Canada’s Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 39) city council candidates speak

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

Friday, November 3, 2006

On November 13, Torontonians will be heading to the polls to vote for their ward’s councillor and for mayor. Among Toronto’s ridings is Scarborough-Agincourt (Ward 39). Two candidates responded to Wikinews’ requests for an interview. This ward’s candidates include Wayne Cook, Mike Del Grande (incumbent), Samuel Kung, Lushan Lu, Sunshine Smith, and John Wong.

For more information on the election, read Toronto municipal election, 2006.

Endangered Luzon Buttonquail photographed alive by Philippines documentary

Sunday, February 22, 2009

According to ornithologists, a rare Philippines buttonquail feared to have gone extinct was recently documented alive by a cameraman inadvertently filming a local market, right before it was sold and headed for the cooking pot. Scientists had suspected the species—listed as “data deficient” on the 2008 International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List Category—was extinct.

Last month, native bird trappers snared and successfully caught the Luzon Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri or Worcester’s buttonquail) in Dalton Pass, a cold and wind-swept bird passageway in the Caraballo Mountains, in Nueva Vizcaya, located between Cordillera Central and Sierra Madre mountain ranges, in Northern Luzon.

The rare species, previously known to birders only through drawings based on dead museum specimens collected several decades ago, was identified in a documentary filmed in the Philippines called Bye-Bye Birdie.

British birder and WBCP member Desmond Allen was watching a January 26 DVD-video of a documentary, Bye-Bye Birdie, when he recognized the bird in a still image of the credits that lasted less than a second. Allen created a screenshot, which was photographed by their birder-companion, Arnel Telesforo, also a WBCP member,in Nueva Vizcaya’s poultry market, before it was cooked and eaten.

i-Witness: The GMA Documentaries, a Philippine documentary news and public affairs television show aired by GMA Network, had incorporated Telesforo’s photographs and video footage of the live bird in the documentary, that was created by the TV crew led by Mr Howie Severino. The Philippine Network had not realized what they filmed until Allen had informed the crew of interesting discovery.

Mr Severino and the crew were at that time, in Dalton Pass to film “akik”, the traditional practice of trapping wild birds with nets by first attracting them with bright lights on moonless nights. “I’m shocked. I don’t know of any other photos of this. No bird watchers have ever given convincing reports that they have seen it at all… This is an exciting discovery,” said Allen.

The Luzon Buttonquail was only known through an illustration in the authoritative book by Robert S. Kennedy, et al, A Guide to the Birds of the Philippines. This birders “bible” includes a drawing based on the skins of dead specimens collected a century ago, whereas the otherwise comprehensive image bank of the Oriental Bird Club does not contain a single image of the Worcester’s Buttonquail.

“With the photograph and the promise of more sightings in the wild, we can see the living bill, the eye color, the feathers, rather than just the mushed-up museum skin,” exclaimed Allen, who has been birdwatching for fifty years, fifteen in the Philippines, and has an extensive collection of bird calls on his ipod. He has also spotted the Oriental (or Manchurian) Bush Warbler, another rare bird which he has not seen in the Philippines.

“We are ecstatic that this rarely seen species was photographed by accident. It may be the only photo of this poorly known bird. But I also feel sad that the locals do not value the biodiversity around them and that this bird was sold for only P10 and headed for the cooking pot,” Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) president Mike Lu said. “Much more has to be done in creating conservation awareness and local consciousness about our unique threatened bird fauna. This should be an easy task for the local governments assisted by the DENR. What if this was the last of its species?” Lu added.

“This is a very important finding. Once you don’t see a bird species in a generation, you start to wonder if it’s extinct, and for this bird species we simply do not know its status at all,” said Arne Jensen, a Danish ornithologist and biodiversity expert, and WBCP Records Committee head.

According to the WBCP, the Worcester’s buttonquail was first described based on specimens bought in Quinta Market in Quiapo, Manila in 1902, and was named after Dean Conant Worcester.

Since then just a few single specimens have been photographed and filmed from Nueva Vizcaya and Benguet, and lately, in 2007, from Mountain Province by the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

Dean Conant Worcester, D.Sc., F.R.G.S. was an American zoologist, public official, and authority on the Philippines, born at Thetford, Vermont, and educated at the University of Michigan (A.B., 1889).

From 1899 to 1901 he was a member of the United States Philippine Commission; thenceforth until 1913 he served as secretary of the interior for the Philippine Insular Government. In 1910, he founded the Philippine General Hospital, which has become the hospital for the poor and the sick.

