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South Asian Americans could tip the U.S. presidential election

article_thecapitalpost_southasians in US politics_photo








By Annette Birch

Published by The Capital Post on May 4, 2016,

The growing population of South Asian Americans could hold the key to who will become president in November as they represent a growing part of voters in the United States. However, they have previously not attracted much attention from the political parties and in the 2012 election, only 10 percent were contacted by the political parties, according to Asian & Pacific Islander American Vote’s 2014 Survey.

“South Asians are critical to the U.S. presidential election,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, Director of National Policy and Advocacy at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national non-profit South Asian organization.

However, South Asian Americans could be more aware of the importance of voicing their opinions and exercising their vote, according to another South Asian American platform.

“The South Asian community is playing a very important role on the socio-economic front in the USA. They need to be more aware that their vote matters and their say will create a difference in American politics,” said Mansoor Razaque Qureshi, one of the initiators of the volunteer-based South Asian American Community for Hillary.

“Only if we voice our opinions and use our right to vote, can we fight racial discrimination and bridge the gap between us and other communities in the United States.”

The South Asian population in the United States is growing rapidly. Presently, there are 4.3 million South Asians in the United States – most live in California, New Jersey, Texas and New York, where they could tip the vote. But also in swing states like Florida and Virginia, where Indian Americans number around one percent of the vote, the South Asian vote could make a difference between winning or losing the presidency in those two states in November.

Today, 65 percent of the nearly three million Indian Americans in the United States identify themselves as Democrats. Eighty-five percent of this group also voted for President Barack Obama during the past election, according to the Pew Research Center. But in the past, South Asian Americans tended to vote Republican and several of high-ranking South Asian politicians in the South like former Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina are Republicans.

However, the South Asian community in the South may also be changing. The South Asians, who in a growing number travel to Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas and Detroit in search of jobs, to unite with family or for lower living costs, constitute a very diverse group of different nationalities, different social status and a growing number is also illegal immigrants.

“Their [South Asians] party identity is not cast in stone,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, an Indian American professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Riverside to India News on Jan.16, 2016. “There’s still potential for persuasion there.”

Democrats and Republicans alike have tried to capture the vote and engage the South Asian American community. On Jan. 7, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton stated her vision for a thriving Asian American community, launching a new volunteer-run organization called AAPI for Hillary. At the same time, she denounced the hateful comments by several Republican challengers, most notably those by presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has called for a ban on any Muslim entering the country.

“They forget a fundamental lesson about our great country. Being an open and tolerant society does not make us vulnerable. It’s the core of our strength,” said Clinton, according to India News on Jan. 16, 2016.

Republicans listed it as a propaganda trick, saying Clinton was not really interested in the interests of Asian Americans, according to India News on Jan. 16, 2016. Republicans have previously been successful in appealing to South Asian Americans calling for more visas for foreign skilled workers and several of their candidates had South Asian background. However, the fact that Republicans have restricted research funding, been hostile to scientific approaches to life and a technology deficit in their campaign approach has removed them from South Asians, according to the Daily Beast on Feb. 26, 2013.

However, Sridaran said that the candidates need to focus more on the issues that are critical to South Asians, in order to better their chances of winning them over.

“They could focus more on working class, worker protection, better family based visa policy, addressing hate violence, and calling out racist comments from political candidates,” Sridaran said. SAALT is presently looking into the issues that are important to the different groups and nationalities within the South Asian community in more detail.

“Hillary’s reforms and agendas on racial discrimination, affordable health care and immigration reform would benefit the minorities and bring out the best among South Asian Americans. This would lead to progress of the nation and thereby benefit all,” Qureshi added.

Hillary Clinton has on her official website stated that she wants to focus on addressing hate violence, combatting discrimination and ending racial profiling. She is also for comprehensive immigration reform, promoting naturalization and addressing family backlog, as well as social issues such as making college affordable, enhance the Affordable Care Act and closing the gender wage gap.

