Tag Archives: cull

Israel’s CULL in Palestine: a campaign of lies?

The Israel-Palestine conflict is not about Jewish survival: many Jews actively protest against the persecution of Palestinians by the extremist government of a nation state that claims to represent all Jews, whether they support it or not.

This observation from the social media about the Israel-Palestine conflict rings true:

As I write, Israel is most likely raining dozens – or hundreds – of bombs onto carefully-targeted (we’ll come back to this) sites in Palestinian territory, while Palestinians can only respond (you can hardly call it retaliation) by firing a few fireworks back.

Don’t get me wrong – fireworks can be deadly. But the resulting casualties have been equivalent to one of the more damaging Bonfire Nights of the 1960s or 70s, when people were less observant of the Fireworks Code. Palestinian deaths and injuries number in their thousands.

The scale of the imbalance makes the US media claim ridiculous: It is not a war; it is a cull.

The following tweet provides a few figures supporting this assertion. The number of deaths is not enough to support claims of genocide. But those numbers do speak for themselves:

The exact numbers in the current situation are debatable – as always in an ongoing situation:

A war on children?

Let’s consider who the Israeli Defence Force has been targeting:

The evidence seems clear: Israeli forces have clearly and positively targeted Palestinian families – civilians – for murder. Consider the response if the shoe was on the other foot and an overwhelmingly strong Palestine was treating Israeli Jews in the same way:

But there’s more: Israeli forces aren’t just targeting civilians and children.

You’ll have read in the tweets above that a clinic run by Medicins Sans Frontieres, an independent, humanitarian medical organisation, has also been struck. It’s not the only medical facility to have been hit; its staff are not the only medical staff to be harmed:

Does that seem an extreme judgement? “They want to kill most of them and let Covid do the rest”?

But then, why target a Covid-19 testing lab at all, if not for that purpose?

The Israeli government has been swift to counter the evidence with its usual claim – that Palestinian terrorists are hiding behind children.

This has been debunked as a racist lie:

One of the sites where the Israeli government claimed Hamas had been hiding was an office building housing news broadcasters Al-Jazeera and AP News – the Associated Press. The latter is one of the most well-established and -respected news agencies in the world, and its comment on the bombing is damning:

The last line refers, in This Writer’s opinion, to the intention of this particular airstrike: “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what tranpired today.”

Isn’t that exactly what the Israeli government would want, as it targets civilians including children for murder?

Al-Jazeera has also commented – that Israel had still provided no evidence of any Hamas presence in the building, two days after the strike:

As a journalist of more than a quarter of a century’s experience, I find it interesting that Benjamin Netanyahu’s people feel the need to attack news reporters; to hide what they’re doing.

News media around the world have already given Israel the easiest ride possible during what can only be seen as an infamous, scandalous slaughter:

See what I mean?

There is now evidence showing that attempts to promote balanced reporting of the situation are being suppressed by supporters of the Israeli government.

For example, Canadian journalists are currently being pursued for signing an open letter calling for balanced reporting of the situation.

The letter criticises the “lack of nuanced” coverage.  “Some groups believe the attacks amount to an ‘ethnic cleansing.’ It should be covered as such,” it says.

“It’s time for Canadian newsrooms to carry out the necessary due diligence and report on this region with nuance and context.”

Pro-Israel organisations have been quick to attack the letter – and any journalist signing it, leading to the ridiculous situation of reporters being forced to defend something that it is our duty to provide: fair, balanced reporting:

See, being told your lack of objectivity means you can’t cover a story, when the grounds for saying you lack objectivity include your demand for objectivity, is perverse.

Below, we see the US pro-Jewish newspaper Algemeiner demanding that Canadian journalists who signed the letter should not be allowed to report on the “Arab-Israeli” conflict (the wording in quotation marks indicates this organisation’s own bias) because they have anti-Israeli bias. Isn’t it more accurate to say that Algemeiner fears balanced reporting that might present Israel in a less-than-glowing light of positivity?

This is the same organisation that gave UK daytime TV parlour game-player and repeat libel litigant Rachel Riley a “Warrior for Truth” award, the value of which I think we may all now question.

The Israeli government itself appears to run an organisations dedicated to disinformation – and to discrediting those who try to publish fair and accurate reports on the Israel-Palestine question:

I remember discovering adverts by this organisation on Google Adsense. If I recall corrrectly, readers of This Site had discovered that Act.Il had bought space here so that this organisation could make false claims about it.

I blocked it from advertising here. There’s no point in doing anything else like taking court action – it’s an organisation based in a foreign country, with a lot of that country’s money behind it (as I understand it), and I don’t have the means to deliver upon it the justice it deserves.

