Pakistan says stop US drones


Islamabad reiterated its opposition on Monday to Washington’s illegal drone assassination campaign in Pakistan, branding it “unlawful, counterproductive and unacceptable”: here.

The CIA’s drone campaign in Pakistan has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals, an investigation by the Bureau for the Sunday Times has revealed: here.

Relatives of children killed and injured by CIA drone strikes in Pakistan filed a complaint against the US government today at the United Nations in Geneva: here.

NATO attack forces Pakistan to recalibrate its ties with US: here.

Pakistan’s parliamentary commission on reviewing relations with the US said on Tuesday the superpower should end its illegal drone strikes in the country if it wants supply lines to its forces in Afghanistan reopened: here.

Drone-Strike Survivors Ask, “What Kind of Democracy Is America?” Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence: “One question Fazillah cannot answer for her son is whether anyone asked the question at all of whether to kill his father. Forbes Magazine reports that the Air Force has sixty-five to seventy thousand analysts processing drone video surveillance; a Rand review states they actually need half again that number to properly handle the data. Asked to point to the human who actually made the decision to kill her husband, she can only point to another machine”: here.

Remotely Piloted War. How Drone War Became The American Way of Life: here.

Britain: Foreign Secretary Hague is being sued over the alleged UK policy of handing over GCHQ-sourced intelligence to the CIA to aid US drone attacks in Pakistan: here.

Lawyers have filed papers at the High Court accusing the British government of complicity in illegal US drone strikes: here.

British-French drones: here.

The legalization of drone flights inside the United States has ominous implications for democratic rights: here.

Predators on the Border, Hawks Across the Border and a Homeland of Drones. Tom Barry, Truthout: “Drones are proliferating. First, the Pentagon joined with military contractors to breed fleets of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as airborne drones are formally called. Although major new drone species began emerging in the 1990s, the Bush administration’s war on terrorism after the 9/11 attacks sparked a major surge of drone production and deployment – not only for reconnaissance, but also for military strikes against targeted terrorists”: here.

New caddisfly species on Texel island


Translated from Ecomare museum on Texel island, the Netherlands:

New caddisfly on Texel – 01/12/29

Another new species for Texel. After the Megachile ligniseca bee which a few weeks ago was in the news, there is now a new discovery, a caddisfly. The newcomer was found in the Ploeglanden, part of the National Park Dunes of Texel. …

The new caddisfly has been found in the summer of 2011, however, this week it was announced that it is a new species for Texel, Leptocerus tineiformis. In the Netherlands there are 180 different species of caddisflies, 31 of those are now confirmed to live on Texel. The discoverer, researcher David Tempelman, expects that in the dunes of Texel still some more species may be found.

See also here.

Composer Mahler and anti-Semitism


By Dorian Griscom:

Composer Gustav Mahler: A centennial appreciation

31 January 2012

Composer Gustav Mahler is remembered for his nine symphonies and equally for his famous song cycles, including Das Lied von der Erde (“The Song of the Earth”), Rückert Lieder, Kindertotenlieder (“Songs on the Death of Children”), Des Knaben Wunderhorn (“The Youth’s Magic Horn”) and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (“Songs of a Wayfarer”). He also left behind a draft for a tenth symphony.

Mahler is known today almost entirely for his large-scale compositions, and these works were by and large rejected during his lifetime by a public that regarded him first and foremost as a conductor. Mahler held major conducting posts across Europe—in Prague, Leipzig, Budapest, Hamburg and most notably Vienna, and he also appeared in Berlin, Amsterdam, London and Paris. Toward the end of his life he came to the United States, where he directed both the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera.

Mahler’s music was not widely heard in concert halls and on recordings until the middle of the 20th century, about 40 years after his death. Today, however, he is among the most widely listened to of 19th and 20th century classical composers. Last year, which marked the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death in Vienna on May 18, 1911, witnessed concerts, new recordings, lectures and exhibitions around the world celebrating his life and music.

His work speaks to a very wide audience, while his life and career remain the subject of intense scholarly interest. …

Vienna at the turn of the 20th century was a city of profound contradictions. While home to a vibrant cultural life that witnessed intense ferment in the arts and sciences, it was also the heart of the decaying Austro-Hungarian Empire, in the center of a continent on the brink of war and catastrophe.

