#AceNewsReport – Nov.21: Researchers predict the Last Ice Area will survive the longest in a warming world—but how long the ice will last is unclear….
#ClimateChange Report: The Arctic Ocean region may provide a sanctuary to animals who need the summertime frozen habitat for survival by Elizabeth GamilloNovember 16, 2021 5:39 p.m.
Seasonal ice in the Arctic used to melt and freeze in a predictable cycle. However, as climate change accelerates, much of that summertime ice no longer returns at all. The Arctic now spans less than half the area it did in the early 1980s. A 400,000-square-mile region north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago known as the Last Ice Area was previously seen as resistent to much of global warming’s effects, but new estimates show this area is under serious threat.
The Last Ice Area has the thickest, most resilient year-round ice that persists year-round. According to both pessimistic and optimistic scenarios described in a recent study, the important region will be alarmingly thin by 2050. Now, scientists are racing to understand what this would mean for arctic animals that rely on it for survival.
Though Last Ice Area will likely be the last ice remaining in the Arctic as global warming persists, it’s not clear how long the ice will survive. Pessimistic scenarios show that summertime sea ice will be gone entirely by 2100. The study was published in September in the journal Earth’s Future.
“Unfortunately, this is a massive experiment we’re doing,” said study co-author Robert Newton, a climate research scientist at Columbia University, in a statement. “If the year-round ice goes away, entire ice-dependent ecosystems will collapse, and something new will begin.”
In September, a computer simulator predicted that the Last Ice Area could retain summer sea ice if the planet doesn’t warm more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, reports Freda Kreier for Science News. However, a recent United Nations report spells trouble. Under current pledges to reduce emissions, temperatures will increase by 2.7 degrees Celsius by 2100. With such a steep increase, summer sea ice in the Arctic will disappear completely.The Arctic Ocean with the Last Ice Area located north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The Last Ice Area is outlined in red.
The Last Ice Area is a sensitive ecosystem that is crucial for Arctic life and may be the only place where animals will find sanctuary in the dire face of climate change. When the Northern Hemisphere returns to winter, the Arctic Ocean refreezes and ice in the Last Ice Area grows to a meter thick. When some ice melts summer, winds and currents carry floating ice from continental shelves off Siberia to the open waters, reports Kelly Kizer Whitt for Earth Sky. These flows of ice pile up and form ten-meter-high ridges that can remain frozen for more than a decade in the Last Ice Area. Canada’s islands prevent the ice from drifting further into the Atlantic Ocean, per Science News.
Underneath the ice in the Last Ice Area, a rich ecosystem generates the region’s food chain. Plankton and single-celled algae eventually form thick mats at the edges and bottoms of the ice sheets, forming the foundation of the Arctic’s food cycle. Algae feeds fish, seals eat fish, and polar bears hunt seals, reports Earth Sky. Thick iceburgs also provide shelter for polar bears and seals.
However, a warming climate means newly formed ice is thinner and melts faster each year as summer heat lasts longer. Overall, less ice drifts northward to eventually accumulate in the Last Ice Area. But plankton can’t survive without the ice, and without plankton, the food chain collapses and other animals will go along with it. Researchers hope that the Last Ice Area and its thin summer ice will be enough to provide the final floating sanctuary for animals like polar bears and other species as they ride out global warming.
But many scientists are optimistic that if carbon emissions are reduced globally in the 21st century, the region will survive until temperatures drop again and the ice can regrow, Earth Sky reports. However, the area must also be protected against mining and other developments to protect the area, Science News reports.
“The tragedy would be if we had an area where these animals could survive this bottleneck, but they don’t because it’s been developed commercially,” Newton explains to Science News.
Best Questions To Ask Yourself Eleven simple questions you can ask yourself today that will inspire you to look for the good in life — things that are already working in your life now, and will make you appreciate and recognize them for their benefit and value.
These questions will teach you how to get happiness back in your life by focusing on the right things.
As life gets busy or when sudden misfortunes arise, these things are sometimes overlooked and left unnoticed amidst the chaos of everyday living.
Take the time to answer these questions below and feel how much you have to be thankful for right now. This will help shift your perspective by looking for what’s satisfying wherever you are, instead of what is missing, lacking, or not working.
Let’s jump right in!
Question 1: Who are the people I feel blessed to have met in my life? This could be a family member, a friend, a teacher or mentor, or even a new acquaintance who has helped you in one way or another. As you take the time to name them one by one, feel the gratitude for having attracted them into your life and the appreciation for the unique being that they are to you.
This could be anyone you have met in person or online, who has given or taught you something of value and assisted you in becoming a better person.