I can certainly sympathise with the sentiment in this tweet, though:

And it seems reporters aren’t the only ones being attacked:

And still, in the UK, many of our MPs are refusing to condemn Israel. Read the letter Labour’s Lisa Nandy sent to Dominic Raab and you’ll see it is disproportionate – it blames Palestinians equally with Israelis for a situation that has been forced on them.

Robert Jenrick has been roundly criticised for a mealy-mouthed propaganda routine in which he said anti-Zionism was anti-Semitism. Zionism is a racist ideology which the Israeli government uses to force Palestinians off the geographical area it defines as Israel (as opposed to the land given for the purposes of providing Jewish people with a nation of their own in the 1940s).

There are many anti-Zionist Jews. None of them are self-hating; none are anti-Semites. So Jenrick deserved the following critiques:

There are a few honourable MPs, though…

And of course they can’t do anything about grassroots protest:

It is hugely encouraging that so many people are arguing against the Israeli government’s web of lies.

But still the killings continue. Still civilians are targeted in their homes – including children – by an Israeli government and military that does not care what we think and will counter our facts with falsehoods that it can rely on the international media to parrot.

So who do you believe?

Do you believe a group of well-spoken suit-wearing dissemblers?

Or do you believe the person who wrote the following?

The answer should be so obvious it isn’t even a choice.

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Coca-Cola fox cull halted after campaigners raised the alarm

This article was going to be a call to arms – but now it seems the pressure is off after Coca-Cola announced it has put plans to shoot foxes at its Sidcup factory “on hold”.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the multinational drinks firm won’t kill large numbers of the animal by other means, but at least it signifies that bosses are willing to discuss what can be done.

Residents launched a passionate “Stop the Cull” campaign after they discovered a plan for the mass killing of foxes – to take place today, February 11 – on the Cray Road, Sidcup site.

They pointed out that at this time of year it would mean the targeting of pregnant vixens.

This Writer is not particularly fond of foxes as, in large numbers, they can become pests.

But I have always opposed fox hunting (and any blood sport) and killing animals because they interfere with industry is unacceptable because it ultimately leads to the mass extinctions we are causing across the world.

Coca-Cola has released a statement, quoted in some news outlets as follows:

“Unfortunately foxes can, on occasion, cause damage and we have found the need to keep their numbers under control at our Sidcup site.

“We have taken on board people’s feedback and understand their concerns.

“We have put these control measures on hold at our Sidcup site and we are now reviewing what other options are available.”

Campaigners favour a humane, non-lethal fox management service called Fox-a-gon and it is to be hoped that the firm will take that into account.

Source: Fox culling at Coca Cola’s Sidcup site criticised | News Shopper

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Badger cull is expanded to ‘unimaginable scale’. Why do Tories hate them so much?

What is the Conservative fascination with killing badgers?

Was a Tory agriculture minister once baited by one?

Or is the badger cull the Tory response to the hunting ban?

It seems they are determined to get their kicks from killing animals somehow.

The badger cull certainly has no justification in terms of beating TB in cattle.

So, why are the Tories determined to expand it, if not for cruelty?

The controversial badger cull in England has been expanded to an “unimaginable scale”, according to a leading expert who warned the government is paying far too little attention to the transmission of tuberculosis between cattle when they are traded.

Ministers approved culling in 11 new areas on Wednesday, taking the total to 43. Up to 64,000 animals are likely to be killed this autumn, up from a maximum of 42,000 last year.

TB infections in cattle blight farms and cost taxpayers more than £100m a year in compensation payments. But scientists and conservationists oppose the cull, saying there is little evidence it is effective and is being badly run.

Source: Badger cull in England extended to ‘unimaginable scale’ | Environment | The Guardian

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Once again the Tories show they have plenty of money to spend on killing

[Image: Alamy.]

Science has shown that the Tory-sanctioned badger cull is a huge waste of time and money*, but that won’t stop Tories wasting money on it.

They love killing things and people – look at the wars they support across the world, and their ‘Aktion T4’-style policies toward people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Now, half a million pounds has been spent on efforts to ensure that their badger killers are less likely to be disrupted by people dedicated to protecting the animals.

Do you think that’s a worthwhile use of our money?

Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds have been spent on equipping badger cull marksmen with radios that link them directly to police, the Guardian has learned.

Police have advised the government to invest in the same communications system they use to make it easier for officers to get to conflicts with cull saboteurs in remote areas where the mobile phone signal is poor.

However, anti-cull activists plan to turn the tables on the marksmen by investing in devices that trace the signals produced by the radios, meaning they can pinpoint their position and disrupt shooting.

Source: Taxpayers spend £500,000 on radios for badger cull marksmen | Environment | The Guardian

*Vaccination of cattle and/or badgers, increased levels of testing, improved biosecurity and stricter controls on the movement of cattle would be better. Ah, but the UK keeps running out of vaccine, doesn’t it? Odd, that. It’s not as if there isn’t any money available, after all.


