Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Elephant Electrocuted in Central Java Park, Officials Say

Jakarta Globe, November 29, 2012

A Sumatran elephant with her baby bathes in the river at the Conservation
 Response Unit wildlife reservation area in the Aceh district of Aceh Jaya
in this October file photo. (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Related articles

An endangered Sumatran elephant was found dead at a recreation park in the Central Java district of Banjarnegara on Wednesday, with park officials speculating that the pachyderm was electrocuted.

The 14-year-old Dona died after she presumably bit a high-voltage wire in her cage at Serulingmas Wildlife Recreation Park.

“When found, the elephant lay on the floor with her mouth charred. An electrical wire was in her mouth,” the Banjarnegara Culture and Tourism Agency chief, Aziz Ahmad, told antaranews.com on Wednesday.

He added that several of the park's enclosures, including Dona’s, were undergoing repairs, leaving some wires that supplied power to welding equipment dangling in the cages.

Dona is thought to have reached one of those wires before biting it, inducing a fatal electric shock.

Elephant tamer Suroyo, 26, who was the first to come across Dona’s dead body, said he was shocked by the incident, having taken care of Dona for the past four years.

“Dona was a very obedient, always cheerful elephant. Every time we met, Dona always asked to play. I still can’t believe Dona’s gone now,” Suroyo said.

Dona’s remains were buried in the park on Wednesday afternoon following an autopsy by police.

Aziz said that with Dona’s death, there remained just one elephant in the park.

Estimates put the number of Sumatran elephants left in the wild at fewer than 3,000, and the species is considered “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Conservationists say the remaining population is severely threatened due to habitat loss from illegal logging and palm oil plantations’ expansion.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UNESCO Urges Bali to Pass Bylaw Protecting Subak Rice Fields

Jakarta Globe, Made Arya Kencana, November 26, 2012


A tourist walks past a paddy rice field in Jatiluwih, Bali, in May. The Balinese
 traditional irrigation and farming system, also known as Subak, was officially
 named as a UNESCO world heritage site during a meeting of the UN's cultural
agency in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (EPA Photo/Made Nagi)
               
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Bali’s terraced “subak” rice fields need to be protected from encroaching development, the United Nation’s cultural agency UNESCO urged on Monday, warning that the world heritage sites faced similar threats as Sumatra's disappearing rain forests.

The agency pushed for Bali administration to issue a bylaw preventing the conversion of subak rice paddies for the construction of hotels or other tourism-focused facilities. UNESCO named the island’s subak rice paddies a world heritage site in May.

“We’ve visited four districts whose subak fields have been named a world heritage and asked the district heads to issue a bylaw in line with [UNESCO’s] global guidelines [for world heritage sites],” Arief Rachman, chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, told the Antara News Agency.

The cooperatively managed canal system dates back to the Ninth Century and reflects the philosophical concept Tri Hita Karana, which focuses on bringing together the spirit, human and natural worlds. There are some 303 hectares of subak rice paddies still in existence, according to tourism officials.

“The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population,” UNESCO explained on its website.

The island’s administration has drafted the conservation bylaw, but is still waiting for public officials to endorse it, Bali Tourism Agency head Ida Bagus Kade Subhiksu said.

Bali’s large tourism industry has taken a toll on the subak rice fields as local residents choose to work in the hotel and restaurant industries instead of farming rice, he said. The farms themselves are being sold off to hotel developers eager to build on new land.

“The number of farmers is also getting low because more residents choose to work at hotels now,” Subhiksu said. “According to a survey we did, many farmers’ children did not want to be farmers when they grow up.”

UNESCO named Sumatra’s rain forests as a world heritage site in 2004, citing the once-lush forests’ biodiversity. But after years of deforestation, the cultural agency was forced to place the forests on its “Danger List.”