Question 2: What things do I have right now that makes my life comfortable? Look around you right now and notice what brings you comfort wherever you are. This could be the simplest things like the bed you slept on last night, the roof above your head, the relaxing bath you had this morning, or the meals that made your tummy satisfied. Up to the things you once desired that you now enjoy, like a fast internet connection, your access to a wide range of products and services all over the world, the ease of communicating to anyone regardless of distance, and the variety of avenues for pleasure and entertainment available to you.
Question 3: What qualities or skills have I developed over time that I feel proud to have now? These could be qualities such as kindness or generosity that you have practised and has become the trait that people like about you. Or it could be your cleanliness or superb organizational skills that you just feel proud to be good at. Or it could be that you are a good listener and friends are comfortable sharing stories with you, that you are humorous and fun to be around because you are very lighthearted and don’t take things too seriously that much, or that you are an avid learner and you just enjoy improving yourself in many areas of life. These qualities are very valuable to have but are oftentimes not given enough credit for what they’re worth.
Question 4: What experiences have I had in my life that made me better than I was before? These are experiences you have gone through in the past that make you feel thankful for the valuable lessons and insights they have provided for you. Recognizing them will make you see your experiences in a good light and the “blessings in disguise” that are present in those seeming contradictions in life. This could be the past relationships that have ended but made you love yourself even more or a lost job opportunity that eventually led you to discover what you truly wanted to pursue in life.
Question 5: What are the things I enjoy and love doing that I can do, either regularly or occasionally? What things make you feel joyful and excited as you do them, and which you are capable and free to do from time to time? Maybe it’s reading a book by your favourite author, watching movies you like, trying out a new recipe by your favourite celebrity chef, buying a new wardrobe for yourself, or just laughing out loud with your friends over a cup of coffee. These could be simple but meaningful things you’re able to do from the comfort of your home, or alongside other people from time to time.
Question 6: What desires, big or small, do I have in the past that I am already living right now? These are desires that you want at one point in your life that have already manifested for you. It’s time to look back and remember the things you once wanted in the past that you already possess today. Perhaps a desire to take a cooking or art class, or your desire to start your blog, or to improve your self-confidence and communication skills. It could also be opening up your first savings account or starting your diet program. This could be any baby step that you’ve already accomplished for yourself or have successfully ticked off on your wish list.
Question 7: What unique things do I like about myself? What personality trait or ability do you like most about you? What makes you distinctly who you are? Maybe having a very unique laugh that many find funny and contagious, or possessing a great memory that you find it very easy to retain information, or even being good at analyzing directions and navigating the road especially in new places. Look for these characteristics in yourself, and feel your self-love and self-esteem grow as you recognize your hidden genius.
Question 8: What made me smile or laugh today? Think of three things that made you feel good today. Could be a Facebook post from a friend that made you laugh so hard, a very adorable baby on your Instagram feed, a surprise call or message from a distant relative you haven’t talked to for a while, or just the nice and comfortable weather as you’re relaxing at home today. Notice these subtle things around you that are worth feeling grateful for today.
Question 9: What things worked out for me this week? These are things at home or at work that went smoothly and successfully for you. Your laundry finished on time, check. Your weekly house cleaning done, check. Requirements for a certain project already submitted, check. Groceries for the week are done and complete, check. And as you notice all the things working out, you will vibrate toward success and appreciation more and more. This will create more good things coming to you with great success as well.
Question 10: What kind of help have I offered anyone, tangible or intangible? What good things have you done for somebody else? Offering helpful advice for a friend in need, assisting a co-worker on a certain project you have some knowledge about, giving directions to a stranger who’s new in town, offering food to a homeless child, donating your !lclothes to charity, or even just giving a helping hand to your mom as she’s doing household chores. Notice that as you offer help and kindness to another, you are also giving that positive energy to yourself.
Question 11: What do I appreciate about life in general? This last question will allow you to look from a broader perspective of your life and take note of the things that feel good about being alive, here and now. These can include the most general things such as the sun coming up this morning, your heart continuously beating, nature continuously growing to support life, or your body effortlessly functioning and doing well without your supervision. Notice all of this magic in life, and feel how blessed and worthy you are to be alive at this time. Conclusion Big or small, your every answer to these questions is counted, and each one adds up to the blessings that are continuously piling up for you. In time, it will be easy for you to know how to get happiness back in your life whenever you fall back into unhappiness thinking. What you focus upon grows. So make it your daily habit to continuously focus on the good that is already in your life and watch it grow to even bigger, greater things. And in time, you will gradually lean towards looking for the good in life and always seeing your world in a positive light.
Race-shifters: white people who identify as Indigenous
Race-shifters: white people who identify as Indigenous Sportsman and Indigenous guides (carrying snowshoes), with game in winter. Gabe Atwin far left, ca. 1875. Image from the Provincial Archives of NB.