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If you think the Conservatives can be trusted with the economy, look at the cost of the badger cull

161113-badger-cull-waste-of-money

I like Tom Pride’s comment on this: “Some people so thick they think the Tories are good at the economy just because the Daily Mail tells them they are.”

I should point out also that Wales currently has a Labour administration, which is praised by the Wildlife Trusts for its “financial efficiency”.

So, Labour=financial efficiency; Conservative=waste of money. Has everybody got that?

Between 2012 and 2014, the tax payer spent £16.8 million on the culling of 2,476 badgers. This is nearly four times more expensive than Defra anticipated and is a cost per dead badger of £6,800. Of this figure, more than £4.9 million was spent on policing costs – equivalent to the annual salary costs of more than 120 police officers over a two-year period.

5,000 badgers have been vaccinated in Wales in four years – and all for the price of two weeks of badger culling in England. It costs £293 per badger vaccinated in the Wildlife Trusts’ vaccination programmes. That’s a difference of £6,482 per badger culled and badger vaccinated.

Financial efficiency is not the only benefit of vaccinating badgers over culling them. There is evidence to suggest that vaccination of adult badgers reduces the likelihood of infection in cubs. Also, unlike the disruption of culling and its associated increased risk of TB infection of cattle, there is no significant perturbation following badger vaccination programmes.

Source: Cost of the badger cull | The Wildlife Trusts

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Ending badger culls will save the next Labour Government more than £120 million

Stop the cull - vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May's Twitter feed.

Stop the cull – vote them out: Bill Oddie shows his support for the end of the badger cull (and also the end of Conservative-led government). This image was taken from Brian May’s Twitter feed.

A Labour government would save £192 million from the environment, food and rural affairs budget – mostly by ending the costly and pointless badger culls, the party has revealed.

Labour would save an estimated £24.5 million a year – £122.5 million in the next parliament by ending the Government’s inhumane and ineffective badger culls.

The party would establish strategies to increase the income of arms-length bodies like Natural England, including moves towards fuller cost recovery there, which could save £40 million in the next parliament.

It would improve water quality by supporting best practice in the farming and water industries and saving £4 million a year and £20 million in the next parliament in environmental protection spending. This involves freeing up £150 million for spending on environmental protection and rural development in 2018-20 by re-allocating payments made under the Common Agricultural Policy.

Labour would increase – by £2 million a year – income from environmental protection and abstraction charges, bringing in £10 million in the next parliament, and review the cost of other DEFRA agencies – to get a better deal for taxpayers and raise the proportion of regulatory costs that are recovered from the industries under supervision.

The report on DEFRA also highlights a series of wasteful and short-sighted measures under this government, including its failure on flooding and climate change: Failing to maintain to the appropriate standard three-quarters of existing flood defences, triggering an increase in emergency spending and storing up further costs for the future, and cutting the number of departmental officials working on climate change adaptation from 38 to just six.

“This Tory-led Government never should have pressed ahead with these ineffective and inhumane badger culls when they knew from the start that this policy had the potential to make the problem of bovine TB worse,” said Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs.

“Instead of ignoring the overwhelming evidence the Government must work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an alternative strategy to get the problem of Bovine TB under control.”

zBadgerCull

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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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Badger cull expansion is abandoned

The government has abandoned its planned expansion of badger culling to reduce TB in cattle, according to a BBC report. Let us hope Brian May is delighted.

“The environment department’s original plan was to announce up to 10 new cull areas in South West England each year,” the report states.

“Defra’s own independent assessment shows that culls in two pilot areas were not effective, and raised questions about their humaneness.”

But it wasn’t all good news: “These pilot culls will continue, though there will be no independent oversight to assess their future performance.

“In a Commons statement, the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson proposed a programme of vaccination around the edges of the most badly affected parts of the country.

“This, he said, would create a buffer zone of immunity that would stop the disease from spreading.”

Wasn’t that what the experts wanted in the first place?

The rest of the report is here.

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Will ‘independent’ study whitewash the Bedroom Tax?

Doesn't he look like a puppet? In fact the correct term is 'marionette' - for a puppet on strings, worked from above. But who's pulling Nick Clegg's strings this time?

Doesn’t he look like a puppet? In fact the correct term is ‘marionette’ – for a puppet on strings, worked from above. But who’s pulling Nick Clegg’s strings this time?

The Government is running an independent study into the impact of the Bedroom Tax, in order to find out if it is really possible for social housing tenants to move into smaller accommodation to escape its effects. The result should more likely be feared than welcomed.

Nick Clegg announced that the study was taking place in response to a Parliamentary question from Harriet Harman – but was immediately undermined by the Department for Work and Pensions. A government spokesman said the DWP routinely commissions research on new policies and an independent consortium was already carrying out evaluation work.

Clegg had to say he was taking action after his own party voted to change its policy on the Tax – the Liberal Democrats now oppose it – but this is not cause for celebration.

