Tag: The Independent newspaper

And we save dogs!

Only right that we save dogs as well.

(I couldn’t have asked for a better post to follow yesterday’s post on dogs saving us.)

As seen on the Lady Freethinker’s site.

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Tiny Dog Rescued from Mexico Rubble 6 Days After Quake

Posted by Nina Jackel | September 26, 2017

Six days after Mexico City was ravaged by an earthquake, there seemed little hope of finding anyone alive among the rubble.

But a Japanese rescue team was thrilled to find one more tiny survivor — a schnauzer, who they managed to pull from the ruins of a collapsed apartment building.

The lucky dog was checked out by vets, and had somehow managed to remain in good health. Authorities now hope to reunite the schnauzer with her family as soon as possible.

Thank you to rescuers who travelled from around the world to save lives — both human and animal — in the wake of this tragic disaster.

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The video and news item was carried by the New York Post and for reasons I am unsure about I couldn’t include the video in this post. But you can view that video by going here. Luckily other newspapers carried the wonderful event and the following photograph appeared in The Independent newspaper two days ago.

A schnauzer dog who survived the quake is pulled out of the rubble from a flattened building by rescuers in Mexico City 24 September. ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images

My guess is that dogs and humans have been saving each other for thousands of years and long may it continue.

Just takes one’s breath away.

The incredible story of one stray dog and a desert racer.

This has been widely reported in many other places but, nonetheless, seemed a perfect fit for a blog called Learning from Dogs!

This is the story of a stray dog that took a liking to a runner participating in the 2016 Gobi March 4 Deserts race in China. I first saw the story when it was carried on the Care2 Causes site.

How hard are you willing to work to improve your position in life? For one stray dog, the answer is: pretty darn hard.

During the 2016 Gobi March 4 Deserts race in China, extreme runner Dion Leonard from Scotland was racing through the rugged terrain of the Tian Shan mountain range. That’s when a stray female pooch (eventually and aptly named) Gobi started following him.

The runner figured that she’d tire out eventually. She was a small dog, so keeping up with a life-sized human (who is an extreme jogger) probably didn’t seem likely. But amazingly, the little dog kept up.

That Care2 report linked to the UK’s Independent Newspaper who opened the story thus:

Man who befriended stray dog during extreme desert marathon launches reunion appeal

The dog ran alongside Dion Leonard for 124 kilometres

May Bulman Tuesday 2 August 2016

Mr Leonard hopes to be reunited with the dog who ran with him during the 250 kilometre race in the Gobi desert 4Deserts.com / Omni Cai
Mr Leonard hopes to be reunited with the dog who ran with him during the 250 kilometre race in the Gobi desert 4Deserts.com / Omni Cai

An extreme marathon runner has launched an appeal to be reunited with a stray dog with whom he formed an “unbreakable bond” during a 250-kilometre (155 mile) race in the Gobi desert in China.

Dion Leonard, 41, hopes to raise the funds that will allow him to be reunited with the dog, named Gobi, who joined him during the annual 4 Deserts Race Series in March.

Gobi began running alongside the 101 competitors as they ran through the Tian Shan mountain range. Despite her small size the dog managed to run half of the race.

Later on in that Independent article it is reported:

Mr Leonard set up the crowdfunding page to raise funds towards organising for Gobi to be transported from China to live with him in Scotland.

The process will take up to four months and cost £5,000, with the dog having to be medically checked and quarantined before she can be cleared for entry.

A simple mouse click then takes the reader to that Crowdfunding page where the headline then shows that already over £19,000 has been raised.

90358That page explains:

Gobi, a friendly stray dog joined 101 other competitors running 250km over the Tian Shan Mountains down to the Black Gobi Desert during a 6 stage 7 day self sufficiency foot race. Gobi ran 4 stages including the final 10km stage to the finish line, showing unique strength and stamina for a little dog to keep up with the runners in such grueling conditions.

90358-0742f368adef57f7a59875929a05e67dEveryone from the competitors, volunteers and race crew fell in love with this little dog that captured all our hearts. Gobi took a shine to me and over the week we developed an unbreakable bond as I shared my sleeping space, food/water and ultimately our companionship. 

Now let’s hear from Dion.