The number of people across Canada who self-identify as Indigenous is growing rapidly. Some of that growth can be explained by the Indigenous children of the Sixties Scoop and residential school survivors re-discovering or accepting their Indigenous identities. However an entirely different group of Canadians has emerged. “Race-shifters” are white people with no or a small amount of Indigenous ancestry who identify as Indigenous.
Race-shifters live in every province, mostly in communities with large populations of French ancestry. In this province, for example, in 1996 and 2016, the population of New Brunswick was roughly the same. However in the 1996 census, only 950 people self-identified as Métis, but in the 2016 census that number jumped to 10,200. How is this possible?
The confusion includes the misconception that anyone with Indigenous ancestry can call themselves Métis. On the contrary, “Métis” has a specific definition in Canadian law. In 2003 the Supreme Court Powley decision described a Métis person as “one who self-identifies, has an ancestral connection to a historic Métis community, and is accepted by that community.” Anyone can self-identify as “Métis” when answering a census question, but not everyone of them is a member of the historic Métis Nation that originated in the Red River Valley of Manitoba.
Darryl Leroux has been exploring the race-shifting phenomenon for more than two decades. The social scientist from St. Mary’s University was in Fredericton Nov. 20 to speak about the process he has called “white settler revisionism,” a new wave of colonialism and to launch his new book, Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity published by the University of Manitoba Press.
His book, engaging with critical theories from Indigenous studies and genealogy studies, is based on his virtual ethnography research on social media forums. Leroux analyzes how white power and white settler colonialism gets “reconfigured into white settler indigeneity.”
The motivations of some race-shifters can be perverse. In Quebec for example, a group of white supremacists created a “Métis” group to increase their access to hunting and fishing territory. The first action of this new “Metis” group was to file for an injunction against a local Indigenous land claim. In his book, Leroux analyzes this kind of race-shifting as anti-indigenous politics. The largest self-identified “Métis” organization in Quebec, the Metis Nation of the Rising Sun, claims to have about 15,000 members.
In other instances, the white people claiming Indigenous identity are not trying to also claim Indigenous rights, they simply “want to avoid being white by adopting other identities,” Leroux explained. Many of these people have family stories going back generations about an Indigenous ancestor. “They are interpreting what they were told in the past to shape what they want to believe about themselves today,” he said.
As an example, Leroux described the “Mothers of Acadia Mitochondrial DNA Project” that claims to be about finding the truth but in reality is finding a way to confirm Indigenous identity.
Darryl Leroux at the Fredericton launch of his new book, Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity, at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick on Nov. 20, 2019. Photo by Susan O’Donnell For his book, Leroux analysed five online forums hosting discussions on many different genealogy topics, including white people exploring their Indigenous ancestry. In Canada, the phenomenon is most common among people with French ancestry who base their self-identification on an ancestor born more than 300 years ago. More than four million people today could create a family tree that would include one of three particular Indigenous women from the 16th century. What does that mean for them?
According to Leroux, probably 75% of French descendants in Canada have a small amount of Indigenous ancestry however, crucially, that does not make them Indigenous. In fact, he says, most French-heritage race-shifters have more English ancestry than Indigenous ancestry but they are not making the claim that they are English.
Most Canadian race-shifters live in Quebec but the percentage of the population claiming Indigenous identity is larger in Nova Scotia. Although the number of race-shifters has grown significantly in New Brunswick during the last two decades, Leroux pointed out that the percentage of race-shifters in the New Brunswick population is less than in neighbouring Nova Scotia, a fact he believes might be related to the stronger Acadian identity in this province. With a strong cultural identity, there is less incentive to seek out and adopt other identities.
However even in New Brunswick, the number of race-shifters has become a nuisance for some First Nations people in the province. It is more of a problem north of Moncton, in Miramichi and especially around Bathurst, he said. The race-shifters are “looking for Mi’kmaq people to confirm their identity, which can be very offensive.”
The website Race-Shifting created by Leroux with University of New Brunswick graduate student Stephanie Pettigrew has mapped hundreds of groups across Canada and court cases fought – and lost – by race-shifting groups claiming to have Indigenous rights.
The website shows the locations of, and information about, the five active organizations in New Brunswick: the “Communauté Wik-Wam-Sun-Oté” near Edmundston, the “Canadian Métis Council – Intertribal /Métis Genealogical Centre of Canada,” based in Oxbow NB near Grand Falls, the “Conseil Autochtone de la Côte-Est/Tribu Muis,” in Laplante, NB on the Baie des Chaleurs, the “East Coast First People Alliance/Alliance du premier peuple de la Côte-Est,” in Lameque and the “Metis Nation of Saint John,” in that city.
