Afghan students protest US civilian massacre


This video is called Scores dead after US strike in Afghanistan – 06 May 09.

From the Brunei Times:

Huge anti-US protest in Afghanistan

KABUL

Monday, May 11, 2009

HUNDREDS of Kabul university students labelled the United States “the world’s biggest terrorist” yesterday as they protested against US air strikes said to have killed scores of Afghan villagers.

Chanting “Death to America,” “Death to the biggest terrorist” and “long live Islam,” up to 1,000 protesters marched outside the university to condemn what is believed to be the deadliest such incident in nearly eight years.

Their banners read “The blood of the Farah martyrs will never dry” and “USA is the world’s biggest terrorist,” a photographer at the scene witnessed.

Another banner demanded that those responsible for the air strikes last week in southwestern Farah province go on trial.

Student leaders read out a statement condemning civilian casualties from both Taliban attacks and military strikes.

“Our people are fed up with Taliban beheadings and suicide bombings. On the other hand, the massacre of civilians by the American forces is a crime that our people will never forget,” it said.

The students’ resolution dismissed US statements of regret for civilian casualties, saying: “You cannot wash (away) the blood of Bala Buluk district martyrs with bizarre words of excuse and sorrow.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said that between 125 and 130 civilians, including children and women, were killed in the strikes in Farah’s Bala Buluk district on Monday and Tuesday.

One local investigation has said 140 civilians were killed, including 94 girls aged under 18 who had gathered in a compound to take shelter from the fighting.

Some villagers said the strikes hit an area which the Taliban had already left and where there was no fighting.

Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity: here.

In the wake of last week’s massacre of some 150 civilians in western Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai demanded an end to deadly US airstrikes. US National Security Adviser James Jones responded that the bombings will go on: here.

The U.S. has killed twice as many Afghan civilians as the Taliban this year and that number is sure to rise: here.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the Canadian Armed Forces’ base in Kandahar and other CAF positions in southern Afghanistan for ten hours last Thursday: here.

Anti Afghan war demonstration in Brussels, Belgium, on 29 May: here.

Navy Times: Record bombs dropped in Afghanistan in April.

The sacking of the US commander in Afghanistan and the slaying of five soldiers in Baghdad by a traumatized sergeant are symptoms of the military’s growing crisis as it continues the two wars and occupations begun under the Bush administration: here.

Bird-killing pesticide banned in the USA


This National Geographic video is called A golden eagle in Scotland eyes some white mountain hares.

From the American Bird Conservancy in the USA:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 11, 2009
4:12 PM

CONTACT: American Bird Conservancy
Steve Holmer, 202-234-7181, ext. 216, sholmer@abcbirds.org

EPA Bans Deadly Pesticide Responsible for Millions of Bird Deaths

WASHINGTON – May 11 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced its final decision to revoke all food tolerances for the highly toxic pesticide carbofuran, which is sold under the name “Furadan” by FMC Corporation. The agency’s announcement confirms a proposed action first announced in July 2008. FMC Corp. will have the opportunity to challenge the decision within 90 days with a petition to stay the rule. When the rule becomes final, EPA will proceed with the cancellation of registration for all uses of the pesticide.

Carbofuran causes neurological damage in humans, and one of the most deadly pesticides to birds left on the market. It is responsible for the deaths of millions of wild birds since its introduction in 1967, including Bald and Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks, and migratory songbirds,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy. “This EPA decision marks a huge victory for wildlife and the environment.”

This rule becomes effective December 31, 2009 to allow for commodities in storage to be used. Most uses of carbofuran on food crops were voluntarily cancelled in March 2009, effective immediately, so that most uses of the pesticide have been cancelled for the 2009 growing season. Today’s announcement is available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/30118530d0b774d7852575b30059aa8c?OpenDocument .

In its 2005 ecological risk assessment on carbofuran, EPA stated that all legal uses of the pesticide were likely to kill wild birds. If a flock of mallards were to feed in a carbofuran treated alfalfa field, EPA predicted that 92% of the birds in the flock would quickly die. EPA analysis has also confirmed that carbofuran is a threat to human health through contaminated food, drinking water, and occupational exposure.