Time and time again our wonderful dogs inspire us to reach out; to never say never!

Gratitude – the Penguin model!

The Bricklayer and the Penguin.

The following glorious story, a true story I should have made clear, was sent to me recently by Cynthia, wife of my long-term Californian friend Dan Gomez. It’s a story that was broadcast by TV Globo, not a station I had previously heard of. Unsurprising really when a quick web search finds their details:

Rede Globo, or simply Globo, is a Brazilian television network, launched by media mogul Roberto Marinho on 26 April 1965. It is owned by media conglomerate Grupo Globo, being by far the largest of its holdings.

Here’s that story.

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The Bricklayer and the Penguin

This penguin swims 5,000 miles every year for a reunion with the man who saved his life.

Mail Attachment
Best buds (Picture: TV Globo)

Todays most heartwarming story is brought to you from a beach in Brazil. The story of a South American Magellanic penguin who swims 5,000 miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life.

Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza, 71, who lives in an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , found the tiny penguin, covered in oil and close to death, lying on rocks on his local beach in 2011. Joao cleaned the oil off the penguin’s feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish to build his strength. He named him Dindim.

The prodigal penguin returns (Picture: TV Globo)
The prodigal penguin returns (Picture: TV Globo)

After a week, he tried to release the penguin back into the sea. But, the bird wouldn’t leave.

He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared, Joao recalls. And, just a few months later, Dindim was back. The penguin spotted the fisherman on the beach one day and followed him home.

Look who's back (Picture: TV Globo)
Look who’s back (Picture: TV Globo)

For the past five years, Dindim has spent eight months of the year with Joao and is believed to spend the rest of the time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile. It is thought he swims up to 5,000 miles each year to be reunited with the man who saved his life.

(Picture: Rio de Janeiro Federal University )
(Picture: Rio de Janeiro Federal University)

I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me, Joao told Globo TV. No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up.

It's thought Dindim believes the fisherman is also a penguin (Picture: TV Globo)
It’s thought Dindim believes the fisherman is also a penguin (Picture: TV Globo)

Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.

(Picture: Rio de Janeiro Federal University)
(Picture: Rio de Janeiro Federal University)

Biologist Professor Krajewski, who interviewed the fisherman for Globo TV, told The Independent: “I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight.”

And, just like that, the world seems a kinder place again.

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Unsurprisingly there are numerous videos of Joao and Dindim to be found on YouTube but I have selected the following one for you.

It’s wonderful how our worries about the nature of us humans can be swept away just as easily as an ocean wave breaking on a beach near an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro.

Our speaking dogs

A great follow-on to Marc Bekoff’s essay.

Yesterday’s post was the concluding part of Professor Bekoff’s essay about the world of the dog’s mind. (Part One is here.)

I do hope you all read the essay because it revealed just how complex and wonderful is the brain of man’s oldest friend.

A couple of week’s ago, the UK Daily Mail newspaper published an item with the heading of: What’s your dog trying to tell YOU? Scientists discover animals’ bark can reveal whether it is scared or lonely…and can even be used to tell its gender and age.

This is how the article opened:

Ever wondered what your dog’s trying to tell you with its bark? Well, now there is a computer program able to do just that – and you’d be surprised at just what your pet is able to communicate.

Scientists developed the program after discovering dogs aren’t just trying to attract attention, or scaring off intruders when they bark.

Amazingly, the bark could also let you know the gender and age of your pet – as well as whether it is scared, happy or even lonely.

The Daily Mail quoted a very similar article that appeared in The Independent newspaper on the 29th May. The Independent article included this:

A dog bark may sound like one loud, irritating racket but scientists have discovered that they actually give away information about the animal.

Researchers have developed a computer program which can determine the sex and age of a dog through its bark – a development they say has the potential to help vets diagnose pets.

Scientists analysed 800 barks recorded from eight dogs in seven different situations and developed complex algorithms that were able to predict the gender, age and context of the barker.

The researchers said “canine communication” has been heavily studied over the past decade. However, most of the research has focused on studying how dogs understand human communication, such as hand gestures and voice recognition. This is the first time that the sex and age of domestic dogs have been predicted with the help of sound analysis, they said.

