Tag Archives: animal

Dementia patient deported by Patel; Labour councillor wants ‘anti-migrant militia’ [Also in the news]

Border Force: while a Labour councillor calls for the creation of migrant vigilante groups, Priti Patel has deported a dementia patient.

Lots to get through tonight and no time for commentary:

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Can Parliament’s bars let us know how many post-10pm drinkers catch Covid-19, please?

NOTE: Shortly after I published this story, Parliament’s bars announced that they will stop selling alcohol after 10pm. The reason?

MPs said the rules risked making Parliament look “ridiculous” to the public.

That was very much my intention when I wrote the following:

I think it’s great that Parliament has put up its own bars as testing-grounds for the effectiveness of the 10pm pub drinking curfew.

It seems the bars on the Parliamentary estate – the Members’ Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion, Pugin Room and Members’ Tea Room are exempt as they provide a food and bar service:

A spokesperson for the House of Commons confirmed that the new restrictions on hospitality do not apply to the venues on the parliamentary estate, saying: “As catering outlets providing a workplace service for over 3,100 people working on the Estate, the current regulations on hospitality venues do not apply to Commons facilities.”

Some have said this is another example of Boris Johnson’s cronies setting one law for us and then breaking it themselves. Many of them made reference to Orwell’s Animal Farm (which may soon be banned under Gavin Williamson’s new education rules):

Others disagree with the Animal Farm reference. I haven’t read it so I’m not in a position to comment.

But I do hope that the authorities at the Parliamentary bars keep us appraised of how their brave effort to keep our democracy in alcohol goes.

They will of course be keeping details of everybody who enters, in case Covid-19 breaks out in one, several, or all of these bars.

I expect regular updates. If they show no infections, we’ll know that it is safe to open all the rest of the UK’s pubs for normal hours again. Won’t we?

Source: Parliament bars exempt from 10pm curfew | The Independent

Goats in Llandudno herald takeover of the streets in coronavirus lockdown

Goat: These animals have been known to enter Llandudno before, but never walked so far into the town.

The coronavirus lockdown has emptied town streets across the UK – so animals are taking them over.

Usually a herd of 122 Kashmiri goats are only known to venture into Llandudno during bad weather.

But – see for yourself:

The phenomenon is not restricted to north Wales, either:

Although I think perhaps some people have let their imaginations go a little too far…

Who knows? The longer the lockdown, the more likely we could all end up living our own version of The Jungle Book.

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Labour urges Boris Johnson not to sign trade deal that would aid Amazon destruction

Bolsonaro’s legacy: The fires set in the Amazon rainforest, apparently on the order of the Brazilian president – and the cost to animal life. Boris Johnson seems keen to contribute to this slaughter.

Look at the images above and bear in mind that Boris Johnson may try to sign a trade deal with Brazil that would accelerate the deaths of these animal breeds and the destruction of the so-called “lungs of the world”.

In world trade terms, after Brexit, he’ll be a beggar and not a chooser, meaning if Jair Bolsonaro – the Brazilian president most people consider responsible for the fires destroying the rainforest and its animal habitats as I type this – tells him to sign a deal that increases the harm, he’ll do it.

Labour has appealed to Mr Johnson to show sense, pointing out that “We cannot risk our planet to buy cheap beef.”

But when has BoJob ever shown any sense at all?

Consider this, from the Independent‘s report:

Mr Johnson has refused to join French president Emmanuel Macron and Irish premier Leo Varadkar in threatening to block a South American trade deal if Mr Bolsonaro fails to live up to his commitments to protect the environment.

Stressing his unwillingness to disrupt trade at a time when fears of a global showdown are rising, the PM said that some leaders at the G7 Summit in Biarritz were using the catastrophic wildfires in the Amazon as an “excuse” to interfere with free trade.

He hasn’t got a clue.

And if he has his way, we’ll all end up breathing ashes instead of oxygen. Who will he blame then?

Source: Labour demands Johnson refuse to sign post-Brexit Brazil trade deal that aids Amazon destruction | The Independent

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The animals that died out – or were about to – in 2018

Feline farewell: The Eastern Cougar is no more – and US corporate interests have been blamed for stealing its habitat.

Anyone who thinks this isn’t political has a lot to learn.

The activities of human beings have caused almost all recent animal extinctions, according to the website IFLScience, and although none of the following are based in the UK, British people should know that global developments like these deprive us all.

According to the website, the list begins with a movie star: the Spix’s Macaw. The star of Rio’s brilliant blue plumage has now been seen in the wild for the last time – around 100 of the birds still exist, and all are in captivity.