But even though Hillary Clinton is perceived to be the favorite of South Asians, she may not want to forget that South Asian Americans are not only casting their votes according to their background but are also influenced by their surroundings and their living situation – something several South Asians running for political office have learned along the way.

“The trick for these [South Asian] candidates is to never let voters forget you are running to represent Sacramento, or Wichita…not Bangalore,” said Ami Bera, who has been the Democratic candidate for Congress in California’s 3rd district, in an article published by NPR on October 21, 2010.

Apalachicola river is named ‘most endangered’ waterway in US

The Apalachicola River system has for years been part of a dispute between Georgia, Florida and Alabama over water rights. Photo: Annette Birch

The Apalachicola River has for years been part of a dispute between Georgia, Florida and Alabama over water rights.

By Annette Birch

Published by The Capital Post on May 4, 2016,

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River was on April 12 named the country’s most endangered river by American River, a national advocacy organization. For the people of Georgia, Florida and Alabama, who rely on the water, it is an unpleasant wake up call.

“It is the last straw for the Apalachicola River system,” said Riverkeeper Dan Tonsmeire for Apalachicola Riverkeeper, an advocacy group for the Apalachicola river and the bay.

Georgia, Florida and Alabama has been fighting for 25 years over, who has the right to the water from the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola rivers. The conflict has escalated over the last decade as Georgia has been using more and more water coming out of Lake Lanier to supply drinking water to Atlanta’s growing population, leaving less freshwater to come down the river to Florida’s oysters and wildlife, and Alabama’s hydropower. In October 2013, Florida decided to file suit against Georgia beforeoysters1_pininterest the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that Georgia’s increased use of water for Atlanta’s growing population is hurting its oyster industry, which has dropped from three million pounds of oyster meat in 2012 to one million in 2013.

Georgia contended in its reply to the Supreme Court that the state has not unfairly drained its freshwater resources. Rather, the decline of the oyster population was caused by drought conditions and illegal overharvesting in the Apalachicola Bay.

The outcome of the suit before the Supreme Court could have a substantial effect on other water wars in the United States, like the water war in the West over the Colorado River, shared by seven U.S. states and Mexico, or the water war in the Great Lakes, shared by eight states and Canada.

“A win for Florida could be a lesson for other states to improve water management,” said Gil Rogers, senior attorney with the Southeastern Environmental Law Center.

It is a problem of geography

Florida U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Florida state Sen. Bill Montford is joining American Rivers and environmental groups from Georgia, Florida and Alabama, in calling for a water-sharing agreement that gives a priority to the health of the river basin. Florida is dependent on enough water coming downstream to support its diverse eco-system and oyster industry, which previously has supported 90 percent of the Florida oyster harvest, according to Tampa Bay Times of April 12, 2016.

“It is really a problem of geography. Georgia exerts influence over the core,” said Riverkeeper Jason Ulseth for Chattahoochee IMG_1674Riverkeeper, an advocacy organization for the Chattahoochee river.

Ulseth explained that Georgia can control the water because the river originates in North Georgia and flows and water storage to a large extent is controlled through the Buford Dam at Lake Lanier. More than 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s over four million people rely on drinking water from the river, according to Atlanta Regional Commission. As the city is growing with up to 60,000 people a year, Georgia has asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the water, for more water to be stored in Lake Lanier in order to ensure that there is drinking water enough for everyone.

We have to work together

Right now there is enough water in the river for everyone because of the recent rains. However, history shows that the states starts bickering when the water is sparse, like it happened during the droughts of 2007 and 2011.

“The problem is that Georgia has no drought management; they just keep taking the same amount of water and the ACE [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] supports them,” Tonsmeire said. He called on Georgia and Alabama to work together with Florida to find a solution suitable for all.

“We can reverse this disastrous trend in the ACF system and recover the ecological functions in the Apalachicola without compromising Georgia’s water supply, if we act together, now.”