“Tropical rainforests in Sumatra are facing a threat to be removed from the world heritage list because of development activities, which have led to forest clearings,” Arief said.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Greenpeace Lauds Call to Extend Forest Moratorium

Jakarta Globe, November 23, 2012

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Environmental watchdog Greenpeace has welcomed a statement by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan calling for a two-year deforestation moratorium to be extended once it runs out at the end of the year.

On Wednesday, Zulkifli said he wanted to continue the moratorium on issuing forestry permits for peat and primary forests, adding he was certain that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would also agree because of the policy’s importance in helping Indonesia cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020.

In a statement released on Thursday, Greenpeace urged Zulkifli to work with the president to use the extra time to strengthen the moratorium.

“In order to achieve the objectives it was designed for, the moratorium needs to be strengthened very quickly by including a review of all existing forest clearance licenses, and the protection of all peatland and secondary forest areas,” Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia, said in the statement.

He added that to be more effective, the moratorium needed to be results-based rather than time-bound.

The moratorium is tied to a $1 billion assistance package from the Norwegian government, which has made it clear that it would not pay to protect Indonesia’s forests unless there was a verifiable reduction in deforestation.

Zulkifli said that there were currently some 64 million hectares of forest in Indonesia that could be classified as primary and peat forests, and vowed that their zoning would not be changed.

He added the government was open to input whenever there was a need to amend the moratorium map, with the public welcome to help identify forest areas that were not yet included and zones that had undergone land-use conversion or had their protection rescinded.


An aerial view of a swath of forest in Ketapang district, West
 Kalimantan, cleared to make way for an oil palm plantation.
(Reuters

Photo/Crack Palinggi)

Related Article:


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Three Rare Sumatran Tiger Cubs Born at Medan Zoo

Jakarta Globe, November 14, 2012


Three four-week-old cubs sit inside a cage at a zoo in Medan, North Sumatra
on  Wednesday. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger has given birth to three
cubs  at an Indonesian zoo, a veterinarian at the facility said on Wednesday.
(AFP Photo/Atar)
               
Related articles

Medan. A critically endangered Sumatran tiger has given birth to three cubs at an Indonesian zoo, a veterinarian at the facility said on Wednesday.

“She gave birth naturally, without human intervention. The three cubs are all healthy. Two are male, while we haven’t been able to get close to the other to identify it,” Suci Terawan, a veterinarian at Medan Zoo in North Sumatra, told AFP.

The 13-year-old Sumatran tiger named Manis, or Sweetie in English, gave birth to the cubs on Oct. 18, just over a year after she successfully bore three male cubs, Terawan said.

“This is our latest contribution in conserving the critically endangered species,” he said, adding that the zoo now has six cubs, and one female and two male adults.

Earlier this year, a Sumatran tiger at a zoo on the island’s Jambi province gave birth to three cubs, but only two survived.

Fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild, conservationists say, with several dying each year as a result of traps, poaching and other human intervention.

Agence France-Presse

Monday, November 12, 2012

China's Endangered Pandas Face Bamboo Shortage Threat

Jakarta Globe, November 12, 2012

China's endangered giant pandas risk losing their staple food, bamboo,
to climate change
  
    
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Their numbers already threatened by a slow breeding rate and rapid habitat loss, China's endangered giant pandas now also risk losing their staple food, bamboo, to climate change, a report said Sunday.

A study in China's northwestern Qinling Mountains, home to around 270 pandas — about a fifth of the world's wild population — predicts a "substantial" bamboo decline this century as the globe warms.

"The pandas may face a shortage of food unless they can find alternative food resources," a team of researchers from the United States and China warn in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The international symbol of environmental conservation efforts, the giant panda is a picky eater.

Ninety-nine percent of its diet consists of bamboo — devouring up to 38 kilograms (84 pounds) per day. This means the iconic black-and-white bear's survival is closely linked to a thriving bamboo habitat.

Bamboo itself also has a slow reproductive rate, flowering only every 30 to 35 years, which means it would be slow to adapt to a change in local climate, said a statement on the research.

