Afghan massacre, more than one ‘bad apple’, Karzai says


This video from the USA is called Afghanistan Massacre Fallout.

By Ben Chacko:

Karzai backs claim of US massacre cover-up

Friday 16 March 2012

Afghan President Hamid Karzai today backed claims that more than one person had conducted the massacre of 16 civilians which US forces have blamed on a single soldier.

At a meeting with relatives of the nine children, four men and three women who were slain Mr Karzai said villagers’ accounts of the atrocity were “widely different from the scenario depicted by US military officials.”

The president pointed to a villager at the meeting and said: “In his family people were killed in four rooms and then they were brought together in one room and set on fire. That one man cannot do.”

He also blasted the US for refusing to share information from its investigation into the outrage, which was conducted in two separate villages.

A government delegation sent to Kandahar to investigate had “not received the expected co-operation of the United States,” he said, adding that he would raise the issue with the occupying army “very loudly.”

Back at the presidential palace in Kabul Mr Karzai said the ever-escalating civilian death toll by Nato occupiers was intolerable and repeated calls made a day earlier for total withdrawal from rural areas.

“This has been going on for too long,” he said. “You have heard me before. It is the end of the rope here. This form of activity, this behaviour cannot be tolerated. It is past, past, past the time.”

The United Nations has found that 2011 was the bloodiest year yet in Afghanistan, with over 3,000 civilian deaths.

The president said he had received a phone call from his US counterpart Barack Obama asking if he meant what he said about withdrawing from the countryside and that he had replied: “Yes, I announced this.”

But the US military said it did not believe he meant it should withdraw from such areas immediately and refused to comment on his criticism of its investigation into the Kandahar massacre.

Mr Karzai has limited leverage with the occupying powers who enthroned him in 2004 and who gauge that his government has little chance of remaining in office once they are gone.

A Turkish military helicopter crashed into a house near Kabul yesterday, killing 12 soldiers on board and two children who were in the building.

Four Afghan civilians and 12 Turkish soldiers were killed in a crash involving a NATO-operated Turkish chopper. The vehicle came down on a house and burst into flames in the Bagrami district, close to the capital Kabul: here.

Afghanistan: Doubts cast on US massacre account: here.

Afghan Probe Finds 15-20 US Soldiers Involved In Kandahar Killings: here.

Within 48 hours of the Pentagon’s confirming the identity of the US soldier arrested for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, there are mounting questions about the official explanation of the bloody events of March 11: here.

After Bales‘ Arrest, Military Tried to Delete Him From Web. David Goldstein and Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Newspapers: “Besides waiting nearly a week before identifying the Army staff sergeant who’s accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers, the US military scrubbed its websites of references to his combat service. Gone were photographs of the suspect, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, as well as a recounting in his base’s newspaper of a 2007 battle in Iraq involving his unit that quoted him extensively. But not really”: here.

In wake of Afghan massacre, tensions mount between US and its puppet Karzai: here.

Afghan Massacre: Pattern Of Savage U.S.-NATO Acts In Several Nations: here.

US troops are still sending Afghan people to prisons where they are likely to be tortured despite official promises that they would stop: here.

War Is Brain-Damaging: here.

Since the naming last Friday of the soldier charged with massacring 16 Afghan civilians, the media has sought to make this horrific crime comprehensible by delving into the history and personal problems of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, while studiously ignoring the criminal nature of the war itself: here.

Former Guantanamo Psychiatrist Promotes Dubious Drug Theory on Afghan Killings. Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “Using false information; faulty interpretation of documents and innuendo; and in one case, withholding key disclosures regarding their background, these authors took a serious issue – the dangerous psychiatric and neurotoxic effects of mefloquine on some people and the history of the use of this drug by the military – and twisted it to further an agenda that just happened to match US interests in limiting speculation about the Kandahar massacre to Bales”: here.

US Military Holding Kandahar Massacre Wounded Incommunicado: here.

Civilian Deaths In U.S. Wars: When Will They End? Here.

Ethiopian bush-crow vulnerable to climate change


Ethiopian Bush-crow

From BirdLife:

Scientists discover an ‘invisible barrier’ that holds the answer to one of nature’s little mysteries

Fri, Mar 16, 2012

Why would a smart and adaptable bird that eats almost anything and can survive happily in even the most heavily degraded habitats, have a world range of less than 5,000km2?

That question has baffled and confused scientists ever since the Ethiopian Bush-crow’s Zavattariornis stresemanni peculiarly restricted distribution was discovered back in the 1930s.

But now, after researching the exact location of the birds and their nests in southern Ethiopia, a team of problem-solving, Sherlock Holmes-style scientists have unravelled the mystery. And the answer is elementary.

A new study published in the Journal of Ornithology shows the globally threatened bird’s range exactly follows the edge a unique bubble of cool, dry climate.

Lead author of the study from BirdLife’s UK Partner RSPB, Dr Paul Donald, is delighted he finally has some answers.

“The mystery surrounding this bird and its odd behaviour has stumped scientists for decades – many have looked and failed to find an answer. But the reason they failed, we now believe, is that they were looking for a barrier invisible to the human eye, like a glass wall. Inside the ‘climate bubble’, where the average temperature is less than 20°C, the bush-crow is almost everywhere. Outside, where the average temperature hits 20°C or more, there are no bush-crows at all. A cool bird, that appears to like staying that way.”

The reason this species is so completely trapped inside its little bubble is as yet unknown, but it seems likely that it is physically limited by temperature – either the adults, or more likely its chicks, simply cannot survive outside the bubble, even though there are thousands of square miles of identical habitat all around.