Leroux’s work has been praised by well-known Indigenous scholars, including Mi’kmaq scholar Pam Palmater, a professor at Ryerson University from Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. In her review, Palmater wrote that Leroux’s book is “a brave, original piece of scholarship,” that “exposes the extent to which white settler colonialism undermines Indigenous rights through the theft of Indigenous identity.” Palmater adds that the book is “a real wake-up call.”
Susan O’Donnell is a member of the NB Media Co-op editorial board and a member of the RAVEN project.
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Stopping the spraying of glyphosate on Crown (public) lands and waters stands out among the dozens of other pressing environmental issues in New Brunswick. The activist movement to stop spraying the poison has united a broad spectrum of groups and organizations, from hunting and fishing associations to Indigenous protectors of lands and waters.
A petition by the largest activist group on the issue, Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB), has been signed by more than 34,000 citizens. New Brunswickers have organized dozens of public protests over the years demanding an end to glyphosate spraying, including on May Day this year in Saint John outside Irving buildings and most recently on Nov. 19 outside the New Brunswick Legislature, as part of a rally in support of the biologist Rod Cumberland.
As reported in numerous NB Media Co-op stories over the past decade, current forest management practices focus on creating and maintaining large-scale softwood tree plantations in a way that primarily benefits corporate owners and shareholders. The practices require the poison glyphosate to be sprayed to kill off other plant species to make the tree plantations more profitable. The poison harms ecosystems and animals and other species in forests and waterways.
These harmful forestry management practices have been supported by successive Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments. Governments have not only ignored the widespread public concerns about glyphosate spraying but also continued to approve licenses and the use of public funds by forestry corporations to spray the poison on Crown lands. SSNB reported on its website that a freedom of information request found that in 2017 alone, $2,860,000 in public funds were spent on glyphosate spraying in the province.
On Nov. 20, the day after the new Legislature opened this week, leader of the Green Party David Coon tabled a bill to end the practice on Crown lands. The Act to Amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act creates a new section of the Act that bans the aerial spraying of herbicides on Crown land and makes it an offense punishable with a fine of up to $200,000.
The bill also defines, for the first time, a herbicide: “a chemical agent or other product or substance registered under the Pest Control Products Act (Canada) that is manufactured, represented or used as a means of destroying, preventing, controlling or mitigating weeds or other plant life.” This clear definition will ensure that not only glyphosate but also all poisons will be included in the ban.
The Green Party bill has two purposes. In addition to the ban on glyphosate spraying, it ensures that New Brunswick mills purchase more wood from private woodlots and that they are fairly compensated.
In a media release about the proposed bill, David Coon noted that the provincial Auditor General recommended in 2015 that private woodlot owners should have fair access to the wood market but the government did not follow the recommendation. “This bill will remedy that by requiring private wood to be purchased through the wood marketing boards and ensuring that private wood makes up a third of the wood consumed by the mills,” says Coon.
Requiring mills to purchase wood from private woodlots will help sustain the economies of rural communities. Coon points out that woodlot owners, “like farmers and fishermen, are essential to the viability of rural economies, but they need to be able to make a reasonable living.”
The previous week, on Nov. 13, SSNB announced that David Coon, Megan Mitton and Kevin Arseneau, the three Green Party MLAs, had signed a pledge committing the politicians to ”take concrete action towards the banning of herbicide spraying on public lands in New Brunswick.” The pledge included raising awareness of the issue, drafting, tabling and debating the bill in the Legislature and working to gain support of the bill among MLAs. Gerald Bourque, leader of KISS party NB also signed the pledge in support of SSNB. No other MLAs or parties in the Legislature have signed the SSNB pledge.
The Green Party is now committed to moving its Act to Amend the Crown Lands and Forests Act through the slow legislative process. Legislation introduced by the opposition parties has only a small window of time to proceed: a few hours every Thursday afternoon when the Legislature is in session. The Official Opposition, the Liberal Party, can take most of the time slots on Thursday afternoons, leaving third parties like the Green Party with little time.
It will be only in January or later in 2020 before David Coon will have the opportunity to give his bill Second Reading, the most important stage in the passage of a bill. At this stage, Coon will present the rationale for his bill and debate its merits with other MLAs. If a majority of MLAs vote in support of the bill, it will pass to Committee for a more detailed review and debate. If it passes that stage and Third Reading, it will move to the final stage, Royal Assent. At that point, the bill becomes law.
David Coon’s bill specifies that it will come into force July 1, 2020, to ensure that it will be in place before the next round of spraying. However that will only happen if a majority of MLAs vote for the bill. In the current minority government situation, that means that the three Green Party MLAs, all the Liberal MLAs, and two of the three People’s Alliance MLAs must support it. If the Liberals support it but the People’s Alliance do not, the bill will not pass.
Susan O’Donnell is the research lead for the RAVEN project at the University of New Brunswick and a member of the NB Media Co-op editorial board.