Florida and Alabama has consistently criticized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the Apalachicola-NotshuttingthebaydownChattahoochee-Flint (ACF) river system and basins, for relying on a 2011 ruling from a federal court of appeals that said Atlanta has a legal right to water from Lake Lanier. Georgia has adopted a state-wide water management plan and implemented regional water plans, which would put more conservation staff in local government, guarantee more audits, make assessments of water availability and forecasts of water and waste water needs. However, Ulseth said Georgia could do more to conserve water.

“While the metro Atlanta region has made significant strides in water conservation, we are far from reaching our true conservation potential. All river users must pursue aggressive water conservation measures to ensure that we are using these precious water resources as wisely as possible,” Ulseth said in a press release on April 12.

More waste water creates new needs

The problem is not only that Georgia needs more drinking water, but as Atlanta is discharging more waste water from its growing population, flows are needed to assimilate wastewater while sustaining downstream recreational opportunities and IMG_1684fish and wildlife habitat. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who controls the flows of the Tri-State river system, has in its latest draft manual released in September 2015 allowed the flows to be set lower for the ACF river and keep more water in Lake Lanier for the population of Atlanta.

“They do not have to keep all the water in Lake Lanier but could manage it more in accordance with balancing all downstream needs, including water quality, recreation, fish and wildlife, and communities,” said Laura Hartt, Water Policy Director at Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

Hartt added that if Georgia increased their waste water technology they did not need so much flow. This could satisfy Atlanta’s need for lower flow levels, but it would not help the Apalachicola Bay. The bay still needs adequate freshwater flows to maintain decent salinity conditions for its oysters and other flora and fauna.

Shut the whole system down

However, overharvesting, bacteria and oil spills could also be contributing factors to a dwindling oyster population in Apalachicola Bay. Florida has already restricted permits for water use and limited fishing to four days a week and the catch limit from 20 sacks per day down to five. But Tonsmeire said that Florida could manage the water better.

“In my opinion, they should close the whole system down. Florida has got some money after the oil spill. They could use that to pay the oyster fishers and producers to set out and not to harvest oysters for a couple of years. This would give the system a change to regenerate,” Tonsmeire said.

Shannon Hartsfield, president of the Franklin County Seafood Workers Association, agreed with Tonsmeiret that something needed to be done.

“We can’t survive as a fishing village. Our industry can’t survive,” said Shannon Hartsfield to Tampa Bay Times on April 12, 2016.

Sustainable water plan is going nowhere

Florida decided not to close the Apalachicola Bay down. Neither did it nor Georgia and Alabama adopt an alternative plan suggested on May 2015 by the ACF Stakeholders, a group of water users from Georgia, Florida and Alabama in the ACFStakeholderplan2Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin. The plan called on local, state and federal authorities to provide drought management plans and on the Corps to increase water storage in Lake Lanier and West Point Lake as well as provide two
pulsed releases for flow down the Apalachicola river in May and July.

“It is not a perfect plan, but it is a great place to start,” Tonsmeire said.

Instead, Congresswoman Gwen Graham (D-Fl.) introduced in May last year the Apalachicola Restoration Act in Congress. The bill would require the Corps to consider freshwater flows to the Apalachicola River basin as part of the corps’ water management plans. It has been supported by 21 members from both parties of the 29 Florida delegation. Yet, the bill has been stock in committee since its introduction. It has not been supported by any members from Georgia or Alabama.

Marco Rubio is entering the debate on Senate floor

Georgia Gov. Deal resents Rubio’s initiative on tri-state water war

Florida is looking to the Court

In the meantime, Florida is looking to the U.S. Supreme Court to save their oyster industry and the environment of ApalachicolaRestorationAct3Apalachicola Bay. Rogers hinted that a win for Florida could be good for the bay but is concerned that if the court leaves it to Georgia to work out how to send more water to Florida, Georgia could decide to build more reservoirs rather than pursue more water conservation.

