the result of actions of British companies and their suppliers.

The charity is calling for the establishment of a supermarket watchdog to tackle abuses by British firms and their suppliers.

War on Want spokesman Paul Collins said: “Millions of people buying Valentine’s Day roses for their loved ones will be shocked to learn that many workers supplying them face poor pay and conditions.

“It is nothing less than a disgrace that company bosses are piling up profits while Kenyans on flower farms struggle to feed themselves and their families, and live in slum housing. British corporate leaders must ensure a living wage and decent conditions for them.”

Mr Collins added that with London Fashion week due to begin today, “we urge shoppers not only to press retailers on flower workers’ treatment, but on the need to guarantee a living wage and good, safe conditions for those who make our clothes or supply fruit, tea and wine sold in UK stores.”

Polar bears’ Valentine’s Day

This video is called Mother Polar Bear and Cubs Emerging from Den – BBC Planet Earth.

From eNature blog:

Three Guys For Every Girl— Why Male Polar Bears Have A Tough Time Getting A Date

Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2014 by eNature

Valentine’s Day is coming up and love is in the Arctic air.

So what’s the best place for a male Polar Bear to meet a potential mate?

The experts recommend going to a prime seal-hunting spot. But finding such a spot is only the beginning of the challenge.

Nature Doesn’t Make It Easy

One reason a male Polar Bear must work overtime for a date is that females of the species don’t breed every year or even every other year. A female Polar Bear usually breeds only once every three years, which means that males outnumber eligible females three-to-one at the start of breeding season in the spring.

So competition for female attention is fierce, and males must fight one another, sometimes viciously, for the privilege of mating.

The Girls Can Play Hard To Get

Further complicating matters is the fact that female Polar Bears enjoy a good chase and will lead pursuing males across the ice for miles and miles.

In some cases, a chase can cover more than sixty miles—not for the timid or the weak of heart.

And we all thought it was tough to get a date to the Prom!

Without the vibrant color of a cardinal or the sweet song of a sparrow, how does a seabird go about attracting its mate? Here.

St Valentine’s Day is traditionally the time when birds start to choose their mates, with egg-laying for most resident species commencing in March or April. For a handful of birds, including Tawny Owl, Mistle Thrush and Dipper, nesting may already be under way in February, but numbers of these three early breeders are falling rapidly, according to the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) BirdTrends report, published on-line today: here.

The secret of how the polar bear copes with a high-fat diet without getting a heart attack can be found in the creature’s genetic makeup according to scientists who have analysed the genome of the world’s greatest living land predator: here.

Love poetry on the Internet

This video is about Dutch poetess Anne Vegter.

From Poetry International in the Netherlands:

It’s been a busy month so far here at Poetry International. We kicked off February with the first annual Dutch-language Poetry Week. During this week all kinds of poetry activities took place in the Netherlands and Flanders, including the VSB Poetry Prize awards, which saw Ester Naomi Perquin take home the prize for her collection Celinspecties (Cell Inspections). This year we also saw former Dutch Poet Laureate Ramsey Nasr replaced by Anne Vegter, and attended the very first national Poetry Ball in Amsterdam.


Now, to help you celebrate (or ignore) Valentine’s Day in style, we’ve collected a number of articles, poems, audio recordings, and videos for the occasion.In several articles from our substantial archives, poets from India, Israel, and Japan talk about having to fight those we love, the torments of love, and poetry as love.

You can also take our love poem tour. Below are a number of poems from around the world, selected by our staff and covering love from all different angles:

“I LOVE SLEEP” by Ouyang Yu (Australia)
LOVE’S BANKS by Leonard Nolens (Belgium)
THE 50 LOVERS THAT LIVE IN MY BODY by Chen Kehua (China)
5. THE SKY LOVES YOU SILENTLY by Milko Valent (Croatia)
AGAINST LOVE by Charl-Pierre Naudé (South Africa)
TO A LOVE POET by Dennis O’Driscoll (Ireland)
MY FIRST PROPER GIRLFRIEND by Robert Adamson (Australia)
PORTRAIT OF THE HUSBAND AS FARMERS’ MARKET by Tiffany Atkinson (United Kingdom)
THE POET’S FRIEND by Jotamario Arbeláez (Colombia)
LINOLEUM AND LOVE by Noel Rowe (Australia)
LOVE IS A HABIT by Megan Hall (South Africa)
NEW LOVER by Shuijing Zhulian (China)
LOVE by Cecilie Løveid (Norway)
LOGIC IN LOVE by Esther Jansma (Netherlands)

Our video pick of the week is Thomas McCarthy’s ‘How to Recognise Your Lover’. Be sure to check our homepage (or our Facebook page) every day for the next week for a new love-related audio Poem of the Day.

