Dutch police confuse beaver with burglar


This punk rock music video is Burglar, by The Damned.

And this is a video about beavers.

Police do not always seem to know the difference (like British soldiers in Afghanistan don’t know the difference between mung beans and opium poppy seeds).

Translated from Dutch news agency ANP:

November 15, 2012 11:29

Police think beaver is a burglar

ALMERE – A beaver in the night from Wednesday to Thursday caused quite some commotion in Almere.

Law enforcement services shot into action en masse, because policemen mistook the swimming animal for a fugitive burglar.

According to a police spokesman the cops reacted to a burglar alarm at a business and, when they arrived, they heard a splash. One of them also thought he saw a head in the water.

Both the fire department and a police helicopter were summoned to catch the ‘burglar’. Only after using an infrared camera it became clear that the law enforcers were not pursuing a burglar, but an adult-sized beaver.

December 2012. A study, run by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), has confirmed that approximately 146 beavers are presently living in the wild in rivers in Tayside. Surveys from May and July 2012, along with long-term observations, found that there are about 40 groups of beavers and seven dams in the Tay catchment. The beavers were found in the Tayside rivers and lochs stretching from Kinloch Rannoch, Kenmore and beyond Crieff in the west, to Forfar, Perth and Bridge of Earn in the East: here.

South Israeli woman says Stop Gaza war


This video says about itself:

Jan 3, 2009

As Israel sent its troops into Gaza, several thousand Jews and Arabs marched through Tel Aviv in protest. They called on the government to stop the war and negotiate with Hamas.

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

A message to Israel’s leaders: Don’t defend me – not like this

As she listens to the rockets raining in her yard, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza asks the government to rethink its Gaza mission.

By Michal Vasser

Nov.15, 2012 | 3:21 PM

The first thing I want to say is: Please don’t defend me. Not like this.

I am sitting in my safe room in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and listening to the bombardment of the all-out war outside. I am no longer able to distinguish between “our” bombardments and “theirs.” The truth is that the kibbutz children do this better than I do, their “musical ear” having been developed since they were very young, and they are able to differentiate between an artillery shell and a missile fired from a helicopter and between a mortar bomb and a Qassam. Good for them.

Is this what “defending the home” looks like? I don’t understand – did all our leaders sleep through their history classes? Or maybe they studied the Mapai school curriculum or that of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (to my regret, the difference is not all that great) – and have wrongly interpreted the word “defense”? Does defending the well being of citizens mean a war of armageddon every few years? Hasn’t any politician ever heard of the expression “long-term planning?”

If you want to defend me – then please: Don’t send the Israel Defense Forces for us in order to “win.” Start thinking about the long term and not just about the next election. Try to negotiate until white smoke comes up through the chimney. Hold out a hand to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Stop with the “pinpoint assassinations” and look into the civilians’ eyes on the other side as well.

I know that most of the public will accuse me of being a “bleeding heart.” But I am the one who is sitting here now as mortar bombs fall in my yard, not Sa’ar, not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and not Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich or Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid, either. I am the one who has chosen to raise her children here even though I had and still have other options.

It is possible to accuse me of a lack of Zionism, it is possible to accuse me of flabbiness and weak-mindedness but it is impossible to accuse me of hypocrisy. My children have served in combat units in addition to their contribution of “year of service” for the country, voluntarily. We live here and we love this country.

Our war is a war for the coloration of the state, not its borders. For its democratic nature and for human dignity in it. For sanity. So please stop killing civilians on the other side of the fence in order to defend me.

If you are interested in stopping the hostile actions from the other side – open your ears and start listening. If we are important to you – please stop defending us by means of missiles, “pinpoints” and “aeronautical components.” Instead of Operation Pillar of Defense embark on Operation Hope for the Future. This is more complicated, you need more patience and it is less popular – but it is the only way out.

Stop Pakistani civilian drone deaths


By Alyssa Figueroa, on AlterNet in the USA:

November 14, 2012

On Drone Warfare, Pakistani Man: “We Are The People Who Do Not Matter”

(L-R) Samina Sundas, Medea Benjamin, Dianne Budd and Toby Blome discuss CODEPINK's recent delegation to Pakistan
(L-R) Samina Sundas, Medea Benjamin, Dianne Budd and Toby Blome discuss CODEPINK‘s recent delegation to Pakistan.

“We are the people who do not matter; our voices cannot be heard over here,” one Pakistani man told Dianne Budd. “We are lucky for you to be here, and we want everyone to come fearlessly here.”

Budd is a member of CODEPINK, an anti-war organization that recently led a delegation of 34 activists on a trip to Pakistan in October. Last night, the organization hosted a report back in San Francisco to discuss their experiences in a country devastated by U.S. killer drones and our continued military intervention.