#AceNewsReport – July.31: This, together with the killing, pillaging, and rape, committed by all parties, has created a humanitarian crisis. With the UN warning it would run out of food supplies today, Amy Braunschweiger speaks with Human Rights Watch’s Horn of Africa director Laetitia Bader about the devastation on the ground, and about how to report on a conflict when enormous obstacles hinder obtaining real-time information.
HRW Report: The Latest on the Crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: Fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region is entering its ninth month, and it may intensify after leaders in several of Ethiopia’s regions as well as its capital, Addis Ababa, called on residents, including youth, to mobilize against the Tigray fighters as the conflict has forced more than two million to flee their homes and left millions dependent on food aid. Deepening the crisis, Ethiopia’s government has repeatedly cut basic services to the region, including electricity and communications.
July 30, 2021 2:54AM EDT:
What do we know about the situation in Tigray now?
June saw heavy fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces, including Ethiopia’s allied forces from its Amhara region and neighboring Eritrea. On June 28, Tigrayan forces recaptured the regional capital, Mekelle, taking thousands of Ethiopian soldiers prisoner. That same day, the federal government withdrew from Tigray and declared a unilateral ceasefire, citing many reasons including to allow in essential aid.
Yet the government kept Tigray shut off after its declaration.
Since late June, Ethiopian authorities have blocked roads into the region, and access is sporadic. Even now, electricity and fuel supplies are rapidly dwindling, communications and banking have been shut down, and access to cash is severely limited, including for aid agencies operating in the region.
It’s important to underline that a ceasefire should not be necessary to ensure that warring parties allow the civilian population access to humanitarian aid, which is a basic requirement of the law of armed conflict.
What abuses have you uncovered over the last eight months?
Early in the fighting, people in Tigray suffered indiscriminate bombing by Ethiopian government forces, killing scores and forcing thousands to flee to Sudan or elsewhere in Ethiopia. Over the following months, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Amhara troops burned crops, occupied and looted homes, and committed extrajudicial killings. We’ve documented 10 days of horror in the historic town of Axum, where Ethiopian and Eritrean forces shelled the town, then conducted widespread pillaging of the town and health centers. Eritrean forces there responded to an ambush by massacring scores of residents in their homes and on the street, including children. In general, we’ve reported on summary executions, sexual violence, pillaging, arbitrary detention, and attacks on factories, schools, and hospitals.
Is humanitarian aid still not getting into Tigray today?
Keep in mind that by early June, there were already 350,000 people facing starvation in Tigray. Four million people, 70 percent of the population, needed food aid. After the government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration, humanitarian workers said that roads, notably through the neighboring Amhara region, were blocked off. On July 1 a bridge you have to cross to enter central Tigray was destroyed and a convoy of 29 trucks carrying food aid was forced to turn back. One aid convoy made it into Tigray two weeks ago, but another was attacked ten days ago in the Afarregion. Another convoy is currently blocked in Afar awaiting government clearance.
To make matters worse, humanitarian workers have been threatened and attacked. Since the conflict began, 12 aid workers have been killed, including three Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) staff killed in late June. Ethiopian defense forces entered and raided UNICEF offices in late June, dismantling critical communication equipment. Warring parties, notably Eritrean government forces, have deliberately attacked and occupied medical facilities. Over the last three weeks, social media influencers have repeatedly made false online claims against aid workers, putting them at greater risk.
What happened to make food aid so essential in Tigray?
Ethiopian troops and their allies from Eritrea and the Amhara region have looted and burned crops, and attacked factories and infrastructure. This war started during harvesting season. We interviewed Tigrayans who fled to Sudan who reported that farming equipment and crops were burned and their harvest and livestock looted, notably by Amhara and Eritrean forces.
For months, people were also just too scared to move, given the risks they faced.
How are the Ethiopian federal government’s restrictions on communications hurting people?
As we speak, the phone lines are once again down in the region. The internet has been cut off since the beginning of the conflict. No phone service makes it difficult for people to receive key information, like which areas may be safe, or where to go if they need medical help.
People also can’t get information about family and friends. I recently spoke to a doctor who fled Tigray into Sudan. His wife had a baby a month ago and he still hasn’t been able to tell his family back home.
It also makes it incredibly difficult for humanitarian workers to help people, and to make decisions around security or to assess a community’s needs. And it hinders the ability of journalists and human rights groups like ours to collect information and report on unfolding abuses.
So how have you been doing research?
Whenever communication lines are restored, we speak with people in the region about what they’ve experienced. We’ve been able to confirm atrocities and witness accounts using forensic analysis and various open-source techniques, including satellite imagery and verification of video and photo materials.
What’s happening with the Eritrean refugees in Tigray?