Based on the data gathered for this study, researchers predict that three bamboo species which make up almost the entire diet of the Qinling pandas, will all but disappear in a warmer climate.

"Results suggest that almost the entire panda habitat in the region may disappear by the end of the 21st century," said the study report.

The calculations are based on different warming scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — ranging from rises of two to five degrees Celsius (35.6 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer by century's end, and three to eight degrees C in winter.

These projections were collated with data on rainfall and greenhouse gas emissions as well as historical growth patterns, to consider the future of bamboo.

Already, deforestation is threatening the survival of about half of all bamboo species worldwide.

The researchers say bamboo distribution has historically fluctuated in response to changes in the climate.

In the modern era, though, even if other areas were to become climatically more suited for bamboo growth, these would be far away and fall outside the present network of protected panda reserves.

The findings should be used "for proactive planning to protect areas that have a better climatic chance of providing adequate food sources or begin creating natural 'bridges' to allow pandas an escape hatch from bamboo famine," the statement said.

Agence France-Presse

Three Sumatran Elephants Found Dead on Riau Plantation

Jakarta Globe, November 12, 2012

In this photograph taken May 1, the body of a rare Sumatran elephant is
carried  along a road of a palm oil plantation in Aceh Jaya in Aceh province after
 it was found dead on the road on April 30. Three Sumatran elephants were found
 dead near Riau’s Tesso Nila National Park on Monday, allegedly due to poisoning.
(AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)
 
         
Related articles

Three elephants were found dead on a plantation in the Riau district of Pelalawan on Monday, allegedly killed as a result of having been poisoned.

The remains were already decaying when discovered not far from Kilometer 89 of Jalan Koridor Baserah, with the rare animals’ deaths judged to have taken place a week earlier.

“Seeing the condition of the carcasses, we think that the three elephants died of poisoning,” a spokesman for the Riau office of the World Wildlife Fund, Syamsidar, told the Indonesian news portal liputan6.com on Monday.

Two of the elephants were adults, while the other was a calf.

Their deaths add to a list of more than 10 Sumatran elephants found dead in Riau province's Tesso Nilo National Park and surrounding areas over the past year, coinciding with an increasing number of conflicts between elephants and humans due to the opening of forests for oil palm plantations in Sumatra.

The WWF has called the situation alarming, as presently only an estimated 200 Sumatran elephants are believed to live in the wild in Tesso Nila and its surrounding environs.

Sumatran elephants have been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since January 2011, as the population has declined by at least 80 percent over the past 75 years.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Party acknowledges unfair treatment of China's farmers

Want China Times, Xinhua 2012-11-10

Farmland in Changchun, Jilin province. (File photo/Xinhua)

After it became the country's only ruling party 63 years ago, the Communist Party of China is now looking back to where it started on its way to the national power: solving land problems for farmers.

In his keynote report to the 18th National Congress on Thursday, Chinese President Hu Jintao has pressed the party to reform the land expropriation system and increase farmers' share of gain in land value. "We should give more to farmers and take less from them," Hu told the party in his speech at the opening of the congress, which was televised nationwide Thursday.

Hu promised the party will ensure equal exchange of factors of production and balance allocation of public resources between urban and rural areas.

The pledge, the first of its kind the party has ever made in its national congress reports, came at a time when massive protests by farmers over land seizures erupted in multiple villages across the country over the past years.

The reform of the land expropriation system, if proceeds as promised, means that the Chinese government will no longer sacrifice the property rights of farmers to reduce the cost of the country's industrialization and urbanization.

According to China's existing land system, rural collectives, usually a rural village committee, rather than farmers themselves, own the land in rural areas, a systematic arrangement that came into being in China after several land reforms initiated by the party lifted it to national power.

Historians believe the widespread support the Communist Party once had from farmers was one of the major factors that helped it become China's ruling party after it confiscated land from landlords and allocated them to peasants for free in the revolutionary era.