Of the two articles, the one in The Independent seems easiest on the eye so I recommend you read it in full if the subject piques your interest. However, The Daily Mail did include the following video:

They are such remarkable animals!

Our incredible star – the sun.

Amazing NASA footage.

Taking a bit of an emotional rest after the last two days!

Wanted to share with you something that Dan Gomez sent me.  It was an email with a link to an item in the British newspaper, The Independent. It was an article headlined: Incredible Nasa footage shows a ‘hole in the Sun’ that’s bigger than Jupiter. The article opened:

Nasa has released new footage showing a square ‘hole’ in the Sun captured by the space agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft.

The phenomenon – known as a coronal hole – is perfectly normal and shows an area of the Sun’s corona that contains plasma with lower than average density. Nasa says that the coronal hole appears dark in the ultraviolet filter “as there is less material to emit in these wavelengths.”

It was then a simple matter to go to that NASA report and enjoy this stunning image.

Coronal Hole Squared A coronal hole, almost square in its shape, is one of the most noticeable features on the Sun of late (May 5-7, 2014). A coronal hole is an area where high-speed solar wind streams into space. It appears dark in extreme ultraviolet light as there is less material to emit in these wavelengths. Inside the coronal hole you can see bright loops where the hot plasma outlines little pieces of the solar magnetic field sticking above the surface. Because it is positioned so far south on the Sun, there is less chance that the solar wind stream will impact us here on Earth. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA
Coronal Hole Squared

Coronal Hole Squared
A coronal hole, almost square in its shape, is one of the most noticeable features on the Sun of late (May 5-7, 2014). A coronal hole is an area where high-speed solar wind streams into space. It appears dark in extreme ultraviolet light as there is less material to emit in these wavelengths. Inside the coronal hole you can see bright loops where the hot plasma outlines little pieces of the solar magnetic field sticking above the surface. Because it is positioned so far south on the Sun, there is less chance that the solar wind stream will impact us here on Earth. Credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

NASA also released the following video.

Just amazing!

Legitimate hope.

It’s too easy to be overwhelmed with negativity.

Many will have read yesterday’s post about the slaughter of elephants by ivory poachers and felt, as I did, a feeling of despair in the pit of one’s soul.  We seem to be living in such challenging times with so much madness about us.  It’s incredibly easy to feel as if this is some sort of ‘end of times’ period.

Today’s post tells us that there is always hope.

Let’s remind ourselves that elephants are very intelligent animals.  As I wrote last November in a post with the title of Smart Animals:

There was a fascinating article on the BBC news website a few weeks ago that went on to explain:

10 October 2013

Elephants ‘understand human gesture’

By Victoria GillScience reporter, BBC News
African elephants have demonstrated what appears to be an instinctive understanding of human gestures, according to UK scientists. In a series of tests, researcher Ann Smet, of the University of St Andrews, offered the animals a choice between two identical buckets, then pointed at the one containing a hidden treat.

From the first trial, the elephants chose the correct bucket.

The results are published in the journal Current Biology.

(The two video clips on the BBC website are really worth watching.)

A story published in the Daily Mail just a few days ago underlines the intelligence of elephants.

This adorable baby elephant had to be rescued by its mother’s huge trunk after it got stuck in the mud while taking a bath.

The youngster was enjoying a quiet dip in the water but became stranded when it struggled to pull itself out of the lake.

He had to be lifted to safety by its mother and her trusty trunk, which acted as a crane as she carried the three-month-old calf out of the water.

Stuck in the mud: The baby elephant slipped while taking a dip and was unable to haul himself out of the lake.
Stuck in the mud: The baby elephant slipped while taking a dip and was unable to haul himself out of the lake.

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A mother's touch: Fortunately the calf's mother was able to scoop him up in her trunk and haul him to safety.
A mother’s touch: Fortunately the calf’s mother was able to scoop him up in her trunk and haul him to safety.

The rest of the story may be read here.

Also what needs to be highlighted are the organisations that are actively working on behalf of the elephants.

The Independent Newspaper have their own elephant campaign.

Elephant Crisis

In 2011, more African elephants were killed than any other year in history. The figures for 2012 and 2013 are not yet known, but are likely to be even higher. At current rates, in twelve years, there will be none left.