March 2010. Opening arguments will be heard in an appeal starting in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that will decide the fate of carbofuran, one of the most toxic pesticides to birds. American Bird Conservancy (ABC) – the USA’s leading bird conservation organization – hopes the judge’s gavel will sound the death knell for this chemical in the United States, which is thought to have caused the deaths of tens of millions of birds since its use began in 1965: here.

Synthetic pyrethroids (Cypermethrin) were 1000 times more toxic to wildlife than the pesticides that farmers were previously using to dip sheep. When it was in use it was estimated that about 1.5 billion animals in rivers, streams and ponds were being killed by Cypermethrin sheep dip every year. In addition 400 million litres of waste Cypermethrin was sprayed onto meadows and fields every year, causing untold destruction to butterflies and bees: here.

How Obama Sold the Farm: Pesticide Lobbyist Gets Key Job: here.

August 2010: America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bayer CropScience have decided to halt the production of the insecticide aldicarb by 2014 in a move that has delighted leading bird conservation organisation the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and other environmental groups today: here.

Like DDT before it, a new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids is believed to be causing drastic population declines in bird species. It is so effective at killing insects, that it has deprived birds of their basic food. Some scientists also believe they are behind the decline in bee populations in Europe and the United States known as honey-bee Colony Collapse Disorder: here.

Could we be facing a future without birds? Our reliance on pesticides has cut a swathe through their numbers. We must act now, argues Kate Ravilious: here.

November 2010. A gamekeeper formerly employed on the Leadhills Estate in South Lanarkshire has been convicted of laying a rabbit bait laced with the banned poison Carbofuran on an open hillside. Lewis Whitham, now of Skipton, North Yorkshire, appeared at Lanark Sheriff Court, and plead guilty to placing a poison bait, contrary to section 5 1 A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act. He was fined £800. The court heard that on 8th April 2009, Whitham was witnessed driving a quad bike on Braid Hill, near Leadhills. He was seen to stop the bike and take a dead rabbit off the back of it. This was staked to the ground and sprinkled with “a significant quantity” of Carbofuran: here.

September 2011. Devon and Cornwall Police and the RSPB are again appealing for information following confirmation this week that two peregrine falcons found dead near St Just had been poisoned with the banned pesticide carbofuran. The RSPB is offering a reward of £1000 for information leading to a conviction: here.

Georgian anti Saakashvili protests expanding


This video from 2007 says about itself:

Complete chaos and confusion in Tbilisi. Tear gas covered the center of the Georgian capital. Police fire tear gas at protestants.

From Associated Press:

May 11, 3:32 PM EDT

Georgian opposition pledges broader protests after meeting with president ends in stalemate

By CATRINA STEWART and MISHA DZHINDZHIKHASHVILI
Associated Press Writer

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia’s opposition vowed Monday to take protests nationwide after refusing a power-sharing offer from the president, who they say must resign.

A meeting between President Mikhail Saakashvili and four of his most outspoken opponents ended in stalemate. The opposition promised to escalate the monthlong standoff in which thousands have demonstrated outside government buildings, occasionally clashing with police.

Critics say the U.S.-backed Saakashvili led Georgia into the disastrous war with Russia last summer and allege he is backtracking on democratic progress made since he overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze in a 2003 peaceful revolution.

“We will keep on fighting for Saakashvili to resign, for the freedom of the press, and for the protection of all our citizens,” said Irakli Alasania, an opposition figure who attended the Saakashvili meeting.

Alasania spoke in front of Georgia’s parliament building and about 10,000 supporters. The opposition promised to mobilize activists across the country in peaceful protests, including blockades of major highways, until Saakashvili resigns.

“From today, we have the legitimate right to hold public protests that are larger, more urgent and take them all across Georgia,” said Levan Gachechiladze, another opposition politician.

70 million bones in New York museum?


From Bob’s Dinosaurs Blog in the USA:

How Many Bones Are at the American Museum of Natural History?

