Fire and Water Forged The Unique Biology of The Galápagos

Source: BBC.com

By Jane Palmer
12 April, 2017

These Pacific islands are famed for their odd collection of animal species, but scientists have only now begun to realise how the islands’ ancient history led to present day diversity.

About 14 million years ago, the tops of several volcanoes broke the surface of the Pacific Ocean, roughly 1,000km (about 600 miles) due west from the coast of Ecuador. These peaks formed an early Galápagos archipelago, which now consists of 19 larger volcanic islands and 120 smaller ones. The collective landmass provides home to an almost freakish ensemble of creatures such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies.

When Charles Darwin landed at San Cristóbal Island of the Galápagos in 1835, he compared the hot and dusty place to the infernos of hell. But his visit subsequently inspired his theory of evolution by natural selection and ultimately led him to write On the Origin of Species.

Since that date, the Galápagos have provided a scientific muse to biologists and geologists alike. But despite the discoveries that have been made in these natural laboratories, a shroud of mystery still surrounds them.

(Read more at BBC.com)

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Press freedom groups condemn Turkish actions against Kurdish newspaper, call for release of arrested staff

Source: AEJ

March 29, 2018 –

The undersigned international press freedom groups call on Turkish authorities to immediately release the 12 printworkers and staff arrested on March 28 at the premises and print works of the newspaper Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi and the further 15 staff taken into custody after home raids on the morning of March 29, 2018. Authorities must also restore control over the paper and its premises to the rightful owners.

The below-named organizations also denounce the fact that lawyers acting for those arrested have been denied contact with prosecutors or access to any written documentation in relation to the raids.

Two officials purporting to be from the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) are in place at the print works and premises of Ozgurlukcu Demokrasi, a pro-Kurdish daily, and claim to be holding the sites until they receive further instructions. For its part, the TMSF, now part of the Ministry of Finance’s Directorate of National Estates and formerly an independent banking watchdog under the auspices of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, has denied having received instructions to seize the newspaper’s assets.

(Read more at AEJ.org)

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The Demise of the Nation State

Source: The Guardian / Author: Rana Dasgupta

After decades of globalisation, our political system has become obsolete – and spasms of resurgent nationalism are a sign of its irreversible decline.

What is happening to national politics? Every day in the US, events further exceed the imaginations of absurdist novelists and comedians; politics in the UK still shows few signs of recovery after the “national nervous breakdown” of Brexit. France “narrowly escaped a heart attack” in last year’s elections, but the country’s leading daily feels this has done little to alter the “accelerated decomposition” of the political system. In neighbouring Spain, El País goes so far as to say that “the rule of law, the democratic system and even the market economy are in doubt”; in Italy, “the collapse of the establishment” in the March elections has even brought talk of a “barbarian arrival”, as if Rome were falling once again. In Germany, meanwhile, neo-fascists are preparing to take up their role as official opposition, introducing anxious volatility into the bastion of European stability.
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But the convulsions in national politics are not confined to the west. Exhaustion, hopelessness, the dwindling effectiveness of old ways: these are the themes of politics all across the world. This is why energetic authoritarian “solutions” are currently so popular: distraction by war (Russia, Turkey); ethno-religious “purification” (India, Hungary, Myanmar); the magnification of presidential powers and the corresponding abandonment of civil rights and the rule of law (China, Rwanda, Venezuela, Thailand, the Philippines and many more).

(Read more at The Guardian)

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R.I.P. Fran Weaver

Fran Weaver, our dear colleague and friend, passed away last Sunday (25th March, 2018). His wake was held at Kaisla yesterday evening. The custom tends to be that we always remember, write and say good things about the deceased even when we really have to delve deep into our memories to find them. With Fran it was easy. He was liked by all, respected by everyone and showed kindness to people he knew and to those he didn’t. The number of people at his favourite beer spot last night, proved that. We will miss him. Rest in peace dear Fran.

