Nato kills three Afghan women


This video is called Afghan civilian casualties, protests insue.

From Al Jazeera:

Nato troops kill three Afghan women

Two women and a girl have been killed and two men injured after Nato troops opened fire on a car in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Afghanistan‘s interior ministry said that the victims were travelling on a highway in Zabul province on Friday when foreign troops opened fire, killing three of the five civilians in the car.

“A foreign forces convoy opened fire on a vehicle coming the other way, thinking they were Taliban,” Zemarai Bashary, the interior ministry spokesman, said.

“Two women and one girl were killed and one other woman was wounded.” …

Eyewitnesses said that the troops, were carrying out house-to-house searches in a village, opened fire first without firing warning shots.

Nick Carter, the ISAF regional commander, said that the military was investigating the allegations but gave no further details.

Friday’s incident is the latest in a long list of civilians mistakenly killed by US-led troops fighting the Taliban.

It comes just weeks after US troops opened fire on a bus in the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual capital, killing four civilians and sparking angry public protests.

It also comes one day after the French military admitted that its troops accidentally killed four children in eastern Afghanistan on April 6 in a missile attack.

See also here.

A semi-annual report released by the Pentagon on the Afghanistan war recorded a sharp increase in attacks on occupation troops and scarce support for the US-backed puppet regime of President Hamid Karzai: here.

Exclusive: In Kunar province, civilian deaths from Special Forces turn some Afghans against US: here.

Singer Patti Smith interviewed


From Democracy NOW! in the USA:

Punk Rock Legend Patti Smith on her Life, Her Art, Her Singing and Speaking Out

We bring you a Democracy Now special with the singer-songwriter, poet, artist, and punk rock legend, Patti Smith, on her life, her art and her singing and speaking out. “I do things that make people upset. My political views or my humanist views have caused me a lot of censorship, but I don’t have a problem with that,” Smith says. “What I would have more of a problem with is, if I had to look back on my life and say, ‘Yeah I compromised here’ and ‘yeah I did this so I could get that’–once you start doing that it’s like a house of cards, it all falls apart.” [Includes rush transcript]

Monitor lizard discovery in Indonesia


Torch monitor lizard

From mongabay.com:

Fire-headed dragon discovered in Southeast Asia

Jeremy Hance

April 27, 2010

Just weeks after scientists announced the discovery of a new monitor lizard in the Philippines, researchers have uncovered another unknown monitor inhabiting Southeast Asia. Described in Zootaxa, the new torch monitor (Varanus obor) is found only on the tiny island of Sanana, in the western Moluccan islands of Indonesia.

The new monitor lizard, named ‘Torch’ for its bright orange head which tops a black body, reaches almost four feet in length, a little smaller than the other recently-discovered monitor Varanus bitatawa from the Philippines. Researchers say the torch monitor is in fact a close relative of Varanus bitatawa . Inhabiting the coastal sago palm mangrove forests on Sanana, the torch monitor is the only monitor species to have evolved red coloring.

Researchers believe that since no predatory mammals live on the eastern side of Wallace Line—a biological demarcation first set out by explorer-biologist Alfred Russell Wallace—big reptiles like the torch monitor, which feeds on small animals and carrion, have taken the place of top predator.

“There are more [monitor] species there, doing more different things ecologically than in Africa or South and Southeast Asia, where competition and predation by mammals tend to keep monitor lizards down. East of Wallace’s Line in Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia, monitor lizards are on the top of the heap. It emphasizes again how little we know about some tropical regions, to find an animal so strikingly colored and so large only last year,” says Sam Sweet, a professor in the department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UCSB, in a press release.

An expert on monitors, Sweet worked Valter Weijola, a graduate student at Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, to describe the species. Weijola discovered it a year ago.

The largest family member of the monitor lizards is the infamous Komodo dragon, also endemic to Indonesian islands.

See also here.

ScienceDaily (May 17, 2010) — German scientist André Koch from the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) in Bonn together with his supervisor Prof Dr Wolfgang Böhme and another colleague have described two new monitor lizard species (Varanus spp.) and one new subspecies from the Philippines in a recent article. Their comprehensive study of the Philippine water monitors revealed, that despite the recently discovered new and fruit-eating monitor species from the main island of Luzon by an American-Philippine research team, the real diversity of these giant lizards in the archipelago has not yet been understood: here.

Monitor lizards extract oxygen both when they inhale and exhale, perhaps explaining why they are so successful: here.

Indonesia declares logging halt: President announces two-year moratorium as Norway offers Jakarta $1bn in aid: here.