Late leader Mao Zedong attributed the party's course to national power to a strategy of "using the rural areas to encircle the cities."

The reform and opening up that catapulted China into its current position of the world's second-largest economy also originated from Xiaogang village in east China's Anhui province, where farmers secretly contracted farmland from the collective in 1978 when most villages in the country were still struggling to make their ends meet in collective farms.

The practice at Xiaogang village was later applied to the rest of the countryside, as rural collectives distributed land-use rights to households through contracts of 30-year "household management."

Yet under the existing rules, the state can nationalize the collective-owned land over reasons like "public interests" and transfer farmland for industrial and construction use.

To build more homes for migrant workers flocking to cities and towns amid the country's rapid urbanization, local governments grabbed a number of land from farmers over the years, then sold them to industrial and housing developers, but offered very little compensation to rural residents.

Moreover, farmers are deprived of any gains in the land value after their farmland is expropriated, thus fueling increasing discontent and complaints from farmers, including those living at Wukan village in the city of Shanwei in south China's Guangdong province.

A year ago, Wukan made international headlines when the village's residents staged three waves of large-scale rallies over four months to protest against village officials' illegal land seizures, corruption and violations of financing and election rules.

"Under the current land expropriation system, farmers are almost excluded from benefits of land price appreciation," said Xu Xiaojing, director of the Research Department of Rural Economy with the Development Research Center, a government thinktank under the State Council, China's cabinet.

He said the current compensation standard for expropriated land is too low, thus limiting farmers from sharing the revenues of increases in land prices.

"In fact, those farmers who lost their land have been unfairly thrown out from China's industrialization and urbanization process," Xu said. "This is absurd."

In many villages, villagers usually get a reimbursement between 450,000 yuan and 750,000 yuan (about US$75,000-$120,000) for each hectare of farmland expropriated, but local governments can cash in millions of yuan in revenue on auctioning a hectare of rural land.

Yang Yuying, a female farmer living in the suburbs of Hefei, the capital of Anhui province, became one of the victims of the unfair land seizure system in the country.

Yang and her family were compensated less than 1 million yuan (US$160,000), along with a 90-square-meter housing unit, when their land was seized by the local government.

"The compensation looks quite a lot of money, but we've lost our land and can't enjoy the same treatment in employment, medicare and education as urban residents do," Yang said. "Our lives have no guarantee, and even my kid has to pay extra fees to go to school in the city."

As China's urbanization has driven over half of the country's population of 1.3 billion into cities and towns, many farmers like Yang are having their land seized by local governments without property compensation, thus sowing the seeds of unrest in the country.

"The unfair treatment farmers face in land seizures are now the primary source of complaints and social unrest in the country," said Wang Kaiyu, a sociologist who has conducted field investigations in rural China for a long time.

"In reforming the land expropriation system, the government should appropriately raise the one-off compensations to farmers, but establishing a mechanism to guarantee their long-term lives is even more important," Wang said.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Hillary Clinton slams wildlife trafficking

Google – AFP, 9 November 2012 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pictured in October (AFP/File)

WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Thursday for a stepped up fight against poaching, warning against criminal gangs seeking to satisfy growing demand for ivory and rhino horn.

"Over the past few years wildlife trafficking has become more organized, more lucrative, more widespread, and more dangerous than ever before," the top US diplomat told a meeting at the State Department.

Despite progress over the past three to four decades to clamp down on poaching, growing wealth meant demand was on the rise again.

"As the middle class grows, which we all welcome and support, in many nations items like ivory or rhinoceros horn become symbols of wealth and social status," Clinton said, urging all governments to join the Coalition Against Wildlife Trafficking.

"And so the demand for these goods rises. By some estimates, the black market in wildlife is rivaled in size only by trade in illegal arms and drugs.

"Today, ivory sells for nearly $1,000 per pound. Rhino horns are literally worth their weight in gold, $30,000 per pound."