“It would really depend on what that win looked like. The Supreme Court has a lot of discretion and it is not likely that it would go into detail with how to regulate more water to Florida – if it decides for Florida,” Rogers said.

Still, it may take some time before the case is finalized. For even though deadline for the written briefs are in June, the deadline may be pushed off as the parties say they need more time to prepare. An independent mediator has also held confidential talks with Georgia and Florida officials, including representatives from the governors’ offices, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 12, 2016.  However, Rogers does not think the parties will settle the dispute any time soon.

EU vote recasts Denmark’s anti-terror measures

eu dk flag

by Annette Birch

Published in The Capital Post on Dec. 7,

Just a few hours after the voting boxes closed at 8 p.m. on Dec.3, the result was clear. The Danish people had by a majority of 53 percent decided to maintain Denmark’s reservation to participate in EU police cooperation and other legal affairs. The result can inhibit Denmark’s ability to fight cross-border crimes such as terrorism, which require flexible cooperation and exchange of information across borders.

”One lesson from the Paris attacks is that there is a silo mentality – countries and sometimes organizations within countries don’t share information. And one of the great successes of Europol is that it can co-ordinate activity against organized crime across borders,” said UK cyber-crime expert and Europol advisor Professor Alan Woodward from Surrey University to on Dec.2.

Europol assists national authorities of member states such as Denmark by exchanging information, providing intelligence analysis and threat assessments, as well as proving member states with fast and secure capabilities for storing, searching, visualizing and linking information in databases and communication channels.

Previously, Denmark has been able to participate in the anti-terror cooperation coordinated by Europol despite its reservation to participate in police cooperation and legal affairs on a supranational level.

However, if EU members as expected in the spring 2016 decide to make Europol a supranational institution, Denmark can no longer participate as long as the reservation is in place. This has been emphasized on several occasions during the referendum campaign by the right wing party in government, The Liberal Party, as well as the two left wing parties, The Social Democratic Party and The Socialist Party.

Denmark left behind in renewed anti-terror efforts

The Danish Police has several times warned that if Denmark did not repeal the country’s reservation, it could have consequences for the Danish ability to effectively exchange and communicate across borders; a tool essential to combat international crime such as terrorism and cybercrime.

”The advantage of Europol is that they automatically ask out in all states. We ask about 100 times a day,” said Head of the Police’s investigating unit, Michael Ask, to TV2 in February 2015.

The Paris attacks has sparked a renewed European will to work together to combat terrorism. The process was already initiated in 2014, when Europol launched a project to store information about thousands of people suspected of travelling across borders to engage in terrorism. This summer it was announced that a cyber-police team from all over Europe, coordinated by Europol, would be tasked with tracking down and dismantling the Islamic State’s social media presence. Finally, the European Parliament granted Europol powers to set up new police units to counter emerging threats from terrorists on Nov. 26.

No is a not a no to Europol

While some Danish parties like the left wing party, The Unity Party, and the rightwing party, Liberal Alliance, are wholeheartedly against Europol, others argue that maintaining the reservation does not necessarily leave Denmark out of Europol.

”We should supplement it [the reservation] with a parallel agreement, so Denmark can stay in the European police cooperation. It is possible, if the government will just do the necessary ground work,” said Member of Parliament for the right wing party, Danish People’s Party, to the Danish online newspaper, Altinget, on Dec. 2.

However, the EU authorities has been more skeptical, pointing out that Denmark should not expect to be able to choose freely.

”EU is not a self-service table,” several officials in Bruxelles said to the Danish newspaper, Berlingske Tidende, on Dec. 3.

The future is uncertain

But if Denmark wants to stay in Europol, a parallel agreement is exactly what the Danish government has to try to negotiate.

”It is my impression that both parties for and against the reservation agree it would be a disaster for Denmark and the Danish police, if we have to leave Europol. Therefore, we should attempt to negotiate a solution so Denmark can stay in Europol,” said the Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Andersen to Jyske Vestkysten just after the result had been announced late Dec. 3.