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Finland and Trump – A talk by Lasse Lehtinen

By Violetta Teetor, EJN (Finnish branch of the Association of European Journalists)

Lasse Lehtinen is a retired Finnish journalist, MP, MEP and author of Blood, Sweat and Bears, My Forest and Full of Life. His knowledge of the uneasy truce between the Soviet Union and Finland gave us a picture of Finland’s relationship with the USA and why Finnish audiences are so interested in learning more about President Donald Trump. Mr. Lehtinen spoke at the European Journalists Network AGM on 27 February 2018.

Lasse Lehtinen & Violetta Teetor (EJN, annual general meeting, February 2018)

Finns were afraid. The dark years after the war brought about a precarious situation where criticism of the Soviet Union could not be aired publicly. Finnish sovereignty was on shaky ground resulting in Finns turning towards the great Western super power for inspiration and silent protest. At the time, Eljas Erkko, chief editor of Helsingin Sanomat, had the resources to influence thinking and it was due to him that Finland had the highest readership per capita of Donald Duck and Reader’s Digest. Marlboro cigarettes reached no. 1 in the smoking category in the same way as the Finns’ enthusiasm with American films, music and cars. Fullbright scholars came and went between the two countries, Rotary exchange students found homes in both places. Many of the Finnish returnees had had an education in leftist politics from protestors of the Vietnam War and brought their ideology with them.

What now? The symbol of democracy and freedom, the USA, seems to be going down the drain. The answers are opaque. The rust belt want their jobs back. Mr. Trump has promised that. There has also been a tax reform under the guise of lightening the average tax payers load, but is this really so? From all accounts, corporate America is the big winner with ‘pass-through’ companies such as Mr. Trump’s counting among the beneficiaries. The individual can celebrate but not for long since all their benefits come to a screeching halt in 2025, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

Should we be afraid? It’s a slippery road and we need studded tyres. Our hope is in President Sauli Niinistö whose visit to the White House panned out to be congenial. Diplomacy is what he’s good at unlike his American counterpart. In the footsteps of President Kekkonen’s brilliant handling of our eastern neighbour, diplomacy is this small country’s strength. Whether to the East or West, let’s cross our fingers that it works again.

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Position of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Slovak Section, to the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée

The Slovak Section of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) is
strongly perturbed by the cold-blooded murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and
his fiancée. This heinous crime was committed while he was pursuing
investigative work to expose crimes of persons linked not only to the
underworld, but also to the political elite of the country. The AEJ,
Slovak Section, demands that the Slovak police authorities fully and
thoroughly investigate these murders and bring the perpetrators to justice
before the courts.

In our perception, this murder was an attack on the basic principle of a
lawful democratic state, on freedom of speech and the press, one of the
constitutional rights of Slovak citizens. This is clearly also a dire
consequence of the systematic long-term aggressive verbal attacks on
journalists by various leading state representatives. At the same time, we
are asking precisely how Slovakia protects those who put themselves at
risk when uncovering antisocial activities?

We are obliged to recall also another two Slovak journalists who vanished
and are still missing – reporter Palo Rýpal since 2008 and economic
journalist Miroslav Pejko since 2015. They were both also active in the
media in investigative journalism. We urgently request that the criminal
authorities inform the public about the current status of investigations
into these murders, and also progress made in the search for the missing
journalists.

Tibor Macák, Secretary General AEJ Int.,

Juraj Alner, Founder AEJ, Slovak section and Honorary Sec. Gen. AEJ Int.

Július Lőrincz, former head of AEJ, Slovak section,

Ivan Brada, member of AEJ, Slovak section, Investigative journalist,

John Boyd, member of AEJ Slovak section.

 

Bratislava, 26.2.2018

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AEJ-Bulgaria Annual Report measures rise in threats and pressures on the media

Source: Association of European Journalists / AEJ / News

By Irina Ned, AEJ-Bulgaria

AEJ – BULGARIA REPORT ON THE STATE OF JOURNALISM AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN 2017

AEJ-Bulgaria’s annual report on the media and free expression in Bulgaria in 2017 says many media are suffering from the tightening grip of a national ‘culture of pressure’ against their editorial independence. The consequences include numerous violent attacks, widespread self-censorship and a collapse in public trust in media content generally.