The rise in trafficking in endangered animal species was also hitting domestic economies where local populations depend on wildlife for tourism, as well as spreading disease and helping to fund rebel militias.

"We all, unfortunately, contribute to the continued demand for illegal animal goods. Wildlife might be targeted and killed across Asia and Africa, but their furs, tusks, bones, and horns are sold all over the world," Clinton stressed.

The United States was now the second largest destination for smuggled animal goods, she said, adding "that is something we are going to address."

But Clinton insisted it was "a global challenge that spans continents and crosses oceans, and we need to address it with partnerships that are as robust and far-reaching as the criminal networks we seek to dismantle."

It was one of the messages that she would be taking with President Barack Obama to the East Asia summit in Cambodia later this month, she said.

Clinton urged the establishment of a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks, which she was hoping would get off the ground with $100,000 being put up by the United States.

Clinton said she was also asking for an intelligence assessment of the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on security, saying she had been alarmed by reports from leaders in Africa.

"It is one thing to be worried about the traditional poachers who come in and kill and take a few animals, a few tusks, a few horns, or other animal parts," she said. "It's something else when you've got helicopters, night vision goggles, automatic weapons, which pose a threat to human life as well as wildlife."


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"Do Animals Reincarnate?" - NOV 22, 2010 (Kuthumi channelled by Lynette Leckie-Clark)


Cross-species friendships are springing up all over. Of them, Matthew said in 2010:

“The innocence of animals, who act from instinct, never from malice, automatically qualifies all except a few species to ascend with Earth. Along the way those who now are wild will become tame, predators will become vegetarians, and all will live peaceably with each other and humankind. Already there is evidence of cross-species friendship, even mothers of one species nurturing infants of another, and instances of bonding between wild animals and humans.”  (Matthew message - Channelled by Suzanne Ward, Aug 13, 2010)



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Alarmingly High Rate of Disputes Reported Between Oil Palm Firms, Locals

Jakarta Globe, Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, November 07, 2012

Related articles

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. Most of the oil palm companies operating in West Kutai District, East Kalimantan, stand accused by local residents of some kind of land infraction, the national human rights body revealed on Tuesday.

Mimin Dwi Hartono, the head of a team from the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) investigating the residents’ grievances, said that “almost all” of the 45 companies were caught up in disputes and even conflicts with the locals.

“From our observations in West Kutai, these companies are at loggerheads with indigenous communities, including in the upstream Mahakam and Muara Tei areas, where both sides are actually engaged in conflicts,” he said in Balikpapan.

He added that in most cases, the underlying cause of the tensions was the fact that the companies were operating in areas that the communities had long considered their ancestral land, but for which the locals had no title deeds.

Mimin said that even though the companies had legitimate permits to operate there, they should do more to communicate their intent to the locals so that the latter would be aware of what was going on.

He added that in other cases, the companies only had preliminary permits to survey the areas, but had proceeded with clearing the land and planting.

In a few cases, he went on, the companies appeared to be selling the timber from the trees that they cut down, in violation of the terms of their planting permits.

“We believe that these kinds of companies are just there to illegally log the valuable tree species that West Kutai still has a lot of,” Mimin said.

The Komnas HAM team also raised suspicions that some of the ongoing disputes were actually stoked by the companies, who would pit one community against another over the issue of their shared border, and profit from the ensuing confusion to illegally expand their concessions.

Mimin urged the district authorities to weigh their decisions to award oil palm concessions more carefully. He warned that if permits continued to be issued at the current rate, West Kutai would lose a significant amount of its forest cover.

This, he said, could lead to massive flooding and severe landslides, given that much of the district acts as a catchment area for the Mahakam River.

Komnas HAM will use its findings to lobby for greater protections for forest residents under the indigenous communities bill being drawn up in Jakarta, as well as a curb on the discretionary power of district heads to issue plantation, mining and logging permits.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Israeli army opens West Bank barrier for animals

Deutsche Welle, 2 November 2012



The West Bank barrier is blocking animal migration between Israel and the Palestinian territories. But now, the Israeli Defence Force is seeking ways to allow animals to get over - or even through - the wall.