The Danish Prime Minister has summoned all parties in Parliament to meet on Monday Dec. 7 in order to discuss what course to take. On Friday Dec. 11, he will meet with EU Commission Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker and EU President Tusk in Brussels.


Obama will close Guantanamo – again

In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, President Barack Obama pledged that he still intends to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which has been widely criticized for holding prisoners without regard for the rights protected in the U.S. Constitution.

However, this is not the first time. Obama promised 9 months ago and again two years ago that he would close Guantanamo.

Nobody doubt the resolve of President Obama to close Guantanamo. He has almost every year pleadged to close the prison, which has been known and criticized widely for it’s methods and attempts at immunity from fundamental rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama criticized then President George Bush for establishing Guantanamo – a prison Bush said was not under the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Next year he again promised to close Guantanamo, this time in a year.

So the question remains why Guantanamo is not closed yet. One reason could be the Republican opposition to closing the detention facility, claiming it is still necessary in a world still marred by terrorism. Another, is a more practical reason – namely what to do with so dangerous prisoners.

The Danish people remember the victims of Paris

Thousands of people in Copenhagen remembered victims of the Paris terror attack. Photo: Annette Birch.

Thousands of Danes remember victims of the Paris terror attack. Photo: Annette Birch.

by Annette Birch

Published in The Capital Post on Nov. 18, 2015,

A sea of flaming lights illuminated the night as thousands of people with torches in hand gathered to remember the more than 129 civilians killed and 350 wounded in the terrorist attack in Paris on Nov. 13. The ceremony was arranged by youth organizations from all political parties and held near the French Embassy in Central Copenhagen.

“The attack in Paris is an attack on all of us. Let us all stand together for freedom and against extremism. We see them for what they are: Fanatics and criminals,” said Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen at the event after observing a minute of silence in honor of the victims. He stressed the importance of everyone carrying on as before.

“We have to hold on to our daily lives. If we cannot sit down without fear at a cafe, then we have surely lost. Let us together fight the darkness, light a light for all the people, who died in Paris,” Rasmussen said.

Two days after the attacks on a soccer stadium, a concert hall and numerous bars and cafes in Central Paris, the French authorities was still trying to identify victims and relatives were still looking for loved ones. In Denmark, several ceremonies mourning the victims had been held mourning the people killed and wounded in the shootings and most buildings had flagged on half throughout the weekend. The Danish Prime Minister rushed along with other heads of states to condemn the attacks, describing them as unbelievable and cynical.

We have to fight the same enemies.
The French Ambassador in Denmark, Francois Zimeray, acknowledged the support of the Danish people and other countries and stressed the importance of countries standing together to fight terrorism.

“Freedom is a vision of the World. It is the same we share. We have to fight the same enemies,” said Zimeray with reference to Islamic State or ISIS, the terrorist organization claiming responsibility for the attacks. He especially thanked the Danish people for once again showing their solidarity with France by being present at the ceremony and by the continuous stream of flowers, which had been laid in front of the French Embassy over the weekend.

Danes talk of themselves as a small country but you are a great people. And you have shown that in our darkest hour,” Zimeray said and received several smiles from the audience in return.

The war has no color and no religion
The torches were almost burned out and several were already laying smoking on the ground. A 5-year-old boy with a blue cap balanced on a small ledge in order to get a better a view, his mother standing beside. A light-haired girl and a woman with a scarf lightly wrapped over her dark hair exchanged a few words nearby. The street seemed to be alive with people of all ages, nationalities and religions.

I think we will win. Because we are united in front of a horror, which has no color and no religion,” said the French Ambassador in tune with the sentiment of the moment.

Helle Munk from ActionAid Denmark agreed that this war was not a battle between religions, but an attack on everyone believing in the values of democracy and human rights. But the attacks in Paris were unfortunately not the only ones. In October, more than 90 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Turkey and in November more than 40 people were killed in an attack in Lebanon.