It is a familiar cause, but it has never been more urgent. Poaching has turned industrial. Armed militia fly in helicopters over jungle clearings, machine gunning down entire herds. Their tusks are then sold to fund war and terrorism throughout the continent and the wider world. Ivory is still illegal, but as China booms, it is more popular than ever.

This campaign will raise money to support rangers on the ground to protect Kenya’s elephants from armed poachers, together with Space for Giants’ longer term work to create new wildlife sanctuaries where elephants will be safe, forever. More can be found about the charity at Space for Giants

The article above includes two videos.  A shorter one that can be viewed on the paper’s campaign website. Then there is a longer, five-minute, video also on YouTube and included below.

Offering a donation to help is only a click away.

Then there is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust helping animals in Africa. And, finally, the campaign over at Bloody Ivory where one can sign a petition and donate towards stopping elephant poaching.

Thus, like so many aspects of life, never give up trying to help those less fortunate.

Without hope there is nothing.

Legitimate anger.

What a greedy, selfish race of people we can be at times!

I’m writing about the subject of elephants.  Or, to put it more precisely and distastefully, the murder of elephants. For the ivory in their tusks.

The post was prompted by a recent item over on Chris Snuggs’ blog Nemo Insula Est.  Chris and I have known each other for quite a few years now; since the time that he was Head of Studies at the French college, ISUGA, in Quimper, France and where I attended as a visiting teacher running a class on Sales & Marketing.

Chris has allowed me to republish the piece in full.  Please read today’s post and then come back tomorrow to see in what ways we can all help.

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The Human Shame in Northern Kenya

03JAN

One of my NYRs was to stop reading bad news, but that lasted about 6 hours ….. there is of course so much of it, and so much that is utterly depressing. One of the first of 2014 was an article in “The Independent”:

Elephant Appeal: Few are willing to say just how bad the poaching crisis is – the elephant population may easily fall into terminal decline

Tragic, to the extreme!
Tragic, to the extreme!

You can get all the details from the article – which is pretty harrowing, with surviving elephants described as being “stricken with grief” as they cluster round their slaughtered brethren – but basically, elephants in the Tsavo East National Park in Northern Kenya are under threat of extinction from poachers from Somalia. This provoked a number of reactions on my part:

DEMAND

  • The price of ivory depends on the demand and supply. The former is very strong and apparently rising, especially in China. For extraordinarily moronic and selfish reasons, ivory is considered artistic and – for example – tiger and rhinoceros parts medicinal and/or possessing aphrodysiac properties.
  • Can China really do NOTHING to stop this cultural abomination? People in the west for the most part stopped acquiring ivory years ago.
  • If China – and other Asia nations – cannot or will not do anything, should the west not apply more pressure? Same applies of course to China’s support of North Korea. YES, sanctions are painful, but nothing NON-painful is likely to work.

THE POACHERS

  • They are execrable, of course …… and yet, many may be extremely poor, and indeed ignorant. There is no excuse in the strictest sense, but it may to some extent be understandable if they see a chance to make several years’ normal income in a single day. This is no different from City bankers, or indeed the Enron directors and many others: greed is sadly rampant on our planet.
  • But  the poachers are not only ignorant and destitute farmers: terrorists are now apparently turning to the ivory trade, too.
  • There are insufficient funds to patrol the parks properly. Kenya is just one more corrupt African state where politicians earn a fortune while basic needs and services are severely underfunded.

MORALITY

I always wonder what if anything goes through the minds of those who spend these obscene sums on frippery and personal self-glorification. Do they ever think that their money could do immense good elsewhere? Would WE be just the same in their shoes?

Is there any solution to this greed?

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Chris wrote his post motivated by the article in The Independent UK newspaper.  But that newspaper was not alone in promulgating the despicable killings of these smart and magnificent creatures.  Here’s a story that was in the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper a year ago.

Horror as entire family of elephants slaughtered for ivory

Armed wildlife rangers on Tuesday night fanned out across eastern Kenya in pursuit of ivory poachers who killed an entire family of 12 elephants in the country’s worst single such slaughter since the 1980s.