Hundreds of kilometres of concrete, iron and barbed wire cut through the West Bank, across deserts, over mountains and through forests. Israelis call it a security fence while Palestinians call it a racial separation wall.

But, whatever your politics, it's plain to see that the barrier is an impassable structure which cuts a substantial visual scar across the landscape. Pass through any of the main checkpoints with their vast security system of cameras, scanners and iron gates, and it becomes clear just how difficult it is to move from one side to the other.

Spare a thought then for the wildlife in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Israeli troops take position along part of Israel's separation barrier

Cut off from feeding grounds

Imad Atrash is the Palestine Wildlife Society Executive Director and says the barrier divides animal families. In an interview with DW, he explained that before the barrier was built, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, the red fox population was separated by a fence. "The male was on the Israeli side and the female was inside Palestinian lands," he said. "The male dug a hole and came to the female."

A hydrax, or rock rabbit, sits near
the West Bank barrier
But then the West Bank barrier was built. "How many families of animals were separated in the West Bank?" Atrash asked.

Israeli ecologist Ron Frumkin says the barrier has had a significant impact on local species of gazelle, ibex, fox, porcupine and badger. He said splitting animal families often results in genetic mutation and inbreeding.

"Many animals that live here, need their habitats, or breeding and feeding areas," he said. "They can eat in one place but hide in another place. So animals, especially the bigger ones, need open space for their existence."

The wall blocks animals that breed in
one place and feed in another
Frumkin's reports on the ecological impact of the barrier have made it to Israel's High Court. They were instrumental in overturning a plan from the Ministry of Defence to extend the barrier in southern West Bank. There, the ibex needs to move between the vegetation of the high places in the winter to the water source of the oases in the summer. According to Frumkin, construction of the barrier could have wiped the creatures out altogether.

Frumkin explained that the barrier interrupts ecological corridors - pieces of land that connect nature reserve habitats. Unfortunately, it's too late for one section of the barrier, which divides north and south.

"The fence prevents all animals along the Judean Mountains in the south to move toward the Samaria mountains in the north, and later on to the Carmel Mountains," Frumkin told DW. He added that the barrier also harms plants that depend on animals to help disperse pollen and seeds.

The Israeli army is opening parts of the wall to allow small animals to migrate

Court supports animal protection

Court rulings against Israel's Ministry of Defence in recent years have resulted in a significant slowing down on the barrier's construction. The army now works with environmental organizations to find solutions to allow small animals to pass from Israel into the Palestinian territories and back again. It has created zigzag passes in places to facilitate the passage of small wildlife.

Nobody knows yet exactly the scope of the ecological damage on both sides of the barrier. Imad Atrash from the Palestine Wildlife Society says his group is working with the University of Kent to obtain funding for a three year study on the impact of the West Bank barrier on local wildlife. He hopes that Palestinian and Israeli environmental organizations will work together on the research in future.

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“… Let us talk about the swords: When you hear the word sword, the first thing that occurs to you is battle. The Bridge of Swords is a battle and we told you that as well. Swords are metaphoric and they mean many things, so let us describe the things we mean them to say to you.

Number one: They are indeed a weapon in a battle. There is a battle coming. "Kryon, does that mean there's going to be a war?" Potentially, yes. Right now we will tell you that the Middle East cooks itself. You've noticed, haven't you? What do you know about the Middle East, dear one? Let's start examining things for a moment. What energy did you grow up in? What was the energy of the Middle East? In the '40s, what was the energy? With the establishment of the state of Israel, you built a wall of hate, both sides. The wall was so thick that the children of both sides were taught to hate one another as soon as they were able to understand the language. They were told who their enemies were. Now, where were you then?