Anna Enquist

The release of Anne Enquist’s new poetry collection Een kook van klank (A Cage of Sound) marked the start of the 2013 Dutch-language Poetry Week. Readers who bought poetry in the Netherlands during the Week of Poetry also received Anna Enquist’s collection as a gift.

All of the poems in Een kooi van klank also appeared on the Poetry International website, accompanied by English translations and readings by Enquist herself.

Afghan women march against violence

This video says about itself:

Afghan Member of Parliament Malalai Joya speaks about the troubling and declining status of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

Interview recorded September 2006.

Malalai Joya was illegally expelled from the Afghan parliament by the pro-warlord pro-NATO Kabul government.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghan women join global demand to end violence

Thursday 14 February 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Hundreds of Afghans marked Valentine’s Day today by marching in Kabul to denounce violence against women.

Rights groups found last year that more and more Afghan women are being attacked, despite harsher laws and officials’ pledges to prosecute the perpetrators.

Activist Humaira Rasouli said the marchers wanted violence against women “to be eliminated or at least reduced in Afghanistan,” but unfortunately it “is increasing day to day.”

Riot police stood guard as women and men walked from the Darul Aman Palace outside Kabul to an area near parliament.

Today’s march was peaceful, unlikely previous protests that had been marred by stone-throwing and insults.

It was part of the global One Billion Rising campaign that demands an end to violence against women and uses Valentine’s Day to highlight abuse.

Similar demonstrations were held around the world.

Flashmobs, marches, singing and dances were planned in about 200 countries and, significantly, many occurred in countries where women’s rights are severely held back by religious or social manacles.

In Bangladesh, acid attack survivors rallied across the country.

Monira Rahman of the Acid Survivors’ Foundation said: “It is important to mobilise society in this way to break the silence surrounding violence against women and show that people from all backgrounds have zero tolerance for it.

“In Bangladesh there is currently a big movement against war criminals and we are linking these huge demonstrations to One Billion Rising, because these men severely violated women and encouraged others to rape during the war.”

Indians also protested in New Delhi, Mumbai and other cities, galvanised by the recent fatal gang-rape that shocked the country.

In Indonesia, hundreds of students in Sumatra and Central Java held Valentine’s Day protests on Wednesday.

In Peru the mayor of Lima, Susana Villaran, officially declared today One Billion Rising Day.

From European capitals to Asian villages women and their supporters made the message clear: violence against women must stop.

AFGHAN WOMEN STILL UNDERGO VIRGINITY TESTS For crimes such as leaving the house unattended. [Reuters]

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No Valentine’s Day under Bahrain dictatorship

This video says about itself:

March 26, 2013

Human Rights First sat down with Maryam Alkhawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, when we honored the center with our Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award.

From Democracy Now! in the USA:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

“Two Years of Deaths and Detentions”: Bahraini Pro-Democracy Protesters Mark Anniversary of Uprising

Bahraini security forces shot dead a teenager earlier today as pro-democracy activists marked the second anniversary of what has been described as the longest-running uprising of the Arab Spring. Since February 2011, at least 87 people have died at the hands of U.S.-backed security forces. We speak to Maryam Alkhawaja, daughter of imprisoned Bahraini human rights activist Abdulhadi Alkhawaja. Maryam has served as the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights ever since the group’s head, Nabeel Rajab, was arrested and jailed. The group has just published a new report titled “Two Years of Deaths and Detentions.” Maryam also serves as the co-director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights. [includes rush transcript]

Teenager shot dead in Bahraini protests: here.

BEIRUT: Bahrain summoned Lebanon’s Charge D’affaires Friday night over recent remarks by MP Michel Aoun’s on the ongoing protests in the Gulf country and demanded an official clarification from Beirut, in a development that could strain ties between the two countries once more: here.

In Bahrain, Valentine’s Day is a day of struggle: here.