USA: Bill Kristol, the neocon ‘Nostradamus’ of the wrong predictions


William Kristol playing card, cartoonFrom Crooks and Liars blog in the USA:

Bill Kristol: The Anti-Nostradamus

By: SilentPatriot on Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007 at 5:10 AM

When you hear level-headed people say that General Kristol and the Neocons have been wrong about literally everything for the past five years, they’re not kidding.

Anonymous Liberal — guest-posting for Glenn at Unclaimed Territory — gives us a small sample of the predictions made by TIME Magazine’s new “star” columnist:

On March 17, 2003, on the eve of our invasion of Iraq, Bill Kristol wrote the following:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats.

But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction.

It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime.

History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

Now, you would think that being so incredibly wrong about such an important subject might hurt your career prospects, and that would probably be true in any other field.

But in the world of Washington punditry, being consistently and catastrophically wrong about everything is apparently not an obstacle to advancement.

Read more here.

Meanwhile, Kristol‘s colleague as conservative and ‘Nostradamus’, Pat Robertson, is again making all sorts of predictions for 2007, claiming to have a hotline with God Himself.

Robertson’s islamophobia: here.

On Robertson, from the Google cache, 8/24/05:

Robertson is calling for murder of a head of state [Hugo Chavez of Venezuela] with diplomatic ties to the United States (a popularly elected head of state, contrary to Robertson’s buddy George W. Bush).

What are police waiting for? And/or what are psychiatric ambulance crews waiting for?

And how about Robertson’s “Reverend” colleagues Jimmy Swaggart and Fred Phelps, calling for murdering gay people in the Unites States?

US neoconservative Iraq war propagandist Jonah Goldberg admits in 2007 that ‘the French were right on the Iraq war‘.

Neocons of ‘Freedom House’: here.

Anti-neoconservative action in Poland: here.

US opponents of Iraq war before it started proved right: here.

Pat Robertson’s group sues to stop mosque near ground zero: here.

Rightist attack on Gombrich’s A Little History of the World: here.

Belgians: robin is favourite bird


This is a video of an European robin.

From Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws:

Vogelbescherming Vlaanderen on 1 October last year had an election.

Until 16 November, everyone could pick his or her favourite bird from a list of twenty well known and not so well known European species.

The robin won clearly. The well known songbird got 16,24% of the votes, definitely more than the kestrel (10,41%) and the green woodpecker (9,97%). …

The rest of the Top 10: goldfinch (7,23%, great spotted woodpecker (7,06%), long-eared owl (6,35%), starling (6,26%), bee-eater (6 procent), sparrowhawk (4,76%), blackbird (4,41 procent).

Sparrowhawks in Scotland: here.

Most frequent garden birds in Flanders: here.

Spoon-billed sandpiper threatened


Spoon-billed sandpiper chick on nest

From BirdLife:

Unique wader faces extinction

03-01-2007

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, a charismatic wader (shorebird) with a remarkable, unique spatulate bill, has declined by more than 80% over the last 30 years, and experts are in a race to find out why before the species dwindles to extinction.

“Today we believe there are fewer than 400 breeding pairs of Spoon-billed Sandpipers left, and we urgently need to find out why they are disappearing” said Mike Crosby of BirdLife International.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers breed during June–July in a small strip of coastal Arctic tundra in Chuchotka, NE Russia. They migrate thousands of kilometres to winter along coasts in South and South-East Asia. Currently, they are classified as Endangered.

Experts from ten Asian countries along the Spoon-billed Sandpiper’s flyways recently met in Samut Sakhon, Thailand, to figure out what needs to be done to save the species.

See also here.

Shorebirds in the Americas: here.

The last heath hen; forests, open spaces, and animals of New England, USA


Heath hen maleFrom the National Zoological Park in the USA:

The Last Heath Hen

by David Challinor (January 2007)

It is rare for someone to see the last wild animal of a rapidly disappearing population, yet we do know of one such instance.

James Green on March 11, 1932, watched a heath hen (Tympanuchus cupido) scurry into some low bushes on his farm near West Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, Massuchusetts.

No wild one was ever seen again.

Heath is an Old World term for an extended, uncultivated open space covered with herbage and low bushes. The colonial landscape of the early 18th century from Massachusetts to the Carolinas undoubtedly had heaths large enough to sustain an enormous population of heath hens.

This bird was so plentiful that it was a staple food for indentured laborers in coastal New England.

In winter, when the birds fed on acorns and acidic berries, their meat tasted bitter; in summer they were somewhat more palatable.

The servants actually sought in their labor contracts to limit their having to eat heath hen to only two days a week instead of daily. …

A remarkable illustration of this ability to rapidly occupy a new prairie is occurring on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

A landowner converted a small portion (230 acres) of his large tract, named Chino Farms, to a grassland reserve in the fall of 1998 when the last crops of corn and soybeans were harvested and the area was left fallow.

The following spring, warm-season grasses and prairie forbs (small leafy dicotyledonous plants) were planted and researchers marked out experimental plots.

Having just finished year eight of a long-term ecological study at this farm, scientists from the University of Maryland have obtained some truly amazing results from this conversion of cropland to prairie.

One of the first birds to occupy this new land was the grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum australis).

This secretive bird nests on the ground and gets its name from its call rather than its penchant for grasshoppers.

As soon as the prairie plants sprouted, these sparrows started nesting. Where had they come from?

It seemed as though they had just been waiting in isolated patches of meadow for an ideal place to settle.

Scientists grabbed the chance to study this elusive species and in the process learned that ideal nest sites always had a tall stem nearby from which the male could sing and thus defend his territory.

When the scientists scattered artificial perches around the study plots, the number of nesting pairs increased dramatically.

For years, landowners along the Eastern Seaboard have used a similar procedure to attract nesting osprey.

They erected nesting platforms atop tall, stout poles but found that one of the pair preferred to perch on an adjacent snag before bringing a fish to the nest. The snag was soon added.

Not only did grasshopper sparrows return to this newly restored open grassland, but when low-lying hollows in the tract filled with rainwater, spadefoot toads (Scaphiopus spp.) turned up to breed.

These toads spend most of their lives underground and are adept at digging—hence their name.

This prairie animal must be ready to breed whenever there is enough rainfall to fill a large puddle.

When that occurs, they all emerge on the surface and spawn almost immediately. The eggs hatch after only two days.

The tadpoles then feed on their yoke supply for another day while their mouths develop to ingest food, first mostly algae and planktonic organisms, then later dead tadpoles that did not metamorphose quickly enough to survive.

I watched these extraordinary amphibians court and spawn on my cotton farm in west Texas within less than an hour after a heavy thunderstorm.

I had always thought of them as central plains prairie and desert animal and was surprised when my colleague Doug Gill of the University of Maryland reported their presence on the recently established Eastern Shore prairie.

Eastern spade-foot toads (Scaphiopus holbrookii) still persist in relict populations in the sandy undisturbed openlands of the Coastal Plains from Long Island to Florida, reminiscent of pre-colonial times.