NATO keeps killing Afghan civilians


This video from May 2011 is called NATO Raid Kills Four Afghan Civilians, Then Protests Lead To 12 More Deaths

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

Nato assault kills at least 16

AFGHANISTAN: Nato troops backed by war planes attacked homes in the Kharaba area of Loigar province at around midnight on Tuesday, killing at least 16 civilians, including women and children.

Logar regional council chief Abdul Wali Wakil said that nine of the victims had died in air raids and the other seven, including women and children, were killed by troops on the ground.

Nato claimed in a statement that the assault had resulted in the deaths of “numerous insurgents” and made no mention of civilians.

From CNN:

Afghan officials: Up to 16 civilians killed in NATO strike

Karzai Buries a Brother, and Quickly Appoints Another as Successor: here.

Sexual Violence Against Women in the US Military: The Search for Truth and Justice: here.

Spectacular Danish lark breeding news


This video says about itself:

Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla), Tory Island, County Donegal, Ireland, 26th October 2009. Harassed by Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus) at beginning of clip.

Spectacular news from Denmark on a first ever greater short-toed lark nest there.

From the Netfugl.dk site:

13 July 2011

Korttået Lærke (Calandrella brachydactyla).

3 Lakolk Strand, Rømø, Danmark. (photos: here)

Belated news about a breeding-pair in June raising at least one young. First breeding-record for Northern Europe?

Australian complicity in Abu Ghraib torture


This video from the USA is called Abu Ghraib covered up, Congress misled by Rumsfeld.

By James Cogan:

Documents prove Australian complicity in Iraq war crimes

13 July 2011

Documents obtained last week by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), after a six-year legal battle, confirm what was already clear in 2004: that the Australian military was complicit in the torture committed by American forces at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in late 2003. The documents, finally released by the Department of Defence to comply with a Freedom of Information request lodged in June 2005, also demonstrate that the Australian government of Prime Minister John Howard concealed information from Senate Estimates hearings into whether Australian personnel were aware that war crimes were being committed.

In January 2004, the US military announced that it was investigating claims of abuse at Abu Ghraib―aware that leaked photos of the sadistic treatment of Iraqi detainees would inevitably become public. The first photos were published in late April 2004 and provoked a storm of international revulsion, further fuelling mass antiwar sentiment.

The Howard government was one of the few in the world that still had forces deployed in the US-led occupation of Iraq when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. Its immediate response was to deny that either it or the Australian military had prior knowledge of prisoner abuse. Howard declared: “We were not involved.”

This claim was soon exposed as a lie. Australian military officers were embedded in US military headquarters in Baghdad and were aware of the allegations surrounding Abu Ghraib and other cases of abuse. They had seen an October 2003 Red Cross report that provided damning details of prisoner mistreatment, and they communicated the allegations to their superiors and the government in Canberra.

Australian Major George O’Kane was working for the main US military legal unit in Iraq. In August 2003 he provided advice on the legality of the interrogation techniques that the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade intended to apply at Abu Ghraib. O’Kane visited the prison on a number of occasions. He drafted replies to two Red Cross reports outlining charges of abuse, in which he argued some Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Britain: The Supreme Court has banned the state from using secret evidence by the state in a bid to cover up allegations of complicity in torture: here.

The 28th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on July 4. In what is becoming a routine, Prime Minister Julia Gillard used the occasion of giving the nation’s condolences on July 6 to harangue an increasingly sceptical public about the necessity for the occupation to continue: here.

As if it’s not bad enough that our Defence personnel are being used as cannon fodder in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are now taking to the streets of Sydney “to provide assistance to the people of Australia in times of civil emergency, including in response to terrorist incidents”: here.

Film director Jim Loach explores the deportation of thousands of children from England and their incarceration in Australia’s outback: here.

Australia’s controversial intervention policy on aboriginal communities: here.

An Australian Navy cadet who filmed himself with a mobile phone raping a woman as she slept wanted to be accepted by his peers, a court heard: here.

US Defense Secretary visits Iraq to extract new troop agreement: here.

The epidemic of soldier and veteran suicides in the U.S.: here.

THE Court of Appeal will on Monday 18th July 2011 commence a three-day hearing to consider the lawfulness of the refusal by Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, to hold a public inquiry into allegations of torture and inhumane treatment of Iraqis by British forces: here.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox will be challenged at the Court of Appeal tomorow over his refusal to launch a public inquiry into the alleged torture of Iraqis by British troops: here.

A ‘Toxic Genre’ – The Iraq War Films: here.

Triceratops, the last dinosaur?


From Discovery News:

Triceratops Was Last Dinosaur Standing

The 65 million-year-old find suggests a meteor may have wiped out the dinosaurs in a sudden catastrophic event.

