Bush spied on Tony Blair


This video from the USA says about itself:

How does a government lead its people to war? How does it communicate to its citizens – and to the wider world – the reasons and rationale for initiating military conflict? What rhetorical devices and techniques are employed? And how is a nation brought to support the profound decision to wage war against another nation?

These are the questions that LEADING TO WAR seeks to explore. This 72-minute film shows the evolution of the United States government’s case for military action against Saddam Hussein’s regime, leading to the Iraq War which began in 2003.

LEADING TO WAR is comprised entirely of archival news footage – without commentary, without voiceover – presented chronologically from President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, 2002 (the “axis of evil” speech), and continuing up to the announcement of formal U.S. military action in Iraq on March 19, 2003.

Covering these 14 months, the film presents selected interviews, speeches, and press conferences given by President Bush and his administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, as well as by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and others. This compressed, chronological view offers a unique opportunity to examine the media record from a historical perspective, allowing the material to speak for itself. Footage was licensed from major news sources, including ABC, AP, BBC, CNN, ITN, and NBC. LEADING TO WAR is also intended as a historical record for future generations, who will not have had firsthand experience of the precise, incremental steps taken by the government in presenting its case for war.

From Think Progress in the USA; with some hyperlinks added:

Report: NSA Kept File On Tony Blair’s ‘Private Life’ And Intercepted Iraqi President’s ‘Pillow Talk’

In October, ABC News reported that despite President Bush’s promises that the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program was aimed only at terrorists, the NSA frequently listened to and transcribed the private phone calls of Americans abroad. The network’s report was based on whistleblower interviews with two former military intercept operators.

One of the whistleblowers, former Navy Arab linguist David Murfee Faulk, told ABC News that he and his co-workers listened in on “hundreds of Americans” over the years:

Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad’s Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.

“Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another,” said Faulk.

But it wasn’t just ordinary Americans. In a new report today, Faulk tells ABC that during his time working for the government, “U.S. intelligence snooped on the private lives of two of America’s most important allies in fighting al Qaeda: British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Iraq’s first interim president, Ghazi al-Yawer”:

David Murfee Faulk told ABCNews.com he saw and read a file on Blair’s “private life” and heard “pillow talk” phone calls of al-Yawer when he worked as an Army Arab linguist assigned to a secret NSA facility at Fort Gordon, Georgia between 2003 and 2007.

Though “collecting information on foreign leaders is a legal and common practice of intelligence agencies around the world,” former intelligence officials tell ABC News that the U.S. and Britain have a long-standing agreement “not to collect on each other“:

The NSA works extremely closely and shares data with its British counterpart, the GCHQ, Government Communications Headquarters.

“If it is true that we maintained a file on Blair, it would represent a huge breach of the agreement we have with the Brits,” said one former CIA official.

After ABC’s initial report in October, Senate Democrats promised to investigate the whistleblowers’ allegations. The Inspector General for the NSA is also reported to be investigating the allegations by Faulk and another former military intercept operator, Adrienne Kinne.

See also here. And here.

Is Tony Blair a Terrorist? NSA Eavesdropped on Britain’s Prime Minister: here.

Judge: Bush overstepped wiretapping authority: here.

New bottlenose dolphin species discovered in Australia


This video is about bottlenose dolphins.

From Macquarie University in Australia:

New dolphin species identified

Monday, 24 November 2008

Marine mammal experts have uncovered a new species of dolphin in Australian waters, challenging existing knowledge about bottlenose dolphin classifications and highlighting the country’s marine biodiversity.

The researchers, from Macquarie University and Monash University, used genetic methods to identify the new dolphin species, and have had their findings published in November’s edition of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Dr Luciana Möller, of the Marine Mammal Research Group and the Molecular Ecology Lab at Macquarie University’s Graduate School of the Environment, led a study which found that the coastal bottlenose dolphins from southern Australia should in fact be classified as a new species, rather than considered one of the recognised bottlenose dolphin species.

There are currently two recognised species of bottlenose dolphins and both are found in Australian waters: the common bottlenose dolphin generally found in Australia’s offshore waters, and the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, found in coastal waters.

Dr Möller said that it is difficult to distinguish between some species of bottlenose dolphins using only external body features.

“This group to which bottlenose dolphins belong includes several species that have differentiated relatively recently in evolutionary time and therefore it is difficult to distinguish or understand relationships between them based on morphology alone,” she said.

The new coastal bottlenose dolphin will be the second dolphin species found only in Australia. Dr Möller says this discovery has important implications for the species and for marine science in general.

“In the current biodiversity crisis, when we are losing so many animal species, it’s very exciting to find out about these unique Australian dolphins,” she said.

“They should be given special conservation attention due to their limited distribution to coastal waters of southern Australia. Due to their coastal habitat, these dolphins are also more likely to face threats such as pollution, overfishing and entanglement in nets.”

Using DNA analysis, the researchers found that the new species was more closely related to the Fraser’s dolphin, which is found mostly in the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Dr Möller said her research team’s findings demonstrated how important DNA studies are to uncovering hidden marine diversity.

“It suggests we still have a lot to learn about how many marine species are out there,” she said.

The bottlenose dolphins of Shark Bay, Australia are world famous for their extraordinary shallow swimming skills and have featured in several BBC programmes. Researchers following their lives continue to witness astonishing behaviour and their observations feature in the clips below. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are very similar in appearance to the common bottlenose dolphin so it’s unsurprising that until 1998 they were considered the same species. Those with a keen eye will notice that the Indo-Pacific species is smaller and has pale spots and more teeth: here.

How dolphins swim: here.

Mass stranding of whales in Tasmania: here.

Dinosaurs of Skye and Wyoming


This video is called Beautiful Scotland, Isle of Skye.

From the BBC:

Skye‘s dinosaur connection to US

Footprints found on Skye and in Wyoming, in the US, were left by the same dinosaurs or a similar species, recently-published research has found.

Dr Neil Clark, of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, said some tracks at the two sites were “indistinguishable”.

Great Britain and the United States formed part of the same land-mass hundreds of millions of years ago.

Dr Clark said further investigation into the link was needed.

The preliminary research by the curator of palaeontology and Dr Michael Brett-Surman, of the department of paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, is published in the Scottish Journal of Geology.

The scientists studied tracks from the Middle Jurassic – about 170 million years ago – found in rock formations.

Jurassic isle still has secrets

Analysis included measurements of footprints for comparison, looking at the length of digits and the distance between them.

Data gathered suggested that smaller footprints from the Valtos Sandstone and Kilmaluag formations on Skye were indistinguishable from those in the Sundance Formation in Wyoming.

Four different groupings of dinosaur footprints were identified and the scientists said they may represent at least four different types of animal.

Dr Clark said: “The footprints were indistinguishable to me. If they are not from the same species, they are a very similar kind of dinosaur.

“This was preliminary research, but opens up the potential for further investigation. It really needs a full-scale study.”

Dr Clark ruled out a mass migration of the dinosaurs as the distance involved was between 2,000 and 3,000 miles.

The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery holds collections covering medicine, Scottish art and science.

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum complex and research organisation, composed of 19 museums, nine research centres, and a zoo.

See also here.

How did dinosaurs leave tracks in solid stone? Here.

Penguin, killer whales, boat


This video from Antarctica is about a gentoo penguin, orcas, and a boat.

Orca mothers: here.