In October, 2004, at the request of Mr Moises Butic, Lamut CENR Officer, Mr Jon Hornbuckle, of Grove Road, Sheffield, has conducted a short investigation into bird-trapping in Ifugao, Mountain Province, Banaue Mount Polis, Sagada and Dalton Pass, in Nueva Vizcaya.

“Prices ranged from 100 pesos for a Fruit-Dove to 300 pesos for a Metallic Pigeon. Other species that are caught from time to time include Flame-breasted Fruit-Dove and Luzon Bleeding-heart; on one occasion, around 50 of the latter were trapped! All other trapped birds are eaten,” said Hornbuckle. “The main trapping season is November to February. Birds are caught at the lights using butterfly-catching type nets. Quails and Buttonquails were more often shot in the fields at this time, rather than caught, and occasionally included the rare Luzon (Worcester’s) Buttonquail, which is only known from dead specimens, and is a threatened bird species reported from Dalton Pass,” he added.

In August, 1929, Richard C. McGregor and Leon L. Gardner of the Cooper Ornithological Society compiled a book entitled Philippine Bird Traps. The authors described the Luzon Buttonquail as “very rare,” having only encountered it twice, once in August and once in September.

“They are caught with a scoop net from the back of a carabao. Filipino hunters snared them, baiting with branches of artificial red peppers made of sealing wax,” wrote McGregor and Leon L. Gardner. “The various ingenious and effectual devices used by Filipinos for bird-trapping include [the] ‘Teepee Trap’ which consists of a conical tepee, woven of split bamboo and rattan about 3 feet high and 3 feet across at the base, with a fairly narrow entrance. ‘Spring Snares’ were also used, where a slip noose fastened to a strongly bent bamboo or other elastic branch, which is released by a trigger, which is usually the perch of the trap,” their book explained.

A passage from the bird-trap book, which explains why Filipinos had eaten these endangered bird species, goes as follows:

Thousands of birds appear annually in the markets of the Philippine Islands. Snipe, quails, wild ducks, silvereyes, weavers, rails, Java sparrows, parrakeets, doves, fruit pigeons, and many more are found commonly. Some of these are vended in the streets as cage birds; many are sold for food. Most of them are living; practically none has been shot. How are these birds obtained? The people possess almost no firearms, and most of them could ill afford the cost of shells alone. Nevertheless, birds are readily secured and abundantly exposed for sale. In a land which does not raise enough produce to support itself, where the quest for food is the main occupation of life, where the frog in the roadside puddle is angled, the minnow in the brook seined, and the all-consuming locust itself consumed, it is not surprising (though regrettable) that birds are considered largely in the light of dietary additions.Philippine Bird Traps, by Richard C. McGregor and Leon L. Gardner, 1930 Cooper Ornithological Society

A global review of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) indicates drastic decline of animal and plant life. This includes a quarter of all mammals, one out of eight birds, one out of three amphibians and 70 percent of plants.

The report, Red List of Threatened Species, is published by IUCN every year. Additionally, a global assessment of the health of the world’s species is released once in four years. The data is compiled by 1,700 experts from 130 countries. The key findings of the report were announced at the World Conservation Congress held in Barcelona, Spain.

The survey includes 44,838 species of wild fauna and flora, out of which 16,928 species are threatened with extinction. Among the threatened, 3,246 are tagged critically endangered, the highest category of threat. Another 4,770 species are endangered and 8,912 vulnerable to extinction.

Environmental scientists say they have concrete evidence that the planet is undergoing the “largest mass extinction in 65 million years”. Leading environmental scientist Professor Norman Myers says the Earth is experiencing its “Sixth Extinction.”

Scientists forecast that up to five million species will be lost this century. “We are well into the opening phase of a mass extinction of species. There are about 10 million species on earth. If we carry on as we are, we could lose half of all those 10 million species,” Myers said.

Scientists are warning that by the end of this century, the planet could lose up to half its species, and that these extinctions will alter not only biological diversity but also the evolutionary processes itself. They state that human activities have brought our planet to the point of biotic crisis.

In 1993, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson estimated that the planet is losing 30,000 species per year – around three species per hour. Some biologists have begun to feel that the biodiversity crisis dubbed the “Sixth Extinction” is even more severe, and more imminent, than Wilson had expected.

The Luzon Buttonquail (Turnix worcesteri) is a species of bird in the Turnicidae family. It is endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where it is known from just six localities thereof. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, in the highlands of the Cordillera Central, although records are from 150-1,250 m, and the possibility that it frequents forested (non-grassland) habitats cannot be discounted.