The last torches had burned out and people were starting to leave when the last band ended the evening by echoing the sentiment of the evening with the words by Outlandish “We will not let you be indifferent to the world…”

Republicans candidates are not elected on foreign policy – but they can loose the election over it

by Annette Birch

There was a moment of awkwardness as Sen. Rand Paul corrected leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attacks that the Trans-Pacific Partnership,  the trade deal among the U.S. and 11 other countries, was “a disaster” and would benefit China – “No. 1 abuser” of the United States.

“You know, we might want to point out that China’s not part of this deal,” Sen. Paul Rand corrected him.

However, the question is whether it matters for Republican voters.

For while the Washington Post and The Hill was discussing whether Sen. Marco Rubio or Sen. Ted Cruz won the debate, Trump was picked out as the winner by 28 % of the GOP voters, according to an internet poll by The Washington Post. Rubio, who was the next in line, was seen as the winner by 23 percent.

On Twitter, Trump also had his moment, according to the Washington Post.

He won the nomination but lost the election
It is not the first time that Republican presidential candidates have been consistently wrong about foreign policy.

Last election, Romney did not exactly distinguish himself as a wizz on foreign policy. First, he stumbled over Libya, where he in response to the storming of the American embassy in Cairo and the killing of the American ambassador and three others in Libya said that he “sympathiz[ed] with those who waged the attack,” according to The Atlantic on Sept. 12, 2012.

Then he offended the British Prime Minister David Cameron by questioning his ability to run the Olympics. Several media, including Slate and The New Yorker, felt it was part of his narrow world-view and incompetence on foreign policy.

Romney ended up loosing the election to his Democratic counterpart, Barack Obama.

I can see Russia from my window

Most notably, however, are the blunders made by the former Republican Vice-Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, running for office in 2008.

Here she is on CBS, demonstrating her knowledge – or lack thereof – of the relationship between the United States and Russia.

See other incidences TpmTv of foreign policy blunders

However, the Republicans nominated Sen. John McCain as their candidate for president – a man, who have over 20 years of experience with foreign policy.

The final election can be lost on foreign policy blunders

Past examples show it can go both ways. Some issues can seem more important for Republican voters than foreign policy. The economy, creating new jobs, immigration are issues, which should also be taken into consideration.

However, the last election has also shown that serious foreign policy blunders can make it very difficult for candidates to win the final election. Slate even talked about Romney’s London blunder as the moment he lost the election.

So the question is: Will Republican voters dare choose a candidate, who has shown himself to be as incompetent on foreign policy as Donald Trump? A businessman, who should know better than to go unprepared to a political debate and blunder on an economic trade agreement!

Especially when going up against a former Secretary of State.

For it is not like the Republicans do not have other candidates. Rubio may have been critized for being unexperienced and giving mixed answers on foreign policy; Rand Paul for giving foreign policy his own slant; and Ben Carson for spewing word salad on foreign policy.

But they have not made any significant blunders on foreign policy and in the final election American voters will look at who they feel comfortable with being the Commander-in-Chief, especially in a more and more internationalized World.

Forår, føl og fuldblod på irsk hestestutteri


Det lille hoppeføl er stadig uvidende om de store forventninger, der er til hende, som barnebarn af den prisbelønnede væddeløbshingst, Invincible Spirit. Foto: Annette Birch.


Af Annette Birch

Hun kigger uforfærdet ud over indhegningen, hvor mennesker fra mange forskellige lande er kommet for at se hende og hendes slægtninge. Hendes lille bløde mule dirrer og de store brune øjne skinner, før hun sætter i et spring og sikkert får de lange tynde ben til at bære hende i sikkerhed hos sin mor, den 5-årige Readyandaway fra Texas, der holder et vågent øje med hende nærved.