By , Nairobi

5:26PM GMT 08 Jan 2013

Eleven adults and one infant calf died in a “targeted and efficient” attack highlighting the growing professionalism of poachers bankrolled by international criminals supplying soaring demand for ivory in the Far East.

Six of the animals lay in one heap, their tusks hacked out with machetes.

None of the family group managed to flee further than 300 yards before they were gunned down and their ivory removed.

The calf, less than a year old, is believed to have been crushed by its dying mother as she fell to the ground.

“It is unimaginable, a heinous, heinous crime,” said Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“We have not seen such an incident in recent memory, it’s the worst single loss that we have on record, and our records go back almost 30 years.

“These were professional killers. The attack was targeted and efficient.”

The poachers, armed with automatic rifles, had already fled but there were hopes last night that a massive search involving foot patrols, a dozen vehicles and three aircraft could still find them.

“Every possible resource is being deployed to track down these criminals,” Mr Udoto said. “They will feel the full force of the law.”

But the area where the elephants were killed, in the north of Kenya’s largest wildlife reserve, Tsavo East National Park, is sparsely populated, has few roads, and lies close to Kenya’s border with Somalia.

Privately, conservationists said they feared the poachers and their haul of 22 tusks, worth an estimated GBP175,000 on the Asian market, would already have escaped.

The attack was the latest in a surge of elephant deaths that has seen the number of the animals killed for their ivory in Kenya increase sevenfold in five years, from fewer than 50 in 2007 to 360 in 2012, according to KWS figures.

The increase has led many wildlife experts to declare the current situation a crisis worse even than the mass slaughter of Africa’s elephants in the 1970s and 1980s, which led to a global ivory trade ban in 1989.

I don’t have permission to republish the article so please go here and read the full piece and view a couple of harrowing photographs.

Then come back tomorrow and explore how you and I can do something to help. Please.

Hearing clearly?

Perhaps intuition is all we have to hear clearly.

John O’Donohue, in yesterday’s post, touched on the essence of today’s theme, “The greatest philosophers admit that to a large degree all knowledge comes through the senses. The senses are our bridge to the world.

Dogs, of course, demonstrate powerfully how their senses provide a ‘bridge to the world’.

This odd collection of writings (ramblings?)  that comprise Learning from Dogs is based around the ‘i’ word – Integrity.  The banner on the home page proclaims Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them. Ergo, dogs offer a powerful metaphor for the pressing need for integrity among those that ‘manage’ our societies.

Thus my senses are more tuned, than otherwise, to the conversations in the world out there that support the premise that unless we, as in modern man, radically amend our attitudes and behaviours, then the species homo sapiens is going to hell in a hand-basket!

End of preamble!

Professor Bill Mitchell is one person who recently touched my senses.  As his Blog outlines he is an interesting fellow,

(Photo taken in August 2011 in Melbourne, Australia)

Bill Mitchell is the Research Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle, NSW Australia.

He is also a professional musician and plays guitar with the Melbourne Reggae-Dub band – Pressure Drop. The band was popular around the live music scene in Melbourne in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The band reformed in late 2010.

He also plays with a Newcastle swing blues band – The Blues Box. You can find music and other things on his Home Page.

Professor Mitchell’s Blog is not for the faint-hearted, it can be pretty technical at times.  Nevertheless, I have been a daily subscriber for a couple of months now.

On the 24th, Prof. Bill wrote a long article under the heading of ‘What if economists were personally liable for their advice‘.  I want to quote a little from that article.  Starting with,

Economists have a strange way of writing up briefing documents. There is an advanced capacity to dehumanise economic advice and ignore the most important economic and social problems (unemployment and poverty) in favour of promoting non-issues (like public debt ratios). It reminds me sometimes of how the Nazis who were brutal in the extreme in the execution of their ideology sat around getting portraits of themselves taken with their loving families etc. The training of economists creates an advanced state of separation from human issues and an absence of empathy.

In a sense, we all understand this, this use of language to separate us from our collective humanity.  A random Google search came up with this.  A statement by British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to Parliament on the 24th regarding Europe, as in,

Mr Speaker, let me turn to yesterday’s European Council.

This European Council was about three things.

Sorting out the problems of the Eurozone.

Promoting growth in the EU.