Some of you weren't here yet. By the time you arrived, in your youth, were you aware of the Middle East? Not particularly. "What's the hatred about?" you might ask. What if I told you it's about a family feud? Two sons of a Jewish master are involved. One founded the Arabs and one remained a Jew. They don't want to hear this, but they are all Jews. (Don't tell them this.)

If you look at the lineage, it's pretty obvious and yet it's a complete and total set-up for either solution or war. The set-up would have this world ending in a conflagration that would have been brought about by this hatred. That's in the prophecy of Nostradamus and your scripture, but it is no longer the prophecy of the planet. Yet the hatred still exists. The hatred is as great today as it was then, but where was all the terrorism 40 years ago? It was isolated.

Those in Israel and Palestine and surrounding areas took the brunt of it, but now it's seemingly everywhere - and you're worried. Why would this be? The answer is that the old energy was happy to have this hatred contained, for it would keep it going and never involve outsiders. Outsiders tend to bring unwanted light to the party. Suddenly, the whole earth is involved and can see the entire scenario before them. The old guard wants war, just like all the eons before them. The ones on the bridge are holding the light and showing the earth how to cross. Even many younger ones in Israel and Palestine and Iran are holding light! It's all around the old guard and they are furious, for they are losing the "battle of hatred." …”



Saturday, November 3, 2012

Donkey's stage and screen life story told in new book

BBC News, 3 November 2012

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Pollyanne has shared the stage with
operatic tenor Placido Domingo
Mistreated, neglected and moments from slaughter, the future looked pretty bleak for Pollyanne the donkey until an Oxfordshire sanctuary came to her rescue.

Dubbed "a great scene-stealer" by legendary operatic tenor Placido Domingo, Pollyanne went from the knacker's yard to the West End stage in less than a decade.

Believe it or not, this rags-to-riches fairytale has now become the subject of a book telling the grey mare's life story.

From the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Brightwell-Cum-Sotwell, near Wallingford, the next stop for Pollyanne turned out to be the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

But, it could all have been so different for the 22-year-old had sanctuary owner John McLaren not decided to take Pollyanne in and nurture her back to health.

Salami meat

He said: "She came from the horse sales market near Salisbury where she had been earmarked for slaughter in March 1997.

"Her owner was reluctant to let me have her at first as at the time, there was a great demand for donkey meat among Italians for salami.

"But, with a little persuasion he came round and Pollyanne was ours.

"Sadly, she had been taken to the market with very badly overgrown and mishaped hooves. She was turning them in and actually stepping over herself to get moving.

"When she first arrived with us, she was not a very happy donkey at all and was in a lot of pain. You couldn't get near her for her kicking you, but slowly in time she came around."

Pollyanne and John McLaren behind the scenes of Carmen at
The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Pollyanne soon became a great companion and her first acting job was for the Kempton Theatre in Henley-On-Thames, wandering around the town with an advertising board previewing future performances.

It was during this time that she and John, 65, were spotted by a representative from agency Animal Ambassadors. On the spot, they were offered the chance to go to London to audition for a coveted part in a production of Italian opera Pagliacci.

Stage presence

"I was more nervous than the donkey to be honest on the first day we went to London for rehearsals," recalled Mr McLaren.

"But I need not have been, Pollyanne proved a big hit and before we knew it, she was a natural on stage."

For the last seven years, Pollyanne and Mr McLaren have performed hand-in-hand in productions of Bizet's Carmen, taking the stage together as extras with added presence.

Pollyanne's other artistic credits include appearances in episodes of Midsomer Murders as well as church services at Christmas and on Palm Sunday, where she regularly leads a procession through Wantage.

Her portfolio also includes a photoshoot in Vogue.

Away from the bright lights of the opera house stage, Pollyanne shares a stable with three other female donkeys at the Island Farm Sanctuary.

Mr McLaren, who has run the sanctuary for more than 20 years, said putting Pollyanne's story into print seemed a logical next step.