The buttonquails or hemipodes are a small family of birds which resemble, but are unrelated to, the true quails. They inhabit warm grasslands in Asia, Africa, and Australia. They are assumed to be intra-island migrants, and breed somewhere in northern Luzon in April-June and that at least some birds disperse southwards in the period July-March.

These Turnicidae are small, drab, running birds, which avoid flying. The female is the more brightly coloured of the sexes, and initiates courtship. Unusually, the buttonquails are polyandrous, with the females circulating among several males and expelling rival females from her territory. Both sexes cooperate in building a nest in the earth, but only the male incubates the eggs and tends the young.

Called “Pugo” (quail) by natives, these birds inhabit rice paddies and scrub lands near farm areas because of the abundance of seeds and insects that they feed on regularly. These birds are characterized by their black heads with white spots, a brown or fawn colored body and yellow legs on males and the females are brown with white and black spots.

These birds are very secretive, choosing to make small path ways through the rice fields, which unfortunately leads to their deaths as well, they are hunted by children and young men by means of setting spring traps along their usual path ways.

Buttonquails are a notoriously cryptic and unobtrusive family of birds, and the species could conceivably occur in reasonable numbers somewhere. They are included in the 2008 IUCN Red List Category (as evaluated by BirdLife International IUCN Red List of Threatened Species). They are also considered as Vulnerable species by IUCN and BirdLife International, since these species is judged to have a ten percent chance of going extinct in the next one hundred years.

News briefs:May 27, 2010

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Dress code threats close Peshawar schools

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Schools in the city Peshawar, Pakistan were closed for two days at the end of last week after anonymous threats were received warning female students to wear veils in class.

The threats, believed originating from members of the Taliban movement, along with the detention of two would-be suicide bombers before they exploded themselves, raised tensions and closed the schools out of safety concerns for the students.

One of the two suicide bombers was a woman who attempted enter the Koochi Bazaar, a market in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. Purses carried by women are routinely searched before entering the market. Explosives were discovered in the purse carried by a woman who refused the search and tried to walk away.

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

Romanians to pay power bills via SMS

Friday, January 21, 2005

Romania’s electricity production and distribution company, plans to introduce a new system which will allow its consumers to pay their power bills via the Short Message Service, or SMS. Currently, electricity bills can be paid directly at banks using cash or credit cards, or via automatic teller machines (ATMs). Additionally, since 2004, customers have been able to pay their bills at Agip gas stations.

In Romania, which reached more than 10 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2004, SMS remains a very popular and affordable method of quick communication. Recently, there has been a push to launch SMS/mobile telephony as a method of payment or business, hence establishing an m-commerce network. The move by Electrica for bill-payment via SMS is one of the first such initiatives.

Jay Walsh named Wikimedia Foundation Head of Communications

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Recently of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), where he worked in media and public relations, Mr. Jay Walsh was announced as the replacement for Sandy Ordonez as the communications officer for the Wikimedia Foundation on an internal mailing list on Tuesday, 8 January.

“I’m extremely grateful for [Sandy Ordonez’s] hard work and excellent judgement,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of Wikimedia Foundation, in her announcement. Ordonez managed the WMF’s public and media relations from January 2007, and will stay on in Florida until the end of the month when the Tampa office is closed.

“The goal is to give Jay a fairly long handover time. So until the end of January, please continue to work directly with Sandy, while she helps Jay get oriented,” added Gardner.

Walsh is fresh from a position as Manager, Public Relations at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Previous communications positions include working for Indian and Northern Affairs, Government of Canada; Health Canada, Government of Canada; and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. His academics include Concordia and Mount Allison universities.

Walsh will be based out of the new offices in San Francisco, California when they open on the January 15.

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Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Green Party candidate Cecile Willert, Ajax—Pickering

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cecile Willert is running for the Green Party of Ontario in the Ontario provincial election, in the Ajax—Pickering riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

Explosion in San Francisco injures one, cause unknown

Friday, August 19, 2005

An explosion from an underground utility chamber in downtown San Francisco severely injured a woman and shattered a window at a Ralph Lauren clothing store shortly after 10:00 a.m. Pacific time Friday. According to a caller to KCBS radio, a woman was engulfed in flames after the explosion triggered a fire in the store. The fire was quickly put out.