“Flying with the Macaws into extinction were the less well-known Alagoas foliage-gleaner, cryptic treehunter, and poo-uli. A recent study by biologists at BirdLife International put the probability of these species’ survival at just 0.1 – low enough to nudge them from “critically endangered” to “extinct” on the IUCN Red List.”

And” the eastern cougar was officially declared extinct – likely 80 years after the last one was killed in Maine. Sudan, the last male northern white rhino left in the world, died, reducing the global population of the species to just two females. And for many other animals, like the 12 tiny vaquita porpoises left in existence, it’s just a matter of time.”

Your politicians may not care – or may want you to think there’s nothing they can do. That isn’t true.

But they won’t do anything if people like you don’t ask them. And you can’t do anything if you don’t know. So now you know.

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Where is the POLITICAL will to stop us all ‘Drowning in Plastic’?

The BBC broadcast a horrifying documentary yesterday on October 1, showing the extent to which waste plastic is clogging up our rivers and seas and the appalling harm being done to both plant and animal life as a result.

It represents a shocking dereliction of duty on the part of the organisations around the world that are charged with handling this material responsibly – and are ignoring that responsibility on a global scale.

I wrote a few words on Facebook and they seem to have enjoyed some popularity so I am reproducing them here:

I’m watching ‘Drowning in Plastic’, the BBC documentary about waste plastic killing wildlife in the world’s rivers and oceans. I think it’s supposed to be making me feel guilty but actually I’m angry.

We don’t get much choice about our use of plastic, or the other stuff that gets thrown into the water and forgotten. We have it foisted upon us in the packaging of the things we buy and, as a rule, we handle it in the manner that (we’re told) is responsible.

It is the people we have to trust to get rid of it responsibly who are letting everybody (and I mean everybody) down.

There needs to be some accountability here. From what I’m seeing, I’m unwillingly complicit in a crime of such enormity that my mind flinches away from considering it. And that is not acceptable.

I want to know who is responsible for this – and I notice that this information is missing from the film. I want to know what can be done to hold them to account – and if there’s no accountability at the moment, I want to know what can be done to BRING them to account. And I want to know how people like myself can participate in determining what the remedial action should be.

I bet nobody’s going to put it right in anything like a timely way unless people like us roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.

And I don’t mean by fishing this crap out of the water ourselves.

You’ll have spotted that I asked some questions that I considered pertinent: Who is responsible? What can be done to hold them to account? What can be done to bring them to account if there is no legal recourse now? And how can ordinary people participate in bringing justice to this matter?

A few people made suggestions on Facebook but I’m keen to see more. I spotted an infographic on Twitter that suggested ways we can make our opposition known – you can see it at the top of this article – but I don’t think it goes anything like far enough. I don’t think enough people will take the kind of mass, sustained action that would be necessary to make the uncaring corporates change their minds.

As one respondent stated: “Let’s all pretend it’s our personal responsibility while big corporations are raping the planet. Keep focussed on individuals that way people don’t look where the real problem lies. The idea that we can save the planet by not using plastic washing up brushes etc is naïve in the extreme.”

Another respondent voiced his suspicion: “I feel that a lot of the plastic waste floating around in the world’s oceans has come from unscrupulous shipping companies who have been contracted to transport our waste to other countries for processing and then just dump their cargo at sea, pretty much a bigger version of what some commercial vehicle owners do when offering to remove your rubbish for a fee.”

Another supported it: “Do the shipments arrive at their destinations?
Who checks they’ve got there?
With the “flagging out” of marine transportation who checks the shipping arrangements?
What if a large percentage of shipped recycling is actually just jettisoned en route and the ships then proceed somewhere else to pick up more?
How does anyone manage to find out anything more about this?”

They are good questions, especially as: “Inspectors for various things were one of the losses in the Tory’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ that they managed to persuade everyone to applaud. We need a rebuilding of the quangos (but with a less tainted name).”

Many of you may consider this a useful solution: “I’ve started to send all my excess plastic packaging back to the customer services department of whichever supermarket it came from. Most of them have a freepost address, so you just package up all the surplus plastic and mail it to them at their expense.” But what will those corporations do with the waste?

One suggestion as a solution was, “We need a Plastics Act rather than just randomly targeting individual items.” I would agree, but I think it would need to be international rather than just operating in a single country.

Here’s another: “We need much more strict regulations from the top down, and this indeed means governments being accountable for their decisions on an environmental basis across the board. Including economic modelling to properly respect environmental concerns, the same for businesses, and right through society to farmers and consumers. In short creating a ‘fairer’ society to accommodate these interventions. The governments should be accountable to the UN and subject to harsh penalties (not piffling fines) in case of infringement. I think we should all engage with the clean up at this stage as far as possible, not because it’s the peoples’ fault per se but because it has gotten that bad. But ultimately the world’s governments need to be held to serious account for their treatment of the environment on so many levels.”