BirdLife International’s Dr Nigel Collar is co-author of the study. He added “Whatever the reason this bird is confined to a bubble, alarm bells are now ringing loudly. The storm of climate change threatens to swamp the bush-crow’s little climatic lifeboat – and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.”

Ethiopian Bush-crow is a small, starling-like crow with a pale grey head and body, black wings and tail, and bare, blue skin around the eye. The bird, listed by BirdLife as Endangered with approximately fewer than 9,000 individuals existing in the wild, could be the most vulnerable species to climate change in the world.

Scientists are now planning to start a monitoring programme on the temperature of the birds’ nests to see if it can unlock the answer to the next question: why are they so sensitive to climate?

USA: ALEC Climate-Change Denial Model Bill Passes in Tennessee. Steve Horn, DeSmogBlog: “Welcome to Tennessee, which on March 19th became the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change…. The ALEC bill passed as H.B. 368 and S.B. 893, with 70-23 and 24-8 roll call votes, respectively. Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam is likely to sign the bill into law soon”: here.

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange interviewed


This video is called Collateral Murder – WikileaksIraq.

By Richard Phillips:

The attacks on us are extraordinarily revealing”

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks with WSWS

16 March 2012

Julian Assange spoke with the World Socialist Web Site this week about the US-led attacks on WikiLeaks, freedom of the press and other basic democratic rights, and the impending British Supreme Court ruling on his appeal against extradition to Sweden on bogus sexual assault allegations.

The WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief has not been charged with a single crime in Sweden, Britain or any other country. Nevertheless, Assange has been held under house arrest for over 450 days, forced to wear an electronic ankle tag, observe a 10 p.m. curfew and report to police on a daily basis.

Richard Phillips: Can you comment on the latest details of the United States grand jury indictment and what happens if you’re extradited to Sweden?

Julian Assange: The new evidence that emerged from the Stratfor files—emails from a Texas-based private intelligence agency—show that the US government has obtained a secret grand jury indictment against me. The US ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis Susman, stated in February 2011 that the US government would wait and see what happened with the current Swedish extradition case as to whether it would pursue extradition itself.

The US ambassador to Australia [Jeffrey L. Bleich], one week prior to Obama’s recent visit, also told the Australian media that the Australian government might have to consider its extradition obligations in relation to me, presumably in case I returned to Australia. And while WikiLeaks has many of its people under legal attack, the organisation itself is also under an extra-judicial financial blockade. There are some 40 people who have been swept up in operations by the FBI, Scotland Yard or other police forces.

Regarding the pending Supreme Court decisions in Great Britain over the Swedish extradition case, if we are unsuccessful then I’m expecting to be extradited to Sweden within 10 days and then possibly re-extradited to the United States. Even if we are successful in the Supreme Court, the situation will be similar because the United States is likely to unseal its espionage charges through the grand jury and apply directly for my extradition from Great Britain.

Of course, none of these things will happen if it’s not possible to do so politically. When a legal case reaches a sufficiently high public profile for the government, then it becomes a matter of politics.

RP: Do you have any detailed information on direct collusion between Britain, the US and Sweden over your extradition?

JA: What we can say publicly is that on December 8, 2010, the Independent newspaper published a report about informal contacts that were already occurring at that stage between the US and Sweden in relation to my extradition.

John Pilger: The dirty war on WikiLeaks: here.

Shedding Light on the Secret Pre-Trial of Bradley Manning. Mike Ludwig, Truthout: “The government has so far refused to provide key pieces of evidence against him to his defense team, a process known as discovery. Several pre-trial meetings between prosecutors and Manning‘s defense were also held behind closed doors and out of public light. Court orders and motions are currently held secret despite complaints lodged by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Assange. CCR attorney Shane Kadidal told Truthout that he was surprised by the lack of media presence at the hearings”: here.

Military judge rejects motions to reduce charges against Bradley Manning: here.

The Government’s Overreach on Bradley Manning: here.

Peter Van Buren—a veteran US diplomat whose blog and 2011 book, We Meant Well, detail his futile experiences as a nation builder in Iraq—was formally fired from the State Department this week: here.

Save Croatian birds


This is a Croatian video on Kopački Rit and its birdlife.

From BirdLife:

Save the Danube – ‘The Amazon of Europe’- from destruction!

Thu, Mar 15, 2012

The “Kopački Rit”, Croatia, Danube’s most valuable and best preserved floodplain system along the Croatian – Serbian border is threatened with destruction.

The Natural Park “Kopački Rit”, is recognised as a Ramsar site for being a major natural floodplain of International Importance and is the core zone of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserve “Mura-Drava-Danube”, the so called ‘Amazon of Europe’, candidate to an inscription to the World Natural Heritage List of the UNESCO.

A major project from the Croatian Water Management Authorities to channel the River in this unique and natural area is currently in the final stage of decision.

If the project becomes reality, the Danube will be transformed into little more than a regulated canal.

Thus, the dynamic exchange of water between the river and its floodplain will stop and the unique wetlands will dry out with fatal consequences for wildlife: The Kopački Rit hosts 300 different bird species that will be put under threat and the White-tailed Eagle, and threatened species such as Little Tern, Black Stork and Ship Sturgeon would be in severe danger of local extinction.

National Conservation NGOS, of which DOPPS/ BirdLife in Slovenia is one of them, have come out with a petition to Mirela Holy, the Croatian Minister for Nature and Environment and Nature Protection, asking her to immediately halt this project.

Help us saving the unique nature of the Danube and sign the petition to the Minister now! Here.