Monday May 11, 2009

There was an interesting item in yesterday’s New York Times about the huge number of fossils at the American Museum of Natural History. According to writer Michael Pollak, a 1986 history of the museum stated that “if all the bones were dumped into Central Park, they would form a pile well over three stories high and hundreds of feet in circumference…the pile would weigh at least 1,000 tons and contain about 50 million bones, representing the remains of more than 750,000 animals.” Since that book was written over 20 years ago, feel free to tack on another 20 or 30 percent to those figures.

Where in the world does AMNH keep all those fossils? I’d like to think there’s an abandoned West Side subway tunnel filled with assorted skulls, femurs and tibias, but more likely the museum has rented out nondescript storage space all over the New York metropolitan area.

Trilobite collecting in Utah, USA: here.

Mercenaries murdering in Ireland, Iraq …


From British daily The Morning Star:

McBride mother vows to take on mercenary firm

Monday 11 May 2009

by Paddy McGuffin

JUSTICE DENIED: Peter McBride was shot dead by members of the Scots Guards who were convicted of murder but later released.

The mother of a Belfast teenager shot and killed by British soldiers in 1992 has pledged to take legal action if a firm of mercenaries connected to her son’s death is awarded any form of government contract.

Her comments came as it emerged that the government was proposing to allow private military security contractors – including one that is run by the commanding officer of the soldiers who killed her son – to police themselves.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office launched a public consultation on the issue earlier this month.

Peter McBride was just 18 when he was shot and killed by members of the Scots Guards in the New Lodge area of Belfast. He was unarmed and running away from soldiers when he was shot in the back.

Guardsmen Mark Wright and James Fisher were convicted of Mr McBride’s murder but, to the dismay of the victim’s family, were released from prison in 1998 following a public campaign.

The two convicted killers were reinstated into the army with no loss of rank or privilege.

At the time of Mr McBride’s murder, the commanding officer of the Scots Guards was Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer. Lt Col Spicer stated at the time and afterwards that his men had done nothing wrong and should never have faced trial.

After retiring from the British army, he established mercenary firm Sandline International, which was implicated in a series of scandals in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea in the late 1990s.

Spicer then went on to found Aegis Defence Services, which has received lucrative multimillion-dollar contracts from the US government in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although Aegis does not appear to have been granted a British government security contract to date, it is regularly invited, along with other mercenaries, to submit tenders by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Mr McBride’s mother Jean McBride told the Morning Star on Monday that she would fight to ensure that Aegis was never awarded a British government contract.

She said: “I will do my damnedest to ensure that Aegis Defence Systems does not get a penny of British government contract money.

“The CEO of Aegis Tim Spicer is on public record as saying that the soldiers who were convicted in a court of law of shooting my son should not even have been charged. I have said repeatedly that Tim Spicer is not fit to be in charge of armed men in a conflict situation.”

Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Mark Durkan MP, who has backed the McBride family’s campaign, has tabled an early day motion calling on the Defence Secretary to review the suitability of Aegis for public contracts “in view of its demonstrable disregard for the rule of law.”

Police were questioning nine men on Tuesday after a community youth worker was beaten to death by a sectarian mob in Northern Ireland: here.

Iraq: Five US men arrested in connection with murder of contractor: here.

Five US soldiers killed by colleague in Iraq


This is a video about torture in Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

From British daily The Morning Star:

US soldier turns on comrades in Baghdad attack

Monday 11 May 2009

A US soldier apparently killed five of his comrades on Monday at a US base in the heart of Baghdad.

The US military admitted that the shooting took place at Camp Liberty, near Baghdad International Airport, but gave no further details on the attack. …

The US death toll for April was 19 – the highest in seven months – and brings the total number of soldiers killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq since March 2003 to 4,287.

See also here.

Updated: U.S. Soldier Kills 5 Troops at U.S. Base in Iraq: here.

What Made Him Snap? Soldier Goes on Killing Spree in Baghdad ‘Stress Clinic': here. And here. And here.