International News Desk – At Home and In Foreign News

At Home: SAND Focuses on Saving Native Alberta Fescue Grass

Environment Canada has just handed over a cheque for $45,000 to the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS) for a comprehensive plan to conserve remaining prairie fescue grass species. These species are under threat of eradication from agriculture and noxious weeds. The Prairie Post has quoted Alan Gardner, executive director of SALTS, as saying “it is very encouraging that the Federal government recognizes the importance of the native fescue grass as an unequalled watershed cover as well as an important element in mitigating climate change” (1).

Prairie fescue, according to Environment Canada’s website (2), is assumed by ecologists to have been the main species group on the prairies before agriculture took hold. Its long root systems, reaching metres under the soil surface, are credited with capturing carbon molecules that have created the rich black soils we depend on for crops, and it is feared that the species? widespread eradication will not only make for depleted soils but for the quicker onslaught of climate change in the north.

SALTS maintains that the conservation of fescue and other native grasses throughout southern Alberta is of concern not only to ranchers but to all inhabitants of the area who stand to lose their native landscape. SALTS aims for its conservation efforts to benefit clean air and water, biological diversity, culture and heritage, scenic beauty, economic vitality, and sustainable land use.

The local grant will be put to use controlling noxious weeds like nodding thistle, scentless chamomile, and other “invasive alien species” (1) that threaten not only the fescue but the animal life that has thrived here for so long. The ensuing project will focus on community action and information sharing so that landowners throughout the affected region will understand their impact on the environment as a whole. SALTS is actively seeking volunteers for this and related projects on its website, so if you want to see first-hand what’s happening, check out the SALTS website at http://www.salts-landtrust.org/index.html.

(1) Prairie Post West (2007). “SALTS receives grant to protect native grass.” Retrieved April 17, 2007, from http://www.prairiepost.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1017&Itemid=27

(2) Environment Canada. “Fescue Prairie.? http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/nature/whp/prgrass/df03s34.en.html

In Foreign News: British Diplomat Accused of Lewd Behaviour in Thailand

Ian Proud will be a British diplomat to Thailand until his tenure ends this May, and he’s managed to end the job on quite an interesting note. After accepting an offer to write a weblog on Thailand’s English-speaking newspaper, The Nation, Proud began keeping a regular blog about his thoughts and experiences in Bangkok. Unfortunately, this odd bit of political transparency was met with all the best the internet could offer: Proud received several blog comments that made references to his alleged outings in the city’s red-light district. The Nation was forced to discontinue the stream of non-political discourse after the bombardment on Proud’s character.

CTV News called the onslaught a “blog gone wild” (1) and BBC News says that Proud immediately refuted these claims and yet admitted that like any other tourist in the area, he did visit red-light areas known for the famed Thai sex trade (2). The U.K. Foreign Office has also announced that blogs kept by diplomats are being put under review (3); this follows the camera-blog spot held by U.K. Conservative Party leader David Cameron, also a point of humour with most Brits although less offensive than Proud’s turned out to be.

The incident, according to BBC News, has spawned a call for a code of ethics concerning blogs, but to be honest my bets are on the government controlling its own people through censorship in the near future. It’s a shame, of course, since the diplomat really seemed to be enjoying his short time in the non-political spotlight.

(1) CTV (2007). “Blog gone wild for British diplomat.” Retrieved April 17, 2007, from http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20070411/diplomat_blog_070411/20070411?hub=SciTech

(2) BBC News (2007). “Diplomat blog pulled after abuse.? Retrieved April 17, 2007, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6548653.stm

(3) Telegraph (2007). ?Diplomat’s blog shut down after red light claims.? Retrieved April 17, 2007, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/13/nblog113.xml

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