He said: "It's been quite a rollercoaster ride for her and it's quite a sad story in places, but one all ages will enjoy."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Switch to Sustainable Palm Oil Just a Matter of Time, Industry Figures Say

Jakarta Globe, Nivell Rayda, November 02, 2012

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Singapore. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has often been met with resistance, suspicion and lack of government support in Indonesia since its establishment in 2001. But former Indonesian Agriculture Minister Bungaran Saragih believes this will change within five years.

Although Indonesia supplies 43 percent of the world’s certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO), only 12 percent of palm oil companies in the country have obtained certification from the group.

“There are [palm oil] companies that have been doing bad things for many years and are now struggling to meet the criteria [set by the RSPO],” the former minister told the Jakarta Globe on the sidelines of the 10th Annual Roundtable Meeting on Sustainable Palm Oil in Singapore.

“The criteria is basically the same [as stipulated by Indonesian laws] because they are based on common sense. But it takes a change in mind-set and a change of culture for some,” he said. “Right now we [Indonesians] haven’t reached that tipping point yet but it takes time and we will get there.”

Bungaran predicts that the way Indonesia’s palm oil companies do business will be greatly transformed by 2015, when major consumer goods companies begin buying only certified palm oil products.

The RSPO has attracted several multinational consumer goods companies, such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever, and retailers such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour, which have all pledged to use only certified palm oil by 2015.

“Once that happens, [Indonesian palm oil] companies will have no choice. I say in 2017 we will see a lot more companies joining RSPO,” he said.

Cherie Tan, Unilever’s global procurement director for renewables and smallholder development, said her company was ahead of the curve by purchasing 100 percent certified palm oil this year.

As of May, only three million metric tons out of 25 million tons of palm oil produced in Indonesia received RSPO certification, which means selling Indonesian palm oil to multinational manufacturers like Unilever, which alone buys 3 percent of the world’s palm oil, would be almost impossible.

Convincing palm oil producers in Indonesia to acquire sustainability certification from the RSPO has proven to be a daunting task, said the body’s vice president, Edi Suhardi.

Edi, who is also the head of sustainability at palm oil producer Agro Harapan Lestari, said only 68 oil palm growers, processing and trading companies and users in Indonesia were certified. And 14 of them, including Unilever, were international companies operating in Indonesia.

“There is some skepticism and suspicion from [Indonesian] business associations and the government,” he said.

Desi Kusumadewi, director of RSPO Indonesia, confirmed that some palm oil companies were hesitant to get RSPO certification, with some even accusing the group of acting on behalf of foreign agendas.

The Indonesian government has been reluctant to recognize the environmental standards set by the RSPO, which is used by many European buyers. Instead, Indonesia created its own standard aided by the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), which exited the RSPO last year after its members expressed frustration at the tough environmental standards set.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has defended uncertified palm oil companies, urging developing countries to review restrictions on trade beyond tariff walls at the World Export Development Forum in Jakarta last month.

Desi said since the market was turning its attention to sustainable palm oil, Indonesian palm oil companies would soon have little choice but to adopt RSPO standards.

“There are some [companies] that are hesitant but there are those that have already met the criteria but lack documentation,” she said.

Then there are the smallholders — small, independent palm-oil growers — who cannot afford to pay auditing firms, a key requirement for an RSPO certification. Desi said the RSPO has plans for the smallholders, who make up around 38 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil output.

“The RSPO has earmarked 10 percent of its income to help these smallholders acquire certifications. We are now deliberating the exact procedures and requirements, but I can tell you now that we won’t cover 100 percent of the [certification] costs to give them a sense of ownership,” she said.

Desi said she hoped that most of the earmarked money, which had already reached $951,000, would go to Indonesian smallholders.

“It’s a worldwide amount but as the largest CSPO producer we should get a significant portion of it,” she said.

Bungaran said Indonesia was moving in the right direction to meet the world’s need for sustainable palm oil. “Even today we have major palm oil companies joining RSPO and we are the number one producer of sustainable palm oil.”


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