Two weeks ago, we heard alarming reports that the two remaining camps for Eritrean refugees in Tigray were caught in the fighting between Tigrayan and Ethiopian government forces. The warring parties need to protect these vulnerable people, and the international community should be thinking about how to support and protect them as well.
Earlier in the conflict, two other refugee camps hosting roughly 20,000 Eritrean refugees were destroyed by Eritrean forces, the military from the country where they fled repression and persecution. Tigrayan militias also killed and sexually assaulted refugees in late 2020, in what appears to be unlawful revenge attacks because of abuses Eritrea’s forces committed in Tigray at the time, including massacres, widespread pillaging, and sexual violence.
There are numerous reports of sexual violence against women and girls. What kind of help are rape survivors able to get?
What’s happening to ethnic Tigrayans in Ethiopia outside of the Tigray region?
Since the conflict’s beginning, government security forces have harassed, profiled, dismissed from work, and arbitrarily arrested ethnic Tigrayans throughout Ethiopia. Many Tigrayans in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, continue to face discrimination and arbitrary arrest. The government has held incommunicado journalists, political activists, and other people from all walks of life of Tigrayan descent, their loved ones don’t know how to locate them. Security forces and local officials have closed scores of Tigrayan businesses in the capital.
How has the fighting affected the rest of the country?
Events in Tigray have attracted a lot of attention because of the gravity of the crimes. But this isn’t happening in a vacuum. For several years we and others have been raising the alarm about a deteriorating human rights situation under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in many parts of Ethiopia.
Over the past year alone, government security forces have engaged in abuses in the Oromia region, including widespread arbitrary arrest, extrajudicial and public executions, enforced disappearances, and harassment of people with perceived links to Oromo rebel groups. Violence along ethnic and communal lines has broken out in all 10 regions of Ethiopia, resulting in killings, displacement, and destruction of property. In the last days alone, there are reports of deadly violence along the Afar and Somali regional border.
The situation in Ethiopia had deteriorated in the lead-up to late June’s national elections, which many parts of the country didn’t participate in because of security issues and voting irregularities.
Events in Tigray are happening within a context in which the federal and regional governments have failed to tackle the country’s underlying problems. Structural problems and legitimate grievances have not been discussed or responded to, and there has been no credible justice for past government abuses and repression or more recent wrongs.
When Abiy became prime minister in 2018, there was widespread hope that the future could be brighter given promises of sweeping reforms. These haven’t materialized, and these hopes have been dashed for communities throughout the country.
What has been the international response to the Tigray situation? ……..The response by the United Nations and influential governments has been slow and mixed. Over the last few months, there’s been more concerted efforts by the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom about ensuring access to aid and calling for investigations into serious abuses. The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has established a commission of inquiry, which the African Union needs to support with financial, technical, and political assistance. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights (OHCHR) is conducting a joint investigation with Ethiopia’s national human rights commission.
The UN Human Rights Council was very slow to react to the crisis, only putting Tigray on its agenda in mid-July. At the same time, the UN Security Council was in paralysis, discussing Ethiopia for months behind closed doors, with some member states saying the conflict was an “internal matter.” The first public Security Council meeting was not until June.
It’s critical that the key international bodies and governments move beyond condemnatory statements and adopt concrete action. They should push for credible, UN-led investigations, which could pave the way for the prosecution of those responsible for serious abuses. They should also impose individual sanctions on those responsible for violating international human rights and humanitarian law, and adopt an arms embargo.
#AceNewsReport – July.11: There has been a lot of reporting of koalas sighted along the Appin Road in the last month, and that’s a big worry because obviously, that’s going to end up in lots of fatalities,” Mr Lonza said.
#AceDailyNews says Campbelltown based wildlife rescuer Ricardo Lonza said he was called to the deaths of the koalas on Appin Rd and Heathcote Rd on the same day, but he was at a loss to explain why koalas were on the move at a normally quiet time of year according to ABC News
Yesterday at 6:01am
“A lot of the younger males at the moment that are moving from A to B are trying to find new territory, they are normally younger koalas, but the one I got off Heathcote Rd was an alpha male, he was eleven point something kilos, which is pretty big for a koala.
“And he would have been the big boss in that area and he has sadly been wiped out.”
“A beautiful koala, it’s just like a kid laying on the side of the road, you hold them in your arms, you take them back to the car to remove the body, it’s just like a human.”
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage estimates 3,500 koalas were killed by vehicles on NSW roads between 1980 and 2018.
“This is likely an underestimate because many koalas injured or killed by vehicles are unlikely to be reported,” the OEH said.
The local estimated population, by Campbelltown Council, was small at just 90 to 200, by comparison, there is 18,000 registered dogs in the same area, another factor impacting koala survival.