The general trend is negative. Bulgaria ranks 109th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index, with the country expected to go further down the list in the next edition of the ranking. Alpha Research sociological agency indicates that more than 65% of Bulgarians do not trust the media.

(Read more at Association of European Journalists / AEJ)

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European journalists and civil society groups share strategies to ‘Free European Media’ in Gdansk

Source: Association of European Journalists / AEJ / News

By William Horsley, AEJ-UK

European journalists and civil society groups share strategies to ‘Free European Media’ in Gdansk

The European Federation of Journalists, the Council of Europe and 200 practitioners of journalism and civil rights movements met in the Polish city of Gdansk to debate recent setbacks for press freedom across Europe. They set out priorities for winning basic protections for free and independent journalism. William Horsley reports…

(Read more at Association of European Journalists / AEJ)

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Nokia Launches Blockchain-Powered IoT Sensing as a Service for Smart Cities

Source: Bitcoin Magazine / News

by

Nokia is launching a set of services, based on Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and blockchain technologies, for economically and environmentally sustainable “smart cities.”

In the emerging IoT, billions of connected devices and sensors will generate vast amounts of data. Smart cities will need to retrieve, process, interpret and act upon real-time environmental data in a timely manner to ensure they remain sustainable environments for their citizens. To enable efficient IoT ecosystems for smart cities, it’s important to create new data monetization opportunities for IoT sensor network operators able to provide smart city authorities with real-time processed and analyzed environmental data.

(Read more at Bitcoin Magazine)

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Turkey moving away from rule of law – The sentencing of five Turkish journalists to life imprisonment shows that the Turkish judiciary cannot make independent decisions

by Otmar Lahodynsky, President of Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

The release on bail of Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, after being held for a year without charge in a high-security prison, cannot be taken as evidence of a freely-functioning Turkish judiciary. Yücel, now in Germany, still faces the threat of up to 18 years in jail for “encouraging terrorism”.

On the same day, six defendants, five of them journalists, were sentenced to life in prison for “attempting to abolish the Turkish constitution” and also for encouraging terrorist acts.

Two of them, the brothers Mehmet and Ahmet Altan, are prominent figures: one is a writer and political columnist, the other an economics professor at a university in Istanbul. Mehmet Altan was accused of broadcasting “subliminal messages” on television about the impending July 2016 military coup. One of his lawyers explained to me what this accusation was based on: the statement made on the day before the coup attempt in a TV station that Erdogan would not rule forever; this was taken as proof of insider knowledge of preparations for the coup. Altan’s statement was also falsified by the prosecutors.

Further evidence of Mehmet Altan’s complicity with the preacher Fetullah Gülen, allegedly the man behind the coup, was said to be a one-dollar bill found in Altan’s wife’s handbag. Because of its mysterious symbols, the dollar bill was taken to be proof that Altan was a support of Gülen’s movement.

The extent to which the Turkish judiciary is dependent on politics is also demonstrated by a dispute between different courts. In January 2018, the Turkish Constitutional Court ordered the release of Mehmet Altan, pointing out that his constitutional rights had been violated. An Istanbul High Criminal Court then refused to release Altan because the Constitutional Court had supposedly exceeded its powers. The fact that judgements of the Constitutional Court are no longer recognized by lower-ranking courts is another indication of how far Turkey has drifted away from the rule of law.

More than 150 Turkish journalists are still in prison, most still waiting for the charge against them. Media lawyers report that in some indictments entire passages from other cases are identical: the “copy and paste” method apparently saves time.

It is high time that the Council of Europe in Strasbourg – of which Turkey is a member – takes action. So far, the Court of Human Rights has accepted only a small number of complaints from Turkish journalists, often pointing out that nothing can be done until the appeal has been heard in the Turkish courts. But as is becoming evident, the Turkish judiciary is no longer either free or impartial.

The EU recently invited Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan to a special summit in Varna, Bulgaria. EU diplomats are hopeful that Turkey now seeks better relations with the EU. But that will not be possible as long as journalists and academics are sentenced to life imprisonment on the flimsiest of charges.

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