A bomb squad is currently investigating the explosion, and the cause has yet to be determined. One official said the explosion may have been caused by an electrical transformer. A witness described a fireball coming out of the side of the building

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. company spokesman Paul Moreno has stated that “there was no indication of a gas leak.” Moreno also described the aftermath of the blast. “The explosion did displace manhole covers — two round steel ones — and it also displaced a concrete cover as well,” Moreno said.

Some accounts have described a rift in the sidewalk caused by the explosion below.

Construction worker Tom Demartini, who was sitting in his truck outside the Ralph Lauren store, stated he saw the sidewalk rise up six or seven inches. “It sounded like a big poof, then there was a lot of smoke,” Demartini said. “One woman looked like she was badly burned.”

The burned woman was taken to the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital. Hospital spokeswoman Linda Gillespie had no immediate comment on her condition. Her name was not released.

Workers in a nearby office building described how the blast shook their buildings and that they thought it was an earthquake. According to one woman, the elevator in her building stopped.

Scores of police have evacuated buildings several blocks around the explosion. Kearny street between Sutter and Market has been closed to both vehicles and pedestrians.

Sea lion walks from beach into Pantai Inn in California

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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Last Tuesday early morning, a sea lion walked from the beach into Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California. The animal was rescued by local animal rescue authorities. Wikinews took an interview from Shane Pappas, a General Manager of the inn.

((Wikinews)) At what time of day did the sea lion enter the Inn?

Shane Pappas: Surveillance footage shows that our sea lion friend made her way onto our property at approximately 5:45am on Tuesday morning. She waddled through our courtyard and climbed up onto one of our lounge chairs.

((WN)) How long did he stay in the Inn before he was moved out of the building?

Shane Pappas: The sea lion was not seen by our staff until about 6:30am. At that point my front desk agent Veronica made frantic calls to the authorities to find someone to come rescue the sea lion. By the time we got a hold of Sea World they were able to come and rescue her at around 9:45am. All told the sea lion was here for about four hours.

((WN)) What do you think attracted the animal? Was it the radio sound? Was it heard as far as the beach?

Shane Pappas: We’re not sure what attracted the sea lion. We like to think that it was the beauty and relaxation of our courtyard. In regards to the radio sound I’m not sure what you are referring to.

((WN)) Who and how transported the animal out of the building?

Shane Pappas: A gentleman named Bill who is a rescue worker with Sea World came out to rescue the pup. He asked if I would assist in the rescue which I was more than happy to do. It’s not every day that you get to rescue a sea lion.

((WN)) Where was the animal transported to?

Shane Pappas: The sea lion was loaded into a crate on a truck and transported back to Sea World. She will be kept there for six weeks so that she can be nursed back to health and returned to the wild.

Egyptian archaeologists announce discovery of marble statue and 132 new sites

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s pre-eminent archaeologist, and Secretary General of the The Supreme Council of Antiquities, has announced that a rare statue constructed of white marble whose features resemble Alexander the Great has been discovered in Egypt. Hawass also stated that there are satellite photographs identifying many archeological sites which may also reveal buried monuments.

Calliope Papacosta was leading the Greek archaeological excavation in Alexandria when the white marble statue was found.

“A ribbon around the head of the statue proves that it belongs to an important person for such ribbon was used only be[sic] rulers,” said Hawass, “The 80 cm long, 23 cm wide statue has been discovered eight meters deep under the earth surface.”

Farouk Hosni, Egypt’s Culture Minister, is supporting archaeological dig sites and has set into place laws restricting illegal digging in confirmed archaeological sites which may contain historical monuments. The monument photography project, National Authority for Remote Sensing, Space Sciences (NARRS) and Mubarak City for Scientific Research (MuCSAT) combined Satellites technology, aerial photography and ground laser to locate 132 sites which have not yet been excavated.

One of these sites is north of Lake Qarun in the Faiyum area, and another at Habu city. Archaeologists are presently being sent out by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism to areas before construction and building excavations to preserve invaluable archaeological treasures. At the Faiyum site near Cairo artifacts dating to diverse time periods have been found amongst these, an awl for stitching leather, fishing tackle, weapons, jewellery, pottery, coins, sawfish, whale fossils, and a 3150 BC block portraying one of the two leaders named King Scorpion.

Meanwhile, in other archaeological news, Iran’s three salt mummies found in the Chehrabad Salt Mine in 1993 will be moved to a technologically advanced vacuum chamber display case in Zanjan for better preservation. These mummies or Salt Men have been dated as being from the Parthian 237 BCE – 224 CE and Sassanid era, 224 – 651 CE.