Tunnels put forward as solution
Koala tunnels under roads were often touted as a solution to help ensure their protection as they move about, but plans have been slow to eventuate.
A case in point is the new suburb of Gilead where Leadlease’s Figtree Hill estate is promising 1,700 new homes located in “rolling hills to vast untouched bushland overlooking the Nepean River.”
Dogs will be allowed.
It was a project targeted by conservationists and koala campaigners, convinced the removal of 17 trees in January this year to mark the start of construction should not have happened. The campaigners took legal action to stop the removal of more than 300 trees.
“As soon as you start moving and cutting down trees and so on you are actually reducing their corridor, therefore you have to have these crossings established across Appin Road before you start doing major clearing in those areas,” Saul Dean from the Total Environment Centre said.
“In fact, nothing should happen on that site until we have those crossings in place.
“If they start to clear for the development obviously the ability to cross those roads becomes more important because you are narrowing and constricting the pathways through which koalas can move.
“Before you start clearing koalas actually have a very large area from which they can move across Appin Road and therefore the chances of them being hit are considerably lessened.”
Lendlease said it was committed to building a koala barrier fence along the entire eastern end of the estate bordering on Appin Road, which would also be upgraded.
“While the fence will be effective in protecting koalas, many experts, including the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, recommend the inclusion of koalas underpasses on Appin Road,” a Lendlease spokesman said.
“We’ve offered to construct two underpasses, one at Noorumba Reserve and another at Beulah Reserve.
“Decisions on either of these two underpasses have not yet been made by the state government, the owner of the road.”
In response, Transport for NSW said it was working on upgrading Appin Road from Rosemeadow to Mt Gilead, but a decision on the tunnels needed to support the movement of koalas from the Georges River to the Picton River has yet to be made.
“The location of future fauna connectivity on Appin Road is currently being considered, in collaboration with Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and other agencies,” a spokesperson said.
“Transport for NSW will keep the community informed of any updates as it works with agencies on koala protection and other issues in Greater Macarthur.”
There currently appears to be no timeline for the completion of the wildlife tunnels.
I started under the insult, but as I had pocketed many such in the past I had become inured to them. I, therefore, decided to forget this latest one and take what course a dispassionate view of the case might suggest.
We had a letter from the Chief of the Asiatic Department to the effect that, as I had been found necessary to omit my name from the deputation which was to wait on him. The letter was more than my co-workers could bear.
They proposed to drop the idea of the deputation altogether. I pointed out to them the awkward situation of the community. If you do not represent your case before Mr Chamberlain,’ said I, ‘it will be presumed that you have no case at all.
After all, the representation has to be made in writing, and we have got it ready. It does not matter in the least whether I read it or someone else reads it. Mr Chamberlain is not going to argue the matter with us.
I am afraid we must swallow the insult.’ I had scarcely finished speaking when Tyeb Sheth cried out, ‘Does not an insult to you amount to an insult to the community?
How can we forget that you are our representative?’ ‘Too true.’ said I. ‘But even the community will have to pocket insults like these. Have we any alternative?’
‘Come what may, why should we swallow a fresh insult? Nothing worse can happen to us. Have we many rights to lose?’ asked Tyeb Sheth. It was a spirited reply, but of what avail was it? I was fully conscious of the limitations of the community.
I pacified my friends and advised them to have, in my place, Mr George Godfrey, an Indian barrister. So Mr Godfrey led the deputation.
Mr Chamberlain referred in his reply to my exclusion. ‘Rather than hear the same representative over and over again, is it not better to have someone new?’ he said and tried to heal the wound. But all this, far from ending the matter, only added to the work of the community and also to mine.
We had to start afresh. ‘It is at your instance that the community helped in the war, and you see the result now,’ were the words with which some people taunted me. But the taunt did not affect. ‘I do not regret my advice,’ said I. ‘I maintain that we did well in taking part in the war.
In doing so we simply did our duty. We may not look forward to any reward for our labours, but it is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit in the end. Let us forget the past and think of the task before us.’
With which the rest agreed. I added: ‘To tell you the truth the work for which you had called me is practically finished. But I believe I ought not to leave the Transvaal, so far as it is possible, even if you permit me to return home. Instead of carrying on my work from Natal, as before, I must now do so from here. I must no longer think of returning to India within a year but must get enrolled in the Transvaal Supreme Court.
I have confidence enough to deal with this new department. If we do not do this, the community will be hounded out of the country, besides being thoroughly robbed out the country, besides being thoroughly robbed. Every day it will have fresh insults heaped upon it.
The facts that Mr Chamberlain refused to see me and that the official insulted me, are nothing before the humiliation of the whole community. It will become impossible to put up with the veritable dog’s life that we shall be expected to lead.’ So I set the ball rolling, discussed things with Indians in Pretoria and Johannesburg and ultimately decided to set up an office in Johannesburg.