Vienna was headquarters of the large and influential Social Democratic Party, a leading section of the Second International. Still nominally a revolutionary party, the Austrian SPD generally followed its more famous German counterpart in gradually abandoning Marxism in favor of parliamentarism and narrow trade union politics, a process that culminated in the Austrian party’s support for its own bourgeoisie at the outbreak of the First World War.

Despite its ultimately fatal political flaws, it is also true that the Austrian party played an enormous role in the political and cultural life of the country and especially of Vienna. Its newspaper, the Arbeiter-Zeitung, enjoyed a mass circulation. Lectures, meetings and mass demonstrations were a constant presence in the city’s life. Mahler, though by no means politically active, voted for the party in a number of elections. …

It was also during his Vienna period that Mahler met and married the young and beautiful Alma Schindler. They met in November 1901 and were engaged to be married roughly a month later. Though Alma herself was a composer of considerable talent, Mahler forbade her to compose. This devastated Alma, but she instead devoted her musical gifts to supporting Mahler’s career, copying out parts and writing transcriptions of his compositions. Nevertheless, Mahler’s domineering manner, on this and other matters, took its toll on their relationship.

Alma was known as a femme fatale. Mahler’s junior by nearly 20 years, she later had an affair with the architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, whom she would marry after Mahler’s death. The affair, towards the end of Mahler’s life, shattered the composer and led him to consult with Freud. The problems of their complicated relationship aside, Alma and Gustav Mahler’s partnership was a profound one that deeply affected the composer’s musical life.

Mahler’s life in Vienna was stormy on other than personal grounds. Anti-Semitism had wide support and was encouraged, as elsewhere, as a means of weakening the workers’ movement. The notorious anti-Semite and leader of the Christian Social Party, Karl Lueger, became mayor of Vienna in 1897.

The composer, who had converted to Catholicism largely to shield himself from official anti-Semitism in his quest for the position of director of the Hofoper, encountered opposition from the anti-Semitic press even before arriving in Vienna. The Reichspost, an anti-Semitic daily, wrote on April 14, 1897: “The Jews’ press will see whether the panegyrics with which they plaster their new idol at present do not become washed away by the rain of reality as soon as Herr Mahler starts his Jew-boy antics at the podium.”

While Mahler clashed with many of the musically conservative elements as he fought to remake the Vienna Opera into what he thought was required, he also faced continuous sniping on religious and political grounds. He was ultimately driven from his post by a venomous press campaign in 1907 that alleged “mismanagement” of the Opera on Mahler’s part.

Dutch burbot new length record


Translated from the Dutch RAVON ichthyologists:

Rare burbot breaks record

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In National Park Weerribben-Wieden a burbot has been caught of 71 centimeter long; that means a new Dutch record length. The largest recorded specimen to date in the Netherlands had a length of 70 centimeter and was caught in 1894 in the Frisian Terkaple.

The burbot (Lota lota) has become very rare in the Netherlands and they are seldom longer than 65 centimeter.

More birds, other wildlife, in Dutch nature reserve


The Dutch natural history society KNNV, Wageningen town branch, reports that recent pro wildlife measures in nature reserve Bovenste Polder near Wageningen are working.

This is a bluethroat video.

Translated from the report:

443 plant species were found. Of those, thirteen are on the red list of species endangered in the Netherlands, including the rare milk parsley and the awl-leaf mudwort, only five centimeter in size. There were 109 fungi species found, five of which are on the red list. Mycena pseudocorticola, very rare in the Netherlands was even common in the area.

808 breeding territories

In 2010, sixty-six breeding birds species were found to have nested in the area, forty percent more than in 1982. All breeding birds together had 808 territories. Compared to thirty years ago, almost a fourfold increase. The results show how interventions in the area such as the digging of the secondary channel, but also the nature of the management have had positive effects. A total of 13 endangered breeding bird species were observed. Notable species included European penduline tit, great reed warbler, snipe [see also here], little ringed plover, water rail [see also here], grasshopper warbler [see also here], bluethroat and stonechat.