And ensuring that as the Eurozone develops new arrangements for governance, the interests of those outside the Eurozone are protected.

This latter point touches directly on the debate in this House later today, and I will say a word on this later in my statement.

Resolving the problems in the Eurozone is the urgent and over-riding priority facing not only the Eurozone members, but the EU as a whole – and indeed the rest of the world economy.

Britain is playing a positive role proposing the three vital steps needed to deal with this crisis – the establishment of a financial firewall big enough to contain any contagion; the credible recapitalisation of European banks; and a decisive solution to the problems in Greece.

Read the last paragraph.  Wonderful words that seem to make sense to the casual listener but picking up on Prof. Bill, an utter ‘separation from human issues and an absence of empathy‘.  There is no humanity in those words from the British Prime Minister.  We all know there are hundreds of other examples from mouthpieces all across our global society.  Back to Bill Mitchell’s article,

Linkiesta say:

Greece has failed. To say this is not another report of investment banks or research centers, but directly Troika officials who have just completed their review on Hellenic public finance. Linkiesta is in possession of the entire report of the troika, composed of officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission.

I have a rule of thumb that I use when considering documents such as these. The rule is to assess how strong the concern for unemployment is. How often is unemployment mentioned? The answer is zero. The document never mentions the word or concept.

So obsessed are the Troika and their bean counters about public debt stabilisation that they have completely lost sight of one of the worst problems an economy can encounter – the failure to generate work for all.

Read those last words again, “completely lost sight of one of the worst problems an economy can encounter – the failure to generate work for all“.  One last extract from the article,

There is absolutely no historical evidence which shows that when all nations are contracting or stagnant and private spending is flat (or contracting) that cutting public spending will create growth.

So why did these economists think that a nation would grow when all components of spending were strongly indicated to fall or were being actually cut? The answer lies in acknowledging that they operate in an ideologically blinkered world and are never taken to account for their policy mistakes. They are unaccountable and do not suffer income losses when the nations they dispense advice to and impose policies on behave contrary to the “expectation” which results in millions being unemployed.

In my view, my profession should be liable for the advice it gives and economists should be held personally liable for damages if their advice causes harm to other individuals. If the economists in the IMF and elsewhere were held personally responsible then the advice would quickly change because they would be “playing” with their own fortunes and not the fortunes of an amorphous group of Greeks that they have never met.

Very powerful words that strike at the heart of the matter, that of integrity. (If you want to read it in full, then the article is here.)

Let me move on a little.  The 24th also saw a powerful essay on Yves Smith’s Blog Naked Capitalism, from Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland.  Here’s a taste of what Mr. Pilkington wrote.

Every now and then a terrible thought enters my mind. It runs like this: what if the theatre of the Eurocrisis is really and truly a political power-game being cynically played by politicians from the core while the periphery burns?

Yes, of course, we can engage in polemic and say that such is the case. But in doing so we are trying to stoke emotion and generally allowing our rhetorical flourish to carry the argument. At least, that is what I thought. I had heard this rhetoric; I had engaged in it to some extent myself; but I had never really believed it. Only once or twice, in my nightmares, I had thought that, maybe, just maybe, it might have some truth.

Can you see the parallels between Prof. Mitchell and Philip Pilkington?  The latter wrote, “a political power-game being cynically played by politicians from the core while the periphery burns“, the former wrote, “If the economists in the IMF and elsewhere were held personally responsible then the advice would quickly change because they would be “playing” with their own fortunes and not the fortunes of an amorphous group of Greeks that they have never met.”

It’s clearly obvious to all those that have commented to both the Bill Mitchell and Philip Pilkington items.  That is, in my words, a complete lack of integrity, truth and a commitment to serve the people, from so many in places of influence and power.

We all sense this, hear it so clearly, a separation from human issues and an absence of empathy.

We have so much to learn, so much sense to learn, from dogs!