“People there feel so unseen and unheard,” Budd said.

This is perhaps because people haven’t made a real effort to see or hear them. According to CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, tribal areas in Pakistan have been off limits to foreigners for ten years. And so when CODEPINK’s delegation arrived, despite threats to their lives, hundreds of people had surrounded them, staring — “almost as if we were animals in a zoo,” Benjamin said. “They were so amazed to see Americans who had come there, especially Americans who had come there to denounce the drones. And everyone wanted to touch us, take their picture with us, just interact with us.”

Members of CODEPINK’s delegation spoke continuously about the hospitality they received, and how they were greeted so warmly by the Pakistanis they visited. Benjamin recalled that when the delegation got on stage at a rally, people immediately chanted: “Welcome! Welcome! We want peace! We want peace!”

Benjamin said, “It was so beautiful just to look out there and feel that people are so open to a loving and compassionate message, they want to hear that from Americans. They want really desperately to know that there are Americans who care about their lives.”

Which may not seem like the case as our drones continue to wreak havoc on their lives. As Benjamin said, our drones hover above their skies. Families are scared to go out as well as stay home. They are afraid of sending their children to school, to go to weddings and funerals, which are often drone targets. There is also fear of holding community meetings to talk about these issues because one of their community meetings was once attacked by a drone — killing 42 of the most respected leaders in the community. The drones have also increased depression and suicide throughout the country.

“What is happening in Pakistan is totally unlike the Pakistan I grew up in,” said Samina Sundas, founder and Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice Foundation.

Meanwhile, secrecy continues to surround the drone program and its effectiveness in killing militants. There is an estimate of about 2,600 – 3,400 people killed via drone in Pakistan — only two percent of which were on the U.S. government’s high-value target list. Most of the rest go unnamed and unacknowledged by the U.S. government.

The media, however, reports drones are constantly killing militants, mainly because Obama re-defined the term “militant” to mean every man of military age. In addition, CODEPINK activist Toby Blome said that while in Pakistan, she learned that some militants’ names are used multiple times in news reports to justify drone use. One Pakistani told her a militant’s name was used three times in the media, and exclaimed, “How many times can one man die?”

Still, as Benjamin noted, whether or not drones are “effective” in their mission looks past the fact that our military interventions do not create peace or stability. Pakistani people are living a life of fear under our drones as well as under the Taliban and its rising numbers. Benjamin added, “We see most people join the Taliban not out of ideology but out of despair and revenge.”

British little stint news


From BTO Bird Ringing blog in Britain:

16 November 2012

Bumper Little Stint year

With a latin name meaning a small grey waterside bird, the Little Stint is a gem among waders, especially in its breeding plumage.

We have had very few recoveries of this species in the history of the ringing scheme but things are now picking up. Up to 2011 we have had only had 16 reports of Little Stint ringed abroad and found in the UK and Ireland. Of these the majority (11 birds) were ringed in Norway, these were reported in the 1940s (1), 1960s (1), 1970s (2), 1980s (4), 1990’s (2), 2000s (1).

Little Stint feeding - Dave Crawshaw
Little Stint feeding – Dave Crawshaw

Due to a new colour ringing project in Norway, we have had a grand total of 7 sightings this year! Mike Marsh has let us know that he saw a group of 5 Little Stint at Orfordness, Suffolk. One of these was colour ringed and stayed around for a couple of days. This bird had only been ringed a mere 14 days previously and covered a distance of 1188km.

Little Stint winter in Africa, around the Indian Ocean and as far south as South Africa. There are also variable numbers in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, so it had a little further to go.

View Little Stint in a larger map.

Stop Afghan war now, British politician says


This video from Britain is called STOP THE WAR: London protestors demand end to Afghanistan war.

From This is Gloucestershire in Britain:

Paddy Ashdown: “Afghanistan not worth one more death.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

FORMER Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown is calling for the Government to fast-track the withdrawal of troops from Afghansitan.

It would been even more interesting if the present Liberal Democrat party leader would say that. And if he, if the Conservative other government party would want to continue the bloody war, then would break up the coalition, bringing the government down.

The 11-year campaign has so far cost 438 British lives. Lord Ashdown writes in The Times today urging Britain to pull troops out of the country as quickly as “decently” possible.

He says the campaign is “not worth the life of one more soldier”.

“It is now crystal clear that we have lost in Afghanistan,” said Lord Ashdown.

“We have succeeded in only one thing; albeit the big thing we first said we went to war for – driving out al-Qaeda. In almost all other tasks we set ourselves, especially the establishment of a sustainable state, we have failed.”