På det irske hestestutteri, Irish National Stud, er verden stadig fuld af leg for det kun få måneder gamle brune hoppeføl og de ca. 200 andre føl, der er født dette forår. Men der er store forventninger til datteren af vinderen af 4 væddeløb, den 11-årige amerikansk-ejede Lawman, og barnebarnet af den berømte irske væddeløbshest Invincible Spirit, der som 2-5 årig vandt 7 løb og siden har været far til over 300 prisbelønnede efterkommere.

En ny dag truer

Irish National Stud, der i år fylder 100 år, er et af de mange hestestutterier i Irland, hvor man avler fuldblodsheste til væddeløb – en meget populær sport i Irland.

Den amerikanskejede 11-årige Americain er i høj kurs som avlshingst på Irish National Stud.

Den 11-årige Americain er i høj kurs som avlshingst på Irish National Stud. Foto: Annette Birch.

Efter et dyk i 2007 har både væddeløbsbanerne og online spil oplevet en markant fremgang siden 2011 og i dag udgør hestevæddeløbsindustrien en betydelig del af den irske økonomi. Irland er også den 3.største avler af væddeløbsheste, kun overgået af USA og Australien.

”Avlen af verdens hurtigste heste har været livsnerven i Irish National Stud siden stutteriet blev grundlagt i 1900,” fortæller guiden til en flok turister foran statuen af oberst William Hall Walker, der planlagde føllenes fødselsdatoer efter stjernerne.

”Her har stutteriet avlet flere generationer af berømte væddeløbsheste for det engelske kongehus. Men i dag er vores største attraktion væddeløbshingstene.”

Vi går forbi staldene. På begge sider af stien går hingstene i store separate indhegninger med dobbelt hegn, der sikrer, at de ikke kommer op at slås eller får skader på anden måde. Americain, en 10-årige amerikansk-ejet hingst og vinder af 11 løb i USA og Frankrig, løfter opmærksomt hovedet og ser ud mod os. Han vipper lidt med ørerne og går nærmere, mens han villigt poserer for kameraet. Nærved i en anden indhegning fortsætter det det lille hoppeføls bedstefar, den 18-årige Invincible Spirit, med at græsse. Selv om hans væddeløbsdage er ovre, er der stadig bud efter ham som avlshingst.


Hingste fra venstre mod højre: Øverst: Gale ForceTen og Palavanci. Nederst: Invincible Spirit og Big Bad Bob. Fotos: Annette Birch.

Forår betyder føl


En kommende væddeløbshingst nærmer sig hegnet. Foto: Annette Birch.


På en af de nærliggende indhegnede enge springer et lille rødligt hingsteføl med hvide sokker og en hvid blis, der når helt ned om mulen, rundt om sin mor. Han tager tilløb og ræser afsted, afbrudt af et bukkespring, hvor de lange bagben ryger højere i vejret end den lille krop. Ivrig spejder han ud over hegnet med et blåt og et brunt øje, før han stejler op af moderen, Queen of Tarts. Hun kigger lidt træt på ham som en mor med en hyperaktiv søn og indvilliger derefter i at løbe lidt om kap med ham, før hun igen vender tilbage til græsningen.


Den 14-årige britiske hoppe Queen of Tarts kom som Readyandaway og mange af de andre hopper, der nu græsser med deres føl, til hesteinstituttet i vinter-sommer 2014 for at blive bedækket af stutteriets berømte væddeløbshingste eller deres afkom. Nu, 11 måneder efter, vrimler det med deres afkom, som instituttet også tilbyder pasning af.

Animal Aid har kritiseret, at mange avlshopper udsættes for et uholdbart pres ved konstant at skulle være med føl og udsættes for kunstigt lys og hormoner for at få dem i brunst på det rigtige tidspunkt. På Irish National Stud går der da heller ikke mere end 10 dage fra deres egne avlshopper har født til de bliver bedækket igen og kunstigt lys bliver brugt fra begyndelsen af december. Derimod bliver hormoner kun brugt i særlige tilfælde.