It was indeed doubtful whether I would be enrolled in the Transvaal Supreme Court. But the Law Society did not oppose my application, and the Court allowed it.
It was difficult for an Indian to secure rooms for an office in a suitable locality. But I had come in fairly close contact with Mr Ritch, who was then one of the merchants there. Through the good offices of a house agent known to him, I succeeded in securing suitable rooms for my office in the legal quarters of the city, and I started on my professional work. ~ POCKETED THE INSULT –
#AceNewsReport – Apr.27: It uses language that reinforces stigma against people with disabilities rather than ensuring equal access to education, employment, transportation, social and legal services, and independent living:
Cambodia: Revise Flawed Disability Bill: Adopt Inclusive Rights-Based Approach; Seek to End Stigma: The Cambodian government should revise a draft disability law to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities in accordance with international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said today. Cambodia, in 2012, ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which aims to ensure full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by everyone with disabilities while enabling their full inclusion and equal participation in society: Human Rights Watch, in a 2013 report, documented that people in Cambodia with real or perceived psychosocial disabilities continue to be shackled – chained or locked in confined spaces – due to lack of adequate and accessible community-based services, as well as stigma and discrimination. The government should immediately ban shackling, Human Rights Watch said.
“ Cambodia has long needed a disability rights law, but the proposed bill needs to drop stigmatizing language and to support the right to be fully included in society, not marginalized,” said Kriti Sharma, disability rights expert at Human Rights Watch. “If the draft law is revised to meet international standards, the government would be taking a monumental step toward ensuring equal rights and strong social protections for the large number of people in Cambodia who have disabilities.”
The draft law’s definition of disability is based on an outdated paradigm guided by a medical model of disability, and uses stigmatizing language such as “disorder,” “damaged,” and “malfunctioned,” implying that a disability needs to be “cured” or “fixed.”
The bill should be revised to carry out key articles of the international treaty, Human Rights Watch said. This includes CRPD article 4 on requiring consultation with people with disabilities; article 12 on equal recognition before the law; article 14 on the right to liberty and security, including preventing arbitrary detention in institutions; article 15 on freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; article 19 on the right to live independently and be included within the community; and article 29 on participation in political and public life, including ensuring the right to seek public office.
The draft law sets out “levels of disability,” which is discriminatory because it creates a basis for excluding people with certain disabilities from living independently or accessing appropriate support. The government should reformulate the provision to reflect the requirement in the international covenant for adequate support measures for people with disabilities that would allow them to be fully included and live independently in society.
Chapter IV sets out rights of people with disabilities and the government’s obligations, including on employment, health services, education, accessibility arrangements, equal participation, and legal services. The section on education specifies that the government will provide classes for “persons with disabilities who cannot attend an inclusive class.” This introduces a form of segregation instead of providing for inclusive quality education. Under article 24 of the convention, government schools and educational institutions have a duty to provide reasonable accommodations – necessary and appropriate adjustments based on the individual needs of people with disabilities – and teaching using inclusive methods to ensure that instruction is adapted to the needs of all students.
The draft law article focusing on protection from sexual violence and harassment falls short of article 16 of the convention, which safeguards against all forms of exploitation, violence, and abuse, including those based on gender, and provides guidance for monitoring systems and support services. The bill uses vague language, merely requiring “appropriate and effective measures” and does not offer protections from other forms of violence such as physical violence, exploitation, and abuse. The article should set out complaints procedures that are accessible, anonymous, and provide for reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities.
Chapter III seeks to establish a Cambodian National Council for Persons with Disabilities. This government body should be supplemented by an independent body, as required by article 33 of the treaty, and include people with disabilities and representative organizations in decision-making in line with the fundamental principle of the treaty, “nothing about us, without us.”
In 2019, Cambodia rolled out a disability identification card pilot project in eight provinces, and said that by early 2021 it had registered about 14,000 people with disabilities. This card is designed to provide access to social benefits. However, the process has been slow, with inadequate dissemination of information to people with disabilities about registration and inadequate training for officials. “Of course, right now the disability ID doesn’t have much value,” Yeap Malino, the head of the department on disabilities, said in February.
In June 2020, the Interior Ministry proposed a draft Public Order Law, which will further entrench discrimination against people with psychosocial disabilities – mental health conditions. The current draft bill provides the authorities with unfettered powers to arbitrarily strip people with psychosocial disabilities of their civil liberties and detain them in institutions.
“ The Cambodian government should not waste the opportunity to move away from a system of isolation and abuse and should build a system of support and independence,” Sharma said. “The United Nations, donors, and others involved in drafting Cambodia’s disability law should insist on a final text that is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”