By Jennifer Viegas

Tue Jul 12, 2011 07:00 PM ET

THE GIST

The world’s last known surviving non-avian dinosaur was a Triceratops from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation.

The discovery suggests dinosaurs did not gradually die out before 65 million years ago, but that they went suddenly extinct.

Hoofed mammals and rodent-like species were among the animals that flourished after the extinction event.

A Triceratops may have been the last dinosaur standing, according to a new study that determined a fossil from Montana’s Hell Creek Formation is “the youngest dinosaur known to science.”

The Triceratops, described in the latest Royal Society Biology Letters, dates to 65 million years ago, the critical period of time associated with the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction event that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs and many other animals and plants.

Since this rhinoceros-looking, three-horned dinosaur lived so close to the mass extinction moment, it could negate an earlier theory that dinosaurs gradually died out before 65 million years ago.

“Our paper suggests that dinosaurs did not go extinct prior to the impact,” lead author Tyler Lyson told Discovery News. “The fact that this dinosaur is so close to the K-T boundary lends support to the idea that they went extinct as a result of a meteorite impact.”

Lyson, a researcher in Yale University’s Department of Geology and Geophysics, and his team discovered the remains of the Triceratops, including its over 1.5-foot-long horn, just 5 inches below the pollen-calibrated K-T boundary at Camel Butte, a hill at the Hell Creek Formation in southeastern Montana.

By studying the region’s geological layers, the scientists can see how dinosaurs suddenly disappeared after the catastrophic event, which Lyson and many other experts believe was a meteorite strike that directly hit Earth at Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Lyson said that “we don’t fully understand the kill mechanism,” but other researchers “have a proposed a nuclear winter, while others have proposed a thermal pulse.”

The prior theory that dinosaurs gradually died out before 65 million years ago was often based on what is known as the “3-meter gap,” which referred to an apparent geological zone devoid of dinosaur fossils before the K-T event.

The Hell Creek Triceratops, however, was not only found within that 3-meter region, but it also exists at the upper reaches of it, proving that at least one dinosaur and presumably more were still alive when the meteorite blasted into Chicxulub, Mexico.

Co-author Stephen Chester of Yale’s Department of Anthropology told Discovery News that the Camel Butte site is important both because it has “the most recent dinosaur specimen” and “because we are finding a great diversity of small mammals that are first documented directly after the extinction event.”

Chester continued, “Although the K-T mass extinction event is mainly known for the disappearance of the non-avian dinosaurs, it is also an extremely important event in mammalian evolution because once the dinosaurs vanished, mammals underwent a large adaptive radiation and began occupying diverse ecological niches in the Paleocene.”

These mammals included condylarths, which were hoofed animals proposed to be ancestral to some modern orders of hoofed mammals. They also included multituberculates, which Chester described as being “extinct rodent-like animals with a very specialized dentition.”

It remains unclear why certain mammals, turtles and other animals survived the K-T extinction event, but Lyson explained that species with generalist, rather than specialized, diets tended to fare better, as did smaller animals and water dwellers.

Kirk Johnson is vice president of Research & Collections and chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Johnson told Discovery News that he agrees the Triceratops is indeed “the last known non-avian dinosaur of the Cretaceous.” He said, “The 3M Gap is a weak concept to begin with,” and that his own work on plants and insects supports the idea that the meteor impact was the “direct and immediate cause of habitat destruction and extinction of more than 50 percent of North American plant and insect species.”

Peter Sheehan, curatorial chair of the Milwaukee Public Museum‘s Department of Geology, also agrees with the new findings. He and all of the other researchers, however, suspect that more recent dinosaurs even closer to the K-T boundary will be found in the future.

For now, however, the 65-million-year-old Triceratops is the world’s last known surviving dinosaur.

See also here.

Torosaurus Is Not Triceratops: Ontogeny in Chasmosaurine Ceratopsids as a Case Study in Dinosaur Taxonomy: here.

Austrian dinosaur: here.

A tough river turtle, Boremys, not only survived the meteorite impact that likely wiped out the dinosaurs, but it also seemed completely unfazed by the catastrophic event, according to a new Society of Vertebrate Paleontology paper: here. And here. And here.

Many dinosaurs and pterosaurs were active both by day and night, and some were entirely nocturnal, a new study suggests: here.

THE fate of the dinosaurs may have been sealed half a billion years before life even appeared, by two geological time bombs that still lurk near our planet’s core. A controversial new hypothesis links massive eruptions of lava that coincided with many of Earth’s largest extinctions to two unusually hot blobs of mantle 2800 kilometres beneath the crust. The blobs formed just after the Earth itself, 4.5 billion years ago. If the hypothesis is correct, they have sporadically burst through the planet’s crust, creating enormous oceans of lava which poisoned the atmosphere and wiped out entire branches of the tree of life: here.

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