But who will impose such regulations and how will they be enforced? Should there perhaps be an independent, international organisation?

Perhaps it would be an easier argument to make if an alternative material were available? “Hemp is a really versatile material, clothes, paper, rope, soap, oil – what’s needed is a decision (and funding) taken nationally, so that manufacturers set up to make things in plastic are given compensation for refitting their factories. Major university departments study materials science, with government funding initiatives they could invent something surely.”

What about this issue? “Corporate courts are probably preventing us doing much towards polluters paying for remedial costs.”

We do recycle many plastics – or we think we do. Consider this: “All the recycling efforts we make – then strangely, recycling centres all over Britain keep going up in flames. At the end of August, from about 2 hours of google searching, I found 15 centres had caught on fire since April. That’s a lot of carcinogenic dioxins being released, – but what a convenient way of getting rid of it all, convenient for the contracters that is.” What is the story here? 

Make no mistake: This issue will magically go away if we don’t keep it on the public agenda – because governments and corporations can’t be bothered to deal with something that may reduce profits/harm the economy and don’t care if it kills a few animals and plants (they won’t accept the overarching threat to the ecosystem that the plastic poisoning of the planet represents).

So the question remains: What do you think should be done about it, and how do you propose to make it happen?

I await your contributions.

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Gove panned by the public after social media slur

Sarah Vine with husband Michael Gove: Not so much a ‘golden’ couple as a ‘grubby’ pair.

Michael Gove – a politician best-known for making a series of nonsense claims about Brexit and then stabbing Boris Johnson in the back – got exactly what he deserved when he claimed that the social media were peddling “fake news” about the Tory government’s attitude to animal welfare.

The government recently rejected an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that would have transferred the EU’s protocol on animal sentience – basically an acceptance that animals experience feelings – into UK law. The claim was that animal sentience is already recognised.

Here’s the BBC report:

“Michael Gove has hit out at the way social media “corrupts and distorts” political reporting and decision making following a row about animal welfare.

“The environment secretary said attacks on MPs over a vote on an EU protocol about “animal sentience” had been “absolutely wrong”.

“The Commons vote sparked protests and a celebrity-backed social media campaign.”

Mr Gove stated, on the BBC’s Today programme:

He said: “On social media there was a suggestion that somehow the MPs had voted against the principle that animals are sentient beings, that did not happen, that is absolutely wrong.”

“There is an unhappy tendency now for people to believe that the raw and authentic voice of what’s shared on social media is more reliable than what is said in Hansard or on the BBC.

“More than that there is a particular concern somehow, a belief somehow that outside the European Union our democratic institutions can’t do better than we did in the EU. We’ve got to challenge both those points.”

His claim that the social media aren’t accurate has provoked a strong response from those who remember some of Mr Gove’s own howlers – especially with regard to the EU referendum, without which the debate over animal sentience would not have happened:

https://twitter.com/EyeTelford/status/934054537916305409

Oh yes. Let’s all remember that Mr Gove’s wife is Daily Mail ‘journalist’ Sarah Vine.

Ms Vine infamously wrote an article claiming that Theresa May had an advantage over Nicola Sturgeon in a meeting with the Scottish First Minister because Mrs May had better legs.

She also produced a piece after her husband made an unacceptable “rape joke” – again on the Today programme – belittling concerns about sex scandals in Westminster as “hysterical” and a “witch hunt”. Many MPs have since resigned or been suspended as revelation after revelation became public knowledge.

All things considered, it was only a matter of time before somebody made the obvious connect – and it was Lily Allen:

https://twitter.com/lilyallen/status/934025039892140033

Is that a *mic drop* moment?

This response is fantastic, too:


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Tories might lose the country’s support over fox hunting, Macca? When did they have it?

150712mccartneyhunting

It’s funny, the way even high-profile figures can get the wrong end of the stick.

Paul McCartney, for example, has warned the Conservative Party that it could lose the support of the UK electorate if a free vote next week results in the re-legalisation of fox hunting.

Perhaps someone should remind him that the Conservatives have a wafer-thin majority of just 12 MPs; six by-elections and they’re impotent.

In fact, even with this vote they are playing dirty. Knowing that a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act will not win enough support, David Cameron and his friends have worked out that they could restore hunting by bringing the law in England and Wales in line with that in Scotland. The SNP’s 56 MPs would not be able to vote against this in good faith, and will probably abstain, leaving the Tories with a majority of around 50 (believe it or not, there are Conservatives who oppose hunting).