The cost of life has stretched further than the battlefield. An inquest has heard how Rifleman Allan Arnold from Cirencester was found hanging in 2011 while he was home on leave.

An inquest into his death heard how he struggled to come to terms with the deaths of five comrades killed in a roadside blast in Sangin, two years earlier.

The 20-year-old soldier with 2 Rifles left a note saying he could not cope any more and apologised to his mother.

Another Gloucestershire life lost to the conflict has had his name added to a Nailsworth war memorial.

Mark Chandler, shot dead in Afghanistan, has been added to the Church Street monument.

At the time of his death Captain John Mercer, fire support commander on the patrol, described the former Archway School pupil as “the perfect soldier”.

Lance Bombardier Mark, 33, of the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, was killed in Nad-e Ali, Helmand, during a patrol that ended under intense fire back in June 2010.

Captain James Townley, who grew up near Glastonbury, was on his third tour of duty when he was killed on Friday, September 21 – the day before his 30th birthday.

He had been serving with 21 Regiment Royal Engineers when he died at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

He is the only former Bruton Sexey’s School pupil to be added to its memorial since the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Lord Ashdown’s calls come as Government plans are finalised to exit Afghanistan by 2014.

As a former member of the Special Boat Service, he argues the word “defeat” is inappropriate because of the individual success in battles fought by British and Nato troops against the Taliban.

This year, 61 coalition soldiers have been killed in green on blue attacks – the Afghan National Army or police. Of those, 14 have been British.

See also here.

British Bohemian waxwing news


One of up to 200 waxwings seen feeding on rowan berries at a supermarket in Hull. Image: Richard Willison

From the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Britain:

Flipping brilliant: winter waxwings are here

Last modified: 16 November 2012

This waxwing, spotted casually flicking a rowan berry into the air, was among a flock of more than 350 of the birds that descended on a supermarket car park on Hessle Road in Hull this week.

At this time of year, large flocks of waxwings come to the UK from Scandinavia looking for berries. If there is a particularly poor food supply or harsh weather in Scandinavia then more of the birds arrive than usual, and this year is looking like it could be a particularly bumper year.

This waxwing was photographed by RSPB member Richard Willison who said; “It was great seeing so many waxwings in one place.  More and more of them arrived over a couple of days at the car park; in one photo I counted around 365 of them.  They don’t linger for long though, and once the area was stripped of berries they moved on.”

Ben Andrew, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said “Waxwings are such colourful birds with a perky crest, which makes them stand out.  Because they are winter visitors most of us are probably not as familiar with them as we are with our resident birds, so that just adds to the excitement when they do start to arrive.

“Waxwings often travel in flocks and move around together, taking advantage of a good food source and then moving on. They are not fussy about where they eat and it’s quite common to see them in town centres or supermarket car parks, or pretty much anywhere that there are suitable berries like rowan, hawthorn and cotoneaster.”

This year has been a mixed one for natural food sources with some varieties of fruits having a particularly poor season. Sloes, apples, pears and the berries of rowan and hawthorn have been reported to be less abundant than usual in parts of the country.  That means less food for wildlife including migrant birds like waxwings.

Ben continues; “If there is not enough food to go around then they’ll keep moving and leave the UK to extend their search into parts of mainland Europe.”

Putting fruit in the garden could be a help to waxwings if natural sources do run out.  Try spiking a pear on a stick or threading fruit slices on a string and dangling from tree branches.  Fatballs and good quality bird food in the garden can be a big help to other birds too at this time of year.  Find out how to do more at www.rspb.org.uk/hfw and register now to take part in the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch 2013 at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch

Bahrain human rights news


This video is called Bahraini doctor pleads for help.

From the Bahrain Center for Human Rights:

Nabeel Rajab: Human Rights Defender from Guantanamo to Bahrain

16 Nov 2012

We are attorneys from the United States and the United Kingdom who have known and worked with Nabeel Rajab for many years, having met Nabeel through our representation of men detained at Guantanamo Bay. Nabeel was critical to our work at Guantanamo. Indeed, Nabeel secured family authorizations by which some of us were able to begin representing our clients. Without Nabeel, those individuals might well never have had lawyers. Nabeel also arranged for some of us to come to Bahrain to meet the families of our clients, including clients from Saudi Arabia. He spoke to the media about human rights violations at Guantanamo and engaged in advocacy on behalf of our clients throughout the region.

Continue reading the letter here (PDF)

The Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) has released, “One Year Later: Assessing Bahrain’s Implementation of the BICI Report,” a report looking into the Bahraini government’s progress in implementing the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry: here.