Fuldblodshesten nedstammer fra en hingst

På Irish National Stud begynder det regnen at falde ganske stille. Hestene vipper lidt utilfreds med ørerne og hoppen med den hyperaktive søn trækker ligesom de andre heste ind under træerne langs hegnet. Her kan de finde læ mod den silende regn, der behersker 200 ud af 365 dage på den grønne ø.

Darley araberen menes at være stamfader til fuldblodshestene. Maleri: John Wotton, 1722.

Darley araberen menes at være stamfader til fuldblodshestene. Maleri: John Wotton, 1722.

Flere af hestene er født og opvokset i Irland, men studier har vist, at alle engelske fuldblodsheste nedstammer fra tre araberhingste, der levede omkring Middelhavet omkring år 1700: Darley Arabian, Godolphin Arabian og Byerly Turk.Et studie fra 2005 fra Trinity College i Dublin, Irland, viser endda, at 95% af væddeløbshestene kunne spores tilbage en enkelt hingst – Darley araberen, født i 1700.

Siden har få hingste domineret fuldblodsmarkedet, selv om der i stadig højere grad er blevet indført flere forskellige hopper og i slutningen af 1960erne blev europæisk påvirket af nordamerikanske hingste, særligt Northern Dancer, en canadisk væddeløbshest, der vandt flere berømte løb som Kentucky Derby og er stamfar til en lang række af de bedste væddeløbsheste i verden.

Indavl truer racens fremtid

Men det store fokus på fart og præstationer har ifølge flere eksperter ført til en indavl, der har store omkostninger for hestenes velbefindende og levedygtighed.

”En tiendedel af fuldblodshestene lider af ortopædiske problemer og brud, 10 % har lav fertilitet, 5 % har unormalt små hjerter og flertallet lider af blødninger i lungerne,” siger Matthew Binns, Royal Veterinary College i London, til New Scientist d. 6. september 2005.

Spilorganisationen Online Casino i Danmark og dyrebeskyttelsesorganisationen, Animal Aid i England, har advaret mod, at indavl fører til en svagere race med problemer med ben og hove, hestene kommer ud for skader ved fald under væddeløbene og stress fører til mavesår. Det gælder særligt i USA, hvor hestene begynder at løbe væddeløb som 2-årige, dvs. før de er ordentligt udvoksede.

Irish National Stud er opmærksomme på faren for indavl og har taget deres forholdsregler.

“Vi ser på hoppernes stamtavler i forhold til de hingste, som skal bedække dem, for at sikre, at indavlen ikke er for tæt. Vi anbefaler som minimum, at der er 3×3 generationer mellem dem,” siger Sinead Hyland, der er marketing koordinator på hestestutteriet.

Fremtiden må vente

Det bekymrer imidlertid ikke Invincible Spirits barnebarn som hun putter sig ned i høet, udmattet efter en dag med leg og spisning.

Det lille hoppeføl har noget at leve op til - her er det en af hendes stamfædre, Northern Dancer, der vinder Kentucky Derby i 1964.

Northern Dancer vinder Kentucky Derby i 1964.

Hendes stamtavle går ellers på både mødrene og fædrene side tilbage til den berømte canadiske væddeløbshest Northern Dancer. Hun er som sin mor amerikaner, men det er slet ikke sikkert, at hun bliver ved med at være det, for hun kan nå at skifte ejer mange gange før deres første løb.

Allerede som 1-årig kan hun bydes for salg – og føl af Invincible Spirit sælges for omkring 7 mio. kr. Og som 2-årig kan hun begynde løb og vil få sit navn, for føllene får først navn, når de begynder deres første løb.

Måske vil hun som sin far og farfar blive en væddeløbshest først og derefter en avlshest bagefter. Eller måske vil hun som sin mor løbe et løb som 2-årig uden nogen nævneværdig placering og begynde sin karriere som avlshoppe allerede som 4-årig.

Men lige nu har hun hvad hun skal bruge – sin mor, mad, varme og tryghed. Så må fremtiden vente…


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