Who will carry out this independent study? We are told it is an “independent consortium” but what does that mean? What will be their terms of reference? What questions will they be asking and will they be the questions that need to be asked?

Observers should be raising serious doubts about all of these because this is not a government with a good track record on evidence-led policy.

We all know what this is about – the government’s hugely flawed scheme to claw back Housing Benefit cash from social housing tenants, taking 14 per cent of payments from those with one spare bedroom, and a quarter of the benefit from anyone with two. The Discretionary Housing Payment scheme for local councils was boosted to £60 million in anticipation of extra demand from struggling tenants.

It is true that evidence about the policy is conflicting. Lord Freud, introducing it in the House of Lords, apparently refused to listen to arguments that there were too few single-bedroom properties into which under-occupiers could downsize. Now he is blaming local authorities for the shortage.

The government said the policy would save £480 million, but the increased cost of DHPs must be subtracted from that, and also the costs of people who do manage to downsize. This could range from just four per cent of the 660,000 affected households to 20 per cent, depending on who you believe – a recent study by the University of York suggested that 20 per cent of households intended to move (which isn’t quite the same as actually doing it), but this was based on evidence from just four housing associations.

It seems unlikely that one-fifth of everyone affected nationally is moving to a different property – but even if they were, this would not create a saving for the government because it would have to pay out, not only increased Housing Benefit for those who have moved into smaller but more expensive private rented housing, but also Housing Benefit for people moving into the now-vacant larger social housing.

And then there are the people who cannot downsize but cannot afford the rent if their Housing Benefit is reduced. Recent reports had 50,000 households facing eviction – around one-thirteenth of the total number affected.

If they become homeless, local councils will have to find temporary accommodation for them – and this is paradoxically much more expensive than putting them in social housing, because they have to go into bed-and-breakfast rooms. Homelessness was already on the increase before the Bedroom Tax was introduced, rising from 44,160 households in 2011-12 to 53,540 in 2012-13.

Not only that, but there has been a sharp increase in complaints about this accommodation, according to the Local Government Ombudsman.

Finally, let us not forget that at least one suicide has been attributed to the Bedroom Tax – that of Stephanie Bottrill.

So definitive research is certainly desirable. There’s just one problem: The Coalition Government is very good at commissioning ‘independent’ reports that say exactly what ministers want them to.

Look at the report on culling badgers to get rid of bovine tuberculosis. A seven-year study during New Labour’s period in office concluded that this would be useless, and in fact could worsen the situation. The Coalition came in and a new study appeared advocating a cull.

With no knowledge of who is carrying out the report it is hard to predict whether its findings will be accurate – or just what the government ordered.

Bloodlust: A backdoor plan to bring back hunting

Blood. Sport? Not all foxes are ripped to pieces by the hounds that hunt them - but this one was. [Picture: INS News Agency]

Blood. Sport? Not all foxes are ripped to pieces by the hounds that hunt them – but this one was. [Picture: INS News Agency]

It seems that killing badgers is not enough to sate the Conservative Party’s bloodlust and its members are now trying to restore fox hunting with packs of dogs.

According to the Daily Telegraph, The Federation of Welsh Farmers’ Packs (who?) has commissioned a report to assess whether lifting the limit on the number of dogs used to flush out foxes (for farmers to shoot) will improve efficiency.

Unsurprisingly – because these studies always provide the result desired by the people paying for them – it showed that using a full pack of hounds can be almost twice as effective as using just two dogs, as required by the current law. It also claimed that this could improve animal welfare, as the pursuit could be over much sooner, and use of snares – condemned as cruel – could be reduced.

It isn’t a reintroduction of ‘The Hunt’ by the strictest interpretation of the idea, but restoring the right to use a pack of hounds to chase a single fox would be wide open to abuse, especially by the kind of landed Tories who think they should be able to do whatever they want, to whatever they want, and the Hunting Act 2004 was a gross imposition.

The Coalition Agreement of 2010, of course, includes a commitment to a free vote on repealing the Act – but many Conservative MPs now accept that they might not get enough support to secure the reversal. Many see this as the most convenient alternative.

It’s the old ‘bait-and-switch’ trick again, isn’t it? They have transferred it to the countryside but the form is still the same: Find an acceptable pretext that will act as a cover for the real change to the law that will be imposed.

And there’s no mystery about why they want to bring back hunting. It’s a metaphor for the Tory lifestyle, isn’t it?

They say they’re going to “get tough”, or some similar flannel, and then – after they have wheedled their change into law – we all discover that this means siding with very large, or very bloodthirsty animals to bully, hound (in both senses of the word) and possibly even cause the death of a much smaller creature that they have isolated from its fellows.

Oh, how brave. Oh, how sporting!

It will be bloodier than the DWP’s attack on the disabled.