Cameron absolutely cannot rely on the support of the electorate: His party won only 24.3 per cent of the available vote at the general election in May, making his government one of the least democratic in our history. And polls have consistently shown that a clear majority of the British people want the barbaric practice of hunting foxes with hounds to remain illegal – more than 50 per cent of us.

Macca, 73, has spent decades campaigning for animal rights. He said: “The vast majority of us will be against them [the Conservatives] if hunting is reintroduced. It is cruel and unnecessary and will lose them support from ordinary people and animal lovers like myself.”

“Inexcusable”

Fellow musician Brian May has been far more outspoken; he accused supporters of next week’s vote of being “a bunch of lying bastards” on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last Thursday.

Some mouthpiece for the hunt-supporting Countryside Alliance had been on, spouting the usual tripe: “This is about addressing exemptions in the Act, which were agreed by both sides when the Act was going through, for pest control reasons, for catching a diseased or wounded animal or something like that.”

Dr May responded: “It’s a very underhand act I’m afraid, because Cameron for years has promised a free vote – a fair fight on the repeal of the Hunting Act.

“He has now realised that this probably won’t end up with what he wants so this whole thing has been put together by circumventing the normal democratic process.

“So you introduce a little modification to an Act but this modification actually disables the whole Hunting Act and effectively this is repeal under a new name. I think this is a very Machiavellian and rather inexcusable way of behaving.

“I believe it’s a pretence. I think you’re a bunch of lying bastards.”

Here he is saying it, at around 5 minutes, 40 seconds in:

Other notable celebrity opponents include Ricky Gervais, who tweeted:

150712gervaisfoxhunting

In fact, it seems the mouthpiece from the Countryside Alliance has shown us the way forward.

This Writer cannot imagine why a wounded animal would need to be “removed” by a hunting pack; in the wild, the law of natural selection would probably see that it is “removed” without human interference.

And if this is about pest control – removing a diseased animal so it cannot spread an infection – then it should be necessary for the hunters to prove any fox was diseased before they set the dogs after it.

This leads to a further question about epidemic: If hounds are sent after a diseased fox, won’t they catch and spread the illness themselves?

Perhaps the Tories – and their Countryside Alliance co-conspirators – should be made to answer these questions before any change in the law is considered.

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Labour’s plan to protect animals

150221labouranimals1

Here’s another terrific Labour Party policy announcement that seems to have been overlooked by the news media: Animal protection.

The policy was announced by Maria Eagle and runs as follows:

1)         Labour will protect the Hunting Act
Ten years ago the Labour Party ended the cruel practice of hunting with dogs, because we believe that causing defenceless animals to suffer in the name of sport has no place in a civilised society. But just as we celebrate the Hunting Act, the Tories plan to repeal it. Only Labour can protect the Hunting Act because Labour is the only major party committed to defending it.

2)         Labour will ban wild animals in circuses
Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals. Being moved from place to place in cramped and substandard enclosures, forced training and performance, loud noises and crowds of people are the unavoidable distressing realities for animals in circuses. Despite promising to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, the Tory-led Government has failed to do so. The next Labour government will ban this cruel practice.

3)         Labour will end the ineffective and inhumane badger culls
Badger culls are supposed to reduce Bovine TB but experts say the Tories’ culls will make the problem worse. Following repeated failures to meet deadlines and targets, the Tories are effectively pursing an unscientific mass cull with no rigorous monitoring or evaluation. Labour will end this and develop a better plan to eradicate Bovine TB.

4)         Labour will improve the protection of dogs and cats
At present we have ineffective regulation, a lack of information for pet owners and a failure to deal with irresponsible and cruel breeding practices. Labour will review the inadequate regulations on the sale and breeding of dogs and cats and develop a new strategy to improve their welfare.

5)         Labour will tackle wildlife crime and reduce animal cruelty on shooting estates
More needs to be done to protect animal welfare on shooting estates. The next Labour government will undertake an independent review into the most effective way to end the illegal persecution of birds of prey, such as the hen harrier; prevent non-target animals getting trapped in snares; and ensure the humane treatment of game birds.

6)         Labour will lead the fight against global animal cruelty
The humane treatment of animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society. National governments have a duty to work together to prevent cruelty around the world. Labour will push to end all commercial whaling and prevent the poaching and near extinction of endangered species such as elephants, rhinos and tigers.

These are great strides forward for animals.

What are the Tories doing?

Oh yes: Subsidising grouse-shooting.

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