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Footnote.  Had just completed the above when I came across a piece by Patrick Cockburn in last Sunday’s Independent newspaper, that starts thus,

World View: A sense of injustice is growing. Elite politicians and notorious wrongdoers appear immune as ordinary Greeks reel from wage and job cuts

Up close, the most striking feature of the reforms being forced on Greece by its international creditors is their destructiveness and futility. The pay cuts, tax rises, cuts and job losses agreed to by parliament in Athens last week will serve only to send the economy into a steeper tailspin, even if it extracted a much-needed €8bn in bailout money from the EU leaders. “Nothing but a lost war could be worse than this situation,” one left-wing ex-minister tells me. “What is worse, no party or political group in Greece is offering real solutions to our crisis.

Say no more!

British Otters

A wonderful ‘good news’ story.

Just a few days ago, the British news media carried a wonderful story about the resurgence of the otter in every county of England.  For many years, the otter was losing the battle for survival owing to hunting and trapping and the far South-West of England became it’s last refuge.

Then a combination of sensible legislation and public commitment to saving the otter became the turning point.

Watch this clip from ITN News from the 18th August.

Here’s a typical media report from The Independent newspaper of Thursday, 18th August,

Otters return to every county in England

Once the rivers were cleaned up, fish returned to once-polluted waters and otters began to spread back eastwards from their strongholds in Devon and Wales

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

It has taken 30 years, but the otter’s comeback is now complete. After becoming extinct across most of England in the Fifties and Sixties, one of Britain’s best-loved animals has now returned to every English county, the Environment Agency announced yesterday.

The slow but steady recolonisation of its former haunts has been rounded off with the reappearance of otters in Kent, the last county to have been without them, the agency said.

The otter’s return represents a happy ending to one of the worst episodes in modern British wildlife history: the sudden disappearance of one of our most widespread and charismatic mammals.

The process began around 1956 and was almost certainly caused by the introduction of powerful organochlorine pesticides such as aldrin and dieldrin. Residues of these chemicals were washed into the rivers where otters lived, poisoning them.

As wild otters are hard to spot – their presence is usually detected by their spraints, or droppings – it was several years before the scale of their disappearance began to dawn on people, but by then they had been wiped out over vast areas of lowland England.

Despite the banning of organochlorine pesticides in the mid-Sixties, otters continued to decline, and their population reached a low point by the end of the 1970s, when they had effectively vanished from everywhere except the West Country and parts of Northern England (although good numbers remained in Wales and Scotland).

The first national otter survey, carried out between 1977 and 1979, detected the presence of otters in just over 5 per cent of the 2,940 sites surveyed; all the sites were known to have held the animals previously.

But then a comeback gradually began. Helped by a substantial clean-up of England’s rivers, which brought back fish to many once-polluted watercourses, and by legal protection, otters began to spread back eastwards into England from their strongholds in Devon and in areas of the Welsh borders, such as the Wye Valley.

By the time of the fourth otter survey, carried out between 2000 and 2002, more than 36 per cent of the sites examined showed otter traces; and when the fifth survey was carried out, between 2009 and 2010, the figure had risen to nearly 60 per cent, with otters back in every English county except Kent. Now wildlife experts at the Environment Agency have confirmed that there are at least two otters in Kent, which have built their holts on the River Medway and the River Eden.

“The recovery of otters from near-extinction shows how far we’ve come in controlling pollution and improving water quality,” said Alastair Driver, the Environment Agency’s National Conservation Manager. “Rivers in England are the healthiest for over 20 years, and otters, salmon and other wildlife are returning to many rivers for the first time since the industrial revolution.

“The fact that otters are now returning to Kent is the final piece in the jigsaw for otter recovery in England and is a symbol of great success for everybody involved in otter conservation.”

Otters are at the top of the food chain, and are therefore an important indicator of river health. The clean-up means that they are now inhabiting once-polluted rivers running through cities – something which would have been unthinkable before the population crash – and they have been detected in places such as Stoke-on-Trent, Reading, Exeter and Leeds, as well as in more likely urban centres, such as Winchester.

But although they are now widespread once more, otters’ nocturnal habits and riverine habitat make them difficult to glimpse, let alone observe, in England. The best place to see otters in Britain is Western Scotland, where the animals have become semi-marine and live along the coast. They can regularly be seen foraging along the shoreline in the daytime, especially on some of the larger islands, such as Mull and Skye.

 A lovely story with a powerful message – mankind can change things for the better, and frequently has done.
Representing the power of positive change!